How To Entertain A Toddler On A Plane – Travel Tips + A Free Printable Checklist

The thought of flying with a toddler with an attention span as short as they are cute for the first time (or anytime) can be downright intimidating. Taylor had flown with us before, but not since she became mobile and A LOT more active/aware.  In preparation for our family vacation to South Carolina, I spent a lot of time tapping the brains of all my been-there-done-that mama friends, “researching” on Pinterest, and brainstorming ideas to compile the perfect carry on bag to keep my toddler entertained and happy on a cross country flight.  Guess what? Our 4.5+ hour flight with a 15-month-old went off with far less stress than I envisioned – sans iPad/electronics or spending a ton of money – so I want to share what we packed, how we packed it and tips for a successful travel day with a toddler based on this experience.

Bonus – the in-flight kit I created has served as a both a car and restaurant entertainment kit while we’ve been on vacation as well! I hope you find this post useful when packing a carry on bag to keep your toddler AND you entertained and happy during your travels. If you have an infant, check out this post to see how we packed for one of Taylor’s first flights/vacations featuring our absolute, must have packing cubes by EZPacking.

If you’re packing for an upcoming vacation, you NEED to snag some of these.

Make sure to download and print the FREE printable checklist at the end of this post (or click the photo below)!

 

How to entertain a toddler on a plane flight

Let’s start with the bag:

I snagged this mesh tote at Target for $9.99 (!!!) and think it’s a perfect carry on because A) they have it in 8 colors, B) it’s durable but mesh, so you can easily see and grab for anything you might need in-flight, C) it can be used as a beach bag upon arrival if you’re taking a beach vacay, and D) did I mention it was only $9.99!?

What’s In The Bag (and how it all fit!):

 

  1. In-Flight Entertainment Kit – I included a section below with all the details on what’s inside this cosmetics case turned toddler entertainment kit. I use this same bag (in this floral pattern) for my Baby/Toddler Restaurant Kit as well because it’s a perfect size and has tons of storage space!
  2.  A lightweight swaddle blanket to put over your toddler if/when they nap. Airplane cabins can get chilly!
  3. Tote Savvy Mini Insert – Stocked with 4 diapers, pack of wipe, disposable diaper bags/dispenser, changing pad, hand sanitizer, lip gloss, wallet, keys, etc.  I pop this in and out of pretty much all my bags so that we always have the essentials on hand and organized. Check out this post for exactly what and how I’m packing my Tote Savvy for a toddler diaper bag these days.
  4. A zippered pouch (this one from Target is only $4.99) to carry a copy of your little one’s birth certificate (most airlines require proof that your toddler is under 2 years old to qualify as a “lap infant”) and headphones for if and when your toddler naps. I stored this pouch in the front pocket of the mesh tote bag for easy access during our travels. I love my beautiful rose-gold, wireless headphones from Sudio – you can snag a pair for 15% off here using the discount code TAYLORMADEMAMA.
  5. Puffs (AKA toddler crack).  I keep these on hand pretty much at all times. We only buy the Happy Baby organic brand.
  6. Empty water bottles for mama and tot  – Fill them up once you’ve cleared security. I store the water bottles in the outer pockets on either side of the tote bag.
  7. 1-2 tried and true favorite books and 1-2 new books having to do with their interests, airplane travel or their destination; I suggest Richard Scarry’s A Day At The Airport, and Amazing Planes.
  8. Spare outfits for you and your toddler.
  9. A novel toy set like this one with a wooden fire engine theme. Check Target’s Dollar Section – I swear, they have the most amazing toys/activities for travel purposes on the super cheap! After I already had everything together for this trip I found mini felt board sets which would be PERFECT for the kit! There is a set of 3 felt story boards on Amazon right now that I’m considering ordering to our beach house for the return flight (another Amazon Prime membership perk!). This magnetic block set would also be a great option.
  10. Packing tape to tape up a box for your car seat if you’re bringing it with you. We had a short wardrobe box as that was the only box that would fit the dimension of our beloved car seat (Maxi Cosi 70 Convertible – on sale for only $199 right now on Amazon!!). We also brought a roll of bubble wrap to line it with. You can also check it in one of these nifty car seat backpack style bags – either way, the goal is to prevent damage. We ended up making a game time decision to put our car seat in our travel stroller bag and forego the box altogether!
  11. An Etch a Sketch, MagnaDoodleor LCD drawing tablet.
  12. Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad (Adventure, Playhouse, Farm or Vehicles and Habitats)

Taylor’s Top Entertainment Pick…


Number 11!!!! Although she LOVES to color, I can’t freely give Taylor crayons or other drawing instruments because, at 15 months old, she cannot be trusted not to try them out for flavor… so, introducing this off-brand etch a sketch during the flight was a total win-win.  There are more expensive versions with lap pads and sound features that would be great for car travel, but this one fit the bill for function, size and the quiet factor. Taylor played with this for nearly an hour of the flight (cumulative), so I would say the $19 price tag was well worth it.  As I was writing this post I noticed that right now it’s on sale for Amazon Prime members for only $10.65! Don’t have a Prime Membership yet? Get a FREE 30 Day Trial here ( I PROMISE it’s worth it – most things on this list are Amazon Prime eligible!). There is also a cute set of two miniature drawing pads like this if you’re packing for more than one little. One of my besties recently showed me her kids’ LCD Writing Tablet like this one which is only $29.99 on Amazon.com for Prime members and an even better option than the traditional etch a sketch.

What’s In The In-Flight Entertainment Kit (# 1):

This cosmetics case is the PERFECT in-flight entertainment kit bag.

Left side = snacks, utensils, wipes, box of organic milk, bib, etc.

The Left Side:

When all else fails, snacks (and a big variety of them!) will be your tantrum tamers on a flight. In the left side of the in-flight kit I packed a ton of snacks I knew she would love: Annie’s organic gummy bunnies, fruit roll ups and cheddar bunnies, fruit + veggie pouches, a variety or bars, 2 milk boxes, a travel set of utensils (LOVE these by OXO!), a Green Sprouts wipe-off bib with a pouch (the best, and so easy to fold up!_, and individual hand and surface sanitizing wipes by Babyganics.

 

Right side = toys, art supplies, flashcards, etc.

The Right Side:

Basically, I raided our local party supply store and the Target dollar bins to stock up on a ton of fun little toys, stickers, flashcards and other packable items that I knew Taylor would be interested in. I brought them out one by one, or let her pick, whenever she began to lose interest.  I actually had WAY more than I needed, so I’m happy we’ll still have some novel entertainment for the return flight and/or restaurant trips on vacation! I’ve heard of parents also wrapping individual toys and letting their kiddo open them up one by one to add to the time/excitement.

A Speech Pathologists I worked with recommended these Busy Baby cards to work on language development. Taylor loves looking at the cute little images and hearing me talk about what she is seeing (i.e “this baby is holding a cat and wearing a hat!”). I definitely recommend any toddler mama to pick up a pack.

What I’ll Pack Next Time:

Although our trip went smoothly, of course,  I’m already thinking about how to make our mom lives even less stressful. Here are a couple things I didn’t bring with us this time, but likely will for the next trip based on our experience:

Snack and Play Travel Tray (top rated on Amazon.com) – good for plane, car or train travel!

A portable, foldable high chair like this one that I almost bought on Prime Day this year! It could easily fit in a carry-on. Fortunately, we were visiting family who let us borrow us their daughter’s old Pack and Play and high chair for this trip, but in the future, we will want to bring those ourselves. The portable crib we have, use and love is this one by Baby Bjorn.

