Thursday, March 28, 2013

Parenting a 10-month-old

I don't know what your upbringing was, but I was raised in a house where babies were pretty the second-oldest of six children in my family, I "helped raise" my younger siblings and saw my mother regularly babysit as well.  My mother is seriously the baby expert, in my opinion. I still marvel at her skill when I think of my own childhood. I was babysitting for a family with four challenging children by the time I was twelve. Honestly, I wasn't worried about being clueless when my daughter was born. I believed that I had a pretty good idea of how to care for a child, and if I didn't know what to do, my mother was a phone-call away. For the first several months, by the grace of God, we did okay (I believe). At the end of each day, our daughter was still growing and breathing, warm, clean, fed and at least partially-clothed. Beyond those obvious needs, we read to her, play with her, hold her, snuggle her, pray with her, sing and dance with her, let her "help" us, talk to her about Jesus...

So, the confident me has been totally humbled. I don't know what has changed over the past week or two, but our 10-month-old sweetheart has learned how to manipulate and throw tantrums with the best of them. I know that we are all born into sin, but I hadn't seen it so much before this, if that makes sense. Don’t get me wrong- she is still a sweet and wonderful girl most of the time, but now she has these terrible momentssometimes many moments strung together

Up to this point, discipline has been fairly easy: Using a calm, fairly quiet voice, and say the appropriate thing with the corresponding action. Be polite and concise, and try to put things in the positive when possible (telling what to do rather than what not to do).

“Not for you.” (move her hand away and repeat as necessary, maybe after three or four times and help her find something else to do.)

“Please don’t touch.” (move her hand away)

“Not in your mouth, please. Are you hungry?” (pull it out of her mouth and tap mouth gently with one finger)

“That’s Mama’s. Where’s [baby’s]______?” (help her find her things)

“That’s Daddy’s. Where’s [baby’s]______”

“Please come back here.” (retrieve her if she does not respond)

“We don’t eat books. Can I read it to you?”  (remove book from mouth and read with her)

“Please don’t hit. Hitting hurts. Please be gentle.”(hold the hand and show it how to be gentle)

“Find something else to do, please. How about____?” (help her find a good activity)

“Please give it to Mama...(holding out hand or removing it from hand or mouth)…thank-you!”

 "Please be gentle with the kitty. (demonstrate gentleness)

Rather than drastically baby-proofing the house, we are training our daughter to know what she can and cannot do. We do still have a gate at the foot of the stairs and one cupboard that has a baby-proof latch for bleach etc. We say “nay-nay” instead of “no” for discipline and redirection and use “no” or “no, thank-you” as an answer to a question.

Last month, she learned to point at things. What a cute new skill, I thought. "Uh!" she'd say and point to something. I'd give her the words. "Bottle brush, [baby]. That's a bottle brush. I use that to clean your bottles." Without missing a beat she'd point sweetly to something else, like the faucet. "Uh?" and we'd answer, "Water. Would you like to touch the water? Okay, [baby]...all done now. Where's your baby?" You get the picture. She still does this. Sometimes she can have or do whatever it is that she is pointing at and sometimes she can't.  When she has had a good nap and is in a good mood, she is generally fairly polite and compliant with her "uh" inquiries, though fairly persistent, especially when she notices the kitty at the window and believes that it is very important for me to let her in immediately. Sometimes she can be redirected or distracted from something she is obsessing on, but recently she has tried screaming, crying, and lashing out physically to get what she wants. It was my husband who first noticed this new tactic of manipulation, but he was right in identifying it as such.

Last night, she bit my husband. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but she was lashing out in anger during Bible Study and bit him. He immediately responded by removing her from the room and disciplining her. She is still quite young and her discipline looks something like this:
Parent: (immediate response, private if possible, using a stern, no-nonsense type face, and a low, calm voice, while putting slight pressure on her bottom teeth) “Please don’t bite. Biting hurts.” (Discipline is over, return to normal, though she may cry)
Last night, instead of responding in her usual way by turning her behavior around after discipline, she began pointing at the doorway and wildly screaming for Mama (to rescue her from Daddy). Now, at this point, discipline for biting was already over, and discipline for screaming began.
            Parent: (using a calm voice and tapping her mouth gently with one finger) We don’t scream like that. Please use your quiet voice. (Wait until screaming stops, or calmly repeat after a few minutes if necessary)
She continued to scream for several minutes and got herself all worked up. She was tired and she may not have understood why she couldn’t go to mama, since this isn’t a battle we have seen yet. I went to her with a pacifier to help her calm down, but by entering the room, I was unintentionally sabotaging the discipline my husband was administering. It is hard to refuse that desperate cry for mama. When I realized what I had done, I tried to support my husband, so I hugged her in his arms and told her to calm down, use her quiet voice and listen to her daddy. I apologized to my husband for intervening, handed him the pacifier, and left her screaming in his arms. Then I turned around and walked out of the room. The screaming escalated and I was kicking myself…if I hadn’t gone in there, she wouldn’t be doing this, I thought. Maybe 10 minutes later, the crying stopped and my husband emerged from the room with a sleeping baby in his arms and all was well. When she woke up, she was the sweet girl I know and love, and she and Daddy were on good terms.

