Wednesday, March 27, 2013

To Juice or Not To Juice...that is the question

When it comes to "experts" a.k.a. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) as well as nutritionists, giving juice to a baby or toddler is a no-no. Juice does not have much nutritional value and honestly, there is more nutrition in a fresh piece of fruit than a cup of juice; not to mention, juice is loaded with lots of sugar and kids today consume way more sugar than necessary. I believe the recommendation is no more than 4 ounces of juice for little under the age of 4. I actually am not a fan of juice myself; I'm more of a water drinker as I find juice too sickeningly sweet. I've worked in the childcare industry for many years and know many children personally who refuse to drink water and only drink juice because they were introduced to the sweet drink early in life. Not to mention, childhood obsesity is at an all-time high, so I can understand a reason to limit or not give juice at all.

 Having a son who was labeled as overweight at 12 months old, I actually did not give him a single taste of juice until he was 18 months old and so sick that he refused to eat or drink a thing. Then, I put a splash (probably about a tablespoon or so) of white grape juice into his (9 oz size) sippy cup of water; J sucked that down dry and asked for more. For awhile, the rule was no juice unless J got sick because he's very picky when sick and having a child who is hydrated and not suffering from low blood sugar matters to me. Since then, I have loosened up a tad. J still mainly drinks water plus his 16 oz of Lactaid whole milk on a daily basis but if he is thirsty and has already had a lot of water and his milk, I give a splash of juice in his water. The way I see it, a tiny bit of juice does not contain much sugar and gives him some variety of flavor. The only other time we give juice is when we go out to eat since restaurants don't carry lactose free milk; in those instances I ask the server for a kid cup with mostly water and a splash of juice. They're always happy to comply and that ensures my little guy doesn't feel left out when Mama gives up her usual water for some iced tea and when Daddy has soda.

Once again, this is a personal matter but I do believe that my loosening up a small degree is good. J doesn't drink juice on a daily basis and he's slimmed down a lot, so I know he is a healthy guy. I'm curious to hear when my readers started giving juice and if their kids are water drinkers at all. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Graco MySize70 Review

A few weeks ago, I purchased a Graco MySize70 carseat at the local Babies 'R Us. Now that I've been using the seat for a little bit, I thought it'd be good to share my thoughts on it. First of all, I chose this carseat because I needed something narrow enough to fit in the mid-size SUV rental that I am currently driving (I drive a mini-van so if it fits into the mid-size it'll fit in there) and was pleasantly surprised to find it fit perfectly. If you're in doubt, most Babies 'R Us locations have staff who will walk to your car with a display seat and let you try it in your car to be sure it can fit. While narrow enough to fit in the seat, this carseat still is roomy enough for my very big boy and has amazingly high rear-facing and front-facing specs. Babies, infants and toddlers 4-40 lbs and up to 40" can rear-face and toddlers and children 40-70 lbs and up to 50" can forward-face with the harness. That means this seat should last most children from birth until early preschool years when the parents is ready to switch to a booster seat. Even though my son is off the charts for his size, this carseat will undoubtably last him a long time. This makes me incredibly happy since a harnessed carseat is undoubtably safer than a seatbelt positioning booster.

Because of the In-Right Latch System, this carseat has been by far the easiest to install using LATCH than any other carseats I have installed in a vehicle. Not only that, but there are two sets of LATCH belts: one set for rear-facing and one for forward-facing, which means there is no need to re-route a LATCH belt for different types of installations. This makes this seat a dream come true for me since I struggled trying to figure out how to re-route the straps of my J's previous carseat. Like most modern carseats, this one has three levels of recline and you must use the most reclined level for rear-facing. Depending on your actual vehicle seat, you may need to use a pool noodle cut-up or a rolled up towel to make sure the carseat is at the correct angle. For a newborn or infant, it needs to be at a 45 degree angle and for a toddler you can lessen the angle to 30 degrees. When in doubt, get a carseat inspection done by an NHTSA tech (I do that every time, btw) and just google to find one near you.

The one concern I had when I took this carseat out of its box was that the cushioning didn't seem very plush, but that thought has gone out the window since J fell asleep within 5 minutes the very first time he rode in it. Since then, J has fallen asleep 4 other times which tells me that this is one comfy carseat!

Let's talk about harness straps. One drawback is that they are a pain in the butt to tighten. I cannot seem to pull the strap tight enough once I my son is in the seat. To get around that, I tightened it a bit more without him in it then put it on him and buckled and did the pinch test (try and pinch the harness strap by the child's collarbone; if you can pinch it then it is too loose). I only loosen the straps a tiny bit to get J in and out since tightening his harness is a chore. The one factor that does make the tightening issue not as annoying is the adjustable headrest and harness. With a squeeze of a red lever on top of the head rest, you can instantly make the strap level higher or lower; for rear-facing always keep the straps at or below shoulder level. Having the harness set at the appropriate level ensures that there isn't a ton of harness to need to tighten. The harness has also tangled a handful of times, but it is pretty easy to fix and as a more experienced mom now that hasn't frazzled me.

