Cloth Diapering Update: What Real Life Experience Has Taught Me

I think it’s about time that I wrote an update to my original posts about cloth diapering.  I love it when I get a chance to talk to people about cloth diapers, especially someone who’s just beginning to consider cloth or is just starting to delve into the world of cloth diapers.  It always brings me right back to the time when I was pregnant with Alex and trying to make sense of all the options and advice out there.  It can be confusing, overwhelming, and daunting!  No, cloth diapering is nothing new (our grandmothers all did it, after all), but, unlike our grandmothers, we have a lot more choices now.  Cloth diapering is more convenient than ever, but the decisions are more difficult.

While I was pregnant the first time, I wrote a post detailing exactly what diapers we purchased to begin with before Alex was born, including prices, pictures, and where we bought them.  At the end there is a summary of the different types of cloth diapers, because that was really confusing for me at first.

Now, here is a short update on what I’ve learned since actually using cloth diapers for two years.  Our original stash was a good one, but there are just a few things we’ve learned along the way:

Types of Diapers-

  1. We really love using prefolds and I would absolutely recommend them as your primary diaper.  P.S. We quit using Snapis a long time ago.  We simply tri-fold them and lay them in the cover.  Snapis might still be nice for really little babies, but once Alex got a little bigger tri-folding was the way to go.  I’ll let you know if we use snapis again with the new baby.

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

  2. We have accumulated a few different brands of all-in-ones, but didn’t find them as reliable as the good old prefold and cover.  They are more likely to leak & aren’t as versatile.  They are easier, though, especially for grandparents or babysitters.
  3. We DO love pocket diapers, specifically several Kawaii pockets which we have gotten for free with our orders from Kelly’s Closet.  They’re easy to use, a little more trim than a prefold, and they keep the wetness off of baby’s skin.  Downsides: no double gussets for extra poo insurance, they aren’t made of that nice organic cotton like our prefolds, and you have to wash the whole thing after one use.

    a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

       a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

Sizes of Diapers and Covers-

  1. You can get by with using one-size diapers and covers, but I would recommend getting some that come in at least a couple of different sizes.  The one-size diapers can be really bulky on a tiny baby, even after they’ve left the newborn stage.  Another option is to just use disposables for the first couple of weeks until your baby grows into the one-size diapers a little more, but if one of your reasons for cloth diapering includes protecting your baby from the chemicals in sposies, that may not appeal to you. Alex was 8 pounds at birth, so if he was swallowed up in a one-size diaper, a 5 or 6 pound baby would be even more so.  Buying 2 sizes of prefolds and covers wasn’t a huge expense (and we didn’t have to buy the second size right away), but I recognize that if you’re going with pockets or all-in-ones as your main diaper then it’s going to get a little more expensive.  See my post about our beginning stash to compare prices.

    a package of size 2 prefolds

            a package of size 2 prefolds

Number of Diapers

  1. Although the number of prefolds we started out with (24) would have been ok if that was all we could afford, we did end up with another dozen or so to safeguard against running out.  You should estimate that your newborn is going to use at least 12-18 diapers a day at first, so if you only want to wash diapers every other day….. well, you can do the math.
  2. We started out with 6 covers and I think we now have at least 10.  If your baby doesn’t poop as often as ours you will maybe be ok with 6, but certainly no fewer than that!  Once a cover has been pooped in, you pretty much need to wash it.

Types of Covers

  1. We have answered the big velcro vs. snaps question for ourselves.  Definitely snaps.  Takes a little more time to fasten but lasts longer and looks better after a few months of use.
  2. We have tried a few different types of covers and our favorites, hands down, are Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.  We love the gussets for keeping everything in where it should be!  They come in 2 sizes.

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover photo source: kellyscloset.com

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover
    photo source: kellyscloset.com

Washing Cloth Diapers-

I also wrote a post before Alex was born about washing diapers, and not much has changed, but here are some points to recap:

  1. My husband actually, somehow, became the diaper-washer in our house, something I am A-ok with! He faithfully soaks them every other night, turns on the washer on when he wakes up in the morning, and usually puts them in the dryer before he leaves for work.
  2. We have always used a dry pail in the nursery (with a step-lever lid), and it’s totally the way to go.  We put a big wet bag inside, and then just pull the whole thing out when it’s time to wash.

    Kangarooz Pail Liner photo source: kellyscloset.com

    Kangarooz Pail Liner
    photo source: kellyscloset.com

  3. We still use and are happy with Charlie’s Soap (we actually use it for all of our laundry now), we use baking soda and vinegar for odor control, and we use a bit of peroxide to disinfect.  When we need to strip our diapers, we just wash them with some blue dawn and then give them lots and lot of rinses.
  4. We give our prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, and wet bags the same wash treatment, but we let our covers and wet bags air dry to prolong their life.  The covers dry very quickly on top of the dryer or hung on the laundry room shelf.  Every once in awhile we pop them into the dryer to make sure the PUL stays properly sealed.
  5. The sun is still our favorite way to get rid of stains, although (confession time) we’ve been super lazy about sunning them recently.  I’ve been thinking about where to put up a clothesline, however, so we can get back to that, especially once we’re dealing with those super stainy breastfed poops again…… in only a couple more months!!!!

