PostPartum Skin Care

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Daily, Friday Finds, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, LIFE, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

NON-TOXIC SKINCARE

A year after having a baby and I think I am finally in a good place when it comes to my personal care routine. {I am always searching for better products, though, so I will keep updating you if I find something superior}

I still don’t have time to do certain things regularly, especially now with my new website, Daily Mom.

I don’t get to shave legs unless I am going out somewhere semi-important.

I forget to moisturize my body more often than I care to admit, and that is one of the biggest things I need to work on.

I wash my hair only if I know that I will be leaving the house. Or when it’s really dirty.

I put my make up on at the same time or when I want to look more put together at home.

I like to prioritize and personal care falls somewhere in the middle on the priorities list. However, one thing I have done over the last year is assemble a good “team” of personal products that I use, love and swear by. They help me be a little bit more of a woman that I want to be without having to put too much effort into it. I’ve been mentally writing this post for 6 months and each month I would add something else to it.

In fact, in the last week, I’ve had a chance to try out some organic and natural hair products that I am quite impressed with that you can read about on Daily Mom in the coming months. I am thinking about going on a mission of finding more obscure products and brands you don’t see in retail stores and trying them out. If only I could find time…

In the meantime,

Baby Solids: What we cook

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Cooking, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, Life as a Toddler, New Mom Experience

What our Toddler eats

If you missed previous BLW posts, you can visit them here:

BABY LED WEANING
SOLIDS: GEAR 

I’ve been emailed and asked about what we cook for Alexis in terms of BLW and how our whole feeding process goes. So here is the breakdown.

First thing you have to remember is that we don’t really eat like a typical American family.  You almost never see green beans on our table, or green peas, or corn. No mashed potatoes (no reason for that, we just never get around to making them), no meats, no dairy. What you will see is mostly other types of vegetables, fruits, grains and fish. My husband was vegan for a couple of years, but I think we’re slowly starting to permanently introduce fish. I would always eat certain fish, because of its benefit when pregnant and now, but my husband used to stay away from ANY animal products (except for trace amounts in baked goods on occasion). But I think we have decided that the benefit outweighs the disadvantages. I do eat eggs once a month or so now, my husband doesn’t. We’ll occasionally “cheat” if we have to or want to. So at this point our family is a bit of a smorgasborg of vegan/pescetarians/vegetarians/whatever. However, our eating habits are constantly changing and I am not exactly sure which direction we are going with them.

Our goal is (and of course that doesn’t always pan out) to make sure that Alexis has a protein source at almost every meal (beans, fish), a few vegetable servings every time, whole grains (which can also be considered high in protein if you stick with quinoa) and fruit/berries for breakfast.

My sister had a preemie in Russia

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH

Up until recently, Prematurity Awareness month would have been as far from me as a Leukemia month or something equally unrelated. I do know a few people personally who had premature babies, but I never actually heard exactly what they went through. It can be tough and heartbreaking. But I doubt that most mothers who had premature babies had to worry about their baby’s wellbeing IN RELATION to how the doctors are treating them. We all know, doctors are there to help and we put our trust into them.

This is different from the experience some people have in other countries.

Today I wanted to tell you the only premature story that directly affected my family.

SAFE TOYS FEATURE: LAMAZE

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, HEALTH, PRODUCTS

If you missed the Toy Safety post, go back to read it here.

Today we’ve got Lamaze toys by TOMY brands. Lamaze toys are pretty mainstream and aren’t known for being “green” in particular. However, the company, that also owns my favorite Boon, is obviously set on making safe products.

First of all, all Lamaze toys are made primarily out of fabric with a few small plastic components.

What Lamaze toys DO NOT HAVE:

Fire Retardants
PVC

Now that’s that out of the way…

SAFE TOYS FEATURE: APPLE PARK

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, HEALTH, New Mom Experience, PRODUCTS

applepark2

APPLE PARK

{Read the first part about toy chemicals here}

I remember when I first got our Apple Park toys when Alexis was still little, I became obsessed. I had never seen organic toys that were SO COOL! I never even hoped I’d find something like that. A company that carries a good assortment of organic toys that don’t look like they’ve been sewn by hand ( though that look can be cute).

