Potty Training

Before my daughter even turned 2, she started showing interest in going potty on the toilet. As annoying as diapers can be, they somehow seemed easier than a potty-trained toddler needing to visit the public restroom constantly and not making it long on car trips. So I delayed it for a few months, knowing it was time to start, waiting for me to be ready more than her.  In early January, we decided that the cold weather was a perfect time to stay inside for a week and go for it. Success! Our girl was daytime potty-trained before her 2nd birthday.

I had no idea there was so much to learn about potty training. So many ways to do it and opinions.  If you are nearing this stage with your little on, here are a few recommendations:

9781501122989_p0_v4_s550x406FIRST- read the book Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right. It’s a super quick read, and funny, and filled with practical tips.  The author takes a long weekend inside & naked approach for teaching them initially, and then moving to no-undies for a stage until they get it. I appreciated that it taught about the signs your toddler will show, skills I have continued to use since.

She does not use a reward system, but rather simple praise and normalization of using the toilet to make them feel like a proud, big kid.  This worked really great for us.  However, several months into being potty trained, my husband and I went on our first vacation away from our daughter and she completely regressed when we got back. She stopped going on the potty AT ALL. It was so frustrating and it wasn’t until we started using jelly beans or M&Ms as a reward that she started using the toilet again. Eventually, she forgot about the reward and it became normal again, and has been since.  We occasionally still use the treats to convince her to go before a long car trip.

We prepared our daughter & kept her interested in the potty-training idea a couple ways:

  • We started reading the lift-the-flap book A Potty for Me! to her. She loved it and wanted to read it daily / multiple times each day / on the potty.
  • downloadWatched the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episodes about going potty & sung the songs from the show constantly:
    • Season 1, Episode 11 is free to watch on Prime. The song goes: “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way!”
    • Season 3, Episode 23. The song goes: “Do you have to go potty? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Why don’t you sit and try to go.”
    • Download the Daniel Tiger Parents app to your phone- you can play the songs there and watch related clips from the show.

And finally, a few must-haves to get:

  • For the very early days of potty training when you may have zero seconds to make to the toilet, it helps to have this portable potty in the room with you. $5 well spent!
  • We liked this removable toilet seat for $8.  We also ended up installing this toilet seat in our downstairs bathroom with a toddler seat built in- it looks much nicer and is super easy to install and to clean.
  • A couple of step stools
  • Wet/Dry Bag – I had these from cloth diapering, but they really come in handy when potty training for the diaper bag. Keep an extra set of clothes in there for accidents and then you can just put the soiled clothes in there to bring home and pop directly into the washer. These are also great for the wet swimsuits coming home from the pool!
  • Flushable Wipes – no one told me these are ESSENTIAL. I ended up getting these delivered via Prime Now the second day we were stuck at home potty training. They live by all our potties and in my purse now for on-the-go.
  • Make some foaming hand soap to make washing hands fun!
  • Coffee & wine. You’ll need it for that first weekend 🙂 You can do it, mama!

Good luck!

 

Thrive Market: Favorite Toddler Snacks

If you know me, you know I LOVE Thrive Market. I’ve been a member for a few years now and the savings are real.  I am passionate about buying all organic groceries for my family and I’ve shared lots of tips about how to do so on a budget; Thrive Market is one of the ways I do it.  See some of my favorite deals here.

I shared some of my favorite toddler snacks on Instagram a while ago and many of you were interested in more, so I thought I would share what I buy specifically at Thrive Market because it is cheaper than at the grocery store:

856069005155-1_2_851769007010-1

Applesauce PouchPear Pea Spinach Pouch

 

 

 

 

Simple Mills: Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers – a healthy alternative to goldfish

Siete: Lime Grain-Free Tortilla Chips – she loves to dip these in guacamole; besides being grain-free, I love that these are fried in avocado oil instead of canola oil (read why you should avoid canola/vegetable oil here)

GoGo Squeez: Applesauce Pouches – perfect for the diaper bag

nurturme: Organic Power Blends Pear + Pea + Spinach Pouches – for the days when she doesn’t eat her veggies or needs some digestive help

The New Primal: Turkey Sticks – for a protein boost

Larabar: Apple Pie Bars – I love that it’s a simple mix of fruits and nuts sweetened only by dates. All the flavors are great (especially these, carrot cake, blueberry muffin & cashew cookie).

Gimme: Organic Roasted Seaweed – my toddler calls these “chips” and they are a salty snack that’s a great source of vitamins and minerals

852675006241-1Larabar851093004068_412

Interested in trying Thrive Market? Get 25% off your first order by using this link to shop!

Legendairy Milk: Natural Product Review

With World Breastfeeding Week this week, I wanted to follow up on my breastfeeding journey to share about a product that made it possible for me to nurse my daughter for over a year.

There are so many reasons that women can struggle with low milk supply, whether it be due to hormone issues or issues with the baby’s latch.  The amount you pump is NOT a good indicator of whether you have a low supply, so I would recommend working with a lactation consultant to determine if it is truly low supply or something else.  Ultimately, after I did everything I could (lots of water, frequent nursing, high fat + protein diet, etc) to increase my supply while working with an LC, it was clear I did not produce enough.

