Last night I gave my presentation on blogging. I never really realized how big a topic blogging was until I needed to try and cram it into an hour and a half informal talk. Being the geek that I am, I put together a PowerPoint presentation. I even had a slide about why people blog. I planned to speak about why I like blogging. And I did...sort of, but not really. I mean I practiced what I was going to say, but when the time came, I started to lose steam on that subject. I think I did okay on the factual parts of the talk, where I covered subjects like types of blogs, comments, security, and choosing a blogging tool. When it came to making it personal, however, I struggled with my own emotions.
To completely distort the lyrics from the old Jim Croce song... Ev'ry time I tried to say it, the words just came out wrong. So I'll have to say why I write...in my blog.
I started blogging because I was passionate about talking about how isolated my need to bottle feed my babies made me feel. I was frustrated with the lack of information about how to do it. I knew all along though that I didn't want to solely talk about formula. I also wanted to talk about all the other "formula-like" experiences that I had or lessons learned that I wish someone else had told me. Hence the "flexible parenting" part of my blog name.
My first year as a SAHM was really hard for me. I felt very conflicted about vet school and motherhood. In all honesty, a lot of times I still do. Added on top of that was the feeling that I lacked a certain motherhood gene that everyone else seemed to possess. I didn't instinctively know what cute little songs to sing, how to soothe a baby or quite frankly how to navigate the landscape of baby classes and playdates. Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I felt amused. Many times I was both overwhelmed and amused. It still cracks me up that we had to sing songs as part of a lap-sit storystelling class at the library. Song singing never occurred to me when I signed up for the class. My ears will forever ring with the sound of wounded animals my pathetic singing attempts whenever I go into my public library.
One of my biggest struggles, was that I often felt like I didn't know what I was doing. Truth be told, I still feel like that a lot. In all honesty I'm sure many of my friends in real life also don't always feel like they know what they're doing either. However, knowing, just off the top of my head, that there are others like me who have also found string cheese in their son's bed and had to also convince their child not to eat it, makes me feel immensely better. I can't say that's something that I would bring up in an everyday conversation. At least not without a glass of wine or a good piece of chocolate cake (which despite my wishes is not an everyday experience). What blogging did though was it allowed me to see that I wasn't the only one who felt like that. It took away the competition that I put on myself in my every day life. I feel like through blogging I have met other moms who are like me and other people who aren't parents or who aren't like me whatsoever but who make me laugh, have viewpoints that I find intriguing, or have life experiences that fascinate me.
Mostly though in terms of my own personal writing, I think it has made me a little saner. It has allowed me to reflect on how I really feel about things. I tend to be a somewhat private person when it comes to expressing feelings. Honestly, I don't think most of my blog posts are very emotionally revealing. However, when I sit down to type a post, I do spend time reflecting on what I'm going to write, even when the subject is silly or ridiculous like my husband's car getting egged or crazy schemes to be a millionaire. (Okay, Big Giraffe, I am not saying that the egg on your car was a big joke.) It forces me to take a little "me time" where as cheesy as it sounds, I get to check in with myself.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you can't express the sentiment out loud, write it in your blog.
I know when planning your Disney vacation two questions pop into your mind
How old does my baby need to be before I can ride all the adult rides?
Is there a place to heat up a bottle/nurse?
Fortunately, both questions have simple answers. The first is thirty. The answer to question two is yes.
I was quite intrigued by the Baby Care Centers in Disney World. In fact the Big Giraffe casually inquired whether or not we would be visiting one during our date night so that I could blog about it. Silly, Big Giraffe. Of course not! There's no reason to wait a whole week when we walked past one every time we walked into the Magic Kingdom. And sure enough, I grabbed my 15 month old and checked it out.
So what exactly is in the Baby Care Center? Just like everything else in Disney, it was well thought out and very clean. There were comfy chairs when I walked into the center. There is a separate room with a closed door for nursing moms only. I didn't investigate that since I'm not a nursing mom although according to this review from MousePlanet, it is open to moms who are bottle feeding their babies. However, I'm no longer doing that either. I do love the idea of moms whether they're formula feeding or breastfeeding being able to feed their baby in a clean comfortable environment. There was a kitchen where you could heat bottles and baby food. Forgot formula, baby food, diapers, baby Tylenol, etc.? Not to worry, because you could buy it right there. (A friend of mine who goes to Disney every year told me that all that used to be free.) The Baby Center itself is sponsored by Carnation.
