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)

Personalized Alphabet Book

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Tips To Make Dining Out With A Baby Less Stressful

One of the things that my husband and I loved to do pre-baby was go 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 a 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 – I can’t recommend this product 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 to 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.

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.

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 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.

P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

xo, Ashley (1)

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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)

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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. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

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

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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!

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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.

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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)

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What’s In My {un} Diaper Bag

 

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This page contains affiliate links for your convenience. All linked products are ones I actually use.

I don’t really know how many of you actually care what’s specifically in my diaper bag, but I do think you’ll be interested in an awesome insert created by Tote Savvy that can transform your favorite purse or tote into a {un} diaper bag. I purchased the mini version in soft grey, and am loving it; now when I’m out and about with Taylor I don’t have to bring both my diaper bag and a purse, or stuff all the contents I would have in my purse into and lug around a huge diaper bag. The larger size Tote Savvy insert allows you to fit literally everything you’d have in your larger diaper bag into your favorite tote. I would totally have opted for that had I found out about Tote Savvy before buying this diaper bag. Luckily, I have a really well-stocked baby car kit in my trunk that has spare clothes and other items I can’t quite fit into my purse, that I can always head back to the car for in case of emergency. However, I’m definitely able to pack all the essentials into my {un} diaper bag AND look like a stylin’ mama thanks to Tote Savvy!

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Tote Savvy – a must have for style conscious mamas.
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Organization meets style.
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Toting my {un} diaper bag at the park.

If you’re super uninterested in the contents of my diaper bag (understandable), make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post for a sweet discount code to purchase a Tote Savvy insert and transform your own bag! Tote Savvy inserts are one of the items I think would make a GREAT gift for a new mom (see the others on my list in this post) so stock up for baby showers and/or Christmas gifts for any mamas-to-be or new moms in your life.

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Have you checked out the new Resource page yet? Click here!

Without further ado, here is everything I need to pack in my {un} diaper bag for a day out with my baby girl – it’s my hope that you’ll find something useful to help you feel even a little bit more prepared or organized:

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  1. Purse
  2. Wallet (thanks Hubby!)
  3. Pacifier – I like storing extra pacis in small tupperware containers like these or these. The only pacis Taylor will take are these.
  4. Teether – Sophie (I thought this was so overrated, but it turned out that Taylor LOVES it/her!)
  5. Snack – dried mango slabs which keep her happy & entertained for a good 20 {supervised} minutes. Make sure to buy unsweetened, organic, wide slabs so that your babe can’t fit the mango all the way into his/her mouth. We get ours at Whole Foods Market. Bonus – they can also double as {messy} teethers!
  6. Toy – these rings are easy to pack and by far Taylor’ favorite thing she owns!
  7. Bottle – Comotomo, the only bottle Taylor would take and one of the best for breastfed babes. There is an insulated pouch in the ToteSavvy insert for the bottle if you’re packin’ breast milk or pre-mixed formula.
  8. Book – miniature books like this classic are perfect for stashing in diaper bags AND for entertaining baby hands/minds.
  9. Disposable Bags – I have these Munchkin bags and dispensers in my diaper bag, daycare bag and car kit (click on the links to find out exactly what I pack in those bags!).
  10. 2-3 spare diapers
  11. Wipes – I buy this bulk box of travel packs (16 packs of 18 wipes each) that fit into the Tote Savvy as well as my diaper clutch.
  12. Solid Food – Kiinde squeeze pouch with the spoon attachment (I usually pack applesauce, but you can make tons of other homemade purees as I show in this post or buy your own to fill in the pouch when you’re on the go with your babe.)
  13. Burp cloth – I use these cloth diapers 
  14. Sunglasses – for Mom (similar, AND on sale!) and Baby (aren’t these hysterical!?)
  15. Miscellaneous stuff for mom –
    1. gum
    2. a pen
    3. hair tie/s – you don’t want to be caught unable to throw up a solid mom bun!
    4. hand lotion
    5. mini natural hand-sanitizer – I have theses stashed all over the place!
    6. chapstick
    7. lipgloss/lipstick – my favorite gloss ever is Laura Mercier, in Coral Reef or Nude Rose.
  16. Last but not least, the item that makes it all so stylishly possible…my ToteSavvy Mini which, by the way, also includes a changing pad which you can see rolled up on the right below:img_7346
  17. Not pictured – iPhone (because I was taking a picture with it, duh.)
  18. Also not pictured – a snack for mama (because I was out of my favorite protein bars which I’ve since remedied.)
  19. Pictured below – In December, 2016 Dr. Brown’s sent me these all natural pacifier and bottle wipes and nose and face wipes which I now carry in my diaper bag, which come in incredibly handy when we go out to eat and she inevitably has a messy face to clean up and/or drops pacis, toys, bottles, etc. on the ground:

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20. Pictured below – The Mommy Hook which is perfect for hanging a purse, diaper bag and shopping bags:

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post.

Please enjoy using a 20% off Discount Code: FALLSTYLE to purchase your own insert from Tote Savvy at Lifeinplaycompany.com and turn your purse into an {un} Diaper Bag. Thank you, Tote Savvy!

xo, Ashley (1)

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10 Gifts Ideas For a New Mom

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Opinions and recommendations are 100% mine!

In the last month alone, I know three lovely ladies who have brought new life into the world and are currently in the throes of the newborn stage. Although blissful in many ways, the first few weeks with a new baby are also just plain hard – you’re recovering physically and emotionally from a really, really HUGE event while at the same time giving 110% of your heart and energy to get to know and care for that precious new baby. I can imagine it must be an even more difficult time if you have one or more other kiddos to take care of!  Having been in the newborn/brand new mama phase myself just a few months ago, it got me thinking about some of the amazing gifts I received from friends and family that made me feel super special and/or helped me get through the first few weeks.

Prior to having my own baby, I really didn’t know what a new mom could really use or enjoy during this time, and usually bought something for the friend’s baby instead. There are a lot of things I seriously haven’t clue one about about when it comes to being a mom, but I do know the gifts I personally received (or gave to myself) during the first few months of being a mom that are definitely worth paying forward.

All of us will know a friend or relative who gives birth and could use a special something during those first few weeks, so here are some ideas for gifts that would make any new mama feel spoiled.

What To Give A Mom Who Just Had A Baby:

Your time

Hands down, the best gift I was given in those first few weeks was the time of my best friends and close family. If you can make a few hours to go to a new mama’s house and volunteer to fold laundry, do dishes, cook a meal, make a grocery store run, hold the baby so the mama can shower or take a nap, or whatever they need to catch a well-deserved break, do it. I was blessed so much in this way, and it would be my #1 gift recommendation to give any new mom! And, maybe bring along another one of the items below as well : )

A massage gift certificate

To be honest, I did not get a massage until over 6 months postpartum (I’m actually going in for one tomorrow, yeay!), but I really could have used one within the first couple months. Time just slipped away from me. A mama’s body and spirit go through so much to bring that sweet little baby into the world. A massage is a wonderful way not only to release tension, but to have an hour of alone time to contemplate everything that has happened/changed, and reflect on the blessing of having a new baby. Having a gift certificate for a massage is sometimes more motivating to make and get to the appointment (new moms have plenty of other baby stuff to spend their money on!), and would be a much appreciated gift. If you don’t know of a local day spa, you could purchase a Spa Finder gift certificate that can be used at thousands of spas nationwide.

Scented shower gel –

It may seem small, but this is truly an indulgence that a new mama probably wouldn’t buy for herself that will make those few and far between showers in the early days really count – the shower may be a new mom’s only alone time for quite a while! 6.5 months later I am still enjoying the Philosophy’s Pure Grace body wash given to me by my parents’ neighbors (because I use it sparingly, not because I take so few showers haha). It smells super yummy, plus every mama needs a reminder to give herself the gift of Grace, especially during the first few months that can be so challenging. This was a thoughtful reminder for me to be gracious to myself during a beautiful, yet exhausting time with a STEEP learning curve.

ToteSavvy purse converter –

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I just recently purchased one of these for myself, the Mini version, and I’m obsessed! It’s basically an insert that transforms a purse or tote-sized bag into a diaper bag. This is the perfect gift for the style conscious mama – and something she may not have come across yet! Read more on the Tote Savvy inset and all about what I pack in my {un} diaper bag in this post.

