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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2017 Blog Reader’s Survey

*I originally sent our this survey as an email. However, many of you reached out to me yesterday to let me know that you were unable to submit the survey – thank you so much for letting me know!

Due to this error in processing, I’m embedding the survey below for your convenience.I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and honest feedback by answering the questions in the short survey. It will help me tailor my posts to what YOU want to read about!

P.S. EVERYONE THAT COMPLETES THE READER’S SURVEY AND PROVIDES THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS IS ENTERED TO WIN A $10 STARBUCKS GIFT CARD!

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How To Meet Your Fitness Goals In 2017

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The New Year is a time when many of us re-dedicate ourselves to, overhaul or ramp up a fitness/nutrition routine. The gym parking lots are packed (I literally drove around, vulturing for a spot at 24 Hour Fitness this week for what seemed like an hour!) and mamas all over the country are buying dumbbell sets and resolving to complete their home workouts during nap time. Have you ever told yourself you were going to “get in shape” on January 1st but  found yourself in the same place you were then by the end of the year? If getting in shape is a goal for you this new year, how will you make sure you make that happen for yourself?

This where strategic goal setting comes in – being realistic and specific about what exactly you are hoping to achieve and setting a goal that you can actually measure progress toward and accomplishment of.

A specific goal has a MUCH better chance of being accomplished that a general goal.

Nothing motivates me more than seeing measurable progress toward a fitness goal. I’ve dabbled in lots of different forms of fitness over the years (swimming, running, CrossFit, bodybuilding, cycling, etc.) but the part that keeps me coming back for more is setting, meeting and even surpassing goals I set for myself. From college until age 27 I was a runner, and although I was not winning any awards for speed, I was continually motivated by seeing my times on the track or at a race decrease as a result of my training plans.

The cardio years.

At age 28 I found CrossFit and quickly became absolutely addicted to making measurable progress in strength, endurance and gymnastic skills. In CrossFit you keep track of basically everything, from the time it takes you to complete a particular workout, the maximum weight you can dead lift from the floor, the amount of strict pull ups you can complete, etc.

Scary lifting face but, hey, that’s a lot of weight!

Two things I’ve found helpful when it comes to setting and achieving my fitness goals over the years are:

1) Putting goals out there to a friend/s or family (or even on social media!). There is something about others knowing what you are trying to accomplish that creates instant accountability and motivation to stick to what you said you wanted to do.

2) Using strategic goal setting, such as a SMART goal format to develop and track progress toward goals.

SMART stands for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time-based or Tangible

For example, although certainly realistic and achievable, “I will get in really good shape in 2017”  is not specific, measurable or time-based:

  • What does “really good shape” mean exactly? What components does this person consider as part of being in shape?
  • What is the baseline for for each of those components?
  • What would be the indicators of progress toward getting into really good shape?
  • How would someone actually know if they met that 2017 goal?

If I had that goal (“I will get in really good shape in 2017” ) for myself (which I do in fact!) I would want to:

a) specifically define the components I personally consider part of being in shape or that I cared to focus on for the year (body fat %, strength,skill, speed, etc.)

b) find my baseline times/weights/numbers for those components

c) set a realistic goal based on my current baseline and what I know to be possible within a year given any physical or time/schedule limitations,

d)  make sure that the components I choose to focus on can be tangibly tracked so that I can monitor my progress along the way.

Following this formula, a potential SMART goal for “getting into really good shape” could be:

“By January 1st, 2018 I will be able to run an 8:00 mile on a treadmill, do 10 consecutive push ups, hold a plank for 2 minutes,  and have a body fat percentage of 20% or less(the numbers would of course vary based on a current baseline for mile time, push-ups, planks and body fat).

Or even simpler, “I will join a gym and work out 3 days per week” would be a much more specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based goal than ” I will get into shape.”

My Fitness SMART Goal for 2017:

I thought I would increase my chances of achieving my own SMART strength and fitness goal for 2017 by sharing it with you:

1. I want to regain some of the strength and fitness capacity I lost during pregnancy and the past 9 postpartum months during which I have not been able to physically lift or exert myself like I used to. In order to set a realistic, achievable goal, I need to consider my baseline times/weights/numbers and also that I have less time than I used to to workout (read about how I still stay motivated as a busy, working mama HERE!). I chose 6 elements to create my strength and fitness goal, so that I can tailor my workouts toward making progress in those areas. My 2017 Fitness SMART Goal is:

““By January 1st, 2018 I will be able to run a 7:30 mile on a treadmill, do 15 consecutive push ups, hold a plank for 3+ minutes, add 50 pounds to my current deadlift and back squat max lifts, and complete 5 consecutive strict pull ups, and workout 3 times per week.”

