Friday, July 22, 2016

Baby Product Poll: Swaddles

So, as Jonathan and I get closer to welcoming Wee Baby Hyatt into the mix, I'd like to gather some opinions from my parent and frequent babysitter friends regarding products that worked particularly well for them with their newborns/infants -- especially if you have perspective on multiple children and how they differed.

The consensus I've gathered from various resources, and a few friends, is that sometimes we have to go through a few products to find what works best, since every baby is different. And what works for your first baby may not work for your second. This is all fine, of course, logically, but since we are in a small apartment on a tight budget, we are hoping to keep things as minimal as two recovering maximalists can manage when it comes to baby gear. Not get 10 products when one or two will do, you know?

This leads me to my first topic: SWADDLES.

I already know I will be registering for a few cotton muslin swaddling blankets (since they are multi-use, for everything from breastfeeding covers, tummy time blankets, burb cloths, etc., and take up very little space), but I am also considering a Miracle Blanket swaddle to try after doing a bunch of research. Seemed to be the best bet if we are aiming to pick just one, but still... Maybe there's something better? Maybe I should ignore my desire for minimalism, suck it up, and get a few things? Maybe swaddling is over-rated and I am silly and overthinking this?

Less than 8 weeks to go and I am grasping for my sanity and comfort in my choices.

So, parents: what are your thoughts?

At the end of the day, my overall goal is to avoid getting one of *every* type of swaddle or sleep sack or what-have-you. I want to keep it simple. I'd like to make a wise decision straight out of the gate that doesn't have me wasting money trying to rectify my mistakes. Your input may be just what I need to feel even a wee bit more confident.

Thanks, friends!


Since this post was all about asking for advice, I wanted to share some suggestions and thoughts I got from friends who commented on my Facebook page about this particular post. I think it may be valuable to anyone curious about swaddling and buying swaddles, because it got me thinking about some products I hadn't considered and ones I clearly didn't give enough thought to. (Newly-mentioned products linked below!)

"I 100% swear by the Miracle Blankets and have used them for all three kids. When my first son was born, almost 12 years ago, they were hard to find and not well known but saved us from hours of crying. I still even have the original one as I fear someday they will stop making them and someone will need one!" -- Jennie C.

"I haven't met a baby yet who didn't like the HALO Sleepsack. It has a swaddle version that converts to arms free, and you don't have to wrestle them on. The zipper is at the bottom, which is nice when they inevitably poop right after you have just finished the bedtime routine." -- Katie M.

"We used the SwaddleMe Velcro ones and loved them! Baby will wiggle out of a blanket swaddle pretty easily once they start moving more." -- Cristina M.

"We loved the lightweight aiden + anais blankets. Our son has always been a hot sleeper, so the light fabric was great. Second the HALO mentioned above, but he wore those when he was a few months old and wanted free arms. When he was super newborn, he had to have the arms in. He also really liked the Woombie, which is basically a sack with a zipper on the front: Comfort & Harmony Woombie Perfect Peanut Swaddle - All In A Row. I was never smart (awake) enough to deal with the Velcro ones. They always seemed so unnecessarily complicated." -- Shane S.

"We used all of the above suggestions at one stage or another. The Miracle sleeper never totally worked for us, but every baby is different and I know a few people who have sworn by it. The HALO Sleepsack is great for when they get a little bigger and start breaking their arms out of the blanket swaddles. But for the very, very beginning, the aiden + anais really did the trick for us. Easy to use and comfortable for the babe and also great as nursing covers/stroller covers in the sun because they are so breathable. We found that the blanket swaddles were the most comforting to our daughter in the beginning, because we could get them nice and tight, and she had a strong startle reflex and would startle herself awake if her arms weren't locked down." -- Sam P.

"Our son hated swaddling. He would somehow shimmy his arms out every time we tried. After a month of trying we gave up. He was all about his arm and leg freedom! So my parent advice is to get a few different kinds but not to open them all, as you might need to return them if baby girl doesn't like them!" -- Christine W.

