Silver Lining

March 29, 2017

making sure baby products work for me

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FirstMomentsMadeSimple #ForBetterBeginnings #MomsFirst #CollectiveBias

When Addison and Lincoln wake up from their morning nap, Claire loves to rush in and say hello to the babies before I get them out of their crib. We usually spend a few minutes cooing at the babies, and then we get them out and have a few minutes of playtime in the nursery before we change diapers, do bottles, and head to whichever outing we're going on that day.

Last week I snapped some pictures of our weekly morning playtime - the babies are happy (until they remember they're hungry and their mood switches drastically), Claire loves to chat and play with the babies, and I love to see the twins' post-nap gummy smiles.


Details about this gallery wall can be found here, and a tutorial for the DIY growth chart (just out of frame) can be found here.
^^This book and this rattle toy have been used for all my babies, and they're still going strong (and played with multiple times a day). When you're a new mom, it is HARD to figure out what products to get and what your baby will like.

In fact, when the twins were just born, I got a fancy decorative bottle dryer that was supposed to sit on your counter looking cute and air drying all the clean bottles. You guys, it did NOT work for me. It took up so much space, didn't actually dry very many bottles, and was a huge pain in general. I used it for two weeks before I realized I was working for the product, instead of the product working for me.

And now that's become my mantra when it comes to baby products. Get products that make your life easier, not harder. Make sure they work for you, instead of you working for them. Basically, every baby gadget you buy should baby you and your baby; you shouldn't have to baby the product to make it fit into your life.

Exhibit A: the Playtex Diaper Genie® Complete that we picked up at Babies "R" Us.  (Remember when I raved about the Diaper Genie here?) We go through so many diapers around here, and there ain't no way I am going to take them all the way to the outside garbage every single time. I love the foot pedal, so when I have a dirty diaper in one hand and a baby in the other hand, I can just use the foot pedal and plop it in. No manually sliding it down the same chute hundreds of others of dirty diapers have been slid down. It's the hero of the room with a neutral, sleek design and Ultimate Odor Protection - so I never have to worry about how the twins' room smells. In fact, Diaper Genie is the #1 selling diaper disposal brand.*



One thing pregnant moms can agree on is that figuring out what baby products you need is HARD. It's overwhelming to sift through the literally thousands of brands, products, promotions, and testimonials. Then you have to think about price and convenience, how it will fit and look in your nursery, and whether or not your baby will like it.

If you're an expecting new mom, head to your local Babies "R" Us the first Saturday of the month so registry experts can help you get your registry started in a stress-free way, and then head back the third Tuesday of the month for a registry completion event after you've had your baby where you can get a discount on every single thing on your registry that hasn't been purchased yet.

Here are three questions I ask myself before buying any baby product. They help me determine ease, convenience, shelf life, and usefulness of baby gear and gadgets before I buy them.

1. Is this product low-maintenance? 

When you have a newborn, the last thing you have time for is baby product maintenance. Think about whether you have to invest lots of time to assemble, clean, store, and move the product - and how often you'll have to replace parts or batteries. The bottle dryer I was talking about earlier was not low maintenance, because I kept having to clean it, move it, and rotate bottles through it.

2. Will this product get a lot of use?

Think about the shelf life of a product. I only buy one sleep sack per size, for example, because I know each one will only fit for a month or two at the beginning. The Diaper Genie, on the other hand, I'll use every single day for two to three years, which makes it a lot more worth it to me. Baby swings are only used for about the first six months, but since my twins used them multiple times every day for hours and hours during those six months, it was totally worth it to me.

3. Does this product simplify motherhood for me?

Anything that helps my children sleep better (pacifiers, swaddle blankets, swings, a white noise machine) is definitely worth it in my book. I also have two diaper changing baskets around the house (each filled with diapers, wipes, cream, hand sanitizer, etc.) that simplify motherhood and save time because I can change a diaper wherever I am. Strollers that just click in and go are worth it for me too, because it saves the time and hassle of moving your child from place to place, buckle to buckle.

Cutest little contended faces, just sitting there watching me happily :)

What are your favorite baby gear must-haves?

