Monday, March 29, 2010

Lily Padz - silicone nursing pads

When I was pregnant, I did a lot of reading and research.  Although being a Mom was inevitably going to increase my impact on the planet, (I was introducing a new human to the mix after all) I felt strongly that with a little bit of effort I could find ways to minimize that impact.

I used small washcloths and warm water to wipe my little man's bottom (that's not so easy now that he goes to daycare etc), I use vinegar in my wash to minimize smells and static and I use cloth diaper service from Happy Nappy, which are washed without the use of phosphates and surfactants.

As a Momma who was planning to (and succeeded at) breastfeeding, I knew that I would need breast pads to minimize those awful milk stains on the front of all my shirts.  When I heard about reusable Lily Padz breast pads, I was sure I had found the perfect solution.  Lily Padz are made from thin silicone, that puts pressure on the nipple to prevent leaking (rather than absorbing leakage like traditional breast pads).

Lily Padz Review
In terms of maintenance, you wash and air dry your Lily Padz once a day and then continue wearing them (for about two months). Washing renews the tacky inner surface of the Lily Padz ensuring that they will stay in place.  When I purchased my Lily Padz, I was instructed to wash them with cream free, oil free and moisturizer free cleansers such as shampoo or dish soap; I notice that they now sell Lily Wash on their website.  Lily Padz don't show through your clothes and are considered safe for sleeping, swimming and pretty much all activities.

Now all of that being said, I was dissapointed in my Lily Padz.  Yes, they were comfortable, yes, they stayed in place until I removed them, yes, they created a smooth surface under my shirts instead of the wrinkly bunch of cotton that traditional breast pads create and yes they prevented the leakage of breast milk all over my clothes.  Unfortunately, after my son fed on one side, when I went to remove the second Lily Pad, I was consistently confronted with a pool of milk, which then spilled all over me or the chair I was sitting in.  I recall the instructions telling me this may be a problem early on, when your milk supply isn't regulated, but I had this problem every single time I tried my Lily Padz.

This leads to my second problem with Lily Padz.  Now that I have removed a milky, wet breast pad, what am I to do with it?  At home, its easy, I just plop it on the couch next to me and then clean it up and reapply once the peanut is done eating.  Out and About however, this is increasingly difficult.  With a cloth breast pad, you can tuck it away inconspicuously, under your leg, into your diaper bag, under the receiving blanket, pretty much anywhere.  But given the tacky surface of the Lily Padz, you don't want to have it next to anything that might "fuzz" onto it, especially if you are hoping to reapply without rewashing (remember according to the website you should only need to wash it once a day).  What of the pool of milk, that is now sitting in your Lily Pad, out and about for everyone to see?  Mopping it up with a kleenex or recieving blanket may add fuzz to your Lily Pad and who's to guarantee that the nearest washroom will have an appropriate soap to get it all cleaned up again?

Finally, despite regular cleaning (I tried both cleansing shampoo and dish soap) I found that my Lily Padz consistently looked dingy and dirty, which is not ideal for something covering your baby's main food source.  And when I left them to air dry, they still seemed to get all sorts of stuff stuck to them, which made me feel the need to wash them again.

Although they are super comfortable, I only wear my Lily Padz if I am going out sans-baby (for which they are perfect) as I just find it too much of a hassle if I'm out in public with the little one.  On the Simply Lily website, Lily Padz sell for $22.95, which seems reasonable for a product that you can reuse for about two months before it requires replacement.  If I was still breastfeeding when I went back to work, these may have been great, but since I was a stay-at-home Momma for a year they just didn't get their money's worth for me.

sicky baby

I wonder, what good are medical walk-in clinics if they are closed when regular doctor's offices are closed?

My little guy has had a bit of a cold for over a week; mostly congestion, crankiness and a lack of hunger. He also had a bit of a mucousy cough and since a little girl at daycare had Bronchitis the week before, he went to the doctor and got the all-clear last week. By Thursday he seemed to be starting to pep up, but Friday afternoon came around and all of a sudden the boy woke up screaming with a fever.

By Saturday afternoon, when he awoke from his nap lethargic and still feverish, I thought it might be time for another trip to the doctor. Particularly since there had been no fever associated with the cold the week before.