Now, onto my top 10 tips for traveling & flying with a toddler…

Top Tips For Traveling/Flying With a Toddler:

  1. Check the TSA and your airline websites well in advance of your flight for their rules and regulations regarding travel with children under 2 years old.
  2. You can bring your own milk or juice in a cooler like this one,  but you may have to go through a full on TSA check. One option is to wait until you get through security and buy a milk box from Starbucks (these do not require refrigeration). Some airplanes will have milk depending on the airline and time of day, but if you care for it to be organic, you’re likely out of luck. I think the best option is to bring no refrigeration needed, easily portable milk boxes with you. When we arrived at our beach house, I ordered another 12 pack of organic whole milk boxes for the rest of our travel as we will not always have easy access to a fridge/milk.

3. Put your little one (if not already potty trained) in overnight diapers for the flight initially so that they don’t need to be changed as soon as they would in a regular diaper. Leaky diapers are fun for no one. Make sure they are in comfy clothes with shoes that are easy to slip on and off; we opted for Natives and they worked like a charm – definitely our new fav toddler shoe!

4. I know it isn’t always possible with logistics, but try to plan your flight time around your toddler’s nap if possible. We booked a SUPER early flight which was painful at 4:30 in the morning but worth it to coincide with Taylor’s daily nap. We enjoyed watching the movie Lion while she snoozed.

5. I know screen time isn’t for everyone, and to each their own, but if you allow it this suggestion is for you. Download shows from Netflix, Xfinity, etc.  and age appropriate apps onto your iPad or laptop. This will, hopefully, occupy your little one and buy you and your fellow passengers some quiet time. We had technical difficulties and weren’t able to utilize this option on this flight. Luckily, Taylor slept for nearly 2 hours of the flight but if she hadn’t we really would have missed out on having this entertainment option.

6. Bring empty water bottles in your carry on and fill them up at the airport once you’ve cleared security.

7. Invest in a  travel/umbrella stroller and umbrella stroller bag. Previously, we traveled with our  Baby Jogger City Select, but it was just too big and cumbersome with all the other luggage we needed to bring with us. This J by Jeep umbrella stroller is easy to fold open and closed and really compact. It also has a UV. You can check the stroller at the gate right before you board, but make sure to ask the desk attendant at your gate for a tag asap.

8. Walk the aisles if you sense that the native/s are getting restless and it is permitted by the captain. Generally, other passengers are going to want to see that cute little toddler’s happy face when they get to get up and move around the cabin. The walk will give them a chance to check out this new environment and distract them from being confined to a seat. If anyone has a problem with it (or your toddler crying for that matter) then that is their own issue – but truth be told, #momshaming can be real on flights!

9. Arrive to check in for your flight early, call ahead, or both to ask for an extra seat if possible. Generally, airlines will go ahead and reserve a seat when a “lap infant” is flagged on the manifest and keep it if the flight is not full. The extra seat makes diaper changes, and the whole flying experience, a lot easier! By the way, this article by USA today does a great job of breaking down how to deal with how to change a diaper during a  flight!

10. My last, but number one piece of advice would be to prepare and pack as well as you can beforehand, but then try your best to relax and go with the flow because, as we all know, toddlers certainly cannot be predicted!

I truly hope there is at least one piece you can use to make your #momlife less stressful when planning and packing for your next family vacation!

Now, click here or just click on the picture below to access, download and print a copy of the packing checklist:

Be sure to check out the other posts in my Packed to Perfection Series – I’ll be including free downloadable packing lists for each! Print, laminate (this laminating machine is $19.97 on Amazon.com – woo hoo!), stick the list in your bag to reference, and stop worrying about forgetting something every time you head out the door!

What other posts would you love to see in this series?


Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

What To Pack For A Pool Day With A Toddler – Free Printable Checklist

This post is the first in my new, official Packed to Perfection series. Be sure to check back for other posts in the Packed to Perfection Series as they are posted – I’ll be including free downloadable packing lists for each! Print, laminate (this laminating machine is $19.97 on Amazon.com – woo hoo!), stick the list in your bag, and never worry about forgetting something again! You can see other examples of ways to organize and pack for a baby or toddler in these existing posts: Diaper Bag for Baby, Packing Cubes, Working Mom’s Pumping Bag, Infant Daycare Bag, Baby/Toddler Car Kit, and Restaurant Kit for Babies/Toddlers.

Make sure to download and print the FREE printable Toddler Pool Bag checklist at the end of this post!

 

Now, let’s dive into (pun intended) what to pack for a day at the pool with a toddler…

It used to be as easy as grabbing a towel, sunnies and a  suit, sunblock, an issue of InStyle, water bottle, flip flops, then off to the pool for the day. Now that you have a baby or toddler in tow, there is a whole new element to planning and packing for a successful, fun, safe day at the pool. 

I want to show you what and how I pack for a Mommy and Me Pool Day with my toddler. If you’re a first-time mom in the same boat as I was OR a been-there-done-that pro mama, I hope this post will give you some good ideas for things to pack (and what to pack them in!) for a great day at the pool with your toddler.

Swimsuit with built in swim diaper by i play.

Now that we have access to a pool right down the road in our new community, pool days are a part of our weekly routine. Taylor lovingly refers to this special place as the “poooo,” which I find pretty darn funny, but I digress…

Before we moved, I had never taken Taylor to a pool and I wasn’t quite sure what to pack to bring with us that first day. Flash forward a couple weeks and I feel like we have rounded up everything we need with the caveat that, at some point, we’ll probably start bringing some pool toys. Right now, at 15 months old, Taylor is happy to just people watch from her float or splash/walk around in the baby pool. The first few times at the pool for her were about introducing her and helping her become accustomed to the water and new environment.

What to pack for a day at the pool with a toddler:

Tote Bag – obviously, this is a must! The bag shown in the photo above is one I got at our local grocery market because I loved the design, fun color scheme and the size worked perfectly. Here are a few similar and the black mesh tote I am using for a carry on/beach bag for our upcoming vacation (it comes in several colors and is under $10!):

 

1.Babyganics sunscreen stick SPF 50 (for the face bc my fingers on her face is, apparently, torture) and sunscreen in a gallon Ziplock bag – I usually put my own sunscreen on at home and if I need to reapply, I will just use Taylor’s.

2. Skip Hop wet/dry bag with the following inside the dry pouch: the Wet Brush and a change of clothes for a toddler. When we are ready to leave, we rinse off and then I change her into a diaper, put the pool cover up back on her and throw the wet suit into this bag.  I can’t tell you how many things I use these bags for or how many we own!

3. Sunglasses for mama and toddler 

4. Quart size Ziplock bags for electronics

5. Skip Hop cooler for water bottles (I also used this in my Pumping Bag) – Camel Back bottles: mom version, toddler version. If you’re looking to pack snacks that need to be refrigerated I HIGHLY recommend this Freezable Tote by PackIt; you stick it in the freezer and, once frozen, it stays cold for up to 10 hours – no ice packs needed!

6. Floaties – the ones linked are super easy to blow up, well rated, Amazon Prime eligible (as are most items linked in this post) and under $10! If you aren’t yet an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial HERE.

7. Swim Suit Cover Up for mama – I have two pool cover ups I’m LOVING right now. The first is this simple, classy one.The second (shown in the photo above) is by Michael Stars. I got that one as part of the summer Fab Fit Fun box. I’m kind of obsessed with these boxes. Most of the individual items in the box (like the cover up) are worth more than the cost of the ENTIRE box. Use the code TAYLORMADE to save $10, and get your box for only $39.99!

8. Baby or toddler kids sun hat with chin strap (50+ UPF cotton) – I also bring my own hat, similar to this floppy chambray one from Nordstrom.

9. Towels  – I bring one for myself and one for Taylor, but you could probably get by with just one and save bag space.

Tote Savvy Insert = Mom Must Have!

