Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food Scrutiny

Like (hopefully) every parent, I am concerned about what sort of food my daughter is eating. I am starting to get pretty frightened over what we don't know about where our food comes from. Every day lately you hear stories in the news about the lack of labeling, GMOs that we don't know about, mistreatment of animals, pesticides, artificial coloring - all of this a part of what we put into our bodies.

Around the time my daughter started eating table food, I have started to turn my household into an all-organic one. As she watches what we eat, and then compares it to what she eats, she points out to me (sometimes literally) that she needs to be able to eat exactly what we eat. Which means what exactly? That my husband and I need to eat more healthy as well.

And prior to being a parent, I have always been highly concerned about what I eat - but it was more about fat and calories than anything else. As I learn more about what all these confusing ingredients mean, it is hard for me to not buy the fat-free version of something in exchange for the full-fat version. I had been programmed so long to think fat is bad.

But honestly, it just goes back to what we've always been told: everything in moderation. A moderate amount of fat in your diet not only requires you to avoid chemically-modified fat-free versions, but fat helps your body absorb the vitamins it needs to be healthy (for example, the type of salad dressing you use determines whether or not your body will actually recognize those vegetables as nutritious).

I'm probably having the toughest time with milk. I was raised to drink milk, and I have always been a big fan. I used to be proud that I could drink a gallon on my own in less than a workweek. But after learning so much about milk and its variations while learning about the ins and outs of breastfeeding, I'm not sure anymore. It definitely seems to have a lot of sugar in it for a beverage. But isn't it good for our bones? Ugh.

Here are some articles I've been reading lately that cause me to be concerned about our food supply:

Why Fat-free Salad Dressings Are Ridiculous

11 Horrifying Facts About Your Groceries

Monsanto Protect Act: 5 Terrifying Things to Know About the HR933 Provision

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mom Competition

We've all apparently felt it. And heard the comments. And probably made the comments. Moms bash other moms ALL. THE. TIME. Why? I'm guessing it's because it makes us feel like we are doing that much less of a crappy job as a parent if you can point out at least ONE person who is doing worse than you. The problem is, this behavior/thought process/arrogance does no one any good, especially your children.

We are surrounded by judgmental looks on the playground, reality TV shows like "Dance Moms" where the parents spend their lives cutting each other down, and our own insecurities - it's amazing our kids can get themselves to school in the morning.

If you've ever read a thread on a parenting message board where a proud parent is asking if their 1 year old is "advanced" because of A, B, C, that parent will be shot down so fast it is like they were lurking in the background and waiting for this type of post. I have rarely ever seen supportive comments come out of that discussion, and I feel like it is all driven by competitiveness and jealousy.

It has to stop! Why not just say, "Hey, that's great that your kid can do that! You must be spending a lot of time working on X skill with your child." What is the harm in that? As parents, we rarely get reassurance we are doing things right, and a comment like that might just keep that household going one more day that week! Think of it like the basic compliment - you tell someone you like their outfit or their hair why? Because you have to? No, because you want them to feel good about it! What's wrong with someone feeling good about their parenting? It in no way takes away from how you parent, just like a hair compliment doesn't make you look any less attractive.

What I fear are those parents you see on reality TV (so they must be real, right?) who will take discussions with other parents as far as yelling and screaming, with the obligatory foul language - and right in front of their kids! That is child abuse if I've ever seen it. I still can't believe the networks don't get involved, but apparently you sell your soul for ratings.

