Surviving Parenthood

Preparing for your Baby’s homecoming!

by Mother of two

Preparing for your BABY’s homecoming!  I was never able to find a good list as I prepared for my first baby.  I tried to strike a balance between preparedness, and practicality.  We over stocked on some items for my Little Lum because we were simply inexperienced and did not know what we needed.  So now as a more seasoned parent here is my very own list for new parents.  Not too over the top, but just the bare essentials that I think you might need.

  1. Diapers & Wipes – 50 newborn diapers a few packs of “fragrance free” & “sensitive” diaper wipes.  If you have a smaller baby (less than 8lbs) you can probably use 100 newborn diapers.  Don’t stock up on sizes, N (newborn), 1 & 2.  Your baby will be growing very fast at this stage and he will outgrow the diaper size very fast.  I switched my 8 lbs baby to size one (1) the same week we came home from the hospital.  His thighs were already a bit chubby for the newborn diapers.  As for the baby wipes, I normally like to rinse my wipes in warm water to decrease the chemicals and to provide a more soothing warm wipe (see #10 Chinese hot water warmer).
  2. Formula – Even if you are breastfeeding it is always nice to keep some formula around just in case you want to take a longer nap or have someone watch your baby for more than a few hours.  Be careful not to over stock too many of one kind.  Some babies develop constipation or spit up on certain brands.  I used Nestle Good Start for my baby’s first few months because he digested better.
  3. Bottles – I used Evenflo glass bottles (simple & inexpensive) and switched to a BPA-Free plastic one when I needed a bigger sized bottle. A newborn will need feeding every two hours so you might want at least 6 bottles so you won’t have to be washing all the time.  I had Avent bottles that LEAKED and LEAKED and LEAKED.  I really hate them!  I heard that they bandaged the problem since I purchased my bottles but I am not trying them again.  (Please read my Avent bottle article if you are still interested.)
  4. Pacifiers –Don’t judge.  They can be a lifesaver when you are overly tired and really need some sleep.
  5. Layettes – 5-10 onesies.  I prefer the kimono style or front snap versus the pull over for the newborn because they are easier to put on.  Because I swaddle my babies, I normally put them in the half body onesies with bare legs.    Depending on the weather, you might need to put more or less clothing on your baby (or just use your heater/AC). Remember to wash all of your baby’s clothes, blankets, etc before using.
  6. Mittens & socks – I like socks because you can double them up and use them as mittens to prevent you baby from scratching himself.  Make sure you wash you baby’s hands regularly, they tend to develop a funky smell if you keep them wrapped up for too long.
  7. Swaddling blankets – 3-6.  If you plan to swaddle your baby then you may need more. I like larger blankets and avoid the smaller receiving blankets that are 28×28.
  8. Heater & Humidifier – I like to keep my nursery warmer than the rest of the house.  So I normally have a space heater (oil filled radiator) and a humidifier running at the same time.
  9. Chinese hot water warmer – This appliance provides instant hot water.  We use it to mix formula and also to rinse and warm up our baby wipes.
  10. Crib – Assemble cribs and bedding before your baby’s arrival.  Make sure to wash all beddings with unscented detergent before using.
  11. Baby Swing – Baby swings really helps me at night and is an absolute necessity in my house.  I use it mainly at night after a late feeding to help him sleep longer, so that I can sleep.  Don’t forget, if your baby doesn’t sleep you don’t get to sleep either.
  12. Carseat/Infant carrier – Install the base in your car prior to delivery.
  13. Detergent – We use “All” in the white bottles.  It is less expensive than “Dreft”.  My kids seem to be okay with it.
  14. Baby Hygienic Products – I try to use an all-natural lotion and shampoo, like “Burt’s Bee Baby” or “California Baby” for my infants because they tend to have very sensitive skin.
  15. Baby Bathtub – It is really hard to bathe an infant.  Your baby bathtub should be one with an attachable net for newborns.  There is a new soft foldable tub called PUJ TUB.  Looks interesting but I haven’t tried it.
  16. Amazon Mom – During my first few months home I used Amazon Mom all the time.  Amazon Mom is a program that

Make sure all of the above baby supplies are easily accessible for (not only you) your spouse, grandparents, friends, neighbors or anyone coming in to help you with the baby.  You want to make sure people don’t have to wake you up and ask you for things when you are napping.  This will make things run much smoother and also helps Mommy get as much rest as you can.