There is a room that is filled with nice high chairs and a few kids tables and chairs. I saw some parents of toddlers feeding their kids there. That makes a lot of sense because it is quiet and air conditioned. I know we found that just going inside a quiet building or other calm place to eat seemed to recharge the boys when they got overwhelmed or overstimulated. Another room was filled with 5 changing tables. I was pretty impressed. I'm assuming that the other centers are similar. In addition to the Magic Kingdom, you can find them at MGM, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. The previously mentioned review MousePlanet for great pictures and more details.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: In the place where dreams come true, women can breastfeed and formula feed beside each other in peace.
Blog Round-Up on the Morning Show and Breastfeeding Ban
Because the segment on Fox TV was so short, none of the panelists got to fully express our points of view. I wanted to do one final post to reinforce a couple of the arguments that I consider to be most critical, and to link to all of the posts that I have seen that have further discussed and debated what happened on that show. Several of them include vigorous comment exchanges representing both sides of the issue. I would recommend that anyone who is interested in either side of the argument take a scan.
Suzanne also wrote several posts about the show on CUSS and Other Rants including This Just In which was a shout-out announcing it in which expressed her support. "I am excited to sit in the audience and give her a big thumbs up as she talks. I think it is no one's business to question why a woman uses formula." Suzanne also wrote Formula Feeding and Beaver Suckling which described her experience backstage before the show, and More Beaver Suckling which included some further reflections on the show.
Mrs. Chicky wrote Let's Hear it for Alex on New England Mamas providing a succint summary of what actually transpired on the air and sharing her personal support.
Amy spawned an extremely vigorous debate on formula feeding and the ban with her post on Club Mom entitled Blogger Takes on the Ban. Her words spoke directly to the issue of social pressure and guilt in saying "My first lactation consultant -- the one who admitted I needed to supplement, and supplement NOW -- described the formula in hospital bags like "sending someone home from rehab with crack in their suitcase."" She also clearly argued that just because breast milk may be best, does not make formula a bad choice when it is appropriate. "Breast milk is amazing. It's wonderful, almost miraculous stuff. But like Alex said, formula is not rat poison either...We moms have enough pressure and choices to obsess and worry about already. Give us our choices, give us support and information, give us encouragement. Not a stupid "I Eat At Mom's" onesie.""
Jodi also shared her personal experiences in Yeah for Alex stating "I tried, I failed, I moved on. But not without a substantial amount of guilt. Look, we all know breast milk is better. There is no debate on that. But not all of us can, or, want to nurse. For me it was an impossibility." Jodi also challenged why a formula ban should even be a priority of our government. "I also think our Government has more important things to worry about. Aren't we in a war? Doesn't NYC have crime, poverty, school funding issues?" "
With all that said, I want to share five key points that I consider most critical in this debate.
As I said in my original post, "As women, I think we are able to make our own decisions. I think as parents we do the best that we can, and we make the decisions that we feel are in the best interests of our own children."
Banning formula samples has the biggest impact on people who want to breastfeed and plan to breastfeed but can't. When my older son (OS), the Big Giraffe, and I got back from the emergency room at 3am when he was a week old, we knew that he had not been getting enough to eat. We were told to give him as much formula as he would drink. The hospital formula samples saved the Big Giraffe from having to choose between taking a dehydrated newborn out to a pharmacy in the middle of the night or leaving a dehydrated newborn in my care one week after I underwent 40 hours of labor followed by a c-section. Both of those choices were unpalletable. Not every community has a nearby 24 hour pharmacy. I know several other people who had almost identical experiences. It is great in the abstract to say that mothers can still request formula samples, but the people who most want to breastfeed are least likely to request those samples. The ban is potentially harmful to those families.
