Mommy Must-Haves: Baby Feeding Essentials for 2017

Boppy Nursing Pillow

EVERY nursing mama needs one of these. This snug pillow will completely enhance the breastfeeding experience for you and your bundle of joy. One of Boppy’s bestsellers, this iconic Boppy Nursing Pillow has helped millions of moms and infants create a positive breastfeeding/bottle feeding experience. This versatile pillow lifts baby to a more ergonomic position granting mom relief to arms and back. As baby grows the pillow can also transition to a propping, tummy time and sitting pillow. Choose from a colorful array of machine washable slipcovers to personalize your Boppy Pillow for full comfort and style.

Milkmaid Goods Nursing Poncho

Created by two moms on a mission to bring beauty to motherhood, Milkmaid Goods offers amazing Nursing Ponchos so moms can breastfeed in style and with confidence in public without the worry of being exposed. This unique and fashionable design cover both the front and back of the Poncho, creating a comfortable nursing environment for both you and your little one! In addition, the ponchos can double as a car seat cover, to create the perfect naptime setting for your baby whether you’re running errands or taking a peaceful stroll through the park. All of Milkmaid’s ponchos and covers are made of a stretchy, breathable, lightweight fabric for full comfort and protection. Try out the ‘Ruby Starlet’ Nursing Poncho for a fun new look for you and your baby to rock this upcoming spring season!

The Baby Booster

Getting the right nutrition while you are literally working to feed a baby 24/7 is hard! The Baby Booster is an amazing option for moms looking for that vital protein ( it is packed with 20 grams of non GMO protein and all of the essentials vitamins) needed for keeping up with babies needs. The Baby Booster is available in four delicious flavors: Kona Mocha, Tahitian Vanilla, Pina Colada, and Superfruit Punch. Each of these special shakes all contain DHA, which is a great way for your infant to receive extra nutrients! Unlike many other products for pregnant women and their baby, Baby Booster eliminates soy, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and gluten from their ingredients, ensuring you feel healthy, comfortable, excited and happy in every facet of your pregnancy and life! We love this product for late night nursing sessions to keep you going! 

Green Goo Nursing Cream

Nursing your baby doesn’t have to hurt. Bring the joy back of breastfeeding with Green Goo’s Nursing Cream. It’s crafted with a delicate formula of Calendula and Chamomile flowers and other skin-loving ingredients that are 100% organic. A Green Goo best seller, this natural salve is a top choice among nursing mamas looking for maximum skin protection, relief and is a reliable and safe choice for their baby. Simply apply the cream around the nipple area after a feeding session and enjoy the healing magic that is Green Goo Nursing Cream.

 Mommy’s Watches

If you’re a breastfeeding mom you’ve probably heard the phrase, “When in doubt, toss it out!” Now with Mommy’s Watches never throw away milk again. This mom invented gadget takes all the guesswork out of breastfeeding and helps save tons of money and time. Mommy’s Watches is a unique, innovative device that gives parents a quick and easy way to keep track of the time and temperature of breast milk bottles and bags. Mommy’s Watches gives moms peace of mind knowing their baby is getting safe meals each and every time. Mommy’s Watches is a timer which counts down faster at room temperature and slower at refrigerator temperatures while accounting for the safety guidelines. It self-adjusts the expiration time based on the temperature that is exposed to. This reusable product is perfect for any new mom, ensuring you’re not throwing out your baby’s milk too soon or feeding them spoiled milk!

Boppy Soothing Breast Balm

Make breastfeeding easier and more manageable with the Boppy Soothing Breast Balm. This nursing balm is designed to give soothing relief and protection for sore and dry nipples caused by improper latching during breastfeeding. Make nursing or pumping less painful with this non-greasy and soothing balm. Gently apply a small amount of Boppy’s Soothing Breast Balm to the nipple area after each feeding, or as needed, and quickly feel the relief. Store this hypoallergenic, paraben and phthalate free product at room temperature for its best results. No more uncomfortable pain after providing your baby all the nutrients they need from breastfeeding with this amazing breast balm from Boppy.

Real Reading, Real Kids: The Who, What, and Why

By Susan Straub, Rachel Payne and KJ Dell’Anotonia

reading-on-the-porchReal reading, with real children, is rarely a picture-perfect process. Even a baby who loves to be read to isn’t going to curl up in your lap every time. Toddlers tear books. Twos throw them. Trying out an ebook or app? She’s all over every button or swipe of the screen, including those that shut the whole thing down or email your boss.

You may think books are for reading. Your baby sees that books are almost infinitely useful for playing peek-a-boo, experimenting with Newton’s Law of Gravity, and forming a bridge to allow the giraffe to walk into the plastic barn door.

It seems as if there’s an enormous gulf between what the two of you are trying to achieve: you’re trying to get to the end of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and your baby is trying to taste the book cover. You want to read; she wants to experience. Her experience, though, is really akin to your reading. She’s learning about the book: as an individual book, a part of a larger set of books, as a hard object, a soft object, a paper object, and, finally, something that causes you to make a given set of sounds.

Whether she’s mouthing Harold’s cover or using him for a hat, she’s happy. Isn’t that what you really want—creativity, experimentation, imaginative play, talking and laughing and doing something together? Let go of the goal and savor the experience. You probably already know how it ends, anyway.

The Classics

Twenty-five Picture Books for Every Child’s Library

These are great books—books you’ll find in every library, every preschool, every bookstore. You’ve probably heard of many of them; some you may remember from your own childhood and some you may read to your grandchildren someday.

1.     Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey. This simply illustrated glimpse of the past resonates with any child who’s lost sight of Mom as Sal does during blueberry picking.

2.     Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle (illus.). Many kids can “read” Martin’s predictable and comforting text before they even learn their letters.  Carle’s simple animal collages are iconic.

3.     Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business, Esphyr Slobodkina.  A wonderful, timeless tale of copying and cleverness.

4.     Carrot Seed.  Ruth Krauss, Crocket Johnson (illus.).  For more than half a century, this beanie-sporting boy has had faith that his carrot would grow, despite his family’s doubt.

