Category Archives: formula

My Life in Sippy Cups

There are so many ways to measure life with a baby. The most obvious is in months, but then there’s also inches or pounds. I always liked to measure time by the number of teeth my wee one had, but with his last molar coming in, I guess that’s no longer really an option. Diaper size is always a good one, too. But until recently, I hadn’t considered that time could also be measured in ounces.

I was having having a stroller happy hour with my oldest-and-dearest friend and her 9-month-old baby girl a few weeks ago when the topic of sippy cups came up. We discussed everything from introducing the sippy cup to when to kill the bottle all together. Moms always want to know what brands other moms are using. So, of course, we debated the pros and cons of a number of sippy cup brands.

So, when I took stock of the past 15 months in PBA-free plastic, here’s what it looked like:

Sadly, this is not the full spectrum. I definitely experimented with a number of additional sippy cups, to include those with straws, caps, and even a Nuby one that had this weird but kind of cool lip spout. But these were the go-to sippy cups that I would more or less get psyched about when I opened the dishwasher and realized that they were clean.

A number of mommies asked me how I ended up deciding on a bottle brand. Fifteen months into this whole kid thing and I think back to how much I agonized over selecting a bottle brand. I read all sorts of reviews and finally settled on Avent. It was highly rated in the book Baby Bargains, mostly because it was PBA free; was supposedly proven to reduce gas, fussiness, and colic; came in 4-, 9-, and 11-ounce bottles; and was cheaper than Dr. Brown’s or Born Free bottles. (I’ll also add that they are a heck of a lot easier to clean than, say, Dr. Brown’s with that tube thing that runs down the center of the bottle.) The big drawback was that they have this separate seal piece that you need to make sure is inserted or the milk runs everywhere; however, they started making bottles that have a longer collar so they don’t need a seal, but you kind of have to look for them. (Hint: They have a slightly yellowish, medicinal hue to the bottle. Why? No idea. But they are awesome.)

And, as an aside, in case you were wondering, I never got higher than a 3 for nipple size, so I wouldn’t waste your money on a bunch of nipples, if I were a soon-to-be mommmy again.

Baby graduated from the 4-ouncer to the 9-ouncer somewhere around the five-month mark and then again to the 11-ouncer around the eight-month mark. I’m a little torn on how I feel about the 11-ounce bottles. By the time he was able to consumer a whole one, he was onto a first sippy cup, so I really only used the big bottles when I was trying to pack a lot of ounces relatively compactly. So, is the 11-ouncer necessary? Probably not. But it did make life a little easier from time to time.

Baby’s first sippy cup was a Munchkin Mighty Grip 8-ounce Trainer Cup. I’m not sure exactly why I picked that one over any other one. Maybe it was that it looked relatively simple but not cheap and didn’t have any sort of Dora or Cars designs on it. But this sippy cup was great. My wee one transitioned beautifully to it thanks to a super pliable spout. (I also tried the Munchkin Mighty Grip 10-ounce Flip Straw Cup, but it was a little advanced at the time and even now, despite the cool design, it’s not one of baby’s preferred cups.) The downer with this cup, however, is that if you are lazy–like me–and sometimes throw it in the dishwasher without totally taking the top apart, the spout piece can become misaligned and, yes, you will have milk all over the place.

Speaking of milk all over the place, at about 9 months, my kid figured out that because of the Munchkin trainer’s super bendy spout, if he pushed down on it, the milk would flow. All over him, all over the counter, all over the floor, all over the car seat, all over the car door–and that was lots of fun. Needless to say, I soon found myself on a mission to find a replacement.

During one of my mom’s visits around this time, she purchased a couple of Playtex Lil’ Gripper Spout Cups. Personally, I thought they looked cheap, even a little ghetto, and all I could think about was tampons when I saw them in the drawer. Baby hated them even more than I did. He’d scream and throw them on the floor. In retrospect, they were probably just a little too advanced for him at that stage; he couldn’t handle the totally hard spout and would get frustrated because he wasn’t getting his milk fast enough for his liking. So, because I would rather clean up spilled milk than have a mommy meltdown thanks to a hysterical baby, I dealt with the Munchkin messes for awhile after that.

It was about three more months before I tried the Playtex First Sipster. And once I had it, I wished I had found it months before because these cups are awesome. The drinking spout is the perfect combination of hard form and yet still has some squishy give when pressure is applied. The end result is a fantastic transition cup where baby can both learn to slurp milk into his mouth and also still bite down on the spout to release the milk, similar to a bottle. The bonus is that the spout is still rigid enough that there’s no squeeze-induced spillage. But spillage can occasionally still occur if the clear plastic seals on the inside of the top aren’t in their proper position. (I’ve found that out the hard way.)