We left home around 3:30pm, by 4:00 we had been to FIVE (that's right FIVE) walk-in medical clinics and not one of them was open. We decided to go to the ER at the local hospital. Three hours later, the doctor finally listened to his chest, didn't seem all all concerned about the fever (granted he was only about 38 degrees as I had given him some Infants Motrin) and sent us on our way.

By the time we arrived home and got settled back in, the boy's fever was back up to 39.5 degrees. A warm bath and more Motrin had him calmed down and into bed. Four hours later, he was feverish and upset again, more Motrin and this time Mommy laid down in the spare room with baby. When he woke up, another 4 hours later, this time with a temperature of 39.9 degrees I decided it was time to take him to Children's Hospital ER.

 We saw a doctor within an hour of arriving; although he figured that the boy may have just caught the flu after his cold, he did hear something in his chest, so he sent him for a chest x-ray.  Seriously, he looked so pathetic strapped in the chair, arms above his head and screaming his lungs out.  On the plus side the x-ray did show something, but it was hard to be definitive.  The boy either has the flu (viral) or an early stage bacterial pneumonia.  He's on antibiotics in case it is pneumonia, and the doctor has assured me that the fever itself is not dangerous.

He seems to be a bit perkier today and he actually ate a little food and had some formula before heading back down for his nap, so hopefully he's on the mend.  I decided to stay home from work to comfort him today, but will likely be back to work tomorrow.  I hate to see my little man so sick and pathetic, yet I know that its all part of growing up.  Hope your family's feeling happy & healthy, and if their not, I hope they feel better soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Totseat - the washable, squashable highchair

When I officially made my decision to travel to Asia with an eight month old child, I had a lot of details to figure out, including how exactly I was going to feed my son the solids he so dearly loved. At the time he did some self-feeding, but he also ate purees. When I began investigating travel highchairs and boosters, I wasn't sure what to expect. I needed something small, light and compact, but I also needed something effective.

Enter, the Totseat, made in the UK, the Totseat is an adjustable highchair made of fabric. You can adjust the crotch length with buttons and the wrap around straps tighten with a clasp. To top things off the Totseat works on practically any chair. I was skeptical at first about their claims of fitting on any chair, but then I watched the demonstration and decided it was worth a shot.

Let me tell you, I traveled for three weeks with my son and probably saw as many actual highchairs; but that didn't stop us, the Totseat really did fit on every chair I encountered. Another bonus, after three weeks of travel, I just popped the totseat in the wash and it came out like new.

The Totseat comes with a thick fabric strap, with ample velcro, to fit around the back of any chair that has a gap in the back, which prevents worries that your child could slide out the back of the chair. Despite my concerns, the Totseat was also effective at containing my squirmy little son. That being said, I recently lent the Totseat to a friend going on a trip to Mexico with her 2 year old son and she informed me her little guy could easily get out of the Totseat - if he wanted. Fortunately, for the most part, he was happy eating in the Totseat. ed. note: After some discussion with my friend, it turns out she was securing her son the "lazy way", which means she wasn't threading the straps through the loops at the back of the chair, which is likely the reason why he could get out of the seat! [7 April 2010]

The Totseat comes in bright, bold patterns which are not only FUN they can help hide the food stains if you just haven't had time to wash it in a while. Speaking of food stains, if your tot is eating on a fabric chair, you may want to bring an extra receiving blanket to put underneath his/her bottom. I also recommend bringing along a coat, sweater or blanket to put under your baby if they need a boost. This is rarely a problem for us, as someone is always wearing extra layers.

The Totseat is a great product for a family on the go, or for travels near or far. It's a small and compact, but effective highchair that isn't cumbersome to carry, setup or take down. The Totseat is a well constructed and amazing product - I give it a 4.5/5!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Miracle Blanket

miracle blanket review

miracle blanket

It's hard to believe, a year ago I was huge, waddling and waiting to meet my son. It seems so cliche, but it really has gone so fast. I still remember bringing him home, holding him, trying to breathe in every essence of my beautiful son. In some ways it feels like yesterday, but when I see all the things he can do now, I know a year has passed. It's his birthday today - HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY - and in honour of his birthday I want to review something that was essential to us through the first few months, well maybe longer than a few months - The Miracle Blanket.