5.     Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom,  Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illus.).  In arguably one of the most memorable and playful alphabet books ever, lower case letters and their parents, the capital letters, cavort up and down a coconut tree.

6.     Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell. Yes, it’s a television series; yes, it’s a franchise…but the original books are really good and perfect for babies and toddlers. Big, red dog. Need we say more?

7.     Corduroy, Don Freeman. A lovely story of a little girl’s kindness and empathy for a teddy bear who needs a home, with realistic illustrations.

8.     Curious George, H. A. Rey. The story of the little monkey, so like a toddler in his curiosity and impulsiveness but so much more capable, is one kids love. You’ll probably notice now that George’s removal from the jungle isn’t the most politically correct thing ever written, but your child won’t mind.

9.     Freight Train, Donald Crews.   This multicolored train has been crossing trestles, going by cities, and going through tunnels for over thirty years.  Now there is an app that was created with Crews’ input.

10.  George and Martha, James Marshall. The hippos have an admirable friendship, so real that it’s full of pranks, hurt feelings, and make-ups. Marshall produced tons more brief stories about them, but this is the first. Arguably the story “Split Pea Soup” is a legend all by itself. Fun for the whole family.

11.  Go, Dog. Go!, P. D. Eastman. Simple books meant for beginning readers can make great books for beginning talkers.

12.  Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (illus.). The old-fashioned setting, the simple rhymes, and the cozy illustrations make this a nighttime must read for many toddlers.

13.  Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram (illus.). Big Nutbrown Hare can one-up Baby Nutbrown Hare’s declarations of love every time, but this baby doesn’t give up.

14.  Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson. You may remember Harold, but you probably didn’t think of him as a book for babies. In fact, he works very well—simple illustrations and many moons.

15.  Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion, Margaret Bloy Graham (illus.). Harry needs a bath—and after he’s run away from one, he gets so dirty his family doesn’t recognize him. His ultimate return and his family’s recognition make for a very satisfying resolution.

16.  Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss. A wonderful introduction to rhyme.

17.  The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper. This tale still resonates, and always will. The original illustrations are fun, and if the words (definitely a little on the sweet and cloying side) begin to get to you, you can always edit a bit.

18.  The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton. Most of us remember the poignant illustrations in this story of a little house in the country that becomes surrounded by city before sympathetic owners move it to the country again.

19.  Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt. The mother of all interactive baby books.

20.  The Napping House, Audrey and Don Wood.  In this fun, cumulative tale, a nap goes awry due to the antics of a “wakeful” flea.

21.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle. Kids love putting their fingers through the holes and pulling the pages to watch the hungry caterpillar eat his way through an uncomfortable assortment of food.

22.  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury (illus.).  A family, a journey, a bear, and lots of great sound effects from Rosen and lively watercolors from Oxenbury make this read aloud irresistible.

23.  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak. Sent to his room for being a wild thing, Max travels to the forest and conquers even wilder things before realizing that home is best.

24.  Where’s Spot? Eric Hill. Plump, yellow Spot and his wonder at discovering the world around him have spoken to children for decades.  Also available as ¿Dónde está Spot? in Spanish, and in many other languages.

25.  Whistle for Willie, Ezra Jack Keats. A whistle will call Willie the dog, but Peter can’t whistle until practice finally pays off.  Refreshingly warm collage illustrations.

Excerpted from: cid:image004.gif@01CE4C07.68260FD0Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Laughing, Learning & Growing Together Through Books (Sourcebooks; ISBN: 978-1-4022-7816-7; Parenting; April 2013; $14.99 U.S.; paperback)

Bonding with Baby: Baby Sign Language Builds Early Connections

By Andrea Ploehn

sign-languageIn today’s society, children spend so much time watching TV, playing video and computer games, and are plugged into their phones and other electronic devices. Parents who want to connect with their kids need to start early to build strong bonds that will last, no matter what technological distractions tomorrow brings!

Fortunately, there’s a great way that parents can engage their children at the earliest ages, and strengthen the parent-child bond. It’s a method I have used with my own children and have seen amazing results in their communication and social skills: baby sign language.

In working with my children as babies, and with many other infants, I have found that their ability to learn and understand often goes far beyond their ability to communicate with words. This is supported by research. Joseph Garcia (sign 2 me), explains that babies are able to learn long before the development of verbal language skills. “As infants learn signs, they can begin the foundation for mutual understanding,” Garcia states. “This manual communication can contribute greatly to the bonding process.”

Signing with babies also helps build their socialization skills. Babies who learn sign language are able to communicate their needs long before they can verbalize them. This reduces their frustration, builds their confidence, and helps create stronger bonds with their parents.

I remember one time when my daughter Annie was little and we were waiting for daddy to come home. We heard someone at the door, but it wasn’t dad. She started crying and signing “dad, dad, dad.” My daughter couldn’t verbally say dad yet, so if she hadn’t used the sign for dad, I wouldn’t have understood why she was crying. Instead of being clueless, I was able to reassure her that her dad was on the way.

Using sign language with babies not only boosts the parent/child connection, it’s also a great way for babies to interact with their older siblings and other family members. The bond that my kids have with each other because of sign language is amazing. I’ve been able to replace the jealously that older siblings often feel when a new baby comes, with confidence and pride in helping teach their new sibling how to do baby sign language.

Among our children, Annie helped teach her brother Brandon to sign when he was a baby. Then Ben came along and Annie and Brandon both worked together to teach him to sign. Now the three of them are teaching my youngest, Emily, all the signs she needs to know. Along the way all my kids have experienced years of benefits because of the positive interaction made possible by learning sign language as babies.

Communication and connection are the keys. In today’s disruptive, technology-driven society, these are critical factors for healthy child development. I’m so glad that doing something as simple as signing with my children has so many amazing benefits.

About the Author: Andrea Ploehn (SAY Plone as in “hone”) is an expert on nonverbal communication and teaching babies sign language. A native and resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, she holds a communications degree with an emphasis in interpersonal communication from Idaho State University. She and her husband, a physical therapist, have four children, ages 16 months through 9-years-old. For more information, visit her public website at http://www.Signing4Baby.com. Contact Andrea at AndreaPloehn@hotmail.com.