Using formula samples in time of need does not preclude women from going back to breastfeeding if they can do so and want to do so. I continued trying to breastfeed OS for several weeks (with heavy supplementing) until my lactation consultant told me that we could not make it work, and I tried again with my younger son (YS). Several commenters shared similar experiences, and I know many women personally who used formula for support, not as a crutch.
Even if some women abandon breastfeeding when the going gets touch if formula samples are available, Christina provided a comment sharing eyewitness accounts of mothers who fed their newborns regular cow milk if they were unable to breastfeed, which is far worse than any formula.
While breastfeeding is better than formula feeding, when it works, formula feeding is better than starving a child when breastfeeding does not work.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: There are a lot of strong feelings around how best to nurture children.
So this post has been coming for a while. Almost exactly a month ago, my younger son (YS) finished his last can of formula. Since we're not currently planning on having more children, my run with formula is over (this is not to say that I won't still be posting about formula and formula related topics.)
It probably seems a little weird to have a post reflecting on my second one-year stint with formula. It's over! Let's celebrate! After all, I never found the prospect of formula exciting. Both times that I was unable to breastfeed, I was concerned that a whole year of formula loomed ahead of me. A whole year of extra expenses, carting around bottles, washing bottles and let's not forget about a whole year where I felt like the odd woman out every time I pulled out a bottle in public.
When I was told by the lactation consultant to throw in the nursing bra so to speak with my older son (OS) I was at really freaked out by the health and emotional concerns of not breastfeeding. This was quickly followed by the financial aspects of formula feeding. A friend pointed out that formula feeding has a beginning, a middle and most importantly an end. It's not something that goes on forever. Barring any problems, it's 12 months from start to finish. During both of my years with formula, I looked forward to the days when I wouldn't have to drop $31 at BJs for each can of formula. I thought of all the money I could have been saving and what I would do with all the money I would be saving when my kids switched to whole milk.
Here's what I've found now that I've gone through this twice. Yes, formula feeding is expensive. However, once solids are introduced the amount of formula that is consumed is less. So really you're not paying the same amount for formula each month for all 12 months.
Kids are expensive. More importantly as they get older, they want and need different things. Yes, this month we didn't have to pay for YS to drink formula. However, we have paid for him to eat lunch and dinner when we go out because not only is he old enough to really enjoy going on family outings, but he now eats what we eat. We also will be paying for him to do swimming lessons because he is old enough. I also have paid for a family membership at the Y because he's both old enough both to enjoy some of the tumbling classes and to participate in my favorite service: the childwatch.
Yes, these are isolated events and of course are choices not necessities, but my point is that I wish I could go back in time to visit myself during the first few days of being a new and terrified mom and point out that the formula cost is relative. We've got a nice preschool tuition bill due for OS soon!
As for the emotional and health aspects? Well, I can honestly say as the mother of an almost 4 year old, I can't think of the last time someone asked me if OS was breastfed. As quickly as I was thrust into the world of breastfeeding (or lack of breastfeeding) it ended. Now when OS is sick, I'm just the mom of a sick four year old. Never mind when I was last asked about OS; I can't even think of the last time I was asked about breastfeeding YS! Now that we're entirely responsible for making sure that he gets all the vitamins and minerals he needs, I sometimes miss that fortified bottle of formula. Thankfully Enfamil makes daily infant and toddler vitamins!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: The cost and inconvenience of infant formula may pale in comparison to the cost and inconvenience of keeping older children fed.
Today was one of those days where everything took just a little longer than it should have. When waiting in the pickup/drop off line at preschool, someone parked their car in front of me and someone else was pulled up directly behind me (with someone was behind them) and thus I was blocked in and holding up the line. Thankfully the person in front of me finally moved their car. Dunkin' Donuts messed up my coffee order and tried to give me a buttered bagel instead of a latte; while it was tempting I really wanted my coffee, so I had to wait at the window while they fixed the order. Just little things like that happened. I still am having a lot of frustration with trying to find a charitable organization to pick up the leftovers from the yard sale that the my moms group is having. None of the organizations are able to commit at this time and doing it at the last minute as they have suggested makes me incredibly nervous.
