Save a Bundle on Your Little Bundle!

How can something so tiny cost so much? New parents have been known to spend $4,500 and upward, for just the basics– a crib, mattress, and baby furniture, clothes, wipes, diapers, formula (if not nursing) and other miscellaneous items.

If you are looking for some ways to save– not skimp– on your baby, here are some tips to try!

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1. Breastfeeding: It’s free, and it will save you $1,200 in formula costs! That’s big, but even more important is the fact that by breastfeeding you will pass along important immunities to fight diseases, as well as DHA/AA, two critically important fatty-acids that aid in mental and heart development. See www.LaLecheLeague.org for more information.

Total annual savings: $1,200

2. Formula: If you must bottle-feed, then by all means use store brand infant formulas – these milk and soy-based formulas made by Wyeth Nutritionals are sold by most major retailers under the store’s own proprietary name.  The FDA tightly regulates all infant formulas, and so all of the standard first year formulas are nutritionally equivalent. The only difference is the price! Store brand formulas sell for up to 40% less than the national brands. See Storebrandformulas.com for more information.

Total annual savings: $500

3. Clothes: Many parents spend $500 or more on their baby’s clothes. But if you wear your baby in a sling, no one will even know what he’s wearing!  Babies don’t care what designer label is in their clothes, but they do care to be worn close to their mother. Dr. Sears encourages all of his patients to wear their babies in specially design slings, which creates a special bond of trust between parent and child that actually enhances the mental development of a child. See www.attachmentparenting.com for more information!

Total annual savings: $250

4. Diapers and Wipes: Diapers and wipes can cost over $1,000 during the first year. Once again, you can save up to 30% by using store brand wipes and diapers.

Total annual savings: $300

5. Baby furniture: Stay out of high-end specialty baby shops that sell the latest crib, mattress set, and changing tables, where you will end up with a big bill and several weeks of waiting for your furniture. The best place to buy baby gear is at mass retailers where they sell a high volume of quality baby furniture that they stock at every store. As such, their margins are lower, saving parents a bundle.

Total potential savings: $500

5. Know what you DON’T need: Liz Pulliam Weston at MSN Money points out that many things that people buy for their baby are simply unnecessary. A second-hand, waist-high dresser works great in baby’s room, and can double as a changing table if you put a changing pad on top!  A simple willow basket inside the cabinet replaces a diaper stacker. One car seat and a base for each car is great instead of one car seat for each car. And those coordinated crib sets are cute but mostly useless- bumpers, pillows, and fluffy blankets are not recommended for infants!

6. Go with hand-me-downs! Family and friends may be a great source of baby clothes and other gear that’s free and still in near-perfect condition. You can also find clothes, name-brand strollers, toys and other baby gear for a fraction of the new price by shopping at consignment shops, thrift stores, and garage sales. Don’t worry about germs, just about anything can be thrown in the wash or sprayed with disinfecting cleaners.

7. Free entertainment: Parents.com points out that your local library can be a great source of free mommy-and-baby activity.  Some offer mom-and-baby yoga classes and weekly story time for pre-walkers, wooden puzzles and other toys, and, of course, lots of great books.


3 Reasons to Avoid Bottles at Bedtime

If your baby is being bottle-fed, it is tempting to give him a bottle of milk, formula, or juice and let him fall asleep while drinking it, but unfortunately, this is far from being a healthy habit! What could possibly be wrong with such an easy and soothing way to fall asleep?

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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

When babies fall asleep sucking on a bottle of milk or juice, the liquid tends to pool in baby’s mouth, as swallowing and saliva production decrease. Then the sugars in the mouth are converted to acids, which wear down tooth enamel.  The process is gradual, but this type of severe tooth decary begins to be noticeable on the front four teeth around 12-18 months. In severe cases, the teeth turn into brown stumps that are totally decayed.

Maybe you’re wondering: Is this so terrible, since these are “just” baby teeth that will be replaced by adult teeth later on? Dr. Green warns that baby bottle decay can distort the spacing of permanent teeth. Furthermore, these baby teeth are the only ones your child will have during the years when much of his personality and self-image are formed. It is far kinder to help your baby find alternate ways to fall asleep, rather than risk tooth decay.

Some dentists caution against night-nursing, saying breastmilk can cause cavities in the same way that other calorie-containing liquids can. However, studies have shown that night-nursers don’t have any more cavities than children who are already weaned. In fact, breast milk prohibits acid and bacterial growth in the mouth. Furthermore, breastmilk does not generally pool in the mouth since it requires active sucking (and swallowing) to draw the milk out. Night-time nursing is vital, especially for small babies, and should be continued as long as possible.

Bottle Feeding and Ear Infections

Bottles should not be giving to a baby who is lying down flat on his back, as he would be at bedtime. When bottle-feeding in the lying-down position, formula may travel from the back of the baby’s throat up through the eustachian tube into the middle ear, causing ear infections (Dr. Sears). Hold your baby in a partially upright position during bottle-feeding. This helps prevent formula from dripping into the eustachian tubes (March of Dimes).

Furthermore, the vacuum created inside the bottle as the baby sucks can also cause problems in the ear. According to Dr. Brown: Negative pressure generated in the mouth is transmitted up the tube and into the middle ear where, as a result, fluid can build up. The increased fluid can cause hearing difficulties and infections. Interestingly, none of this occurs with breast feeding, which does not create any kind of vacuum and which actually creates positive pressure within the ear. Breastmilk also contains antibodies that help protect a baby from many infections, including those that can cause ear infections.

Bottle-Feeding and Obesity

In a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers analyzed thousands of children, identifying those that were still using a bottle at age 2 as their primary drink container, and/or were put to bed with a bottle with a calorie-containing beverage (milk, formula, juice, etc).

The results show that infants who were bottled fed with calorie-containing beverages until the age of 2 showed a greater propensity toward obesity as they got older. About 23% of prolonged bottle users were obese by age 5.

This may be because bottle-feeding encourages the child to consume too many calories. “A 24-month-old girl of average weight and height who is put to bed with an 8-ounce bottle of whole milk would receive approximately 12% of her daily caloric needs from that bottle,” Rachel Gooze explains.

The authors suggest that pediatricians and other health professionals work with parents to find acceptable solutions for stopping bottle use at the child’s first birthday. Beginning by cutting out night-time bottles is an important first step. (Journal of Pediatrics)

Tips to Stop Night-time Bottle Feeding

  • One idea is to reduce the amount of milk, formula, or juice your baby is consuming at bedtime. You want to get to the point where she can fall asleep without drinking a bottle at all. Gradually reduce  the amount of milk or formula by 30ml per night until there are no more feeds. Depending on baby’s age, you can replace bottle feedings with some other comforting ritual, such as rocking, patting, singing, or reading stories.
  • Another way to reduce the amount of milk/juice your baby is drinking at night is to gradually dilute the feeds with water until your baby is just drinking water. And this may be so boring that he’ stop asking for it altogether!

The Breastfeeding-Cosleeping-Postpartum Depression Connection

These days, it’s rare to find anyone who’s gonna argue with you that breastfeeding is best for baby, whenever possible.  What they don’t realize is that breastfeeding is best for MOM, too.  And there are still plenty of people with their fists up, ready to knock down any mention of co-sleeping, despite all the benefits that co-sleeping moms and babies report (that is, I’m sure the babies would report, if they could speak!)!

So I was intrigued to read Nancy Mohrbacher‘s blog entry, Formula Supplements Put Mothers at Risk, which explains a number of reasons that breasfeeding and cosleeping are best for mom as well as baby.

Many moms are mistakenly informed that if they bottle feed and let someone else help with night feedings, they will sleep better and longer. Some people also believe that if mom sleeps separate from her baby, she will sleep better, undisturbed.  They conclude that a well-rested mother will be better equipped to hand the stresses of the post-partum period, thus relieving symptoms of postpartum depression.

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Not so, says a new study!

This study, which will appear in the June issue of the journal Clinical Lactation, surveyed 6410 mothers during the first year after birth.  Although all new mothers experience fatigue, it found that exclusively breastfeeding mothers not only slept significantly more hours during the night than other mothers but also reported significantly more energy during the day, a better mood, better overall health, and a greater sense of well-being.  Another surprising finding was that there was no statistically significant difference in any of these areas between the mixed-feed and the exclusively formula-feeding groups. (From Formula Supplements Put Mothers at Risk)

So while we all want to make sure new mothers, especially those at-risk for PPD, are happy and well-rested, strategies that separate and supplement newborns are misguided.  Instead of making mom’s life easier, they actually put her at greater risk of poor sleeping, poor health, and depression.

These benefits are in addition to many others! Breast milk builds your baby’s immune system, improves his brain function and raises IQ, reduces mom’s risk of cancers and other health conditions, helps her loose her pregnancy weight faster, and provides emotional comfort and bonding for both mothers and babies… among others!

Read more on the benefits of breastfeeding at nancymohrbacher.com.

Checklist: What you need to Buy for Baby’s Arrival

Layette (baby clothes, for those who need translation!)

  • 8-10 bodysuits or onesies (like little undershirts that snap at the crotch)
  • 4-6 one-piece PJ’s
  • 2 blanket sleepers for winter nights (these are like little wearable sleeping bags, very handy for drafty daytimes, too)
  • 1-3 rompers or other “dressy” outfits
  • 4 pairs of socks, or booties (I find that socks often fall off and get lost. You’re better off with footsie pajamas if it’s cold weather)
  • 2-3 hats (sun-hats with brims for summer baby, warm  hats that cover ears for winter baby)
  • Bunting bag or fleece suit for winter outing

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Nursery

You can skip some of this for a while if you plan on keeping baby nearby (which is best in my personal opinion), either in a bedside bassinetter or in your own bed.

  • Crib, cradle or bassinet (follow safety guidelines)
  • Firm, flat mattress that fits snugly into crib
  • 2 washable mattress pads
  • 2-4 fitted sheets
  • 4 soft, light receiving blankets
  • 1-2 heavier blankets for winter
  • Comfy chair for nursing, or pillows to prop yourself up in bed
  • Baby monitor, if you will out of hearing range of baby’s room
  • Nightlight (this is for you, to make nighttime feeding and changing easier)
  • Dresser for storing baby clothes and paraphernalia
  • Swing or bouncy chair

Diapering station

It’s nice to have a changing station where you have everything handy for changing your baby. But you can always improvise by putting a changing pad down on your bed or on top of a dresser (never leave baby alone there, of course).

  • Changing table or cushioned changing pad
  • Changing table pad cover
  • Diaper pail and liners (optional but handy)
  • Diaper cream
  • Unscented baby wipes (these are supposed to cause less irritation, although simply rinsing baby’s bottom in the sink is even better!)
  • Disposable newborn-size diapers, or 6-10 dozen cloth diapers and 6-8 diaper covers

Bath

Again, you can improvise when baby is small by plugging up a  bathroom sink,  lining it with a towel (to keep baby from slipping around) and filling it with warm water.

  • Baby bathtub
  • Baby shampoo (can use for hair and body)
  • 2-4 soft towels/hooded baby towels
  • 2-4 soft washcloths

Feeding

For nursing moms:

  • 1-3 nursing bras (Start with one size larger than your maternity bra, as breasts swell right after birth. After a couple weeks you can purchase additional bras.)
  • Nursing pads (bra inserts that protect you if you leak)
  • Nipple cream (alleviates soreness for beginner breast feeders)
  • Nursing pillow (props baby up so you don’t hurt your back by curling up over him)
  • Pump and milk storage bags (in case you ever need to leave baby for an extended amount of time)

For bottle feeding mothers:

  • 10-16 bottles and nipples, both four and eight ounce
  • Liners, for disposable bottles
  • Bottle warmer (cuts down on nighttime trips to and from the kitchen)
  • Bottle sterilizer (some dishwashers have one)
  • Bottle brush
  • Formula (if not nursing)
  • 4-8 bibs
  • Burp cloths/cloth diapers
  • High chair (not necessary until baby can sit up on his own)
  • 2-4 pacifiers

Medicine Cabinet

  • Baby nail clippers
  • Cotton balls (to clean baby’s nose, ears, umbilical cord)
  • Baby thermometer
  • Bulb syringe/nasal aspirator
  • Infant acetaminophen (Tylenol) and medicine dropper
  • Antibiotic cream and sterile gauze (for circumcision care)

Travel

  • Infant or convertible car seat
  • Stroller (reclining for infants)
  • Diaper bag
  • Changing pad
  • Baby carrier/sling

If you can check off most of the things on these lists, then  you are probably ready for for the stork’s special delivery. Congratulations!!

Do you REALLY want to know what’s in your baby’s formula?

Oils, sugars, genetically modified organisms, aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, Bisphenol-A… are you slightly horrified yet? What Everyone Needs To Know About Infant Formula Ingredients states, “This information is not readily available unless you work hard to seek it out, but I think that once you know it’s important to share it so others may benefit. I chose to write this for any parent who may be unaware of the full implications of formula feeding. Education is power and everyone deserves the ability to make an informed choice.”

Instant baby formula has saved lives. But to say that it is “just as good as” breast milk is very misleading. As scientist try to replicate breast milk as closely as possible, they are creating a substance that is increasingly more complex and questionable.  Because baby formula is categorized as “food” and not under “pharmaceuticals,” the FDA does not monitor the so-called “safe” ingredients that are added to it.

Some of these questionable ingredients include lactose, fructose, glucose, maltodextrose, carbohydrate (corn maltodextrin, modified corn starch ,corn syrup solids), protein (whey, casein, soy protein isolate), fat (soy oil, coconut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, palm or olein oil) which are usually sourced from GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Lots of sugar– in order to modify cow milk the protein and mineral content must be reduced and the carbohydrate content must be increased, which is done by adding sugars.

More unappetizing stuff: The DHA in infant formula is extracted from fermented microalgae, Cryptecoiunium cohnii, and ARA is extracted from soil fungus, Mortierelle alpina. These are new to the food chain,l therefor the long term effects of these ingredients are not known. The way they get this stuff (using hexane, a petroleum-refining by-product- a known neurotoxin and air pollutant) is concerning, too.

You might also find a mix of aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, phytoestrogens, GMO soybeans, phosphate, phthalates and Bisphenol-A in your baby’s formula. And even the water used as the base can pose a hazard- even in developed countries.  Chlorine by-products, arsenic, solvents, insecticides and weed killers are common. Formula-fed babies are up to 25 times more likely to die of  diarrhea than breast-fed babies.

You can read more about this at Breastfeeding Moms Unite.

Also of interest is Dr. Mercola’s statement: Soy formula is FAR worse than conventional formula. He says that the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm your baby’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula receive a level of estrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day! In addition, soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk, which can lead to brain damage in infants, and altered behaviors in adolescence.  So please, do not ever feed your baby soy formula, and warn others who are pregnant or who you know are considering using formula over breastfeeding. The next best alternative to breast milk is to make a healthy homemade infant formula. There may be others, but here is one recipe for homemade formula created by the Weston Price Foundation, which I believe is sound.

7 Need-to-Know Reasons to Breastfeed your Baby

I’m a huge advocate of breastfeeding, and this isn’t the first time I’ve written about the benefits that come along with it.  I think it’s so important that I have nursed both my children until age 2, and plan to breastfeed the next one for that same amount, too, if possible.

I know that breastfeeding causes many problems for new mothers, including painful, bleeding nipples, infections, and babies who don’t seem to be getting enough milk. Breastfeeding also requires quite a time commitment, especially for working mothers who need to pump or take time off to feed their baby. It’s not always simple, for many reasons that are personal to each individual woman. I  had a hard time in the beginning, and have had many friends and family members who were so frustrated they’ve given up breastfeeding altogether.  But I also think that the benefits of breastfeeding are NOT widely known, so if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, here’s another list of reasons to remind you why nursing your baby is one of the greatest things you can be doing for him/her!

breastfeeding

image from HerDaily: Breastfeeding increases IQ

1. Breastfeeding Builds Your Baby’s Immune System

Newborns do not have a mature immune system to protect them from illness. Antibodies, or immune molecules, in a mother’s breast milk are transferred to the baby, giving them immunities to illnesses that the mother is immune to.  Beyond that, if your newborn is exposed to a germ, she will transfer it back to the mother while nursing. The mother’s body will then make antibodies to that particular germ and transfer them back to the baby at the next feeding.

Studies have also shown that babies who are breastfed exclusively have better functioning immune systems in the long-term as well.

Formula-fed babies have higher rates of:

  • Middle ear infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a digestive tract disorder that is a leading killer of premature infants

Breastfed infants have added protection against:

  • Heart disease
  • Immune system cancers such as lymphoma
  • Bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Eczema
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

2. Breastfeeding Improves Baby’s Brain Function

Breast milk is not only good for the newborn’s immune system, it is also good for the brain. Breastfed infants tend to have higher intelligence than formula-fed infants. This may be due to certain compounds found in breast milk, including omega-3 fatty acids.

For instance, one study found that the verbal IQ of 7- and 8-year-old children who had been breastfed was about 10 points higher than those who were not. Another 18-year study of over 1,000 children found that those who were breastfed had higher intelligence and greater academic achievement than children who were formula-fed as babies.

It is interesting to note that babies who are breastfed naturally spend more time in what is known as the “quiet alert” state, which is not only soothing for parents but also it is the state most conducive to the newborn’s learning.

3. Breastfeeding Reduces Obesity

Breast milk contains a protein that could reduce the risk of obesity later in life. In fact, the longer a child is breastfed, the lower their risk of obesity, according to a study by U.S. researchers. The protein affects the body’s processing of fat.

4. Breastfeeding Helps Babies Emotionally

Babies have an intense need to be held and one of the most comforting things for a newborn is the physical act of nursing. Leaving a baby alone with a bottle is not emotionally satisfying to the child and does not make them feel safe or secure.

Breastfeeding also promotes bonding between mother and baby in a way that bottle-feeding cannot. Most women naturally feel a strong desire to hold their baby and there are physical and emotional reasons for this. Breastfeeding ensures that mother and baby have some intimate time together and actually stimulates the mother’s release of the oxytocin hormone, which is known to promote maternal behavior.

5. Reduces Mom’s Risk of Cancer and Other Health Conditions

Breastfeeding is a mutually beneficial experience in that it helps both mother and child. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis later in life.

6. Moms Return to Pre-Pregnancy Weight Faster

Breastfeeding women lose weight faster than those who do not. This is because producing milk and breastfeeding requires about 500 calories per day. This is the equivalent of jogging about five miles! Breastfeeding also stimulates contractions in the uterus that help it to shrink back to its normal, pre-pregnancy size faster. It also helps to reduce lower body fat.

7. Save Time and Money

Of course, your primary reason for wanting to breastfeed is for your baby, but the more material advantages of breastfeeding are hard to ignore. If you breastfeed you don’t have to prepare bottles and formula–breast milk is always fresh and ready to go. This will save you a substantial amount of time at a period in your life when you will need it!

Breastfeeding also saves you the expense of buying formula, which typically costs at least $800 per year. The savings continue to accumulate as your child grows, as breastfed babies tend to have fewer doctor’s visits and lower overall medical expenses. One study even found that a group of formula-fed babies had over $68,000 in health care costs for six months, compared to only $4,000 for the breastfed group.

From: Seven Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child That You Need to Know

More info: Breastfeeding A-Z Index

Tips for Starting Solids

When it comes to raising children, everyone has advice and opinions of their own. It’s hard to know when to heed and when to ignore. At Parents.com, Sally Kuzemchak, RD, gives you the information you need to know about when it comes to starting your baby on solids. Read on to find out which tips to follow — and which you can ignore.

Start solids around 6 months. Up until then, your baby’s digestive system can’t handle anything besides breast milk or formula. You may not want to wait much longer to start, or your baby may get so accustomed to her liquid diet that she loses interest in solid foods.

Cereal in the bottle: Don’t try it unless your pediatrician advises it. Your baby doesn’t need the extra calories that it adds to formula. Plus, thickened formula can cause babies to gag or inhale the liquid into their lungs.

One at a time: Waiting 2-3 days between offering new foods makes it easier to spot allergic reactions like diarrhea, vomiting, or rashes (although most symptoms appear within four hours of eating).

Don’t give up! Don’t stop trying a new food if your baby spits it out after tasting it. Sometimes, babies need to try a food 10 times before accepting it, so offer it again several days later — or mix it with something you know he likes.

Must we eat rice cereal? Although it is often a first food because it is unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, there’s no reason you can’t start with something else. Try unsweetened applesauce, mashed veges, or pureed chicken.

Veges first? Some people will warn you that if you start with fruits, your baby will get used to the sweet taste and refuse to eat her veges. Turns out there’s no supporting evidence for this theory, so if you want to, offer fruit first.

No vegetarians here: Research shows that babies who eat meat earlier have a higher intake of zinc and iron, nutrients important for growth. Start with pureed chicken.

Spice it up! Babies should learn to enjoy plain fruits and veggies, but nothing bad will happen if you treat her to some mildly spicy ravioli.

For more info on babies and solids, click these links:

Breast-feeding helps new moms shed pounds

I didn’t think this was news, but according to a new study, published in the International Breastfeeding Journal, mothers who breast-feed can get their pre-pregnancy figure back more quickly than mothers who don’t nurse exclusively. The best part about it is that breast-feeding mothers can consume more calories and STILL loose more weight than those women who don’t!

Maureen Williams, ND reports the following at MedFinds:

Women who chose to breast-feed exclusively lost more weight and lost it more quickly than those who chose a mixed feeding regime (breast-feeding plus formula). Although the breast-feeding mothers ate more calories than the mixed feeding mothers, they lost an average of 9.7 pounds (4.41kg), while mixed feeding mothers lost an average of 6.14 pounds (2.79 kg). The breast-feeding mothers’ percent body fat also decreased during the early postpartum period, but the mixed feeding mothers’ did not.

According to this and prevous studies, the greatest difference in weight loss was seen at three months after delivery.

“The study clearly shows the importance of encouraging and supporting mothers to breast-feed exclusively,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Alex Anderson, of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia. Exclusive breast-feeding not only reduces the risk of new moms being overweight, it might even protect them against heart disease and other chronic conditions.

In addition to helping new moms regain their figures, breast-feeding has well-documented benefits for newborns:

• Lowers risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)

• Reduces the likelihood of developing allergies

• Provides immune cells that help babies fight infections, including chest and ear infections

• Supports healthy neurological development

(Int Breastfeed J 2008;3:18)

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