Good Buys: Part II (& Lesson #148)

Another lesson I’ve learned: You never really know what you need until you start using things. I’ve learned a lot from other mothers and even more from my own using.
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  • If you’re going to get a Diaper Genie, get the one with the step not the one you have to hand push the diaper into with your bare hands.

    Jan 1, 2013. 2 weeks away from 18 months.

    Jan 1, 2013.
    2 weeks away from 18 months.

  • A small heater has come in handy for Mila’s nursery. We have a decent sized house and to keep the entire thing heated, especially throughout the night, can get pretty expensive. We have a small heater that runs on a thermostat in Mila’s room. When the temperature gets too low, it kicks on, always keeping Mila’s room at a nice 71 degrees. We set the heater this high because she doesn’t like to be bundled and kicks her blankets off almost immediately after going to bed.
  • A humidifier is a must in the winter time. The air gets so dry, add to that the space heater, and Mila gets all dried out. Don’t be fooled – a humidifier is a humidifier. You don’t need to spend a lot on a baby-advertised humidifier when a regular one does just fine.
  • Block books, or any book with thick pages that a baby can’t rip, are good for babies and toddlers. Mila loves her books – even to munch on.
  • Decals or some other form of visual entertainment is a must for those areas that have none, like the changing table.
  • I’m sure I don’t have to say it, but I will. A thermometer and safety kit is a must. You can tell when your baby is running hot – you can feel it. To know exactly how hot and when it’s time to get on the phone with a doctor can only be determined by a thermometer. We have a standard thermometer that I stick in Mila’s arm pit photo-32when I need to take her temperature and we have a temporal thermometer. The latter helps when Mila won’t sit still. That one works best behind the ear.
  • Toy bins are great. I picked a couple of these up at Target for $10 and it makes clean-up so easy. Sure, it’s not as pretty as a stand with different baskets (which Mila would certainly destroy) or a toy box (that Mila may hurt herself on), but it does the job and holds up to Mila’s abusiveness*.
  • Remember those mesh snack holders? Well, they’re kind of difficult to clean, (and the dishwasher leaves them less than desirable). I found that a nail brush works great to clean them.

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Check out other tips, tools, fixes and baby items. 
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*Apparently I make up my own words… 

Don’t Be Dumb. Like Me.

I can’t tell you how many times I blamed “baby brain” and really knew better.

It took me a little while, (read: few months), to correct this one:

I would come out of a store with a cart full of groceries and a little baby girl. I would immediately put Mila into the car, in her car seat and finish loading the groceries into the trunk. When I was finished, I’d stare at the cart, thinking, Crap I don’t want to leave Mila sitting there to put this in the cart return. Oh well, I’ll just leave it here. And then I would feel so guilty for just leaving a cart between cars. Oh well, my baby was more important!

Um, yeah. This is an easy one for a person thinking straight: put the groceries away, roll the cart to the return, carry baby back to the car. I felt so stupid when I realized.

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March 4, 2012.
7 months, 3 weeks.

Lesson #131: Down With The Sickness

It’s one thing to be sick and miserable. It’s an entirely different level of miserable to see your baby sick.

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Right after Mila’s birthday party, (July 14), she ended up sick. I didn’t realize it right away – I thought she was just exhausted or teething and being clingy. I remember being home with her and she crawled up to me, curled into a little ball and cuddled. We laid there like that while she napped.

I soon figured out she was really warm – I mean hot! I took her temperature, which was just over 102 degrees and began to worry. I gave her Tylenol and it helped bring the fever down. I thought for sure she was teething.

When we went to her 12-month doctor’s appointment, I told him about this, how we brought the fever down and how soon after she had a rash all over her body. I told him my teething theory and he said nope! She caught something. He said that the rash is a good sign – it showed that whatever it was had gotten out of her system. My goodness! I felt horrible, like I let my baby suffer. The doctor reassured me that there wasn’t anything else I could have done for her and that I had done the right thing. I also asked, (because I had heard), if a fever of 104 degrees was when we needed to worry, call the doctor or bring her to the ER. He said it’s really up to us; whenever we are worried, that’s when we call.

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Not too long ago, when the season was changing from summer into autumn, Mila began to get a stuffy and runny nose – and so did I. It seemed strange to me that this wasn’t coupled with coughing or sneezing or irritability – some sign of a cold.

Around this time of year I get this annoying post-nasal drip that wakes me up and makes it difficult to sleep at all. I spoke to the pharmacist, who suggested an allergy medication like Claritin or Zyrtec, to help dry out my sinuses, (avoid the “D”s – the decongestant will have the adverse effect). After years of attempting various unsuccessful remedies, this one actually worked.

So it got me thinking: has this been allergies all along? I thought back over the years and found all the common symptoms came around the same time every year – and they didn’t go away after a week, somethings it took weeks or would even linger a month.

I started to research and found that if your mucus is clear, it’s allergies. If it’s not, (if it’s yellow or green), then you’re sick.  Turns out Mila and I both had a case of the allergies. Good to know.

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How can I tell if my child has nasal allergies or just a cold?