Eliminate Diaper Pail Odors

Eliminate Diaper Pail Odors…Don’t Just Attempt To Cover them Up!

little stinker poo-pourriIs it too good to be true? A product that really eliminates odors from dirty diapers? No! We found a product that actually does what it claims: “quickly eliminates the source of odor causing bacteria in cloth and plastic diapers.” Poo-Pourri has created a line just for dirty diapers called Poo-Pourri Jr, Little Stinker, and it is amazing.

We tried this miracle product and were seriously impressed. It is easy to use and has its own very pleasant scent. All you have to do is spray 2 or 3 sprays directly into a dirty diaper (once it has been removed from your baby), then toss into your diaper pail or trash can. No smells from the diaper escape. And, if a couple of diapers snuck in your diaper pail without you getting to spray it first, just spritz inside your pail and problem solved! It is not an air freshener or an attempt to cover up foul odors. It actually gets rid of odors. No more holding your breath every time you put another diaper in your diaper pail…relief has come!

Poo-Pourri has an entire line of products for adults (or potty-trained kids) too. They are a natural air freshener and spray deodorizer that eliminates bathroom odor before it even reaches the air! It creates a barrier that prevents smelly bathroom smells from escaping the toilet. If you are looking for the perfect product to use in public at those unfortunate times nature calls or maybe you just need something more powerful (and pleasant smelling) than an ordinary air freshener for your whole family, Poo-Pourri is unique and awesome.

We thought this product was too incredible to keep to ourselves. You have to try it!

For more information or to purchase go to http://poopourri.com/. We know you love a bargain, so enter the discount code “mygoodpar” and get 20% off online orders!(Discount code Begins:  8/1/11 and Ends:  9/1/11)

Or if you prefer, you can buy it on amazon.

Understanding the “Mantra Cry”

Learning When It’s Ok To Let Your Baby Cry (The “Mantra Cry”)

The Mantra Cry-ok for baby to cryWhile learning your baby’s cues and cries, and teaching your baby to self-soothe, your little one will have a cry that is not calling for you to come to the rescue. Learn to recognize when it’s ok to let your baby cry.

The Difference Between a Mantra Cry and a Serious Cry For Help

Although we are against letting your baby Cry It Out, it is important for a parent to realize that there is a difference in cries, and some are ok to leave be. For the first three or four months many of your baby’s cries are genuine cries for help. Newborns are very needy! But, by the time they reach this 3-4 month mark, you will hopefully be able to recognize when his cry seems to sound different than the serious cry for help. What Tracy Hogg refers to as the “mantra cry” is a burst of cry that a baby will do as he is settling down (and going to sleep). It is valuable to recognize this cry, because this is where a baby really learns to self-soothe. If you rush in to your baby every time she makes a peep, it will be hard for her to learn to soothe and fall asleep on her own. Don’t worry that you are letting you baby Cry It Out, because Crying It Out is when you ignore your baby’s cry for help. To learn more about alternatives to the Cry It Out method, read our other article.

Learning to Recognize the Mantra Cry

Every baby has his own unique mantra cry so listen carefully to learn to make the distinction. Typically, a mantra cry’s pitch and tone stay the same, while a genuine cry will escalate in tone. A baby that is crying because she has a need gets more distressed as time goes on and you can hear that in her cry. A baby that is crying because she is trying to settle does not escalate, get louder or sound distressed. These cries do not sound the same.

It will take some careful listening (and reading of your baby’s body language) to learn his cues. When you hear you baby start to cry, it is okay to stop and listen before you rush in to him. In fact, you should! You are not being a bad parent by letting him cry for a minute while you listen for differences in sounds. It is the best way for you to really learn what your baby is telling you. Letting your baby cry becomes an issue is when you ignore the cry for help and let your baby continue to cry even after you have had a chance to recognize/analyze it.

The Mantra Cry In the Middle of the Night

The “mantra cry” will also be heard at times when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night. When your baby wakes up between sleep cycles and just needs to fall back to sleep, she may do her “mantra cry” to go back to dreamland on her own. If your baby wakes at a time when you know it is not time to eat, hesitate for a minute before you go in to her room and listen to her cry. Be sure that it is a serious cry in need so you don’t disturb your baby’s attempt at self-soothing before you go in. As your baby gets older, her ability to self-soothe should improve and be easier to notice.

It will take time for your baby to learn to self-soothe. You might have to go in to his room to reassure him hundreds of times before he is ready to put himself to sleep. Every baby is different. Don’t get stressed if your baby needs more help than your friend or your sister’s baby. Just listen to your baby and learn what he is telling you. Being able to recognize what his cries and other cues mean feels great!

Recommended Reading

To read more about learning to read your baby’s cries, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

In Favor of the Pacifier

Pacifier PrinciplesIn Favor of the Pacifier

Most parents wonder whether or not they should use a pacifier with their baby. Some object because they are breastfeeding, while others have images of five year old kids that are addicted to their pacifier burned in their minds, believing that it is too habit forming and hard to break. Some believe that if a baby has a pacifier, she won’t learn how to suck her own thumb (which many, like I, want). Some are afraid that a pacifier will mean braces will be needed, and others simply fear a baby will not be able to self-soothe without it.

But, pacifiers have been around since babies have been, so there must be good reason for them! Archaeologists have found prehistoric pacifiers, Ancient Egyptian drawings of babies with pacifiers and different forms of pacifiers have been used throughout the centuries. If you follow basic pacifying principles and use them properly, they will prove to be valuable on many levels for baby and you.

Newborns Need to Suckle

A newborn has very little control over her body, but she does have control over her mouth.  She has an actual need to suckle separate from feeding, which satisfies the oral stimulation she needs. A newborn may have the need to suckle for several hours throughout the day! Remember, though, that vigorous sucking does make your newborn tired. This is the type of sucking that should be happening during feeding, while pacifiers should be suckled (a very clear difference in the type of suck). If your baby is sucking aggressively, she is probably hungry. Don’t let a newborn suck vigorously at a pacifier when it close to feeding time. You don’t want her to waste her energy on the pacifier and not have enough to get in a full feed.