There are tons of articles about swaddling, some people swear by it, others don't get it. As one may expect, some babies love swaddling, others, not so much. We swaddled the boy right from the start and he liked it; he was 8 lb 7.5 oz at birth and had gained a pound within the first week. It quickly became apparent that most traditional receiving blankets were going to be too small for swaddling the boy. We received our Miracle Blanket as a shower gift and it came accompanied by rave reviews, so I had high hopes when we tried it out.

The first night we wrapped the boy in the Miracle Blanket he cried, struggled and fought. Within a few days, it wasn't so much as a fight, but a small struggle, within a couple weeks the boy would wait patiently on the change table for me to swaddle him in his Miracle Blanket.

What's unique about the Miracle Blanket are the inner armflaps that you wrap around each arm before tucking your baby's feet in a flap and then wrapping the tails of the blanket around your baby to complete the swaddle. I know that sounds complicated, but check out the instructions here it's not as difficult as it sounds.

What's great about the Miracle Blanket is that it keeps your baby swaddled, even if he/she is a bit of a Houdini. The extra long tail goes all the way around the baby twice, so even though there is no closure to hold the swaddle closed, it stays closed. The truth is, I never really liked the idea of securing my baby's arms with velcro like some of the other swaddle blankets have. The Miracle Blanket kept my son warm, snuggled and safe. In time, he settled faster and stayed asleep longer - and as he got older it kept his arms wrapped up as long as he wanted them. I only wish that I had two, so that the nights it was in the wash, I wouldn't be back to a regular receiving blanket. Then again if I had two, I wouldn't know so surely that the Miracle Blanket worked for us. I loved the Miracle Blanket so much, that when the boy stopped using it ALL the time, I lent it to a friend to try out with her baby for a week.

I would have liked it if the Miracle Blanket also came in a larger size; we were still occasionally using the Miracle Blanket at 6 and 7 months, but we had to stop because he just stopped fitting. He was too long in the body and it no longer came up to his shoulders. Granted he was getting a bit old to be swaddled by that time, but the boy was big from the start, so I would have probably started out with the larger size if it was available.

The price on the Miracle Blanket website is $29.95, which is reasonable and comparable to other swaddling blankets on the market, though in my local stores they were running $39.95, which seemed a bit pricey considering that they aren't even organic. That being said, they are well constructed, we had no rips or tears and my son tugged and pulled on the Miracle Blanket a lot as he got older and learned to pull his arms out at will.

The Miracle Blanket is a great product if you have a swaddling family; I give it 4.5/5.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Babisil Mu Bowl Anchor

babisil mu bowl anchor reviewMy son is at the stage where he loves to eat solid foods, but hates when someone else has to feed him. He eats tons of food, so long as its finger food. Veggies? Not so much. He used to love them, ratatouille, zucchini, tomato, broccoli and green beans were all favourites. Now, its not that he doesn't like them anymore, its just that they aren't quite as tasty when they aren't all mixed together. He will eat chunks of broccoli, but that's pretty much the only veggie he will eat alone.

I decided to experiment with using chunky purees on mum mums, and thinner purees as dips or sauces for his chicken strip and chunky tofu. The second option however, is a bit trickier. How do you give a child a dipping sauce when he picks up & shakes the bowl with vigor and a smile.

Enter the Babisil Mu Bowl Anchor or at least that's what I figured. The mu bowl anchor is a small piece of silicone designed to suction your own bowl or plate to the table or the tray of your little ones chair. For about $7 bucks, it was a cheaper option than most of the dishes that come equipped with their own suction cup and since it provides flexibility and wouldn't require me to continually wash the same dish over and over again it seemed like a win-win situation.

After purchasing my bowl anchor, I tried using it with the plethora of containers and bowls that fill my cupboards. Most of them are Tupperware and didn't seem to suction all that well, there is a ridge along the bottom of the containers that along with the text (such as the recyclability and food safe symbols) all seemed to interfere with the suction power of the bowl anchor.

The anchor did work a bit better when a little moisture was applied and the bowl was applied to the anchor and tray with a fair amount of pressure. I figured that was the trick, a little moisture & a need to slam the bowl onto the tray; unfortunately, my success was short lived. After less than five minutes and some persistent tugging by my son, the bowl was in his hands and the food was on the floor.