My final favorite feature of the carseat is the integrated cupholder. Our other carseat didn't have one; the carseat had to be attached and could not be used in rear-facing, which meant that J was always dropping his sippy cup when he got tired of holding it or simply forgot he was holding it and then I'd have to do a sippy cup search in the car. Now, no more dropped cups! After buckling J in, I put his sippy cup right into the cup holder and he has a drink within reach when he wants it; now that J is used to this feature of the carseat, he puts the cup back when he is done with it. How great!

All in all, I love this carseat! I would recommend it to anyone looking for a convertible carseat.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's In Your Bag?

I remember the day I registered for a diaper bag back when I was pregnant and my only concerns were that it match the color of my other baby gear (light green) with a have a changing pad inside; that and I didn't want something that cost more than $30 which seemed excessive to me. My choice was an inexpensive Carters diaper bag that seemed to fit that bill. At the time, I did love that bag and Carters is a great brand. Now that I'm a more experienced mom, I've learned that there are many more important factors than that. That said, I switched out the first diaper bag for a much different one. From the time J was a baby, I always packed a lot in the diaper bag which caused the first diaper bag to burst at the seams. Most times I couldn't zip it and after too many times of attempting to, the zipper broke off the bag.

The diaper bag that I switched to when J was close to 1 year of age is a Petunia Picklebottom Boxy Backpack. I do need to preface this with the fact that the MSRP of this style bag is in my humble opinion extremely expensive; however, Baby Steals often has this bag for somewhere between 50-80% off. Baby Steals is a daily deal site with some great products listed at great prices. I was lucky and nabbed the diaper bag for much less than it normally costs, and am so glad I did.

My favorite feature with the boxy backpack is that you can either wear the bag in standard shoulder style or on your back like a backpack. The straps are adjustable for your size, and the diaper bag is nice and spacious inside but doesn't appear huge on the outside. I normally always wear this bag as a backpack which I find easiest. The diaper bag does come with a velcro-attachable changing pad. By the way, whether or not you choose to cloth diaper a big diaper bag is a must have. On days when I'm out and about with J, I don't pack a purse and instead stash my wallet and keys inside the diaper bag. In evenings when I go out alone, I simply switch my wallet and keys to a small purse.

Now that J is a toddler, here is what I pack whenever we go out:

  • 6-10 diapers and a pack of wipes - Sounds excessive, I know, but whenever I have brought only a few diapers J has managed to have constant diarrhea diapers or pees like a racehorse every few minutes.
  • diaper rash cream - When J is in sposies, I bring a tube of Triple Paste and if it cloth, I bring a tube of Grandma El's.
  • a sippy cup of water
  • boogie wipes
  • hand and face wipes
  • a divided snack cup - one compartment for freeze dried fruit, the other for a whole grain snack like cheerios or whole grain goldfish
  • a change of clothing - whenever I forget extra clothes, J spills a drink or food all over himself or leaks through a diaper or just gets messy in some other way
  • 1 or 2 boardbooks, toys, crayola mess free doodle board
  • digital camera for those picture worthy moments
  • my small cosmetic bag with lip gloss 
When J was a newborn/infant, here is what I packed:
  • 6-10 diapers and wipes
  • diaper rash cream
  • 2-3 bottles pre-prepared and in a cooler (J willingly drank cold formula and even now won't drink warm beverages) - you never know when you'll get waylaid and need more bottles than you expected
  • pacifiers
  • pacifier wipes
  • baby toys and board books
  • digital camera
  • 2-3 changes of clothing
  • 2-3 bibs
  • 2 burp cloths
  • Once J was over 6 months of age, I also added:
    • finger food snacks such as Happy Baby puffs 
    • sippy cup of water 
    • baby food pouches
    • baby spoon
If J has a cold or is teething and I have to go out, I do add some other items to my bag such as:
  • Nose Frida Snot Sucker
  • Infant/Children's Acetaminophen or Motrin
  • Camilia homeopathic teething ampules by Boiron
  • Saline Drops or Mist
  • A cold snack such an organic yogurt tube
  • Teething toys
Whatever diaper bag you choose, it's important that it be one you truly like and will be happy toting around for at least 3 years. On average, kids potty train anywhere between ages 2-4 and you'll need a good way to carry their diapers or even changes of underwear and all the other items your child needs. Why not tote around all that stuff in style? Happy shopping!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