There were two things that helped tremendously to boost my supply and make it possible for me to nurse without supplementing.

First – pumping at 4 am. Thanks to hormones, our bodies typically produce the most milk between midnight and 4 am.  It is probably why newborns wake up a thousand times during those hours. It was literally the WORST, especially when my baby started sleeping through those hours, but it worked. I got up to pump every night at 4 am for 8 months. At 4 am I could pump like 6-10 oz!! If I waited til 5 or 6am, it would only be 3oz.  If you are struggling to get enough milk for bottles during the day, I would absolutely (find a great show on Netflix and) try this.

Second – I eventually needed some extra help and tried supplements.  I tried the classic Fenugreek tea first with little difference until I learned that fenugreek can also hurt supply in some and have other side effects, so I decided to steer clear. I then tried Moringa, which helped for a few weeks, but then abruptly stopped. Finally, I found a local company- Legendairy Milk– that made organic lactation supplements. A friend let me try some she had leftover and I started to see a boost in supply, so I ordered it myself and continued to use until I weaned.

Legendairy MilkThey use a variety of ingredients like shatavari, moringa, milk thistle, goat’s rue, fennel, black seed, anise and alfalfa. You can read more about the historical use of these herbs and science behind them here.

Legendairy Milk makes several different lactation blends, each with a different mix of ingredients.  Herbs work differently for different people and they don’t always agree with everyone (for example, a couple of them lower blood sugar), so you can read the descriptions and see what may be best for you. Overwhelmed by the options, I decided to try the Bestseller’s Bundle and was thankful I did.

For the rest of the months that I nursed, I switched between Pump Princess, Liquid Gold and Milkapalooza. As I got to the end of each bottle, it would become less effective; then when I switched, it would work again. All that to say- don’t get discouraged if it works great at first then starts to decline; try another blend and go back to it in a few months.

I used the recommended dosage- 2 pills, 3 times a day- and that worked well for me. I didn’t experience any side effects and there was no bad taste in my mouth from the pills. They were easy on the stomach too!

Thank you, Legendairy Milk (P.S. This post is not sponsored.), for helping maintain my milk supply and allow me to continue breastfeeding. I am so very grateful.

Back at it…

Wow… somehow it’s been almost 4 months since I’ve blogged.  It’s hard to find time for hobbies lately that aren’t just zoning out after bedtime with a glass of wine and Netflix.  I do have several posts scheduled you can look forward to, but thought I would do a quick catch up on life lately.

Last Fall, the stress of trying to work full time with a baby caught up to me.  I was working from home two days a week, but it was hard. I wanted more time to play with her beyond evenings and the weekend.  Honestly, I’m not someone who loves to work or enjoys that time away from home… I don’t say that to guilt those that do, but I say it because I’ve felt out-of-the-norm as a working mom who doesn’t feel that way.   I’m thankful that my work supported my need for flexibility and allowed me to go part-time. I’m still in the office three days a week, but my days at home can be focused on my girl as well as giving me time to run errands, get groceries, meal prep, exercise and clean house.  And I’m actually able to enjoy my weekends with my family.  I feel grateful for a schedule that gives a whole lot more balance to my life and that’s allowed me to focus on my health again, as well as precious time my girl.

In other news… this Spring, I weaned my daughter.  I shared about our many struggles with breastfeeding in the early months, but honestly it was never easy. We were never on a schedule, never able to wean from the nipple shield, pumping at work and after bedtime was annoying and I always struggled with / stressed about supply.  Plus, breastfeeding seemed to have the opposite effect on me that it does on others and made me gain 20 pounds; I couldn’t cut down on calories because it would affect my supply and I was ready to lose the extra weight.

While I never “loved” nursing like some women do, I was so thankful for the ability to provide a strong foundation for my daughter’s health, giving her the best nutrition possible.  I did love the bond it created.

When she reached her first birthday, I was ready to start the process. She got sick with RSV right after that and I didn’t want to stop then as her immune system recovered.  I hoped it would happen naturally, but of course it didn’t.  It was really tough on me emotionally (ok, likely hormones had a lot to do with it) to intentionally stop because I had worked SO hard to make it happen in the first place. Eventually, I convinced myself that I needed to do it for me and started decreasing one session per day each week.  We just kept busy or got out of the house to distract her.  We couldn’t do a bottle replacement because she wouldn’t drink milk.  We tried all kinds of milk, but she didn’t like any of it.  She still eats yogurt every morning and loves cheese at mealtime. She loves her sippy cup of water and drinks more than any kid I know. The process took about 6 weeks, but she handled it really well and I was thankful it was easy in that way. IMG_7547

These days, I’m chasing a 17-month old toddler.  She’s been walking since 10 months, so she’s runner and climber now, constantly on the move.  She’s outgoing and says + waves hi and bye to everyone we see at the grocery store. She loves her dog “Belle-y” and feeds her as many snacks (aka “nacks”) as she can sneak. If you ask her what sound an animal makes that she doesn’t know, she’ll scrunch her nose and sniff like a bunny because that’s her favorite. She loves to dance and clap her hands and stomp her feet with joy.  She gives the best hugs with a pat on the back and always blows kisses when saying bye-bye. Her favorite foods are blueberries, bananas, applesauce, yogurt, chicken, cheese, ice cream and whatever we’re eating. And she’s absolutely loving the pool this Summer, already swimming like a champ.  These are truly the best days.

