Tag Archives: yaussi

Why Car Seats Might Be One of the Worst Things for Kids’ Health

I absolutely hate removing my car seat from its rightful spot in the back of the car, mostly because it’s an endeavor that that usually leaves me sweating and exasperated enough to have to dial for back-up to get it back into the car correctly. I also hate it because it’s confirmation that, yes, my car seat is just as nasty, if not more so, than I had imagined.

And it’s not like I don’t try to keep it as clean as possible. I brush my kid’s car seat free from crumbs and other debris nearly every time we use it. And about once I week I probably take a rag to it to try to rub out obvious stains. But it’s when I actually get the time to do a deep clean that I start to really get grossed out. Because for as much as moms focus on  health and cleanliness for our babies, spending small fortunes on products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and immune boosting vitamins, the car seats we put our kids in day in, day out are crawling with germs.

Or at least I know mine is.

My first step in de-grubbing the car seat is always just to get the darn seat out of the car, which comes with its requisite huffing, puffing and pushing, pulling to get it free. Immediately, I remove the cover and hose it down while aggressively going at the crumbs smooshed into every corner and crevice with a hand-held scrubber brush. (Sometimes I also just throw it in the washer.)

Once the cover is hanging up drying somewhere, I move on to the actual seat. It also gets the hose and a soapy water rubdown. I’ve learned that I need to actually flip the seat upside down and spray the bottom as well to be sure it gets really clean. Why? Because sometimes stuff like this is hanging out under the seat:

Ewwwwwww!

Yes, that is a Wheat Thin stuck to some gunk that probably was milk at some point. I still don’t understand how this stuff managed to harden into a solid and adhere itself to the underside of the seat, but it did.

Next, I move on to cleaning up the back seat. Also disturbing:

Yuck!

This stuff actually required scrubbing to remove it. But it’s curious to me how much stuff ends up under the seat given how much seems to end up either in baby’s belly or all down the front of him.

And of course the door:

Not so yummy

It sort of freaks me out when I think about how many germs the typical coffee cup contains, you know, the ones that kind of hang out in people’s cubicles never getting a truly thorough washing. So, when I see this, my inner germ-a-phobe comes rushing to the surface. Can this really be healthy for our kids?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, car seats, cleaning, daily life, health, hygiene, transportation, travel

Cool Mom or Just Crazy?

Every once in awhile the reality of my life slaps me right upside the head Joe Jackson style. Today it was the fact that I was driving home from baby’s French play group, rocking out through the rain and the traffic to Kidz Bop Monster Ballads.

I had often seen the Kidz Bop CD series and had no trouble taking a pass. The idea of a bunch of 8-year-olds singing anything from Lady Gaga to the Glee soundtrack sounded absolutely painful. But in a moment of weakness, the impulse buy got the better of me and I shelled out the $10 or so for the Monster Ballads version. I mean, seriously, bands like Poison, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Scorpion, and Firehouse definitely should have a place in my child’s musical education.

For as ashamed as I am to admit it, I love this CD. The playlist is amazing. How can you go wrong when it starts out with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and wraps up with “Love of a Lifetime”? It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think it’s a toss up between “Winds of Change” and “Love of a Lifetime.” Probably because they remind me of dancing with a boy named John Goodenbury at a junior high dance at the local YMCA. I was seriously crushing on him and couldn’t believe he picked me for the most amazing slow dance double header of the night.

But while I kind of feel like a cool mom for moving beyond “Old McDonald Has a Farm” and other classic nursery rhymes for musical entertainment, I also have a sinking feeling that my listening to Kidz Bop makes me officially lame. I can imagine that if I had gotten a glimpse of myself belting out kid-ified versions of “I Remember You” or “High Enough” in my Volvo with a baby stuffed into a car seat in the back when I was young, single, and free, I would’ve been mortified. I’m pretty sure I would’ve thought, “Man, she needs to get out more.”

And maybe I do. But chances are next time I do, I’ll be rocking out to Brett Michaels’ kids covering his classic “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” And I’m okay with that.

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Filed under babies, daily life, moms, music

Confessions of a Cosleeper

Let me just set the record straight and say that I am not an advocate of cosleeping. Not only do I just not sleep well when baby’s in the bed with me, between him kicking me all night long and my worrying he’s going to roll off the bed, but I truly believe that parents and kids should have their own separate sleeping areas.

