82 posts categorized "Babyhood"

The Pressure of Production: how far does it go?

January 29, 2014

A text was followed by an email, with basically the same message.  Short, sweet, urgent: "What are tips for increasing production?"  Sent by my sister-in-law, first-time mom to a four-month old, now back at work as an elemtary teacher, she wanted to know every trick in the book to keep supply ample, abundant.

We have an archive chock full of advice for pumping, so look there for discussion on the classic working mamas nursing conundrum or for the mama who pumps a lot.

Does production wane as the babies age?  But, even more importantly, how we navigate and negotiate this constant pressure to produce, the constant burden to make more milk to nourish our young, the everyday need to make sure our babies continue to mark progress tracked by ounces and pounds.  It is a worry and a stressor, and it can certainly mess with supply.

At what point do we introduce supplements?  At what point to we throw up hands and say: "I just cannot make enough for you, baby girl, as much as I love you and as much as I want to make more."  It's not for want that many of us cannot supply.  Have you experienced this pressure to produce?  Have you accepted other non-nursing avenues to nourishment for our littlest ones?

Best Advice for First-Time, New Parents

November 02, 2012

A colleague of mine has a two-month old daughter.  Back at work while his wife enjoys another month at home, he still looked a little foggy and fuzzy as we caught up last week.  Beyond what baby gear essentials they needed, he wondered: what piece of advice did I (parent to three, eldest being 12) have for him?

My answer, which I learned from watching my own mother (full-time bread-winning, bread-making mama like me): ask for help when you need it, offer help when you can.

Continue reading "Best Advice for First-Time, New Parents" »

New moms: What gets you 'out of the house'?

October 18, 2012


Now that my little ones are older -- my youngest is five, and all of my three boys are in school -- I sometimes forget what it's like to be a new mom. That's one reason I love the writing playgroups I've started with Stealing Time and my long-time "home school MFA" classmate Mara Collins; at once I'm doing something I love (talking about writing and reading) and connecting with, mostly, mothers whose children are very young. Even though it's distant for me, remembering what it was like to be a new mother without a lot of community and validation was really hard. It was about that time, though, that I met a mom's group, and then soon after the lovely ladies of urbanMamas.

So I could relate when I asked our new member Tuesday why she had come. She didn't have a writing project specifically in mind. "I just want to get out of the house," she said. That's as good a reason as any!

It brought me back to the feelings of my young mama days, how I wanted to somehow stay relevant to the world and yet still honor my new role as a mother; how hard it was to get to know the new mother self while at the same time learning how to deal with a small very needy being; how little was left at the end of all that and yet how much I needed to use what little was left in an altruistic way.

We're planning to start rolling out the writing playgroups to other neighborhoods and cities starting in the winter, to give more people this chance to "get out of the house" in a way that engages your brain and still honors your motherhood (or, if you're an at-home dad, your fatherhood). If you're a new mom, how do you connect with all the other selves that sometimes get muffled in motherhood? If you're not so new any more, how did you do it back then?

"Toys" around the house for the littles

September 18, 2010

As I type at the kitchen counter, my one-year old crawls around at my feet, swinging open the low cupboard doors, clanking around and finding entertainment.  Despite my husband's requests to put babyproof those cabinets, these areas remain fully accessible to all.  They contain lunch bags, bulk dry goods, tupperware, lids for pots and pans, cloth napkins, and other various housewares.

He loves the tupperware area.  He finds a container then works to find the appropriate lid.  The activity makes his so focused!  Lately, the little one has enjoyed finding our stacked plastic kiddie cups.  There are a stack of 3 of them, and he takes them all apart and sets them side by side.  Then, he stacks them again.  Of course, he doesn't put it back, much to my husband's chagrin.  I have been trying to teach him to "clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere...."  Just now, he found three concentric star metal cookie cutters.  He has been so concentrated for many, many minutes putting them all within one another, then taking them out of one another.  So I think: it's not such a bad idea to let him tinker in the cupboards to find entertainment.

What kinds of everyday items around the house have you found that make great "toys" for the little ones?

Breastfeeding setting records at the Big Latch On August 6

July 26, 2010

Oregon is already leading the country in its rates of breastfeeding, and length of breastfeeding; for children born in 2006, 91.4% of babies were breastfed at some point, and 37.0% were breastfed still at 12 months, significantly higher than the U.S. average and a little higher than other progressive, breastfeeding-friendly states like Washington and California. In order to promote breastfeeding and "show everyone just how great Portland is and how much we all value breastfeeding," a group in Portland is organizing the Big Latch On the morning of Friday, August 6.

With a goal of setting the world record for 'most women breastfeeding at once,' mothers will be asked to latch their breastfeeding child on and, evidently, on-site monitors will make sure there is a firm latch. The Big Latch On has already registered a few dozen venues in every part of town, and there will be prizes and treats and, hopefully, lots of other nursing mamas. (I'm a little unclear as to whether everyone is supposed to latch on at 10:30, or at 11, but you're being asked to arrive at 10 a.m.) Even WIC offices are registered, demonstrating the wide community support for breastfeeding in Portland.

I'll admit that, when I considered how hard to push the weaning of my now-three-year-old son, I had this in the back of my mind. Right after the Big Latch On, maybe?

breastfeeding is best, to the tune of billions

April 05, 2010

When I first saw the news, I wanted to just, you know, sigh. It's a drum many Portland mamas have been beating for at least a decade, probably several: breastfeeding is not just great for a baby, it's cheap, and not just for a family's budget during those first several months but for society. (And I want to say here that I know some mamas want to, but aren't able to, breastfeed because of work or health reasons or adoption or just some rare bit of fate that comes between a baby and "breastfeeding success," and that I don't want to call out the mamas for whom it doesn't work out -- except to offer my sympathy and support and love.) But, says my friend and fellow finance geek Melly, a "recent study published in Pediatrics found that poor compliance with breastfeeding recommendations costs the U.S. at least $13 billion each year, with nearly all of the cost related to infant morbidity and mortality."