I hope the things I’ve learned will be helpful to you.  I always welcome questions on things I might not have mentioned.  Happy cloth diapering!!!!

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Alex’s First Birthday and 12 Months Old

Oops, this post is a little tardy.  Better late than never.  I’m not going to be doing the monthly posts on Alex anymore, though of course I’ll talk about him plenty.  I began to feel bogged down by the need to write the monthly updates when I may have had another topic on my heart.  I’m absolutely glad that I kept them up for the first year, though, because it’s a wonderful record of Alex’s babyhood.  Sigh.  He’s not a baby anymore. 

12 months old:

So, let’s talk about Alex at one year.  Confession: because it’s been two months already I actually can’t remember as much as I’d like.  I’m just going to talk about his birthday, post the pics, and tell you what I remember.

On the night before Alex’s birthday, we blew up a bunch of balloons and hung them from the ceiling in the basement for a birthday photo shoot.  It’s…. very difficult to get a one-year-old to cooperate for pictures.  Still, I got a few good ones. 

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It cracked me up that Alex would choose to play with a piece of metal instead of all the fun balloons.  This kid.

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I can’t tell you how many times he took the hat off!

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Developing: Alex was absolutely walking at 12 months.  His first steps were at 10.5 months, and he really took off with it at 11.5 ish months. 

Breastfeeding: Still nursing, going strong, no plans to wean anytime soon.

Eating: Alex still loves to eat, and his favorite food is definitely berries.  He’s gotten really good at asking for what he wants my pointing at different foods.

Fears: Alex hates things that make loud or unfamiliar noises, like blenders, food processors, and balloons being blown up.  He’s thankfully become pretty tolerant of the vacuum cleaner.

Likes: Alex’s favorite thing is to watch Mommy and Daddy do things, particularly in the kitchen.  The trouble is that he wants us to hold him at the same time, and some things aren’t compatible with holding him (like cutting veggies).  :/  He also has recently acquired a fascination with pulling Ami’s tail- ouch! He will walk from room to room, but always checks back in with me pretty frequently.

Favorite Toys: We’ve started going to the library for baby story time.  Alex is always really shy, but he does enjoy it and loosens up near the end when all the babies get to play with the toys.  Alex’s favorite toys are pots and pans, kitchen utensils, toy tools, and whatever he finds in the drawers in the bathroom.

The birthday party:

I decided to do a puppy dog theme for Alex’s birthday party, mostly because when I decided it that’s one thing I knew he liked- dogs!  He would always get really excited when he saw a dog and would point to dogs we’d seen when I’d say “Where’s the doggie?”  Adorable.  Anyway, I made as many things dog-themed as I could: food, decorations, and even Alex’s outfit.

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The table runner was just plain paper that I stenciled paw prints onto with sharpies and homemade stencils.  I was pleased to realize that I could even stencil on the glasses and they’d rub right off whenever we were done. 

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We waited to have Alex’s party until my parents came for Christmas, so it was a little over a week after his actual birthday.

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The dog dishes and little dogs came from Dollar Tree.

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Ok, so this didn’t turn out as awesome as I’d hoped, mostly because it fell down shortly after this picture was taken…..

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There’s something so awesome about seeing adults load up food into dog dishes, haha!

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Alex ate a TON!

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After dinner we went downstairs to open presents.  Alex wasn’t thrilled about his hat at all….

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The bike was our gift to Alex.  It’s a bike without pedals (called a balance bike), and as soon as his feet can touch the ground when he’s sitting on it he can ride it.  Hopefully this summer.  🙂

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The smash cake: a sugar-less cake with green frosting made out of coconut cream (and colored with spinach)

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I helped him blow out his candle and he was VERY upset!

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The berries made up for the loss of the candle.

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Daddy liked the smash cake too.

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Here’s the adult’s cake: a raw carrot cake that was a total experiment.  Not sure if everyone else thought it was amazing, but I sure did!  Yum!  I cannot get enough of that coconut cream on top. 

I, um, forgot to take the picture before I cut it.

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All in all, I thought the party was a success, but there was a lot of prep and it kind of wore me out.  I think next year I either need to somehow do more stuff ahead of time or make it simpler.  We’ll also probably invite some friends next year.  I just wanted to make it grandparents this year because, let’s face it, they are the only ones who really matter right now in Alex’s little world.  🙂

 

Baby Snatching Incident

I shared the following on my mommy Facebook group a few months ago right after this happened:

“Something just happened this evening that made me so upset. We were at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants. It’s the second time we’ve taken Alex there recently and the two ladies who work there were all enamored with him- kind of up in his personal space and touching his face, which I wasn’t super thrilled with but I was letting it slide. Anyway, as our meal was winding down I took Alex out of the high chair, got him cleaned up, and then was holding him in my lap until we were ready to leave. He was playing with some stuff in my purse, or whatever. ANYway, then one of the ladies comes up and is like “Stop bugging your mommy” and TAKES HIM out of my arms (which is already a huge pet peeve of mine, even when a friend or family member does it). So then she begins to walk away with him and I’m thinking “what the heck!” but I just keep watching them and then she TAKES HIM OUT OF MY SIGHT INTO THE KITCHEN!!! I. Was. Pissed. Still am, actually. The other girl was still standing by the table and was blabbering about how “oh she loves kids, doesn’t have any of her own” and bla bla bla, but I was just giving her this blank look and staring back toward the kitchen. As I was about to go get him, she came back out, Alex holding the container for my leftovers. I think she would have kept holding him, but I took him back. I was so mad. I can’t remember the last time I was so mad at a stranger. I don’t like that. At all. To me, she really crossed the line. I understand that if she doesn’t have her own kids she may not get it, but it doesn’t make me less upset.

 

I’m mad at myself too- both for letting her take him in the first place and for then saying nothing as she disappeared with my baby. My husband and I are both upset and wish we’d never let it happen. I guess I feel like- what if he had actually been in danger and I’d done nothing? I hope I’d sense that the person was dangerous and hold onto him, but right now I just feel like I failed at protecting him. It makes me want to cry.

 

We really like this restaurant, too, and our meal was fantastic, but now we don’t even feel like going back. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough tonight. Were we overreacting, or would anyone be irate?”

 

While I still, over 3 months later, am not in the slightest amused by the thought of a stranger taking off with my baby, I wanted to share this mainly because the responses from the other moms were really good. They were all very supportive and basically all of them said they would have been furious too, or at least very uncomfortable, but many of them also pointed out that the behavior of these two women was very culturally based.

One mom who’d spent time living in Japan told me that, in Japanese and Chinese culture, taking care of your baby means they consider you like part of the family and want you to be able to eat in peace knowing your baby is in good hands.  That helped me to realize that they were coming from a genuine, caring place and not an evil, I-want-to-snatch-your-baby place.

Still, next time I won’t be letting my baby go.  I’ll probably offer an excuse like “He needs his mother” or something so as not to offend, but he isn’t leaving my arms.  We haven’t been back to that restaurant…..

Alex is 11 Months Old!!

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not in focus, but I love his smile here

not in focus, but I love his smile here

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Mommy's little helper.

Mommy’s little helper.

I’m already trying to prepare myself for the fact that my baby is almost one.  You know it will happen one day, but when he’s a newborn it feels like an event far in the distant future.  Then suddenly it’s about to happen and- WOAH- it feels so crazy!  It’s to the point now where I’m remembering what I was doing at this time last year (apparently I was freaking out!).  My life is totally different now.  Last year I was saying “Hey, next month we’re having baby!” and planning a home birth.  This year I’m saying “Hey, Alex is going to be one!” and planning a birthday party.

Anywho, Alex seems more like a little boy than a baby these days.  Let me see if I can try to fill you in on all that’s been happening.  It’s so frustrating to do these posts because I feel like I can NEVER really paint an accurate picture of Alex and I ALWAYS forget important things.  Oh, well, at least I try.  I KNOW I’ll love to look back on these one day!

Growing and Developing:

Alex is on the move and he’s always rushing here and there getting into this, getting into that.  Either that or he’s clinging to my leg wanting me to pick him up so he can see what I’m doing on the counter, stove, or desk.  Or he just wants to be held.  Alex went through some MAJOR separation anxiety this month (and last month) and he’ll cry and cry if he sees Daddy (especially) or Mommy and doesn’t get to go to them.  He is very obvious now when he wants to go to a certain person, and he’s actually cried a few times when being held by strangers.  We’re trying to be there for him as much as we can to reassure him and help him feel secure.  It seems to be working.

Alex took his first steps around 10.5 months!  3 steps from his Daddy to me.  BUT this doesn’t mean he’s walking yet.  In fact, he really doesn’t give a rip about walking at all since he can crawl much more quickly.  He does, however, love to play the “walking game”.  That’s when Mommy and Daddy sit on the living room floor and say “go to Daddy” or “go to Mommy” and then he crosses the distance in a few steps.  He also doesn’t mind it when I walk him around the house holding one or both of his hands.  I think he does really really well with it and that as soon as he finds motivation, he’ll be walking right away.  He’s great standing, walking along furniture, and stuff like that.

Alex CAN say “mama” and “dada”.  I’m not completely sure whether he understands that those are our names, but he does sometimes seem to use them in the correct context.  Again, it feels like he’s taking his time.  I am pushing him to begin signing.  I’ve been working on “eat”, “milkies”, and “more”.  He can and does make those signs, but I almost always have to prompt him.

Alex is doing some mimicking.  It’s often rudimentary, but if you look for it it’s there.  He’ll clap his hands, he’s done arms up a few times, and he does try to copy other sounds and motions (the meowing of the cat, pounding on a box, driving a toy car, using his toy tools).  Nothing is cuter.  NOTHING!  🙂

At this age, I just love to watch little grown up mannerisms develop: the way he’ll turn his head to try to look me in the eye during breakfast, the way he turns my face to the side so he can examine my mole (he just recently discovered it and is fascinated with it), the way the most random things will make him laugh and laugh, and the way he acts all groggy in the morning when he’s still half-asleep.  He couldn’t be cuter, and if he’d sit still long enough I’d just kiss his chubby little cheeks all day long.