Because the symptoms of nasal allergies are much like cold symptoms – runny nose, watery eyes, cough, nasal congestion, sneezing – it can be tough to tell the difference. There are some telltale signs of allergies, though.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it seem like your child always has a cold? Colds usually wind down in a week to ten days; allergies don’t.
  • Is your child’s nose continually stuffy or running?
  • Is she constantly wiggling, wiping, or pushing her nose up in what doctors call the allergic salute?
  • Is the mucus that drains from her nose clear and thin (as opposed to yellow or greenish and thick)?
  • Does she seem to sneeze a lot?
  • Are her eyes itchy, red, and watery?
  • Does the skin under her eyes look dark or purple or blue – what doctors call allergic shiners?
  • Does she breathe through her mouth?
  • Does she have a persistent dry cough?
  • Is her skin irritated or broken out in an itchy red rash?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, there’s a good chance your child is allergic to something in her environment. Kids with nasal allergies are also more prone to ear infectionsasthma, and sinus infections.

Lesson #130: Fancy That Up

This is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. Mila’s changing table is on top of her dresser and started as nothing but a wood cubby hole. When she was very little I added decals* all over the space, (probably after a suggestion from my cousin), to entertain Mila while she was being changed or dressed.

November 4, 2012.
15 months, 21 days.

As she got older, Mila would start pointing at the different animals and I would name them. Now that she’s more than a year old, we go through the animals every night as I lotion her and dress her in her PJs, naming the animals and making the animal sounds. Mila recognized the giraffe right away and is becoming more familiar with the tiger, lion, snake, monkey, kola, hippo, rhino and elephant. She knows that the lion and tiger go “rahh!”, the monkey goes “ooo, ooo, ooo”, and she’s learning that the snake makes a “sssss” sound.

On a side note, Mila has been making the piggy sound for months now (snorting) and we’ve taught her a few others, (the cow says “moo”, for example). It’s been difficult getting this on camera, however, the other day I succeeded!

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*I picked up the decals at a local department store for less than ten dollars. One sheet was more than enough to cover the space. 

Lesson #129: Don’t Pack That Up!

Just because it gets cooler outside doesn’t mean that all those warmer weather outfits go to waste!

I’ve learned to add a pair of pants to a tank-top that was originally paired with a skirt or shorts.

October 11, 2012
3 days shy of 15 months.

Or, a pair of tights to a skirt or dress. And when it gets even colder, throw on a long-sleeved shirt with that dress and tights.

November 5, 2012
9 days shy of 16 months.

Or even long sleeves to a tank top.

October 10, 2012.
4 days she of 15 months.

It all really works and you get even more use out of those summer clothes that still fit.

You can also do this with items that are larger sizes. For example, in the last picture, that tank top is 24 months. I purchased it for next spring and used it this fall.

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*Written mid-October, 2012

Releasing The Dreaded Bottle

At Mila’s 12-month doctor’s appointment we were told that now is the time to get Mila off the bottle. By 15 months, she should no longer have the bottle at all.

Not only was I flabbergasted by this bomb that was dropped on my reality, (add to that the fact that I’m processing the fact that my baby is now a toddler), I was also told that I wasn’t giving Mila enough calcium. I thought that eventually I would have to ween her off the bottle, so I started to drop the number of ounces I was giving her. Big mistake. I was giving her 9 ounces a day when she should have been getting 16 to 24 ounces. Whoops.

So, I’m determined to correct my error and progress my baby into toddler-hood – kicking and screaming* if need be. I gave Mila a sippy cup full of milk the first few days and she denied it. A big ol’ fat FAIL. She wouldn’t take milk out of anything but a bottle. I tried a different kind of cup, separated her cups, even – juice in sippy cups, milk in cups with straws, but still she wouldn’t bite.

Pffft to bottles!
July 26, 2012
One year, 12 days.

I upped the amount of milk I gave Mila and kept trying to get her to drink out of anything but a bottle. Then one day I cheated. I added a little chocolate powder to her milk. Holy smokes, you’d think it was golden milk! She gobbled it all up. Ok, win one mom.

Great, now I had Mila down to a sippy cup of milk in the morning and a bottle of milk at night – totaling 16 ounces, (she was also getting yogurt for breakfast and cheese snacks to add to her calcium intake). I admit, I wasn’t too anxious to get her off her nighttime bottle. It was part of our routine and I was scared of the consequences: Would she go to sleep? Would it take me an hour to get her down?

So I passed on this and at Mila’s 15 month check up, I confessed to the doctor only that she was still on her bedtime bottle. He urged Mila (uh, me) to get off the bottle completely. So starts the next phase of the dreaded bottle…

Day one: Dan attempted a sippy cup of milk at bedtime. Mila took one sip and tossed it aside. She went down to sleep easily, probably because she was so tired.

Day two: I gave Mila her final milk of the day just before dinnertime. Probably not the best idea since she didn’t eat much during dinner. I gave her a bath and when Dan went to put her to bed, I suggested reading her a book to make up for those few minutes she would have been drinking a bottle. My intention was to calm her into sleep. It seemed to have worked, (knock on wood). It wasn’t quick. It took Dan almost a half hour between reading the book and getting her to finally relax enough to drift off.

