What? Your toddler still nurses?

I never thought I would be breastfeeding a toddler.  In fact, when I was pregnant, I figured I would nurse for 3 months–you know–for bonding.  Then I’d return to work and pump for as long as I could handle it.  Then we’d switch to formula(I had mistakenly thought formula was as good as, or better than breast milk).

Then I took the baby care class offered at Kaiser Hospital.  The early middle-aged male pediatrician gave all sorts of useful information, but when he got to breastfeeding, I was shocked when he said that babies should be breastfed until at least age 2.  WHAT?  I would have expected that from my midwife, but not this man.  He proceeded to tell us that “science has not yet identified, much less been able to replicate, LITERALLY hundreds of components of breast milk.”

I didn’t even realize there were hundreds of components of breast milk!

He went on to discuss vital immunological functions of breast milk, how important breastfeeding is in establishing a baby’s sense of fullness and thus reducing later occurrence of eating disorders–but I’d sort of tuned out.  I had NEVER heard that the American Pediatric Association recommends breastfeeding until at least age 2 and learning just how vital it truly is for the lifelong healthy development of the little tiny person that was growing inside of me turned everything I thought I knew upsidedown!

Two years seemed like such a massive amount of time that I promised to stick with breastfeeding for 6 months and see how it went from there.  After the initial difficulties of the first 6 weeks (it’s unfortunate how many moms quit breastfeeding during this time, thinking it won’t get better), it was pretty much smooth sailing, so I said I would go to a year and see how it went after that.   Well, after that, it was a part of our life and was easy and sweet and I knew I could make it to two.   Luckily, I’ve been able to stay home with our daughter, so that’s helped.

Now she is two and a half and weaning has been the challenging part, because she really loves to nurse for comfort and it’s what she’s known all of her life.  I really started weaning about two months ago, when we dropped the post nap nursing and replaced it with sitting on the potty immediately upon waking.

She’s also gone through phases of sleeping all through the night and then waking for several nights in a row, wanting to nurse.

We are slowly weaning now and, to my great surprise, weaning from night feedings turned out to be relatively easy and painless, though I initially did it because of pain.

I had already stopped the post-nap nursing, just to get her used to the idea of waking up without “muk.”  This had been nearly two months.  Before I night weaned, Mylah had become EXTRA needy for a couple of weeks and was nursing all the time.  At night, she began to wake at least once per night to nurse and, for about 4 straight nights, she woke 2-4 times per night and would cry and protest when I would try to put her back in her crib, from our bed.  It would have been all too easy to just let her sleep with us, but that would demolish the idea of separate beds and none of us sleep well when she sleeps with us.  When she wouldn’t be kicking one of us in the head or throat, she would want to stay latched on to me all night.  The 4th and final night of this was it.

After nursing before bed and screaming when I would put her in her crib–then nursing her a little more in hopes of calming her down–then having her wake up 2 hours after going down and again 2 hours later and screaming when I tried to put her back to bed, I just let her sleep with us.  She sucked all night and by morning, I felt like a wreck and my “muk” were so raw and sore that I couldn’t nurse her if I wanted to.  That morning, when she wanted to nurse, I told her, “Mama’s muk is ouchy–it’s broken.  You had too much muk last night and now it’s ouchy and broken.”  I knew she would understand that.  Throughout the day, when she would ask, I would just remind her that the muk was ouchy and broken.
By night time, they’d had enough rest that I could nurse her before bed and I put her down.  When she woke up a couple of hours later, I told her muk was ouchy and broken and she wasn’t having any of that.  She fussed but I put my foot down and let her cry it out.