Alex’s molars are slowly working their way in.  Usually he’s fine- he just chews on his fingers and drools more than usual.  The other night, though, was TERRIBLE.  We were all awake from 8pm-3am, and Alex was crying during most of that time.  For an hour or two he was actually inconsolable and couldn’t handle anything in his mouth- not even his duda- and he wouldn’t nurse.  We’d tried everything we had from a cold washcloth to a second amber necklace around Alex’s ankle.  We were contemplating running to the store to get teething tabs or something, but then almost abruptly he began to feel better, started smiling at us, nursed, and went back to sleep.  We were all exhausted the next day.  The next night was a little bit tough, but after that things have been peachy and Alex has actually been sleeping really well and doesn’t seem in pain at all.

Alex can go up and down stairs like a champ. We are just now putting in baby gates, and it’s a good thing because Alex has terrified me a few times by getting to the top of the stairs and starting to go down lickety-split before I get there to go down in front of him!  He has no idea there’s a danger!

Alex loves loves loves to give us things.  He loves to hand clothes to Mommy to fold or hang in the closet, he loves to put food in Daddy’s mouth, and he loves to hand his toys to Mommy or Daddy to see how they play with them or just to here them say thank you and then take them back.  I try to model good manners for him.  🙂

So not in focus, but I had to include it.  His mischievousness with the toilet paper when he thought Mommy wasn't looking....

So not in focus, but I had to include it. His mischievousness with the toilet paper when he thought Mommy wasn’t looking….

Eating:

Alex is eating 3 meals a day.  This kid loves his food.  There isn’t much he isn’t eating now, except for the things that are still choking hazards for little kids like nuts and raw carrots.  We are waiting until after his first birthday to give him honey, and we don’t give him things that seem really spicy.  He still is crazy about fruit, but he’s really gotten into vegetables as well.  He also LOVES bread.  He’ll pick the raisins out of his raisin bread sometimes, which just cracks me up. Alex likes to eat some stuff that you wouldn’t expect kids to like such as prunes and spinach.  I honestly can’t thing of a single food Alex hates.  He hasn’t liked avocados much lately, though, which is strange since he used to love them.  I’m blaming it all on his avocado-hating Auntie…..  but even those he’ll still eat sometimes.

Alex doesn’t chew his food well.  I know because it often shows up in his diaper in the same form as when it entered his mouth. I’m still trying to figure out how age-appropriate this is.

Sleeping:

Still not sleeping through the night.  Nope.  That’s ok, though.  It’ll happen.  Sometimes, like when he’s sick or teething and wakes up extra often, it feels really rough.  Usually, though, it’s ok and I feel rested enough.  As long as I take a nap every day.

Speaking of naps.  Alex just dropped his second nap a couple of weeks ago.  I think it might have been a little overdue since it had become a huge struggle to get him to sleep.  I mean, it was taking 30 minutes to an hour for him to go to sleep for naps and bedtime- and this was with nursing, walking, singing, bouncing. All the tricks.  Now he wakes up between 7 and 8 am, naps around noon for usually 90 minutes, and goes to bed between 7 and 8 pm.  Yes, he is finally going to be earlier!!!  It’s wonderful to actually have some adult time in the evenings.  Maybe I’ll even blog more.  It also usually only takes him less than 10 peaceful minutes to fall asleep and it is AWESOME!  It had gotten really really tiring to bounce and heavy baby for 30 minutes 3 times a day.  I can do 10 minutes no problem.  I don’t mind that at all.

Alex still sleeps with us.  We like it that way, and I know I’m not ready for him to sleep away from us yet.  We did move his crib into our room and “side-car” it to our bed.  This gave us so much more sleeping room!  It was like getting a bigger bed without spending any money.  The co-sleeper, which is what we did have by our bed, had that drop down and just didn’t work well for us.  It’s in the nursery now serving as a play pen in case we need to stick Alex in there while we, say, empty his potty chair.

Elimination Communication:

We are still doing this part time. We mostly just put Alex on the potty when we change his diaper and if we notice that he needs to poop.  We catch almost all of his poops on the potty, which is really nice.  He usually goes first thing in the morning unless something throws his system off.

Breastfeeding:

I’m so excited that Alex’s birthday will also be our one year nursiversary.  It’s quite a milestone for us, especially considering the rough start we had.  I hope to have a big breastfeeding post I’ve had sitting in drafts for months now ready by next month.  A lot of babies and mommas, even those for whom breastfeeding happened easily, don’t make it to a year or beyond.  Some choose to wean beforehand, of course, but I still feel really blessed that I’ve been able to give Alex the benefits of breast milk for this long and that there is nothing to stop us from continuing.  I plan to keep breastfeeding until we reach a natural weaning point.  My original goal was 18 months, and lately I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it would be to reach 2 years.  I’d be ecstatic if I could breastfeed Alex that long.  The only thing I could see interfering with that would be pregnancy, so it’s very important to me that I don’t get pregnant yet.