What I’ve learned is that everything leading up to this point is what really matters. Getting Mila used to falling asleep by herself really helps when you don’t have a bottle to fill her and drift her off to sleep.

Hopefully this all gets easier. The real challenge will be when Mila’s not with us and we can’t see if she’s getting a bottle of milk or juice.

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*Mila didn’t kick and scream. I did. I may still be kicking.  

Bumps, Bites and Bruises

Mila is a pretty tough little girl and has had many bumps and bruises from falling – on her face, off the bed, off the couch, into the side of the tub, you name it.

Hours after rolling off a bed, (not mine!)
February 28, 2012
7 and a half months.

Not only that, she’s had many-a-rashes. Most recently, she developed a heat rash on her upper back. We treat her skin irritations with Aquaphor and it goes away in no time.

That’s not it, though! Since this summer has had an infestation of mosquitos, Mila has had bites all over her. You can’t put bug spray on a baby, so she gets bit. You can’t put topical cream on a baby, so she suffers. What we have been able to do is give her Benadryl – at the recommendation of the doctor, (if we noticed the bites were bothering her and yes, I caught her scratching). The Benadryl has helped clear up the bites, it just takes a while.

Mosquito bites
August 9, 2012.
1 year, 26 days.

One day while we were outside, my father-in-law stuck an “Off” mosquito repellant on Mila’s back. I guess it worked. It didn’t bother her, that’s for sure.

September 2, 2012
13 months, 19 days

I also found that Avon’s Skin So Soft is safe for babies. I purchased a bottle while I was pregnant because I couldn’t use repellant then either.

There’s really no way around it; your child will have bumps, bites and bruises. Once your baby starts moving, she is bound to fall. When it’s summer time, she’s bound to have mosquito bites. It will break your heart, yet all you can do is try to protect her and find solutions to heal her.

Good [Baby] Buys – Part I

I’ve been working on this list that would eventually become a post for a long time. I have a lot of items I’ve found useful and others I found to be a waste.* I’ve found common items that aren’t even baby items to use that cost half the price of what’s advertised specifically for baby. It’s amazing the amount of items we are inundated with on a daily basis, all claiming to be NEEDED for a new baby. It’s not true. Take this all in stride and think about what you actually need before you purchase it. There’s been a lot of wasted money in my household and a lot of  grateful advice along the way.

  1. Once Mila began drinking bottles, I purchased a small plastic basket that I keep near the kitchen sink. You can find this in the storage, laundry, or kitchen section of just about any store and it costs about $3. I use this to toss in all the pieces of Mila’s bottles, her pacifiers, bowls, spoons, etc. that need to be washed. Everything gets rinsed before going into the basket and this has been the best at keeping everything together and away from slipping down the drain.

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  2. I received flannel blankets at my baby shower that I used as receiving blankets, swaddles, blankets for Mila when she was real little. When she outgrew this, (really even before because I had so many), I cut them in half with a pair of pinking shears, and used them as burp clothes. I was shocked at how much stores charge for burp cloths and most of them don’t absorb real well. I found that the thin flannel of these blankets worked great for cleaning up spills and spit-up, too.
  3. I learned quickly that different style bibs were important for different things. When your baby drools like crazy, you either change her clothes three times a day or you purchase a cloth bib with a plastic back. This way, the drool doesn’t seep through the bib and soak your baby’s clothes, too. When Mila began eating more foods and feeding herself, her bibs would become stained. Make sure you have a stash of (cheap) bibs that you don’t mind having ruined or tossed in the trash.
  4. Aquaphor  has become a staple at Mila’s changing table. We’ve used this to heal baby acne, random bumps and rashes, scraps and small cuts, (after they’ve been cleaned, of course). It really is a miracle ointment. Even today we use this to help heal her mosquito bites.

    #6
    April 27, 2012: 9 months, 13 days

  5. Desitin is another ointment we keep handy and not for diaper rash. When Mila was first teething she drooled so much (“[more than] the kitchen sink”, as once pointed out) that she developed a rash under her chin and on her neck. She was so little she really didn’t have a neck, which meant that the skin in that area couldn’t air out and a rash developed. A small amount of Desitin rubbed on her neck took the rash right away. I’m sure this isn’t strictly a Desitin thing and that other diaper rash ointments could be used, it’s just what we had available.
  6. Mesh fruit/veggie bag: This worked great for bananas especially, when I wanted to keep the mess to a minimum and not worry about Mila choking on large pieces of food.

 

*I’ve posted about other items, too.

An Adult Fix

So I got these hooks called Strap Perfect that pull your straps together for when you wear certain style shirts, (it’s an as seen on tv item). They’re real handy and come to find out they work great for Mila, too!

A few months ago, I put Mila in a size 18-month shirt and pants just to find out that the pants fit fine but the shirt is a little big. The straps fell down and the front drooped so low it was on the verge of inappropriate (if babies can be inappropriate).

So I grabbed my little hook and stuck it on the back of her shirt.

Voila! It doesn’t bother her, it doesn’t fall off and it doesn’t restrict her movement. Problem solved.

August 26, 2012.
13 months, 12 days.