Well. You know if the finance geeks, the AP, the Daily Mail and Business Week and CNN and the rest of them are putting the word "breastfeeding" in headlines and -- it's not just a casual glance at the practice, they're encouraging it -- you know times, they are a-changing. And I appreciate the specificity of the facts here. Another bit from Melly's piece: "In 2006, only 13 states met the quite low 17% target set by the Healthy People objectives for mothers exclusively breastfeeding their infant through six months of age." Wow -- I know Oregon is one that easily met the target, but 17%, and we know why (poor social support, terrible workplace conditions for breastfeeding moms, tiny or non-existent maternity leaves, too many low-income working and single moms, too much -- too effective -- marketing by the formula companies). Mamas in Portland and elsewhere are working on that stuff; a press release even this weekend from the Nursing Mothers Council of Oregon offers support to businesses to give moms a place to pump at work -- see more info from Marion Rice about that, after the 'continued' link. But we can't even get 17% of moms (theoretically, quite a few more than 17% are able to stay home with their children) to breastfeed for six months, even though it's far cheaper?

Here's the part that had headline writers clucking and the news anchors squawking: "The study authors listed direct and indirect costs associated with illness and premature death due to the current poor levels of compliance compared with 90% compliance in 2007 dollars." I'll go ahead and list the ones Melly put in her piece because, they're not shocking to us who've been stressing about how easy it would be to make the beginnings of so many little lives better. Here it is:

  • $4.7 billion and 447 deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome.
  • $2.6 billion due to 249 deaths from necrotizing enterocolitis, a common gastrointestinal syndrome in premature infants.
  • $1.8 billion due to 172 excess deaths from lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia.
  • $908 million due to otitis media (ear infection).
  • $601 million due to atopic dermatitis (eczema).
  • $592 million due to childhood obesity.
Umm, wow, again. And I decided in the end that I shouldn't sigh or roll my eyes or wring my hands one more time and ask, "why? how? what the heck have we done, modern society?" but just be hopeful, because to have finance geeks and news anchors and CNN talking heads well, talking about this is an awesome way to get breastfeeding more accepted. And really, money that we all are spending on ear infections and eczema and obesity and death should get us sitting up and paying attention, and then sitting back down in our favorite cozy chair to breastfeed our babies.

Continue reading "breastfeeding is best, to the tune of billions" »

Back to work after baby: Tell us your stories

February 01, 2010

This morning, Olivia heads back to work, her maternity leave for her third babe concluded. I think I'm feeling all of the things she must be feeling, for her: it's so hard to go back to work! (Plus, we loved having her extra energy here on urbanMamas.) We know how many things are on a mama's mind when she heads back to work, and the more children at home (at least for me), the more conflicted I felt.

We've chatted before about some of the mechanics of going back to work; whether struggling to bottle-feed a baby who'll be without mama's breast for several hours a day, the logistics of a nanny share; some thoughts on how to return to work after a long absence; and about how much leave we'd want (were we to have a say in such things). But today, let's tell stories about returning to work: how long had you been at home? How did you feel? What was the first day like? Did you feel a little guilty enjoying that unencumbered walk to the coffee shop, the feel of "nice clothes" on your freshly-showered skin? Or did you sit down at your desk that first morning and resolve to fight for laws requiring longer, paid leave for parents everywhere? (yeah!)

What's your favorite Baby Lullaby?

January 14, 2010

There is nothing like a mama singing a tune to soothe the littlest of babes.  When any of the babies would fuss, my favorite go-to song would be "Hush little baby, don't say a word...." except I didn't know all the words.  Then, suddenly, after I bought baby a "looking glass" and said glass got "broke", I'd buy baby a "billy goat".  And after said billly goat wasn't "fine", I was somehow buying baby a "porcupine" or "turpentine".  It was all downhill from there.  The goal was to keep the song going for as long as possible for the best soothing results.

Now, instead of making up strange-but-rhyming lyrics for baby tunes, I am sticking with the "ABC Song" as my go to baby lullaby.  But, it gets a little boring.  And, I have to say that my two older kids are getting tired of the ABCs too.  Help a mama out: What is your favorite baby lullaby to sing?  And, are the lyrics easy to remember?!

Dear Disney: You didn't make my baby into Einstein

October 26, 2009

I should have known better; after all, I myself graduated from a couple of rigorous post-high school academic programs. But still, I bought the concept (literally and figuratively) that the Baby Einstein series of DVDs would provide my first son a richer babyhood. I never really thought he'd be made into a certified genius by watching DVDs, but I did think he'd at least pick up some minor smarts from exposure to this heady stuff.

The 'Language Nursery' one had me most enchanted; until I started watching it and wondered, how is this going to teach my baby languages, again? The video consisted mostly of just throwing words and nursery songs at kids without any accompanying explanation. "Frère Jacques," for instance, was accompanied by video of little hands playing with bright-colored toys (now I wonder, darkly, if they were painted with lead-based paint). I could neither understand nor participate; there was no translation, not even a rundown of the lyrics of the lullabies sung in other languages. Later I'd read that there was no worse way to teach children languages than to expose them utterly without context.

We sold our Baby Einstein DVDs on eBay before my second baby was born, and later we learned that, indeed, Baby Einstein videos were not only based on zero infant developmental science but were proven not to make one smarter. The AAP came out with a recommendation that children under two not be exposed to television or DVDs at all. This weekend, the news was even more thundering: after being threatened with a class action lawsuit for false and deceptive advertising (to the most impressionable and defenseless consumers of all, I'd add: new parents), Disney agreed to refund consumers' money for their purchases, should they want it back, $15.99 for up to four Baby Einstein DVDs per household, bought between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 5, 2009, and returned to the company.

That won't provide any monetary help for me... my videos were purchased before June 2004. But that's not really my biggest concern; it's that millions were made deceiving parents about what's good for their babies. "Fostering parent-child interaction always has and always will come first at The Baby Einstein Company, and we know that there is an ongoing discussion about how that interaction is best promoted," said a Disney spokesperson. No, there's no such discussion. We all know now that having a baby watch other babies play with other parents on a screen doesn't teach him or her anything. Actually playing with your baby... interacting on his level sans screentime... is the best way to promote interaction. And it doesn't require a single Disney product, or Mattel, or Hasbro, or Melissa & Doug, or even the super-natural Waldorf toy companies like Maine Toys.