10. ToteSavvy Mini Insert – I use this ToteSavvy insert interchangeably in all my bags these days be it a purse, diaper bag, carry on for a flight or pool day bag;  I love it because I always know where to look for the essentials. To me, this insert is an absolute mom must-have! These days I carry the following inside it’s pouches: Bandaids, mini Evian facial spray (this keeps both toddler and mama cool on a hot day!), a couple small toys, Babyganics Alcohol-Free individually packed hand,face and mouth sanitizing wipes, 2 diapers, pack of wipes, several snacks, keys, wallet and one of the most popular items purchased through Amazon via links on my site – the Munchkin Arm & Hammer diaper bag dispenser and bags:

On Toddler:

  • Swimsuit – I bought a couple of these suits with built in swim diapers by I play on Amazon Prime Day 2017, and we’re loving them so far.
  • Swim diaper to wear underneath a suit if it doesn’t have a built-in. We have been using these disposable swim pants by Babyganics, but there are also tons of non-disposable versions as well.
  • Diaper for over the swim suit in the car ride to the pool because swim diapers tend to leak (or maybe I’m using them wrong?).  When we get to the pool we just take off this extra safety precaution.
  • Swimsuit cover up
  • Sandals – these clear Mary Jane jellies are a toddler girl must, plus they have great grip on the bottom. Old Navy has a huge variety of strap-back flip flops for toddler girls and boys.

Additional Items:

  • Floating toys – I’m definitely getting this cute  Shark Fish Hunt Game by Melissa & Doug.
  • Float – Tented Float by Intex 
  • Cooler or freezable picnic tote for water bottles, milk and snacks that need refrigerating. For me, this is just too much to carry – I can only manage a baby, tote bag and float when it’s just T and I.
  • Pop Up Sunshade/Tent – optional depending on if there is shade at your pool.

Now you tell me, what are your pool day bag must haves? I’m on the lookout for some water shoes like these from Carter’s for Taylor, but are there some you like better?

Click here or just click on the picture below to access, download and print a copy of the checklist:

P.S.  If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the American Academy of Pediatrics pool and sun safety recommendations including:

  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that provide 97% -100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays), and clothing with a tight weave.
  • On both sunny and cloudy days use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.

 

The Healthiest, Non-Toxic Products For Babies & Toddlers

 

Call me ignorant, but I did not realize just how much CRAP is put into a lot of the products out there on the market for babies and toddlers. Mainstream baby products contain numerous toxic ingredients that will enter your baby’s body if used or actually ingested, not to mention toddlers who are putting stuff in their mouths ALL. THE. TIME.  I feel like I’ve  been cognizant of trying my best to avoid buying things for Taylor that might be toxic, artificial, and generally not healthy for human beings, let alone little ones, but honestly I haven’t really had the time to do my due diligence on each and every product I’ve purchased… #momguilt

Now That I Know Better

Thankfully, I discovered a company whose purpose is to make it easier for busy moms (aren’t we all!) and moms-to-be to give themselves and their family the healthiest products, at really good prices, while doing all the vetting and research for us on the back end! 21 Bundles is a personalized subscription box service that delivers baby/toddler products that are sustainable, ethical, and most of all HEALTHY while still remaining super cute, relevant and fun. I LOVE mail like this! The best part is that you can rest assured no product 21 Bundles delivers will contain any of this junk:

source: www.healthiest.io

How 21 Bundles Works

  1. Tell 21 Bundles your stage (or baby’s age)
  2. Each Bundle is ta[y]lored (had to!) to your baby or toddlers age with all natural products. Each and every product in the bundles must meet or exceed these stringent regulations before being considered for and curated as “the healthiest” of products out there for little ones.
  3. Every bundle (4-7 full-sized products along with stickers, samples, and coupons) is delivered in an eco-friendly box packed with safe and chemical free goodies! For example, the cute little owl stroller toy Taylor received in her 14-month-old bundle is made from fair trade certifiably organic Egyptian cotton and chemical free dyes!

Our first bundle was truly loaded with goodies relevant to Taylor’s and stage! Her favorite from the get was definitely the Rainbow Sensory Ball; much to my dismay her delight it has a very, shall we say, distinctive squeak to it; it’s a go-to toy for her now, but at least I don’t have to worry when she mouths it!  Personally, I am anxious to use the Monkey Mat (as seen on Shark Tank!) for backyard and park picnics/concerts this summer, and I’m definitely stashing the non-toxic surface sanitizer in my Toddler Restaurant Essentials Kit.

You can learn more about any product sent to you in your own bundle, or order other healthy family and baby products by visiting the parent site to 21bundles, www.healthiest.io.  From here on out, I’m definitely saving myself the trouble of researching on my own and using this site as a resource.

What do you think of this concept? Pretty awesome, right?  Would you try something like this out for your own babe or as a gift? Right now, you can get 20% off your first bundle using code TAYLORMADEMAMA at check out! 

Hope you love your experience with 21 Bundles it as much as we did!

Thanks to 21 Bundles for sponsoring today’s post.  Please know that I only recommend products and resources I truly believe in.

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

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The Ultimate 1st Birthday Party Planning Guide

Unless you’re a party planner by trade or natural inclination, preparing for your baby’s 1st Birthday Party can be a bit stressful: Where do I start? What theme to choose? Who to invite? To buy or DIY decorations? How much money do I really need to spend on a party the baby won’t remember? What exactly is a “smash cake” anyway?

I have been determined NOT to get stressed out over planning Taylor’s birthday party, because Lord knows I already have enough emotions going on with the winding down of our nursing relationship, seeing her basically turn into a kid right before my eyes, etc. to add stress to the emotional mix. If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know that the only way I get anything accomplished (without losing my mind to stress) is through some kind over over-analyzed organizational system (but that’s kinda why you like me, right?).

True to form, that’s exactly how I’ve tackled planning Taylor’s birthday party and it’s been smooth sailing thus far. T Minus two weeks until the big day! I wanted to share the following with you in the hopes that it will help your own party planning process go smoothly.

  1. A 1st Birthday Party planning checklist
  2. Unique 1st Birthday Party themes
  3. Perfect Gift Ideas for a 1-Year-Old

1st Birthday Party Planning Checklist:

This checklist has helped keep me organized and able to ENJOY the process of planning such a milestone event for Taylor:

Access the printable PDF version HERE.

Creative 1st Birthday Party Theme Ideas:

These theme ideas were crowdsourced from my AMAZING Instagram family in this original post. Some words of advice that I found really helpful were to pick a color palette and theme early on, and then to focus on a few key pieces and decor to bring your theme to life. I actually ended up coming up with a theme that isn’t included on the list below…I can’t wait to reveal what we picked!

Access the printable PDF version HERE.

The Best Gifts for a 1 Year Old (Girl or Boy!)

These are gifts I’ve either purchased in recent months, or are on our current wish list for Taylor’s 1st Birthday! Some are toys while others serve as creative play spaces for little ones. Many of the linked items are Amazon Prime eligible (free 1-2 day shipping and free returns, among other perks!), so if you don’t already have a Prime membership, sign up for an Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial here.