"We loved the HALO sleepsacks. Great for a summer baby. My husband was great at swaddling with the aiden + anais blankets, but I never got the hang. The sleepsacks also don't constrict baby's hips, which was reassuring for us since our son slept in a sack for about 3 months." -- Katy L.

"We used the Woombie and the HALO sleepsacks. Our son used it until he rolled over at about 6 months and then we used the transition one that lets you free one or both of their arms but they still get the closeness of the swaddle on their chest. We thought he hated swaddling at first but after about 3 weeks, we swore by it! Use it for naps too!" -- Meghan G.

"Our son is apparently one of the many babies who is the reincarnation of Harry Houdini and can escape any swaddle that isn't firmly locked in place. He sleeps MUCH better/longer when swaddled, but he hates the initial act of being swaddled and tries to break his arms free... Once he settles down, though, the swaddle is a lifesaver! We've tried pretty much everything now I think -- SwaddlePods, Woombie, Velcro Swaddles, Miracle Blanket, and good old fashioned muslin swaddling... Our absolute favorite style with him has been the pods/Woombie -- they're super easy to use, you basically just bag your baby up till you've got a glo-worm instead -- and they're inescapable. They're also great when a middle of the night diaper change is necessary since they have dual directional zippers and you don't have to undo the critical arm swaddle portion. That said, the Woombie is way better than the less expensive pods; it doesn't stretch out and has a more snug hold throughout. We use the cheaper pods too (they're fine, but they stretch a lot and sometimes he even gets his hand out the neck!), and some Velcro hand me down ones, because he spits up enough that we have to wash whatever we're using after every use... but if I could have a whole bunch of Woombies, that would be my pick!" -- Katie H.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Some Distractions: Ilvermorny, Juno and Jupiter, Etc.

Happy Friday, everyone! It's been a long week, and things are getting pretty real around these parts. Weirdly, at almost 32 weeks, my energy is actually increasing and I can feel the nesting urges coursing through me. I'm expecting another weekend full of cleaning, organization, and purging of junk. How about you? Any fun plans?

For the end-of-the-week focus-challenged: a few links from around the Web...

Very impressed with how this couple managed to get their awesome studio apartment photo-ready within just two weeks of moving in.

Emoji pool floats!

Hot design trend: Bubblegum pink. Would you dare?

Lately I've been buying and consuming fruit like my life depended on it, so I decided to switch it up a bit on 4th of July weekend by making my very first pie—with yummy results!

Speaking of recipes, I know I have to technically limit/cut out the bacon, but it's summer so GIMME.

J.K. Rowling has released the story of Ilvermorny, the North American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, on Pottermore. If you already have an account, you can be sorted into your Ilvermorny House here! (I'm a Thunderbird!)

An enlightening interview all about finance for freelance creatives.

This onesie would make Baby Hyatt at least 20% cooler than every other baby.

Enraptured with the happenings around Jupiter these days.

Jonathan and I are a bit obsessed with this Eichler-style home listing in nearby Concord, CA. (No surprise it's already pending sale; that price seems too good to be true.)

Thanks to an extensive diaper bag search (I—er, I mean we—settled on this one as a purse replacement for me, and this one for everyday parental use), I am wanting to throw away every bag I own and replace it with a fresh and new collection of "tote"-related items, from market baskets, to weekenders, to travel backpacks. It's a sickness.

Have a spectacular weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Biggest Pregnancy Cravings

my first trimester best friend: organic fried chicken sandwich with slaw from The Organic Coup

Food cravings are an interesting thing. I have always been curious what my specially tailored pregnancy cravings would be when I inevitably, hopefully, got pregnant, if I had any at all. My mother loves to tell people about regularly sending my father down the street at 1 AM to the 7-Eleven for a Slurpee ("Blue raspberry, specifically."), and my friend Cassie's second pregnancy cravings sent her after spicy foods and tomatoes -- two things she'd always avoided.

My relationship with food during these 2+ trimesters of pregnancy has been an inconsistent and fairly boring one, I must admit. Nothing quite like what I expected, but then again, it hardly surprises me the kind of food I've gravitated towards.