Parenting is hard, even for a baby who is less than a year old, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It would have been easier, and more pleasant, if my husband had simply given her what she wanted by bringing her straight to me when she screamed. However, it would have given her the clear message that when she throws a fit, she gets the results she wants. That is not the message we want to send, and my amazing and steadfast husband had the wisdom to see it through to the end, despite his wife’s foolishness.
This is only the beginning. We have years of parenting challenges ahead of us. I am hoping that we will learn lots of tips and tricks with this baby so that we are more prepared for the next, but my friends keep telling me that babies are all different. If you have any tips or suggestions for us, I would appreciate the help!!

Making My Own Baby Food

I waited until my daughter was 9 months old to introduce solid foods. She was more than ready - enthusiastic even. I want to give her a healthy start to life, so I am trying to be conscious about what I am putting into her body. I have been making my own baby food for that reason, and it is cheaper too. The vegetables pictured in this post are carrots and peas, respectively.


My theory about baby food is that if I cook it as little as possible, it will have more nutrients than if I cook it a long time. I steamed the carrots on the stove until I could stick a fork through them, but not so long that they fell apart when I picked them up with a fork. I transferred them to the blender as soon as they finished cooking. I added water from the steaming process to the blender until it had enough liquid to blend well. I didn’t try to get a smooth puree like store-bought baby food; I wanted to preserve the integrity of the vegetable's texture to some degree while also preventing choking for a baby with no molars or experience.
When I felt that the food was sufficiently blended, I poured and scooped it into my two Tovolo silicone ice cube trays. These trays each have 15 cubes, and each perfect cube is 1 ounce. My Pampered Chef skinny scraper fits perfectly in each cube to release any air bubbles. Then I bounce the tray a little to make sure the food is down into the corners. After smoothing with a spatula, I place them on a cookie sheet in the chest freezer. These silicone trays are more sturdy than I thought they would be, but they are flexible.

I have read online that food from these trays can take on a weird flavor if it is left in them too long, so once the food is frozen solid (overnight) I pop them out and store them in quart freezer bags. The beautiful thing about perfect cubes is that they stack very neatly. Some reviews online stated that the cubes are very difficult to remove. I did not find this to be the case. With my first batch of food, I warmed the bottom of the trays by placing them in a sink that had about 1/2inch of warm water in it for about two minutes, being careful not to get any on the food. I was then able to pop each cube out individually. With my second and third batches, I left the trays on the sideboard for about 5 minutes before popping them out and had no trouble. I found that each quart bag fits 16 cubes (16oz) very well, so one tray makes nearly one bag of food.

I am not certain that it is a wise idea to eat microwaved food (still researching that), so I am avoiding it for the time being for my daughter. To warm her food, I remove her supper cube (she is eating one ounce per meal right now) and place it in a bowl. I allow it to warm to room temperature on the stovetop or sideboard. If I am using the oven, I will sometimes place the bowl near the vent to allow it to warm the food. She likes her food luke-warm.

I was surprised that the process was so easy. I have heard many of my friends say that making baby food isn't worth the time invested, and maybe I will feel like that with subsequent children, but right now it is totally do-able!  I like having her food right in my freezer, ready to go! I highly recommend the Tovolo perfect cube trays for making baby food - they are so easy to use!

Do you make baby food for your babies? What kinds to you make?

It is important to note that I purchased the Tovolo Perfect Cube Trays myself
and was not in any way compensated for this review.
My opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sitting at the table : Review of the Chicco 360 Degree Rotating Hook On Chair

We don't have room for a kitchen table in the house that we are renting, but we do have an impressively large and sturdy coffee table in our living room. It would be awkward to put our daughter in a standard high chair or a booster seat in a chair when we are kneeling around the coffee table below her enjoying our meal, and we really don't have the floor space for a traditional highchair. The answer for us is a hook-on high chair. The Chicco 360 hooks right on to our coffee table with non-scratching rubberized arms and our daughter is contained and able to eat with us.

One of the best features of this seat is the tray. Most of the other hook-on chairs I considered did not come with a tray. I was afraid that food would fall down between the seat and the table and that the rubbery arms on the table would become nasty over time from being touched with food-covered fingers. The tray snaps on and off easily without any buttons or levers, but not
easily enough that our sweet baby girl can do it.

The entire surface of the tray is smooth but only the flat part is shiny. It has a molded cup-shape in one corner. When she has finished eating I take her out of the seat and pop the tray off. I put it right into the sink and wash it. My husband has mentioned that he thinks that carrots or red sauce (in the future) might stain it, so we don't leave any food on it very long. At 9 months, she could already reach the table to the sides of the tray somewhat, but the tray contains most of the food mess. The seat can be used for a child up to 37 pounds. The directions say to never use the seat without the tray. I am not sure why as there is no explanation. The tray can be put in the dishwasher, if you have one, although it is so easy to wipe clean that it is probably unnecessary.

The seat sports an adjustable 3-point harness, which we sometimes use. Honestly, she is so close to the ground that I don't worry too much about it most of the time. To unclasp the harness, there is a one-touch button.