The guy from the fitness equipment store never called me back, and, since there's a slight chance, by which I mean a sure thing, that I may have consumed a few too many Girl Scout cookies, I decided to give him a call back. Turns out Jason wasn't available to help me, but Sean was. I carefully explained to him how the treadmill in my basement was possessed. Not too surprisingly there was no failure code for "possessed treadmill." After offering to contact someone to perform an exorcism, he found the code for "problem with motor". He also reassured me that no one he knows keeps the safety key clipped to them. Apparently it looks like the motor is under a 5 year warranty meaning that we would only have to pay for labor Sean was supposed to call me either this evening or tomorrow morning after he confirms with the manufacturing company. Looks like it will be tomorrow morning. Upon hearing Sean's response, my husband was quick to point out that he always uses the safety clip. (I have a secret suspicion that my husband also used a pocket protector in high school.) He also wanted to know if the exorcism was cheaper than having someone come out to fix the machine.
After dealing with the fitness equipment store, I settled into the couch to feed my younger son (YS) his bottle. He started pushing my hands away from the bottle and fussing. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Finally he gave me a look that basically said "Hey, idiot let go of the bottle!" I let go of the bottle, and he gave it to himself. I was stunned. My older son (OS) never once held his own bottle in the 13 months he used it. It was our special time together. In fact since OS could use a sippy cup well before being weaned from the bottle I was convinced that he was intentionally refusing to hold a bottle so we could snuggle together. While I was impressed and happy that YS is able to hold his own bottle, I feel a little sad too. Probably more so since, having been unable to breastfeed, I really treasure those snuggle times with him. That's my time to gaze into his eyes and coo with him. However, in reality that usually doesn't happen because 1) There's usually something else going on like OS trying to check the dog's ears with his toy otoscope 2) When I coo to YS he starts laughing and stops eating. However, no matter what is going on, we still can snuggle together. At least for now he's still letting me hold him, and when he had his evening bottle he only held it for a couple of minutes before rubbing his eyes and letting me take over. We'll see what happens tomorrow. One lesson I've learned in parenting is that many times I see previews of milestones weeks before the actual milestones become permanent.
I thought I would share a quick bottle feeding tip. When bottle feeding a baby, make sure that her head is up higher than her belly. In other words don't give her a bottle lying down. This can cause the fluid in her mouth to back up in her ear leading to an ear infection (See The Best Position for Feeding.) This doesn't guarantee that your baby won't get an ear infection (my 7 month is always bottle fed like this and he has an ear infection) but it can help prevent it.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Make your baby's head is higher than her belly when bottle feeding.
Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting Goes Undercover III
Once again Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting received the opportunity to go undercover. By that I mean that my older son (OS) had an appointment with a pediatric dentist. Since the last time I took OS was quite an ordeal for me (although I was told he did well which may me wonder what the kids who didn't do well were doing) combined with the fact that this time I was told they would be a smidge more aggressive with the cleaning, I decided that the dentist appointment would be the perfect father son bonding experience. (My husband did not appear enthusiastic, but I was looking for compliance not contentment.) Of course I couldn't miss an opportunity to extract...I mean obtain information of course...for myself and my blog.
I had my husband ask the dentist the following question: "Should our 5 month old who's solely bottle fed be using an orthodontic nipple?" The answer was "No, but if you see him start to suck his thumb, go out and get an orthodontic pacifier."
Wait a minute, what's the deal with that? Apparently when the term orthodontic is applied to bottle nipples, it means that the bottle nipple is shaped like the mother's nipple, while when applied to pacifiers, the term orthodontic means that the pacifier will help to promote good oral development. If OS were breastfed, I would be trying to minimize the chance for nipple confusion and might be very interested in an orthodontic bottle nipple. Since I do not breastfeed, this concern is not applicable to me. On the other hand, good oral development is relevent no matter how a baby eats.