I'd certainly be ill-advised to judge anyone for using so-called "educational" shows to occupy my young children when I'm losing it. A sane mom with kids in front of the TV is probably better than a shouting, hair-tearing mom without a screen in sight. But this whole story provides a lens into the enormous industry of selling intelligence to new parents. With brand names like IQ Baby and Baby Scholars and Neurosmith, it doesn't take a genius to understand how we're being subtly manipulated to feel this will actually separate the eventual results of our children's IQ tests.

It's good to know that baby play is the great economic equalizer: no parent, given the most vast amount of resources imaginable, has a leg up over another parent unless the amount of time he or she can devote to the baby is greater. (I know: this isn't always true given the paucity of maternity leave in our country and the frequent economic necessity of mom working.) But it's important to underscore that, given two at-home parents, one with barely enough money to keep the lights on and the fridge stocked, the other with plentiful disposable income and the entire Baby Einstein oeuvre, both are entirely equally equipped to make their babies smart.

Emotional Transition from Infancy to Toddlerhood

July 09, 2009

It's so cliched, but kids do grow up so quickly.  And how many times have we all heard mamas with grown children look fondly at our little infants as they remember that special stage in a child's life?  Betsy emailed us recently to see if any urbanMama's have any advice regarding the sadness she's experiencing as her youngest transitions from infancy to toddlerhood.  She writes:

I have a nearly-three-year-old daughter Kaia and a just-turned-one-year-old daughter Elliot.  When Elliot turned one this year, I felt and continue to feel a huge sadness that she is no longer an infant.  I also realized that Kaia is fast growing up and I can hardly remember her time as a baby anymore.  With both girls, I am experiencing these feelings of mourning (?) - Loss for a time in their lives that I can’t have back and I can’t seem to move past the feelings.  I see the amazing ways they are growing and becoming beautiful human beings and I celebrate each new thing they try and accomplish but these feelings of sadness are putting up stiff competition.  I am trying to allow myself room for my emotions – acknowledging and accepting them.  This is proving to be a very difficult time for me.  I wonder how other mom’s handle this emotional transition from infancy to toddler.

urbanMamas snowed-in health hotline

December 23, 2008

Monroe_poxy My sister Hannah just called with a concern; her baby, Angelica, has had a diaper rash for several days, and a fever for the past few. Today she developed a rash on her stomach and Angelica, 15 months old, has been very fussy. She needed advice; she's been calling the pediatrician's office but the line has been busy.

I advised her to see if she's been overbundling Angelica (her power was off yesterday) and switch to breastfeeding only; maybe Angelica's having an allergic reaction and at least that will reduce her exposure to new foods. It couldn't be chicken pox, we decided, as it didn't look like the pox; Angelica's had her regular vaccinations; her only exposure (to my children) couldn't have caused it as they've all either had the pox or been vaccinated long ago. Twitter friends offered the possibilities of thrush, roseola, or hand and mouth disease.

Then it occurred to me that, if Hannah's struggling with a not-necessarily-emergency problem, many other are too, and as doctors' offices aren't answering their phones with great regularity, we'll have to work together to figure it out. So here's an open thread to ask each other for advice (and give yours to Hannah if something occurs to you). I'll start it off: Monroe broke his front tooth in half this weekend (well, in 1/3 and 2/3 vertical chunks) after launching himself face-first into a stack of cookie sheets.One of the chunks is wobbling back and forth and our local dentist office is closed; he hasn't been crying (though he's worked himself a mark near my nipple -- ouch!) and I figure we may as well wait out the storm before getting it looked at. Any problems I should look out for?

Binky removal causes sleep crisis: What to do?

October 27, 2008

Have you ever gone through the great binky guilt? I know it's common, and many pediatricians have strict guidelines about when pacifiers should be tossed. Can you offer any advice to Stephanie in NE Portland? It sounds like she's been extremely creative and needs more help!

We're in the middle of a binky induced sleep crisis and I'm looking for some help.  A week and a half ago we took away our two year old son's pacifiers and now he is refusing to nap or go to sleep in his own crib.  This is a child who has slept (easily) in his crib since coming home from the hospital. 

At my son's two year appt my pediatrician said we should get rid of the binkies before March when our second child is born.  He said if we didn't, then our son would never give them up.  For more than a month we restricted binky use to naps and bedtime only.  Then last Saturday (a week and a half ago) we cut the tops off of the binkies.  I expected this would be a gradual way of getting him to dislike and ditch his binkies.  Instead he totally rejected them instantly and we had a cold turkey situation on our hands.
I tried to do this as gently as I could.  I bought books to read to my son about giving up the binky to prepare him and we have been talking about it for awhile.  Several days after cutting the tops off of the binkies my son and I decorated a box and left it for the Binky Fairy.  He received an IKEA train set the next day from the Fairy.

Continue reading "Binky removal causes sleep crisis: What to do?" »

Weaning woes: Picking the right time

On mornings like today, I am so ready to wean my 15-month-old, Monroe. I got barely a wink of sleep last night; he nursed unusually often, waking every 15 minutes (or at least that's how it felt) to wail until he got some milk love. He's developed a new habit (charming!) where his hand roams while he's eating, grabbing my free nipple, pinching my stomach, sometimes even hitting me. I'm firm, I say "no" and remove his hand, but it's not a perfect solution.

I haven't even considered weaning him yet, as I'm trying a parenting practice of (within reason) being attentive to the child's needs and attributing biological need to most of his one-year-old desires. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for two years, so I'm still in the zone. And I have no real need to wean, as I had with my other two boys (who both weaned between 18 and 22 months): I'm not away from him for more than several hours at a time (and have no plan to be); I definitely am not hoping to get pregnant again soon; I don't need to take any drugs that might mess with him; and, despite the occasional lack of sleep, breastfeeding is so convenient.

In fact, breastfeeding is fine half the time, I typed this whole post while he nursed happily away. For those of you who have achieved your breastfeeding goals (you know, exclusive for first six months and keep going 'til 12 months), and had no definitive reason to stop: how did you decide when? How many of you have "done" child-led weaning? How did it go? [We've told stories about weaning and talked about weaning a two-year-old previously.]