Be a better parent. Make someone else feel like a better parent. Your kids will thank you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Listmania: Baby Registry Must Haves

Nowadays most full-time parents will register at a chain brand for baby items that will come in handy during baby's first year. I did a lot of research around the time I was 4-6 months pregnant and was focusing on the safest, most highly-recommended items by parents who had "been there, done that". Now that we have made it through our first year, here is a list of items (and recommended brands where applicable) that I could not have lived without.
$15K crib for rich kids. Not normal.
  1. Pack-N-Play This item was used as Bugga's bed for the first couple months. It is portable so it can be moved from room to room easily if necessary. We selected one with a "newborn napper" feature that was a cozy bassinet-like piece that attached to the top of the item. Note - once our daughter moved to her crib for all her sleeping, we honestly didn't use this anymore, unless we were roadtripping and had space to take it with us for use in a hotel or another home.
  2. Crib Once Bugga was ready for her own room, she needed somewhere to sleep, and all babies need a crib at some point. Do NOT get a dropside crib, if that even needs to be mentioned.
  3. Crib Mattress Obviously required or your infant is sleeping on the wood board at the bottom of the crib, and who wants that? There are tons on the market - look for waterproof styles, and there are even eco-versions that work great.
  4. Crib Slat Bumpers The standard bumpers should not ever be placed in the crib, unless you are photographing the nursery before your baby is born. It just isn't worth the suffocation risk. Or the risk your baby will get caught in it - also not good. I still don't understand why so many parents keep buying these things. Or that they're even still sold in the first place. What you might not expect as well is several months into this parenting thing your baby starts to become mobile and keeps whacking his or her head on the wood of the crib at night (ours certainly did). And then tries pulling up in the crib at 2am and REALLY whacks her head when she falls backward. That sound broke my heart and it will break yours. Slat bumpers are the best thing since sliced bread, and I wish I knew about them when I was putting my registry together so we could avoid all the head-smacking. These are safe, they look nice, and they are even cozy for your baby. Your bigger kid can't use them to climb on (like regular bumpers) and air still passes freely between them. OK off my soapbox. Get these.
  5. Warming Plate Once your kiddo starts eating solids, you might be defrosting food cubes on a daily basis. If you are like me, you will often forget to take things out of the freezer the night before for thawing, and the microwave leaves hotspots that can burn your child's mouth. A warming plate like this one heats things quickly and safely.
  6. Video Monitor When Bugga was born we lived in a small two-bedroom house where even when she was in her crib, she was barely 20 feet from us. We assumed a simple audio monitor would be fine. Until we tried sleep training. With an audio monitor we could not tell why she was crying - sometimes we thought she might just be upset because we had stepped out of the room for 5 minutes too long, but then we'd return to find her leg had gotten stuck between the crib slats and we didn't know until we went back into the room. Once we ordered our audio monitor, we never looked back. I still love to peek at her sleeping on the camera, and I can do this without having to go into her room to disturb her.
  7. Diaper Pail There are a lot of these on the market, and they are relatively inexpensive. We have the Arm & Hammer version, but I've heard good and bad experience with every single one, so just pick one. But you DEFINITELY need something to corral the evil odor that comes with diapers.
  8. Strollers You can probably survive with only one. You can even get the all-in-one travel system style that can get you easily through the first year. But those are heavy and often excessive for everyday needs. What worked for us: a Snap-and-Go style stroller that is pretty much nothing but a stroller frame that your infant carseat snaps right into. It is light, and should be able to be closed with one hand (and maybe a foot). You also need an umbrella stroller which is easy for popping out of the back of the car, or taking on airplane trips (get one with a carrying case to protect it from dirt and damage when gate checked like the Chicco Capri that we use still). We also have a jogging stroller. I wish I used that thing more. I am not a jogger, though I seriously tried when I was on maternity leave. It's just not my thing. And the stroller is pretty bulky for heaving in and out of the trunk compared to our umbrella stroller which is just as good. If you do a lot of outdoorsy stuff, then a jogger is more on the must list. But bottom line - you NEED a stroller(s).
  9. Infant Car Seat Try to find one that contains your child as long as possible based on height and weight maximum capacities. Many go up to 35 pounds, but typically kiddos quickly outgrow their car seats based on their height versus their weight. By the way, don't mess around on this one. Find the safest rated car seat on the market based on Consumer Reports. There is ZERO reason not to. At the time we had our baby, the Graco SnugRide was one of the highest rated, and at 15 months Bugga has still not yet grown out of it (though we are on the verge).
  10. Baby Bouncer / Swing OK the hard truth about these items is that every child is different. Some like one and not the other, and vice versa. We registered for both a bouncer and a space-age-style swing. The bouncer was a LIFESAVER while Bugga hated the swing. Well, she didn't hate it, but she certainly didn't want to be in it for more than 10 minutes, which for me is a huge fail. So that thing is taking up some serious closet space should potential baby #2 have a different opinion.
  11. A great double breast pump and all the related parts If you are breastfeeding, you need a pump, and a double electric pump is the only way to go. This makes pumping quick, because you certainly don't want to spend extra time doing this if you don't have to. You can also get the battery pack and/or the car lighter adapter so you can do this anywhere that works for you. I used this one and it was fantastic for every situation I needed it in. Oh, and although I linked to the product on Amazon, I actually bought it from Baby Depot for less than $200 (vs. $270 on Amazon and Babies R Us) so definitely price shop if that is a concern for you.
  12. Doesn't your kid need a stroller made by Aston-Martin?
    No, no he does not.
  13. Baby Toiletries It should be obvious, but you need all of the following in baby size: brush, comb, nail clippers, nose sucker, and thermometer. I also recommend a Nose Frida - it is disgusting, but holy crap this thing works. Don't forget shampoo, baby wash, and lotion for bath time. You might also want to have on hand Baby Tylenol, Baby Vick's Vapor Rub (for the bottoms of their feet when they are stuffed up), diaper rash cream, Little Noses saline solution (for stuffy noses), and Little Tummys gas relief drops (for gas obviously). You hopefully won't need these at all right away, but you never know, and it sucks to have to run out to the drugstore in the middle of the night.
If you are looking for some toys to add to your registry, or to have ready for their homecoming, here is a list of toys that we enjoyed in our house from birth to 8 months old.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Listmania: What to Put in Those Picky Toddler Bento Boxes

