Baby's First Year Survival Guide: Part 2

First Year Survival Guide Part 2

Yo and hello, mamas!

Yesterday, I gave you Part One of my First Year Survival Guide, which included my favorite feeding, sleeping, bathing and diapering products for baby. Today, I'm sharing my favorite teething and travel products and tips, along with some other miscellaneous items.

First Year Survival Guide-Teething Travel and Misc

Travel

1. Peg Perego 4-35 Infant Car Seat

This car seat has been wonderful. We first shopped for car seats before Cayson was born, and I compared it to several other well-known baby brands, including Britax, Maxi Cosi, and Graco. The reason we ended up going with this one was because it was the lightest (in weight) of all of the brands we liked. Due to strict safety regulations, car seats are pretty much all going to be the same when it comes to safety features. They have to pass certain regulations to even make it to market. So it all came down to price and weight, because as baby gets heavier, so does the car seat. This one was more expensive than some, but at only 9 lbs., it won out in my book.

2. Baby Jogger City Select Stroller

I chose this stroller for the same reason I chose a lot of our big ticket baby items: longevity! I wanted something that would last through at least a couple of kids, and this stroller will do exactly that. We bought a separate attachment so we could attach the car seat to it, and you can even add a second seat if you've got two kiddos! At about $500, it's the least expensive of the grow-with-your-kid type of travel systems. For comparison, the Uppa Baby Vista (my dream stroller) is just shy of $900. And it only goes up from there. If you want a more in-depth stroller review, let me know, and I can make it happen!

3. Boba Baby Wrap

We bought this wrap after Cayson was born and was the least expensive baby wrap/carrier that we could find. We weren't trying to be cheap with quality, but we didn't want to drop $150 on a carrier he might hate, so we went with this one and Cayson loved it. It's not really good for long term, especially if you've got a wiggle worm who doesn't like to be restrained. But it was awesome when he was still in the "fourth trimester" and wanted to be close. I could wear him around the house and still get things done. Multitasking is the name of the game, right, ladies?

Teething

4. Nuby All Natural Teething Gel

Cayson is currently DEEP in the throes of teething, and I wanted something that was natural but effective. This gel does the trick! Do I think it takes the pain away? Not completely, but it does seem to lessen it a bit, which I'm sure he appreciates. Plus, I think he enjoys the flavor ;-)

5. Baltic Amber Teething Necklace

If I'm being completely honest, I'm still on the fence about whether I believe that this necklace actually works. I know, it goes against all of my hippie ways, but still, I'm skeptical. Pro Tip: For safety reasons, I just wrap it twice around his ankle and cover it with a sock.

Miscellaneous

6. Mommy's Bliss Grip Water

Now this stuff actually works! For real. We've been using it for a year now, and it really does get rid of his hiccups. It is a miracle product! Babies get hiccups ALL THE TIME and they're not always thrilled about it, so do yourself a favor and get some gripe water. Like...now.

7. Zarbee's Naturals Baby Cough Syrup + Mucus

This is an all-natural cough syrup that we discovered after Cayson got his first cold around 5 months old or so. It's mostly just agave syrup, but I think it really does help clear out some of the mucus. Also, get yourself an electric snot sucker. It works WAY better than the bulb syringe.

8. Babyganics Mineral-based SPF 50 Sunscreen

The title is pretty self-explanitory, but I've been loving this sunscreen, especially now that summer is upon us. If you're from Texas like me, you'll know how sunny and hot it gets around this time of year.

9. Babyganics Alcohol-free Hand Sanitizer

This is a good hand sanitizer to keep in the nursery for diaper changes. When you use a regular sanitizer with alcohol, it doesn't quite evaporate off of your skin before you touch your baby again, and it can still burn their sensitive skin a bit. We've been using this sanitizer since the beginning and have loved it.

10. Honest Co. Laundry Detergent

I like this laundry detergent. It's unscented and plant-based, so it's safe for sensitive skin, but it is a bit pricey. We recently switched to the Seventh Generation sensitive skin detergent when we ran out of the Honest Co. one, and so far we've been liking that one too.

11. Honest Co. Stain Remover

Now this stuff is the TRUTH! It's plant-based and it works on poop, vomit, blood (Aunt Flo, anyone?), grass stains, and food stains. I love this stain remover and will continue to buy it until something even better comes along, though I'm not sure that's possible.