TV might cause autism, definitely causes chaos

August 04, 2008

I recently cut off the cable at our house. If you knew me three years ago, you would be shocked. I've always been pretty relaxed when it comes to media's effects on my kids, but in the past few years I've seen more and more negative results of too much TV (even though I tried to limit the amount and quality of their exposure, I often failed due to a huge number of factors). Even when they weren't watching TV, my 6-year-old and 3-year-old were arguing with me about it.

I wrote about this for Culinate, and was amazed by the quality and quantity of the responses to my piece (where I was, mostly, talking about giving up Rachael Ray and replacing her with beloved cookbooks). The day after my piece went up, my boss sent me this article from Slate, which gives evidence that TV watching in young children might cause autism. I had to gulp, because my middle son is speech delayed, and I had to wonder if it was his frequent exposure to his older brother's television shows at a young age. The theory is that babies need three-dimensional stimuli, and an abundance (in my book, "abundance" means more than an hour a day, even in my loving, attentive, active and book-reading household, our TV days were often more like 3-4 hours) of two-dimensional stimuli is ultimately harming. No, I don't think this is isolated to the sorts of parents (or more likely, low-cost in-home infant care) where babies are strapped in car seats and plunked in front of TVs. This is homes like mine, where mama is trying to juggle too much and lets the kids watch three hours of Nick Jr.

I'm not suggesting that everyone cut their cable off, too (well, I am suggesting that, but I would never judge you for not doing it), but I think it's worth taking a closer look at the various studies and my anecdotal data. In my house, TV causes chaos, and so far I've been a better mama without it.

What's in a Wipe?

June 19, 2008

Ok, so I've bought countless boxes of Costco wipes.  'Cause truth be told, when I (quickly) scanned the ingredient list, it looked a lot like the more expensive earthy ones.  And, at our childcare center, they hardly use a separate box of wipes for each kid.  It's a free-for-all on the changing table so why bankrupt yourself buying Seventh Generation wipes for every kid in the classroom?  Right? 

Well... Safe Mama's got me wondering.  Boy she does her research.  She has a top 3 and a bottom 3 list.  Have you seen it?  Are yours there?  Waddya think?  Worth some worry, or can I just go on being cheap??  I know, I know, at home we do the cloth and water routine, but what to do while out of the house??  This mama wants to be safe but giving up wipes altogether ain't an option.  What's in YOUR wipes??? 

Blood Draws: Less Trauma for Kids and Parents

January 09, 2008

Medical procedures on infants are probably more traumatic on us parents than they are on kids themselves, but that's not to say we shouldn't search for the best (aka painfree) care.  Vaish is looking for your advice on clinics that could provide a better experience (is that possible?) for blood draws.

My 6 month old has had two doctor visits for blood draws, and both times, they have failed to find his veins, and he has been poked in his arms, and legs 6 times. He is obviously very tortured by these visits, and I almost end up crying. Do you know of a clinic in Portland that is particularly good at blood draws?

The Throes of Teething

January 07, 2008

For a few weeks now my nearly-15 month old has been battling the good fight... getting his molars.  When his pediatrician told me about what to expect when getting his molars:
    "The gums will get red and swollen and then when the tooth breaks through they will look infected and possibly bloody at times"
I was all sorts of terrified!  I know this isn't the first time I've been through this but I have to admit, this memory from son#1 has been apparently blocked.  So now we're going through it, and the pediatrician was right on all accounts.  Add to that in-the-mouth fun the runny diapers leading to diaper rash and I have on my hands one generally unhappy fella!

Tana is facing the same situation: 

After much consideration and a few calls to the advice nurse it seems my 13 month old is getting his one year molars. All of his symptoms suggest a cold; fever as high as 102 degrees, a little throw up, runny poopy diapers, lethargic, little appetite. Then I noticed that he kept fussing with his teeth and sure enough he has 3 molars coming in all at once. Poor guy!!!  The advice nurse said, this could go on until the teeth break through the gums. Really??   Is there other mamas who can share in my experience and offer there advice and encouragement???

Tana, you are not alone!  Yes it is tough, and it's not pretty, but as one of my favorite mama mantras states "This too shall pass".  And yes, it will take a while.  Sadly, I don't have any recommendations on how to ease his pain other than in the feverish cases, a little ibuprofen (I use this sparingly, only usually when he's losing sleep because he's in pain).  Any other mamas out there have advice to offer?

Treating eczema in a 5mo?

November 06, 2007

Do any mamas have suggestions on how to treat a baby's eczema, especially as we head into the autumn and winter months of dry, cracked skin?  Jacquelyn emails:

My son is five months old and has eczema.  His back is so extremely dry and his legs and neck. His doctor told me to use eurcerin on him, but I don't feel comfortable with some of the ingredients.  So, I am trying to find a natural lotion or cream that I could use.  Does anyone have an idea that worked for them?  Thanks so much!

Put the thermometer where?

October 24, 2007

Fall is a lovely season, with the cooler weather and the falling leaves.  But as we roll through the change of seasons and back to school, no matter how much hand washing we do, there's bound to be a little sick going around.  Right now, my one year old has an ear infection.  In addition, I'm fairly certain that he's teething, too.  Add to that sleepless nights and I had one fussy bub on my hands this morning.  Halfway through the morning I thought he felt warm, so I headed upstairs to my "getbetter" arsenal to see if I could actually locate a thermometer.  I'll be frank and say that I've never owned a rectal thermometer for the babes.  I feel like it might be dangerous to try to wrestle them to stay still while somehow involving glass (and mercury?, surely not...).  Instead I stock three different type of thermometers for the little ones.  First, the ear scan thermometer, which is useless if you don't have the little covers, or if the battery runs out, or if the child is less than 2 (or3)?  Chuck that one out.  On to the next one, the flimsy digital read out kind that also needs a cover, but I don't use the covers when I put them under the arm.  I push the button and then try to wrangle my moody fussy baby to stay still while I pin his arm down long enough to register some kind of reading.  Result?  95.4°F.  Nope, don't think so...  even when I add a degree it's not even reasonable.  Last, and most desperate, attempt was made with the "binky" thermometer.  Apparently my child doesn't use a binky right because it decided his temp was 95°F.