If you should look at the Playtex website, you will see that orthodontic pacifiers such as Playtex Ortho-Pro are described as pacifiers that allow plenty of room for the teeth to come in as well as for the tongue to rest comfortably. The pacifiers that are described as most like the mom's nipples have names like MostLikeMomPacifier. However if you look at the Playtex Orthodontic nipple for example, it does say that it promotes oral development but it is also described as being similar to the mother's nipple. Likewise Gerber's orthodontic nipple is the NUK which is described as being most similar to the mother's nipple. The NUK pacifier is described as being orthodontic, but the pacifier that is described as being like the mom's nipple is the Gentle Flex.
The description of orthodontic nipples isn't really surprising. After all, since breastfeeding is natural, it would make sense that mother nature would provide the perfect orthodontic nipple. I just wanted to know if an orthodontic nipple was important for a non-breastfeed baby. Obviously you should run this by your own pediatrician or dentist if you're concerned.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Orthodontic can mean different things for bottles nipples and pacifiers; make sure you read the packaging or better yet ask yourpediatrician.
With the holidays just around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to post about how to travel with formula. When my older son (OS) was close to a year, I found out about formula dispensers. Since he was almost done with formula, I never bothered to get one. Instead, during the year he was on formula, I carried around the powder in one of the free sample canisters that I received. I would refill it a number of times, and then at some point I would receive another sample and I would recycle the former one. The exception to this was when OS was under 8 months and we would fly. Then I would use the Similac Ready to Feed bottles because that way I didn't have to bother with water. After that, he would just use a sippy cup of water or juice on the plane.
When I gave birth to my younger son (YS), I finally purchased this formula dispenser. I had really great hopes for it. Unfortunately, it did not work out as well as I had hoped. While less messy than traveling with a free sample canister, it is hard to get the formula out of the compartment. What I have found that works well are the single serving packets. Both Similac and Enfamil make them. Basically, each packet contains two scoops of powdered formula (or enough for 4 ounces). While they are on the pricey side, I have found for traveling that it's worth it. It's also great for babysitters because the instructions are written right on each packet so that there's no confusion. Even when I would leave out written instructions with the formula dispenser, there was often some confusion about exactly how many compartments to use, what constituted a compartment etc. With the free sample can, babysitters used to sometimes worry about how level did the scoop had to be.
I have yet to fly with YS under the new FAA regulations. I'll be really honest: I've heard from a friend that she was on a flight where the airline ran out of bottled water. It seems like the new regulations are confusing for everyone. I won't even get into the outrageous Delta "incident". When I do fly with YS, I think I will just go with the Nursettes, which are small containers of pre-made formula. Enfamil's are a pain because they're glass and not plastic, which means that they weigh more and are also more likely to break, but I still think they are more convenient than the alternative. According to the above link, it doesn't look like current FAA regulations set a limit on the amount of formula or expressed breastmilk that you bring on a flight. They ask that you just bring enough for the trip. I would love to hear from you if you've flown with your formula fed baby under these new regulations.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Sometimes it's worth paying the extra money for convenience
First of all, thanks to Amy Guth, author of Three Fallen Women, for her virtual book tour stop on Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting yesterday. We enjoyed having you here!
After deciding on Dr. Brown's bottles for my older son (OS), my husband did the reasonable thing and went out and bought a million of them. Okay, maybe it was more like 10, but when looking at the boxes and boxes of bottles spilling over the counter, it felt like a lot. Demonstrating the smooth teamwork that you expect to see out of exhausted parents, I pulled each bottle out of the packaging along with the associated equipment and handed it to my husband to run put in the dishwasher. As I was unscrewing the nipples, I noticed that there was a small circular piece of white plastic between the nipple and the top of each bottle. It was rather annoying to have to fish this "trash" out of the bottle, but I didn't think too much about it as I made several donations to a landfill.
A short while later (approximately five minutes after the sanitation department had done their next pickup), I noticed that whenever I stuck a bottle in a diaper bag, it would leak all over the place. I had already learned the lesson about overly tight bottle caps and leaking, so I knew there were more lessons to be learned. I realized two things: 1) Bottle gaps are exempt from normal rules of gravity, and they somehow hold formula when removed from a bottle until they are directly over your jeans. At that point they quickly release any retained liquid. 2) Those little plastic things are travel lids.