So, What’s Next?

Once you have your SMART fitness goal/s established, you can create a plan to help you get there.

What are your fitness goals for 2017? I would love to read your goals in the comments! Could you make your goal a SMART one? 

Try out my  Busy Mama’s Home workout program!

Sign up to receive blog updates and a Busy Mama’s Home Workout Plan directly to your inbox to help kickstart your fitness goals:

 

 

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A Simple Way To Create A Christmas Card Memory Book

Want to preserve the magic of Christmas all year round?

I know I do, especially this year with it being Taylor’s first!

One of my favorite traditions of the holiday season (up there with my xmas morning Monkey Bread) has always been receiving Christmas cards in the mail. Beginning around the end of November, I anticipate the mail each day hoping to receive a card with the beautiful, smiling faces of another friend or family. As a child, my mom always displayed each card our family received on our refrigerator, and I can remember admiring them every day and missing them when they were inevitably taken down. I honestly don’t have any ingenious way to display the cards we receive and should really step my game up at at some point (I just use red twine similar to this and mini wooden clothespins) but I wanted to share the simple way I save the cards and keep them accessible (but not up on the wall) all year long.

The past few years I have been preserving our Christmas cards after the holiday season is over simply by hole punching them with a single hole punch and binding them with a single binder ring. I keep the cards for the previous year in a drawer that I can easily access throughout the new year whenever I want to see our loved ones; it is a good reminder to continue to pray for the health and well being of each family, not just during the Christmas season. Can you imagine how much more connected you would feel to your friends and family throughout the new year if you started your day with a cup of copy, sending prayers and/or positive thoughts for them out into the world? This is a goal I have for the new year – less focus on me and my needs, more on those of my friends and family.

This year I brought out the 2015 memory book and let Taylor flip through photos of my favorite people. Our family card last year (2015) featured a picture of AJ and I on our Honeymoon and a 20 week ultrasound of our baby girl. One of the most special photos from the hundreds I took at our various celebrations this Christmas season is Taylor looking at that card from a year ago. She was randomly flipping through and looking at the pictures, but paused and touched our faces in recognition when she got to our card. Sometimes I still can’t believe that our precious baby girl is now here with us, and that we get to celebrate all our Christmases from now on with her (pinch me!). I anticipate that as she grows older, she will truly love flipping through the cards throughout the year and identifying the faces and names of friends and family who she loves but doesn’t get to see all the time.

Here are the super simple and inexpensive supplies you’ll need to put together your own Holiday Card Memory Book for 2016:

1.) A set of loose leaf binder rings. Stack your cards and hole punch in the top left corner with the second supply,

2.) A single hole punch.

3.) Put your own Holiday Card on top as the cover or use the one I created for our memory book this year:

If you would like to use my cover, leave your name and email address below and I will send it directly to your inbox. You’ll also receive Taylor-made Mama post updates and be automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

What do you do with all of your holiday cards once the new year begins? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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

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Merry Christmas 2016 + a gift to you

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


This is definitely our most special Christmas yet, as it is Taylor’s first. Christmas is already a important celebration to us, but there is something even more magical this year. Today we’re heading out to spend time with our best friends, and then to church this evening (wish us luck getting through an hour with a squirmy 8.5 month old!).Whatever you do to celebrate, I hope that you have a lovely next few days full of yummy food, laughter, friends and family time.

I’m so thankful that you read this blog, and wanted to give a little early Christmas gift as a token of that appreciation. Below is a gift card to Starbucks loaded with $50; you just need to ask your barista to scan the barcode. Please use the card for just one drink so that as many people as possible can grab a festive beverage today (skinny peppermint mocha anyone?!). Enjoy! And, please forgive the “Hi Merry” – apparently I don’t know how to fill in fields properly : )

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Let me know what you get down in the comments!

 

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Mommin’ Ain’t Easy – 12 Things I Never Understood About Moms, Until I Became One

Thank you to threadtank.com for sending me the graphic t-shirts featured in this post.

I became a mama at a ripe 32 years old, and I’m 33 now. I grew up thinking I’d be a young, stay at home mom, but this not-so-young, working mom wouldn’t change a thing about the timeline of my life. The moment Taylor was placed on my chest I felt a deep confirmation that God had been with me through everything I’ve experienced – the light and the dark – and worked all of that together for good. After all, he gave me the honor of raising the most beautiful being I’ve ever met. But, back to being 33…

As a not-so-young-mom, I’ve watched many people and almost all of my girl friends have babies before me. The latter has been a super great advantage because I have these amazing moms to emulate and field my gazillion new mama questions. I also now realize that there were so many things I didn’t quite understand about being a mom, especially a new mom, and how it impacts your decision making that make complete sense to me now that I am one myself.