The next night, I decided to try something different, because I’m not a “cry it out” fan.  I’d read some posts by moms who night weaned and most said what worked like a charm was offering water–not milk, formula, a snack or anything fun–just water, quiet and a hug.  Those moms said this worked in just a couple of nights.  I’d tried the water and hug thing before and it didn’t work–she had just screamed louder and more angrily.  This time, with her knowing the muk was broken, when she did wake up, I came with a bottle of water and took her into our dark living room so we could sit quietly(my past experience was if we had stayed in her room, she would just scream more).  She had some water and asked for muk.  She wanted daddy, tv, toys.  I told her, “It’s night time. It’s time for sleeping. Daddy’s sleeping. Toys are sleeping, TV is sleeping.  Mama wants to sleep, too.”  She whimpered, but had some more water and said, “Want my fan.”  She’s been wanting to sleep with her fan on–I think she just likes the noise because I don’t actually point it toward her.  So we returned to her room, let her admire her night-light, turned on the fan and she went back to sleep.

That’s been what I’ve done for over a week now and some nights she sleeps straight through, other nights she might wake once.  This also helped us drop the pre-nap nursing.  So now, she nurses when she wakes up in the morning and for a few minutes, before going to sleep at night.  She occasionally asks for “muk” during the day and, if there is time, I usually let her nurse at random times.

Last night she awoke at 3am, crying for water(“Want my water!”).  When I woke up and took her to the living room, she said sweetly, “Want muk, Mama.”  As much as, in that moment, I really did want to nurse her, in the quiet darkness, I told her it wasn’t time for muk, it was time for sleep. “Want fan, Mama.” And with that she quietly went back to sleep.

Holy Finicky Toddler, Batman!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you want a healthier alternative to conventional frozen treats, just use popsicle molds to freeze your favorite healthy yogurt.  That’s how this started for me, anyhow!

We always try to keep things healthy, natural and organic and knew we wanted to avoid added sugars.  The only added sugars for our 18 month old daughter 1-2 small organic Stoneyfield Farms Yo Baby yogurts per day.   One day, I realized I had a few cups that were close to the expiration date, so I decided to freeze them into pops.  She liked those.

Then I realized I had half eaten fruit/veggie puree pouches(AKA: “Squishies,” in our house) and she never liked those out of the fridge, only room temperature.  So I started mixing those in.  Then, one day, she didn’t want to eat of her dinner–not even her favorite, the avocado.  So I mashed that up and started including it in the “Ah-Keem,” as she used to call it.

Then I got to thinking about the sugar in those yogurts and wondered if I could do better for her.  After some trial and error, this is what I came up with.

The basic mix is simple.  Unsweetened, Plain Fage Yogurt, puree(I get mine from the pouch–all natural, organic, no sugar–only pure fruits & veggies) & fresh banana & avocado make a quick, perfectly sweet frozen treat.  If you want to get creative, I can’t blame you.  Here’s what I did:

AKA: A sneaky healthy meal on a stick

Plain Greek Style Yogurt with Mashed and Pureed Fruits and Veggies.

Nice Avocado

...or rather "Fold."Run mold under some warm tap water for 10 seconds and...PRESTO!To make 8 of these pops, I used:

1 1/2 cups plain Greek Style yogurt(Fage is my favorite because the texture is super rich(despite being 2%) and the flavor is mild)

1 1/2 Large bananas, bright yellow, no over-ripening

1 1/2 pouches of the yellow puree for base color

1/2 of a large Hass Avocado(could have used more)

12 Raspberries

1 pouch of the Purple Puree to drip in

What you see in the first photo is all you should need to make these.

Steps

1.  Mash the banana with a fork

2.  Immediately mix in yogurt, before the banana has a chance to brown

3.  Stir in puree the give some natural color to the popsicle

4.  This good sized Haas Avocado will be the perfect color to make green polka dots in the popsicle.  Partially mash avocado with fork.  I like the chunks for both the bananas and the avocado because it gives a variation in the textures, flavors and colors.