Preparing for Mommy’s homecoming!

by Mother of two

Preparing for Mommy’s homecoming!  When I was preparing for my first baby and researching on supplies and preparations needed, I saw very little information about preparing for Mommy’s homecoming. I was very fortunate to have a great coworker who gave me the following list.  Thank you JK.

  1. Feminine Pads – Thinner & larger the better.  I would stock up before having a baby; otherwise I have to send my poor husband to the store with very specific instructions on which kind to buy (speaking from personal experience).
  2. Granny Panties – Ugly, but you don’t feel guilty if you ruin them
  3. Tucks Pads – Really work and make your sore spot feel better.  If you have a tear/episiotomy and are really uncomfortable, try sticking a few on your pad and voila!  P.S. these are flushable.
  4. Dermaplast – If you have a tear/episiotomy, spray your sore spot when uncomfortable epescially going or just after bathroom visits.  I was given one in the hospital to use and took it home when I left.
  5. Docusate Sodium (stool softner) – So you don’t have to buy them when you’re discharged from the hospital.  It will really make going to the bathroom (stool) easier, and is a definite must if you have a tear/episiotomy.  I took this religiously for the first few weeks after delivery.
  6. Prenatal Vitamins
  7. Advil (Ibuprofen) – I took it around the clock as prescribed by my doctor as part of my discharge for the first few days.  I had tears and this really helped with the discomfort.
  8. Sitz Bath – If you have a tear/episiotomy, really do this.  It improves circulation and cleans out the area and improves healing.  Use warm/hot (as hot as you can tolerate water and as often as you can (easier said than done, I know). I was given one in the hospital, but sometimes you need to ask the nurse if it is not already in your room.
  9. Hand Held Mirror – To check healing areas.  It is better to look and keep an eye on things than to be shy.
  10. Chux (blue sheet things from hospital) – To protect your bed sheets either before delivery/after delivery.  I use this in public restroom to line the changing table before placing down my changing pad. I lay these underneath my preschooler’s bed sheet.  Since he sleeps without a diaper now, this helps me clean up his bed quickly at night if he has accidents.  I just pull off the top layer of sheet and chux and he is ready to go.
  11. Headbands to quickly get your hair under control.  I normally cut my hair short before delivering and I normally loose A LOT of hair after the baby comes.  The headband also helps me keep my bathroom floors free from the loose hair.
  12. Snacks – It is so hard to feed yourself and take care of yourself.  Sleep when you can and eat when you can.  Cleaning can wait.
  13. Stretchmark cream – Hey, if there is any chance that it works, I am all for it.
  14. Helpful tip:  The hospital will give you a Peri-Bottle (basically a squirt bottle) to help keep you clean when using the bathroom. Try to get an extra one (one for each bathroom you have at home) if you can.  They come in handy later as great bath play-toy for kids (silly, yes).
  15. Helpful tip:  If its really uncomfortable to sit try sitting on a soft pillow instead of a donut shaped pillow or Boppy.

There is no easy way to handle the first few months following your baby’s arrival.  Take all the help you can.  Anyone who wants to come and hold your baby for a few hours while you sleep is welcomed to.  If you can afford it, get someone to come and clean your house during this time.  Grandparents are also great help.  If you have a type “A” personality like me, you will need to learn to let go a bit.  With all that in mind make sure that you enjoy your time with your baby because before you know it, they will be all grown up before your eyes.

How to get your baby to sleep through the night?

by Mother of two

“How to get your baby to sleep through the night?”  is the million dollar question for all struggling parents trying to get a decent night sleep.  There are countless books and articles published on the subject promising you results, but I personally do not believe that there is a perfect solution.  Your results will always vary from baby to baby and from parent to parent.  Ultimately as a parent you will try anything that will work for your baby, so with that in mind here are some tips that I hope you will find useful.