 

 

Cloth Diapering

My mom used cloth diapers with me and I always assumed I would do the same.  Seemed an easy way to save some money, while also giving my little one less exposure to harmful chemicals.  Plus, it is a great way to help out the environment a bit, keeping (on average) 6,000 diapers out of the landfill.

When I was pregnant and started to research it, it was beyond overwhelming.  There were so many different brands, types of diapers, opinions on how to wash, etc.  I had some friends give great advice to get me started, did a lot less research and decided to keep things as simple as possible. If you have been considering trying cloth diapers but have been scared that it would be too difficult or complicated, I want to share the easy way to cloth diaper that’s worked for me.

Newborn Days: We did not start cloth diapering until my daughter was around 3 months old for a couple reasons:

  1. Newborns don’t fit in cloth diapers until they are a bit chunkier.  You have to buy special newborn cloth diapers, which didn’t seem worth the investment to me. My daughter struggled to gain weight in the beginning, so it took her a few months for her skinny legs to fill them out.
  2. Life with a newborn can be hard. I did not have the emotional or physical energy or time to cloth diaper with the amount of diapers babies go through in the first weeks.  Once the diaper count slowed, it felt much more feasible.

We got lots of disposable diapers as gifts from people, so we just used those.  I will say that it is amazing how using cloth prevents blow outs SO much better; that reason alone may convince me to start earlier with another baby.

Saving Money: Cloth diapers can be a bit of an investment at the beginning, but overall it is much cheaper in the long-run.  There are a several ways to save on costs:

  • Register for them. When you create a gift registry for your baby shower, add cloth diapers to the list.  The covers can be cute like clothes and people like to buy them.  This saves you a ton in the up-front investment and was how I built my own stash.
  • Choose a cheaper type and splurge on the brand. Cloth diapers come in all types, with all-in-one and pockets being much more expensive than the prefold + covers. Brand matters too- I suggest choosing a top quality brand that lasts many washes and wears to avoid future replacement costs.
  • Buy gender-neutral. If you can use diapers for multiple kids, that helps save a lot on the investment.  I have some super girly options, but most of my patterns and colors are more gender neutral for more flexibility in the future.
  • Get them second-hand. I did not do this but wish I had known about the huge market for used cloth diapers.  You can strip clean used diapers. Or, if that is unappealing, I am constantly seeing people selling their stashes that they’ve never even used because they bought and never actually tried it.

My Routine:  I use prefolded cloth diapers in covers during the day.  There are lots of ways to fold the prefolds and it really depends on your baby’s gender and habits.  I have found that the angel fold has worked best so far for us.

Since they have wetness protection, I usually only change the covers when it is a poopy diaper.  Wet diapers go straight into a wet bag.  Before 6 months (starting solids), dirty diapers also went straight to the wet bag.  Now, I use a diaper sprayer attached to my toilet to rinse out any solids before putting in the wet bag until laundry day.

I use cloth wipes so that I can keep everything together and not need both a trash can and wet bag.  Cloth wipes are much better at wiping and more gentle on the skin anyway.  I put the wipes in a diaper warmer with a homemade solution of coconut oil, lavender essential oil and water.

At night, I use pocket diapers with extra hemp inserts for additional absorbency.

Laundry Routine: I end up washing my cloth diapers every 3-4 days.  I dump everything in the wet bag into the washer and throw the wet bag in too.  Wash cycles vary greatly based on your type of washing machine and hardness/softness of water.  I would recommend searching for your machine type on the Fluff Love University website for detailed instructions on the best way to clean your diapers thoroughly and keep them lasting.

For detergent, I prefer to use powder because I have to add Borax to my washes to prevent mineral build up with the hard water at our home.  You can see a list of recommended options here, but I generally use either Seventh Generation or Tide Free & Clear.  I have been able to get rid of all staining by laying the items in the sun; I have never used bleach on my diapers.

Using prefolds & covers helps reduce drying time.  I always air dry my covers on a rack to preserve the elastics and my wet bags too.  Inserts & prefolds can go in the dryer and it usually takes 2 cycles to dry them.

Traveling: I still use disposable diapers if we are traveling or will be out and about for a few hours.  Generally if we are just going to the grocery store or somewhere short & nearby, I will keep her in a cloth diaper.  I do keep a small wetbag in my diaper bag just in case.

Getting Started:  People definitely have their preferences for what style and brands to buy.  My goals were to save money and make things as simple as possible.  And I had two main things I looked for in deciding on a brand of covers:

  1. Double gussets = two layers of elastic around the leg holes. Gives a great, flexible fit even for a kid with skinny legs and I have never had a problem with leaking.
  2. Snap closure.  Velcro just doesn’t last and it sticks to everything.

Here’s what makes up my  stash of cloth diapering supplies:

Are cloth diapers something you would be willing to try?  What other questions do you have?  I would love to help you get started!