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Wednesday, December 16, 2015 0 comments

Guest Blog: How to Get Your Baby Started on Solid Food

Starting solids is a major milestone of babyhood - one you look forward to… and one you may feel nervous about!  With dozens of choices on the baby aisle, organic labels and GMO’s to juggle, and the well-meaning advice of family and friends, baby’s first bite can feel more like a mountain than a spoonful. I’ll cover some solid advice for starting solids in this article :)

When Should You Start Solids?
The short answer is to start your baby on solids when you feel comfortable with it.  A lot of moms feel pressured to start really early - at 4-5 months old, or even sooner.  That was the trend for decades, so many hear that advice from mothers or grandmothers.

Today we know that breastmilk provides an excellent source of nutrition for babies, and the first tastes of solid food are just that - a taste.  It’s not necessary to push baby too fast. We also know that things commonly worried about in the past, such as low iron levels, can be avoided by evidence-based care during pregnancy and birth (delayed cord clamping means more iron reserves for baby, for instance).  An excellent pregnancy diet and healthy foods while breastfeeding means you’ll make rich milk that meets baby’s nutritional needs.

A good time to start experimenting with solids is when your baby is sitting up and seems interested in foods.  Babies are actually pretty curious about everything, and they love to put pretty much anything in their mouths - but if you offer baby a taste and s/he seems curious or eager for more, it’s probably a good time to start.

I’ve started solids for 7 babies at this point, and I have found that I really like starting at around 7 months, give or take a week or two.  I watch my baby and his/her response :)

How Should You Start Solids?
There are two main methods for starting solids:

Starting with Purees - this is the traditional way we think of feeding solid foods to baby. You begin with strained or pureed foods and gradually move up in texture until baby is eating table foods with the rest of the family.

Starting Baby-Led Weaning - this method, taught by Gill Rapley, has become increasingly popular.  It involves offering baby large chunks of food (generally baby-fist-sized) and letting baby self-select and self-feed.

You can also use a combination of the above methods.  Which method is right for you really depends on your family and your baby.  Jarred baby food or homemade baby foods are both an option with purees.  Homemade food takes a little more effort, but can be done in batches that last quite awhile.  With baby-led weaning you’ll probably prepare something right along with your meal (of course, you can also puree a little bit of your meal for baby, too). Baby-led gives your baby a chance to experiment and develop motor skills, but you can also give baby-sized chunks along with purees you’re feeding.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here.  I like giving purees so I can get nutrient-dense foods into my baby as s/he gets more and more interested in solids.  I also like giving those fist-sized chunks for baby to grab, suck, chew, gnaw, and just generally experiment with.  We do a mix :)

Sometimes parents do wonder about choking risks with baby-led weaning.  It’s always good to be with your child as s/he starts to experiment with solids.  Don’t give small pieces of
food - that’s why “fist-sized” is a good guideline.  Babies have very strong gag reflex (which is triggered further forward in the mouth than an adult or older child).  As your little one gets used to handling food in his/her mouth, you may see (and hear!) gagging.  This is normal and part of the learning experience.  Stay calm and watch your little one - give him or her the chance to work out how food and tongue work together while you stay close by to encourage.

What Foods Should You Start With?
Much like other choices with solids, what you start with is up to you, but a few guidelines are helpful:

Avoid the “white out” - Dr. Alan Greene points out that we tend to start our babies with bland, nutritionally-devoid white starches (think baby cereals).  Our babies deserve better, more nutrient-dense foods!  Babies also lack the enzymes to digest many starches (they develop around a year or so old). Start with nutrient-dense foods - better choices for starting foods are pureed meats (very nutrient dense), pureed veggies, and chunks of soft nutrient-rich foods. Some examples are:
  • Banana
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocados

You can serve these in fist-sized chunks, or mashed, or a combination of both! Make sure you also include healthy fats in your baby’s meals.  A little drizzle of butter or coconut oil works well. Many vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning the body cannot absorb them without fat.  Plus fats and cholesterol are vital to your baby’s brain development (even the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that 50% of baby’s and 1-year-old toddler calories should come from fat!).

As your little one gets used to first tastes of simple meats and pureed veggies, you can add in more variety.  Stick to meats, veggies, and fruits, then bring in gentle grains like
rice and oatmeal.

After baby’s getting the hang of solids, you can feel free to season your baby’s food similar to how you season your food - baby has tasted all of those seasonings through your milk, and will grow up to enjoy that cuisine around your table!

How Do You Balance Solids and Breastfeeding?
Many moms wonder how breastmilk and solids fit together, and what meals look like on a day-to-day basis. It’s key to remember that, at first, your baby’s solids are an experiment… they’re something fun for you and your little one.  Don’t push it.  Just a taste here and a partial teaspoon there are good.It’s also good to note that it might take 7-10 or more tastes before your child accepts a new food.  Just keep offering and stay positive.  Take a break from a rejected food and try again in a few days or a couple of weeks.  If you keep mealtimes relaxed and model enjoying good food, your baby will pick up on that!