To all the experienced mamas out there, what were your favorite baby products? What were the hits and what were the misses? I'd would love to know because I'm still new at this, so there's always something to learn. Besides, sharing is caring!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Baby's First Year Survival Guide: Part 1

First Year Survival Guide Part 1

The first year of a baby's life is the most challenging, for the parents, that is. It's especially challenging when it's your first baby. A great deal of parenthood is figuring it out as you go along, learning what works and what doesn't, and sometimes trying every freaking product known to man.

With my son's first birthday having been a few days ago, I thought it might be helpful to share a few products and tips that helped get us through his first year of life.

Survival Guide-Feeding and Diapering

Feeding and Diapering

1. Philips AVENT Natural Bottles

We love the Avent bottles! We were blessed enough that our son took to these bottles immediately, and we didn't have to go through several different brands before we found one he liked. Our hiccup with bottle feeding happened at about 5 months, when he decided he would only drink breastmilk on tap and nothing else. He finally began taking a bottle again around 10 months. 

2. Philips AVENT Bottle Warmer

This bottle warmer is excellent! It works quickly, and heats the bottles well, and we've never had any problems with it. It has four different heat settings, including a defrost option, which is great for breastfeeding moms who need to defrost breastmilk.

3. Medela Nipple Shield

If you plan to breastfeed, get a nipple shield. Just do it, and thank me later.

4. Plum Organics Baby Food

These baby food pouches were a Godsend when Cayson refused to take to the spoon. He was still in his phase of only drinking breastmilk on tap, but we needed him to start taking solids. Since he didn't want anything to do with the spoon, these pouches were a great option since he could just suck the food out.

5. Earth's Best Organic Baby Formula

Once my son began taking formula, this was the only one he liked, and we tried three different kinds. He weaned at about 11 1/2 months old, and has been on this formula ever since, and he loves it. Side note: we've now begun mixing it with the Earth's Best Toddler Formula since he's turned the big ONE.

6. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump

A breast pump is a must if you plan to bottle-feed breastmilk to your baby. It allows you to build up a supply, which you can freeze and use later. Get one, you won't be sorry!

7. Holle Organic Rice Cereal

Holle is a German brand. I like German brands of baby formula and food because Europe has much stricter standards on ingredients, and the products end up being way healthier for your child. It's a personal preference, but my son has loved this cereal from the first time we used it, so why fix something that isn't broken? By the way, it's very difficult to get this brand in the US, and my distributor isn't taking on new customers right now, so I'll link to where I think you can buy it.

8. Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads

These little gel pads were one of the only things that saved me during the early stages of breastfeeding. TMI, but my nips were raw and sore, and taking these out of the fridge and putting them on gave me a world of comfort. If you're looking for some sore nipple relief, these might help!

9. Burt's Bees Baby Powder

We were using Honest Co. baby powder for the first few months, but once we found out it had been voluntarily recalled because of contamination, we threw it out and got this powder. The only thing I don't care for is the added fragrance. But other than that, I've been loving this talc-free baby powder.

10. Organic Healing Balm

This healing balm has been great for diaper rash relief, though Cayson doesn't get it very often. We put it on him every night before he goes to bed, and I do believe it helps to prevent diaper rash.

11. Munchkin Wipe Warmer

Cold wipes are a very first-world baby problem, but if you can make diaper changes more comfortable for your little one, why wouldn't you? 

12. Honest Co. Diapers

We've been using Honest Company diapers for the entire first year, and I liked them alright. To be honest, we never tried any other brand, but I knew I wanted chemical-free diapers. Plus, with the diapers and wipes bundle, it really did seem to save you money. We have recently switched to the Parasol Co. diaper subscription, though, so I'll let you know how I like them.

13. Water Wipes

As I said above, we were originally using the Honest Co. wipes that came with the bundle, but when we recently ran out, I had to get these Water Wipes from Target, since my local one didn't have the Honest Co. wipes in stock. I actually like these Water Wipes much better because they clean Cayson's bum much easier than the Honest ones did. They also don't dry out as easily. The downside to that, though, is that they are so wet that it takes baby's bum a lot longer to dry before putting the diaper on. I've decided to stick with the Water Wipes, and because you can't get the diapers without the wipes with Honest Co., I've decided to make the switch to Parasol Co.

Survival Guide-Bathing and Sleeping

Bathing and Sleeping

1. Puj Flyte Tub

I love this tub! It fits in the bathroom sink, which was wonderful for the first few months, and you can just rinse it down or spray it with your favorite all-purpose cleaner and hang it dry. 

2. Honest Co. Shampoo and Body Wash

This body wash is one of the few Honest Co. products we're sticking with. I like it because the scent is mild, but it gets Cayson clean as a whistle and doesn't sting his eyes.

