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July 8, 2014

Life with Babies

In an effort to avoid controversial topics, I somewhat hesitate to share much about how we have done things with our babies, but since I oftentimes receive specific questions on these topics, I thought I would answer them all in one place. The beautiful thing about parenting is that - for the most part - there really is no right or wrong way to attack it.
Our guidebook for life - the Bible - commands us to love our children fiercely while pointing them to the Savior. The types of diapers we use...the potty training methods we implement...the age we let our children begin dating...these things are all based on personal preferences. What you choose to do may or may not work for someone else, and that is okay.
With that being said, please understand that this post has not been written for the purpose of sparking discussion regarding the pros and cons of the methods we have chosen - I am simply sharing what has worked for us, and my hope is that you will kindly respect those choices, and I promise to reciprocate.

Life in Our House with Babies

For some of the topics below, I have included links to previous posts that include more detail.

Pregnancy - I have been pregnant twice - Both times I have managed to survive two long, hot, sweaty, swollen summers. Around weeks six/seven of both pregnancies, I have found carbs to be the only thing that keeps me from getting nauseous/sick. So...I start eating carbs...I don't go terribly wild, but it's definitely not how I typically eat. 60 pounds later, I birth ten pound babies. When nursing, I'm ravenously hungry, so....I find myself continuing to eat carbs. When I finish nursing, I go back to a low carb/no dessert lifestyle. I feel better when I eat this way - I look better when I eat this way - but for the safety of my husband - when I'm pregnant/nursing - the rules have to change a bit.

Photo Credit: Shannon Avason Photography
Toys - While the playroom may not always reflect this, my philosophy is less is more. Around here, I like to rotate my kiddos' toys so that everything is not scattered across the floor at one time - making my house look like a daycare facility. This approach also makes it easier when it comes time to clean our toys. We purchase the majority of our kids' toys at yard sales - and sometimes at kid's consignment sales.

Clothes - Most of my kiddos' clothes have come from yard sales and thrift stores~ Janie & Jack, Baby Boden, Ralph Lauren, Baby Gap, Gymboree...are just a few of my trusty favorites; and I'm able to find them [in excellent condition] for next to nothing.

Diapers - We use disposable diapers~ I may have lost of a few of you there, but cloth diapers just aren't for us. (..and no, I do not hate planet Earth.) Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, Target Brand, Sam's Club Brand...they've all worked for us. I buy ahead in sizes when I'm able to get awesome deals, and we never find ourselves down to the last diaper. There are always plenty more in the closet. I get my very best deals on diapers when couponing at Harris Teeter & CVS~ This has been the best way to go for us - combining in-store specials with either double-coupon deals or stacked coupon scenarios.

Pacifiers - Caleb loved a Soothie - Wabbanubs were his fav...until the day (somewhere around his first birthday) he started biting the ends off of them and throwing them across the room. He gave them up easily on his own. Isaac used one maybe three times after he was born, but literally hasn't wanted/or really needed a paci since. Please rest assured - neither kiddo has suffered from any kind of "nipple confusion".

Bottles - After both deliveries, I pumped a little here and there right from the start...I wanted to get both boys used to taking a bottle in case I needed/or wanted to be away for a little while. Caleb was totally fine with this approach...Isaac was a little less impressed; but this has been super helpful for my sanity, and I've loved that they've been comfortable being fed by daddy...or one of their grandparents...etc. On these occasions, we've used Playtex Nursers; but when I'm around, they get the real deal~ (Just call me a walking refrigerator.) As with the pacis, neither kiddo has had any kind of confusion issues. Will they have to wear braces? Probably so...but I doubt I will ever blame the short time they spent using pacis & bottles.

Breast-Feeding - I'm a big fan of breastfeeding~ It is not the easy route (and I realize that it is not always possible for everyone), but we shoot for 1 year of breastfeeding. The breastfeeding products that I've loved the most are the Boppy, the Medela's Pump & Style Breast Pump, and Lansinoh storage bags~

Solid Foods - With both boys we have started cereal between 4-5 months and solids as they've shown interest from there. I realize there are 7,586 charts that tell you exactly what foods to feed when...but I let my boys lead the way on this, and I just kind of watch and see what they are interested in and ready to tackle. Sticking to a one-size-fits-all feeding schedule, following charts, etc. that some author used with their baby would literally land me in months of therapy. I love to make as much of the baby food as I can, but we also use a ton of the pre-made squeeze packs! When we are on the go, these little gems are super helpful! Around here, we eat often...some days more and some days less, and I like to feed my kiddos before they are starving. Being ahead of the game on this...whether at the nursing every 2-3 hours stage, when feeding solids, etc. saves me a lot of stress. That hungry cry is the worst...whether it's coming from an infant, a toddler, or my husband! We have a pretty set snack/meal routine, but we are flexible and that works well for us~ Eating Out With Little Ones When they've first started eating cereal, solids, etc. we've used the Chicco highchair...then we move to this one from Fisher Price. It makes clean-up a breeze!

