Choosing the Right Baby Carrier

Choosing the Right CarrierWhen looking at baby carriers, a couple of key questions will help you begin to narrow down your search:

  • What age is your baby – Do you have a newborn or are you looking to wear it with your toddler? Does your child have any special needs or health concerns to keep in mind?
  • How are you thinking you will use it - As an out and about carrier? Around the house? Able to breastfeed in it?
  • What is your price range?

Starting with these key questions, you can work through the categories of carriers and make your selection from there. There are five categories:

  • Pouch – these are size-specific, one-shoulder carriers that are worn like a sash diagonally across your body. Great for quick trips and minimal fuss, but can be hard to find the correct size and not as comfortable for longer lengths of wearing due to the weight being only distributed on one shoulder.
  • Ring Sling – these are generally one size or able to be adjusted to fit a range of sizes and worn in a similar manner to Pouches. They are great for breastfeeding, with newborns and toddlers, and can be wonderful for using when sitting down or when putting on in tight quarters. They can be less comfortable for the same reason as a pouch, and can also feel less secure as baby starts to wiggle and arch.
  •  Mei Tai – these are usually rectangular or square with two sets of straps that wrap around you and knot to secure. They generally have a lower learning curve and can be adjusted to fit a variety of body shapes. They can be a bit trickier to use with a newborn or small baby due to the fixed size of the body panel.
  • Soft Structure Carrier – these are usually rectangular and have buckles attaching the waist and shoulder straps around the wearer. They are generally loved from about when baby is 6 months and up, unless you have an insert or one that features an adjustable base option for use with smaller babies. Some find fit plays the biggest part in whether or not they love this style, since the carrier construction is a more fixed design.
  • Wrap – these are long lengths of fabric designed to be used to carry a baby. They have one of the higher learning curves and a myriad of fabric options, but are highly praised for their comfort and adjustability.

Choosing the Right CarrierThe most common carriers that are loved in the newborn stage are stretchy wraps and ring slings. The comfort and the ability to hug baby while providing the necessary support found in these two styles make them an ideal choice for a first carrier.

If you can make it out to a local shop or babywearing group to try a few different styles out, that is often the best way to find out what you love and what fits you best. Check out Babywearing International for a list of chapters nationwide.

TaiLeah Madill is mama to three and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is passionate about volunteering with her local babywearing group and helping other families enjoy the benefits of wearing their little ones. 

Leave a Comment

Cloth Diapers and Your Circumcised Baby

Cloth Diapers and Your Circumcised babyThose first weeks after baby’s birth are filled with interesting things happening in and around the diaper. There is meconium; the umbilical cord stump also needs a little attention. For some families, their newborn’s care needs include aftercare for circumcision. Whatever brought you to the need to diaper your circumcised son is not my interest here.  You may choose to use disposables until the site is healed. Instead of (or addition to) that option, below are a few helpful hints that doctors and nurses may not know when dealing with circumcision and cloth diapers. To be clear, please follow your doctor’s instructions for aftercare as it can vary by procedure, individual baby needs, and physician preferences.

The major obstacle is the petroleum jelly that most physicians suggest to aid in the healing process. Petroleum jelly sticks to diapers and can cause them to repel (not soak in) moisture.  Ask your doctor if unscented CJ’s BUTTer is an appropriate alternative. Some pediatricians give it the green light while others are hesitant due to lack of research to ensure its safety in caring for a circumcision. Talk with your physician. Be prepared with a sample and ingredient list if possible.

To care for your child’s incision site, you likely need a dollop of your ointment loosely covered with a barrier. Gauze is the go-to in the hospital, but a fleece liner, cotton make-up pad, or cut-up cotton shirt, or receiving blanket are all great options. If you want additional protection for your diaper, add a disposable liner in the diaper (though a disposable liner offers minimal protection).

If you are particularly cautious, you could diaper using flats for those first few days. Flats, with just one thin layer, wash most easily. They don’t have PUL or TPU (the waterproof material that a pocket, AIO, or AI2 have), so you can wash them in very, very hot water without concern of causing damage to your diapers. In the end, if a smudge of Vaseline winds up on your diaper, add a dab of blue Dawn to very hot water and scrub with a toothbrush. Do this before washing the diaper with others so that they are not also inflicted with the jelly.