Reducing the Chance of SIDS

Several studies have shown a major decrease of SIDS deaths among babies who use a pacifier. The American Academy of Pediatrics goes as far as recommending pacifier use! In a report published in 2005, they concluded:

“Published case-control studies demonstrate a significant reduced risk of SIDS with pacifier use, particularly when placed for sleep. Encouraging pacifier use is likely to be beneficial on a population-wide basis: 1 SIDS death could be prevented for every 2733 (95% CI: 2416–3334) infants who use a pacifier when placed for sleep (number needed to treat), based on the US SIDS rate and the last-sleep multivariate SOR resulting from this analysis. Therefore, we recommend that pacifiers be offered to infants as a potential method to reduce the risk of SIDS. The pacifier should be offered to the infant when being placed for all sleep episodes, including daytime naps and nighttime sleeps. This is a US Preventive Services Task Force level B strength of recommendation based on the consistency of findings and the likelihood that the beneficial effects will outweigh any potential negative effects. In consideration of potential adverse effects, we recommend pacifier use for infants up to 1 year of age, which includes the peak ages for SIDS risk and the period in which the infant’s need for sucking is highest. For breastfed infants, pacifiers should be introduced after breastfeeding has been well established.”

For Breastfed Babies

Opinions are all over the place on what parents should do about pacifiers for the breastfed baby. Some resources suggest waiting 3-4 weeks, others recommend waiting up to 6 weeks, while some say it’s ok to start with them right away. There is no right or wrong time to introduce a pacifier to breastfed babies. Ultimately, you have to do what is right for you and your baby. The main concerns with pacifiers and breastfeeding are nipple confusion and mom’s milk supply getting established, so keep these things in mind:

  • If your baby is having a hard time figuring out how to breastfeed, latch on or suck, you should probably hold off on the pacifier.
  • If your baby is not being super fussy and is not needing to suck all the time for comfort, you don’t need to give her a pacifier right away.
  • Don’t ever substitute a pacify for feeding your baby or to hold her off. Newborns need to eat very frequently and should not be encouraged to wait longer between feeds until she is much older. Your newborn baby needs to be eating 8-12 times a day.
  • If your baby is having problems gaining weight, she should be at the breast as often as possible and a pacifier should not be used until weight gain is adequate.
  • If mom is having problems with her milk supply, a pacifier should not be used until the supply is established. The more a baby sucks at the breast, the more of a demand for milk there is.
  • If your baby is spending an hour or more at the breast for a feeding, she is probably spending some time just suckling. A pacifier may help satisfy her desire to suck between feeds. Just be sure that you know your baby is not hungry.
  • Studies show that babies that have a pacifier wean earlier than those that do not. This is probably because as a baby gets older and is established on solid food, his desire to suck keeps him on the breast. Babies who use pacifiers are getting that need to suck met with the pacifier instead of the breast, so they may decide to give up breastfeeding sooner than if they did not take a pacifier. To avoid this, limit pacifier use for babies older than three months.

How Long to Use a Pacifier?

The AAP recommends pacifier use up to one year. The most important time is during those first three months when a baby’s need to suckle is the strongest and he is unable to control his limbs and find his thumb to suck on. The pacifier will help calm him before sleep and soothe him when he is upset. Many children (including some toddlers) use a pacifier as a transitional object, something that relieves stress and helps your child adjust to new or challenging situations. Once you are past the first few months, limit pacifier use so it does not become a habit that is difficult to break and causes developmental delays. If your child is learning to speak or is having speech delays, the pacifier can be a problem.

It is best to set an absolute timeline for your baby’s pacifier use, so you have a plan on when you will get rid of it as soon as you get started. This way time won’t get away from you and you won’t have a five year old walking around with a pacifier in his mouth all day long. The longest your baby should probably go using a pacifier is 18 months, although this is a personal decision. Whatever time you decide to get rid of the pacifier is best, stick with it and don’t let your child change your mind!

Pacifier Principles

  1. Don’t use a pacifier to replace feeding a hungry baby. If your baby is hungry it is important to feed him. If you need to keep baby quiet while you prepare to feed him or if you are trying to hold him off for a few minutes using a pacifier is ok. Just be sure that you are keeping track of your baby’s feeding schedule and you are determining why he is crying before offering the pacifier.
  2. Don’t use a pacifier at all times of the day, as your baby gets older. When your baby is a newborn and for the first three months your baby will want and need to suck more than any other time. But, as your baby enters his fourth month consider reducing use to sleeping times only. A child does not need a pacifier when he is happy and playing.
  3. If your newborn doesn’t take to a pacifier right away, keep trying. This doesn’t mean that he won’t like a pacifier or doesn’t have a need for one. Some babies just take a while to get used to one. Also, sometimes when a baby is figuring out how to suck a pacifier it pops right back out. This is not always intentional and could be result of the way you are offering it. As you put the pacifier in your baby’s mouth, try lightly stroking just to the side of his mouth and gently hold the pacifier in his mouth for a moment as he starts sucking.
  4. Find a pacifier that your baby likes. There are many different types of pacifiers available and babies do not find them one in the same. Try to find one that matches your nipple (or the nipple on the bottle you use) the closest. IF your baby doesn’t seem to be taking to one, try another kind until you find one he likes.

To read all about Tracy Hogg’s Sleep Methods and to hear many case studies, check out her incredible books: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

Recommended Reading

To read more about pacifier use or problems, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

Establishing A Routine

Establishing a Routine for Your BabyEstablishing A Routine For Your Baby

Some people cringe at the thought of establishing a routine for a newborn, thinking that it is not a reasonable thing for an infant to follow. This may be true for schedules, where you fit your baby to a clock, but not a routine. Babies, live adults, thrive on a routine and it helps parents in many, many ways. The important thing to remember with your routine is that is has to remain FLEXIBLE.  Setting up a rigid schedule that your baby must follow to the minute is not acceptable or fair to your baby (and will make your life more miserable).