  1. Personalized Wooden Name Puzzle (option for pastel or primary colored lettering)
  2. Something to ride like the classic Little Tikes Cozy Coup (red or pink), The Step2 Easy Steer Sportster, or a splurge on this motorized Land Rover
  3. Little Tikes Trampoline
  4. Happy Birthday Baby  or Baby Touch & Feel: Happy Birthday board books
  5. Pop Up Play Tunnel
  6. Crayola Wonder Color Drawing Paper (mess free coloring!)
  7. Hape Pound and Tap Bench with Xylophone
  8. Fisher Price Little People Fun Sounds Farm
  9. Manhattan Nurturing First Baby Doll and accessories: Stroller, Feeding Set and Changing Set. I got a brown-haired Stella doll for Taylor that giggles and says, “mama”!
  10. Water Table like this one (best seller and available on Amazon Prime) or this one with an umbrella, but my personal favorite is this one (pictured above).
  11. Land of Nod Tee Pee and cushion
  12. Fisher Price Corn Popper
  13. Playroom table and chairs set
  14. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorter
  15. Mega Blocks or Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
  16. Ball Pit (this inflatable pool) and Balls (100 count, so I would buy a couple sets). You could even add a slide for extra fun!!

I hope this planning guide is helpful to you or a mama you know (please do share!).

Is there anything I left off the party planning checklist? What about other gift ideas for a 1-year-old? I would love to know what you are planning to choose or what you did choose for your child’s first birthday theme. Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!

xo, Ashley (1)
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How To Create A Bedtime Routine For A Baby

Thank you to I See Me Books for sponsoring this post.

Do you want to help your baby have a smoother, less tearful transition to sleep at night?

Do you wish your baby would STAY asleep longer once they do drift off? 

There are so many different methods to get your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own (AKA “sleep training”) out there, which I know can be a bit overwhelming. However, one foundational element almost all sleep training methods include is developing and sticking with a bedtime routine.  

A peaceful, predictable bedtime routine is an important part of helping a baby to wind down and sleep well at night; baby who knows what is coming next is more relaxed, and therefore more likely to fall and stay asleep. Getting your baby used to a nightly routine from as early as 6 to 8 weeks not only has benefits for them, but also for you as a parent. It is nice to have special time, that you don’t have to plan or think about, set aside to connect with your little one at the end of each day.

Establishing a bedtime routine early on can also set you up for future successes in getting your little one to to brush their teeth, use the potty and complete other before-bed musts when they become a toddler. There are numerous benefits to creating a consistent bedtime routine for a baby, and it’s a critical component to helping your baby to be a better sleeper. So, why not start there?

Although there isn’t a prescription for the perfect bedtime routine for a baby (trust me, I looked!), below are 15 soothing elements you could choose to include within your little one’s nightly routine:

How To Create A Bedtime Routine:

To create the routine, my recommendation would be to keep it simple, and follow the process below:

  • Pick 4-6 elements from the list above.
  • Choose the order of those elements.
  • Time how long your routine takes to complete.
  • If the routine takes longer than you’d like, drop 1-2 of the components.
  • Once you’ve determine which elements are most soothing for your baby, and realistic for you to complete each night, continue to follow that same predictable pattern of events beginning at the same time (as much as possible) each night. 

A bedtime routine won’t be effective unless it is, well, routine.

Something important to note is that what works for one baby in a bedtime routine may not work for another. Babies are all SO different! For example, some babies are soothed and calmed by a nightly bath before going to bed. Taylor, on the other hand, gets very excited by a bath (more on her bath time routine and favs in this post), making it completely counterproductive to winding down. Another example from our experience was that ending our routine with a nursing session resulted in Taylor waking up much more frequently in the night than she does now that it comes at the beginning of her routine; However, some babies will sleep through the night regardless of when their final nursing or bottle session occurs.

The Perfect Addition To A Bedtime Routine:

We tried out several different iterations of a bedtime routine, playing with both the length of the routine as well as the components and their order, to find out what worked for both Taylor, her Dad and I. Please continue reading to find out Taylor’s current bedtime routine…but first I’m excited to share our new favorite board book from ISeeMe.com, known for their award winning personalized children’s books. We have loved incorporating this board book into Taylor’s bedtime routine lately:

It’s Taylor’s Night Night Time! is the perfect compliment to a bedtime routine for any baby – of course personalized with your babe’s own name!

Board books are essential for babies this age, and let me tell you that I See Me  has super cute ones to choose from. Each book includes adorable personalization details on almost every page. One of my favorites is the option to add a personalized inscription on the first page of the book; you can even choose to include your sweet baby’s picture to make it even more special. I See Me has personalized books for babies and kids ranging from special occasions (i.e. holidays, birthdays), to fairy tales, to coloring books, and even personalized sticker books, puzzles and growth charts.

Make sure to check out ISeeMe.com to pick up a personalized copy of the Night Night Time book for your little one!

Another adorable book from ISeeMe.com’s collection titled, T Is For Taylor.

Taylor’s Bedtime Routine (10 months old)

We start Taylor’s bedtime routine 25 minutes prior to when I’d like her to be asleep, then complete the following elements in this exact order every night:

  1. Nursing or bottle. Her last nursing session takes place outside of her room on the couch in the living room, so as to separate feeding to sleep as much as possible.
  2. We then move into her room and turn on her night light and white noise machine, and then turn off the main light in her room.
  3. I change her into her nighttime diaper and pajamas.
  4. We walk around the room saying goodnight to objects and prints in her room (e.g. “goodnight crib, elephant rocker, etc”), ending in saying good night to her ABC Poster and singing the corresponding song to her.
  5. Then, I put her into her sleep sack. Right now she is sleep in this Halo Sleep Sack that has openings in the bottom for her feet. She has always slept in some version of a Halo Sleep sack, beginning with their swaddler version for the first 5 months of her life, so this part of the routine is a main sleep cue for her.
  6. Next, we read 2-3 (okay, sometimes 10) books while rocking in the glider.
  7. Lastly, I tell her, “you’re going to go night night in your crib now,” get up from the glider walk over to the crib, give her a kiss/hug while saying a short, silent prayer for her, tell her, “mama loves you so much, have a great sleep,” and place her in the crib to drift off.

Although she can fall asleep readily on her own, Taylor does wake up 1-2 times per night. I wanted to include that as encouragement to mamas who feel like they are doing everything they can, but still have a babe who wakes during the night. I am told she may sleep through the night once we are done breastfeeding, but I’m not too worried about it. I’ll count my blessings with a baby who goes to sleep peacefully/independently!

Well, hopefully this post gave you some ideas to create, tweak or add to your baby’s bedtime routine. I would love if you would let me know the routine you create for your babe in the comments below!

xo, Ashley (1)

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

Personalized Alphabet Book

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Tips To Make Dining Out With A Baby Less Stressful

10 tips for how to make going out to eat with a baby less stressful and more enjoyable for the whole family. Create a Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to reduce the stress of dining out with babies. Keep it in the car, and you'll always be prepared! You'll find a full list of contents for babies and suggested additions for older babies and toddlers.

One of the things that my husband and I loved to do pre-baby was going out to eat. During the dating phase of our relationship he lived in San Francisco, right in the heart of the Marina District, and I in downtown Sacramento. Both cities have great dining scenes (obviously San Francisco more so) and each weekend we would eat on the town at least once. After coming out of the newborn haze, I wanted to continue that tradition and bring Taylor out to eat with us but was honestly too intimidated to do so. During that time, people advised that we should take her out to eat while she still “slept all the time”; looking back we really should have taken advantage of that time because now I know that it becomes a whole lot more complicated when they are awake and needing to be entertained constantly…

Entertain me please.

Taylor is 10 months old now, and we’ve been out to eat with her about once per month for the last 6 months. Through trial and error and some “interesting” experiences at restaurants, we’ve learned a few tips and picked up items that make going out to eat a lot less stressful/messy and more enjoyable for mommy, daddy and baby.