If you are still considering leaving your son intact or are unsure about the concerns, consider this information on the circumcision decision. If you have your babe here already, enjoy your new squish and look forward to this stage lasting just a few more days. Congratulations!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Leave a Comment

Questions for Your First Daycare Provider

Questions for Your First Daycare ProviderOne of the hardest things I have ever done is find quality childcare for my baby–somebody that I trusted to care for my sweet child while my husband and I were both at work, and then trust that decision enough to leave him there.

I’m not alone. I don’t know many moms that didn’t cry in the car after leaving their baby the first time. Scary stories like these don’t help worried parents, either.

So, how did I find the right fit for us? Well, it was nerve wracking; I researched Internet lists of questions to ask, polled every person I was even somewhat acquainted with for referrals, and finally put my boots on the ground and visited the top contenders. I fretted endlessly over what to ask. After visiting one potential sitter’s home, I was really able to hone the questions I needed to ask and the things to look for.

Whether it’s a center or day-home, assess the caregiver and the environment. Does it appear clean and safe? Do the children appear happy, or do they seem stressed? Are there age-appropriate toys in good working condition, and if there’s an outdoor play space, does it seem safe?

The provider will likely give you a tour of the daycare and also run down the policies. If it’s not outlined, you will want to be clear on closures, sick policies, and vacation policies. They should be licensed by the local government and also have a current CPR certification. They should have a plan for emergencies as well. Tuition and fees should be clearly outlined.

Third, how many children are there total, and what is the adult: child ratio? If it is more than one provider, are all of the adults CPR certified?

Fourth, what do the children do each day? Even if it’s a home-based daycare, it’s good to see structured plans with age-appropriate activities planned in. Little to no television is preferable for many parents. They should show you where your child will take her naps. Food is very important topic to discuss; in the places I have lived, meals and snacks (beyond breastmilk or formula) were provided. Ask about what kinds of meals are served and when.  Allergy issues with any of the children should be discussed as well.

Fifth, ask for referrals (and check them)!

Sixth, does the provider ask YOU questions? Do they ask about your child’s temperament, feeding or nap schedule, likes and dislikes? Do they ask you about discipline (assuming your child is old enough for this)? You want a provider that’s interested in your child and his development.

Once you have found the perfect provider, your work isn’t done. Pay careful attention to your child’s reaction to going (don’t worry, crying is totally normal at first), and if they are talking, make sure to ask questions about their day. Bumps and bruises happen to kids, but if your child gets injured, the provider needs to be up front about how it happened (and you will of course want to make sure they take the necessary precautions that it won’t be a repeat occurrence).

Finally, use your mom intuition. Even if this is your first child, I promise you have mom instincts. Trust them. Between your observations and the information you are told, you will know when you have found the right person or facility. Likewise, if something seems off, trust your gut on that, too.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two boys and a steady stream of foster dogs. She and her family currently live in Japan.

Monday, March 2, 2015
Leave a Comment

Going Dairy Free While Nursing

Going dairy free while nursingWhen my daughter was 8 weeks old, after 2 months of trying everything to comfort a screaming, spitting, unhappy baby, I went dairy free. I’d talked to her pediatrician about the possibility of her issues being reflux, and while he agreed that she had some of the symptoms, he was reluctant to jump straight to medication, as was I. Instead, we decided to try diet modification to see if that might be what was behind what was vexing my sweet girl.

After hours spent reading Kelly Mom about nursing, reflux, and food sensitivities, I decided to try eliminating dairy from my diet first, as it appeared to be the most common food that could transfer through mother’s milk and cause issues in baby. Thankfully, in our case, dairy did seem to be the culprit and I didn’t have to experiment more with my diet. Within a week she seemed happier, with fewer crying jags and less spit up. To confirm this diagnosis, the few times I slipped up were quickly followed with a long day of screaming.

If you’re considering going dairy free as well, here’s what I learned that I can pass on.