I gave up.  I have many unreliable ways to guess whether he has a fever or not.  No good ones.  How do you check if your babe has a fever?  I usually end up going with my gut (and feeling their hands -- if their hands are warm it's unusual and means there is a fever).

Diaper pail for cloth diapers: Just how stinky IS it?

September 28, 2007

Do you cloth diaper? Camellia is about to launch into the World of Cloth and needs your advice.

Our first baby is due in a month and I'm trying to figure out the whole cloth diapering thing. We decided to go with a diaper service for the first few months anyway, and then to reevaluate whether to stick with the service, switch to all-in-ones and wash them ourselves, use g-diapers, or some sort of combination. I'm interested in hearing about what has worked best for other parents, but first and foremost, I'm wondering what to do for a diaper pail for the first few months, with the diaper service.

Tidee Didee advised us to begin with 70 diapers a week for a newborn, they provide the diaper bags, we provide the pail, and they pick up dirties once a week. They have a 54-quart white plastic pail we can buy from them for $17 or we can provide our own. Has anyone used this system? a 54-quart pail sounds huge--can you really just throw all your diapers in there for a whole week, or doesn't that get super stinky? Is there a different pail we should get instead?

She's Big for Her Age

July 31, 2007

Tristan is wondering if any mama's out there are in her shoes.  Do you have a "big baby"?

My 4 month old daughter is very big for her age (18 lbs and 27 inches...a behemoth!) and we were wondering if anyone had recs for a carseat, since she will be outgrowing her Graco Snugride sooner than later (they go up to 22 lbs and a year).  Also, any other recommendations from other parents who had big babies might be interesting to hear: obstacles they faced with clothes and toys and feeding.

Survey: What's in Baby's Bottle?

July 16, 2007

EWG, the Environmental Work Group, is a wonderful resource, a research and education nonprofit organization that focuses on issues about family and the environment.  From the website:

The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

Anyway, one of the current projects EWG is undertaking is working to ensure that potentially harmful chemicals are kept out of the foods we eat.  The following information is direct from their website:

"Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone disruptor found plastic baby bottles and the lining of canned foods including liquid and powdered formulas in steel cans. While there has been a lot of attention to potential exposures from plastic bottles, our calculations suggest that BPA in formula could be a greater health risk.

EWG is preparing an independent analysis of infant exposures to BPA in formula to present to the National Institutes of Health. We need your help to gather food and weight information for real babies to understand the intensity of BPA exposure. Timing is critical! NIH is meeting in early August to make important decisions on BPA safety and use.


If your baby was fed formula, please take a few minutes to complete the survey below by Tuesday, July 31, 2007.  Please find the survey here:  http://www.ewg.org/bpasurvey

What Website to use for Pictures??

July 03, 2007

All of must have byte upon byte of photos of our darlingest little bon-bons.  We have memorialized everything from the first bath to the day she lost her first tooth.  What to do with all of these pictures?  How to best share them with family and friends across lands and oceans?  Something like an urbanMamas flickr pool?  Sarah emails:

I have just under 15 bazillion pictures of my 1 1/2-year-old daughter trapped on my computer and on memory cards. I would like her to actually SEE some of these pictures one day but just can't seem to get myself down to the drug store, with toddler in tow, to scroll through all of them on a touch screen and print them out while someone taps their foot impatiently behind me. Plus, I've been disappointed with the quality at those do-it-yourself photo kiosks.

I am ready to enter the world of online photo uploading and processing but don't know where to start.  SnapfishShutterfly? I have no idea.  Are they all about the same? Are there some Web sites that have definite advantages or disadvantages?  Where have other mamas been particularly happy with photo quality, security concerns, and price? Or is there a local digital photo processing place that is even better? More organized mamas, please show me the way...

Seeking Lactation or Newborn Care Classes

June 26, 2007

Erin is new to Portland and new to motherhood.  Does anyone have an experience with lactation classes or newborn care classes:

Could you point me in the direction of lactation classes and newborn care classes? I've been searching but can't find any. I'm looking for recommendations and opinions on how the hospital-offered classes compare with private organization offerings.

Juggling a Preschooler and a Nursing Babe

June 21, 2007

I remember when our second daughter was born, our older one was just over 3 years old. Just when I'd settle in to nurse baby Tati, I'd hear: "Mammmmaaa!" from the other room. "CAN YOU DRAW WITH ME?!?!?" I came to look forward to evening nurse sessions, after I had tucked in older Philly to bed. But, even then, it'd be: "Maammmmmaaaa!" she'd holler, waking baby Tati from her nam-nam slumber. "I GOTTA GO POTTY/NEED WATER/WANT A KISS!!!!" It's tough, juggling the two. How did you do? Sarah is feeling challenged:

I'm due to have my second child any day now, and I already have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. Does anyone have recommendations for a special activity or ways to occupy a preschooler while nursing a baby? When my daughter was nursing, it regularly lasted 30-45 minutes, and I want to be prepared in case this baby is a slow eater too. Any tips?

When Mama meets Mama

May 18, 2007

It can be really difficult to meet new people.  It's even more difficult when you're busy tending to your child(ren).  Conversations are difficult to hold and a child somehow senses when you are trying to talk, and usually (inadvertently) thwarts your efforts to keep your attention on said conversation.  Gaia is looking to get past the first awkward (and distracted) hellos at the park and find a mama's group nearby:

I am a young mother and hardly know any other moms in the area.  I live in SE on mt tabor with my daughter who is 7 months.  We love taking walks and spending time outdoors in the nice spring weather.  Also a nice cup of tea is always good on a rainy day! I'd love to learn about a mom's group in my neighborhood or somewhere in the SE area.

Buying Local: Organic Mattress

May 06, 2007

Lara is in search of a local store that carries organic mattresses.  Are you aware of any?

I would like to buy an organic crib mattress for my daughter who will be moving into a crib soon. I know you can order them online but I would prefer to go to a store so I can see it first. Does anyone know of such a store in Portland and if not, any recommendations for ones purchased online?

Mama of two; what to do?