As your little one gets used to solids, they’ll start to make up more and more of the diet.  You’ll probably begin with just one meal, then move on to two and three solid meals as your little one nears a year.  An afternoon snack also becomes part of many family’s routines, and some families have a morning snack too.  I’ve never liked letting my children “graze,” but we do have regular mealtimes and an afternoon snack time to look forward to :)

Breastmilk can and should continue as long as you and baby want it to.  It continues to provide incredible immune benefits and stays tailed for your baby’s specific nutritional needs for each age and stage s/he goes through.  You can breastfeed on demand between meals - most children do just fine with nursing and solids!

Starting solids is an adventure for both you and your baby! Remember to focus on nutrient-dense foods, keep offering, and follow your little one’s lead - you will both enjoy the journey!

Get more information on starting solids in my video mini-course - click here for more information:

Guest Blogger: Kristen Burgess
Kristen Burgess is the founder of where she’s been writing about everything pregnancy, birth, and baby for the last decade.  Kristen is a wife and mama to seven sweet kiddos and uses her spare time to write a http:/// and produce The Birth, Baby, and Life podcast!


Friday, December 11, 2015 0 comments

Product Review: Nicki's Diapers Ultimate All-In-One

With the release of the new Nicki's Diapers Ultimate All-In-One I had to try one out myself. The Ultimate is a departure from the traditional Nicki's Bamboo All-In-One that has been a staple in our house and we found that we love them just as much!

What I first noticed about the Ultimate was its buttery soft inside! With the softness of a fleece blanket, I was sure my daughter would find it comfortable. The stay dry top of the insert matches the fleece interior of the cover and coordinates with the shell colors, making it eye popping and attractive (because who can resist a cute diaper!). We went with a Candy Cane Chevron, since it seemed only fitting with the holiday outfits we have planned in the next few weeks.

The insert itself is a microfiber base to absorb the wetness, with a fleece top so that baby feels dry. While we love our natural fibers as well, our daughter seems to be sensitive to wetness, both in terms of her comfort level and her sensitive skin. The microfiber absorbs the wetness so well that the first time I changed her I actually had to do a quick double take. When I initially removed the Ultimate, the top felt completely dry to the point that I wasn't sure whether she had actually peed or not. However, when I checked the microfiber bottom, sure enough it was damp and had clearly absorbed the liquids quickly. The real test in our book was going to be nap time. Sure it could handle a regular playtime change, but would it feel as dry after a long nap on our super sleeper?

The removable insert has two snaps in the back, making it easier to wash and faster drying. One of my favorite parts of the Ultimate is the extra long, foldable panel on the front of the insert. The pre-sewn fold line makes it simple to fold under in front and automatically adds an extra layer of absorbency without adding much bulk. We have a tummy sleeper who occasionally leaks out the front during nap time so the extra absorbency is exactly what we needed. We've tested it through several long nap times and have come out dry each time. I'm certain the foldable panel is to thank for that and is a unique and welcome addition.


Foldable front panel for added absorbency

The cover itself comes in many of the Nicki's Diapers prints we love and is made of a waterproof exterior with a coordinating fleece interior. The PUL guards on the front and back of the cover keep any wetness from wicking, so we've had no issues with any wetness on the cover itself. The encased leg elastics make putting the Ultimate on a breeze (daddy was excited for this!) and kept all solid waste from escaping, even in one of our "oh my!" changes we experienced during a rough week. We tried the Ultimate out on both our 10 mo daughter and 2 year old nephew and were able to get a perfect fit on both. They are generously sized and the back elastics have a ton of stretch, which enabled us to get a snug, yet comfy looking, fit for both body types. There are three rise options and we were on the first rise with our 20 pounder and had the rise all of the way open at 32 lbs. Its so nice to know that the generous sizing allows for a leak-proof fit from now until potty training, which truly makes it an economical choice. The Ultimate is also available in Newborn for those bitty babies.
 Now that we've tested the Ultimate, we'll be adding several more to our stash. We have to agree, the flexible fit with lots of stretch, foldable panel to add extra absorbency, and stay dry feel that is so important for our baby, really do make it Ultimate in our book. Visit Nicki's Diapers to learn more about the Ultimate and view all of the adorable print options.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 0 comments

Diaper Rash Dilemma

If your baby is anything like mine, diaper changes are an adventure. Between the squirming, occasional screaming, and the sneaky poop filled diaper grabbing, you have to be on your A game for a diaper change. Add diaper rash to that and you have a sore red bum to deal with as well. 

Some babies are simply more prone to diaper rash than others. My husband refers to our baby's skin as "delicate like a snowflake", but he doesn't mean it in the sweet way it sounds. He means "how does she have diaper rash again!?". While using cloth diapers can often reduce problems with rashes, a good rash prevention routine is important as well. 

To keep diaper rash at bay, there are many proactive steps you can take. Keeping up on these steps can help prevent diaper rash before it starts and avoid the angry red welts that make both you and baby tear up. 