  1. Establishing a Bedtime Routine – Regardless of what sleeping methods you are contemplating,  a bedtime routine is helpful.  It helps encourage your baby to recognize that bedtime is approaching.  Our bedtime routine includes, a short book, a diaper change, a change into pajamas, the dimming of lights, and soft classical music.  Whatever you choose for your sleep routine, just know that consistency and repetition will be the key to establishing your routine.
  2. Recognizing Sleep Patterns – Make sure you notice your baby’s sleeping pattern.  There should be one stretch where he/she sleeps longer than usual.  If this is during the day, I would try to shift it gradually until this long stretch is firmly moved to nighttime hours.  You do this by keeping your baby awake longer before his naps to make the adjustments.  This is easier said than done, this may take a few days so be patient.
  3. Feeding – Try to see if your baby will feed more right before bedtime.  1-2 ounces might make a difference, but don’t force your baby.  When he or she is able to take baby cereal, try to add some into the baby formula.  The solid food will keep your baby full and asleep for longer stretches of the night.
  4. Baby Swing – Might help your baby sleep longer at night.  I mainly only use it at night time to maximize sleeping time (for baby & Mommy).  But do not use it all the time, or your baby will get so used (mostly addicted) to it that he will only sleep while being swung.
  5. Pacifier – Some babies won’t take a pacifier and others will.  Regardless of how you feel, pacifiers can help your baby sleep longer.  We don’t judge!
  6. Soothing Bath –A warm soothing bath helps to directly calm and relax your baby. This is a great addition to your bedtime routine.
  7. Swaddling – Newborns especially like a tight swaddle to mimic their time in the womb.  This also helps keep their hands from swatting their faces and waking themselves up.  The right swaddling method may take some practice to master.  I personally prefer larger blankets to make a tight wrap around my newborn.
  8. Be Realistic – Your few weeks old baby will not sleep through the night.  Some will not completely sleep through the night until he/she is over a year old.  Be grateful if your baby wakes up to feed and goes right back to sleep afterwards.

Don’t ever feel like a failure!  Even if you tried everything and feel like nothing has worked.  It is not you or your baby’s fault.  With Little Lum, I tried to follow a rigorous routine and it backfired on me.  We had to take him for long drives at night to get him to sleep.  And he didn’t sleep through the night without waking up for milk until he was past one year old.

With Little Wing, he was much easier.  He was able to sleep through the night without any problems.  We still read a book, dim the lights, and turn on soft classical music for him.  Around 10-11 months he even stopped waking up to drink milk.  What a sweetheart!

Each kid is different.  Don’t be so hard on yourself or your baby.  Be flexible and just go with the flow.  (Easier said than done, especially when you have to wake up a few times a night).  Good Luck!

Baby Essentials: North Star Gate (Setting up a play area)

by Mother of two

Little Lum's Play Pen. This picture was taken when he was older. We had more baby friend toys when he was younger.

We purchased the North Star Gate with extra extensions for our son when he was 7 months old in order to create a play area.  We have a cluttered living room with floor tiles so it was imperative for us to establish a safe and comfortable spot for him to play in. We started by isolating a large area (roughly 6’ X 6’) and laying out a soft “ABC Foam Mat” on top of our place mat (for added cushioning)

We then set up the fence on top.  Here is a tip, the longer you build the walls the weaker they become.  So instead of constructing a large square or rectangular enclosure, build a hexagon or an octagon with your fence instead.  The extra bends will make it more stable.

The next thing we did was to attach clip on toys on to the fence, and add a mix of stuff animals and other small toys.  We would rotate and switch out toys to create a different combination and selection of toys inside the playpen regularly.  That kept things fresh and interesting for my son.  My Lum really loved it and could entertain himself in there for a prolonged period.  It was also just very convenient to have a safe place to settle him down when  my husband and I were busy. We used the playpen for over 6 months, until our son began to walk.  By then he could stand up and rattle the gates and demand to be let out.

Baby Essentials: Diappers

by Mother of two

How much to buy?

In preparation for a newborn I would only stock 50-75 “newborn” size diapers for an average size baby (7-8lbs).  A newborn baby may go anywhere from 8-12 diapers daily.  My recommendation would be not to over stock on (N) newborn or size (1) diapers.  Diapers allow for some flexibility because the sizes overlap.  The straps allow you adjust to a slightly larger or smaller baby so you don’t really have to overstock on any particular size.  My second baby was born at over 8 pounds so we managed to skip to a size (1) by our first few days out of the hospital.  Fortunately for us we did not overstock on our newborn diapers.