The seat fabric can be removed for machine washing, but I find that I can surface-clean it with a wet dishcloth for the most part. I have learned that I can minimize the amount of food that gets on the seat by shoving a towel into the seat behind her, which supports her and keeps her forward, near the table. I have not figured out a way to effectively clean the crevice in the front where the chair rotates, but I am working on it.

To unhook the seat fabric, unsnap the fabric around the top of the seat and line up the sliding metal pieces under the tray with the holes in the plastic so that they can slip through. Then, lift.

The seat is called "360" because it rotates completely. To rotate the seat (independently of the tray), pull up on the yellow handle at the top of the back of the seat and spin the seat. You can rotate the seat with the child in it. There are 6 stopping-points that it snaps into as indicated by the red paint on the frame, but you can turn it to any point in between as well. This is a really cool feature because depending on where I am in the room, I can rotate her in any direction to face me.
facing the tray and table, notice the curved crevice along the front?

The hook-on chair can be taken apart (I wouldn't say "folded" like the product description says) for transportation. First, remove the tray and unhook the chair from the table. The arms individually slide out of the seat frame if you push both of the metal buttons on the bottom side at the same time and pull. I think it takes quite a bit of hand strength and coordination. One of the marketing points for this seat is that it can be used for travel because it fits a wide range of tables (with a skirt of up to 5.5 inches). A card table, a table leaf, or glass table would not be sturdy enough. It comes with a black mesh zippered bag with a strap for a handle. The bag is functional, but not what I'd call sturdy. I was careful to put the ends of the metal arms facing upward to make sure that they didn't puncture the material. Amazon says that it weighs 9 pounds.

Why is my tray in this bag, and what have you done with my seat?
The mechanism to hold the chair onto the table is quite intuitive. There are two places on each side that make contact with the underside of the table- the ends of the curved pieces and the tops of the straight piece. The straight pieces are adjustable. Before you put the chair on the table, the straight pieces are in the lowest position. Once the chair is in place, you push the straight pieces upward until they touch the bottom of the table. Then you turn the two yellow pieces on the bottom of the straight pieces to insure that they are locked, regardless of whether the release buttons are triggered. The yellow bumpy things near the camera in the picture are the release buttons, but they won't do anything until the other yellow pieces have been unlocked by twisting first.

So, to wrap this up, we really like this seat. It theoretically is supposed to last until she is three, but I doubt we will be using it for her that long. I would definitely recommend it, especially for those with small spaces! The only things that bother me are that small crevice to clean around the front and the fact that you have to take it apart rather than fold it for travel. Other than that, well done, Chicco, on another great product!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feeding herself - review of the OXO Tot Fork and Spoon Set

We have recently started solid foods with our daughter, and she is loving it! I really like the fork and spoon set that she received at her baby shower, so I thought I would do a quick review and show you why these utensils are so darn cool!

First of all, the fork can stab food, but it isn't sharp. All of the edges are rounded. I don't know how this is possible, but it is. I have never seen a functional and rounded baby fork before! Most baby forks I have seen are basically sporks that can't stab anything more solid than yogurt. The fork can scoop adequately too.

The next cool feature is the shape of the handle. It is curved so your toddler can easily pick it up herself! In fact, as I was trying to catch a picture, my daughter kept snatching them off her tray!

The top of the handle is hard white plastic. The bottom side of the handle is a non-skid material, and it has a flat spot to keep the spoon or fork from rolling as baby grabs it. I also like the fact that the handle is straight like a real fork and not curved.

The spoon is equally awesome with the same handle and a scoop end that is deep enough to hold food but not so deep that she can't get the food into her mouth.

These fork and spoon sets sell for $6.99 prime on and they come in pink, green, orange, and aqua. We have the pink ones now and the aqua set on the way! I am so excited about this set that I ordered the plates that go with them, so I'll be reviewing those once we've used them a bit! 
her first week eating solid foods, and already using a spoon herself!
It did go into her mouth properly, but I didn't catch a picture!
It is important to note that I did not receive any products
or compensation from the OXO company. My opinions are my own.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Skip Hop Dunks! - a brief review of awesome tub toys

When I was making our baby registry on, I came across a set of three plastic ducks that came up when I searched for tub toys. These ducks could stack, float (when empty) and pour. I also use them to rinse my daughter's hair and shoulders.

The ducks are made from sturdy plastic in a very simple and functional design. They float very well (when they are empty or have only a little water in them) but they can be submerged and usually end up sideways with a splashing toddler. This is great because she can start to learn about buoyancy and what makes them float or sink. The outside has a matte finish and the inside is very glossy. A set of 3 ducks, or "dunks" cost under $10. There are two color options, one that has pink and one that has blue. We went for the blue set. It comes with blue, green, and yellow and matches our rain forest tub and is more gender-neutral for future babies. Our daughter loves them and is reluctant to surrender one for me to use to rinse her off!

They are even fun when you are not taking a bath! Another great product from Skip Hop!
It is important to note that I did not receive any products or compensation from Skip Hop in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.