Archive for February, 2015

Going Dairy Free While Nursing

Friday, February 27th, 2015

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.

When to Lower the Crib

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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

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

Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Warning Signs of Postpartum DepressionPostpartum depression is a hard topic to write about. No one really expects it, since for most people, the days leading up to and having baby are spent feeling hugely happy and hopeful. The switch to feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and alone is stunning. It’s so stunning that you don’t realize it’s your hormones, and not you, your husband or your baby to blame. That’s why it can be so hard to reach out and get help. Things are supposed to be vastly different after having a baby. Your whole life is supposed to change, and it’s easy to feel like this change just wasn’t the change you imagined.

I experienced postpartum depression with my first child, but not with my second and third. The difference is huge between seeing baby through those hormones and being clear of that dark veil. I think I would have gotten help much sooner if I had that experience with my second baby and not my first. But, I also experienced depression while weaning my third child. Even with all that experience with mothering and children and knowing I was capable, I still doubted myself when depression clouded my perspective.

Here is a list of the warning signs of post-partum depression, but what I am adding to it here is how it manifested itself, not in medical speak but in terms of real life fears and emotions, how it snuck up on me, and looking back, how I rationalized it in the moment.

  • Unable to sleep/Fatigue – This was confounding since I felt so totally mentally and physically exhausted. When I would lay down or try to nap, nothing happened. My mind raced, I made to-do lists, listened for phantom baby sounds, imagined terrible things happening to the baby or the house while I slept, or checked the clock every few minutes. With my first child, the insomnia was so bad that I started to feel depressed when evening came because I knew the entire night would be a struggle.
  • Anger toward the baby or other family members – The main difference I noticed in the newborn period with my second baby is that her crying didn’t make me mad. I felt sorry for her when she cried. This was new to me, because with my first I was depressed enough that the baby crying put me over the edge. I didn’t feel empathy for her, I felt anger, and I didn’t know that wasn’t normal. I was just so tired and frustrated and out of ideas of how to care for this child. Looking back, it was pretty scary. When you stop empathizing with your baby, step back. Take a break. Call in help.
  • Sadness/hopelessness – When you’re in your right mind, it makes sense that the odds of everything in your life going wrong at once are pretty slim. Usually, things fall one at a time. But when I’m depressed, I feel like everything is going wrong in every area all at once. It’s like I am unable to see good anywhere in my life. Although it feels genuine when you’re in it, I try to remember that it’s not likely to actually be happening in every area at once, and those thoughts have now become part of my red flags collection.
  • Feelings of doubt or guilt – This always came out of me in the form of, “I can’t do this,” “I’m just not cut out for this,” “I’m not meant to be a mom,” “Anyone else could do a better job than me,” and other expressions of self-doubt. During these times, I simply could not be on social media at all. Every post felt like knives aimed at my heart.
  • Loss of interest in things you love – As a new mom, it’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time for any of the activities that you used to enjoy. When I am depressed, the desire to go for a run is the first thing to go. If my husband suggested that I go for a walk or run because he knows how great it is for my mental health, I would get angry and make excuses. Even taking a shower, doing my hair and putting on makeup for the day felt like a huge effort that I just didn’t have time for.
  • Thinking about suicide – Sometimes my mind would wander this way. Not in a way that I was seriously planning it, but I would fantasize about what would happen to everyone. Would they be financially stable? Would my husband be able to find childcare? How long until everyone was in school—could I wait until then? At the time it didn’t feel like that was a dangerous thing to think about, I guess because I wasn’t making plans for me, I was thinking about them. But it’s the same thing–you are imagining yourself out of the picture. I think a precursor to suicidal thoughts may be when you just don’t want to go home. You might dread turning into your driveway, or imagine yourself just driving right on past your house. For me anyway, this feeling preceded my depression.

If you have experienced depression before, try to remember how you felt, what your red flags were when you looked back and recognized behavior that wasn’t normal. Try to make your own personal checklist and share it with those closest to you—because no one exhibits behavior in a strictly clinical way.

You can also do an online postpartum depression assessment with your partner, a family member or close friend to help determine if you are exhibiting signs or symptoms of PPD. I highly recommend completing it with another person—when you’re depressed, even when it’s pointed out to you in black and white, getting help just seems so out of reach, so much work, another thing you don’t have time to do. It’s a huge step you may not want to take, and having accountability can help you get the help you need.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Our First Call to Poison Control

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

When it comes to detergent, I was always an equal opportunist. Whatever happened to be on sale was the one that was getting purchased. This is how I came to possess two large bags of Tide POD detergents in a flashy purple color. I didn’t think much of them but placed them where I normally place our detergent, on the top shelf of our laundry room cabinet.