3. Motorola Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor

This monitor is wonderful! You have to set it at the right angle so you can see your baby, but I like it because, if it's close enough, you can actually see your baby's chest rise and fall, and it gives you peace of mind. Plus, the monitor has a two-way mic, so you can talk to baby if need be, and it tells you the temperature of the room.

4. Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion

Just before Cayson was born, our Target was sold out of the Honest Co. lotion, so I bought this lotion instead and have been using it ever since. It's not too thick, and it moisturizes his skin without leaving him greasy, which I appreciate.

5. Gentle Baby Essential Oil Blend

This oil is very soothing and calming, with rose oil and lavender oil included in the blend. Not only did I put it in my peri bottle to calm my nether region after his birth, but we would dilute it with coconut oil and put it on Cayson's feet to help sooth him to sleep. 

6. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

You can read more on how this book has helped in my baby sleep post here, but suffice it to say, this book was a lifesaver.

I hope that some of the product recommendations have been helpful, and if you are currently a mama or are a soon-to-be mama, I hope this post gives you something to think about. It's Baby Week, so stay tuned for Part Two coming tomorrow!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Not Your Average Birth Story

You guys, my son's birthday is this weekend. 

I cannot even believe it! I can't believe that he will be one year old! How can a year have passed since I brought him into this world? What even is life?

Well, excuse me while I freak out. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote about a year ago, after he was born. I wrote this on my other blog, but I wanted to share it here in honor of his first year of life.


Natural birth has no comparison. In my opinion, not even other types of birth compare to it. I have nothing against other types of birth, and I respect every woman’s right to choose the way she births. I, myself, was born by c-section, and I don’t bear my mom any ill will because of that.

But natural birth…

There is nothing like it. I can’t compare it to climbing a mountain, or running a marathon…

It is, if I’m being honest, the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to my body. But it was so, SO much more than pain.

It was perseverance. It was patience. It was frustration. It was anxiety. It was trust. It was love…

For the majority of my ten-hour labor, I had three people supporting me:

My incredible husband…who fetched me water when I needed it. Who held my hand when my own strength wasn’t enough. Who reminded me, when I screamed that I couldn’t do it, that I was doing it, and that I was strong. He was the extra force behind me, rooting for me, supporting me, loving me…

My amazing mother…who silently watched over me, letting me know with her presence that everything would be okay. Who told me she was proud of me. Who held my hands when my husband needed a break. Who rubbed my back. Who smiled with pride when she saw me with her grandson in my arms…

The awesome midwife…who gave me a measure of peace because she was skilled, knowledgeable, and confident. Who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Who told me not to run from the pain or fight against it, but to embrace it. Who caught my baby as I pushed him from my body and into the world…

Then there was God.

I cried out for Him during labor more times than I can count. And as my stomach contracted, and my body contorted, and I wished that I had all the drugs in the world, I begged Jesus to help me through it.

Birth was, honestly, probably one of the most spiritual times in my life. I needed God to reassure my soul that I would make it through this, and that another soul would come to the world through me.

And there were moments of labor that were not so fun…

I vomited twice. 
I was at my most vulnerable for 10 straight hours. 
I was exposed…
And of course, I was in pain.

There is nothing, no word, no metaphor or simile, that can describe what a contraction feels like when you are moments from delivery.

I can’t explain it. And the only way you’d know what I’m talking about is if you’ve delivered a child without drugs. The pain is indescribable.

But. But…

Laboring and delivering my son, with no interventions, no one shouting at me, no one telling me what I needed to do, trusting my body and my support team trusting me…

It it the single most empowering and incredible thing I have ever done in my life.

When I chose this path, I was confident that I could do it. In the midst of it, there were times where I wasn’t so sure. But I have come out on the other side with so much pride in myself, in my marriage, and so much faith in God, that I couldn’t be more sure that this was the right decision.

I would do it all over again.

I know that a lot of people look at me and all they see is someone small. Someone slight. Someone quiet.

Well, I didn’t do this to prove anything to anyone, and now more than ever, I am confident that I don’t have anything to prove.

But I just have to say for myself, that I am a force to be reckoned with. I am strong and powerful, and there is nothing weak about me.

There is nothing ‘weak’ about women. We are not the weaker sex, or the lesser sex.

We are capable, with God, of building and bringing forth new life, and then sustaining that life even after birth.

I had an amazing team of people who helped me as I brought my son into this world. But I brought him into this world.