Huggies vs. Pampers:

In the battle between Huggies & Pampers, Pampers has a slight edge in the marketplace, but I personally prefer the Huggies.  Pampers smell better and feel more cloth like.  Their advertisement boasts of a thinner diaper with the same holding capacity as the competition.  In practice, I find that the Huggies hold more.  But the real deal breaker for me was not capacity but the velcro tabs design on the Pampers Swaddler.

The velcro tabs on Pampers Swaddler are made from hard plastic that can create a sharp edge that pokes uncomfortably into your baby’s thigh. This is especially concerning for chunkier babies.  I was so frustrated at the hospital with my Little Wing diapers that I switched immediately to Huggies after I came home. Overall, I don’t have a very strong preference for either brand.  Just whichever one is on sale.  Costco carries Huggies so it is more convenient for us.  I also like the new Slip-On diapers from Huggies for my older Toddler.  The Slip-On diapers are like Pull-Ups but they can absorb more.

Best Diaper Prices:

Speaking about Costco, I buy wipes and diapers from Costco because it is convenient and not because it has the best price.  If you can spare two days, you can sometimes purchase the items much cheaper through your “Amazon Mom” (15% off from regular with their “Subscribe and Save” (additional 5% off) and have it conveniently delivered to your home.  If you are into couponing, you can catch equally great deals at your local superstores like Target or Walmart or local drugstores like CVS or Rite Aid.  The one downside, being that it can be very time consuming to collect coupons and match it to the best local sale.

Baby Essentials: Water Boiler & Warmer

by Mother of two

A Water Boiler & Warmer is an absolute must have for everyone with or without babies, but it is definitely essential for new parents.  Most Asian families probably already have one in their kitchen.  It is an appliance that boils and maintains readily hot to warm drinking water at the press of the button. Most machines will allow you to program and set the temperature you prefer so you can have readily available hot water for either a late night cup of noodles, tea, coffee, cooking, you name it.  Since we have babies, we mainly use ours to mix baby formula or to rewarm bottles.  We also use it to provide warm water to warm our diaper wipes at night for the kids.  Sometimes you simply can’t wait (crying baby) for the cold water pipes (especially at night) to heat up and provide you with hot water.   It’s a great appliance to have in any household.  I also strongly recommend it for the college dorm room.  It’s like your first smartphone, once you’ve had one you cannot imagine how you could live your whole life without one.  Yes, it’s that great of an appliance and it will simplify your life tremendously.

Baby Essentials: Gerber Nuk Bottles

by Mother of two

Little Wing's new bottles

I am so excited!   One of my Christmas presents from the Hubby are a set of new baby bottles.  We have been struggling with our old Avent Bottles for a while now I am ready to toss them in the TRASH.  No more leaky bottles.

We decided on Nuk Orthodontic Bottles because Little Wing is currently using Nuk Pacifiers and we thought this would facilitate a smoother transition.  The bottles are BPA-Free with a wide mouth.  The lid stands by itself without rolling around on the countertop.  The Nuk orthodontic nipples promotes healthy teeth formation and has an “Anti-Colic Air System” that allows air to flow into the bottles and not to your baby’s belly.  This prevents nipples from collapsing and allows a better flow during feeding.  The bottles come in 3 different colors and 2 sizes, 5 oz. & 10 oz.

As much as I like these new bottles there are a few things to take note of.  First of all, the nipple are unidirectional, meaning there is a top and a bottom.  I normally look for the venting hole, which should always be facing upwards.  When mixing the bottles, the provided cap should be used otherwise milk will spill from the hole in the nipple from the shaking.  The caps must also be used for traveling because the bottles will spill if they are tipped over.  This is however not uncommon, as it should be noted that most brands of baby bottles come with a similar cap for the exact same reason.  Other than these two issues I do not really love these bottles and most importantly, so does Little Wing.

Baby Essentials: Avent Plastic Bottles

by Mother of two

9 oz Avent Bottles

Adapter ring makes the neck too tall to close. I think the new bottles have a shorter neck.