All About Rear-Facing Carseats

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with new guidelines that a child should remain in a rear-facing carseat until the age of 2 or until a child maxes out height and/or weight limits for rear-facing in their carseat. You can view their statement here:

Many parents were upset about these guidelines stating that a one year old is too tall to be rear-facing in the car and why should that be the case when the state law is one year of age and twenty pounds? Well, to be honest, this guideline was made because rear-facing truly is safest; further, there are European countries where children are rear-facing until the age of 4 and there are lower child mortality and severe injury rates in the case of car accidents. Are there people who still choose to switch their babies at only the age of one? Of course there are. Am I one of them? No, I am not. My J is 22 months old, 34 lbs and a tad over 3 feet tall, and with his carseat that has a 40 lb, 40 inch rear-facing limit, he will probably remain that way until he is closer to the age of 3.

People have made comments like, "But he's so uncomfortable rear-facing," "My parents didn't even have a carseat. I wonder how I lived," and so on. The truth of the matter is I will always put safety first. No, in the 50s and 60s and 70s, people didn't use carseats and guess what....gradually the rate of infant and child mortality in the case of automobile accidents in our country has declined. Physics can explain why rear-facing an infant and toddler is safest when it comes to the car on thecarseatlady blog: You can also see a video that illustrates this here: Crash tests with FF vs RF carseats

As far as comfort goes, children are much more flexible than adults and as a result do not get uncomfortable the way we do. I've seen many tots who bend themselves in half when they play, including my son, and who stretch their legs in a way that they can put their toes in their mouths. You should know that almost all toddlers will have a stage when they hate being in the carseat, not because of comfort, but because they do not like being restrained. Why go in a buckled seat when you can crawl and walk all over the place? When J hit that stage, I started keeping a basket with a variety of toys and books in the car and would give J a few in the car. At red lights, I would switch out his toys so he didn't get bored. I also kept his Wiggles cd in the cd player of the car and sang to that wit him. "I Spy" is also a popular car game for me and J; I keep the headrest off of his captain chair that the carseat it installed in and say, "I spy___" about things we pass so he can look for them.

To be honest, I was debating switching J's carseat to forward-facing on his 2nd birthday until last week when my car was seriously damaged from another driver slamming into the side of it. My entire body was jerked forward and a couple of hours later my back hurt from muscle strain, however, J remained unmoved in his rear-facing carseat and had no idea that an accident had occurred. He only started fussing when we took the time to make the report with the police because he was tired and bored. What happened that day cemented my understanding that rear-facing a carseat really is the best thing, and I replaced the carseat we were using with one that has even higher rear-facing and forward-facing limits.

If you're looking into a carseat with great rear-facing limits, there are many now. Prior to the accident, we used an Evenflo Triumph 65 advanced which has a 37" and 1" below top of carseat rule for height and 40 lb weight limit. With J's crazy tallness, dh and I knew that we needed one with an even bigger height limit. If you google the carseatlady blog, you can find suggestions on all kinds of carseats.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My Must-Have Survival Items When J Has a Cold

 So for the second time this winter season poor J has a cold and because he has RAD (reactive airway disease), he has a nasty cough which three daily doses of albuterol and two daily doses of budesonide in his nebulizer control the cough. Of course, with a tot there are some other items I have found extremely useful to have on hand.


  • Cool Mist Humidifier: My husband and I purchased the Crane tear drop one back when J was a newborn because it got great ratings. Really humidifier moistens the are to help with congestion, cough, etc., when a baby or tot is ill or even suffering from allergies is great. Cool mist is recommended over hot mist since little ones have been scalded from the hot ones
  • Honey: Not for children under 12 months because of risk of botulism. The nurse practitioner at the pediatrician group where J goes recommended honey now that he is almost 2 to coat the throat and naturally prevent coughing.

  • Saline Mist: When J was a baby, I used the drops but now that he is older he understands to tilt his head back slightly and sniff the mist in. It works well for dried sinuses and dried boogies.
  • Boogie Wipes: I always keep these in the diaper bag. That way when we are out and about, I can clean J's face of dried up boogies when his nose is on constant drip, or even in lieu of a tissue when his nose is particularly sore.
  • Nose Frida Snot Sucker: With this, you do suck the snot out of your child's nose manually and there is a hygiene filter inside so as to prevent the spread of bacteria. In my experience it works much better than the boogie balls a hospital gives you, and now at almost 2, J giggles when either my husband or myself uses it on him. For major congestion, first use some saline then let it sit for a minute to moisten things up then use the snot sucker.
  • Johnson & Johnson Soothing Vapors Bath: Once J's colds progress past the point of nose on constant drip to stuffed up nose, we use the soothing vapors as his bubble bath at night. It gets him a little more clear then we can commence with snot sucking after tub time so that J can go to bed with no stuffiness.
  • Vick's Baby Rub: At nap time, I rub this onto J's feet then put socks on and at bedtime I put a small amount right onto his chest. It has eucalyptus and rosemary in it, which naturally controls cough and keeps the sinuses clear. Plus I grew up with my mom using Vick's on me and it always helped, so I do the same for my baby. 
  • Mott's For Tots juice: I'm not normally a juice giver since I'm all for water and milk, but when J is really stuffed up, he doesn't eat so I like to get some Vitamin C into him this way. Plus it keeps him hydrated and has less sugar than regular juice since it's basically watered down juice in the perfect concentration for him.
  • LOTS OF CUDDLES because all littles need their mama or daddy when they're feeling cruddy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Letter to my Son

