Wednesday, August 29, 2012

busy busy

Lately I've been busy with my boys, some orders from the shop, working on some new puppet designs, and getting ready for family to come visit this weekend!  So I haven't posted much lately... But I thought I'd give you a little preview of some of the new puppets that will be coming soon:

Halloween puppets!

They're obviously not finished, but I finally got the Halloween puppet set designed, and all the pieces cut out!  Now I just have to sew and assemble them all.  They'll hopefully be done and in the shop next week.  Don't worry, I'll post more pictures once they're finished.  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

10 tips for new moms

Having just made it through the first two weeks with a newborn for the second time, I've been thinking about what helped me get through it, and what advice I'd give to moms in their first few weeks.  I feel like a lot of times we're coached so carefully through the pregnancy and delivery, and then the sweet nurses send us home from the hospital, and we have a base knowledge of what to do with a baby, but when it comes right down to the whole being a mom of a newborn, we're kind of thinking "What now?"  So here's my list of ten things I'd tell new moms about getting through the first week or two with a newborn.

1. Stock up on food before the baby is born.  Frozen meals, fast or easy meals (lots of cereal, pasta, etc.), and snacks are so nice to have around when you're either too tired to cook, or baby is crying, or you need to get off your feet because you're supposed to be recovering.  Even if you know you'll have family or friends helping you out with meals, it's still nice to have some backups, and food for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

2. 3 hour nap limit.  Don't let baby sleep longer than three hour stretches during the day.  Babies are almost always more nocturnal when they're born, and this will usually help sort that out, and encourage their longer stretches of sleep to be at night.  And they also need to eat!  I know there are lots and lots of books and theories out there on sleep schedules, but this has really helped with my babies.  Both of them were sleeping at least one 4-5 hour stretch at night (followed by 3 hour stretches) fairly consistently by about 1 1/2 weeks old.  There will be good nights and bad nights, but limiting nap length during the day, coupled with swaddling (see my next tip) really helps with getting new babies to sleep in slightly longer stretches at night, and just start to get on a good sleep schedule.

3. Learn how to swaddle.  The biggest bonus to swaddling: babies love being swaddled!  They're used to being all warm and snug!  They'll sleep much better all swaddled tight. There are lots of different types of swaddle blankets that you can buy at baby stores, but I feel like they're usually overpriced, especially when a regular receiving blanket will do the trick.  And if you're anything like me, you got lots and lots of receiving blankets from friends and family.  See my previous post for how to swaddle with a receiving blanket.  You, baby, and your wallet will all be happier if you learn how to swaddle.

4. Put the scale away!  At least for a few weeks.  I know, we're all anxious to get back to our pre-pregnancy weight, and to wear real clothes again.  But those first weeks are all about recovering and adjusting to life with your little one, not trying to diet and exercise.  Especially if you're breastfeeding, you really shouldn't be dieting.  Eat healthy, of course - that's best for you and baby!  But don't start obsessing over the numbers on the scale for a while.  It takes time.

5. Invest in a sling and/or bouncer seat.  My babies have loved both.  It's a great way to keep them feeling snuggled, and keep them close, but still have your hands free for a little while.  Even as tiny as they are, your arms do start to get tired after holding them for hours.  The sling is great for keeping them right with you, especially if you're going out.  And the bouncer is great for when you just need a little break, or need to take care of an older child, or cook at the stove, etc.
*Update: I would also add a Moby wrap or other type of baby carrier that allows baby to be snuggled up to Mommy if you prefer those over a sling. Just something to keep them snug and give your arms a break.
All snuggled up in his sling.  Don't let the disgruntled face fool you - he really does love it!  He just didn't like the sun in his face for the picture.

6. Don't give up on breastfeeding.  It's hard, especially if this is your first baby, or this baby just doesn't seem to be figuring it out.  But there's a learning curve, so don't give up too quickly.  Give it at least a few weeks, and talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant if you have serious concerns that your baby's not getting enough milk, or if there seem to be other problems.  But the benefits of breastfeeding, both physically and emotionally for both you and baby, are so worth it if you're able to do it.  Plus, formula is crazy expensive!