One simple step you can take is eliminating regular disposable wipes from your routine. Most disposable wipes contain chemicals that can cause baby's delicate skin to dry out and become irritated. Instead, cloth wipes are soft and gentle and come in a variety of natural and synthetic fibers. Just like your cloth diapers they are washable and reusable and can be stored a variety of ways. Try storing your cloth wipes in an old disposable wipe container with water or a wipe solution. Another favorite is to store the cloth wipes dry and use a spray bottle to wet them as needed. While water alone will work, many wipe solutions contain moisturizers and essential oils to soothe babies skin. 
Nicki's Diapers Flannel Wipes                              LuSa Organics Diaper Wipe Concentrate
After you've cleaned that bottom off, give it time to dry before snapping that new diaper on. A dry bum is important so that extra moisture isn't trapped on baby's skin. If baby already has diaper rash, then some good ole naked time is good for the bottom and soul. When our baby was less mobile, letting her play on a towel for a bit kept us both happy and now that she's on the move we entertain her on the kitchen tile in case there are any surprise messes. 

Finding a favorite diaper cream is also an important part of diaper rash prevention and treatment. Diaper creams create a barrier on baby's bottom to protect from moisture or solids. When choosing a diaper cream to use with your cloth diapers, it's important to make sure it is cloth diaper safe. Since manufacturers have different definitions of what that is, using a reusable or disposable liner will help keep the cream off your diapers so that they don't repel. Some creams are better at prevention while others treat rash well. Try a few options to figure out what works best for your baby. 

CJ's BUTTer Quick Stick - 2 oz                   BALM! Baby Diaper Balm/1st Aid                           BALM! Baby Mad Rash!

Once you have your diaper changing plan down, make sure you're doing it often enough. Excess moisture or solids sitting on your baby's skin for too long can be one of the main culprits of diaper rash. 

Of course, no perfect routine will always keep rashes away and none of this advice replaces the recommendation of a doctor. Always consult your pediatrician if you suspect its a yeast rash, food reaction, or just a persistent rash that you need a little extra help treating. 

Nicki's Diapers carries all of the cloth diaper accessories you may need to help prevent and treat diaper rash, not to mention all of the amazing scents of diapers creams you can try. Do you have a favorite diaper cream that you've fallen in love with? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 0 comments

Daddy's Cloth Diaper Thoughts

Watching for Daddy to come home

Cloth diapering is truly a family decision. I secretly hope that Baby Z will pause from playing with her shopping cart and make that scrunchy face and grunt, all at the exact moment that Daddy's car pulls in the driveway. Then when she waddles over to him with that goofy "Daddy's home" smile and he gets a nice whiff, he'll have to take one for the team.

In our house that means we have to be on the same page about our diapers. We both have our personal favorites, our own tips and tricks, and I have learned that I have to communicate with him instead of just expecting he'll know how it all works. For instance, I watched a few great fit videos that others recommended and didn't think to share the tips with him right away. After a poor fitting diaper once or twice, I remembered to show him what I learned. The same goes for visits from Grandma or teaching the babysitter. It doesn’t matter who it is, if they’re going to be involved in the diapering in your household, you need them to be on the right team!

I asked Daddy if he'd share his thoughts on cloth diapering to give other families some insight and he was all on board:

Were you on board with cloth diapers from the start? Oh yes, I like saving money. Who doesn't? We did a cost comparison before the baby was here and it was an obvious decision to me. I was a little bit nervous about actually knowing how to use them, but we were able to learn about the different types from a demonstration class and I realized how simple they really are. To me, I don't really find them any harder to use than a disposable diaper.

What do you like about cloth diapering? Did I mention that I like saving money? The cost savings has been great and I know it will get even better when we are able to use them again for our second child. I also feel good knowing I'm not throwing all of those diapers out. We've used disposables here and there for trips when we didn't have a reliable washing option and I didn’t enjoy it. Not just the waste, but the smell of disposables even bothered me. It was also the only time we've had to deal with diaper rash. It confirmed for me that we made the right choice.

Is there anything that has surprised you about cloth diapering? It took us a little bit to figure out the best way to wash them. I didn’t realize that washing machines were so different and we had some trial and error. Now we have the routine taped up in the laundry room so anyone can follow it. All of the different types surprised me too, but once I learned about them and figured out which ones I thought were the easiest, it wasn’t a big deal.

What's your favorite type of cloth diaper? If you would have asked me right when Baby Z was born I would have definitely said all-in-ones. There was so much poop then! An impressive amount really. A nice all-in-one with velcro and changing her was a snap. Now that she's older I'd say I'm more on the side of all-in-two's. I like that we can reuse the same shell several times during the day now that there's less poop. It's just easy to snap a new insert in. Pockets can be great at night too because you can stuff so much in them. I might be known to stuff a little more than needed, but I figure as long the diaper still fits then no harm right? Really, I’m impressed with myself that I remembered all of those types. Did I get the names right? (Yes, he did. Good work Daddy!)

There you have it, daddy's thoughts on cloth diapering. Anything your family has learned as a cloth diaper team?