It wasn’t long–just a matter of a few weeks–after I found the First Sipster that baby was able to handle the Lil’ Gripper once again, so that victory was a little short lived. But that was okay, in a way, too, because the First Sipster’s smaller size meant lots of refills for my thirsty one. And now, the Lil Gripper is really the sippy cup I reach for when we’re on the move.

But it’s clear that after this great search for the ultimate sippy cup, the sippy cup days are numbered. At 15-months, my wee one is happy to drink out of a cup when mealtime rolls around. I bought some of those First Years Take & Toss 10-ounce Straw Cups, mainly because I love the Take & Toss spoons, and they’ve worked out okay. My kid doesn’t really care for the straw other than to take it out and chuck it on the floor and the top doesn’t really prevent spills, so I just fill it up about a quarter of the way. He wraps his two mitts around the cup and goes for it while I stand at the ready with a paper towel for any misfires into the mouth.

While the end of the sippy cup era is in sight, I find I’m the one really not ready to give the sippy cup the old heave-ho. I absolutely need it to keep my car and my kitchen at least somewhat clean. But it is funny to take stock of how big a place ye olde sippy cup has had in my life over the past year and change. I would’ve never thought I’d care so much about a silly little cup.

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Filed under babies, bottle feeding, daily life, feeding, first year, food, formula, infants, sippy cups

When Your Kid Quits You Cold Turkey

Baby is going to turn one next week. It’s definitely cause for celebration, but part of me has been wishing it wouldn’t come so soon. I’ve been doing okay as a baby momma, but I don’t know about a toddler momma.

Aside from the bittersweet-ness of such milestones and my somewhat irrational fear of being unable to handle the challenges of a toddler, one of the things that I’ve been stressing about in hitting the 12-month mark is what to do about breastfeeding. Stop or keep going?

I never really pictured myself as a breastfeeding mommy. And I’d venture a guess that most of my family and friends are still shocked that I’ve lasted this long. I started out just wanting to make it to three months. Then three became six, six became nine, and all of a sudden I’m at the end of the year and still breastfeeding.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking more and more that I’m done. Not to mention that my husband is pretty much just weirded out by the idea of breastfeeding any longer; at 9 months, he thought baby looked too big and strangely out of place in my arms for a feeding. But more than that, I’ve been feeling like I want a little bit more of my life back. I’m tired of staying up an extra half hour at night (or worse, getting up a half hour early) to pump, traveling with a cooler, and always feeling self-conscious when nursing in public.

But I was also feeling a little sad and perhaps even guilty about stopping. Breastfeeding is not only such a healthy thing for the baby, but it’s such a special bond between baby and mommy. Nursing forces you to take the time to slow down and hold your baby close. And you can’t do that without always seeing your baby for the special little jewel that he (or she) is.

Turns out my anxiety over this was perhaps a little overblown because for as much as I was weighing my choices, I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Last Friday baby up and decided he didn’t want to nurse and that was it. Dumped. Kicked to the curb. Dropped like a bad habit. For however many ways there are to say it, he was over me.

I’m not going to lie. My feelings were hurt.

I couldn’t believe that this was the end of breastfeeding road for baby and me. I tried for two days after that to get baby to nurse–unsuccessfully as it turned out. Baby was not going back on his decision no matter how tired, hungry, or upset he got in those two days. (I have to admit I admire his conviction.)

Maybe part of him knew that I was feeling ready, so he just decided to make things easy for me. I like thinking that, that we have been so in synch with each other that we were actually growing and changing together. But it’s also hard not to view it as a critical first step in his independence.

I keep thinking about something I read somewhere recently about how parental love is the only relationship where loving means growing apart rather than together. I wish I knew the exact quote because it’s so true. Being a parent means loving your kid enough to give them the skills and strength to go out and do their own thing. How simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking is that irony?

And that’s why I can still manage to shed a couple of tears over the fact that I’m no longer a breastfeeding mommy, even though I was ready to quit in the first place.

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Filed under babies, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, daily life, emotions, feeding, first year, formula, infants, lactation, moms, nursing, parenting

Have Infant Will Travel

With all my recent travel, I’ve received a number of notes from mommy-friends looking for a little advice on how best to prepare for their own travel adventures with baby. So, here’s how baby and I roll when we’re on the road–or should I say tarmac…

First, when we fly, we arrive ungodly early. It’s painful for me because I’m typically the type that arrives about 1 hour before the flight and carry on or bust. But now that I’m a mommy, I plan on being at the airport 90 minutes early if it’s a small airport like Savannah or Syracuse and at least 2 hours early if it’s a big airport like Atlanta or Baltimore. (I haven’t flown with baby out of Dulles yet, but I have to say that I might plan on being there 2.5 hours before my flight just because that airport sucks in more ways than I can count. But I digress.)

