Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teacher, Teacher!

New resource: You Tube!

I have been thinking that I really need to start using baby signs with the Girl now that she spends time in her high chair everyday. I know some of the signs and have been around kids that have used them, but it is always nice to have a visual and a little tutorial.

There are local baby sing and sign classes, but it has been down on the list of priorities and, at this rate, she'll be putting on the cap and gown before I get around to signing her up.

So, just search "teaching your baby sign language" on YouTube and there are a ton of videos! (I also used this to figure out how to prune my lavendar plants in the yard. Turns out I should have started 3 years ago. Oops.)

On a related note, You know that ugly monster that rears its head when you start comparing your baby with other babies? When you think they should be doing something that they aren't? That you aren't teaching them enough new things? That you have ruined their chance to get a college scholarship?

As I watched the little baby on YouTube pick out "corn" and "cat" and "baby", I got the urge to get crafty and make flashcards and start Baby Summer School.

Put down the scissors and step away from the construction paper.

I will resist the craziness.

At least for a little while.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Approach

I'm taking a new approach to feeding the Girl.

My Parents as Teachers person suggested a good website - Ellyn Satter. I admittedly haven't read all her books, but I like what I see so far and her philosophy makes sense to me. In a nutshell, her advice focuses on helping you to raise your child to be just the person they were meant to be (which may or may not fit the "ideal" that you have in your mind). A lot of this has to do with a division of responsibility - there are factors you are responsible for as a parent, and there are also factors your child is responsible for. Each of you has to do your part. At the very basic level, there are feeding responsibilities and activity responsibilities. Trust your child to do their part with eating and moving and they will grow up to be healthy.

For us, for now, this means that I am responsible for the what and when of feeding, and the Girl is responsible for whether and how much. If she only takes a few bites and then doesn't act interested, we are done. I put the spoon just in front of her mouth and wait for her to open her mouth to show me she is hungry - I'm not chasing her mouth around trying to shove food in.

She eats great at daycare - TONS more than she eats for me at home. I don't know why, but really it isn't important. She is learning to eat and practicing a new skill. If they can help us with that, so much the better. I am not battling with Girly to eat - we are still having fun. And, I always want mealtime to be fun, family time - NOT a struggle.

For the first meal of the day today, she gets an "A".

Also, worth noting, is that you should seek out your local Parents as Teachers - type group in your local school district. I think most districts around the country have a similar program. They start home visits around 5-6 months of age and come every other month until age 3. It is a free program and I see it as a great resource. Some people may think that the service only benefits inexperienced or low income families, but that just isn't true. While I may know more about child development than the average bear, I most definitely do NOT know it all and I like having an objective assessment of how the Gal is doing. Plus, at least in our school district, you need to start the service with your first child if you want to participate with subsequent children (not that there are any of those on the horizon). Finally - call early to get on the waiting list. I called at about 8 months pregnant and it took until she was 6 months old to get a visit.

A few more gear tips:
- We are practicing more and more with the Tilty cup and I think we both like it.
- Get a stack of baby washcloths or small kitchen towels dedicated to wiping baby's hands and face while feeding. Going through paper towels is wasteful and the bib just doesn't cut it. Colored is even better because those sweet potato puffs stain.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Target Practice

Savor the simplicity.

Let me say it again - savor.the.simplicity.

The Huz and I were just talking about how exciting it is to introduce new foods to our Gal and how much we want her to love food and cooking. It is an important part of our lives and I hope it will be an important part of hers.

That being said, feeding her is a pain in my ass.

That may not be politically correct, but it is the way I feel. Until she really gets the hang of it, it is an exercise in futility. I know I need to expose her to food textures and tastes - she needs practice just like with any other new skill. Let's just say, though, that this must be some karmic reminder from the universe for me to work on my patience.

Plus, I felt so great about our transition to 4 feedings and now we are back to 7 - nursing 4 times and eating some sort of solids in the high chair 3 times. This is how often she ate when she first came home from the hospital. See what I mean?