7. Strategically place pacifiers and burp cloths.  You don't want to have to go hunting for them in the middle of the night, or when you're covered in spit up, or when you're just feeling too tired to get up and find one.  I keep a pacifier in the crib, the bouncer, the diaper bag, and a few spares in the hanging organizer in the nursery.  Keep a burp cloth on hand anywhere you feed the baby - on the couch, the rocking chair, in the diaper bag, etc.

3 in 1!  Swaddled, in a bouncer seat, with a pacifier at the ready!

8. Buy Pampers Swaddlers newborn diapers.  I don't usually like to promote specific brands, but these are definitely the best newborn diapers I've found.  They fit better, leak less often, and are just really great compared to the other newborn diapers I've used.  To be honest, I don't love Pampers in bigger sizes, but the newborn ones I absolutely recommend.

9. Get out of the house.  It feels great to get to sit around in your sweats all the time.  But only for so long before you'll probably start to go a little crazy.  After a week of basically just sitting around all day (you'll be doing lots of sitting with as often as newborns eat!) I need to get out of the house.  Obviously, you still need to be taking it easy - you just had a baby! - but maybe take baby for his first walk around the neighborhood.  Or maybe just go for a drive.  Or leave baby home with Daddy and go to the grocery store, or spoil yourself with a pedicure.  Just something so that you have to shower, and get dressed, and feel slightly more human again, and get a little change of scene.

10. Snuggle!  I think every mom would agree with this one.  Snuggle lots and lots.  Babies love to be snuggled - feeling warm and secure, and hearing your heartbeat (which they've been listening to for the last nine months).  Plus it encourages bonding between you and your baby.  And there's something so irresistibly precious when they're so tiny and new.  Skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care, is a great way to snuggle, promoting bonding and breastfeeding, and helping regulate a newborn's body temperature, breathing, and heartbeat.  (Even though it's often talked about for premie babies, it's good for all newborns.) Be sure to get Daddy in on the snuggling too!

Fellow moms, what tips would you add?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

how to swaddle a baby

I'm working on a "tips for new moms" post, but I thought I'd give you a little preview of one of my absolute favorite tips for moms (or dads) of newborns: swaddling!

Swaddling helps babies feel snug and secure, and keeps them warm of course.  Most babies love being swaddled, and sleep much better wrapped up tight in a blanket.  Plus they look like adorable little baby burritos!

I know there are lots of different swaddling blankets you can buy at all of the various baby stores, but a simple receiving blanket will do the trick.  They're usually cheaper, just as easy to use, and chances are you got a lot of them from baby showers and other well-wishers.

Not sure how to swaddle without the velcro, zippers, etc?  It's really easy!

                   1. Lay the blanket out flat
                   2. Place baby centered at the top of the blanket, with the blanket at the top of their shoulders
(Grumpy baby because he's not wrapped up in his blankie)

                   3. Pull the left side of the blanket across baby, and tuck it under the opposite shoulder.

(Make sure it's pretty tight with each fold/tuck, or they'll wiggle their way out and get grumpy about it! And make sure their arms are at their side or crossed over their stomach.  If they're up by their face, they'll wiggle out.)

                   4. Now pull the right side across, and tuck it under their other shoulder.

                   5. Open out the bottom of the blanket so you can see the "inside" of the blanket
(Also good if you want your child to look like a mermaid/merman...)

                   6. Pull the bottom up so it meets the top of the blanket, just under baby's chin.

                   7. Tuck one side under baby

                   8. Now tuck the other side, pulling to make sure they're all nice and snug
Ta-da!  Happy baby!  See the little turquoise tail on the right side?  That's from the final tuck - give it a bit of tug to tighten everything up.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


The reason I haven't posted anything in a little while: Sam.

Who is Sam?  My darling new baby boy, born one week ago today.  It's crazy how much can change in such a short time!

Here is a picture of my little angel with part of one of my favorite poems.  I'm going to get it printed to put on the wall in the nursery.

Doesn't he just look so peaceful?