I won’t lie.  Sometimes I’m sick of nursing and look forward to it ending.  I think that was mostly when we were still trying to get in two naps and day and Alex was spending tons of time pinching my nipples as he tried in vain to go to sleep.  I also get really irritable about breastfeeding right before my period.  Most of the time, though, I love it.  Alex is so cuddly and cute when he nurses, and it’s such an easy way to help him get back to sleep at night or to comfort him when he’s cranky.

Alex still nurses 8-10 times in a 24 hour period.  Usually at least 6 times during the day and 2-4 times during the night.  Last night I only woke up ONCE to nurse him (the other time was before I’d gone to bed), so that was like a rare treat.

Big Events:

The big thing this month was that Alex was the Bible Boy in his Auntie and Uncle’s wedding!  He rode in a wagon up the aisle and did a perfect job, a little smile on his face the entire way!  Unfortunately we didn’t get many pictures because I was in the wedding party so my husband was busy with Alex and unable to handle the camera much at the same time.  We have a few.  I think he was so adorable in his little tux!

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I nabbed a couple of photos that the wedding photographer posted on Facebook:

Alex is 10 Months Old!!

So I began this post in a timely manner, didn’t finish it in a timely manner, so here is what I have.  We’ll just move right on to 11 months after this.  🙂  Sorry for my tardiness and absence!!

Ten months, people!  That’s only 2 months away from 1 year, and it’s blowing my mind right now!  When Alex was born, 10 months felt like an eternity.  And it kind of has been.  And it kind of hasn’t been.

Alex is so. much. fun. right now.  Sometimes I just love to sit and watch him interact with the world around him.  I love to watch his facial expressions and movements as he notices things and tries out things.  It’s like he has a new awareness that I never saw in him before now.

Eating:

Once Alex got through most of the coughing nonsense from last month, eating went much more smoothly.  He’s getting really really proficient with his pincer grip, and he can pick up tiny little pieces of food.  That means we don’t have to try to give him “big” food anymore, just pieces of whatever we have on our plate that we think is suitable for him.  I’m so glad we chose to do baby-led weaning because Alex really loves to feed himself and really doesn’t tolerate being spoonfed.  Sometimes we try to feed him stuff out of a spoon, but after a few spoonfuls he just wants to do it himself!  He tolerates us putting pieces of food in his mouth with our fingers a little better, but usually he ends up trying to take it with his hands.  He has at least one solid meal at day now (breakfast), usually two (we eat dinner together as a family), and sometimes three.  He gets plenty of solids. His favorite food right now is probably blueberries; he has a ton every morning at breakfast.  The only food I don’t think he really cares for is bean soup.  We had it tonight and he didn’t eat most of it.  His daddy didn’t like bean soup as a kid, either, so I blame that entirely on him- I LOVED beans!

The only thing Alex really hasn’t mastered is liquids.  I guess we haven’t really tried it much with him, so we’ll probably just start giving him more chances.  We gave him so miso soup the other day and most of it dribbled out of his mouth, haha!  He liked it, though, and kept accepting more.  He hasn’t learned to drink from a cup, either.  We’ve offered him water in a bottle and a sippy cup, but he didn’t want either.  Oh well.  It’s not necessary at this point because he still nurses plenty.

Breastfeeding:

Still going strong with no signs of stopping any time soon.  I really don’t know how often Alex’s nurses in a 24-hour period because I just haven’t been keeping track, but if I counted up the times today… at least 8, not including during the night, so probably 10 in all?  It’s often, I know that.  He’s actually almost been reverse cycling lately, I feel (meaning he nurses less during the day and more at night).  Usually when babies do that it’s because the mom is away at work or something, but for Alex it’s just because he is too darn busy during the day to stop and nurse properly, silly boy!  He does usually get in some good nursing before and after naps, though, so I guess it’s not really reverse cycling.

This month for the first time, really, I wished that Alex didn’t nurse at night anymore.  And it’s just because he moves around so much!  If he would stay still I could go to sleep/stay asleep, but he is always moving his hands (and it TICKLES!) and pinches/scratching/picking at my nipples!  It makes me want to jump out of my skin, especially in those wonderful two weeks right before my period.  I get so irritated and just want to leap out of bed, but alas, I can’t because he’d just wake up more.   When I’m patient and calm, Alex nurses and goes back to sleep, but when I get all fidgety….

Developing/Growing:

Alex said “Dada” and “Mama” in the same day!  This is indiscriminately, mind you, meaning that he doesn’t know he’s saying anything like a word…. at least I don’t think so.  He may have a clue that he’s saying something close to “Daddy” because all the babbling (where was I going with this?  no clue.  can’t believe I stopped mid-sentence….).