I switched to Philips Avent bottles when I started to train my baby to hold his own bottles (at around 9-12 months old).  The bottles look great and feel much sturdier then the average plastic bottles.  They are made with a hard BPA-FREE plastic with a honey color tint which gives it a unique appearance. These bottles have a wider mouth, which makes it easier to mix the Baby Formula Powder (especially when you are barely awake at 2:00 AM in the morning).  The lids are flat and will sit on the counter without rolling off.  Their biggest plus is the bottles are built with a venting system to prevent the nipples from collapsing when your baby drinks too fast.  As my Little Wing grew and he became a much faster drinker, collapsing nipples on the Evenflo bottles became a reoccurring problem so we really appreciated the Avent bottles when we first switched over, well at least in the beginning we did.

Then came the infamous Avent bottle leaks.  With my Little Lum, about 35% of the time the Avent bottles would leak.  It was an annoyance in the daytime, and a really bad nuisance in the middle of the night when I needed to quickly put my baby back to sleep.  Instead of a quick bottle to calm my baby, I would end up with sticky hands full of formula and an irritated baby that had to wait for his bottle readjustments.  At first we thought it was us, so we would reopen the bottle to readjust the nipple.  We did some research online and found out that this was a very common problem with this brand of bottles.

For some reason the Little Wing’s bottle would leak as much as 90% of the time.  Even with readjustments it would continue to leak.  At times, I would have to readjust 3 to 4 times before getting it right.  It became very infuriating.  This problem is so prevalent that they even have videos online to show you how to prevent leaks.  I tried a few methods from the internet.  One suggested lining up markings on the back side of the nipple with certain parts of the nipple ring.  That was bolognie, it did not work at all for me.  The new nipples do not even have markings anymore.  Suggestion number two recommended assembling the nipple and the ring when they are wet to create a better seal.  This technique actually does works to some extent, but it is still prone to failure.  I am now seriously considering abandoning my very expensive set of Avent bottles and buying a different brand
of bottles for Little Wing.  It is simply not worth the frustration and inconvenience when you are either out in public, or trying to quickly put your baby to sleep.  It’s like gambling every time you make a bottle, you hope for the best but you’re most likely going to lose your money.

Nowadays, Philips makes a classic polypropylene (white soft plastic) bottles that contains an adaptor ring (to prevent leaks).  You can buy these rings as an accessory but unfortunately, this ring is ONLY COMPATIBLE with their NEWBOTTLES because the older bottles have a longer neck that will not fit the ring.  I have never tested the new bottles with the adaptor ring so I cannot testify as to whether they have resolved their leaking problem, but it feels to me that Phillips has been very irresponsible company over the issue.

People have complained for over three (3) years and all they have done is to deny that they had a problem with their bottle design.  Obvious, since they actually addressed the leaking problem, that means that there was a problem.  I just feel cheated that I am going to have to throw away $150 worth of defective bottles.  Good luck to everyone out there who wants to give them a try and please post me a comment to let me know how it turned out with the new bottles.

Baby Essentials: Evenflo Glass Bottles

by Mother of two

4 oz. & 8 oz. bottles

When it comes to baby bottles, I am old fashioned.  I still remember the old glass bottles that my parents used for my brother back in the early 80’s.  With the birth of Little Lum, I purchased a set of glass bottles.  At the time, Evenflo was the only company that made a readily available
glass baby bottle.  Now glass bottles are more popular and companies like Bornfree, Dr. Brown, and Munchkin, manufacture glass bottles in addition to their plastic line.

There are good reasons to go “glass”.  My Evenflo glass bottles do have a plastic ring and cap, but they are made from BPA-Free plastic.  The Evenflo’s have no painted markings on the bottles because the graduations are formed onto the glass so they will never fade or scratch off. Glass bottles also retain heat better then plastic. The Evenflo comes in two sizes 4 or 8 oz. bottles and plastic sleeves are available if you want to improve the grip.

The glass bottles are easy to clean and safe on the microwave sterilizer or boiling over water if you prefer (even the nipple and plastic parts).  Their nipple replacements are inexpensive and you have two varieties to choose from.  The Classic which is a standard nipple and the Purely Comfi, which has a curvier nipple to fit your infant’s mouth better. An added plus for the Evenflo is that their bottles are compatible with my Medela Breast Pump.  This is very convenient.  I can just screw on my Evenflo bottles directly on to my breast pump.   When I am done, I can just transfer the bottles to the refrigerator.  I can even freeze the bottles if I want since they are glass.