Some experts would argue that baby belongs in crib for the simple reason that it’s safer. That’s more than likely true, but I think it’s good for a number of other reasons:

  1. It’s undeniably better quality sleep for both baby and mom. Each can go through their normal sleep cycles undisturbed and without disturbing the other.
  2. A separate sleep area reinforces the idea of a bedtime, which naturally creates a much-needed schedule for both baby and parent.
  3. Babies need to learn to self soothe. In other words, they need to be comfortable putting themselves back to sleep if they wake up at night.
  4. Babies need to learn to be independent. That means not only sleeping independently but also figuring out how to amuse themselves in their cribs for a little bit so mom can press the snooze button once every so often.
  5. It’s a heck of a lot less messy. Between the drool and the wetting through the diapers, I’d rather change a crib sheet over my bed sheets any day.

But even I have to give into temptation every once in awhile. (There’s picture evidence to prove it.) Because let’s face it, it does feel awesome to have this sweet, sleepy baby curled up in the crook of your arm.

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However, this summer there was an inordinate amount of cosleeping going on. Way more than I’d like to admit, actually. So what was driving me to nearly do a 180? Here are the factors that I trace to that sudden uptick in baby-in-the-bed nights:

  1. I was missing my husband. Plain and simple. And being close to baby was like having a little piece of him next to me even when he couldn’t be. I guess it made me feel a little less lonely.
  2. It was nice to feel needed. This was probably a consequence of #1, but there is something gratifying when you can quiet a crying baby just by pulling him close.
  3. We were sleeping in the same room. We spent most of the summer at my mom’s, so baby and I were bunked into the same room. Although he went to sleep in his pack’n’play without a problem, if I started to get ready for bed at just the wrong point in his sleep cycle, it was all over. He was standing in his crib, wailing for me.
  4. We weren’t exactly alone. Throughout the summer, we had a number of guests slumbering in the room next door. So when #3 would happen, I felt obligated to find the fastest way to quiet baby down so his crying wouldn’t keep them up.

This combination of factors was like kryptonite to my cosleeper resistance. I found myself having a baby sleep-over, -on top of, -next to, and -under at least a couple nights a week. And I was exhausted each and every morning that it happened.

While this whole exercise made me appreciate the space and routine that I have in my own home, it also underlined for me just how important it really is that baby have his own digs. There’s less fussing and what little waking (if any) there is during the night is extremely short lived. Moreover, he’s sleeping sounder. When we were in the same room I could barely open the door before he was awake; now that he’s in his own room again, I can walk in with the dog trotting behind me, adjust his blanket, and even put a hand on him and he barely stirs.

In the end, my stint as a cosleeper ended up proving to me that baby and mommy really were better off in their own beds. Even if I miss hearing those last little yawns in my ear before baby books it into the land of nod.

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Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, first year, infants, naps, sleep

Sunday Funday

Most days my former single life seems forever ago. (Oh wait, it was.) But this morning, as I cruised by Target before strollering on home from the gym, it occurred to me that maybe my college days weren’t as far behind as I would have thought. Just take a look at my so-called grocery essentials:

The Essentials

That’s right: beer, bread, peanut butter, milk, and a light bulb. (In order of importance, to be sure.) I’m not even sure in college I had so much in common with a 19-year-old frat boy.

But maybe babies actually make parents retreat to what actually is really important in life–basic food and fun. It’s hard to believe that a college sophmore could possibly know more about what’s truly important in life than a 33-year-old mommy. But maybe college kids really do have their life priorities in order. At least for an NFL Sunday.

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Filed under booze, cooking, daily life, food, moms

Born To Run, Not Just Walk

Baby crossed a few major milestones this summer. And while I’m sorry that I’m only now getting to catch up on them, the truth is I’ve not only been busy trying trying to enjoy them but also just trying to keep up with them. Literally.

When baby and I arrived at my parents’ house for July Fourth weekend, baby was a crawler. He was pulling himself up on furniture, creeping around the house from chair to chair, and pushing all his walker toys, but he was not what I would consider vertical. Then one day not too long after we arrived, he took the first step on his own. The next day he took three steps on his own. The day after that he took five steps on his own. And after that he was a walker.

I had no idea it would happen that fast. I thought it would be a much longer process, one where he would spend weeks only being able to take a couple steps before crashing. I thought for sure it would take a decent chunk of time to develop the muscle strength, coordination, and balance to be toddling around. Apparently not. By the time we were packed up Labor Day weekend to head home, baby could run. 

And as fast as his chunky bow legs can carry him is clearly his preferred mode of transportation. This of course means that I also am doing a lot more running than I’m used to–even with the training that I’ve been doing to prepare for the Army Ten Miler next month. (Remember you can still donate; just click here before Oct. 3!) My mornings should start with “on your mark, get set, go” followed by the pop of a pistol because, from the second my alarm clock rings, it’s off to the races, the finish line being 7pm when my baby goes vertical to horizontal in his crib.  

