Thursday, December 13, 2012

Product recommendations: the feeding essentials

One of the most valuable things that I've gained from caring for so many children in so many different homes, besides a knowledge of children, is my knowledge of baby products.
I could whip together a killer baby registry in a matter of minutes.
So, I'm going to share my top picks for "essential" baby products from the feeding category of a registry.
Mind you, I'm not doing this from a pediatrician's perspective or anything else like that, just from my experience.

Let's start with a babysitter's favorite item...

With pacies, your baby will often go one of four routes;

a) Soothie-type nipple
For some reason, babies love this pacifier. If they do, that's a bonus because it means they'll take a bottle a whole lot easier if/when you get to that stage. My only issue with this one is its shape, it's HUGE and flat. This means it takes up half of baby's face, and they may have a lot of trouble keeping it in.
If this is the type your baby prefers, then I highly recommend you get online and order some of these little beauties below. They are called Gumdrop pacifiers, and they are exactly like Soothies except they won't look like a full-faced mask on your little baby, and they're much better contoured to stay in baby's mouth. Also, they come in a few other colors, and you can even get vanilla-scented ones, which babies love.

 b) The generic Mam
These are the pacis I see most often. They are cheap, easy to find at stores, and come in tons of cutesy colors and designs. The reason that moms love these are because they stay in baby's mouth really nicely, and are designed to fit on their little faces without being too bulky.

c) Nuk orthodontic nipple
These ones are pretty common as well. The nipple is meant to ensure that as teeth grow in, they aren't aren't disturbed. (No strange gaps or crooked teeth.) They also come in silicone or rubber nipple, just in case baby prefers or needs one or the other. Moms appreciate the little handle on front for easy picking up, removing from mouth, etc.

My personal opinion is that your child having a pacifier won't do much damage to their teeth no matter what kind you use, and all are better for teeth than a thumb. The easiest way to figure out what paci you'll need to stock up on is to buy one each of your top two choices, and test them out, whichever your baby prefers is the winner.

*Insider tip*
The easiest way to break your baby of their pacifier once the time comes is a method I learned from my sister. (Thanks, Ash!)
When you feel it's appropriate, start using the pacifier ONLY for sleeping time.
A good time for the first step is anywhere from a few weeks- a year of within the time you're ready for the paci to be gone. This will help them to become less attached and dependent on it.
Once you feel like the time is right to stop giving the paci, hide or throw away all but one of them.
Take the one remaining pacifier, and snip the very tip of it off.
Now, go ahead and give it to them whenever they ask for it.
For some little ones, this will turn them off to the pacifier immediately since it no longer functions right.
If they insist on continuing use, cut a little piece of it off everyday.
(Don't let them see that you're doing this)
As it gets smaller and more open, it will become more and more difficult to keep in their mouth, and less of a comfort.
My stubborn little nephew lasted about a week with his ever-shrinking pacifier. Once keeping it in his mouth meant him drooling like a tiny baby, and having to have his hand on it, he willingly handed it over, and didn't ask for it again. (At least not on a regular basis)
Good luck.
*The End*

On to the next item...

With bottles, It really comes down to what you prefer as a mother. Your little one may have a preference as to what size/type of nipple they'll use, but beside that, go wild.
To most properly help you decide, I'll just put them in order of my personal preference. ;)

1)Playtex Ventaire advanced
These are really easy to find at stores, and are designed to reduce gas and colic. Let me tell you, they definitely work! These bottles have an air-venting system at the bottom, which means they have a few little pieces you have to take apart and clean individually, but trust me, that's worth it.
A really nice thing about these is that they come in two different nipple styles, and two sizes of each style.
See how the ones on the left have a wide "natural" nipple, and the tall skinny ones have a classic bottle nipple? That just means you can choose whichever you like, or let your baby choose. :)

2)Dr. Brown's
These are basically designed for the same special purpose, to reduce gas and colic.
To me, these seem to just be more complicated. Effective, yes. Annoying to clean and put together, also yes. So, these are quality bottles, but if it's the function you're going for, I'd choose bottle #1 over this one. Also, Dr. Brown's bottles are harder to find, and more expensive.
3) Avent
I really like Avent bottles. Avent's whole Shtick is that their bottles are specially designed to be most like the breast. This way, if you're doing both bottle and breast feeding, your baby will be comfortable with both, and not refuse one or the other. I've always liked how sturdy and simple these bottles are. They've recently created an updated design, which they call their "natural" bottle, or you can choose the "classic" design, which they also still offer.