The senior midwife said to me as I pushed, “It’s time to bring your baby. Only you can bring your baby.”

Well, she was wise. And she was right.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Natural childbirth and motherhood are the hardest things I've ever done, but my son is so worth it. He is awesome and it is such an incredible blessing getting to be a part of his life all day every day. I get to watch him and smile with pride, because I made him. He was born from love, and he is such an incredibly loving little guy. He has such a sweet disposition. 

Cayson, if you read this one day, then you should know that you are amazing, and I'm so stoked that I get to be your mom, even when you're teething and won't sleep through the night.

Happy Birthday, little man!

You’re like a party somebody threw me
You taste like birthday
You look like New Years
You’re like a big parade through town...
You leave such a mess, but you’re so fun!
— The Party by Regina Spektor

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was agonizing over what to get my mom for Mother's Day. It had to be the perfect gift; something to say "thank you for loving me all these years and for putting up with my crap from time to time!" Would it be flowers? A dessert of some kind? Jewelry?

Then, somehow, time fast-forwarded and now I'm the mama. I get to kiss and squeeze and hug my little boy for Mother's Day. And even though he's too young to say "thank you" or "I love you," I can feel it in every grab of my face, every nighttime snuggle, every slobbery kiss. I feel it when he's excited to see me when he wakes up for a nap. I can feel it when I hear his disgruntled "Mamamamamamama" when he's upset about something and he expects me to make it better. 

When he roams around the house and wants me to chase him, or he laughs at me while I dance around like a fool, I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose me to be his mama. I'm entrusted with his care and keeping for such a little while in the grand scheme of things, and I really do try to cherish every moment. 

I never understood the depth of a mother's love until I became one myself. I love that little boy more than my own life, more than anything. I get to see him learn, and grow, and change everyday. I get to witness his blossoming, and I just can't believe that I have the privilege of doing so. 

Some days (and nights) are hard. Sometimes he won't take a bottle. Sometimes, he thrashes around like a maniac because, in that moment, he detests getting his diaper changed. Sometimes, he throws his pacifier on the floor and laughs because he knows that I have to pick it up. 

But I wouldn't even trade those hard, impossible moments. They are far outweighed by the good moments and make them even that much sweeter. 

So here's to all the mamas out there! Let us love our littles as best we can, and then some. Let us teach them to be kind, loving human beings who treat others with respect. Let us show them the beauty and good in life, because they'll get the bad from everywhere else soon enough. 

And let's remind ourselves that there are no ways to be a perfect mom, but many ways to be a really good one.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Parent Pro Tips: 3 Tips for Successful Crib Training

Disclaimer: I am not a pediatrician, midwife, or child psychologist. I am not claiming to be an expert by any means. I'm just a first-time mom sharing what worked for me and my family. Also, if you choose to comment on this post, please be aware of my comment policy. Thank you!

My son has been sleeping in his own bed (in his own room) now for a month, and let me tell you, it has been wonderful! 

We co-slept with him for most of his life before we moved him into his room. If you're unaware of what co-sleeping is, it can be a pretty controversial topic. Many parents and "experts" feel that it can be dangerous for your child. Many other parents and "experts" feel that it can have many benefits for your child if done safely and correctly. For information on co-sleeping, check here and here.

After about 4 months of co-sleeping, my husband and I wanted our bed back. Our son began the dreadful 4-month sleep regression, and began waking up every two hours to nurse, which was something he didn't do as a newborn. I read that it was best to give babies a routine, so that they know it's bedtime, so that's when we implemented ours.

1. Have a Routine

Our routine consists of Changing and/or Bath time, Feeding, a Story, and then a Song. We began that routine and kept it up for 2 months before we moved Cayson to his own room, and I think it helped because he already associated it with bedtime. Your routine doesn't have to be the same as ours, but create one that works for you and your family. 

2. Set an Earlier Bedtime

After a month of doing the routine every night, our son was still waking up about every two or three hours. In a fit of desperation, I bought two baby sleep books on Amazon, and one gave a simple tip that helped tremendously. It's the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. 

In the book, he says that most babies have a biological clock that tells them when to wind down for the evening. This is usually before 8 p.m. If you're putting your baby to bed after that, they may be over-tired, which leads to them fighting sleep and possibly waking through the night. It was a simple tip, but it made all the difference, since we had been putting Cayson to bed at about 9. After that, we began his routine around 6, and woke up less during the night. 