5.  Fold in the avocado to just combine with the yogurt, puree pouch, banana mixture.

*At this point, you could just spoon the mixture into the popsicle molds and have a healthy meal or snack.  But if you are way to creative and don’t value your sleep nearly enough, you can get super complicated and do the next steps…

6.  Now you’re ready to spoon in the yogurt.

At some point in the progression of this one and only thing our daughter will consistently eat and not just play with, I wanted to include more good stuff and more flavor.  So I started to mix in hand broken bits of raspberries, chopped blueberries and then I wanted more fruit/veggie puree, so I began layering a spoonful of yogurt and dripping in some dots(or drips) of the puree.   If you haven’t gone with the wonderful simple approach of just pouring the yogurt/fruit/veggie mixture into the molds, then you should plan for at least 10 minutes for your artsy layering.  Good luck!

7.  Drip in Dots (or drips) of Puree

8.  Since I’m already layering, layer these in, too so they don’t turn the whole mixture a different color.  Repeat the layers how ever you like until you’ve filled the cups.

9.  I fill these pretty to the max and then They’re ready for the stick/top.

You can see the completed Pops, ready to go into the freezer, overnight.  I have no idea how long they actually take to freeze, so I can’t tell you for sure.

To remove, run mold under some warm tap water for 10 seconds and…PRESTO!

I love these popsicle molds.  They were just under $4 for a 4-pack at Target last summer.  Loved them so much, I bought 3 packs.  I like these because the top/mold part is made to fit around the stick part that you hold.  It makes it much easier for tiny hands to hold.

Pump it Up, Mama…Just Like That

Breastpumps…

Just the word makes me slump and sigh.  I started pumping when I was still in the hospital after my daughter’s birth.  After a 30.5 hour labor which ended in a Cesarian birth, due to my baby being turned funny (Back Labor), despite my best efforts at a natural birth and no bottles, she did receive formula for her first feeding, due to my surgery and a few hours in recovery.  After that, I had my mom and “Auntie Dana” to help put the baby on my breast to nurse.  She would nurse, but, prior to my milk coming in, she wasn’t getting much.  Nurses were concerned about my baby’s weight loss and a lactation consultant encouraged me to pump and use a supplemental nursing system (SNS), a tiny feeding tube which attaches to nipple or finger to feed the baby my breast milk.   Fortunately, I was at a certified “Baby Friendly” Kaiser, so they were really good about not pushing formula.  No one even said the F-word to me, with the exception of notifying me that giving formula would be necessary immediately after my baby was delivered, due to low blood sugar.

So I pumped using the hospital grade Medela pump and watched every drop as it dripped into the bottle.  We would cheer for every half-ounce.  Then, after the third day of pumping, my milk came in.  Wow, was there a lot!   I would breastfeed her first and then feed with the SNS on my finger(she would not take it attached to the nipple, but a finger is the closest feeling thing to a nipple).

When we got home, I continued to pump on a nice Medela Pump In Style Breastpump which my friend had given me after she had finished nursing her 2 children.  It was great.  She had not used it in over a year and it was easy to follow the instructions to clean the tubing and all of the parts.  I got lucky, with a nice, free pump, which is still in perfect working order.  I’m glad I didn’t have to pay $279 for a new one.  Yet, when I took a break from pumping for a few weeks, because my baby wasn’t taking to the bottle, and went back to pumping, suddenly I couldn’t get much more than 3 ounces after 45 minutes of pumping.  I started reading pump reviews and decided to try a Dr. Brown pump and then a Whittlestone.  While these were also great pumps, I didn’t do any better with them and realized the problem was not the pump, but my breasts no longer being used to pumping.  Even after a 3 weeks of sticking with it, my results were not any better and I came to the conclusion that, for me, at that point, the best pump would be my baby.

Nevertheless, twice, I was able to successfully purchase an awesome pump–used–and save a whole lot of money.  So here are my tips for finding a used breast pump and increasing the likelihood that it will work well for as long as you need it:

First of all, most pumps available to consumers are considered “single user pumps.”  Hospital grade pumps are made for multiple users because of the way the suction either can not or might potentially allow one users milk to come into contact with the motorized portion of the pump.  Medela, for example, makes a hospital grade pump, the Lactina, which is made for multiple users without contamination.  Their other pumps are made to be for a single user.   I’ve read notes of caution about using another mother’s pump and the suggestion about replacing all tubing, cups, valves, etc., prior to using a pump previously used by someone else.  I did not do this, as I felt safe that no contaminants would be present from my friends milk or breasts after a year of non-use and felt confident in my ability to properly clean my gently used pumps.