It seems you have to hit the perfect sweet spot for her to be receptive to food: not too hungry and not too full. So, for now, we usually attempt solids about an hour after she nurses. So, yes, it is like she is eating all day long.

I know this is a small speed bump and we'll be past this transition before I know it. Just sayin' though ... savor the simplicity.

(And regarding the title - I mean target practice as in trying to get to her mouth, not that I'm shooting a gun. It isn't that bad.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I cheated Target!

Well, not really, but it feels that way.

I was due for the regular diaper stock-up and had read this morning on Baby Cheapskate that both Pampers and Huggies are changing their packaging to put fewer diapers in each pack.

Sure enough, the Pampers Swaddlers #2 used to have 40 diapers per jumbo pack, and now have 36. I dug to the back of the stack, though, and found four of the old packages. So, I see that as 16 free diapers!

Also, I do now pay attention to the "unit price" of diapers. Turns out that the per-diaper price is often less expensive in smaller packages. Go figure.

This won't last long - the Target guy was re-stocking as a I shopped. Go get some while you can!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Things we're loving these days

We have lots of favorites now at 6 months ....

We've just started with the eating and it is going well. I actually found that it is a great advantage to have a daycare kid when it comes to this - the Girl's teachers have fed hundreds of kids and really helped get her going on the cereal and got to a pretty thick texture pretty quickly.

I think we'll move past the cereal pretty soon, or at least cut way back. That is another nice thing about waiting to start solids until 6 months - she mainly needs the cereal to practice with texture and once she tolerates thicker cereal, fun foods here we come!

I signed up for a great baby food email at Baby Food 101. It is free - you just tell them the date that you will start cereal and they send you a weekly email with a baby food recipe and an adult recipe to use the leftover food!

She is loving the Gerber Puffs! I wouldn't have really thought to add these so soon, but our pediatrician said that about half of kids will tolerate some dissolveable snacks at 6 months and to give it a shot. These dissolve so quickly and it is a fun game to fill cranky time.

The Bumbo is finally serving a purpose! It is great for feeding right now - quicker and cleaner than the high chair.

I did order the Inglesina Fast Chair and am quite happy with it. Also worth noting, I ordered it from Chit Chat Baby. I initially ordered it from another company and went back and forth because it was back-ordered in most colors. I wanted to get it quickly and randomly found this company through Amazon. The customer service was great and I got the chair in about 3 days and no tax and free shipping!

I bought a big pack of Munchkin Spoons at Target. Of course any spoon will do, but the point is to buy several. They are great for baby to hold while you are feeding them!

I am, unfortunately, not loving the Boon Squirt. I had such high hopes for this little thing, but when I took it out of the package it had the worst, god-awful, diarrhea plastic smell. Do you know what I'm talking about? I washed all the pieces in the dishwasher and left them out to air day for days. It still smells and I can't even consider putting food in it.

We got an Aden and Anais sleep sack and it is great! A good friend gave us the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets, which work so well and are super soft. This is the perfect, lightest weight sleep sack for those warm months.

Also, just a simple thing, I really like the inexpensive 5-pack Gerber short sleeve onesies for jammies. Our Girl is just outgrowing the 12 month size and the 18 month size is still a little big. They are lightweight and don't have any snaps or uncomfortable zippers. She always wore footie sleepers when it was cold, but her room is too warm for that now and this has been a good, cheap solution.

I also love "the bubble". I didn't even know this type of romper had a name, but it is great for the Gal. Little baby dresses are so cute, but they end up over her head and in general disarray. This is like a dress with leg holes!

Our favorite toys are still Sophie the Giraffe and the ever-popular Exersaucer. The rings are also great fun!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

While I love the idea of a sun tan, in reality, I'm not much of the pool type. When I worked full time I only rarely spent a weekend day at the pool - too much to do. I also don't really tolerate the heat, and because I am so pale I can't stay long - it is a vicious cycle.