3. Let them "Cry It Out"

My husband and I believe in a modified version of attachment parenting. We also believe in an extremely modified version of sleep training, hence letting our son cry it out. We had to teach our son that he didn't need us there in the room with him for him to fall asleep. So one day, as I fought to get him down for a nap during the day, I just decided that I would leave the room, set a timer, and allow him to cry it out for a few minutes. I set the timer for five minutes, and when the timer went off, I went into our room and my son was out in less than a minute. 

Once we moved Cayson to his crib, we kept up the practice of letting him cry it out. He doesn't need to cry it out every night, but some nights he'll fight going down more than others, and that's when we use the timer. When it comes to this method, use your best judgement. You know your baby, and you know the difference between a hungry cry and a sleep-fighting cry. Cayson isn't any worse for the wear because we let him cry it out occasionally. 

The moral of the story is, once we moved Cayson to his own room and got him used to it, he realized that he didn't need to wake up every two hours just pacify himself with a little breast milk. He still wakes once or twice for a feeding during the night, but I'll take that over every two hours any day!

Remember, every baby and every family is different. Maybe you moved your babies to their own rooms successfully at one month old. That's great! As always, you do you. There is no perfect formula for parenting, but there are a lot of ways to be a really great parent.

I hope these tips were somewhat helpful!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

My Second Trimester Survival Kit

I am 22 weeks along now, and already feeling like I can't possibly get any bigger. The little man is already taking up more space in my abdomen than I thought I had, and knowing that he'll gain most of his weight in the last month has me a little unnerved. Not to mention the peeing every hour, the strange dreams where my friends die or my husband has an affair with an old lady. Yeah, that last one really did happen.

But despite all the weird crap going down with my body and mind, there are a few products I now use on the regular that are getting me through this strangeness.

1. Prenatal Vitamins

Finding the right prenatal vitamin can be overwhelming as hell. I mean, it's like the first good thing you can do as a parent is choose the perfect vitamin for your unborn, but there are sooo many options! At first, I was using VitaFusion prenatal gummies. But then my midwife told me about the difference between folic acid and folate (yeah, they're two different things), and that I needed a whole-foods based vitamin, so it was back to the grocery store.

Joshua and I found these babies at Natural Grocers, and so far, they're awesome. Of course, between the regular prenatal vitamins and the DHA, I have to take 4 pills a day. I'm not loving that but, you know, all for the health of the baby, right? 

2. Nipple Cream

Dry skin is definitely not the sexiest thing to happen to a nipple, but it does happen and is happening to me now, even though I'm not breastfeeding yet. So I decided to go ahead and invest in some nipple cream early. Who knows, maybe it'll help my nipples from being as dry and cracked once I actually do start breastfeeding. This one is all natural, and has a slight herbal smell to it, but it does the job. I found it at Natural Grocers as well.

3. Belly Cream

If you're pregnant now or ever have been pregnant, then I'm sure a whole host of people have told you that nothing prevents stretch marks. They're genetic, so if your mama had them, you might get 'em too. Sorry, ladies, but them's the breaks. My mom didn't get stretch marks, so I am praying that I will not be graced with any either. But even though nothing prevents stretch marks, I personally believe that my skin will stretch much more easily if it's lubed up, you know what I mean? Plus, my skin is SUPER dry these days, and it's winter time, so I figured the belly cream couldn't hurt. This cream is the same brand as my nipple cream, and it's also all natural.

4. Pregnancy Body Pillow

You guys. YOU. GUYS. If you are pregnant and you are having trouble sleeping, and you have not purchased a body pillow yet, drop everything right now and go get one. It is one of the best investments I've ever made in my life, and that's including college (jk). I got the Snoogle by Leachco, which I actually saw on an episode of the Kardashians recently (after I already bought mine), so it's popular with some celebs, apparently. You can also wrap it around yourself when you're sitting up and use it as a lap desk. I'm doing that right now...

5. Body Wash and Body Butter

I got this specific brand and scent from my mom for Christmas, and let me tell you, I love it! I am usually not a fan of the coconut scent, but this body wash and body butter from The Body Shop smell great. Not to mention, with my dry pregnancy skin, the body butter is like heaven in a jar. They're not totally chemical-free, but they do leave my skin feeling smooth and luxurious, so I'll let it go. If you're looking for a relatively gentle body wash and lotion, you should totally go check it out. The body wash is actually on sale right now!

Well, that's it! So far, I'm surviving this pregnancy with a little help from these friends of mine. I'm hoping these things will get me through the third trimester too, but who knows. First time pregnancy is weird, am I right, ladies?