I get this now.

Here are 12 things I never fully understood about mom life, that I SO get now:

1.Leaving your baby to stay overnight is either out of the question, or really, really {did I say really?} hard to do. I have yet to leave Taylor overnight and it would take a momentous occasion for me to even consider doing so. I’ve already had to say no to several super fun opportunities because I’m just not ready to leave T overnight. Plus, having to bringing and use pump every few hours on an overnight really takes away some of the “fun” element.

2. Going out to dinner with friends with a baby is sometimes more stress than it’s worth. It’s not that we don’t want to get together with friends all the time (like we used to), it’s just that we can’t even be present when we’re trying to manage/wrangle a squirmy baby with a 2 minute attention span and a 7:00 PM bedtime.

3. Being selfish with night and weekend time. As a working mom it’s really hard to give up any of the time you do get to spend with your babe to anything or anyone else, no matter how much you enjoy their company. I ADORE my friends, but I have this thing inside me that feels guilty for spending any more time away from Taylor than I already do during the week.

4. Next level tiredness. Before having a newborn and now an 8 month old going through teething/sleep regression, I thought I understood what being tired felt like too. Since having Taylor I’ve put the coffee creamer away in the dish cupboard, forgotten work deadlines and where I left my keys embarrassingly too often, almost hit a man on a bike coming out of the Whole Food parking lot, and lost my $h*# on my poor husband for the smallest things ever, all on account of being so Mombie-status tired. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and I didn’t understand how impactful it would be.

5. Leaving careers (and salaries!) that took a lot of time and education to achieve to stay home with your babies. I thought I would never consider the SAHM life, and be one of those rockstar professionals who was ready to get back to work following Maternity Leave, especially because I have a job and colleagues I truly enjoy… Well, I’ve pined to be home with my baby girl since my first day back.

Shoes: Steve Madden // Denim: Vici Dolls // Graphic Tee: Thread Tank

6. Canceling plans last minute or being perpetually late to them. With a baby/kids involved, there are just way too many variables in play (naps, tantrums, mom exhaustion, colds, blowouts, etc.). As much as I value being reliable and on time, my schedule is not only my own anymore and I’m thankful for my friends (moms and non-moms) who just get it.

7. Not answering texts or voicemails until days later, or at all.  Whereas I used to be a pretty insta-responder, I’m now totally guilty of this. I used to think there was no excuse for this, but you guys, “mom brain” is real.

8. Hiring a part time nanny as a stay at home mom. I don’t have any friends who have actually done this and I’m not planning to anytime soon,  but I definitely wouldn’t judge anyone who did. I actually find that it’s harder to get anything done or squeeze in a little “me time” on days I’m at home. On work days, at least I know I’ll have 20 minutes of solitude and podcast listening on my commute whereas stay at home mom rarely get any alone time to recharge (God bless you sweet SAHMs!). I now totally understand why, if you could afford to, a stay or work at home mom would hire a nanny and can see how that would allow for more balance/”me time”.

9. The desire to “Twin”. I seriously thought this was the most ridiculous concept ever. Then I had an adorable little mini-me (I also always hated that phrase, and kinda still do) and now I can’t stop looking for the perfect twinning get ups.

Mama Bear Baseball Tee: Thread Tank // Headband: KRZA // Re-growth: Me

Taylor’s Baseball Tee: American Apparel (sold out on their site, but I found it on Amazon)

10. Persevering with breastfeeding. I thought, ‘if it’s hard, why not just give up and switch to formula immediately?’ Well, now that I’m a mom and find myself still pumping/scheduling/sterilizing/worrying about supply/etc. after being back to work for 5+ months in order to continue breastfeeding my 8 month old, I so get it. It’s not easy,  but I’ve made the choice to do everything I can to make it work until it doesn’t anymore. That connection is something I’m not ready to let go of yet, and I hope I won’t have to anytime soon.

11. Pinterest. I was a casual Pinterester pre-Taylor, but literally the day after she was born I started curating all kinds of baby related boards with the best information and articles I could find. I spent hour upon hour reading from Pinterest during those round the clock newborn nursing sessions. Follow me at Taylormademama and save yourself a ton of time and research.

12. The crazy-making,heart-changing, life-altering love for a child. I didn’t understand how much my heart could expand to even try to contain the love I have for my daughter. I would give anything to and do anything for her, and I’m sure I’ll make some crazy mama bear moves with her at the front of my mind.

And, mama, give yourself huge kudos and extra grace because Mommin’ ain’t an easy gig, but it’s the best one around.

Can you relate to any of my “now I get its”? What is something you didn’t understand about mom life until you became one yourself? I’d love if you would leave me a comment and let me know!