But as I say that, one thing occurs to me: My baby really isn’t much of a baby anymore. I’m not sure I like the sound of toddler–just yet.

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Filed under babies, child development, daily life, first year, holidays, play time, walking

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

Stay at Home or Work? Every Mom’s Big Decision

As I was trying to shovel applesauce into a screaming toddler’s grimacing mouth the other morning, I saw this news segment on TV that asked: Who’s got it worse, working moms or stay at home moms? According to a University of Washington study, stay-at-home moms are more likely to be depressed. But the caveat is that those working moms who try to be super moms–meaning they have unrealistic expectations of work-life balance–were more depressed. The big takeaway being that any way a mommy slices it, she’s likely to run up against depression at one time or another.

I have thought a lot about this question over the past couple of years, as I struggled to decide whether to stay home full time with my wee one or go back to work. I’ve also seen a lot of mommy-friends come up against the same big question–and come up with different answers. But as I look across the spectrum of full-time moms to full-time professionals with kids on the side, one thing is clear: No one has it easy. Each work-life permutation that I’ve come across has moments that are positively overwhelming and definitely worthy of a whimper or two.

Of course I’m painting with a very broad brush, so bear with me, but most of my stay-at-home mommy-friends’ struggles stem from the fact that they are indeed home all the time. While it’s wonderful that they get to spend every waking moment with their precious wee ones, many of them seem to feel that they’ve lost a little of their shimmer and shake along with their connection to the working world. They’ve got a good grip on all things domestic–their laundry baskets aren’t overflowing and the litter box doesn’t stink–but finding things to do and places to go with the wee ones other than the grocery story and Target isn’t exactly easy. Hooking up with playgroups, classes, and activities can be as much work as dating or interviewing for a new job.

Life for working moms, on the other hand, is seriously programmed. From the moment the alarm rings to moment the last kid is in bed, it’s go-go-go time. In a way that’s good because a day can just fly by,  but one small glitch and the wheels are nearly going to fall off. There is absolutely no time for stuff like misplaced keys, runaway dogs, or flat tires. (My mommy meltdown of the week was over a broken back gate.) There’s so little time to take care of the basics that anything that requires extra, special, or immediate attention feels like a way bigger deal than it probably truly is. But having way too much to do in way too little time is the reality.

So, whether its about feeling invisible or inadequate, life for any mom, regardless of employment situation, can be stressful if not downright depressing. This realization begs the question whether there can really ever be a good work-life balance.

One of my brother-in-laws had a very good “dad” response to that question. He said that he knew he was close to striking that point when he felt like he was just doing in his estimation “good”–not fantastic or great but not bad or terrible either. It sounds a little depressing, but I get what he meant. It’s like if he was being a super star at work, he knew he wasn’t being the dad he wanted to be. And if he was being super dad, he probably wasn’t putting in the time or effort at his job that he should. So, when he was doing well enough, that was balance. I guess that makes him the good-enough father before there was the good-enough mother.

While I think that’s a truly honest assessment of the situation most young parents find themselves in, it’s not exactly prescriptive. The best how-to advice I ever heard was unsurprisingly from my best friend. (It’s always funny to me that you never really have to go far for good advice.) As an executive at a well respected, Fortune 1000 company, she’s definitely corporate to the max; however, she’s also a great mom who adores being with her kids, so she knows all too well how delicate that balance between a successful career and home life is. As I was blubbering to her about my decision to work or not to work, she finally told me the way she would have it, if she could: work 3-4 days a week, with the flexibility to work from home, and limited travel. And it dawned on me–isn’t that the way most mommies would have it? You’re home enough, but not too much, you have a little bit of income, and you still stay connected to the world that’s 18 and older.

But sadly, few of us are afforded that luxury of flexibility and those that have it cherish it. A lot of school teachers have a pretty good gig, working the same hours that their kids are in school and then summers off. But I learned recently that most female doctors only work three days a week because of this issue of family, and I instantly regretted my career decision. I certainly could have made a lot more money for the years I spent in school and have as close to a perfect work-life balance as possible. But I’ve got to imagine, or at least hope, that maybe the business world is in the process of changing to accommodate families needs to have moms and breadwinners. Maybe by the time Gen Y decides to have kids, the flex schedule will be more commonplace than it would seem today. Because the reality, at least according to that University of Washington study, is that as a mommy, you’re far from escaping depression at some point, no matter if you’re at home or at work.

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Filed under baby blues, family, moms, stay-at-home moms, working mom