The easiest routine we have found to follow is Tracy Hogg’s EASY routine. EASY is an acronym for a predictable sequence of events the pretty much mirrors adult lives. Eat, have some Activity, go to Sleep, then have time for You. This is a routine (not a schedule) that keeps the day structured and predictable, helps parents learn their babies ways of communicating, and prevents the forming of some bad habits (like feeding your baby to sleep). We suggest starting on this routine from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. The routine is only a daytime routine. During the night, there should be no activity period (not even a diaper change unless you know the diaper has poop in it or the diaper is leaking). At night, if your baby wakes from hunger, feed him them put him right back to sleep.

Newborn to four month old babies should be on a three hour routine (eating every three hours) and at four months babies are ready to move to a four hour routine (this is assuming a baby was not premature, is of average healthy weight and has no health problems). Establishing a routine is easier the younger the baby, so start right away and your baby will naturally and easily move from the three to four hour routine-probably even on her own.

A Routine That Works for Parents AND Baby

Tracy Hogg’s years of experience implementing the EASY routine with families, resulted in babies’ lives that were predictable and calm, which led them to be “good eaters, they learned to play independently for increasingly longer periods and they could get themelves to sleep without sucking on a bottle or breast or being rocked by their parents. As many of these babies grew into toddlers and preschoolers, they were also confident in themselves and trusted that their parents would be there if they needed them. The parents themselves learned early on to tune in to their child’s cues by carefully observing their body language and listening to their cries. Because they could “read” their child, they felt better equipped to deal with any bumps in the road.”

“With EASY, you don’t follow the baby, you take charge. You observe him carefully, tune in to his cues, but you take the lead, gently encouraging him to follow what you know will make him thrive: eating, appropriate levels of activity, and a good sleep afterward. You are your baby’s guide. You set the pace. EASY gives parents, especially first-timers, the confidence to know that they understand their baby, because they more quickly learn to distinguish their baby’s cries.”

Write It Down to Help Stick To The Routine

The most important thing you can do to keep on your routine, especially in the beginning or during periods of change, is to write everything down. Write down what time your baby eats, how long of on activity period you had, what time she went to sleep and when she woke up. This helps you remember what times things occurred (because your lack-of-sleep brain isn’t as good at remembering on its own) and helps you recognize patterns (good and bad). Writing it all down gives you the perspective of an entire day (or week).

Some of the things you might want to write down or log would be:

Eat-Time, How much (if bottle)/how long (if breast), Right or Left breast

Activity-What, How long

Sleep-How long

You-What you did for yourself (taking naps when your baby is napping is the best way to spend your “You” time in the beginning)

The Most Important Thing To Remember

It is so important to remember that this is a flexible, structured routine, NOT a schedule. Your baby will likely vary a little from day to day on when she is hungry or tired (usually only by 15-30 minutes) and that is ok. If your baby is hungry, feed her, even if it is before the “time” on your routine. When your baby starts showing signs of getting tired, put her to bed. Instead of focusing on the clock, focus on your baby. Look for signs of hunger, sleepiness and overstimulation. “The better you get at interpreting your baby’s cries and body language, the better you’ll be at guiding him and at clearing whatever obstacles get in the way.”

A Typical EASY Day for a 4 Week Old (as outlined in Tracy’s book)

E-7:00 am Feed

A-7:45 Diaper change, some playing and talking; watch cues for sleepiness

S-8:15 Swaddle and lay your baby in the crib. It may take him 15-20 minutes to fall asleep for his 1st morning nap.

Y-8:30 You nap when he naps

E-10:00 Feed

A-10:45 See 7:45 above

S-11:15 2nd morning nap

Y-11:30 Nap/relax

E-1:00 Feed

A-1:45 See 7:45 above

S-2:15 Afternoon nap

Y-11:30 Nap/relax

E-4:00 Feed

A-4:45 See 7:45 above

S-5:15 Catnap for 40-50 minutes to give him enough rest to handle his bath.

Y-5:30 Do something nice for yourself.

E-6:00 1st Cluster feed

A-7:00 Bath, into jammies, lullaby or other bedtime ritual

S-7:30 Another catnap

Y-7:30 You eat dinner

E-8:00 2nd cluster feed

A-None

S-Put him straight back to bed

Y-Enjoy your short evening

E-10-11 Dream feed and cross your fingers ’til morning!

“NOTE: Whether a baby is breast or bottle fed, I advise the above routine–allowing for variations in times–until 4 months old. The “A” time will be shorter for younger babies, and get progressively longer for older ones. I also recommend turning the two “cluster feeds” into one (at around 5:30 or ) by 8 weeks. Continue to dream feed until 7 months–unless he’s a great sleeper and makes it through on his own.”

From Our Experience

As activity time gets longer and more involved, it is necessary to have an adequate wind-down ritual to prepare your baby for sleep. It is not easy for her to go right from playing to sleeping. She has to have time to settle down and get in sleep mode. Be sure to do the same things every time before bed (swaddle, read books, sing a lullaby, sit in the chair, etc). If your baby is extra fussy when you try to put her to sleep, you might need to spend a few more minutes in your wind-down. And, enjoy this time! The time to cuddle and snuggle your baby is irreplaceable!

To read all about Tracy Hogg’s Sleep Methods and to hear many case studies, check out her incredible books: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

Recommended Reading

To read more about the EASY Routine, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

Breastfeeding: The First 6 Weeks

Breastfeeding: The First 6 WeeksBreastfeeding: Surviving the First 6 Weeks

Breastfeeding resources always tell you stick it out for 6 weeks. To a new mother, the first six weeks are so difficult and if you are having a hard time with breastfeeding 6 weeks can seem like an eternity. So what’s up with continuing to try it through the whole six weeks even if it is not going well? A lot of things actually…

Your Body Is Healing

Delivering a baby, either vaginally or by c-section is a big deal! Your body takes a while to fully heal from it. Any time your body is healing it takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally. If you can stick it out, nursing your baby with a fully recovered body could change the experience dramatically. You will feel better and surely have more patience for anything breastfeeding brings.