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Packing List for a Baby

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It feels like we’ve gone on a lot of trips lately.  Well, we actually have gone on a lot of trips lately.  Trips mean packing, and I really hate packing.  I hated it before I had a baby, but now I hate it even more because I have two people to pack for.  That means the twice the number of things I have remember to bring, twice the number of essentials I might forget, and twice the amount of stuff I have to try to squeeze into our suitcases.  The only thing that really makes packing semi tolerable for me (beside having ALL the laundry done and the house spotless before I begin) is making lists.  I usually have to make a list before I go to sleep the night before a trip of the things I don’t want to forget in the morning.  When I do that, I can relax and not worry.

Developing the list thing a bit further, I’ve made a comprehensive, reusable packing list for Alex of everything I might want to bring any time we take a trip.  Here’s my list:

_____ Amber Necklace

_____ Baby Spoons

_____ Baby Vicks

_____ Bath Toys

_____ Bible

_____ Bibs

_____ Blankets

_____ Books

_____ Brush

_____ Burt’s Bees Multipurpose Ointment

_____ Button-down Shirts

_____ Car Mirror

_____ Car Seat

_____ Car Toys

_____ Charlie’s Soap

_____ Diaper Bag

_____ Diaper Covers

_____ Diapers

_____ Dress Pants

_____ Duda (Pacifier) Leashes

_____ Dudas (Pacifiers)

_____ Eating Bibs

_____ Eating Mat

_____ Exercise Ball

_____ Gloves

_____ Hats

_____ Jacket

_____ Large Wet Bags

_____ Long-sleeved Onesies or Shirts

_____ Lotion

_____ Mei Tei

_____ Moby

_____ Monitor

_____ Nail Clippers

_____ Nighttime Books

_____ Nosefrida

_____ Hiking Carrier

_____ Pants

_____ Pjs

_____ Play Mat

_____ Potty Chair

_____ Puj

_____ Saline Drops

_____ Shampoo

_____ Shoes

_____ Short-sleeved Onesies or Shirts

_____ Shorts

_____ Sleep Sheep

_____ Small Wet Bags

_____ Socks

_____ Stroller

_____ Sweaters

_____ Tie/Suspenders

_____ Toothbrush

_____ Towel

_____ Toys

_____ Washcloth

_____ Wipes

The first time I used the list, I ended up writing in a lot of things that I hadn’t thought of the first time, things that I remembered when I saw them while actually looking for thing to pack.  Before the next trip, I typed in the afterthoughts, printed the list, and laminated it.  Then I just clipped the list to the fridge, crossed off the things I knew I didn’t want to bring, and began packing, checking off items with a dry erase marker as I went.  When I get close to being done with my list, I like to circle the few remaining items (many of which need to be packed in the morning or last-minute) so I make sure I don’t miss them.  I can wipe the whole thing clean when I’m done and reuse it again and again.  It works beautifully!

Feel free to use my list as a starting point for your own baby packing list.  I have a list for packing myself as well that I just finished editing and still need to reprint and laminate.

Little organizational measures like this are what help me keep my head above water these days.  🙂

Alex is 9 Months Old!! (Well, 9.5 Months Actually, But Let’s Pretend This is Timely)

I love this picture

I love this picture

Ok, I realize that I’ve been delinquent in publishing lately.  Actually I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like for the past, oh, 9 months, but lately it’s been really bad, right?  I really want to be more active on my blog right now, but honestly the demands of motherhood are taking up the majority of my time, and I feel that being a parent should come before writing about parenting if it comes down to that.  I’m pretty sure Alex thinks the best game in the world is trying to attack my computer keyboard whenever I’m trying to type anything, so that’s also an issue…..

There are other things taking up my time right now, however.  Blogging is usually my secondary pursuit after being a wife and mother, but my little sister is getting married in about 2 and a half weeks, and I’ve actually been really busy with a few things in connection with that, like making her veil and planning her bachelorette party.  Everything takes longer when you have a baby, of course, and when you spend a large part of your day doing routine tasks like changing diapers, nursing, and rocking your baby to sleep, you have way too much time to think up more and more ideas and then things tend to get out of hand…..

ANYWAY…. soon I hope to put blogging back into it’s usually spot in my priority ladder.  🙂  The monthly updates, however, remain very important to me because I see it as a personal written record of Alex’s first months of life.  That’s why I’m forcing myself to keep up with at LEAST those posts (even when they’re nearly a month late). I know I’ll forget so much over the years, but I want to put down some of my thoughts and experiences as they are happening.

I mainly wrote all that stuff about not blogging much because I feel guilty.  What I feel more guilty about, though, is that while I haven’t been writing my own posts I’ve also neglected to read the blogs I follow, partly because I don’t have time to comment (and I usually like to comment if I read), and partly because I just get more ideas for posts and then am frustrated that I can’t write them all.  😦

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Ok, on to the good stuff: Alex is/was 9 months old!  Already!  Spoiler alert: this month was all about vacations and sickness.