Baby gets wheeled through security, to the gate, to baggage claim, and anywhere else we may need to go in his car seat, which is clipped into the Snap ‘n’ Go stroller base. I’ve seen people with babies in those front carriers, but generally they are still pushing a stroller so it just seems like the carrier is just more thing to lug around that I really don’t need. I mean, no matter where you’re going you need the car seat, so you’ve got to take the stroller base. But the carrier? If you really think you’ll use it wherever you’re going, throw it in the bag that you check. (And no matter how much you hate paying the luggage fees, check the darn bag; you’ve got enough to carry onto the plane. )

I’m sure that it’ll come as no surprise that going through security with a stroller, infant, and other baby accoutrement takes a lot more time than you’re probably used. (I’ll get to more on security later.) So, just try not to stress. You’ll have to take the stroller all apart and put it on the conveyer for X-ray or someone will come and whisk it away and give it some wand action. In the meantime, you have to hold the baby as you walk through the metal detector. Grabbing your stuff off the conveyor and setting up the stroller while holding an infant on one hip is a challenge, but if you take your time, you’ll get through it.

Once you’re to the gate, definitely take advantage of your priority seating status. It takes more time than you think to deconstruct the stroller and get into your seat and settled. But basically, you’re going to just gate check the car seat and the stroller base. Leave them with their pretty pink tags at the end of the jet bridge. I’d recommend putting the car seat in a plastic bag, but I forgot mine the last time and we survived.

Now for carry-ons… I use this rather large shoulder bag to lug most stuff and then I bring a small purse-like thing for my pump, mini cooler, and extra bottles. I figure if my luggage gets lost, I have the things I really need. In my big bag, I throw in: a gallon ziplock bag with a thing of wipes and a bunch of diapers; a full set of clean baby clothes (not just an extra onesie because inevitably you will have some sort of inopportune diaper blow out that will make the pants baby’s wearing unwearable); a sweater/sweatshirt for baby; this plastic container thing that has 3 sections, where I put formula, rice cereal, and oatmeal; a bottle of water (buy it once you get through security); 3 rattles; one small stuffed toy; two large, thin receiving blankets/giant burp cloths (one to lay down on whatever baby changing table you find in the airport bathroom); a washcloth; and then my stuff (wallet, ID, phone, and that was pretty much it). If you’re traveling in the winter or on an overnight flight, I’m guessing you’ll need an actual blanket, too.

If baby happens to be traveling on your lap (although I would seriously recommend parents cough up the cost of an extra seat if you’re taking more than a 4 or 5 hour flight), I’ll just tell you right now that you won’t need the normal stuff you travel with (Kindle, iPod, book, etc.). The baby will sleep, but you’re going to have your hands literally so full for a lot of the time, keeping baby entertained and quiet, that I really think it’s overly optimistic to bring all that stuff. However, if you are going to be on a longer flight, you might want to bring something if you think the gazillion movies they’ll play won’t be enough. I just wouldn’t burden yourself with lugging all that stuff around the airport when you can throw it in your checked bag.

As for baby food… You can bring as much breast milk as you can carry and you can even put it in the big 8oz or 9oz bottles. When you go through security, they’ll pull you over to the side and make you open every single one of them as they wave this vapor stick over them. This takes also takes up more time going through security, but at least there are no restrictions. You’ll also want to pack some formula, even if you’re not feeding baby formula regularly. You don’t know what kind of situation you’re going to be in—maybe the dude sitting next to you completely creeps you out and you don’t want to whip out the boob when you run out of bottled milk or maybe your flight gets cancelled/delayed or maybe the top comes of your boob milk and spills all over the cooler. These are all things that have happened to me, so you want to be prepared.

If baby is into solids, I recommend throwing some of the Gerber Nature Selects in the rectangular plastic containers into your bag as well. They are foil sealed and also have a plastic top if you need to re-close it. This last time I flew back with some jars of baby food Ian’s mom bought me and they made me open those but not the plastic containers.

As for keeping baby quiet and comfortable during takeover and landing, my secret was feeding him. I would try to hold off on actually giving him the bottle until we had pushed away from the gate and were taxiing to the runway. He’d be gulping away as we sped down the runway and then would be asleep by the time we’d reached our cruising altitude. I think the swallowing motion did a lot to relieve the pressure than can build up in the ears when taking off and landing. Same deal with the landing. If he was asleep, I’d just let him be and if not, I’d feed him until we were on the ground.

The only problem I had was at one point he just refused the bottle—either boob milk or formula. He’d never done that before. So, I had to pull out the boob for a couple minutes before he crashed. I was completely uncomfortable, but I figured it was a few minutes of self consciousness versus a crying baby.

Now, as far as seats go, I think I’d recommend mommies opt for the window seat. Although I do think on a long-haul flights, there could be some advantages to having an aisle seat; you might want to get up and walk baby at some point and having an aisle would make that much easier to do.