The first trimester was less about cravings than it was about aversions, which means the food I wanted was less about genuinely wanting it than it was about not being disgusted by it. It closely resembled my PMS food staples: salty and fatty, in only the way that fast food burgers, french fries, and burritos can be. Vegetables of any kind, particularly cooked, were a no-no thanks to nausea, and though I could technically eat meat without feeling ill, I absolutely could not be the one cooking it. It was a truly dark time for my diet. (The good news: my body worked so hard and efficiently creating another organ -- my baby's fancy new placenta -- that I gained exactly zero pounds during those first 12 or so weeks, despite treating my body like a fast food garbage can.)

If I could categorize any specific food as a Capital "C" Craving of my first trimester, it would probably be fried chicken sandwiches and red grapes. There was something about foods that were cold and crisp (or contained elements that could be categorized as such) that were especially tempting and satisfying; even the sandwiches fit the bill, thanks to crunchy pickles, or crisp coleslaw. (I even went out of my way to get this one from Plan Check when I was visiting my sister in LA. Worth it.)

The second trimester meant nausea was mostly a thing of the past, and I was gradually able to start cooking again. By then, mere habit had turned my body onto those salty and fatty staples of weeks prior (something I still have yet to shake), but the expanded capacity to stomach veggies meant that salads were back on the menu.

It was around this time that my staunch 'No Coffee' rule began to wither. The first trimester had been trying; I was hit with a level of fatigue and exhaustion I didn't know was possible. Not having coffee to counteract just a little bit of it was by far the worst part of this "Foods and Drinks You Must Limit or Avoid During Pregnancy" challenge. Even though pregnant women are allowed 200 mg of caffeine per day (the standard cup of coffee has about 94 mg, but caffeine shows up in chocolate too, which counts towards that 200 mg total), anyone with a coffee addiction knows that it's a slippery slope. One cup is just not enough. Now it's a morning staple and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

I'm sad to say that I haven't craved anything particularly odd. No weird combos (though the stereotypical "peanut butter and pickles" is already a favorite food pairing of mine, which I enjoy almost daily on my morning toast), and nothing that would make anyone else go But why??

The most identifiable and consistent cravings have been primarily a matter of convenience. A Baja Fresh "Baja" Burrito is something I regularly request for dinner due to it being right downstairs from our apartment. It's refreshing and surprisingly light for a large burrito (just chicken, pico de gallo, and guacamole, with added sour cream and shredded lettuce), so I never feel guilty eating it. I've easily eaten two dozen of them throughout my 31 weeks of pregnancy so far. I have no doubt baby's love for burritos will be fierce, just like her papa.

Another convenience craving has been Dickey's Fried Okra, which usually hits mid-afternoon while I'm at work, and a Dickey's is just a short drive away. This indulgence has been less frequent (though the craving is constant), since I usually do feel guilty after eating a heaving pile of them.

Finally, so far in my third trimester, it's been all about SUGAR. I think it's because my doctors prescribed me to the "gestational diabetes diet," although I do not, in fact, have GD. Apparently my body takes just a little too much time to process sugar than is ideal, so they were like "Better cut out sugar." My midwife was sort of ehhh, you really are fine about the whole thing, so I've sort of ignored the diet instructions. As long as Baby Hyatt is measuring nice and normal for size (which she is!), then I am unperturbed. Luckily for me, my body was suddenly like "SUGAR IS THE BEST THING EVEEEEERRRRRR" and it's become a daily craving of which my salt-loving body is not accustomed. I truly want all the pastries and cookies, all day every day.

Bring me some?

So yeah. I'm not sure what the rest of my third trimester will bring, but my guess is: more of the same. The copious amount of fruit I've been eating could be a craving, though it could also just be the endless bounty of summer. I'll probably still want things that are otherwise considered "bad" for me, though the beauty of being Pregnant in America is that my "DGAF" attitude about eating whatever I want is pretty commonplace.