Hormones are Changing

Those darn hormones cause all kinds of problems in a woman’s life. After delivering a baby they change yet again and we all know what kind of effect raging hormones have on us. They cause us to be extra emotional….a bad combination with all of the other things you are getting adjusted to. By waiting until your hormone levels have balanced themselves back out, you are giving yourself a real mental chance at handling breastfeeding. Once hormone levels are stable you might also enjoy breastfeeding on a deeper level and find it easier to bond and connect with your baby.

Exhaustion Has Set In

By the time you have delivered your beautiful baby, chances are you are exhausted. Definitely by the end of day two with your new bundle of joy sleep takes on a whole new meaning. Waking up multiple times a night with a crying baby and never getting time to catch up on sleep is extremely taxing….possibly one of the hardest parts about having a newborn. You do get used to running on no sleep, but it takes a while (especially when your body is requiring extra energy to heal). Lack of sleep can surely put you in a bad mood, limit your patience and cause every little thing to make you cry. Any complication with breastfeeding can feel like a huge mountain, when in reality it can be a tiny something, or even nothing at all!

Some women, desperate for sleep, understandably want their husbands to pitch in and handle some of the night feedings and may feel as though they have to carry all of the burden because they are breastfeeding. While it is important for a mother to nurse often in the beginning, by the time your baby is 4 weeks old, you can (and should) pump and introduce your baby to a bottle. Hang in there until that 4 week mark and you can share the feeding responsibility with dad (or anyone else who wants to help).

You and Your Baby are Learning

Although completely natural and something God designed us for, breastfeeding isn’t a piece of cake. It takes a lot of learning and practice for both you and your baby to get the hang of it. Many women complain of pain and discomfort and the only reason for that would be an improper latch. With tweaking, practice and help any mother can figure it out, though and find the secret to pain-free breastfeeding. And, luckily, this is something that should not take 6 weeks to figure out. If the first few days are awful, keep seeking help from a lactation consultant until you determine what is wrong with your latch and you will soon have it mastered. A baby knows how to suck, but she doesn’t know the best ways to latch on either. It takes time and patience and teaching her how to do it, too. Give it a little time and you with both have a grasp on how to achieve the perfect latch.

You Might Be a Basket Case and Filled With Worry

Bringing a new baby home is stressful! It is natural to worry about every little thing, and many breastfeeding mothers are convinced that their baby is not getting enough to eat. They fear they have an issue with their milk supply and that they cannot provide all of what their baby needs to survive. While there can be some instances where this is true, in fact only about 5% of women have a true issue with milk supply. The reality is that babies don’t require much at first and your body is wired to perfectly provide your baby with all that she needs, throughout the entire time you breastfeed. The amount of milk you produce and even the breakdown of your milk’s components will change to match what your baby needs (this is why breastfed babies do not have to keep on increasing the number of ounces they consume…the milk matches their caloric/fat needs). If you have a proper latch and feed your baby when she is hungry, she IS getting enough. More than likely, by the time you reach the six week mark you will have gotten used to having a newborn around and you won’t be worrying quite as much.

The Magic of the 6 Week Mark

I was dead set on breastfeeding from the beginning. I had a hard time picturing myself nursing before my baby was born, but because of the health benefits, bonding and cost my husband and I both felt strongly that breastfeeding was something we would do for the first year. I told myself early on that no issue or struggle would cause me to quit. Even with this passion for breastfeeding, I got very annoyed with nursing my baby in those first 6 weeks. I would be annoyed with the latch and overthink they way everything needed to be. I never had any major problems or even sore nipples, but I was not able to enjoy breastfeeding during those first six weeks. Since I was so committed to breastfeeding I thought for sure I would like it from the start, but I truly didn’t! It was like a light switch, though, when I reached that six week mark. Out of nowhere, breastfeeding became a great experience and all of my annoyances ceased.

When I think about mothers who don’t have a good support system or who go into breastfeeding timidly I get worried. It is so hard to go into it thinking that you will try it and do it if you like it, because chances are you won’t….unless you stick it out and give it a try once you have gotten through the battles of the first six weeks. Six weeks is kind of a long time, especially when you are physically and mentally drained. But, the best thing you can do for you and your baby is hang in there!! If you are having problems and struggling to make it through to the six week mark get support. Not enough can be said for the value of a support system. Whether it is family, friends or a nursing support group (which can be found through local hospitals, doctors or La Leche League), being able to talk with people that can understand what you are going through, offer you advice and/or be your cheerleader, can do amazing things to get you through to the end.

I am so sure of the magic of the six week mark, that if you are struggling to get through it and you need some support, give me a shout. I will do everything I can to help you through it so you can get to the prize and have a successful, happy experience as a proud, nursing mother!

Society’s Knowledge of Breastfeeding

Society's (Lack Of) Knowledge of BreastfeedingSociety’s (Lack Of) Knowledge of Breastfeeding

I continue to be amazed at the lack of knowledge that many women have regarding breastfeeding. As a breastfeeding mother, I have heard numerous questions and comments implying that breastfeeding needs to be supplemented with formula, that it is painful and that the sooner you can be done with it the better. I believe this lack of knowledge is a result of cultural trends for formula feeding in the 70’s. By the early 1970s, over 75% of babies in the United States were fed on formulas, almost entirely commercially produced. With so many mothers opting to feed formula over breast milk, who was able to pass on breastfeeding facts and secrets? Primarily, a mother would pass this on to their daughters and since such widespread popularity of formula was less than 40 years ago, our generation of mothers is suffering.

When The Trends Changed

My mom breastfed two of her three children. She wanted to breastfeed her first baby, but all of her family and even her doctors discouraged her! They told her that it would be too hard for her and that she just needed to feed formula. Reluctantly she listened to their advice and regrets it today. She did what she wanted and breastfed her second two babies and loved every single aspect of it. Looking back she knows that she could have easily handled breastfeeding her first child too. It seems absurd that people, especially doctors, would discourage a mother to breastfeed, but that is the result of such strong cultural trends. My mother’s generation was largely formula fed — people got used to seeing babies bottle fed and hearing repeated arguments for formula feeding and against breastfeeding. So, our mothers were formula fed and encouraged to formula feed their children, therefore many still recommend formula over breastfeeding today.