There’s also some row considerations. I got put in a bulkhead seat (you know the ones behind the business/first class and economy divider) once, and I didn’t like it at all. There was more legroom, but I didn’t like not having my bag with all of baby’s gear within arms reach. (I actually switched seats with someone.)

However, one of my girlfriends who also has an infant and will be traveling to the Philippines says that’s where she and her family will be sitting because the flight crew can attach a bassinet of sorts for the baby. For overseas travel, you might call the airline to find out if that’s a possibility because being hands free even for a little bit on what is sure to be a crowded flight would be awesome.

So, the last word: It’s definitely exhausting traveling with a baby, but it’s not impossible, even if you’re by yourself, if you’re organized.

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Filed under babies, baby travel, breastfeeding, daily life, feeding, formula, infants, moms, newbie parents, nursing, organizing, travel

Growing Up Foodie

Food, glorious, food. That pretty much sums up my take on eating.

Food is completely at the center of my family life. It’s not only what most of us spend our free time doing–we garden, we read food magazines and Web sites, and we watch foodie TV shows like “Iron Chef”–but it’s the reason we get together. From backyard barbecues and fish frys to Thanskgiving and Sunday dinners, bring the food and the family will show up. The act of designing, preparing, cooking, presenting, and sharing  a meal is our most comfortable expression of love.

So, given the starring role food plays in my family’s life, you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I took baby to the doctor for his four-month check up and he said I could start introducing solids–rice cereal, oatmeal, and a first fruit and veggie. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Now, it might seem a little early, if you believe a lot of what you read. Lots of expert sources say to refrain from introducing solids until six months of age. But I really felt baby was ready. He’d more than doubled his birth weight–he’s pushing 18 pounds already–and if that rule of thumb wasn’t enough, he was definitely starting to get very interested in whatever I was eating. I caught him eyeballing an apple a few weeks ago with such desire that I held the gnawed-on core up to his face so he could smell it, if not get a little taste on his lips.

So, it was with much glee that I hit the solid food aisle in Target for baby’s first meal. What was it going to be? Plain old rice cereal? Oatmeal with bananas? Rice cereal with fruits? I wanted to buy them all, but I settled on two boxes–one big one of the plain old rice cereal and a smaller one of oatmeal with bananas.

Once home, I immediately put baby into his bouncer chair and I busted out a bib for its inaugural dirtying. While some mommy-friends suggested putting some cereal in a bottle at first, I decided to live a little dangerously and opt for a first spoon feeding.

Here’s the first-hand account of how it went:

It was so fun! And I couldn’t believe how quickly he caught on. After three feeding attempts, he pretty much got it (you’ll see clips from five feeding frenzies in the video). It was such an exciting moment that I found myself cheering, rather loudly as it would seem from the unedited versions of the video, when baby would take a big swallow or (better yet) actually grab my hand and try to pull the spoon into his mouth on his own.

I’ve never felt better about making a bigger deal out of a smaller thing.

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The Bottomless Pit of a Baby: Part II

As a newbie mom, I have not stopped worrying about whether baby is getting enough to eat. This is of course ironic because I’ve got a baby that qualifies as a chunker on my hands.

Tomorrow baby turns three months old, and although I don’t know exactly how much he weighs, I know he’s a load. At last check–his two-month check-up–baby was encroaching on the 15-pound mark. And judging by how tight some of his onesies are across his belly, he’s not slowing down. A week ago I was amusing myself by doing shoulder raises with him and the next day (sadly) I was sore.

Whereas during his first few weeks of life, I stressed about whether I would produce milk period, these days I’m worrying about whether I will be able to keep up with the eating machine that is my son. So far so good, but every time I’m in the formula aisle at Target, I wonder if I should pick up some formula just in case. And then I think, “Just in case of what?” At this point, nothing seems to be broken, so why am I trying to fix it?

But there’s this little fear in the back of my mind that I’m not going to be able to keep up with his rapacious appetite. All it takes to remind me is watching baby suck down a 4 oz. bottle in what feels like record time. Left up to him, he’d prefer to take it in one fell gulp. At three months of age, my baby actually gets annoyed with me when I try to remove a bottle from his lips before it’s empty and he’s sucking air.

An Impulse Buy

So, the other day, I did it. I actually bought formula basically out of fear. I bought four 8 oz. cans of Enfamil Premium Lipil. What that means, I don’t know. All I know is that these cans were the only ones on the shelf that didn’t list high fructose corn syrup (or solids, which is even freakier) in the ingredients. (Two mommy-friends warned me about this; otherwise, I wouldn’t have even bothered to look.)

And even though they’ve been sitting in my pantry for the past week–and probably will sit there for many more weeks to come–somehow I feel better. I have no intention of using them, but there’s security in knowing that I’ve got back-up.

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