A meal sent straight to the door –

The way to a man’s new mama’s heart is through her stomach – especially if she is nursing around the clock. There are all kinds of online delivery services now that you can use to gift a new mom and her family a dinner they don’t have to cook.  One of my best friends, who lives hours away, used Door Dash to send us pizza and Paleo chicken from one of our local favorite restaurants. Post Mates is another service for local restaurant delivery in many areas. Having food brought to us by family and friend was invaluable, but this is a great option when you live far away, but still want to show the love with a hot meal.

An emergency car kit –

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This Emergency Car Kit for a baby is something that I didn’t come up with until several months after Taylor’s birth, and would have LOVED for someone to  give to me already put together. You can find out all the details on what is in this car kit, and how to put it together in this post. I think any new mom would appreciate being gifted something like this, especially with a cute diaper wipes clutch like this one included:

A Motherhood themed graphic tee/sweatshirt –

For me, mom life IS the best life.
For me, mom life IS the best life.

I recently received this sweatshirt from ILY Couture as a birthday present from one of my best friends in the whole world, and I’m in love with it. For me, the mantra is 100% true, and it’s a truly comfy top – perfect for cuddling with Taylor. This and Lululemon black crops have basically become my uniform on my days off from work – yes, I’m that mom now. ILY is currently having a 30% off sale on their Mom Life collection: Use promo code: MOMLIFE

Below are some other options for fun graphic tees to welcome a mama into her new (or additional) role. I included super cute options for the rest of the family as well if you scroll through:

An Amazon gift certificate for online shopping –

My husband can attest that I did A LOT of online shopping, particularly on Amazon, during the first months after having Taylor. I literally didn’t leave the house for nearly two weeks (read more on my first outing here), and suddenly discovered there were a lot of things I needed but had not registered for/stocked up on (read all about that here)! I can imagine that most new moms find themselves in a similar situation – so many little things to buy for baby, but getting out of the house to the store right away is kind of intimidating/impossible. The Amazon gift cards from the baby shower thrown by my co-workers were an amazing gift that I will definitely be paying forward to my friends in the future as they have their babies. This might actually be my #2 recommended gift for new moms!

An outfit for Her

Maybe not so much the pants part of an outfit, as I know I certainly didn’t fit back into my pre-pregnancy size right away, but a shirt and accessory would be perfect. A new mom is probably not going to be doing any shopping for herself for a while, and sometimes putting on something new and stylish can just make you feel good. My husband’s Grandmother was so sweet and thoughtful to bring Taylor many lovely gifts when she first came to meet her, but also a flowy white tank top for me that was perfect for the summer weather at that time, stylish and comfortable as well. I so appreciated that unexpected gift, and had never thought about bringing a new mama friend clothing for HER… but I will now.



 

 

 

There is a whole line of this really cute teething jewelry by Mama & Little on Amazon right now that would make a great pairing with one of the loose fitting, comfy tops below for a new mama gift:

A comfy robe –

Even is she already has a robe, I don’t think you can have too many for the first month after baby. Particularly if the mama is nursing, she may very well spend a large part of the day in a robe purely for convenience/comfort’s sake. A robe like any of these would be a perfect new mom gift:

These are all gifts I’ve been given and GREATLY appreciated as a new mom. What are some other gifts you received postpartum that could be added to this list? Leave a comment below so that anyone reading this can snag your gift idea to give to a friend. 

xo, Ashley (1)

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Building A Breast Milk Freezer Stash On Maternity Leave

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View are 100% mine and I use all products referenced.

At my daughter’s two month check up, her Pediatrician asked if I had started working on a “freezer stash” to prepare for my return to work and the inevitable dip in my milk supply that would go along with it. I thought, ‘ummmm what the heck is a “freezer stash”?’ but replied, “no not yet, but I will soon.” I knew going back to work in 7 weeks would be an emotional rollercoaster anyway, but I hadn’t yet begun to worry about how to mitigate a potential dip in my supply when I initially returned. I have a goal of breastfeeding Taylor for her first year of life, and I didn’t want those first few days back to work to sabotage that goal. The minute I got home I commenced a frantic Pinterest search for how to create a back stock of breast milk while I still had time on maternity leave. My worry fueled me to make the time for and routine to create a freezer stash over the next 40 days or so and, little by little, I ended up with just shy of 100 ounces by the time I went back to work.