Take this crawling ladybug critter. It has a wood teething ring, a soft body and a cute little leaf to suck on. But that is not what kept ME playing with it. If you pull on the teething ring and let go, the ladybug vibrates and moves towards you. Wicked cool! So it’s a teething toy that later would be turned into a cool moving toy that even a toddler wouldn’t be bored of.

Toy Safety {In Time for the Holidays}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, New Mom Experience, PRODUCTS

IMG_2772

As we are approaching the most important holiday of the year (at least from a little kid’s standpoint), one might wonder if all those bright colorful toys that are routinely bought for babies and toddlers are safe. I mean, OF COURSE, they are safe! The government makes sure of it, right? Right?

Apparently wrong!

While 65% of people believe that toys that contain toxic or potentially toxic chemicals wouldn’t be allowed on the shelves of baby stores, the reality is more grim. In fact, our government has long since subscribed to the philosophy of “safe unless proven otherwise”. That is where we, as parents, are forced to do the due diligence before buying a cute toy.

It is true that we cannot protect our babies from every danger, no matter how hard we try – we can’t live in a bubble. But we CAN take certain steps to educate ourselves about, let’s say, toy safety, especially considering that aside from food (more on food safety in another post), this is the one thing that gets put in their mouths constantly in the first few years of life. I also won’t be talking about “fringe dangers”, like plastics that are yet to be found dangerous (all those millions of new chemicals, plastics and materials that get made and discovered in labs all the over the world have not been proven dangerous and thus are by default “safe” as far as our government is concerned). So even so called safe plastics are not necessarily safe. Wood is, of course, the best, but wood can have hidden dangers, as well as natural rubber.

What makes it even more dangerous is our current standards for levels of toxic substances in children’s toys are based on a 180 pound adult male. As you can imagine that makes a huge difference when the same amount of toxins is ingested by a 20 pound infant whose body and brain are developing and don’t have the same capability of processing toxins.

The issue also comes in when these toxins “interact” in our body and create different reactions all together than they would if they were simply ingested alone.

I would like to list all the common dangers, as well as the materials that are considered somewhat safe, ways to find out what is in your toys, hidden dangers of “safe” materials to watch out for, and finally a list of companies that are committed to making toy safety a priority and have been found to be more consciences and safer than others. What I will NOT cover is the physical danger of toys, like making sure they are age appropriate, can’t be choked on, as well as can’t cause bodily harm. Those are more common sense things.

The shape of you. The shape of me.

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, GET FIT, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, LIFE, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, PHOTO, PREGNANCY

IMG_9001

The title of this post might give you an idea of how much Dr. Seuss I read on daily basis.

Ok, so I’ve been asked to write about this multiple times and I have looked forward to writing about this, as well. Kind of. Sort of. The only but is that I don’t really have much to say on the topic of postpartum body and getting in shape. I have done absolutely NOTHING. :( So I’ll write a bit about what changes my body went through from pre-pregnancy to now and what I am planning on doing about it.

There are a few “quirks” about my body that need to be known to understand where I am at after giving birth.
Number 1: My strong spot is my abs. It’s virtually impossible for me to gain fat in my tummy. And when I gain weight, my belly is the LAST thing to grow (after boobies) and even then it still has some definition to it.
Number 2: My weak spot is my legs. That is the first place where I gain weight and it shows immediately. So the rest of my body will be fine, but my legs and face will show whether I am heavy or thin.
Number 3:

Your postpartum hair and make up questions

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Daily, Fashion and Outfits, HEALTH, Health and Fitness

20120815-203808.jpg

As I was writing the postpartum beauty routine post, I realized how much it changed from before and during pregnancy and how I was struggling to find new routines that were faster but more effective.

20120815-203808.jpg

I’ll be talking about what I personally arrived at and what products I use to make my life easier and how it differs from before.
I would also like to ask you, guys, if you have any problem areas or questions and what you’ve found to be most challenging when it comes to postpartum hair care and make up.

I’ll have 2 pros answer your and my questions (one for make up, one for hair) about what we can do to look beautiful and polished when our lives as new (or old) moms are far from it.