Health:

We might as well talk about this first because I felt like it was the overlying theme of Alex’s 9th month.  We left off last time with us in California visiting some of my husband’s relatives as we tagged along on his business trip.  While there, Alex began to have a dry cough.  At first it was just at night, then during the day, and by the time we got home it was more of a phlegmy cough and was happening more frequently.  No other symptoms.  Our Washington state vacation was just 1.5 weeks after we returned from California, and we seriously considered not going since Alex was sick (in fact, I packed the night before really not knowing if we were going or not). My husband was worried that the dry airplane air or the cold wet Washington air would make Alex worse, that he might catch something new on the plane, and that he might make other people sick.  We had also been worried that he might have whooping cough, but pretty much decided it was bronchitis instead because, although it sucked, it didn’t seem that “bad”.  He did have some really terrible coughing spells, usually during the night or during a nap.  The first happened a couple days before we left for vacation.  It happened while he was napping and he woke up coughing and gagging and choking on phlegm.  I held him over the sink and actually did the choking back thumps because I didn’t know what was going on.  His face turned all red.  He was so exhausted afterward that he actually just fell back asleep in my arms, poor little guy.

We went on vacation, though, and the plane ride didn’t seem to adversely affect him, but when we visited my husband’s brother and his family, Alex cough his little cousin’s cold.  We first noticed on the plane ride home that he’d gotten a cold, and that plus the cough was horrid!!  It was especially rough at night or any time he slept because it was like all the phlegm would build up and he doesn’t know to try to cough to keep his throat clear, so he would wait until he was compelled to cough and then it was just so so much.  Of course it was upsetting so he would cry and that would just make it worse- ugh.  He absolutely does not like me suctioning out his nose (over the sink with the water running while I pull boogies out with my fingers is the only way he’ll really let me do anything), so it took forever to clear everything out.  We now do think he had/has whooping cough.  It just wasn’t as bad as it could have been, thankfully.  We had been in California and there is a lot of whooping cough there, he did have the “whooping” sound (just not every time), and it did last a million and one days.  He still coughs, actually, and it’s been a month and a half now, and whooping cough is sometimes called the 100-day cough.  The horrible coughing/choking spells ended several weeks ago around the time he got over his cold, thankfully, but he does still wake up coughing a few times every night.

So we survived that.  Then Alex got his first fever (this actually happened right after he turned 9 months, but I’m going to talk about it now anyway since we’re already talking about sickness).  It lasted about 3 days, no other symptoms, higher in the evening never getting above 101-102 degrees.  We have no idea what it was, but I really really hated it because Alex was not himself.  He was quiet, still, slept a ton, and just wasn’t his usually mile-an-hour self.  We had never seen him like that, so it was sad and a little frightening even though I know it’s normal to be a little less energetic when you feel like crap.  He’d just start crying out of nowhere, and it broke my heart.  I put garlic on his feet for 2.5 days straight and I think it helped him fight off whatever was attacking his body.

I forgot to mention that while in Cali Alex got a big heat rash that took quite awhile to clear up. He was also eating a bunch of figs while we were there and we realized later that they were giving him a rash in his face. He was so rashy for awhile there. 😦

And now he’s well, thank God, and I hope it’ll be awhile before we have to deal with the next cold or whatever.  I know being sick a lot is a normal part of growing up (I sure had my share as a kid), but it messes with everything and really sucks.  Also, as a parent you can’t help but worry.

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Eating:

Alex is eating up a storm.  The cough and cold threw him for a loop a bit though because eating would invariably bring on a cough spell and then we couldn’t tell if he was coughing or choking.  People always looked very concerned in restaurants.  Alex still loves all kinds of foods, however, and is never afraid to try new stuff.

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Nursing:

Alex still nurses as much as ever.  A couple of days when he was all stuffed up in his sinuses he couldn’t nurse very well, and that really sucked. He couldn’t suck on his duda at all for awhile there and so wanted to nurse even more for comfort, especially at night.  I always had snot on my boob.  I had to wash off every morning, and it was lovely.

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Sleeping:

All the sickness (I told you this month was marked by illness!) really threw off our groove with sleeping.  Alex does NOT want to be alone when he doesn’t feel well, and this especially goes for sleeping, so I spent a whole lot of time holding him and lying next to him while he slept.  For awhile there if he woke up and wasn’t IN OUR ARMS he’d be really upset.  He got into the habit of sleeping draped over me.  He seems to find that super comforting, and he loves to nurse in that position as well.  I don’t mind it either as it’s relaxing for me and more comfortable than side-lying nursing, so we do it a lot now.