*based on Nielsen scan data

March 27, 2017

DIY Growth Chart

Big news over here: I finally accomplished something from my To Do Eventually list (remember this post when I admitted I hadn't done anything from that list since I was pregnant with twins?).

When we were growing up, we marked our heights on the little wall between the kitchen and dining room. But when my family moved when I was in college, the house stagers unceremoniously painted over it and it was lost forever. I'm unreasonably sad about it, and ever since I became a mom, I've been bemoaning the fact that we're renting and can't mark anyone's height on the wall, and if we did, we'd lose it when we moved anyway.

Enter this DIY growth chart. It's main function is to mark all the kids' heights as they grow, and we can take it with us wherever we move. It's also cute and decorative. It's also a nice way to fill an empty bit of wall in a hallway, children's play room, or nursery. And, like all my crafts, it's so easy and very hard to mess up.

First, I went to Home Depot for my supplies. I got a pine board that was one inch thick, eight inches wide, and six feet tall. They normally come eight feet tall, but I smiled really nicely at an employee who cut it down to six feet for me for free. I also grabbed a mini can of wood stain (I got this one in Early American, but only because they were out of the Classic Grey). Grab a sheet of sandpaper too if you don't have one. The board was about $2.50 and the stain was about $4.50.

When I got home I sanded down my board really nicely (after the sandpaper fiasco I shared on my Instagram story, that is). I made sure to wipe off my board really well after the sanding. Then I used a super old rag dipped in stain to stain the entire front of the board and all the small sides. It went quickly and was very easy. I did two coats of stain.

I let it dry on our covered porch for three days. Which actually means I meant to let it dry for one day, but then I got busy and totally forgot about it for two more days. Third day's the charm?

I was originally going to paint each and every tick mark on there myself. Mark it off with a pencil, trace it with a sharpie, and then use paint to fill in the tick mark. And then repeat that 71 more times for the 71 additional tick marks. And then print out a stencil for each of the numbers, pencil them on, outline them, and paint them in. Yikes.

Instead I got this vinyl decal packet. You guys. If you want to do this project, hurry and order this packet like right now. It's so easy. And comes with detailed and easy-to-follow instructions. And only took me 10 minutes total to put it all on. And it stays on really well. And if you write a review, they send you your last name in vinyl for free to add to the growth chart. (For real, they do this!) And it's on sale today for only $13.79!

When you add in the vinyl decal packet, the total for this project comes to just over $20. Twenty bucks for something you'll have and use for at least the next 18 years is a pretty good deal. (You can buy premade growth charts online for $60-$80.)

But seriously everyone buy the vinyl decal packet right this second. It made this project so easy and so awesome. I got the numbers in size large, matte black.

The next step was just following the super easy instructions to attach the tick marks. It's just a peel-and-stick situation, and I really can't say enough how great the instructions were that came with it.

We used large velcro command strips (we've used these for basically everything on every wall in every house we've lived in) to stick it to the wall eight inches from the floor, et voila! Done!


Cute, easy, portable, almost impossible to mess up, and now I can be sentimental about watching my children grow as we measure them every year on their birthday.

PIN FOR LATER:

March 24, 2017

baby-led weaning: how we never bought or made baby food

When my oldest was six months old, I hadn't done much research on feeding babies, so I did what I kind of assumed you were supposed to do: baby oatmeal cereal added into formula or breastmilk, and then months and months of store-bought (and a few homemade) purees. And every single time I fed my baby, I thought, "This is so gross."

Have you ever tried baby food? Never. Taste. Them. (Although my baby was used to drinking formula, so I guess anything's an upgrade from that.) Plus they're super processed, they're not like real food humans eat, they are dang expensive, and they don't teach your baby what real food feels or tastes like. But I thought it was just what you had to do, so I did it.

Then, when my baby was nine months old, I heard about baby-led weaning, and since the day I researched it, two more kids later, I have yet to buy another puree, puff or yogurt melt.

If traditional pureed baby food is what works for you and your baby, absolutely go for it. But here's what has been a much better fit for our family.

B A B Y - L E D   W E A N I N G

In a phrase, baby-led weaning is all about babies feeding themselves real food.