My husband points out that the suction may work when pulling the bowl up and down, but as soon as its pulled side to side the suction seems to break. I have tried with various different bowls, plates and dishes, but the result is always the same; the boy gets the dish and the food lands on the floor.

In theory the Babisil Mu Bowl Anchor is a great product. In reality, I didn't find it able to stand up to the test of my sons persistent tugging. Although I love a cheap product, without function its really just junk in my drawer. I will try it again when he gets a little older and hope I will have better success. But for now, the bowl anchor was a disappointment for me. I give it 1.5/5, only because for the few minutes that it did work, it was great. Too bad mealtime lasts closer to 45 minutes at my house!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Safe Sippy

safe sippy review
Well, we made it through our first week. After exactly one year on maternity leave, I had to return to work this Monday, which meant my little man had to spend the entire week (at least the work hours) without his Momma. We are fortunate enough to have family caring for the boy three days a week; he is attending a daycare just blocks away from my work the other two days. I'm confident this is going to be a good balance for him, giving him lots of time to bond with his family and yet still allowing him to run and play and learn from other children.

I wish there was one amazing item I could review this week, an item that made the transition back to work effortless and seamless. If such an item exists, I didn't find it. I am however going to review an item that both my son and I are very fond of, the Safe Sippy.

The Safe Sippy by Kidbasix is made of stainless steel, which means us Momma's don't have to worry about BPA or any other plastic nasties in our babies water bottles. The bottle has a soft silicone sleeve that can be removed and cleaned, which ensures no mold or other unwanted friends are growing on the bottle; the sleeve also functions to protect the Safe Sippy from all of the drops that the poor bottle will inevitably endure.

The plastic handles are easily removable, which will be great when my little guy gets a little older and no longer wants a BABY water bottle. That being said, at this point we LOVE the handles at my house, my little man can grab and grip them easily and they don't seem to shift when he shakes the bottle. There is a valve in the Safe Sippy which is easily removable for cleaning and although it does minimize messy spills it does occasionally drip, especially during those shaking episodes my son loves.

The spout on the Safe Sippy resembles a straw, but functions like sippy cup. There is research that indicates the use of wide spout sippy cups rather than regular cups can cause physical and speech development problems, however the narrow straw shape apparently helps little developing mouths. The boy can use a straw quite effectively, so I had no concerns that this would be a problem for him, and since the cup needs to tipped like a sippy cup, I wouldn't be too concerned if your little one can't use a straw yet. In fact since he can use a straw I think there is sometimes a little confusion for him, it took him a while to realize he had to tip the bottle.

Since the Safe Sippy is made of stainless steel, it is absolutely heavier than a traditional plastic water bottle and that does pose some difficulties when my little one tries to drink out of the Safe Sippy on his own. I often hear a soft squeaking noise when he tries on his own; the valve squeaks when there is no water moving through the valve, which means I usually need to help him out a little bit, though he does make his way over to the bottle on his own. The angle of the spout adds to this problem as he often lifts the cup (like a straw) and then the bottle can't even be lifted up to get the water into his mouth without rotating the bottle all the way around. Despite these problems, Cole seems to really love his Safe Sippy. He drinks more water than he used to, and he's always on the lookout for his Safe Sippy so he knows where to go to get a drink.

While perusing the Safe Sippy Website I see that they now have a Safe Sippy 2 which includes features such as a cap, a straw and adapter and a travel plug all of which would be great accessories for our family.

The Safe Sippy costs $18.99 at my local Zellers, though apparently you can buy it from the website for $12.95 USD plus shipping. I personally got mine from Green Baby Bargains, so it cost about $13 with shipping. Although I had looked at the Safe Sippy in Zellers many time, $18.99 just seemed a little steep for something I wasn't sure my boy would like. Now that we've been using it for about a month however, I think the bottle is well constructed and worth the price.

I give the Safe Sippy 4/5 - its a great product and although I have a few complaints, they are not all within the control of the company to fix, such as the weight of the bottle (which can't be controlled since its made of stainless steel) and I imagine within another few months the weight of the bottle, the resulting squeaking valve and the straw confusion my son seems to experience will all be a thing of the past as he gets bigger, stronger and more coordinated.