I’m so glad that I took that time, even though pumping when you’re home with your baby is super annoying (my hat is off to you if you’re an exclusive pumping mama!), because it alleviated the pressure to pump enough when I first returned to work – that transition was stressful enough already! Fortunately, with the help of my AMAZING and delicious lactation cookies I have been able to keep up with Taylor’s demands thus far, but the stash has come in handy for other reasons I hadn’t thought of:

  1. when my husband and I have gone on a date night a couple of times and my mom has watched her. For me, it’s nice to have that freedom every once in a while.
  2. my hubby has fed her a bottle of my milk at 3AM and so that I could get a full night’s sleep when I was on the edge of total exhaustion during the 4 month sleep regression
  3. to mix in with the homemade baby food I’ve been preparing. I’m only able to pump just enough for the next day at work.
  4. when Taylor had a particularly hungry day and my mom, who is a saint and watches her when I’m at work now that she is no longer at daycare, needed to give her an extra bottle beyond what I’d pumped the day before at work. I’m definitely a “just enough” pumper!

You can read more about my workday pumping routine here, and what I pack in my pumping bag here.

I’m not an expert, but if you are going to be returning back to work soon, I hope some of my experience and resulting advice will help you build up your own freezer stash and have the comfort of knowing you’ve got a backup while you’re getting back into your work routine. We mamas have enough to worry about, right?!

Tips For Building A Freezer Stash

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Pump in the morning after putting baby down for 1st nap –

Milk supply is at it’s highest in the morning hours, so this is the time I noticed I would get the most bang for my buck. I usually kept the bottle of pumped milk out until I was certain she would stay down for her nap for a while. If she woke up hungry, I didn’t want to be “out” of milk. No one wants to be tapped out with a cranky, hungry baby! As a side, but very important note, do NOT pump during a growth spurt as your baby will need all the milk you can supply (unless you have an over-supply of breastmilk).

Pump in the evening after putting baby to bed –

Each night I would strap on my handsfree pumping bra, settle down into our comfy couch, and watch a show with my hubby whilst pumping for 20 minutes, or until both sides had emptied. Often I would feel discouraged because I would get so little in the evenings (1-2 ounces), but trust me it adds up! You can always leave that milk in the refrigerator to combine with the next session’s liquid gold before freezing.

Label your storage bags before pouring in the pumped milk –

I label my bags with a Sharpie, noting the date, time and ounces. Some people note the exact time, but I just delineate between AM and PM. This is important so that you know which milk to use first.

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Store the milk in 2 and 3 ounce increments –

Storing milk in 2-3 ounce increments limits the potential for waste. If you fill each bag up to capacity and then thaw it out when needed, but your baby doesn’t eat all of it you can’t re-freeze or refrigerate it and it goes to waste. I froze a few 4-5 ounce bags, but mainly in smaller amounts. Here is a useful link I reference for how much milk to feed at what age.

After filling the storage bag, lay it flat to freeze –

After you make sure the bag is TOTALLY sealed (I put that in all caps because I’ve lost milk to a false closure – R.I.P.) lay it flat to freeze. Once frozen it is much easier to line up your little milky soldiers:

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Store the milk storage bags in reverse chronological order –

You want to be using the oldest milk first. Breast milk can keep in the freezer for up to 6 months, so you’ll walk to keep track. Here is a link from KellyMom.com that gives great guidelines for storing and handling breastmilk, including how long it can keep in the freezer.

That’s how I built up a freezer stash while on Maternity Leave!

I’m definitely not a lactation consultant or expert by any means, but I thought I would share my experience with you in case you find yourself in the same situation (returning back to work) and with the same goal (maintaining your breastfeeding relationship) and want to start your own stash. I know that having one definitely decreased my anxiety about returning to work, and has continued to feel like a safety net for us over the last few months.

If you’ve been through this already, I would love to find out what worked and didn’t work for you in building up your own freezer stash. Or, if you have any questions – I’m here for you!