A few days later, I was busy helping my oldest son pour a glass of milk in the kitchen. As he was pulling out the milk, I heard what sounded like someone throwing up. I ran down the hall, towards the playroom, and saw my youngest coming out of the laundry room next door, projectile vomiting everywhere. My immediate thought was that he had a flu bug, but, it was violent and he looked panicked. That is when I saw the empty POD capsule laying on the ground next to my open, front loader washing machine. My 2 year old had used the front loader to hike his leg up and climb on top of the washing machine. He had seen the packaging, opened it, and popped one in his mouth. I had my eyes off of him for about 3 minutes. It happened so quickly.

The vomiting subsided and I urgently called my husband who is in the healthcare field. I was having trouble containing my panic, and my normally calm husband was also very concerned. But instead of telling me to go to the Emergency Department, he suggested that I try not to panic and to call Poison Control right away. I was hesitant, thinking I should either call an ambulance or drive to the nearest hospital across town. Considering that our son was not having breathing issues, he encouraged me to call PC and he assured me that they would be able to tell us exactly what to do in a timely manner.

The American Association of Poison Control number is 1 (800) 222-1222. When you call, they will quickly take down some basic information about you and then let you tell them exactly what precipitated your phone call. In my case, I found the operator to be extremely calm and factual. I was concerned that she would be condescending or “judgey” but she was the opposite, and she made me feel immediately relieved.

She listened to his symptoms and then let me know that typically the worst cases occur when the child has swallowed the entire pod. Apparently, the way the PODS are designed, they almost always immediately burst upon being touched by even the slightest amount of water. I was extremely lucky that he spit out the casing after it exploded in his mouth. She informed me that unlike regular detergents, the PODS usually cause extreme vomiting in children, and it is not known exactly why this happens. In our case, he had vomited, which was a good thing, and his breathing was not labored. The first 30 minutes are the most crucial and if there are any breathing issues, poison control will tell you to call 911 right away. My youngest had some interesting bowel movements in the days following, but had otherwise returned to his normal self.

That day I threw the entire large bag of PODS away. I didn’t even want to donate considering how easily they can harm a child. My son had never shown an interest in them before, but they are brightly colored and look like a large piece of candy, so it is not surprising that toddlers go after them. I mistakenly thought that the height of the cabinet ensured they were out of reach. Now I lock up everything and I avoid buying anything that resembles a POD–detergent, dishwashing squares, fabric softener.

Ours wasn’t the first or last child to be harmed by this product–Tide actually agreed to a redesign of the PODS products after 250 reported cases of children eating them in 2012 alone, including a 7-month-old who died after getting ahold of one.

If you are ever in a situation where your child has consumed something or has touched something that is hazardous, Poison Control is a great resource with wealth of knowledge, who can help you decide the best course of action.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a mom of two very active boys and certified personal trainer who lives and writes in sunny Tucson, Arizona. 

Working at Home with a Newborn

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

WAHM 1One of the hardest decisions that parents–especially mothers– can face after baby is born is the decision of whether or not to return to work and how to manage baby with the financial needs of the household. More families are choosing to modify their work choices or schedules to integrate caring for their little one into their professional lives.

Some parents find that their work is willing to allow them to bring baby with them when they return or to adjust the workload in such a way as to allow them to work from home. This can be a good solution to meet the needs of baby while contributing to the family’s bottom line. In either situation, a bit of preparation and a few tools will make the transition as seamless as can be.

Beyond the essentials like diapers, these few things are worth gathering:

1)     A baby carrier. Babies who are worn cry less and are more content than those that are not. You also have the advantage of having your hands free to continue on with your tasks when baby in worn. A ring sling or a stretchy wrap can be a great choice with newborns. A ring sling is quick to get baby in and out of, usually has a lower learning curve, and can transition to a supported nursing position easily. It can be great with computer work or those tasks that require you to be sitting in one place. A stretchy wrap can give more long term support and comfort, and it able to be pre tied to allow for baby to be easily slipped in and out as needed. It can be great for when you need to be up and about, moving around, bending over and lifting lightweight objects.

2)     An infant swing or seat. There will be times you need to set baby down. Having a safe secure place to do so, that doesn’t require a large amount of space can be key. A travel swing that can be folded and tucked away when not in use or an infant rocker can be compact ways to provide that space.

WAHM 23)     Nursing/Pumping friendly Attire: A necessary for breastfeeding mothers. Plan your attire to provide quick, easy access for baby to nurse, especially helpful when using a carrier and nursing–a power combo! Breastfeeding tanks or tees can make discreet access readily available. Using a nursing cover can be convenient for other mothers as well. Nursing your baby on demand helps to regulate your supply, meets baby’s need for closeness and nutrition for optimal growth, and helps your little one stave off infections.

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.