4) Playtex Drop-Ins
These bottles are meant to function exactly like a breast. This is why they call them a "nurser" rather than a bottle. Here's my two cents: these are an absolute pain, and you can get the same function in bottles with an air venting design. These aren't terrible, they just definitely wouldn't be my choice.
There are tons of other niche bottles you could choose from; modern ones, glass ones, mock-breast ones, etc. 
I would personally stick to the more common choices. They have been tried and tested, so you know they're good.

Other feeding products I love:

-The boppy pillow
I used to think that this pillow was second-best to another, but I've been converted. Not only can you nurse easier, but your little one can lounge in it before they learn to sit up. Not to mention, you can easily make or buy a ton of cute slipcovers for it, and it's not too expensive.

- Nursing Covers
Nursing covers are fantastic. My favorite brand is Bebe au lait, but you can find a decent nursing cover anywhere these days! Many of them come with little pockets, there are hundreds of cute prints to choose from, and they're just so convenient.

That's all I have for today.
If you have favorite feeding products, please feel free to leave a comment, and share with us!

Thanks for reading!

The Knowledgeable Nanny

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Getting teeth is a nasty business.

That title is 100% true, and any mother/childcare-giver will tell you so!

When a little one is teething, they just aren't quite themselves.
Even the most angelic babies can become quite unruly.
Granted, there are always a few exceptions.
In most every case, here is what happens:

Once a baby's body recognizes that it needs to focus on teeth, 
the rest of their systems slack off a little bit.
They may exhibit certain symptoms while they're beginning to grow teeth, others when they are actually cutting teeth (when the teeth first physically poke through the gums), and while the teeth grow all the way in.
The first signs you will see are usually
•Diaper rash
•Runny nose
•General fussiness
-these will come with almost zero warning, and when they do, prepare yourself with the teething essentials, which I will outline later. 

As things progress, the next symptoms are
•Interrupted sleep and eating patterns
•Elevated body temperature/fever
•Increased/unusual fussiness
-these ones usually come with the cutting of teeth, which is by far the worst stage. Baby won't want to nap, play, eat, or do many of their normal things. They mostly want to cry and be held. Not every baby will experience an actual fever, but they almost always run a slight to moderately high temperature. In some cases, you will need to call a doctor if their temperature reaches or exceeds 100ºf, to get a recommendation of if/when/at what temperature to take your little one to urgent care. Again, this is only in some cases, so don't freak out at the first little increase in temp. 

After the cutting is over, things will return to normal. You may continue to see minor fussiness, receding diaper rash, etc. All will eventually be right with the world.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there are teething essentials that you will want to have.
This list is gold, people. Tried and tested teething secret weapons.
Here it is:

•Baby Orajel


•Teething Tablets

-Something most people have already. Break it out if they get a runny nose.

•Teething Toys
-Go ahead and refrigerate and teething toys you have, so they'll soothe the gums

•Baby Tylenol
-For if they get a fever

-If they'll take them, you need to make sure you have one or more at all times during teething, so you don't go insane from all the fussing and crying

Most importantly, just keep a level head, and give your little all the love and cuddles they need.
Best of luck.

Thanks for reading!
The Knowledgeable Nanny

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cold and Cough season.

I don't know about others, but I get a little nervous when the weather gets chilly.
I love the seasons as much as the next person, but when the cold winds start to blow, I know I'd better stock up on emergen-c, tea, tissues, and nasal spray.

This is the case for many people, and especially the little ones.
Kids with colds are usually sad, and so are those of us taking care of them, because there's only so much that you can do for another person who can't breathe out of their nose.

So, when you notice the sniffles and coughs that come with the weather, here's what you can do:
•Make sure that your kids are getting enough vitamin C, it ups their immunity
-If they aren't already taking a multivitamin, start giving them one, and make sure it's one with a substantial amount of their daily vitamin C
•Put a humidifier in their room, and keep it on when they sleep
-This will help keep their lungs and airways clear, so they can sleep better
-It can also prevent them from getting sick
•Stock up on the things mentioned above
-nasal spray
-Vicks Vapo-rub
(they also make a baby vapo-rub)
•In case of a bad cough/congestion, here is the secret weapon:
-strip your child down to only their underwear
-put some vapo-rub on their chest
-take them into the bathroom, shut the door, 
turn the shower up as hot as it goes, and let them cough it out
-Just hold them in the steamy room until you feel like they're breathing easier
-make sure to put them in warm clothes afterward
-This seriously works wonders!