Thank you for reading.

xo, Ashley (1)

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How I Deal With Worry, Anxiety and Fear As A New Mom

how-i-deal-with-worry-anxiety-and-fear-as-a-new-mom

I post a lot on the blog about schedules, routines and strategies for organization for us moms and our babies. I do so not because I have everything totally together (definitely NOT the case), or that I feel like I have anything particularly groundbreaking to share, but honestly in large part because it helps me to feel in control, when a lot of the time I feel the exact opposite as a new mom. I hope I’m not the only mom who feels like they have no clue what they are doing and worries about every little thing a lot of the time – maybe you can relate? Oftentimes, this blog and my desire to help other moms, motivates me to be extra organized and prepared for new phases and adventures with Taylor so that I can share with you in a cohesive manner; At the same time, the process of thinking through, developing plans and writing about them for you decreases some of the fears, worries and anxieties that have come along with new motherhood for me:

  • What the heck am I doing? (I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve thought this in the last 6 months!)
  • Will my milk supply drop when I start working full time? Will I be able to maintain the breastfeeding relationship like I want to?
  • Will Taylor be less bonded to me because I’m away from her at work?
  • How will I manage to successfully pump enough milk when I work full time?
  • Will I be able to handle working full time, and maintain my sanity?
  • Am I perceived at work differently, now that motherhood is my top priority?
  • Am I doing sleep training correctly?
  • Should I be sleep training at all? Do I want to? Need to?
  • When will I get to sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time again? Is this just a sleep regression?
  • When and how do I start Taylor on solids and finger foods? How much? What if she starts to choke on something?
  • Will I ever feel the elusive “balance” in life again?
  • Are my days of being in shape over forever? I know I’m not getting to the gym as often as I would like to…
  • Am I still a good wife, daughter and friend now that I’m more busy than I’ve ever been.
  • Am I a good mom?

The list goes on and on, and most days I just have to take deep breaths, trust that I’m doing the best I can and give it all to God.

One of my best friends called me out recently for putting out this post on what I pack in my daycare backpack too soon. I had just started back to work and put Taylor in daycare the week I posted and, within a month, we made the decision to pull her out. She is now at home on the days that I work with my mom and husband who works from home. The thought of her at daycare – not getting the one on one attention I was able to give during maternity leave, and totally out of my supervision – was literally giving me so much anxiety that I couldn’t function at work at even near full capacity on those days. When I posted, I didn’t know that I would feel the way I did, or that things would ultimately work out as they have for Taylor and I – that’s Motherhood.

While I do want to share that update with you, as it is part of my journey as a new mom and our journey as a family, I do not have any regrets about posting when I did. I prepared our daycare backpack way ahead of time and wrote that post so that I would feel more ready to send my baby girl to daycare – something I felt anxious about for months prior. It made me feel more confident to have everything together as much as I could on the outside, when on the inside I was anything but. I didn’t want to drop her off at daycare on those mornings for the month that I did, but having everything she would need packed and ready made me feel just a little better about it. Everyone deals with their anxieties, worries and fears differently. Maybe it’s because my dad is a Boy Scout Master or maybe it’s a slight case of OCD, but my way to deal is to be super prepared and organized. Did daycare ultimately work out for our family? No, it didn’t and we are SO blessed to have another option for Taylor’s care (thank you, Mom!).  My hope, as it was at the time I posted, is that the information will continue to help other new moms who don’t have the option to have their little one at home with a relative feel more prepared for the huge transition from being on maternity leave to returning to work and having to send their baby to daycare. That Daycare Backpack and it’s contents served us well for a short time, and I hope that post and what I put together for Taylor for that month continues to help other new moms – my whole goal for this blog.

I guess the purpose of this update is to keep it real with you, and make it clear that I am WELL aware that Taylor-made Mama is not the only blog for new moms out there – and for that reason I’m super thankful that you choose to follow along with our journey.

Thank you for reading my new mom tips, learned through trial and error as well as my “best guesses” that help me feel more prepared for motherhood, and like I know what I’m doing – just the slightest bit.

How do you deal with the inevitable worries, anxieties and fears that come along with becoming a mom for the first time?

xo, Ashley (1)

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