Since most of our mothers and grandmothers fed formula, they really don’t know very much about breastfeeding at all. They were not taught all of the benefits of breast milk over formula and they certainly don’t know the “secrets” of a good latch which is necessary for successful and pain-free nursing. So, for many mothers, unless we are hungry for knowledge, researching and educating ourselves on breastfeeding we will not learn the breastfeeding truths. And maybe even more detrimental is that mothers today might struggle to find a support team within their own family. Having a new baby, learning the ropes of motherhood and getting the hang of breastfeeding is no easy task. Having a family that can relate and encourage you to stick it out can increase a mother’s chance of continuing to breastfeed during the most difficult first few weeks.

Reasons Women Don’t Breastfeed

I have noticed (and felt myself) among women is a general discomfort or uneasiness at the thought of a baby actually nursing on you. While it is a hard thing to imagine, a big reason we must feel this way is that simply have not been exposed to enough nursing mothers. I believe that if we had seen more images of women nursing (not necessarily bare-breasted) in the media and of course within our our families, we would be more comfortable with the concept. Instead, the media always shows babies being bottle fed and nursing mothers in public are criticized. I myself am not comfortable breastfeeding in public, but I think if a woman chooses to do so (hopefully covering herself with a nursing wrap) then it should be considered acceptable.

Despite what many people think, there are few medical reasons to use infant formula; breastfeeding is suitable for most mothers and babies. Some mothers are unable to breastfeed, and others choose not to breastfeed, or choose to combine breastfeeding with formula-feeding. Their reasons for choosing alternatives to exclusive breastfeeding include:

  • The mother’s health: The mother is infected with HIV or tuberculosis. She is malnourished or has had certain kinds of breast surgery. She is taking any kind of drug that could harm the baby, or drinks unsafe levels of alcohol. The mother is extremely ill.
  • The baby is unable to breastfeed: The child has a birth defect or inborn error of metabolism such as galactosemia that makes breastfeeding difficult or impossible.
  • Labor/Delivery was difficult: Labor and delivery can be long and exhausting (especially with the rise of inductions). Mothers may feel too tired and overwhelmed to try breastfeeding. It feels easier to feed formula and let the baby go to the nursery for undisturbed sleep.
  • Personal preferences and beliefs: The mother may dislike breast-feeding or think it inconvenient. She may feel that breasts are too sexual for a baby, or that bottle-feeding will increase the father’s role in parenting his child.
  • Absence of the mother: The child is adopted, orphaned, or in the sole custody of a man. The mother is separated from her child by being in prison or a mental hospital. The mother has left the child in the care of another person for an extended period of time, such as while traveling or working abroad. The mother has abandoned the child.
  • Food allergies: The mother eats foods that may provoke an allergic reaction in the infant.
  • Financial pressures: Maternity leave is unpaid, insufficient, or lacking. The mother’s employment interferes with breastfeeding.
  • Societal structure: Breastfeeding may be forbidden at the mother’s job, school, place of worship or in other public places, or the mother may feel that breastfeeding in these places or around other people is immodest, unsanitary, or inappropriate.
  • Social pressures: Family members, such as mother’s husband or boyfriend, or friends or other members of society may encourage the use of infant formula. For example, they may believe that breastfeeding will decrease the mother’s energy, health, or attractiveness.
  • Lack of training: The mother is not trained sufficiently to breastfeed without pain and to produce enough milk.
  • Lactation insufficiency: The mother is unable to produce sufficient milk. This only affects around 2 to 5% of women. Alternatively, despite a healthy supply, the woman or her family may incorrectly believe that her breast milk is of low quality or in low supply. These women may choose infant formula either exclusively or as a supplement to breast-feeding.
  • Opposition to other sources of breastmilk:
    • Lack of refrigeration: Expressed breast milk requires refrigeration if not immediately consumed.
    • Lack of wet nurses: Wet nursing is illegal and stigmatized in some countries, and may not be available. It may also be socially unsupported, expensive, or health screening of wet nurses may not be available. The mother, her doctor, or family may not know that wet nursing is possible, or may believe that nursing by a relative or paid wet-nurse is unhygienic.
    • Lack of milk banks: Human-milk banks may not be available, as few exist, and many countries cannot provide the necessary screening for diseases and refrigeration.

A Time For Change

There are ways around some of the above mentioned reasons for not breastfeeding and could be solved with an increase of knowledge. It is my hope that breastfeeding is on a huge rise and that our society can turn into one that knows the true facts of breastfeeding. It is up to our generation to become educated by taking classes, reading books and turning to breastfeeding organizations. Breastfeeding has such unbelievable benefits for babies and mothers that it should not be neglected or underrated. Sadly, many untruths of breastfeeding have actually become “common (false) knowledge” and it is time to clear up the facts.

Breastfeeding is the best gift a mother can give to her baby (and herself) and it is up to us to change our society to one that embraces it!

Recommended Reading

To learn more about breastfeeding and proper techniques, we recommend Dr. Jack Newman’s book, The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers.

Alternatives To Cry It Out

Alternatives to the Cry It Out/Ferber Method

Alternatives to Cry It Out

There are ways to help teach your baby how to put herself to sleep that, when used correctly, can work faster than the Cry It Out method, without the stress on you or your baby. You can start now, whether your baby is a newborn or well into her first year. Our favorite methods come from The Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg.

First Steps to Encourage Independent Sleep

From the day you bring your baby home from the hospital there are many things you can do that will help teach her to be an independent sleeper, which means more sleep for you! It important to realize, however, that babies are not ready to go through “sleep training” until they are four months old. These first steps do not really fall into the category of “sleep training”, yet they are extremely helpful and lay a great foundation for when your baby is a few months old and able to soothe herself.

The first thing you should do is keep your baby on a flexible routine or schedule. This benefits both parents and baby and makes it very easy to learn to read your baby. To find out more, read our article about Establishing A Routine For Your Baby.

