We’ve been snowed in at my parents’ house for 6 days. Yikes! We didn’t have a gas heat source, and the foot of snow on top of what we already had was a little too threatening for power loss. And so here we are–hopefully getting home this afternoon! It might take us four hours, but we’re doing it anyway.
So, I have been meaning to do a product roundup for a while. We have a one year old and a half-cooked bun. We are in the trenches, man, and a lot of our friends are joining the ranks these days. I’ve decided to post about some baby things that take the cake for us and made life easier. As all new parents know, anything to streamline life with an infant is highly underrated. So here you go–a list of our life savers, from a researching, rigorously testing, type A mama and her sidekick.
1. Cold care for babies: NoseFrida and California Baby Colds and Flu
Babies get colds, but they can’t take any of the medicine (and we aren’t really into medicating unless absolutely necessary since it prevents the body from doing it’s thing, typically) but there were a few things that saved those nights with a snotty bambino. First, we religiously run the humidifier at the first sign of congestion. We got the NoseFrida as a gift from a veteran mama and let me tell you–the concept is gross, but the method is so effective that once it gets you back to a sleeping baby one time, you’ll be hooked forever. Tim likes it a little too much, actually. Soak your babe in a warm bath (with California Baby or eucalyptus oil if you have it) to get everything loosened up and then suck it out of there. Happy baby, happy parents.
Also, beware that the old school bulb syringes are frequently full of black mold on the inside. It’s hard to get them clean and dry, which is prime mold territory. Gross! (Grosser than sucking out snot, I say.) I will say, though, that in the first few months, Si had so much congestion (hindsight: cat allergy and lactose intolerance). A few times he actually woke up at night sputtering and having a really hard time inhaling and I swear to God the nasal aspirator saved his life. Literally. He couldn’t breathe. I am not being dramatic. It happened three times in the first four months, enough to grant me a light sleeping, panicky awareness of him at our bedside all night long. Keep it by the bed with your diapers and nighttime supplies. We kept him in a raised pack and play bed beside ours for five months and moved him to his own room after he started sleeping (a little) better and I was convinced he could breathe and clear his congestion on his own. He slept much, much better in his own room and so did we.
The NoseFrida has been a life saver at night when cold congestion is worse since it’s impossible to nurse if you can’t breathe through your nose. Two seconds of Frida and good to go. We use Baby Vicks or a cocoa butter stick for sore baby noses. The latter is much more natural and works within the hour, and the Vicks has eucalyptus and rosemary oils which are good for keeping the nose open, and we have used it on the bottoms of his feet with socks overnight when he has chest congestion. Luckily, that isn’t often.
2. Hylands Cold and Cough and Hylands Cold and Cough Nighttime (For older babies)
Now that Silas is pushing 23 pounds, he can have this stuff. As I mentioned, the market is really limited for infant cold care, which makes those early colds especially rough on the entire family. Our Walgreens is two blocks away and they carry this. It is AMAZING. We gave it to S for two days and he was back to sleeping through the night. I can’t get over how effective it is. We have a homeopathic kid kit as well, but these new finds are actually blends of several different remedies in a liquid form. Because they’re natural medicine, there are no side effects, dyes, sugars or anything else. I can’t say enough about the efficacy of these guys. Try ’em!
3. Desitin Original
We tried calendula cream, Butt Paste, and various natural diaper rash creams. Let me preface this by saying we LOVE our GroVia diaper stick which we use as a preventive at each diaper change. Si didn’t have any diaper rash issues until well into solid foods at about nine months. It is one of the only cloth diaper friendly treatments and it smells like essential oils–lovely! I absolutely recommend it as a routine bum protector. I have also heard great things about coconut oil as a diaper rash helper. If it’s minimal, we will often just let S run around in his birthday suit for a half hour after his bath, and often that’s enough to zap it.
I am not hip on creepy ingredients, and Desitin falls under that category, unfortunately. However, for the rougher times, especially once solid food is a factor, forget the “creamy” version or even the Target version–stick with the ugly purple tube of the Original stuff. Even as a cloth diapering family, we found this to be an essential. At the first sign of a sore bottom, we would use Desitin and a disposable overnight and voila–zero diaper rash by morning and back to the cloth routine. This stuff really is amazing and works noticeably better than any knock off version, including Up&Up, which I typically love. Keep in mind that diaper rash can come on quickly and graduate to open blisters quickly, which ends up affecting sitting (babies do a lot of that), sleeping, and mood. Be prepared for the sore bottom blues. An uncomfortable baby makes the whole family miserable.
4. Baby wipes
Ok, so it might sound weird to have an opinion on baby wipes, but you’ll change your mind once you have to change poopy diapers. We used cloth wipes at home before the move and our wipe warmer (Prince Lionheart cloth wipe warmer) started leaking somewhere between Bloom and Lafayette and nearly ruined our expensive changing table. We’ve been using disposables since then (yes, we’ll go back to cloth soon) and I’ve tried about ten different kinds. I will say cloth wipes are way easier if you’re already cloth diapering! It’s a pain to throw a diaper into a bag and then walk the wipes to the trash can, IMO.
Unless you’re looking for organic (our budget doesn’t allow for that), the absolute best baby wipes are the Dollar General brand wipes and, if you ask me, they have the best shea butter scent out there. They are the thickest (Silas is obsessed with biting them in a diligent effort to get a bite of baby wipey goodness) and they are the only ones that don’t tear with Si’s excessive amount of chompers going at them. As you can imagine, thicker wipes are also convenient for other reasons.
The shea butter DG ones (aside from being thick) also smell fantastic and I don’t mind using them on his hands or my face in the slightest because they don’t smell babyish or chemical. In fact, they smell quite pretty. Again, fragrance and alcohol and creepy ingredients aren’t something I usually go for, but if you’re going to go with store bought wipes, try these. Yes, it’s worth driving to the dollar store to stock way up on wipes every now and then. Trust me.
5. First foods
We did what I like to call baby led feeding, and we also did a lot of research on first foods knowing that Tim was a highly allergenic kid. What we learned is that some great first foods are egg yolks (not whites!) and liver, and that some grains (wheat and corn) are rough on baby digestive tracks until about nine months of age. I know, I know–I had about ten people telling me that Si needed cereal and that’s why he wasn’t sleeping. Sleep is about brain development, not cereal, but that’s a whole other ball of wax (baby sleep post to come), but do some googling before you decide to jump on that bandwagon. If sleep is your issue, try reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child or checking out the Baby Sleep Site, which is run by a veteran mama of a terrible sleeper who has really done her research and knows exactly how to help when no one else can. Her free downloadable guides saved our sanity.
Back to food. When Si did start eating crackers, we started with oyster crackers instead of goldfish/cheddar bunnies. They’re more like a saltine, get soggy quickly, are portable and great for the pincer grasp, and cost about 1/5th of goldfish. Silas eats organic cheddar bunnies or goldfish on occasion now, but they’re actually pretty hard little crackers, even for a kid with 13 teeth and I prefer to feed him more nutrient dense food than flour based carbs when possible. Some of our favorite other early foods: avocado, cooked apples or pears, sweet potato, mashed steamed peas or carrots or green beans (Si’s favorite, surprisingly), and the first grain we introduced was rice because it’s gentle on the GI tract and because the least processed baby cereal on the market is Earth’s Best Organic Brown Rice Cereal, which has the most whole foods ingredient list.
A link about infant nutrition and first foods: http://raisingnaturalkids.com/2013/08/20/egg-yolk-the-perfect-first-food-for-baby/
And a link about first foods and allergy signs from the always well researched resource KellyMom (also a fantastic breastfeeding question resource!): http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/first-foods/ Note: the KellyMom approach to first foods didn’t work well for us since Si was a no dairy, no wheat kid, but the research is solid and would work well for less allergenic kiddos.
6. Cabbage leaves and Lansinoh
I had Silas at about 10pm, a time when no lactation consultant is on hand. He was latched incorrectly for his first nursing session, resulting in cracking and painful nursing for the next several days. I stuck with it. Early nursing is a bit on the painful side for a few weeks–no one mentioned that to me beforehand for some reason. Using a lanolin cream after every single nursing session helps tremendously! I have heard that Medela is better for some people and that’s what the hospital gave me, but Si didn’t like the taste of it and believe me when I say the last thing you want when you’re engorged is a baby who isn’t interested in your boobs. Lansinoh didn’t seem to bother him, so we went with that. Use what works for you, but be diligent the first few weeks or month. It helps! Lansinoh also makes cooling gel rounds that are expensive but terribly helpful if you get really sore.
I had milk for the county at the beginning and that brought me a case of mastitis within the first few weeks. The first time I got it, I didn’t recognize it until I had a fever, the shakes, and influenza symptoms as a brand new tired mommy with sore boobs. I had to do an antibiotic that time, which I prefer to avoid, but the subsequent handful of times I got mastitis in the month that followed, I got rid of it with cabbage leaves. No joke. Midwives recommend it at the first sign of a painful or splotchy red spot. You can google it, but the gist: Use fresh cabbage leaves that are chilled in the fridge and put it inside your bra when you’re done nursing. On for 2 hours, off for four. Don’t leave it on all the time because cabbage decreases milk supply! This can be a good thing when you have mastitis, but not usually otherwise, especially if you are trying to regulate your milk supply. You should feel better within 24 hours, but if you see red lines, the pain doesn’t go away, you spike a fever or other symptoms flare up, you need to call for an antibiotic. Obviously I’m not a midwife or OB–use your resources. I got rid of it using the cabbage leaves every time after the first round. Here’s a good link on other tactics to get rid of it before needing an antibiotic, when possible: http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/healing-mastitis-naturally/
What are some of your favorite products for the littles? We want to know!