Ask your questions in the comment section. The questions should be about styling and applying make up and techniques or routines. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to answer questions about green/safer products to use (it’s sometimes I will try to discuss a bit in the actual post)

7 activities to do with your infant {0-6 months}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, New Mom Experience, VIDEO

7 Activities to do with your baby to help development and add sensory input: 0-6 months


Looking back to the early months of Alexis life, one of the hardest things for me ( and my husband even more) was thinking of age-appropriate activities to do with Alexis. I wanted to make sure her awake time counted, that it helped her develop, socially, physically, emotionally, as well as bond and spend as much time interacting with us as she needed at that age. And considering that unlike most newborns, Alexis barely slept during that time, we had A LOT OF awake time to contend with. As I was reading various books on baby development, I was making note of beneficial activities I could do with Alexis that would help her develop as well as create some quality fun time with her, aside from all the typical things you do with a baby.  So I’d like to share with you 5 different non-traditional developmentally beneficial and fun things you could do with your infant.

None of these are “filler” activities, they all help your baby develop an important part of their system. And from experience, babies tend to enjoy them very much.

Please exercise caution and common sense when using these tips.  I am not a physician, or an expert of any sort. These are just the activities I read about and are/were doing with Alexis that I wanted to share. Also keep your baby’s age in mind. It has to be appropriate for your baby’s level of development. I’ll explain how to do it, what it does for a baby’s development and how Alexis liked this particular exercise, but it’s always best to read from the source, because I can’t fit all the valuable information into a short post.

Also feel free to watch the video for examples.

1. Rocking on a beach ball

HOW: Get a beach ball or an exercise ball, deflate it slightly, place your baby on the ball TUMMY DOWN. While supporting him (you can hold his sides, legs or thighs depending on how well he/she can control her body), roll him back and forth and side to side. You can sing or talk at the same time.
WHY: Strengthens the neck, is good for head control, provides muscle tone development. You can do the same but on his back, this helps his balance reflexes to develop as he will slowly tense his tummy muscles to keep himself balanced.

{Alexis: She loved this one from the get go. She’d get her head up high and look around while being rocked. I could see how her core was working trying to stay balanced and how she was figuring out how to move her body in response to the ball. I wasn’t happy about using what appears to be a vinyl ball, but in all my search for non-toxic things, I haven’t found one that isn’t made of vinyl.}

2. KICKING a BALL

HOW: Use the same beach ball to let your little one kick and roll it with her feet. As she gets older she’ll be able to pass it up to her hands and back to her feet. They love the feel of something different on their toes and what baby doesn’t like kicking.
WHY: Babies will learn about their legs and feet and how to move them at will. In addition, these exercises stimulate muscle tone, especailly knee flexibility for later bobbing , climing and walking
{Alexis: at first she didn’t really get what she was supposed to do with the ball, but after she kicked it a few times accidentally, she started getting the idea. Eventually it progressed to her moving it to her hands. It’s definitely a fun acitivity.}

3. Oil leg rub

HOW: Put some olive or vegetable oil on your baby’s inner thighs and while holding her/him by the ankles, GENTLY rub her/his inner thighs together ( back and forth).
WHY: Excerpt from the book: It is “beneficial because it provides sensory input that is familiar to the baby from his experiences in the womb and helps organize his nervous system. It will also facilitate the baby to release […] any tight hip muscles. Since this is a sensory experience that baby had in the womb, it can be started soon after birth. The main focus of this activity is for baby to relate to skin sensations. If you make eye contact with baby or do this in a high visually stimulating environment, such as under a mobile, the baby’s nervous system may pay more attention to the visual input than the skin input. […] This activity only lasts a minute and afterwards smiles, praise and songs would be great.”
{Alexis: You could see the “newness” of the feeling in her eyes when we first started it. I haven’t done it as much as I should, but the few times that I did do it, it was kind of fun to watch her reaction.}

4. Tub/Pool Play

One way around the whole “no swimming till 6 months” issue (see why) was to get a kiddie pool and let her splash there. But believe it or not, it took me THIS LONG to find a kiddie pool that wasn’t made out of PVC or with Phthalates (I’ll be writing about why it’s important and listing items that I found that don’t contain either). At some point I gave up the search after calling and emailing numerous companies that sell/manufacture baby pools and striking out. And then finally, I FOUND IT! A pool made out of polyester and with a pop up shade, to boot! Ta-da! So today (7/17) we’ll be filling it up and having some fun time. Alexis loves splashing and playing in the water and I am sure spending more time doing it will foster her love for water activities. You can also do the same in a bathtub, but with a baby who does doesn’t reliably sit up yet, you’d have to get into it, as well, since it can be very slippery.