Most recently Taylor attended a dinner put on by the law firm my employer contracts with and,although it didn’t go perfectly (i.e. I had to take her out to the car in the middle of the meal to nurse because she lost it a little bit as it got closer to bedtime), the tips and tricks I’m sharing today made it possible for me to feel confident bringing her to such a setting. We love getting out of the house on weekends with Taylor now, and she is used to being out and about which I think is good for her. I hope you find the following tips for dining out with a baby helpful for your family. I’ve also included suggestions to add to your Restaurant Kit for older babies and toddlers (see #8!):

10 Tips To Make Eating At A Restaurant With A Baby Less Stressful

1.Dine early -We try to get the the restaurant around 5:30PM. Beat the crowd and have plenty of time before bedtime/witching hour? Win, win!

2. Pick a noisy restaurant – Babies cannot be expected to sit quietly for an hour or more (if you have one that does so without any effort of your own, consider yourself super blessed!). They WILL fuss, cry, screech, chat, and growl (or perhaps that’s just my child). It makes things a lot less stressful when you know your little noise maker will blend into the rest of the background noise.

3. Ask for a table for four – This way your babe has their own space and you can clear the area of all the things their little hands would want to grab. We learned our lesson during this particular trip out for Phö. We had a tiny table for two and spent most of the time trying to block Taylor from grabbing chili sauce, our napkins, spoons, bowls, etc.

As you can see, there was far too little room for error.

4. Buy this chair by Inglesina, and the tray that goes with it!- I can’t recommend this chair/tray combo enough and only wish we’d purchased it sooner. Taylor will NOT sit still in a highchair and one of us inevitably ends up with her on our lap, trying to keep her little mitts off our plates, for the majority of the meal. This chair, however, she loves sitting in and it does fit on most restaurant tables we’ve been to. Another really nice feature of this comfy chair is the pocket in the back where supplies like sanitizing wipes, a toy, spoons, bibs, etc.can be stored. I keep this seat in the car in it’s attached, travel-friendly carrying bag so that we don’t have to worry about forgetting it. The tray fits into the bag as well.

Happy baby in her own space at the table.

5. Have a Ziplock bag stashed with the following in the car or easy to grab on the way out the door.

Some of the essentials to make dining with a baby easier.
Having the essentials on hand is key!
    • Spoon – One of my best girlfriends recommended these recyclable, reusable or disposable baby spoons that are only $5.49 for a pack of  24 on Amazon. If you leave one on the table, it’s not too big a deal.
    • Bib – These Burpy Bibs by Aidan and Anais are by far my favorite, portable bibs (they cover a lot of surface area!)
    • Spill Proof Sippy Cup – keep it empty in your kit and fill it up once you arrive.

  • Wipes – Use natural hand, face and baby wipes to wipe down the table surface where your baby will touch/eat snacks from, and their hands/mouth after the meal. We use these by Babyganics:
  • Snacks (2 different kinds) – T’s top three favorite baby cracks snacks are Happy Baby Puffs, Yogis and Munchies (these are like healthy Cheetos for babes!). I order these three monthly on Amazon (if you don’t already have Amazon Prime – free 2-day shipping amongst other perks – it’s so worth signing up for an account HERE).
  • Pouches – just in case you forget to grab their food from the fridge or cupboard on the way out, you’ll have a portable dinner on hand. Our favorite pouches are made by Sprout, in this flavor, which you can purchase in a pack of 5 on Amazon.


6. Buy a mini cooler for homemade baby food that needs to be refrigerated, or just grab your jar/Tupperware of food if you’re heading straight to the restaurant. I use this one that’s actually meant to store breast milk, but fits and my homemade baby food jars perfectly as well.


7. Feed the baby directly after you order your food, so that by the time your meal arrives you’re able to actually eat it. If you have an older or baby-led weaning baby – order food for them as soon as you sit down!

8. Bring along a novel “toy” or an activity for older babies/toddlers– this could be something as simple as a straw from the restaurant. While you’re scarfing down your food as quickly as possible eating, baby can play with this novel item and/or eat some of their small snacks. Taylor LOVES plastic chopsticks – she’s quite the musician with those things! If you have an older baby or toddler who can complete activities like reusable sticker books, reusable activity books with water pens, coloring books (Twistable, self-sharpening crayons are awesome for this!), etc.

I would suggest upgrading from a Ziplock to a makeup/toiletry carrying case like one of the ones below to store all of your feeding and entertaining essentials. I got this fabulous idea from Blue i Style blog which has all sorts of amazing DIY organization tips. You can keep this Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to eliminate the stress of dining out with babes in your car.  I purchased this floral cosmetic bag at Target, and linked two other patterns of the same bag below:


9. Don’t forget to make and bring along your Baby Car Kit in the case of a massive post-dinner poop – Trust me, you will never regret having everything you need on hand. Find out the essentials I pack in mine by reading this post.

10. Queue up an educational You Tube video  on your iPhone – Okay, please don’t judge me, but after going through the bag of trick above I will let Taylor watch one particular video called “ABC’s” by ABC Kids TV. We reserve letting her do this as a last resort, but she absolutely LOVES that darn video and it’s honestly really nice to have her occupied while her dad and I get a few minutes to enjoy our meal and a bit of adult conversation.

There you have it! My top tips, tricks, and preparation to make the experience of dining out with a baby as stress-free as possible. Now, go make your kit and get out on the town!

What tips and tricks do you use to keep your baby, toddler or kiddo entertained when you go out to eat? I would love if you’d share those ideas with me in the comments.

xo, Ashley (1)
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This is a post from my Packed to Perfection series. Be sure to check back for other posts in the Packed to Perfection Series as they are posted – I’ll be including free downloadable packing lists for each! Print, laminate (this laminating machine is $19.97 on Amazon.com – woo hoo!), stick the list in your bag, and never worry about forgetting something again! You can see other examples of ways to organize and pack for a baby or toddler in these existing posts: Diaper Bag for Baby, Packing Cubes, Working Mom’s Pumping Bag, Infant Daycare Bag, Baby/Toddler Car Kit, and Restaurant Kit for Babies/Toddlers.

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

10 tips for how to make going out to eat with a baby less stressful and more enjoyable for the whole family. Create a Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to reduce the stress of dining out with babies. Keep it in the car, and you'll always be prepared! You'll find a full list of contents for babies and suggested additions for older babies and toddlers.

Teething Baby Troubles & Solutions

Taylor has been steadily teething since she was 3 months old, and currently has mouthful of chompers, 6 to be exact, at only 9.5 months old. I know some mamas are not okay with this, but I’ve definitely given her Infant Tylenol  before bed and employed a variety of teethers  over the last 6 months to help her get through the discomfort. The winners of the MANY versions we’ve tried are this teether/pacifier combo and this ergonomic one by Dr. Brown’s, a banana shaped terry cloth teether by Sassy, a frozen ring similar to this one, and these organic teething wafers by Happy Baby that Taylor loves to munch on.

About bout a month ago, at the onset of her sixth tooth, Taylor began to employ a  new, all-natural teething remedy which involved biting my shoulder, belly, boob, arm, chin, etc. as hard as she could for relief. Fun, I know… Per usual, I took to Pinterest to troubleshoot this problem. Apparently, one way you can redirect this biting behavior is to offer your infant something appropriate to teeth on straight away and calmly say something like, “no biting mama.” I didn’t think it was very feasible to carry around a traditional teether in my hand or pocket all the time, and I knew I needed something I could provide to her instantly. Fortunately, I discovered the oh-so-stylish Mama & Little teething jewelry that I can have on and accessible anytime I have Taylor with me.

I now try to wear my necklaces and bracelet as often as possible when we are out and about so that I can instantly offer Taylor an appropriate, baby-safe silicone teether. It’s so easy for her to just grasp at my accessory, chomp down on the beads and get some (appropriate) relief. This functional yet on-trend jewelry also adds an element of style to my outfits as well – I don’t think anyone would ever know these pieces are meant to be teethers!