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Easy Monkey Bread Mini Recipe

This is a recipe my college roommates and I made entirely too often, back in the days when my metabolism was still moving at lightening speed (thank goodness). Flash forward way more than 10 years and I’m still enjoying this tried and true, easy-peasy recipe. I’ve made this Monkey Bread for my immediate family every year on Christmas morning as the recipe became and instant favorite and tradition When my husband came into the picture, he too fell in love with the tradition of Christmas Morning Monkey Bread; we even made it a couple years ago when we vacationed in Hawaii for Christmas – how’s that for a Mele Kalikimaka! In college, we would throw all the cinnamon-sugar coated dough into a bundt pan, bake and go at a massive pile of pull-apart yumminess with no regard for calories. However, in my post-college years – trying to limit my own intake jusssst a little, I started to make a mini version of this Monkey Bread using a muffin tin. Although my attempts to portion control almost always fail – it’s way too good to have just one -the presentation is super cute, the mini versions are perfect to serve to guests on individual plates.

AJ and I enjoyed the round of monkey bread yielded from the making of this post immensely, and even let Taylor have a little taste of cinnamon sugar. I can’t wait for her to be old enough to fully partake in this tradition with us! I hope you enjoy this quick, easy and delicious recipe for years to come as well.

 

Print

Easy Monkey Bread Minis

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 cans refrigerated biscuit dough I used Pillsbury Grands

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan on low, stirring regularly.

  3. In a wide bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.

  4. Cut biscuits into 6 pieces each.

  5. Roll the biscuit pieces in the cinnamon sugar until thoroughly coated.

  6. Place 5-6 biscuit pieces into each muffin tray cup (if you're smarter than me you'll remember to put foil liners in first!)

  7. Spoon or pour 1 teaspoon butter/brown sugar mixture on top of each cup.

  8. Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, or until done.

  9. Let cool for several minutes, serve and enjoy!

What are your favorite, traditional family recipes and treats around the holidays?

Foil liners on sale:

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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!

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


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Baby Girl’s First Christmas Gift Guide

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All the opinions are 100% mine. If you use a link to purchase an item you like too, thank you!

A baby’s first Christmas is such a special time and even though they won’t remember it, you will treasure the memories for the rest of your life. Picking out a few special gifts (and giving Grandparents the opportunity to spoil your babe with all the rest) is just one of the wonderful traditions of Christmas, like picking out the perfect 1st Christmas dress or starting an Advent calendar countdown as a family.  For Taylor’s first Christmas (she’ll be 8.5 months) I wanted to get her a few practical stocking stuffers, a couple toys she can enjoy right away, a few that she’ll grow into in the next several months and one special/sentimental gift she’ll appreciate at some point later. This gift guide includes gifts I have purchased for Taylor, gift suggestions I’ve given to her grandparents, and a few extra ideas I think would be extra special for your little darling’s first holiday. I’m hoping you find some last minute baby girl gift inspiration for your or a friend’s sweet baby girl.

P.S. If you still have some shopping to do for your hubs (or brother, BroFF, etc.), check out my Holiday Gift Guide For Him.

  1. Winter sweater
  2. Converse Allstars – I asked my hubby to get me an adult pair – twinning for the win!
  3. Musical instrument set 
  4. 14K Gold bangle – this is super special gift that can be passed down from generation to generation. There is a less expensive version here.
  5. Alphabet puzzle 
  6. Animal rocker 
  7. Activity cube
  8. Bonds Wondersuits – seriously, I cannot get enough of these for Taylor – she lives in them and has since she was born. Read more about my obsession in this post, and stock up for your babe because they’re 2 for $39 right now.
  9. Personalized arm chair – I love this one because we found a cover color that’s an exact match to our living room sofa.
  10. Wooden baby key set – perfect stocking stuffer!
  11. Bucket of blocks 
  12. Wooden Tooth teether – another aptly sized, and practical stocking stuffer
  13. Baby iPhone – I “accidentally” already gave this to Taylor, and she is LOVING it.
  14. Freshly Picked Moccasins – I bought the style, “Pin the Petal,” but they have a million other cute colors/patterns to choose from. I love that these will have her little footprints embedded in the leather forever!
  15. Christmas Pajamas – we actually have a whole family set of these which you can check out in this post. Right now you can get up to 40% off, while supplies last. Valid 11/7-12/25.
  16. Rainbow stacking tower – or the classic version here!
  17. The Wonderful Things You Will Be – this sweet book has the most beautiful illustrations.
  18. 1st Christmas ornament by Kate Spade

Happy shopping, mama!


Join The Party! Save 25% On Sleighloads of Sleepwear at Hanna Andersson. Valid 11/7-12/25. 300x350

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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.

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!

top-three-breastfeeding-tips

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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