I have a picky eater, at least at meal time. This usually leads me to spooning banana into her mouth as she plays around the house, or allowing her to carry around a snack cup full of cheddar bunnies. So I searched for the solution and all over Pinterest I kept seeing this great idea for Baby Bento boxes (at least this is what I call them).

Essentially you take an ice cube tray and fill each spot with colorful, healthy foods, then place this artistic buffet in front of your toddler and watch the magic happen. She no longer has to fight me on food because she can pick whatever she wants! It's genius! I want her to enjoy her lifelong experience with food, and I want her to make her own healthy decisions (something I still need to be better at for myself).

What seemed to be a little lacking in all these posts is ideas on WHAT to put in each of these snack compartments, so THAT is what you will find listed below. Pick and choose obviously as YOU please - we all have different opinions on what should go into our children.

It goes without saying that all these foods should be bite-size, right? Please cut them up appropriately. My daughter can handle all these food options, and she (still) only has two teeth.

Do you have additional ideas? I would love to try new things I'm not sure she'll like...from the pic above, she already learned that she actually LIKES cucumber and corn - SCORE! I'll add more as we explore more options!

Baby Bento Box Ideas

  1. Blueberries
  2. Grapes
  3. Strawberries
  4. Mango
  5. Mandarin oranges
  6. Raspberries
  7. Blackberries
  8. Raisins
  9. Craisins
  1. Green peas
  2. Corn
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumber
  5. Broccoli
  6. Steamed sweet potatoes
  1. Cheddar Bunnies (Whole Foods organic knockoff of the infamous Goldfish)
  2. Wheat Bunnies
  3. Cooked conchiglietti (baby shell pasta - we go through BOXES of this in our house since this is the easiest thing to get Bugga to eat)
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Cheerios
  6. Baby puffs
  7. Kix cereal
  1. Yogurt
  2. Cheese chunks
  1. Cooked turkey hotdog
  2. Mini peanut butter on tortilla sandwich bites
  3. Chopped egg white
  4. Scrambled egg