Now that I am home a few days during the week, though, and I have a little baby dolphin, I'm sure we will be off to splish splash around in the near future.

I'd heard a general rule about not applying sunscreen to little babies until after 6 months, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does say to use it if there is no other option. I think it is just common sense - a new baby probably shouldn't be in the sun long enough to think about needing sunscreen.

I asked our pediatrician at our 6 month visit - he recommended at least SPF 30, broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) and PABA-free. His feeling was that a lot of "baby sunscreens" are just marketing tools and that there was nothing special about them, but some babies will have sensitive skin and need a special formula.

I found a great sunscreen review at Safe Mama. Their list is extensive and products must be free of parabens, phthalates, and other stuff that is hard to spell. TruKid was their favorite product. It looks like TruKid has lots of great natural skin care products for kids, but I think you can only order through their website.

Being outside also means BUGS. Here is the Safe Mama list for bug repellents. I found the Burt's Bees one at our local HyVee in the health food section.

Safe Mama also has other lists about safe baby wipes, and dishes and stuff. I believe in safe products for my child and safe products for our environment, but sometimes it is a little much (even for me) and I start to go crazy. I currently operate under the philosophy of, "if it is a similar/reasonable price and I can find it without much hassle, I'll get it." Baby steps ...

Don't forget about eye protection! These Frubi Shades are pretty cute and functional.

Sun clothes can be a good option, too: Baby Sunwear

I also worked with a pediatric dermatologist who recommended a product you can wash into your regular clothes that makes them sun protective - Rit SunGuard.

I'm just trying to do what I can to protect her skin while I'm in charge. Before she becomes a teenager and runs around in a bikini with boys. Ugh.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Bargains!

Baby Cheapskate is a great website - I check it often to make sure I'm not missing out on great deals!

I had an AHA! moment while shopping at Marshall's this weekend - I can buy that cute dress in next summer's size! It is kind of a change in thinking - I rarely, if ever, buy seasonal clothes on sale for myself to save for the following year. (By the way - our Marshall's has darling Ralph Lauren kid's clothes that are very reasonable. Pink baby tennis dress, anyone?)

I am learning to stalk sales. Why pay full price for anything? Further, in this economy, I feel I am entitled to good deals if I am out shopping.

Here is what Baby Cheapskate has to say about June: get the hammer out for the piggy bank!

Here are some of the bargains I expect to see this June:

June Britax Sale was 22nd - 28th last year.

Yard sales continue, peaking in many areas when the temp hits about 80 degrees.

Last-minute Father's Day Deals. You've still got a few weeks! Expect some great in-store sales on all those typical "man gifts": ties, sports equipment, etc.

Clearance on outdoor and pool toys begins in earnest as retailers itch to make room for the back-to-school stuff. Look for 50% off and more, with the best deals showing up as we near July.

Clearance begins mid-month on summer clothing and sandals. This is a great time to stock up for next year.
• The Children's Place Monster Sale starts up somewhere around week 2.
• You'll find 30% to 50% off in Target's kids apparel department throughout the month, with the best bargains toward the end of June.
• Expect 50% off at Kohl's around the 20th of the month.
• Look for 50% off clearance apparel at Toys R Us during the last week of the month.
• Old Navy starts clearancing their summer clothes in week three, with deeper discounts during the last week of the month.
• Kmart summer apparel was 50% off during the last week of June in 2008.
• Sears' 50% off sale began during week four as well.
• Vincent Shoes and Gymboree start their clearance sales around the third week of the month. Savings of up to 75%.

Expect shoe markdowns at Amazon early this month--Stride Rite deals, anyone?

Amazon also held a summer toys savings event mid-month last year.

Look for fall apparel to arrive in stores after July 4. That means summer clearance in earnest with discounts above 50%.