A few reasons I’m a Mama & Little teething jewelry fan:

1) the exposed cord design at the neck of the necklaces so that your hair doesn’t get tangled up in the silicone beads (genius, right?),

2) they launch a new collection each season, with on-trend colors and styles so these are actually necklaces a mama would want to wear sans drooly babe, and

3) each piece comes gift wrapped and in a super cute drawstring cotton pouch that you can use to keep the jewelry clean in your purse/diaper bag when you’re on the go and not wearing it.

So, if you have a teething baby and a mind for fashion, or are looking for a unique gift for a baby shower or mama-to-be (they also carry Gift Cards!), check out the 19 original necklace designs and coordinating bracelets on the Mama & Little website.  

Use the code: TAYLORMADE at checkout for a 15% discount!

Taylor’s outfits // Kardashian Kids (chambray dress), Baby Gap (white eyelet top and denim jacket), Headband (KRZA by Krystle Dawn), Primary.com (black leggings – the BEST!)

My jewelry // Frida Silicone Teething Necklace, Rachel Silicone Teething Necklace (Black Licorice) and the Michelle Teething Bracelet (Cream)

My shirts // Stitch Fix  (LOVE this service and can’t wait to share more details with you in an upcoming post)

xo, Ashley (1)

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

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Top Tips For Successfully Pumping At Work

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Tomorrow I head back to work 4 days a week after a wonderful two weeks off with my family, which means it’s back to “pump life”! I was thinking about what I’ve learned thus far that has made it possible to continue my nursing relationship with my daughter (8.5 months) and wanted to shared my best advice in case you are or will also become a pumping mama. It’s definitely not easy to continue breastfeeding once you return to work after Maternity Leave, but it’s so worth it! I can offer the following tips, advice and hacks for making the process a little easier and hopefully more successful for you.  It can definitely be done with a little strategizing and organization – the following tips have been learned over 5+ months of successful pumping on the job. I hope you find them helpful!

1.Know Your Rights

Ask about a place a work with a locked door, not a bathroom, that can be your designated pumping area. It’s actually one of your legal rights as a breastfeeding mother. I’m very fortunate that my employer actually gave me an entirely new office with a locked door so that I could have the privacy I needed. I find I’m actually more productive during the time I pump as; once I set up and turn up the dial on my pump, I hammer away at checking and responding to emails. I save my emails for those times so that I have something specific and productive to tackle.

This bad boy fits right into my pumping bag.
My stealth pumping bag by Sole Society.

2. Have a system for cleaning and readying pump and bottle parts at home

I come home, put milk away (store any extra in the freezer if you produce more than baby eats), fill up a large pot with Breastmilk Removal Soap (seriously, this stuff is SO convenient – no scrubbing required) and super hot water. My mom (who watches Taylor while I’m at work) puts the bottle parts she uses in there as well throughout the day. Dump in all of the bottle and pump parts and soak for 5-10 minutes while you’re doing something else. What I usually do during this time is to ready the two spare bottles, 4 lids and my extra set of pump parts and place them in my pumping bag for the following day – that way all I have to do the next morning is pop in the freezer packs and walk out the door. After 5-10 minutes rinse all the parts with warm water and put on the rack to dry (I LOVE this one by Boon). To read more on my exact workday routine for nursing and pumping read this post.

3. Schedule Your Pump Sessions Like Appointments

Block off your pumping sessions on your calendar for the entire duration of the time you hope to breastfeed. For me this means I have blocked off 1-2 “BUSY” sessions per day through Taylor’s 1st birthday which is less than 4 months away at this point. This way neither my boss, colleagues or I schedule me for something during a time I need to pump. Schedule the pumping sessions for approximately when your baby is eating at home.

A sample of my schedule in Google Calendar; “busy'” in purple.

4. Utilize a Refrigerator or Cooler

One option to keep your pump parts sanitary between sessions would be to have a mini fridge in your office, if you’re there all day. If not, you could store your parts in a ziplock bag or bottle cooler and throw them in the community fridge. I don’t feel quite comfortable doing the latter and am constantly on the go on workdays, so I use this Skip Hop bottle cooler, stored in my pumping bag, to keep the pump parts sanitary in between sessions. I wipe them first with these breastmilk removal wipes to add an extra measure of sanitation.

The bottle cooler I use.

5. DWP – Driving While Pumping

Sometimes, to make logistics work, I have to pump in the car whilst driving from one meeting to the next. Not ideal, but a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do! I carry a baggy of spare batteries in my car as well as an additional set of pumping parts in my Emergency Baby Car Kit (which is also my most popular post!) which is always in my car. It’s also helpful to have a hand pump in your car in case you a) do not have your pumping bag with you or b) you run out of battery power unexpectedly.

My emergency baby car kit. 

6. Don’t Freak Out

If you can’t pump twice during the day occasionally don’t freak out (like I did). Your body will likely still produce about the same amount of milk when you pump later in the day, it may just be a little more uncomfortable for you (make sure you have the BRA PADS in!). If you’re short for the day, and you don’t want to yet dip into your freezer stash (read all about how I built mine up during maternity leave in this post), you can pump after the babe goes to sleep at night and hopefully get an extra .5-2 ounces to add to you bottle for the next day. I’ve done that several times for peace of mind.

There you have my top 6 tips for making the pump life work as a working mom. I hope to breastfeed Taylor until her first birthday and will be relying on my tips to get us there, but I would LOVE to hear yours. Please leave me a comment with any additional advice, tips and tricks you have!

P.S. The tote I use for my pumping bag is this one by Sole Society, but here are several others that would be super cute:

P.P.S. If you’re still nursing, make sure to check out all my posts on breastfeeding & pumping.

Bath Time With Baby (featuring IncrediBundles.com)

CONTEST CLOSED 12/22/2016

Make sure to enter the IncrediBundles $50 Gift Card GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post!

I can’t be the only new mom to worry about giving my baby that very first bath, right?

I remember being totally freaked out about giving T her first real bath, especially about her slipping into the water or not having the temperature just right. We gave her sponge baths only until her umbilical cord fell off at 9 days old, and then it was game on! The first tub we used was by 4Moms for infants only and it was awesome- it definitely addressed my fears with a built in temperature gauge and a slip-proof surface, to highlight a few features. I only wish she hadn’t grown out of it so quickly. Now that she is bigger (8 months and 28 inches), we give her baths in this tub by Primo which has the perfect amount of room for her to splash and play. However, I missed having the safety feature of the built in temperature gauge.

A shower caddy makes it easy to set up for bath time at any sink or tub.

Recently, I was introduced to a gift service for babies called IncrediBundles. It’s basically a modern twist on the traditional baby gift basket. It’s a little like Baby Bin, which I reviewed in this post, but I have to say I think IncrediBundles is even better service when it comes to package options and gifting! They have a huge range of gift packages grouped by age range (0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 months) and you can opt for toys, sleep related items, organic products, books, bath items or even diapers for your bundle. The bundle items arrive in an adorable reusable storage box (currently re-purposed as a toy storage box in my living room). I also like that there is a range in pricing for the bundles, to suit what you’re willing to spend on a gift or bundle for your own babe. One of the more pricey items IncrediBundles.com offers is a subscription wherein a gift bundle arrives every 3 months filled with diapers, age appropriate books or toys designed for the baby’s developmental stage.  If I would have known about this sooner, I would have signed Taylor up for the book subscription, but at this point her library is already inundated! How fun would it be to receive a book box every few months? I am definitely a sucker for having things delivered to me (thank you Amazon Prime and Door Dash!)

A year’s worth of books sent every 3 months.

 An IncrediBundles baby bundle would make a GREAT Christmas gift for your baby or a grandchild, niece, nephew or friend’s baby! IncrediBundles.com also makes a donation to children in need with every purchase – so it’s also a wonderful opportunity to give back during the Holiday season.