Alexis seems to really love touching running water. I assume that the sensation of strong pressure is new for her and is something she likes to explore, so I often get into a tub and let the water run for her to grab (see video). It’s especially useful after she has had some food (we are doing BLW), because she usually needs a bath at that point. She often accidentally splashes water into her eyes, at which point I laugh and make fun sounds to show her that it’s not scary. Though she still look to me for reassurance when it happens, she’s become quite adventurous with water.

5. Leg support crawl

HOW: This one is a bit of a no-brainer if you ask me, but it was and still is a very important part of our day. From about 2 months of age ( it might have been 3 months, I don’t exactly remember), Lexi would make swimming movements whenever she’d get put on her tummy. She wanted to move and crawl. We would naturally place our palms to her feet so that she had some support to push off of and she’d be happy to move forward. It’s still something that we do on daily basis, as she whines and whines until she feels some support and can scoot forward. Once she starts crawling this will no longer be needed, but for the time being it helps her feel like she is getting somewhere. {see video}

WHY: Repetitive movement on the floor, forward or backward, stimulates the neurons in the brain to interconnect.

6. Infant massage

HOW: Some literature suggests that doing infant massage or deep pressure massage three times a day is optimal, however most recommendations are at least once a day which I think is more manageable. According to some books, if your baby seems uncomfortable during the massage, you need to do it frequently and very slowly, stopping as soon as the baby fusses. The irritability,according to Building Babies Better, comes from lack of total understanding of the sensation from the prenatal experience. Obviously, do not do deep pressure on the abdomen, and biceps and calves seem to be sensitive ( or better yet read a book about Infant massage).
I showed a few simple techniques in the video below, but it’s really about you touching the baby and showing the love. Some books recommend concentrating on the massage and not interacting with your baby, I choose to talk to her and sing to her, because to me it’s as much about bonding as it is about the massage. Doing it after a bath is usually easiest, but it’s important not to rush through it. Also, try cheek massage, Alexis loves that part. Since they use those muscles to suck milk, they need an occasional massage.

WHY:  It is well known and researched what amazing benefits infant massage produces for babies. A few proven benefits that are worth mentioning are: higher IQ, healthier digestion, improved weight gain, improved immune system (in a study of babies whose mothers gave them back massages at 10 weeks, there was a lower incidence of colds and diarrhea four months later), better sleep, enhanced muscle tone and coordination, more developed sensory awareness, better ability to handle stress, better bonding, self soothing, self-esteem, etc. Massage is very effective to do before a floor activity. It helps them use their muscles more efficiently afterwards.

For very small babies:

7. Leg Twist

HOW: You take your Little One’s legs and swing them to the side. Pause, then swing them to the other side. Take care not to twist them too much or make it too abrupt or scary. Basically, follow your baby’s cues. Of course, it’s always important to talk or sing to them while doing that.

WHY: Rocking stimulates the organs of muscle tone and balance as well as strengthens them. Poor muscle tone frequently equals poor coordination, as the body parts cannot put movements together. Helps your infant learn about different types of movements. Vestibular activities like this one are “essential for the inhibition of the primitive reflexes and the development of balance. Vestibular sensations are vital for posture, movement, and a sense of position in space , motion, depth and self.”

Alexis still loves this activity and smiles/laughs every time I do it.