Instead of buying or making pureed foods, give them real foods. Instead of spooning bites into their mouth, put the food on the tray and let them feed themselves. It's that simple.


When I first heard about baby-led weaning, I was feeding my daughter a tupperware full of sweet potato puree with one hand while also scrolling through a friend's blog post about this "babies feed themselves" crazy talk. I put down the phone and opened the fridge to see what I could experiment with. I found an avocado, cut a big slice, and put the whole slice on her tray. You guys, she was SO happy, and the entire thing disappeared in about 30 seconds flat. (In fact, she ate it so quickly I was convinced she was choking.) (She wasn't.) The next food I introduced was a third of a banana, and then a steamed baby carrot.

With my younger babies, I've been doing the same thing. We start with avocado, and then gradually increase to other foods, and all three of my babies have been quite enthusiastic. They all got into it at slightly different ages, but once they were interested in real food (aka once they started dive bombing for whatever food I was eating), they've all done great.

THE PROS:

+ Your child gets exposed to more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed food.

+ Your child gets used to different textures and flavors early, and lots of studies have suggested this makes them less picky eaters.

+ It's much cheaper because you don't have to buy baby food.

+ The prep time is practically nothing because you don't have to make baby food; your child literally just eats what you're already eating.

+ Your child learns better hand/eye coordination and fine motor "pincer grasp" control.

+ Eating becomes something your whole family does together. There's no kid food vs adult food, there's just food.

+ It's easier to go places, because you don't have to pack up special food for the baby in addition to whatever you're already bringing or buying for yourself.


THE CONS:

+ Your baby will sometimes gag when they're just starting. Gagging is different from choking, and babies actually gag as a way to move food around in their mouth. It's totally fine and normal, and gagging is what helps their gag reflex develop normally. Obviously you have to be watching your children when they eat no matter what, and I don't give large whole grapes, or any other food that's a choking hazard in the beginning.

+ Usually, with baby-led weaning, you start at around 6 months old, when your baby is better at sitting up unassisted and picking things up by themselves. Sometimes, with purees, you can start as early as 4 months, so if you're super anxious to have your kitchen be a disaster every time the baby eats, I guess it's a con that you have to wait a month or two. (I get it, as an excited new parent it's sometimes hard to wait for the next milestone.)

+ It is MESSY in the beginning. Brace yourself that at least 50% of the food will end up on the floor or smushed into your baby's hair in the beginning. But I promise it gets a lot better very quickly; these babies really do pick up this whole "eating real food" thing faster than you'd think.

GOOD FOODS TO START: (anything 2-3 inches long and fairly soft is great to start)

+ fresh vegetables: avocado, peeled cucumber
+ fresh fruits: banana, strawberries, apple, pear, mango
+ steamed vegetables: carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, zucchini
+ protein/ dairy: scrambled eggs, black beans, turkey, chicken
+ puree-like real foods: applesauce, yogurt (I'll sometimes break my own rule and spoon feed these to my babies to avoid a mess)
+ grains: crackers, whole-grain cereal, veggie straws, bread, pasta

The other day we were FaceTiming with some family during dinner, and they were like, "AH! Addison got her hands on a a huge thing of broccoli! Help her!" It was a nice, soft piece I purposely picked out from our meal to give to her. I explained she's eaten broccoli before, and then naturally we spent the next five minutes watching her gnaw on it and grin and drool green drool everywhere until the whole thing was gone. (Family: the only people who are remotely interested in watching your daughter eat broccoli.) 

See the baby-led weaning website here, or just google for more people's experiences and ideas of first foods. We love these cover-all bibs and also these easy-wipedown silicon bibs to help contain the mess. Everyone alive recommends these super cheap IKEA high chairs (which sadly are permanently out of stock at my local IKEA), so we have these ones that attach to a chair instead. They're also cheap, and I love that the tray can go straight into the dishwasher.

PIN FOR LATER:

That's been our family's experience with baby-led weaning.
Easy, cheap, no prep, and everyone eats together as a family.
Any other fans of baby-led weaning out there?
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