The younger your child is, the more careful you need to be.
If you are afraid to put your baby down to bed for fear that they'll stop breathing, take them to urgent care, it's much better than worrying and watching them all night

Another thing that is really important is to keep your sniffly little ones away from other people's kids.
I know that life goes on, and you sometimes have to take them places with you, but it's not good for them or anyone else to have them around others. Keep it to a minimum.
Also, make sure you tell a babysitter or nanny when your child is sick!
Just because a kid is sick doesn't mean your sitter will refuse to watch them, but they will want to take their own precautions. I can't count how many times I've caught a child's sickness, because I didn't know they were sick until I showed up. 
Cold season is tricky, but much easier if you're prepared.

Thanks for reading!
The Knowledgeable Nanny

Monday, October 29, 2012

Clingy Toddler No-No's

When a babysitter shows up, and your baby/toddler starts to cry because they know that you're leaving, it is so important to react correctly. 
There are also many things that you can do and avoid doing to help cut this behavior out all-together.
When your child is comfortable with you leaving, it makes things much easier for the babysitter/nanny, and it doesn't make you feel guilty for leaving them.

Here's what you can do to help:
•As a general rule, NEVER under any circumstances sneak out!
-This creates a major pattern of anxiety for your child. If you do this, they will think that anytime you leave a room, or they can't find you, you've left.
-This pattern doesn't just affect the people that you leave your little ones with, it will start to make your toddler clingier to you in general. If they see you leaving a room, they will follow you, and most likely get upset.

•When you do have to leave, make it clear to them that you are leaving, and you will be back.
-Give them a hug
-Tell them that you love them
-Reassure them that the person you are leaving them with will take care of them like you would
(Ex: "This is Mommy's friend, she's going to play with you until I get home."
-Make sure to say the words "Goodbye" or "Bye-Bye"
(These steps are extremely important. Even if your child is too young to understand what you are telling them, they will get accustomed to this routine, and understand what is going on.)

•When you aren't leaving, but they think you are, avoid the things that signal a goodbye routine.
-Let them follow you, but don't pick them up and cuddle them every time they do
(If you always pick them up, you'll never get anything done.)
-Say things like, "I'll be right back," or "Mom's not leaving, it's alright."
-Give them something to occupy them while you are busy

•Do NOT pick them up and carry them out the door with you while you put things in the car, or buckle other kids in!
-This makes them think that they are coming with you, and only makes them more upset when you pass them to the sitter and leave

•Do NOT frown, say sorry, or act upset that you have to leave.
-They will pick it up, and follow suit

•If you have to come back in the house to grab something once you've already said goodbye, don't make a fuss.
-Most parents already do this correctly
-This is pretty much the one and only exception to the no sneaking rule
-Just come in, get what you came for, avoid being seen, and get out
-If they see you, just tell them again, "Mom will be back, I love you, goodbye."
no need to hug/kiss/cuddle them again

As you do these things regularly, you're child will get used to it.
It may take a while for the clinginess to get better, but the effort is far worth it.

I have personally been through these scenarios on more than one occasion, with many families.
It can be hard to follow through, and break your own habits, but I have seen and experienced the improvement that comes when you do. 
You and your sitters will thank me. 

Thanks for reading!
The Knowledgable Nanny

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This is who I am, this is what I do.

I am 18 years old, and consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on kids.
I haven't taken development classes, or read parenting books.
Everything I know, I have learned 100% from my own experience.
The families that know me well call me "The Baby Whisperer."

Here is why:
•I have babysat/and or nannied for upwards of 30 families
• I've been taking care of kids since I was 11
•I have cared for kids ages newborn and up
•I have cared for up to 6 children at once
(most challenging being 4 boys under 5 years old) 
•I have dealt with most every common ailment
 in the book, including but not limited to:
-Growth spurts/growing pains
-Diaper rash
-Sleeping issues
-Separation anxiety
-General fussiness
-Potty training
(trouble with&lack thereof)
-Learning, speaking, and other disabilities
-Eating problems

So, no, I'm not an expert by formal education, 
but I know very well how to care for children.
I want to share my opinions, experiences, and knowledge on this blog.
Feel free to comment, ask questions, and join with me in sharing your knowledge.
Thank you for reading.

The Knowledgeable Nanny