You can see the video for examples of these acitivies

{in the first 3 activities Alexis is 3 months old, the rest are recent}:

 



Sources:
Some of these activities, along with explanations and some quotes were taken from the following books: Active Baby Healthy Brain  and Building Babies Better. For a list of all the books I recommend, please visit the books section.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN OTHER POSTS, FEEL FREE TO VISIT THE FOLLOWING PAGES:

NEW BABY POSTS (SAFE TOYS, BABY CLASSES, BEST PRODUCTS, BABY LED WEANING, VACCINATIONS, ETC)

NEW MOM POSTS ( BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY, BEST APPS FOR NEW MOMS, MOMMY PHOTOGRAPHY, POSTPARTUM, PARENTING DUTY, PP BODY, CLOTH DIAPERING)

PREGNANCY POSTS (HERB SAFETY, SAFE PREGNANCY, ULTRASOUND DECODED, GENDER PREDICTION, BELLY PROTECTION, TRIMESTER RECAPS, BIRTH STORY, ETC)

Cloth Diapering: Part II

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, HEALTH, New Mom Experience

{the photos in this post were taken at 3 months}
So if you read this post, you know that we started cloth diapering Alexis in the beginning and then decided for multiple reasons to switch to disposables for a bit and revisit cloth diapers a few months later.

Well, I am starting to think those few months later is now. As expected, I REALLY missed cloth diapering. At first, the ease of disposables and their lack of bulk was refreshing. But soon I would be catching myself almost wishing Andrew would put her in a cute cloth diaper (Andrew is who changes her 90% of the time). However, I wanted her to grow just a bit so that  the bulk of the diaper wasn’t too much for her frame, as well as be in the right frame of mind for cloth diapering and make sure Andrew was fully on board as well.


I think one of the reasons why cloth diapering became too much for us was because we didn’t have a set of one brand. I thought it was a great idea to buy different brands of cloth diapers and use those to see which ones worked best. However, that worked to our detriment because there was a constant struggle of matching up the inserts with the diapers as well as not wanting to use the less favorite ones when the preferred diapers got dirty. And a big  thing that made us go “Ah! Screw it for now” was the fact that at that point we needed to decide which diaper brand we liked most and buy a whole set or two of it, but we STILL didn’t have clear favorites. Couple that with a newborn, that’s just not something we wanted to think about at that moment. It was just all a bit too overwhelming.

So fast forward to now, I feel I am ready to jump back on the cloth diapering wagon. I keep seeing babies in cloth diapers and it’s just so cute and I can’t help but think about how much better cloth diapers are for her, especially if we decide to go with organic ones. I talked it over with hubby and he seems on board too ( and bit less excited than me), but with one condition of buying ALL THE SAME cloth diapers. Which means we now have to decide which ones. But at least there isn’t a factor of a demanding baby anymore. Alexis is demanding of our attention but she’s a lot more easy going now than she was 2 months ago.

In addition to that, she has grown quite a bit and the cloth diapers that I do occasionally use on her  fit her really well and don’t overwhelm her body.

Taking some time off of cloth diapering was important. I actually think it was crucial to being able to come back and start using them again. Sort of a reset button. I feel like had I pushed on for whatever reason and didn’t stop using them, we’d continue growing resentful of them, until we’d decide to never use them EVER again. Instead, we stopped cloth diapering at the point where the minuses for our family just outweighed the pluses, but I still liked the idea of cloth diapering. For the same reasons I wanted to cloth diaper in the first place. So that left a door open to come back to it again.

In the meantime, we tried Honest diapers. While the patterns are cute and the fit is pretty good too, I just wasn’t convinced it was the best thing for her. So during these two months we went back and forth between chlorine free WF diapers and Honest diapers with occasional cloth in the between.

{Sidenote: the absolute weirdest thing was that I sort of *missed* doing diaper laundry. Having an extra load of diapers never bothered me or Andrew, probably because we have used cloth wipes exclusively since the day she was born, so we had to do that separate load anyways. But there was just something wrong about throwing in a load of wipes ONLY, when we didn’t cloth diaper. It kind of bothered me. lol}


So my first step in getting back to cloth is this:

I want to find a good organic diaper first, and if none of them work for us, then try to figure out which of the remaining cloth diapers work the best and order 2 sets of those. I received an Organic Kushies diaper from Amazon a few days ago (the toddler ones are just a bit too big for right now) and will look into other options { if you have suggestions for organic diapers, please leave them in comments. I’d appreciate that.}.

I am a little bit excited about going back since I was never really happy about not using cloth.