April 24, 2007

When I had our second baby, I recall feeling stretched thin from both ends. It was like one child was pulling one arm (actually, she was nursing the heck outta me, so she was really pulling something else), and our other child (who was a 3-year old then) was pulling my other arm. Hard. It was a constant juggle, and it definitely took quite a bit of time to adjust to being a mama of two. Lydia asks for suggestions from the urbanMamas community:

I have a new baby, 5 weeks today. He has a big sister who just turned two. We're doing pretty well, thanks, all things considered, but I am dying to get out of the house more! Problem is, my daughter, being two, can be "uncooperative" when it's time to leave, or stay close by while I nurse, or whatever. Any ideas about what we could do? I need places where the big girl can be a little contained if I need to nurse or something. The one thing I can think of is the Portland Children's museum where there's an infant area with a gate, and nobody will mind if baby fusses a little while I shepherd everybody in there. Indoor play parks are also a possibility, I guess, except my daughter loves the trampoline most and I probably shouldn't spot with a baby on my chest. Advice from other experienced moms of two? Should I just stay home (please no!)?

Sleep for a 9-month old

April 19, 2007

Sleep is one of the biggest issues for these little people. Right now, I am looking at the clock reading 9:03 PM and my girls are still up bouncing in their bunks. Some nights, they can giggle til 10 PM. Other nights, they are out cold by 8 PM. Some nights, they go to bed without needing a visit from mama or daddy. Other nights, my husband or I race up those stairs at the speed of light, trying to exude some godly presence like the house will cave in if they don't go to bed.

It all starts when they're little. It's often a rough ride, and there are so many paths to take. Diana would love to hear what worked for you and what didn't:

My baby girl just had her 9-month well-baby check up and the doctor asked me if she was sleeping through the night. I said no and he recommended that I try letting her cry it out a little bit to teach her to self soothe. I've tried this before, when she was around 5 months old and it was awful for me and her. She would cry so hard that she would start choking and I felt like a terrible mom. I've read some accounts from other parents that after sticking it out and letting the baby cry, theirs learned to sleep better in about 3 days to a week. Ours didn't seem like she was learning anything new about sleeping after a week (did I stop too soon?). I am very uncomfortable with letting her cry it out, for any length of time. Am I spoiling her? Am I teaching her bad sleeping habits?

This is our first baby and I have no real idea of how things naturally progress. Are there any parents out there that have babies that learned to sleep by themselves without using the crying out method? What age did yours finally start sleeping through the night without any help?

Cry it out? Baby Whispering? What worked for you?

Gifts for third baby?

April 10, 2007

My boss is having her third baby tomorrow, and I knew just what to send her: a little knitted sweater and a baby washcloth. It's her first boy, so she'll be needing a few things that aren't entirely pink, ruffled and floral. I've been telling her she needs to be indoctrinated into Thomas the Tank Engine -- she has no idea who Percy is! The very idea. I'm going to suggest some board books about trains, including Trains; Stop Train Stop; and Red Train.

Although it's easy for me to come up with little things to make for her, my colleagues, many who don't have children, or are on their first baby and have no reference point for baby #3, are asking me what they should send. But I need more ideas -- we have a lot of colleagues! For those of you who have been through the babyhood thing a number of times; what small gifts would you most like to receive in the week or so after the birth of your baby? Baby booties are cute but I just know they wouldn't cut it for me anymore... (especially since Grandma's already given me a full complement of crocheted booties in every color ;)

Baby needs a new pair of Shades

April 03, 2007

Shades_2 It's that time of year again in Portland.  Time to break out the sun hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses, too!  UrbanPapa, Jeff, wonders if anyone's found a local source for BabyBanz, sunglasses for kids that has a head strap to keep them on.  Or has anyone found any similar products that have the UV screening and a head strap?  I'd be curious too since my little blue-eyed boys probably feel the bright much more than their brown-eyed mama does...

What do you do when the little one crawls out of the crib

February 23, 2007

What have you done when you were in Barbara's situation?  It seems her little one is working on her escape routine.  Barbara writes:

My 20-month old daughter figured it out last week when she was mad at me for not letting her go outside in the rain with the dogs.  But, since then it hasn't been a problem and she's gone down for naps and bed just fine.  Until today.  I put her down for her nap and turned around to turn off some lights and when I looked back she was hanging off the top rail.  Luckily I caught her before she hit the floor.  I tried again, but she started right back up.  I ended up pulling out the pack and play, which is slightly taller, and it seems like it might be working - she threw her leg up but wasn't able to get it over the higher ends and didn't try the sides.  The issue is that I borrowed this pack and play from my sister-in-law and was thinking I could return it when we see her in 2 weeks.

I'm hoping this is a one-time thing, but what if it isn't?  We have hardwood floors which wouldn't be great to fall onto.  Do we go to a toddler bed and if so, how do you make sure she stays in it and goes to sleep when we leave the room?  Any other ideas?  And yes, when we lowered the crib we did drop it to the lowest level.

Recall: Earth's Best Apple Breakfast

February 21, 2007

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to use certain jars of Earth’s Best Organic 2 Apple Peach Barley Wholesome Breakfast baby food because of the risk of contamination with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause botulism, a life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. Details on the FDA Website here.

Sturdy Lift the Flap Books

February 14, 2007

Infant-friendly, saliva-resistant, tear-free book.  Does such a thing exist?  Jennifer poses the following question:

My 10-month old loves books, especially pop-ups and lift-the-flap books. Problem is, she always chews or pulls off all the flaps. Does anyone know of any lift-the-flap board books that are sturdier for little hands?

Mama Daycare Virgin

February 01, 2007

Many of us have had to find care for our little ones outside the home.  We felt lucky that both our girls had care in our home until at least 12 months of age.  We felt that was a luxury.  But, on their respective first days at their new outside-the-home daycares, no matter how comfortable I was with care providers and the environment, I was wrought with worry and fear.  Can you relate?  Amy is preparing herself for her daughter's first day:

Next Monday, my 5-month-old daughter is starting daycare one day a week. I found a lovely in-home provider, and feel very comfortable with her in general, but I am having a lot of anxiety about "just dropping off" my baby with someone else!  Part of that is the mama bear thing, I know, and part of it is directly related to the fact that my daughter is struggling immensely with naps right now.  I don't know what kind of direction I should give the care person, especially since my daughter's schedule has largely fallen apart lately.  So my questions are:  How can I work through my inner anxiety in general?  And does anyone have tips for how to work with a provider during these tough sleep (or other developmental) phases, so things don't get worse (and might even get better)?