Alex still sleeps in our bed, if you hadn’t gathered.  We really don’t have plans to change that any time soon since it’s working really well for us right now and it doesn’t seem like Alex has any desire to sleep alone.  It’s really really convenient for times of sickness.  I think even if Alex had already transitioned to his own room or bed we’d probably bring him back in with us when he’s sick.  Otherwise I’d be up a million times a night to comfort him.  All those times he woke up coughing, sometimes just realizing we were there beside him was enough to make him feel safe and relaxed enough to fall back asleep.  It’s also convenient since he still nurses so much at night.  Granted, if he was in his own bed, he might not nurse quite so often, but I do think he’d still wake once or twice a night.  We wake each other when we stir, but Alex still wakes even if we leave him alone (like at the beginning of the night if he goes to bed before us), so there is no perfect arrangement right now.  But this works for us.  We do, however, plan to make a floor bed.  We’ve been talking about it for a couple months now and just haven’t gotten it done, but we will.  Our main reasons are: so Alex won’t fall out of bed (though I worry a LOT less about this now than I did a couple of months ago), so I can have more space (we want to put a small mattress next to ours and level with our bed so Alex has some space of his own when he chooses to use it), and so Alex can become more independent with going to sleep.  Regarding that last point, Alex has as few times now fallen asleep on his own without needing rocking or walking or bouncing or singing. I am still there with him and he’s free to nurse, but he rolls this way and that and nurses this side and that and gets comfortable and sleepy on his own and in his own way until he just…. falls asleep.  The first time this happened I was SO AMAZED!  Anyway, it doesn’t happen every time, but I think it’s a good first step to Alex becoming more independent with going to sleep.

Developing and Growing:

Alex is ON. THE. MOVE.  He’s a superstar crawler, and I think that actually makes him less likely to be an early walker because, well, crawling is just so efficient for him that he’d rather do that then try to walk.  He does love to stand while holding on to things, though, and he’s getting quite good at it.  His transition from sitting or crawling to standing is smooth and seamless.

Alex is pretty steady on his feet, but he did shed his first injury blood this month when he fell and cut his lip on a bookshelf. 😦

Alex knows some words, like Mommy, Daddy, Ami, doggie, and no.  He also knows some phrases, such as “I see you in the mirror”, “we’re here”, “all done”, and “Daddy’s home”.  It’s so fun to see that he knows what we’re talking about!  I can say “Where’s Daddy?” or “Where’s Ami?” (our cat) and he will look to where they are.  He gets so excited about spotting whatever I’m naming, too.  When I say “I see you in the mirror!” he immediately looks at our reflection in the mirror, and when I say “Daddy’s home” he looks toward the doorway for Daddy.  It’s adorable!

The big sound for Alex this month is “b”. He’s been practicing it a LOT and saying baba and blowing air through his lips to make a crazy “bbbbbb” sound that I can’t even really do! He imitated “b” a little bit when we would play peekaboo in the car.

Alex weighed I’m at 20.75 pounds this month. I think we’re going to start weighing him on the regular scales now because he’s getting too big and wiggly to hang him in the sling and weigh him with the hand scale like we always have.

Alex is just beginning to do actions when we ask him to.  He’ll jump, for example, when we say “Jump, jump, jump!” and he’ll sometimes clap his hands when prompted.  I look forward to him really imitating us- it’ll be so fun to try new stuff!

It’s a little tough to write this section right now because there are several things Alex is doing now, at almost 10 months, that he wasn’t doing at 9 months, so…. I think I need to go start on the 10 month post as that milestone is only about a week away- WOAH!

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We’re just really enjoying our little man so much.  He seems less like a baby and more like a little boy all the time, which is both exciting and sad.

We toured the Midway in San Diego

We did quite a few “shower baths” while on vacation

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We went to the San Diego zoo, and Alex did really well, but was just a little too young yet to really appreciate it. He’d often notice the fence right in front of him and miss the huge elephant beyond….. Oh well.  Some zoo pictures:

Alex loved the petting zoo even though they ONLY had goats, which I thought was kind of lame….

mama bird feeding baby 🙂

baby panda!

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We went on another plane trip this month to Washington state. There was more driving than any of us would have liked, but I had so much fun seeing the Puget Sound area and the Olympic National Forest with my two favorite men.  The last time I was there was right before I met my husband…. a lot has happened in 4 years!  Alex did well in the car, considering how much he dislikes being strapped in.  I rode in the back with him absolutely everywhere and was, for the most part, able to keep him from descending in hysterics.  He endured a 5 hour car ride one day when we went from the Olympic Peninsula area to Wenatchee.  I was proud of him. Some pictures from that trip:

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getting hands on

 

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family selfie (and it’s actually one of our favorites)

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being goofy on the ferry

 

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on the ferry

 

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Exploring sticks and grass in Deception Pass State Park

 

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hiking near Rosario Beach

 

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hiking near Deception Pass Bridge

 

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on Hurricane Ridge

 

He still does ok on the plane- he is just a whirlwind of energy, though, and it totally wears us out holding onto him as he crawls and climbs and wiggles.  He always flirts with the people sitting near us (he is a HUGE flirt, my goodness!), and has a tough time sleeping because everything is so exciting.  He also LOVES the arm rests on the plane (WHY???) and I’m sure licking them is absolutely the reason he keeps getting sick every time we travel, haha!

Ok, Now I’ve FINALLY gotten this post written and I feel so relieved.  I’m going to immediately begin the 10-month post because these things are so much better when I do them at the right time.  Otherwise I forget stuff and I really hate that.

In the morning I’ll add the pictures and publish.  I just really love having monthly updates to look back on later and want to keep doing this at least for Alex’s first year (or maybe first two years??).

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