Okay.  If purchasing a pump on Craigslist, be sure to plug it in and try it out–not on your breast, but on a fleshy part of your body.  For most women, our tummy is a good bet.  You want to see the cup make contact well enough to create a suction and then you can see the surface of your tummy being sucked and released.  For some women, the upper part of your chest, just below your collar bone (the part you would see when wearing a tank top) may work, too.  Be sure you try each setting.  If you are not familiar with pumps, ask the seller to show you how to set it up and confirm that all the necessary parts are there.  If possible, bring a friend along, who knows breastpumps.  On Craigslist, though you will see people selling pumps for over $100, you can find even better deals and it should not take too long to find a good pump for around $60-$75.

Ebay is also a great source for used pumps, but be sure to check the seller’s feedback.  If you read their feedback and see more than one comment about an item they’ve sold arriving not as described or not in working order, find another seller.  There are a ton!  With Ebay, you will not get to try the pump out.  You have to go on the seller’s word about its condition.  The great thing is that Ebay automatically protects your purchase and, if the item is described as working and arrives non-working or described as “practically new” and arrives gross, dirty and cracked, you can easily open a claim with Ebay that the item was “not as described” and Ebay will look into it and refund your money, if the seller refuses to work with you.   Both pumps I purchased were from Ebay sellers and I had no problems.  When I did have a different item arrive broken, and the seller didn’t respond to my email, Ebay refunded my within a few days.  Look for items that have at least one good photo and a detailed and specific description.  Don’t forget to factor in shipping cost.  Sellers will charge anywhere from $14-$25 or more for shipping.  A seller asking for much over $25 for USPS parcel post either miscalculated or is just plain over-charging.  I’ve seen sellers charge nearly $40 to ship a pump USPS parcel post!  So watch for shipping charge when you consider your maximum bid.  For ebay, placing your bid as close to the end of the auction as possible will help keep your cost down, as well.  Be sure you know what you want(manual or electric, single or double, style or model, etc) and be sure you know precisely what the auction is for, as an auction may be selling the pump motor, only or just the accessories.  Be sure to contact the seller prior to bidding to clarify anything that is not specifically stated in the auction.

Good luck with your buying and your pumping!  🙂

In my next post, you can look forward to breast feeding, what no on told me…

Sling, Baby Carrier…what’s the word? Part 2

My preference for  slings, after trying various types of carriers, structured slings slings with, pleats, folds and with big rings or small rings is this:  Big rings and no pleats makes it super comfy, super versatile.  I had thought, being short, that the small rings would be better, but I found the small rings encourage the fabric to open on the shoulder a little and the big rings encourage more opening.  The pleats prevent more opening, from my experience, and would cause the fabric to ride up my arm and end up above my shoulder and hang on my neck.  That’s not the most comfortable thing.  You might prefer it the same way as me, too.  I spent the first 6 months with a Maya Wrap riding up and hanging on my neck, but it didn’t bother me much and it wasn’t until I got a much cheaper, gently used Pretty Momma sling and Ellaroo sling on ebay, that I realized how much more comfortable the simple shoulder is.  Also, I am a voluptuous, petite woman, so my shoulders have more of a roundness.  Being short with rounder shoulders may be why the big rings and no pleats work better for me.  If you are a very slim woman, small rings and pleats will probably work just fine.

When trying to figure out the right way to put my 2 week old into the sling, I searched YouTube and found a video for every baby wearing issue I can think of(though I didn’t see one for a back carry for toddlers).
I found these on YouTube, by doing a search for “ring sling.”