The Learn and Grow bundle would make a great gift.
The bundle items are sent in the cutest re-usable box.

For T’s first IncrediBundle I chose the Standard Bath Bundle which included the following items:

  1. Baby Health & Grooming Kit – a 10 piece set with all of baby’s grooming needs (nail file, medicine dropper, brush, teething ring, thermometer,etc.)
  2. Rubber Frog Bath Toy Set – cutest little family of floating frogs (how’s that for alliteration)!
  3. Bathtime bath book, by Sandra Boynton – this is my favorite part of the bundle, and something I didn’t have for T before.
  4. Bath Thermometer and Alarm – Now I’m able to ensure that her bathwater the right temperature (90-100 degrees) with this ingenious (and cute) thermometer which I missed having once T outgrew her 4Moms tub!
  5. Hooded Duck Bath towel – extra upgrade not normally included included in the Standard bundle – thank you for the adorable added bonus item, IncrediBundles!

There is also a Premium and Deluxe version of the bath bundle which includes organic baby body wash, shampoo and lotion. However I passed on those options as we already use the Noodle & Boo Infant Body Wash, Shampoo and Lotion because it is gentle, leaves her skin oh-so soft and smells absolutely AMAZING.
Noodle & Boo, LLC

Before giving T that first bath, I remember watching a bunch of YouTube videos on “how to give the perfect first bath”. Guess what I discovered? Well, as it is with almost everything baby, there are hundreds of different routines and ways of doing things.  I’m a true believer in listening to the advice of others and doing your own research, but ultimately doing what works best for YOU and YOUR baby. For instance, I know a lot of moms who incorporate bath time and massage before bed, which sounds super schedule-friendly and relaxing. However, I learned/observed that my baby gets stimulated and energized by bath time which serves the opposite purpose of helping her winding down – I learned this the hard way!  

With that said, here are the steps we take for Taylor’s bath featuring the contents of her first IncrediBundle:

1.Run the bath water using the thermometer to make sure the temperature is just right.

2. Give her bath toys and bath book to play with.

3. Use a washcloth (I love these super soft ones by Spa Silk) to wipe the her face only, and Q-tips for her ears. I support/spot her body with one hand/arm and use the other to wash. When T was a newborn and ultra sensitive, I swiped her eyes with cotton rounds. Then, I use that same washcloth to wash her body, making sure to get into all of those adorable little folds! I use a third, clean washcloth to wash her most sensitive parts.

4. Shampoo her hair and rinse with a cup like this one, by leaning her back in the tub so that the water runs off the back of her head. Must be nice : )

She LOVED her new frog friends.

5. Drain the bath into the sink while running clean water to rinse her off (keeping an eye on that thermometer!), while she gets in her last few minutes of play time.

6. Wrap her up immediately in a hooded towel to keep warm and dry off.

My little ducky.

7. Trim/file her nails and brush her hair, now with items from the grooming kit which I can keep in her bath caddy.

8. Massage with lotion or oil (this one with chamomile & argan oil is my fav) before diapering and putting her into pajamas or her outfit.

Thank you to IncrediBundles for the amazing Bath Bundles Gift Box – Taylor’s bath time is now even more safe and enjoyable!

What are your favorite baby bath time routines and products? Let me know in the comments section!

GIVEAWAY (CLOSED 12/22/2016)

IncrediBundles.com is graciously offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $50 gift card. You could use this to purchase your own Bath Bundle, or to go toward a last minute Christmas gift for your babe or for a niece/nephew/friend’s baby. IncrediBundles offers free shipping with a purchase of $49 or more, so you won’t even have to pay shipping fees!

Enter below for your chance to win. Giveaway closes at 12:00 am EST on December 22nd, 2016.

Open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good luck mama!

This post contains some Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase through one of my affiliate links, thank you!


An Interview with Lactation Consultant, Shanon Tipton

interview-with-a-lactation-consultant-1

Hi Mamas!

I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with a wonderful friend and person who also happens to be a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Shanon Tipton. I’ve known Shanon for 5+ years now (we met through CrossFit actually!) and not only is she salt of the earth and the most fit mama I know (seriously, it’s insane), but she is also really, really knowledgable about all things breastfeeding and babies. I’m so excited for you to get to know her too and benefit from her wealth of knowledge as much as I have.

My daughter Taylor was born on April 15th, and we had her first wellness check in appointment at the hospital on April 16th.  Who was our Charge Nurse/Lactation Consultant in the Pediatric Clinic, completely by coincidence divine intervention? Shanon! What a huge blessing she was to me that day and the weeks that followed. To be honest, I was a complete emotional mess at that appointment – like literally could not stop crying because, hormones – and was so stressed over breastfeeding. First of all, nursing was SUPER painful, and secondly I was incredibly anxious to make sure my milk came in. Looking back, I put so much pressure on myself to have everything all figured out and it freaked me out to not know what on earth I was doing as a mom. Shanon calmed and reassured me that day, and I was able to text her so many questions in the subsequent days that made all the difference in establishing the breastfeeding relationship I so wanted with my baby girl – from what I know, stress is NOT a milk supply booster! I’ve been breastfeeding now for 7.5 months while working outside the home, with (for the most part) success! Check out my top 10 must haves for breastfeeding here and how I built up a breastmilk freezer stash while I was still on maternity leave. 

Okay, okay I’m sure you’re thinking, “get to the good stuff already!” so without further ado, here is my interview with Lactation Consultant, Shanon Tipton:

Hi Shanon! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers and I. I would love if you could start by telling us a little bit about you:

Cheers and congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby! My name is Shanon Tipton, and I am a Registered Nurse, Fitness Coach, and Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant. I am very excited to share my passion for breastfeeding with you! But first, a little bit about me and my background. I am a wife and proud mother of three beautiful children. For 15 years, I worked as a Registered Nurse in Labor and Delivery helping to bring new life to the world and assisting moms with breastfeeding in the early hours postpartum. Recently, I’ve transitioned to a Pediatric Clinic where I function as a Charge Nurse and Lactation Consultant. I also earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology and have the gratifying opportunity to work with personal clients as a Fitness Coach. As a competitive athlete, mother and wife, I understand the unique challenges parents face as they learn to juggle and prioritize the demands of family, work and personal life.

bclc
Shanon and her 3 breastfed babies.

What made you decide to become a lactation consultant?

My personal breastfeeding experience began twenty-one years ago with the birth of my daughter Madysn. I was a young, semi-naive, new mommy, unfamiliar with the resources available to support my desire to breastfeed my baby. I remember well the frustration at two days postpartum when my milk had not yet come in, holding a screaming, inconsolable baby. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I was delirious from sleep deprivation and desperate for relief. That relief came in the form of a Lactation Consultant, who came to my home. I attribute my three year breastfeeding relationship with my daughter, as well as the two children who followed, to the patient and gentle guidance of this wonderful woman. It is my positive and gratifying personal experiences with breastfeeding that fueled my motivation and commitment to obtain my IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

The most gratifying aspect of my job is assisting and supporting parents in developing a positive breastfeeding relationship with their beautiful baby. In my clinic, I have the opportunity to consult with families from 2-5 days postpartum. It’s such a fragile time. Some lucky moms are already on their way to successful breastfeeding. Others are still in the trenches of sleep deprivation, discomfort from delivery, low milk supply and latch issues. My focus is assessing and developing a feeding plan specific to each family and baby’s needs and clinical picture, providing tools and education that can be taken from the clinic into the home. It’s so fun seeing my thriving patients weeks and months later with happy parents in tow!

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If you could give your top 3 tips for nursing moms to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship, what would they be?