Infant/Toddler Sign Workshop

January 21, 2007

Thanks Leslie for passing on this info. We're sure many other urbanFamilies will be interested:

Due to loads of requests from local parents, LilyToad is teaming up with the Portland Early Learning Program to offer an infant/toddler sign and language development workshop on Sunday, Feb. 4 from 4-6 pm. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. $45 per couple includes 2 hour workshop and a highly acclaimed infant sign book. You can register either at LilyToad or on-line at here.

Infant Daycare SE: Discoveryland?

January 16, 2007

Researching schools and daycares can be difficult. Lauren is seeking your feedback: I'm curious if anyone has experiences (positive or negative) with Discoveryland for infant care (SE 60th)? Any other suggestions in this area (Mt. Tabor/Hawthorne regions) for infants would be welcome too.

NW Mommy and Baby Group

January 11, 2007

Now meeting every other Saturday at the Friendly House

Moms with babies 1 year and younger are welcome to come to meet other  moms and babies to share experiences and ideas, ask questions, or simply make new friends. This is a great opportunity for first-time moms to find advice and learn from other moms. A topic or theme (Is my baby
having stranger anxiety and what do I do?, Any good sleeping tips?  etc.) will be discussed during each session but there will also be an opportunity for moms to ask specific questions. This group will meet every other Saturday (2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, except for March) to accommodate working moms or moms that just can't make it to  the usual groups that meet on weekdays. The first group meeting will be on January 13, 2007 at 9:30 am. at The Friendly House.  No registration required and members can join at anytime.  For more information, contact Nannette Sato at redcedars@comcast.net.

Baby Talk - did you buy?

January 02, 2007

As a follow up to a previous post on Dunstan baby language videos, has anyone actually purchased them?  Jillian is wondering:

I was wondering if any urbanMamas have purchased and watched the Dunstan Baby Language DVD as seen on Oprah)...?  I remain curious about it, but before I spend $60 I'd love to see if others out there believe it's worth the money.

Piggy Platter - The Solution?

December 28, 2006

Piggy_1 As soon as my second son was old enough to sit in a booster at the dinner table, I was more than happy to pass on his high chair to my sister. Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of high chairs. It always seemed I spent more time cleaning the crumbs from the crevices than feeding my kids. In 0.25 seconds, the cheerios and crackers would end up pulverized to mere crumbs, of course congregating under the pad of the high chair. What I thought was being eaten up by my little goblin, always seemed to magically end up under his seat. The worst culprits mashed bananas, rice and couscous.  A friend mentioned that she even found herself using a toothpick to clean out the crevices.  Hearing that, I knew I made a good decision to do away with what some would find essential baby gear.

While switching to a booster solved some problems, it didn’t really address the problem of the mess. It seems though a local Portland mama came up with an ingenious solution – the Piggy Platter.  Lindy came up with the idea over a bowl of deliciously sticky oatmeal that her two-year-old son was spreading into every nook and cranny of their wood dining room table. How cool is that?  It’s also good to know that 10% of all profits are donated to Feed the Children.

I’m curious, how you combat the messiness of mealtimes? Do you take proactive steps to avoid foods that create the most mess?

Support Group for Working Mothers

December 26, 2006

When I was pregnant with my first, I found myself in the same situation.  Trying to connect with other mothers outside of the work day.  Working outside of home was not conducive to morning weekday play dates.  Here's Aisha's situation:

Are there any newly pregnant, or pregnancy groups that I could join, I want to network and meet other Mamas in Portland, Oregon.  if you have any referrals please let me know, I tried LaLeche League of Portland, but their meetings are not work friendly as they are early mornings during the weekdays and I am looking for something I would not have to miss work for.  Thanks and happy holidays!!

Seeking Infant Care in SW

December 13, 2006

Help a mama out! Writes Melissa:

I'm starting my search for child care for infants in the SW region of Portland (Hillsdale, Multnomah Village). I would be so delighted and appreciative for any advice you could offer. Thank you so much!

From Formula to Food

December 06, 2006

Ahh... the introduction of solid food to a baby's diet. Another chapter in one's life begins! Meliah is seeking your insight:

Aurelia (my five month old daughter) and I are nearing the time for transitioning to formula and foods. I have a few specific questions involving the process. I am considering using organic formula but am wondering if formula is one of the foods that there is a marked difference in the organic and non-organic versions. Does anyone have any knowledge, information or experience to share about this? Also, what is the difference, if there is one, between single grain rice cereal and whole grain rice cereal? Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Creative Gift Ideas for Daycare Providers

November 30, 2006

Last year, we had a previous conversation The Etiquette of Gift Giving for Daycare Providers. urbanMamas are also wondering what kinds of gifts make for great items for teachers or daycare providers? After nurturing and loving our youth, we're pretty certain that they've been nice and not naughty. Says Misty:

Any affordable/creative ideas for Christmas gifts for daycare providers? Between my two kids, I have 5 or 6 daycare providers I need to get gifts for.

Vitamins Supplements for Babies?

November 21, 2006

As mamas, we only want the best for our babies.  As mamas, we appreciate the respectful sharing of other mamas' thoughts and opinions.  Thank you Sharon for emailing:

I am curious about whether other moms have used vitamin supplements for their breastfed babies.  I have a two-month old and was given vitamins by her doctor at her two-week check-up.  I have heard the idea before that breastfed babies don't get enough vitamin D; when my son was breastfed, but didn't have the vitamins pushed on me.  I haven't given them to her as I hate the thought of adding anything to her perfect body!  I still take my prenatals and she breastfeeds exclusively.  How necessary are these to you?  Did you use them?