Dear J,

As your second birthday is fast approaching I have realized how much you have taught me and couldn't feel more blessed. There are some things I want for you to know as well, and there's no time but the present to put this down in writing. First and foremost, I will always love you. Even those times when you throw the world's biggest tantrum and I want to rip my  hair out, and those times I know that will be coming when you are a teenager, my love will never dwindle. I may get frustrated and need to walk away for a few minutes just to cool down, but I promise that nothing you ever do will cause me to close my heart to you. Someday my mannerisms that you find funny and try to imitate now will most likely embarrass you; but guess what, I won't be changing and the sooner you accept that the better. I'm sure you'll have some less than pleasant mannerisms yourself, and hey, you are my kid so you've got some of my odd little quirks already. Third, you are your own person with so much potential; you are intelligent, funny, sweet, full of love, extremely handsome, and the world is your oyster. You can do anything you put your mind to and I will always support you no matter what. I don't expect you to be perfect and do everything perfectly, but I do expect you to always try your hardest in all aspects of life. With that in mind you need to know that life isn't always easy and I cannot sugar coat it and say that everything will always go your way because quite honestly, it won't. BUT how you handle the challenges that come your way will help shape not only each moment in time but your future. You need to look at each obstacle in your life as if it is a big mountain; you cannot simply go through it but must make a plan to climb it then attempt to do so. Furthermore, I know that there will come a time that you may want to shut me out and I also know that when the time comes, you will actually need me more than you know. So I vow that I will be there at those times and you may hate it then, but there will come a day when you appreciate it. Finally, I just want to remind you that I will always be here for you as long as I'm living because no matter how much you grow up, you'll always be my baby.



Friday, March 1, 2013

Why I'm Doing Weight Watchers

I always blog about different parenting decisions I make as well as various aspects of my life with J, but never about a big decision I made to return to Weight Watchers and finally lose my excess weight for good. In the past, my sole reason was vanity; I just wanted to look good in smaller clothing. However, now that I am a mother, my reason has completely changed. My leader always says that if you know your real reason for wanting to lose the weight, that will help keep you going, and in my case I think that putting this into writing will help.

My reason, of course, is my son J; yet it goes much deeper than that. My mom passed away in 2005 at the age of 40, leaving me motherless at the age of 20. Of course, I went through all those stages of grief: denial, sadness, anger, and on it goes; but the anger never fully went away. She never took care of herself; her relationship with food was not a healthy one and that was passed onto me. For years, my mom would go on fad diets, starve herself, or would binge and purge. When she was in her 30's, my mom was diagnosed with diabetes but she refused to use insulin "because it would make her fat." After years of her blood sugar remaining out of control and quite a few hospital visits, my mom was strong-armed into using insulin and pills to control her diabetes. Yet ironically, against the doctor's orders, she continued to smoke, drink, and even buy Entenmann's cakes which she would eat in one sitting every night. No, it was not a big surprise when she passed away from complications of diabetes, but how could she refuse to take care of herself when she has two daughters who needed her??? I am not diabetic, but given my mom's history and my age of 30, I do not want to leave my son motherless in 10 years from now. I want to be around for many years to see him graduate Kindergarten, Middle School, High School, maybe college, to someday get married, and maybe even to become a parent himself someday. 

From the time I was a young child, I watched and took on my mom's unhealthy eating habits; I obsessed over food and even had my own bouts of unhealthy habits such as taking laxatives to lose weight. The time for that is passed, though. One of the important things I want for J is to have a healthy relationship with food. I want for healthy eating to be second nature to my son, and for him to understand that we can eat fun treats in moderation but that food doesn't fill a void in your life; i.e. he should eat to live but not live to eat. To ensure that J does live a healthy lifestyle, I need to be a living example of a healthy person. I will not be a hypocritical parent and I don't want to be a closet binger anymore.

So far, I have lost 20 lbs since joining Weight Watchers and I intend to steadily keep losing the weight. I am well aware that I will have tough weeks when I eat like a human vaccuum cleaner (hello, been there done that), but I will not let that stop me be from being the healthy mother my son deserves.