Surviving Parenthood

Baby Gear: Jumperoo

by Mother of two

Our overly abused Jumperoo!

The Jumperoo looked really fun and it had great reviews from other parents when we were shopping for it online.  We purchased it for Little Lum when he was only 4 months old and he really enjoyed it.  We continued to use it even when he had outgrown it.  He had a really great time exploring the different areas and jumping up and down in it.

You will probably notice this about toddlers.  They want to spend some time standing, crawling, and sitting.  This one will keep them standing, and sitting depending on how high you setup your straps.  The Jumperoo has the three basic things that generally keep babies very happy.  It moves, it’s got bright blinking lights, and it plays music.  As an added bonus, if you can make your baby excited while sitting in it, they will tire themselves jumping so it’s going to be quiet night of sleep too.

Unfortunately, our new baby, Little Wing does not like it as much as his brother.  He is only good for about 5 minutes before he starts asking (crying) to be taken out.  Whereas his brother, could last entire meals inside of it so this was really well worth it for us.

The Jumperoo has served us well and it’s actually quite durable despite the abuse that it can take from my older son.  It’s still in pretty decent shape even after our second boy.  Overall, we really like it and I would definitely recommend the Jumperoo to any baby household.

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.

Surviving Parenthood: Smartphone

by Mother of two

I got my I-Phone a few months after I had Little Wing.  I never thought I would need a smartphone before but with two kids, it really has saved me a lot of time.  I can quickly check emails, search the internet, and even place orders on Amazon without having to wait for my computer to boot up.  It makes things in life more convenient.  I can accomplish things while I wait in line at the grocery store or waiting to pick up food for dinner.  I can also enjoy my favorite shows or movies through my Netflix application & plays games whenever I have a bit of down time.  All in all, my smartphone has served me well.   Given how busy life can be for a parent, a smartphone allows you to be more productive and squeeze in a few minutes of alone time here and there.

Safety: New Car Seat Law for California Starting January 1, 2012

by Mother of two

Starting January 1st, 2012 all “children must be secured in a appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least 8 years old or 4’9″ in height“.

With this new law, it is almost guaranteed that all kids will be strapped to their booster seats.  I purchased convertible car seats for my kids because of their versatility (can be adjusted to Rear or Forward facing) but now I will definitely have to upgrade to a big kid seat when my boys get older.  Thankfully, Little Lum already has a Britax Frontier SICT that we got after our car accident in May.  We will soon need to upgrade Little Wing’s car seat too.  My sympathy to all the parents who thought their child was home free only to find out that will have to buy another car seat now due to the law change.  I can think of a few kids who might be very upset about it too.

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.

Bargain Toys

by Mother of two

Amazon has a yearly holiday sale on toys. is time of the year where you can find great bargains for 50-70% off.  I, not only shop for Christmas, but I also stock up on toys for birthday parties throughout the year.  I also buy a bunch of small items for my sons for raining days.  I just got the 2 computers below for Xmas presents!

Fisher-Price Fun 2 Learn Computer $22.67 (reg. price $49.99)

Vtech – Tote & Go Laptop with Web Connect $13.49 (reg. price $29.99)

Sandra Boynton

by Mother of two

Another favorite author in my house is Sandra Boynton.  You may recognize some of her book such as “Barnyard Dance!”, “Pajama Time!”, and “Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!” which are now also available as a box set.  All of her books are a fun read because they are rhymes, which is important because my son likes to make me read them over and over again at bedtime.

I read “Barnyard Dance!” like someone singing a line dancing song.  Little Lum normally sits on my lap when we read so I like to bounce him to the rhythm of the story as I read.  “Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!” is also a good read because it teaches “opposites.” My Little Lum learned some words very quickly and was able to follow me during our bedtime reading sessions. We also have other titles that are just as
fun and silly, like “Moo Baa, La La La” and another whole series of books about a pig called “Little Pookie”.  Overall, all of Sandra Boynton’s books are fairly consistent and I would recommend them to any parent because I find them entertaining and easy to read.  My son loves it, and we have enjoyed our collection greatly!