Nurse-in at Portland airpot

November 20, 2006

Nurse-in at the Delta ticket counter? Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, 10 a.m.? Sounds like fun! I've been writing about Emily Gillette, the woman escorted off a Freedom Airlines flight (they run Delta Connection) for daring to breastfeed in the second-to-last row, discretely, next to her husband, after a two-hour delay (according to the law in Vermont, where Emily's plane was sitting on the tarmac, public breastfeeding is protected). GRRRrrr. I offered to take her out for coffee when I was in New York last week just to thank her for being a lightning rod. As our own Chris (the reluctant lactivist) knows, it's not an easy thing. But alas, her Good Morning America appearance was rescheduled for this week.

Anyhow. Tomorrow. 10 a.m. The Delta ticket counter at PDX. Moms, with and without breastfeeding babes, are asked to attend. I'm sure no one would turn away an uPapa, either. If you're available, go, support a mother's right to give her baby food anywhere.

Baby Talk

November 15, 2006

Did anyone see the Oprah show earlier this week about the woman who has "unlocked the secret language of babies"? An Austrailian woman named Priscilla Dunstan has studied the cries and sounds of over 1000 babies and is now working with a team at Brown University to further study the sounds that babies make prior to crying. She's deducted that all babies say five words to communicate what they are needing..."neh", "owh", "heh", "eair" and "eh"... I gotta say, it was pretty fascinating! Conveniently, she has a DVD coming out at the end of the month that will teach parents and parents to be the sounds and how to listen for them with your own baby. We had a fussy one, and I do think I would have shelled out the cash for another tool that could possibly have helped us during those first few months of fussiness. Go to oprah.com or dunstanbaby.com for more information if you're curious. Was anyone else as intrigued as me by this story? Would you buy the DVD for yourself or a baby shower?

Fundraising for Life-Saving Surgeries

Gavin_1 When your child is born with a life-threatening condition, what do you do?  Imagine as a mama, that your child is born with a life-threatening condition and alongside the challenges of caring for your newborn, you are faced with providing nightly dialysis and weekly injections of life sustaining medications.  This is Gavin's reality.  And despite being born with End Stage Renal Failure, he has overcome tremendous obstacles.  However, he is in need of a kidney transplant.  But even before he can be placed on a transplant waiting list, hospitals require proof of payment.

Without a kidney transplant Gavin will not survive! This is why my brother-in-law has enlisted your help. Gavin's family and friends have teamed up with the Children's Organ Tranplant Association and launched a fundraising campaign to help Gavin’s family with medical costs not covered by private insurance. Their goal is to raise $100,000, a kidney transplant for baby Gavin costs around $200,000. Two requests:

  • Please help save baby Gavin by making a 100% tax-deductible donation to his fund. By making your contribution, you honor this precious, young life.
  • Also, have any other mamas or parents gone through this process?  What advice and / or fundraising suggestions can you provide?  I can only imagine organizing 10 Cafe Au Play level auctions which required a ton of volunteer hours and effort (but was a smashing success)!

5 Back-Breaking Mommy Mistakes

November 08, 2006

Darien Wilson, the mamapreneur of the baby carrier company, ZoloWear, has lent us some words of wisdom on mama posture.  Thanks for the advice!

Moms often complain of back pain from all the carrying, bending, and stooping done during the day.  Many times the pain is caused by improper weight distribution or bad posture while carrying baby.  There is no reason you should feel pain while carrying your precious cargo.  Here are 5 back-breaking examples of common baby wearing mistakes:

  1. Carrying the baby in the car seat carrier.  We’ve all seen moms leaning to one side with their arms about to be pulled out of the sockets while lugging babies in a car seat.  Car seats are for transporting babies in the car!  There is a much easier way to carry baby.  Baby slings or other carriers are much more comfortable, easy to use, and super convenient.  Afraid to wake the baby?  Watch how quickly they fall back to sleep against mommy’s warm chest!
  2. Wearing a carrier with narrow straps. If you’ve ever carried a heavy shopping bag with thin handles you’ve experienced the painful red marks left behind in your hands.  Narrow straps on baby slings or other types of carriers can be just as painful.  A narrow band of fabric puts all of the weight on your neck.  Be sure that you choose a carrier with wide straps that won’t dig into your shoulders or back.  The wider the fabric is spread across your shoulder and back, the more comfortable the sling is for mom.
  3. Wearing a sling against your neck instead of cupping your shoulder. Think back to the time you traveled on vacation before rolling luggage was invented.  You probably carried a hanging bag or duffel bag with a strap around your shoulder and across your chest.  If you let the strap slip too closely to your neck instead of the wide part of your shoulder you would soon regret it.  Nothing a good neck massage and some pain reliever wouldn’t cure, right?  Adjust your baby carrier so that any material or strap is pulled out to its fullest width.  The strap or material should be cupping your shoulder comfortably.  A narrow band of fabric puts all of the weight on your neck.
  4. Wearing the carrier too loosely. One day at the beach you were carrying your squirming nephew who was acting like a rabid monkey.  He kept pulling away from you while keeping a tight grip around your neck, legs locked around your waist.  He leaned back as far as possible while shouting monkey noises.  It suddenly felt as if he weighed 100 extra pounds.  This is exactly why your baby should be pulled in close to your body. A snug carrier is more comfortable for on your back and keeps your baby upright and secure.  If your carrier is too loose then baby leans back creating a pulling sensation and added weight.
  5. Wearing baby too low in any carrier. Remember carrying heavy history books around campus in a backpack?  If your backpack wasn’t adjusted properly you carried the weight too low causing pain in your shoulders.  Oh, the relief when you let that backpack drop to the desk!  Carrying your baby too low in a carrier can be just as excruciating – it causes your shoulders to carry the weight instead of your strong core muscles.  Baby should be worn at or above your waist so that he hugs your chest.

Zantac Alternative for Infants

November 03, 2006

Cynthia has an young infant with the acid reflux.  Is Zantac the only prescription for relief?

My 2 month old was diagnosed with acid reflux and has been on Zantac for 3 weeks now.  i'm a bit uncomfortable with putting my baby on medication, however it seems to be working. She was throwing up curdy milk, as well as crouching in pain while sleeping before being put on Dantac. Does anyone have any experience with homeopathic alternatives to zantac to treat infant acid reflux?