My top 3 tips for nursing moms in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship:

1) Be patient and consistent. Establishing a robust milk supply takes time, and learning to achieve a good latch with each feed takes practice.

2) Sleep and nutrition are vitally important during these first few weeks. Eat well, sleep when your baby sleeps, and keep that cute baby close to you. Skin to skin contact will do wonders for your milk supply, as well as yours and your baby’s emotional well-being.

3) Be kind and gentle with yourself. Contrary to what we may hear, breastfeeding does not always come naturally. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to feel like everything is falling apart. Trust in your abilities as a parent and take comfort in knowing that YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!

Many of my friends & readers are new and/or nursing moms. They had some questions I told them I would ask on their behalf when I got the opportunity to interview you:

“Is there a secret to keeping your milk up during a growth spurt?”

One of the many wonderful things about breastfeeding, is that it takes the guesswork out of figuring how much milk your baby needs to grow and thrive. Milk is produced on a supply and demand basis, which means that when the baby enters a growth spurt, your body adjusts naturally by increasing milk production and even changing the composition of your breast milk. Most mommies have sufficient lactation capacity to synthesize at least one-third more milk than their baby typically takes! How great and miraculous is that?!

“I started pumping right away for about 10 min after each feeding. I also had an oversupply. Would that be correlated to my pumping or do some mommas just naturally have an oversupply?”

Some women make far more milk than their baby can comfortably accommodate, which can almost be as big a problem as not making enough milk. Often times this may be a “baby problem” rather than primarily a “maternal problem”. Some babies take a little more time learning to coordinate their “suckle-swallow-breathe”. Fortunately, overproduction problems diminish as the supply and demand mechanism adjusts itself and baby’s coordination improves…about 6-8 weeks post birth. This is also about the amount of time it takes for mom’s milk supply to regulate itself to what baby takes. As far as early pumping and oversupply, my recommendations are as follows…..for moms who experience a delay in lactogenesis (milk production), and baby is losing weight, it is very beneficial to first latch baby effectively to the breast on cue, followed by 5-10 min of pumping on a low setting for additional breast stimulation. Once mom’s milk “comes in” however, I recommend these management tools…

  • Offer the baby one breast at each feeding, encouraging baby to empty one side. Burp baby and offer the second breast. Start with the second breast at the next feeding.
  • Pump or hand express to relieve engorgement and discomfort carefully, and only enough to relieve distention. Do not empty the breast completely. Apply a cold compress to ease discomfort.
  • Feed your baby on demand. Babies have no concept of time and attempting breast feed on a schedule will only cause frustration in the early weeks of life. Ignore the clock and focus on baby’s feeding cues.
  • Remember….milk is made based on baby’s growth needs. If baby is latching well and seems satisfied following feeding, there’s no real reason to pump afterwards. One less task to worry about!

“How do you wean from a nipple shield and could it be the cause (or part of) my very low and depleting supply?”

There are countless opinions and research articles with regards to nipple shield use. Professionally, I have found them to be extremely beneficial for things like flat/retracted nipples, transitioning babies from bottle to breast, and for babies with weak or disorganized suckles (preterm, neurological problems etc). Personally, the nipple shield kept me from throwing in the towel during the early days postpartum when my nipples felt like they might fall off at any moment. That said, studies show that using a shield can decrease milk intake by about 25%. BUT, if this is the only way baby can latch to the breast,  25% is a pretty good compromise. Extended use of the ultrathin silicon shield has not been shown to be detrimental in any other way. If it’s working, and mom is comfortable with using a shield, by all means don’t change what’s working. However, if mom wishes to eliminate a step in the feeding process, I suggest starting by placing the baby skin-to-skin next to the nipple, starting the feed with the shield and removing it, gradually trying feeds without the shield. Be prepared for some frustration as baby moves through the learning process. With consistency and time, and the absence of anatomical necessity of the shield, baby will be able to latch directly to the breast.

“How do I prevent clogged milk ducts?”

Clogged milk ducts are typically found in mommies who have a large milk supply who do not adequately drain each breast. You’ll know if you have one because you’ll have a reddened tender area that may be warm to the touch . You may also feel a lump and have a fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your OB/GYN for further evaluation as sometimes antibiotics may be needed. However, there are things you can do to help prevent plugged ducts/mastitis:

  • Feed baby regularly on demand. Do not skip feeds!
  • Make sure you’re wearing a non-constricting bra. Take note especially as to how your bra fits under your arm. This is a favorite spot for those ducts to clog. No underwire bras for breastfeeding mamas! Personally, I found great success with sports bras. They are supportive and comfortable without being restrictive, and you can pull your breast out from the top or the bottom.

If you find yourself with a plugged duct, here’s what you can do…

  • Breast feed often. Begin feeding on the affected breast to promote drainage.
  • Massage the breast before and during feeding to stimulate milk flow. I like to use lotion and my thumb.
  • Change baby’s position during feedings to ensure drainage of all the ducts.
  • Avoid all restrictive clothing. Even the straps on a baby carrier can block ducts.
  • Studies have shown that Lecithin, 1600 mg daily, can alleviate and prevent clogged milk ducts.

“My babe is 6 months and didn’t gain too much in the last 2 months. Is there a way to fatten my milk? It used to be so thick and creamy and now it’s like skim milk!”

Believe it or not, the nutritional status of the mother does not appear to affect milk volume unless the mother is malnourished. Babies who are exclusively breastfed have the same or even greater weight gain in the first 3-4 months than do formula-fed babies. After this time, formula fed babies consistently weigh more than breastfed babies. Babies gain weight at different rates, and as long as baby is gaining and not losing, and the pediatrician is happy, it’s safe to relax and not worry if weight gain has slowed a bit. The macronutrient make-up, consistency and appearance of breast milk changes constantly, but hindmilk  always contains at least twice the amount of fat as compared to foremilk. For mommies who are blessed with a large milk supply, it’s important to have baby COMPLETELY empty one breast before moving on to the next. This way, baby gets a full serving of fat at each meal. Unfortunately, the amount and type of fat that Mom eats doesn’t affect the total amount of fat in breastmilk. No amount of pizza and nachos is going to boost the fat content of your breast milk. Rest assured that by aiming to completely empty at least one breast before switching to the second will ensure baby is getting exactly what he needs.

“What would you suggest to boost production for moms who struggle with milk supply?”

Foods and herbs are used in many cultures to increase milk supply. There’s conflicting evidence however as to whether or not “galactagogues” (agents that promote milk production) really work. Regardless, I have many patients and clients use them with great success. My recommendation? Try them, and if you find something that works, great! The list of claimed galactagogues is long, but a few that you can find at places like Whole Foods are shatavari, torbangum, fenugreek tea and milk thistle. Believe it or not, oatmeal seems to be the shining star favorite among my patients. Healthy, tasty, AND a potential galactagogue!

Wow, I feel like I’ve learned SO much from this interview with you, but I know that other mamas out there likely have trouble-shooting and questions we didn’t have time to touch on. So, my last question is, what kind of services do you offer currently, and how could a mama get in touch with you?

Thank-you so much for your questions and for allowing me to share my personal and professional experience with you as you embark on the amazing journey that is breastfeeding. I am currently available for email and telephone consultations, and am also offering my services via text. I can be contacted at nursechata@hotmail.com. I look forward to offering support, education and guidance tailored to you and your baby’s individual needs.

Thank you SO much for sharing your time and expertise with us, Shanon! I know you’ll continue to help mamas across the country to feel more confident and successful in their breastfeeding journeys.

What other breastfeeding related questions do you still have?

xo, Ashley (1)

P.S. If you’re still nursing, make sure to check out all my posts on breastfeeding & pumping.