Napping - I'm a big fan of naps - When Caleb was 4-6 months old, he went through a tough nap in I thought I was going to lose my mind. Fortunately, we were able to move past that stage...thanks to a mixture of deep breathing exercises and Hershey's chocolate. Isaac hasn't had any trouble with naps - (He probably looks forward to a little bit of time away from his loving brother who likes to try to ride him like a donkey.) - and both boys go down well at night.

Night-Time Sleep - As I mentioned, I have nursed both boys which means as infants, they ate often, but thankfully they've both been fast eaters and quick to go back to sleep. Both boys slept in our room until they were down to 1-2 dark-outside feedings...then we moved them to their crib. Both times, this has been somewhat of an emotional transition for me - but since I'm the one getting up in the night to feed the baby I wait until I'm ready. Around 8-10 months - when both of my boys have started eating meatloaf, baked spaghetti, Mexican burritos (I'm not really exaggerating all that much here.), I start to ignore them if they wake up in the night. It seems like it is around this time when they wake up and cry out - not because they're hungry but simply because they're in the habit of waking up - after a couple of nights of ignoring, they stop waking up altogether. Has there ever been a time when our toddler has tried to fight bedtime? Sure...sometimes when he's overly tired, he may start to cry and protest, "I don't wanna go to bed, Mama!" What do we do? We ignore, because we know he's exhausted...Why drag out a conversation with a tired toddler? We tuck him in...kiss him goodnight...leave the room. Bedtime is bedtime & he's usually asleep within minutes.
**Note: I do not ignore cries that are coming from a legitimate need...totally different ballgame.

Swaddling - Throughout his first months, Caleb loved being swaddled~ After Isaac came home from the hospital, he looked at us and said, "I will punch you in the nose if you even think about wrapping me up like those nurses did!" Well, he didn't actually say those words, but he communicated his feelings loud.and.clear. We love, love, love aden & anais swaddles - They have also worked well just as light blankets for my summer babies who have both been super hot-natured~

Baby-Wearing - There are certain situations in which baby-wearing has been helpful for us - but not typically after those first few months. It wasn't until I had my second little guy that I realized that this baby-wearing thing has become somewhat of a religion for some parents - seriously? Are we really going to judge each other based on whether or not we wear our babies or push them in strollers? I realize that the ERGO is the best thing since God created ranch dressing, but our Joovy double-stroller has been wonderful for us. Can we all still be friends?

Potty-Training - Just like with everything else, I have done some reading, chatted with other moms, walked away with info that I think will work for us and let everything else go. We have let Caleb lead the way on this, and he's done great. He is not a "Potty Bootcamp" kind of kid, and such an event sounds like something that would put me in the fetal position~ The best potty-training advice I ever received: "Don't worry about it! There aren't many 16-year olds still wetting their pants." Such wisdom~ ;-)

Vaccinations - You didn't think I was really going to go there did you? I know better than that...moving on... *smile*

Traveling - Before we started our family, we made ourselves a promise that we would continue to travel...even with kids; and we have kept our promise. Yes, our trips look a little different these days, but we make them happen - and even when they are hard (and they oftentimes are...especially when we are stopping for the 19th time so Caleb can use his froggy the mini-van...while parked in the middle of a truck stop parking lot), we are always glad that we made the effort.

Carseats - For both boys, we have used the Chicco Travel System (carseat, base, stroller, etc.). For the toddler years, we have loved the Britax Boulevard.

Strollers - Our Chicco Travel System is still going strong~ At this point, however, if just one kid is a stroller, we use Joovy's version of an umbrella stroller - and when we need both boys in a stroller, we use Joovy's double-stroller. Caleb is getting a little large for this, but it's a great way - for now - to keep everyone contained. Would this be a good time to voice my issue with whatever genius they've put in charge of designing the layout of children's stores? A person can hardly walk through these stores...much less bring their kids along for a ride. I won't mention any specific stores, because it seems to be ALL OF THEM!

Travel Beds - When we travel these days, Isaac sleeps in the Chicco Pack 'n Play that we've used in our room for both of them as newborns, and Caleb sleeps in a Joovy Squared - We love that thing!

There are so many great products out there! You may love what we love or you may have chosen another great gem, and that is okay - It took me awhile to get here, but my philosophy: Do what works for you, sweet mama! Take it from me: Don't let other moms...the latest child expert...or some nutcase on an online forum make you feel like you are doing it all wrong. You are the mother your child needs - that's why God gave them to you. Embrace your child...Embrace who you are...and follow your mommy instincts.
I have no doubt that you are doing a great job.

To Read More: Part Two: Life in Our House with Pre-schoolers