Reading Your Baby’s Sleep Cues

Once a routine has been established, you will find that you can easily read your baby’s sleep cues. You will know when she is getting tired and learn when is the best time to put her to bed. When you hit this “window” of time, putting your baby to sleep can be quite simple. Here are some typical sleep cues, Tracy Hogg outlines by developmental stages:

“When they gain control of their heads: As they become sleepier, they turn their face away from objects of people, as if trying to shut out the world. If carried, they bury their face into your chest. They make involuntary movements, flailing their arms and legs.

When they gain control of their limbs: Tired babies may rub their eyes, pull at their ears or scratch at their faces.

When they begin to gain mobility: Babies who are getting tired become visibly less coordinated and lose interest in toys. If held, they’ll arch their backs and lean backward. In their cribs, they can inch their way into a corner and may wedge their heads there. Or they’ll roll one way and get stuck because they can’t roll back.

When they can crawl and/or walk: Coordination goes first when older babies are tired. If trying to pull themselves up, they’ll fall; if walking, they’ll stumble or bump into things. They have full control of their own bodies, so they’ll often cling to the adult who is trying to put them down. They can stand up in their cribs but often don’t know how to get back down-unless they fall, which frequently happens.”

Look for these signs and as soon as you recognize that your baby is getting tired, start your wind-down routine.

Know How Your Baby Falls Asleep

There is a three-stage process to falling asleep for all babies, but every baby will go through these stages in their own way. Watch and observe your baby to know and understand how she falls asleep. You will quickly learn whether your baby is ultra sensitive to the timing/window, if he is prone to jolting or if he drifts easily to sleep. The whole process usually takes 20 minutes, so stick it through long enough to really know when your baby has entered dreamland.

Tracy Hogg identifies the three stages of sleep as:

“Stage 1: The Window. Your baby shows you he is tired by yawning and exhibiting other sleep signs. By the third yawn , get him to bed. If you don’t he’ll start to cry rather than pass into the next stage.

Stage 2: The Zone. At this point, your baby has a fixed, focused glaze that lasts for three or four minutes. His eyes are open, but he’s not really seeing-he’s off somewhere in the stratosphere.

Stage 3: Letting Go. Now your baby resembles a person nodding off on a train: He closes his eyes and his head drops forward or to the side. Just as he seems to be falling asleep, his eyes open suddenly and his head whips backward, jolting his whole body. He’ll then close his eyes again and repeat the process anywhere from three to five times until he finally enters dreamland.”

The third stage is especially important to pay attention to and know as you follow these other steps to teach your baby how to fall asleep on her own.

Do The Right Things Leading Up to Sleep

Establishing a calm and consistent wind-down routine before every nap and before night time sleep is very important. It helps your baby know when sleep is coming. Tell her it’s naptime, bring her to her room, make sure the blinds are closed and that the room is dark, check that her diaper is clean and dry, swaddle her or put her in a sleep sack, sing her a song or play a nice lullaby, talk to her softly in her ear or read her a story, then sit with her quietly for about five minutes. The purpose is to calm her and get her ready for sleep, not to put her all the way to sleep. If/when you notice Stage 2 setting in, or if she starts closing her eyes, put her in her crib (she should still be awake at this point).

Once you put her in her crib, stay with her to make sure she goes all the way to dreamland and help her if needed. Sometimes babies will fuss when you put them down or when they experience a “Stage 3 jolt.” If she cries at this point, try to soothe her while she is still in her bed. You can do this by rhythmically patting her back and “shhhhhhushing” to her. Once she quits crying stop your patting so she does not depend on that to fall asleep.

Once her breathing deepens and the jolts have stopped (usually around the 20 minute mark) it is probably safe to say your baby is asleep!

Putting Your Baby Back to Sleep

Hopefully your baby will take great 1.5-2 hour naps and not wake after 40-45 minutes each time (the length of an entire sleep cycle) or sleep through until the next feeding (if he still needs them) at night. If he does wake early and he needs to sleep longer, you can help him go back to sleep without using any aids that will turn into bad habits and get in the way of your baby learning how to sleep (rocking, holding, feeding, etc.).

If your baby is just stirring/fussing, but not genuinely crying, don’t rush in. Some babies will stir a little but put themselves back to sleep. By rushing in you may actually disrupt them and interfere with them putting themselves back to sleep on their own. Wait until your baby is actually crying for help to go in to him. To learn more about knowing the difference in your baby’s cries, read our article on the “mantra cry” and when it’s ok to let your baby cry. When you do go in to your baby’s room, try first to soothe them while they are still in bed. A shush and a pat while they are in bed may be all it takes for them to calm back down and go back to sleep.

If your baby is under four months old, and he won’t settle in his bed, pick him and soothe him by continuing to shush and pat. Once he is calm, put him back in his crib. If necessary shush and pat to keep him calm in his bed. But again, do not do this until he falls asleep-the purpose is just to soothe.

If your baby is four months old or older, he will have more of an ability to soothe himself and should be encouraged to learn to self-soothe instead of depend on you. If he won’t settle in his bed, pick him up, but as soon as he quits crying (immediately-the second he quits), put him back down in his crib. If he starts to cry, try to settle him in bed, if that doesn’t work, pick him up, then put him down as soon as he quits crying–repeating this cycle for as long as it takes. If your baby starts to cry on his way back down to the mattress, be sure you put him all the way down before you pick him back up. Tracy Hogg calls this the “Pick Up/Put Down” method and it works amazingly well. Babies don’t get stressed or feel abandoned because you are there with them and they quickly learn that you are not going to hold them until they fall asleep. The first time you do this, you may have to pick your baby up and put him down many, many times, but each time you do it, the number of times will shorten until you don’t have to do it anymore. Now doesn’t that sound a lot better than listening to your baby cry and scream for you while you are letting them cry it out?!

Do not try the Pick Up/Put Down method for babies under four months as it will actually stimulate and disturb them. For these young babies, just stick with the shush/pat. For babies that are older (10-12 months) and toddlers, you will eliminate the pick up portion of the method. When they stand in the crib, you will just lay them back down. Sometimes a simple hug will suffice before you lay them down.

To read all about Tracy Hogg’s Sleep Methods and to hear many case studies, check out her incredible books: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

Recommended Reading

To read more about trying alternatives to the Cry It Out method, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems