Friday, September 28, 2012

Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano

The pictures (and especially the video) in this post are blowing my mind. I simply can't believe there was a time when Baba G could barely move and we needed to encourage "tummy time" with the help of the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano (full name: Fisher-Price Discover 'n Grow Kick and Play Piano Gym — good god).

He barely sits still for a second these days, and to watch him struggling just to keep his head up makes me realize how quickly time is flying by, just like everyone warned me it would.

The great news is that the KNP Piano is one of the rare products that we've made use of for an entire 8 months so far. In the early days, we'd use it as shown below. He was motivated to look in the propped-up mirror and reach for the animals. (The arch shown in the official product photo above can be connected horizontally as well — you can see the extra holes in the yellow nub thingy.)


As he got bigger and we were trying to give him reasons to roll over (from back to front and vice versa), we'd put the arch the normal way and he'd have a ball reaching for everything and turning from side to side to make sure he wasn't missing anything. 

From the video below you can see that the "kick" part of the piano helped make Baba G feel like he was accomplishing something. You can set it for either long tunes or short ditties to play any time a key was pressed (we always chose the latter). I haven't found the tunes to be annoying, but some people might.

Truth be told, I've never set it up this way yet:

But I totally should, because BG loves to bang on things and he really likes music in general. Right now we've still got it set up the normal way, and while he spends ZERO time on his back or stomach anymore, he has taken to trying to pull himself up to stand using the arch as support. The arch is not meant for that and is pretty flimsy, so Baba G is learning important lessons about what he can and cannot trust to hold his weight. (We've got the piano set up on top of his floor tiles, which are on top of carpeting, so rest assured when he falls over he's landing on a padded surface. But I do think it's important for him to know he's gonna fall if he tries to pull himself up on the arch!)

The bottom line: The Kick and Play Piano has been one of our most-used toys (is it really a toy? I guess it's a "developmental toy"?)... and we haven't even made the most out of all of its features yet. It runs about $50 and, considering we've paid more for products BG has grown out of in a matter of weeks, I'd say that's a decent deal.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Seach Of: A Go-To Baby Book

Warning: it's about to get gross up in here.


We'd grown too cocky. My husband was always bragging about how well Baba G slept, and I marveled publicly (on this very site, just days ago) about how lucky we were that BG had never gotten sick.

After a brief bump in the road with BG's sleeping schedule (which I wrote about in June), he returned to sleeping through the night without a peep. As in, down at 8:30 p.m. and up at 6:30 a.m. (followed by an hour or so of cuddle time before breakfast). Beautiful.

Then a few weeks ago, that all changed. He started waking up screaming (and I do mean screaming) multiple times a night. Were his two additional top teeth coming in to blame? Was his nursery too cold... or too warm when the heat came on? Was he doing something to startle himself? Who knows. But when he woke up, he was not a happy camper.

The good ol' days
Needless to say, I was dreading this week because my husband was going to be traveling for work overnight on Monday and Wednesday, and then not home until after BG's bedtime on Tuesday. I've said that it's my husband who handles BG's bedtime routine, right? A bath at 7:30 (after which I change him into his sleeping outfit) followed by a bottle, and then it's into his crib about an hour later.

I'll have to write about why it's so hard for me to give BG a bath in another post, but suffice it to say that IT IS HARD for me to give him a bath. But I'd somehow managed to do that successfully on Monday night, thought everything was going OK after he went to sleep, and then was awoken by his fits at 10:30 pm., 11:30 p.m. and 5:45 a.m. I was running very low on fuel by the time Tuesday rolled around.

Things started seeming off with BG around noon that day. He threw up (as in, the real thing, not spit up) about 15 minutes after his bottle. However, his 4 p.m. feeding came and went without incident. That evening I'd managed once again to bathe him, had fed him his bottle (with a successful burping midway through), and was about to burp him again after he'd finished up the 8 ounces.

I faced him toward me to get ready to put him against my chest, and dammit if that entire bottle didn't come back up on me, Exorcist style. (Disclaimer: I'm too much of a scaredy-cat to have ever actually watched The Exorcist, but I have seen the infamous "puke scene" thanks to the wonder of animated .gifs.)

At first I honestly thought that BG was getting revenge for me continually muttering, "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope" an hour earlier while taking pictures and videos of him in his bathrobe.


But that wasn't it. He wasn't like "So there!" or anything after he threw up. In fact, he pretty much collapsed onto my chest... thereby getting the puke all over himself as well.

I had no choice but to bring him upstairs and clean both of us off—all the while wondering what exactly I should do. He didn't feel hot. But should I finally bust out the ol' rectal thermometer? Should I feed him again? Should I keep him up or attempt to put him back to sleep? Should I wait for my husband, who was stuck in traffic on Lake Shore Drive, to get home before doing anything else? Or should I call his pediatrician?

You know I chose the latter. While I waited for the doc on call to contact me, I pulled out Baby 411. Expecting 411 was the only book I read while pregnant, and I'd skimmed through parts of Baby 411 immediately before and after BG arrived. But the problem is that book is arranged in a weird Q&A format, which makes it kind of tough to quickly find information on a specific issue. When I searched for "vomiting" in the index, there were like 50 pages listed.

While my pediatrician's office called back within 10 minutes and instructed me to just put BG to sleep and reintroduce liquids slowly the next morning (along with an order to go buy some Pedialyte to have on hand for dehydration that could follow if he started having diarrhea, which they predicted he would), I realized it would've been nice to have an all-encompassing, easy-to-navigate baby book on hand. 

Anyone have one they'd recommend?

And no, I'm not going to "just search the internet" for this type of thing. I don't need to come across some wack-a-doo's site that will scare the crap out of me!

The good news is that last night Baba G only woke up once at 10:15 p.m. and then slept through to 6:30 a.m. And no more throwing up today. I think he's as tired as I am. The even better news is that his daddy's back today and will deal with any drama tonight!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In Search Of: (International) Travel Advice

I can fly us, ma!
We're gonna do it. My husband and I have decided to keep our annual tradition of taking a trip to somewhere we've never been... and this time Baba G will be along for the ride. We figured that if we don't start traveling with him now, the thought of acquainting him with O'Hare International Airport will grow to be too overwhelming and intimidating with each passing month. So, as Nike put best, we have to Just Do It.

Those of you who've read about my past vacations on "According to e" know that my husband and I are no strangers to international travel. We are quite aware how much it could suck to have a ten-month-old on an airplane—for him, us, and everyone seated around us. (Yes, I intend to bring ear plugs and other apologetic goodies for those nearby. And yes, we're going to do everything possible to travel on off-days/times.) So today I'm not necessarily looking for travel advice in the most literal sense, but rather "vacationing with an infant" advice.

We're planning to stick to the Caribbean for BG's first trip and will either book a direct flight (less than 5 hours) or two shorter flights (3 hours each or less). I'm in the process of getting him an expedited passport (why do I sense an upcoming post about the ridiculousness of baby passport photos?) and checking with his pediatrician regarding any special things we'll need to keep in mind outside of the States. So what I wanted to ask you all is for other advice you wish someone had told you before you traveled with your little one for the first time.

Here's a random stream-of-consciousness list of questions:

- Own seat on plane or not? For those who have traveled with kids under 2 for flight lengths similar to the ones we'll be taking, did you buy an extra seat or take advantage of the "on-a-parent's-lap" allowance? One of the direct flights I just looked into was nearly $1,500 per person, so that might make our decision for us, but I'm still curious as to what others have chosen to do (and how it went, of course!).

I want to go to there.
- Car seat? We're hoping we don't have to bring BG's car seat. It is just so damn heavy and he ONLY sits in it in our car at this point. Outside of the US, how can we plan to have a safe car seat for him during the ride from the airport to wherever we're staying? Is this something I'm kidding myself to think a transportation company might be able to accommodate in the Caribbean? Have any of you just sucked it up and hauled a huge, heavy-ass car seat around?

- Sleeping options? Has anyone trusted a hotel or resort-supplied crib? Do we need to lug a Pack 'n Play? What about a travel bed or just having him sleep with us? To be honest, I feel like BG wouldn't put up with being in a confined space. Some of the travel baby beds seem too small. What about the tub? (I kid. OR DO I?)

- Must-haves/dos? Any other random advice anyone has before we embark upon this great adventure? Or better yet, before we BOOK and PAY for this adventure in the coming weeks? Anything we need to make sure the place we stay has? Any special requests we should make upfront? Anything we need to prepare ourselves for aside from BG being whacked out from a long day of travel?

Thanks in advance for any tips! They'll come back to you in good travel karma, I promise.

- e

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Runaway Bunny & Goodnight Moon

Loungin' with the bunnies
Baba G's Great Aunt Sue bought him Goodnight Moon a few months before he was born, and then followed up with its companion book The Runaway Bunny as an Easter gift this year. I, however, didn't realize the books were related in any way. I'd never read either and knew nothing about them, except for the fact that Goodnight Moon was one of the all-time best-selling children's books. And that it was one of those "Dammit, I could've written this and become a millionaire!" types of books in its extreme simplicity.

Since BG didn't have any sort of bedtime routine for quite a while, I didn't crack open Goodnight Moon until a month or so ago. But we've been reading The Runaway Bunny every single morning since he was less than three months old. It is OUR book, and no one else is allowed to read it to him. So don't try!

At first I was like, "Hmm, is reading this book each morning going to instill the desire in him to run away—if for no other reason to test whether or not I could catch him?" Because that's basically the entire story. The little boy bunny keeps saying he's going to run away and turn into different things (like a fish) and then the mom bunny explains how she'd still find him (she'll become a fisherman). Then I reasoned with myself that a kid probably isn't going to want to run away if you've openly talked about running away for years in the context of a bunny story. Where's the rebellion in that, right? Plus, he would know by then that I WOULD find him.

Yes, the story is simple. But what I love about it is that its phrasing is very rhythmic and sing-songy (at least it is the way I read it), and you can make up whatever you want to say for the picture-only pages, which comprise half the book. Plus, it's a great mother-son story.

So I adore The Runaway Bunny (and in researching for this post I learned that it's apparently one of David Letterman's favorite books to read his son, too), but remained skeptical about Goodnight Moon. Finally I gave it a shot, and now I understand what all the fuss is about.

First, the same little boy bunny from The Runaway Bunny is IN Goodnight Moon. I had no idea. There are a few other little cross-overs, too. I've personally had fun discovering those, as nerdy as that might sound.

Mmm, cardboard.
Second, the illustrations are really what make both of these books so wonderful. Margaret Wise Brown might have come up with some soothing verses, but Clement Hurd brings everything to life. Goodnight Moon is significantly better than The Runaway Bunny in this regard. Sure, there are major inconsistencies in the drawings across the pages, but there's just so much cool stuff in each room scene—I admit I'm looking forward to when BG realizes there's a tiny mouse who keeps moving around the room as the story progresses. Or when he starts imagining what the two silly cats are doing, or what the old lady bunny might be knitting. Or when he appreciates the beauty of the final illustration.

Right now, however, while he DOES listen patiently to the stories and look at the pictures, he's mostly concerned with gnawing on the corner of both books every chance he gets. Two more top teeth are coming in, and something must be done!

 The bottom line: There's a reason Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny have been in print since the '40s. They work. They're beautifully illustrated, the stories are engaging, and there's room for improv thanks to several picture-only pages in both. And I think The Runaway Bunny is especially great for mom-son reading time.

Once I figured out that the two books were connected, I rushed to Amazon to buy the third Wise/Hurd book, My World. But then I read all of the negative reviews and decided against it. Apparently the verses aren't sing-songy and there's a dad bunny smoking in it and random stuff like that. I guess there's a reason that one is NOT a children's classic, huh?

I wish I could tell you that this is a picture of Baba G being absolutely delighted after I finished reading him Goodnight Moon, but it's actually the first time he realized he was seeing himself (or at least a happy looking baby) on my phone when I turned the camera screen around to face him.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Johnson's Safety Swabs

We've been extremely lucky in that we've NEVER had to take Baba G's temperature in eight full months. (I hope I didn't just jinx myself.) This had been something I was especially freaked out about, because I knew that "the right way" to take a baby's temperature was rectally. And, for obvious reasons, that was something I was really hoping I wouldn't have to put BG through.

BUT I was prepared to if need be, and had found a thermometer that has a rounded shape so that, to put it bluntly, it's impossible for you to stick it in too far.

Then I learned that there were special baby q-tips made for the exact same reason.

Now, I know you're not supposed to be sticking q-tips deep in anyone's ear, let alone a baby's, in the first place. But if there's a better way to clean out ear wax than gently using a swab around the visible part of the canal, no one's told me about it. So Johnson's Safety Swabs it is.

These things rock. They're not just a scam to get you to buy something that's labeled "BABY," like so many other countless products are—humidifiers, vaporizers, etc., come to mind. How are the baby versions any different from a normal humidifier/vaporizer/etc.? I'll tell you: they're more expensive! They think we're suckers.

Anyway, as you can see below, the safety swabs are shaped differently from a normal Q-tip, and they're great for just getting out really obvious gunk that's built up. I use them on Baba G at least every other day for the past few months (I didn't start using them until he was probably four or five months old—was too scared, plus I hadn't seen any wax).

He seems to actually like the feel of them, and I've never been worried about him making a sudden move and me jamming one in too far.

The bottom line: Johnson's Safety Swabs run from about $1.50 - $2.50 per box of 55. In my book, increased peace of mind about not hurting your kid's ears is definitely worth that small expense. I personally have not seen another brand of safety swabs, though I'm sure Johnson & Johnson's isn't the only company in the game.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All Things Reconsidered: Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"

Part of the reason I haven't posted in a while is because I've been swamped with client work. But part of the reason is because I was trying to come up with a semi-clever title for yet another regular column that has nothing to do with baby products. (Sorry, I'm lame like that.) This new column was inspired by all of the things I've seen in a different light since Baba G arrived. Things that I just didn't "get" before now, or feelings I've had about certain issues that only intensified after having a baby.

But today let's start off with something that's not TOO deep, m'kay? Let's kick this thing off with a rock ballad of the sappiest sort: Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." (Which, I learned while doing research for this post, is one of only three songs nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Raspberry. Nice!)

I was NEVER a fan of this song, despite liking most of Aerosmith's other popular singles. Maybe it's because that scene it played in during Armageddon annoyed me. Or maybe it's because I've just never liked many slow love songs in general. Either way, I didn't think much of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" until my husband—after listening to its lullaby version over and over again these past few months—became CONVINCED that it's actually not a romantic-love song, but rather a parent-child love song, specifically about holding a sleeping baby.


I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure


Lying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
Then I kiss your eyes
And thank God we're together
I just want to stay with you in this moment forever
Forever and ever


I don't want to miss one smile
I don't want to miss one kiss
I just want to be with you
Right here with you, just like this
I just want to hold you close
Feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time


It makes you think twice, doesn't it?

So I did some investigating, and it turns out that this song was written by Diane Warren. "A woman!" I thought. "Yep, it's definitely about a baby."

However, this Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated songwriter never had any children. Hmm. I'm not saying someone can't write a song about something they might not have experienced (maybe she had nieces or nephews or was really close to friends' kids or something?), but it threw my husband's theory in doubt.

A quick Google search came up with a few articles that claim Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has  said that the reason the band recorded the song (which was fairly different from everything else they'd done until that point) was because he regretted not being in his daughter Liv's life when she was younger. So maybe he, too, saw something in the lyrics beyond a traditional love song. We'll never know.

But I'm certainly never going to think about anything except snuggling with Baba G whenever I hear that song from here on out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Nuby Grip N' Sip Cup

The full, official name of this product is the Nûby No-Spill™ Super Spout™ Grip N' Sip™.

The day I bought it, however, it was the I-didn't-get-off-my-butt-and-buy-my-kid-a-training-cup-and-he's-supposed-to-be-drinking-water-now-and-this-is-all-they-had-at-Walgreens Cup™. But make no mistake, I do actually like it.

I was getting waaaaay too stressed out about which sort of training cup to buy Baba G when he began the transition to solid foods. Our pediatrician said to start giving him a little bit of water out of a cup during those feedings, just to get him used to the concept of drinking from something other than a bottle. I figured a cup that had a soft silicone spout would help bridge the gap. And then it was like I became so overwhelmed and confused by all of the options I saw online that it finally got to the point where I said "Screw it" and bought the best option I could find at my corner drugstore.

So that's how we ended up with the Nûby cup. It has worked well and BG took to it right from the start. We've used it for about a month now, and while I still have to hold it for him in order for him to actually drink out of it, he is getting better with figuring it out on his own.

Nothin' to it.

Though he still likes to goof off with it.
Look, Ma, no hands!

The bottom line: There are literally 5 bazillion types of training cups, and I think Nûby alone makes about 1 billion of them. The kind we bought (I am NOT typing out its long-ass official name again) was about $6 and serves its purpose. Baba wasn't thrown by it at all when I first attempted to give him water from it.

What I don't like is its awkward-to-screw-on top with those huge handles that come down on both sides. It won't leak if you screw the cap on correctly, but doing so is hard because its handles get in the way. I also wish it had come with a cap so that we could take it outside of our condo without fear of getting the spout dirty.

Does anyone else kinda see EVE from Wall-E?

But guess what? One of the 1 billion types of cups Nûby makes solved both of those problems! The handles come from the stationary bottom, and there's a cap included as well.

You guys are on your own trying to figure out the official name of this one, though. Sorry.

Friday, September 7, 2012

In Search Of: An Even Better Bib

When Baba G was a newborn, I couldn't figure out what to do with the multitude of bibs he received. He wasn't going to be eating anything for a while, so what was the point of teeny-tiny bibs? Why did we get so many?

Now I blame my lack of connecting all of BG's spit-up episodes in the early months with THE ENTIRE POINT OF A BIB.

As you may recall, I was using these (admittedly awesome) burp cloths to deal with dribbles and whatnot. I'd stuff one under BG's chin while he was taking a bottle or use one to wipe up messes after the fact. I didn't realize that I could've avoided changing BG's outfits, oh, say, 100 TIMES PER DAY if perhaps I'd thought to have a bib on him at any and all times when he wasn't sleeping.

I did eventually come to my senses and started putting bibs on him to help preserve his outfits during and after feedings. But it wasn't until he started "solid" foods that I fully came to appreciate the wonder of a decent bib.

Some of my favorites are made of a terry cloth material, like this one (which snaps in back):
BG's very first solid-food experience. Totally clean and contained.

But then BG's Great Aunt Terry sent along two of these huge, over-the-head terry cloth bibs by First Impressions, and I was hooked. So many bibs itched BG in the back because of Velcro fasteners (which wash horribly) or otherwise weren't snug enough under his chin... defeating the entire purpose.
My bib may rock, but home-made sweet potatoes leave much to be desired

I mean, look at how much bigger the First Impression bib is when compared to newborn and other "normal" infant bib sizes:
Size does matter.

I was also pretty intrigued by plastic bibs from Crocodile Creek. These wiped down quickly and easily, but alas, they had Velcro in the back.
Yes, he is eating peas. And yes, that's a "first tumble" scar on his nose!

So here's what I'm In Search Of: a bib that has soft terry cloth material around the neck and that you put on over-the-head like the First Impression bibs... but then the rest of the bib is made of easy-to-wipe-down plastic like the Crocodile Creek bib.

Does a bib like this exist?

What other bib inventions are out there that I'm missing?

(Unfortunately I couldn't find where to purchase First Impression bibs like the ones BG was given, hence the lack of a link for those.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The mamaRoo

True story: when I was a kid, I used to claim to be from the planet "Egg-a-tron." I can only assume my imagination had been inspired by one of my favorite shows at the time, Mork & Mindy, in which Robin Williams played an alien who came to Earth in an egg-like spacecraft. Yeah, I was weird. Still am.

ANYWAY, at my baby shower I overheard a few friends talking about this "futuristic egg-looking seat" that was new on the scene, and so of course my curiosity was piqued. But then I forgot about it...

...Until that very same egg-like contraption was gifted to us by a generous couple whose kids couldn't get enough of it when they were babies. And that's when I found out that this thing is called a mamaRoo. (And seriously, what IS IT with all the weird capitalization and spelling of baby products? It's driving me insane.)

Its point is to simulate the motions YOU make when you carry your kid... or that a car ride would make, and so on. I forgot which setting I had it on in the video below (there are 5 settings: car ride, tree swing, ocean wave, rock a bye and kangaroo), but you'll get the point—and quite frankly, I never really thought Baba preferred one setting to another, anyway.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adventure BanZ Baby Sunglasses

Since today's holiday (Labor Day, for those outside the US and Canada) has come to signal the end of summer, I thought I should write about a particularly summery product: baby sunglasses.

For us, these ended up coming in handy for a reason that's totally unconnected to the season (that kind of rhymed). Baba G had an eye exam where he had to get his pupils dilated... and they freakishly stayed that way for nearly two days. Since he goes on a multi-hour stroller walk each afternoon, the sunglasses were key. But otherwise you'd want them so that your kid can play the role of a bad-ass, like so:

Don't front.

I had no intention of buying BG sunglasses, but got sucked into it when purchasing his wide-brimmed hat. That damn Amazon and its "recommendations." People seemed to like the Adventure BanZ brand (don't get me started on that z... or the fact that it's capitalized. Reminds me of this classic Ben Stiller/MTV sketch from '98 (2:55 mark, and wow, do I feel old now)).

But ANYWAY, we got the glasses at the same time we bought the hat, and when put together they put BG in full adventurer mode.

I need my own show on Animal Planet.
Give me my own show on Animal Planet, already.

The bottom line: I would assume baby sunglasses are nice to have when your kid needs to spend time in the sun and a wide-brimmed hat isn't enough (or isn't practical at the moment). They're definitely great for when your kid has an eye exam and has to stay out of brightly lit areas. The Adventure BanZ glasses have a wide, soft-elastic band which keeps them in place. But the reality is that we've only put these glasses on BG a few times in 7.5 months. When he has his daily stroller walk, he's already shielded from the sun thanks to both his hat and the sun shield that flips down on his stroller (which usually makes even the hat unnecessary).

It might just be that we aren't as outdoorsy as others who could find more use for kiddie sunglasses. Maybe if you went to the beach a lot they'd be indispensable. But that's not the case for us.

Does any else have baby sunglasses and actually use them?