  • Babies with dairy sensitivity are not usually lactose intolerant, although that term is often used. Instead, it’s the cow’s milk protein that they can’t digest. So don’t bother switching to lactose free milk, because it more than likely won’t help. Instead, switch to a dairy-free option such as almond, soy, rice, or even hemp milk. I preferred almond milk myself, but try a few and find what suits you.
  • Read your labels. There’s dairy in more items than you may think. Some babies may not have problems with processed (cooked) dairy, but you may want to skip it all just to be safe.
  • At restaurants, don’t go by the menu alone. Talk to the waiter, or see if they can check with the kitchen if you’re unsure if a dish contains dairy. They don’t always spell out all ingredients on the menu. Most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate.
  • Stick with your prenatal vitamin. Dairy may have previously been a large source of your calcium, Vitamin D, and protein. But sure to continue taking your prenatal vitamins to offset this drop. Also seek out non-dairy options that contain these vitamins. Citrus and dark greens are great for calcium, mushrooms contain vitamin D, and nuts and eggs are a great source of protein.
  • Don’t think all of your treats are gone! To my relief and delight, I found that most of my local coffee shops carried at least one, if not multiple, milk alternative options, so my chai teas and coffees were not off limits! I also found delicious dairy-free sorbet and ice cream options at my local grocery stores. I even found out that you can order a cheese-free pizza! No, for a dairy lover, it’s not nearly as satisfying as the real deal, but it beats watching your husband scarf down slices while you nibble on veggies.

A number of sources I’d read mentioned the tendency for most babies to grow out of this intolerance, and many women who’d walked the same path had seen improvement after baby reached 6 months old, so that’s when I slowly began to reintroduce dairy. I started with processed dairy in small quantities, moving on to hard cheese, then yogurt, and I eventually brought back straight milk last. With each reintroduction, I waited a few days to watch for side effects in my daughter but thankfully never saw any. By the time we began baby led weaning a month later, she never had any issue with any food we offered.

Diet changes are hard, especially with something like dairy, an ingredient that many of us have counted as part of our daily diet for our entire lives. The change it brought to our baby and our household, though, was worth it 10 fold. A few months of inconvenience for me were nothing compared to seeing my baby girl grow healthy and happy.

Have you had to make any dietary changes while nursing? What tips would you give to other moms?

Kate is a mostly stay-at-home mom in the Pacific NW who is glad to have half and half back in her coffee and whose daughter now eats anything and everything.

Friday, February 27, 2015
Leave a Comment

When to Lower the Crib

IMG_0593After I put the new baby clothes up, I could never resist walking over to the crib and admiring it in all it’s beauty. Put up to the highest setting, adorned with animals, decorative pillows, quilts and blankets all artfully arranged. Not baby safe in the least, mind you, but beautiful. I loved to gaze at the crib this way in the last months of my pregnancy because I knew once baby came it would never look like this again.

And after nine months of waiting, it’s amazing how fast those little babies grow. There’s so much going on, sometimes we forget a crucial step after each of baby’s little accomplishments—lowering the crib.

Most cribs have three settings, and they are designed to be lowered after two big milestones: rolling over and sitting up. This is to prevent baby from getting ahead of you and figuring things out before you realize they can pull up and swing that leg over the crib.

Once baby can roll over, lower the crib. When baby can sit, put it on it’s lowest setting. 

Lowering the crib promptly will help prevent falls and accidents. Remember, you don’t even have to put the crib on the highest setting to begin with if you don’t need to. Taller moms may not really need it. Many cribs also come in a low profile design for shorter moms, too, which can eliminate the need for the crib to be adjusted high for newborns.

Remember, when baby learns to get out of the crib, it’s over. Take the side off and use a conversion kit to make your crib a toddler bed, or get a new toddler bed. But baby should not be kept in a crib he or she can get out of. It’s just too dangerous. Sadly, some kids—like my middle child–figure this trick out at 10 months.

Another tip to remember when decorating baby’s room is to keep all décor items, curtains, blinds cords, lamps and other room décor out of reach of the crib. You’ll be amazed at what baby can reach once they can stand and they are bored waiting for you to come get them in the morning.

For more tips on keeping baby’s room safe, visit TheChildrensTrust.org.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of one monkey child and two average children. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Leave a Comment