Tummy to tummy for younger babies:

Cradle Carry/Sleep Carry

Cradle Semi-reclining

Kangaroo Carry

Rings too low

Fabric on neck

Proper bigger baby position

Toddler hip carry

Hopefully these links will be be helpful in helping you wear your baby in a sling.  Mine is 21 months and I still use my sling to carry her and times when I would otherwise need to hold her in my arms.  I also sometimes use the Ergo Baby Carrier, which I really do like.  It can be worn in front or in back, for older babies and toddlers.  My sling is just more compact and convenient because I can fold it up and stick it in my purse, in case I need it.

Happy Baby wearing.  In the next installment, I talk about breast pumps and some tips for finding a good one used.

Sling, Baby Carrier…what’s the word? Part 1

Before we had a baby, I’d heard of only one type of baby carrier:  Baby Bjorn.  So, of course we got one.  Then my friend who had a baby a few moths old at the time ours was on her way, told me about the Maya Wrap, an adjustable Ring Sling.  So, of course we needed one of those, too.  Once our baby came, that’s when the real test began.

First off, after having to deliver via emergency c-section after 30.5 hours of labor, I was in for a longer than expected recovery and an additional challenge…no lifting anything heavier than the baby for 8 weeks.  That meant that when she was three weeks old and I wanted to take her to the store with me, I did not have the option to use a stroller or even lift the car seat into the shopping cart.  This meant getting acquainted with baby carriers pretty quickly.

I tried the Baby Bjorn and, for me it was uncomfortable.  My milk had come in, big time and having a baby strapped to my chest was not pleasant.  So I tried the Maya Wrap sling I’d purchased.  The first time I tried putting her in, my baby screamed. For some tips on how to put her in properly, I found some videos on YouTube and got her in comfortable on the second try.  The Maya Wrap(around $60) became my favorite because it gave me the freedom to go out with my baby and I was able to breastfeed anywhere in total secret.

The sling was great, but pricey, and I wanted to have a few because my baby had been spitting up on it constantly.  So…I found another used sling, a Pretty Momma sling (starting around $70, new).  I liked this one better than the original Maya Wrap because there was no folding at the shoulder–just rings simply and securely sewn in at one end.  I liked how this one cupped my shoulder and more or less stayed in place.  It was great, but with as much as my baby was having massive spit-ups and necessitating rewashing the slings, I needed more–but at a better price point.

Then, by a stroke of luck, I found my answer.  Patricia, a stay at home mom, makes a wonderful Ring Sling.  Her site is http://www.slingflingslings.com, though I just tried it and it is down.  She was selling her slings for around $30 and they are top notch.  She uses the smaller rings, but I found I liked the larger rings better and she was able to make my slings with the larger rings.  She also uses pleats at the shoulder, but when I received them and did not like the way the slings fit me with the pleats, she fixed them.

For more on Ring Slings and fit, including the YouTube links I’ve found helpful, tune in to Part 2, in the next couple of days.

Hello…Here I am…

As a mother to a wonderful 21 month old little girl, who is the light of my life, I know that time is at a premium.  I never thought I would love the challenges of every day as much as I do and becoming a mother has changed the way I look at life–from what is important(remembering to take time to be silly and feeding her healthy, nourishing food) to what is not as important as I thought(keeping everything pristine).

Still, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done, particularly being able to touch base with other parents and sharing what has been helpful to whom.  I’ve discovered such an array of baby items and tried anything I’ve thought would be helpful in some way.  Some things I’ve loved–others, not so much.  So why is this important?  For me, because I would have loved to find some helpful reviews on items when I have needed them; because of all of the times I’ve asked other parents, “Have you heard of this?”–hoping for an experienced opinion–and feeling like I must be the only parent searching out teething soothers at 2am or even giving the matter any thought.  Yet I know I’m not–I just can’t be.  So, here I am…sharing any knowledge, tips, hints and helpful products I’ve come across in my quest to make babyhood a little easier on our little one and parenthood just a little easier for someone else.