Travel lids keep the formula from getting inside of the nipple and thus collecting in the cap and spilling all over your jeans. Or more recently all over the diaper bag backpack, when you bend over to help your son. (You know which backpack. The one containing your son's newly minted artwork as well as the bluetooth headset to your phone. The good news is that it is apparently sometimes possible to accidentally put a bluetooth headset through a full laundry cycle and have it continue to work. The bad news is that if you follow the example of whatever unknown individual may have done that, you may not be as lucky as I...er um as they were.)
When my younger son (YS) was born, I came to another realization. The little bottles that came with my Pump In Style were also equipped with travel lids. During OS's infancy, I had been confounded by the mysteries of those bottles. Each came with a top that had a plastic, removable center. I never understood why they came that way, and after recovering from 39 hours of back labor including two hours of pushing and a c-section, I lacked the ambition required to read the instructions. When I took a new, although once again exhausted look, at the contraption, I realized that the plastic piece was another travel lid that could be replaced with a nipple when ready for feeding. No more need to transfer the breastmilk to a "regular" bottle. Nipple replacement was all that was required.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Travel Lids Enforce the Law of Gravity in order to Keep Bottles from Leaking
When I was pregnant with my older son (OS), I went to Babies 'R Us to register for my baby shower. I frequently referenced the store registry guidelines. Clearly, anything on that list must be an essential item. A surprise item was a bottle warmer. Even though I was planning on breastfeeding, it was important to me to be able to have my husband, relative, babysitter etc. give my baby expressed milk when needed. I never realized this meant that I needed a bottle warmer. I was horrified by my ignorance. I just assumed that you could warm breast milk in a dish of warm water. Good thing I had never aired that idea in public! I had no idea that a somewhat costly, somewhat complicated device was needed. Thank goodness I had Babies 'R Us to set me straight.
Then to my horror, after talking to some expectant moms, I realized that I had registered for the WRONG one. Silly, me! I didn't realize that I needed one that would also store cold bottles, shut off automatically when finished and would work in as little as three minutes. I made sure to immediately update my registry on-line. Only then did I breathe a sigh of relief. I could have really messed that one up!
Low and behold, when OS started to use formula in the hospital, I casually inquired as to whether or not the room temperature formula should be heated. After all, breast milk is stored at 98.6 degrees. I was on top of things from having attending multiple breastfeeding classes. The nurse told me that I actually did not have to heat formula. I thought she meant I didn't have to heat room temperature formula. "No," she told me. "You can serve formula cold." In fact she advised that I start off doing that so OS wouldn't develop a preference for warm formula because then I really might have to heat it.
Not knowing anything about formula feeding, I accepted her advice at face value. Guess what? OS never had a heated bottle of formula. My younger son (YS) has only had about half a dozen. I have subsequently met other moms who never heated formula. So what have I done with my bottle warmer? Oh, I use it all the time...I use it to store the cold bottles for nighttime feeding. That's right, when YS needs a bottle I reach over and grab a cold one and give it directly to him. (My husband periodically suggests using the bottle warmer for beer too, but fortunately even 2 children have yet to bring us to a point that we wake up really needing a 6 am brew other than coffee.) Now, my honest opinion is that if either of my children were fussy and/or seemed to have an upset stomach, I would give them a heated bottle and not think twice about it. And if I were to use a bottle warmer, I would want one with all the features that I have. I certainly wouldn't start off doing it though. Three minutes is a long time to hear a baby fuss when you're waiting for a bottle to heat. Three minutes vs. the time it takes to take the cap off a bottle and put it in the baby's mouth? Hmm...which would you prefer?
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: You don't have to heat formula
If it comes from a doctor, it should be good, right?
“What’s up with his bottle?” “What’s that thing in the center?” “Did you need to go to a special training to learn how to use that bottle?” These are common questions I get when people see my younger son’s (YS) bottle. Okay, maybe not that last question. With both my children I have used Dr. Brown’s bottles. The brand’s claim to fame is that it reduces gas and colic. It works by having a plastic insert in the bottle that at first glance appears to require a masters degree in engineering to figure out. Fear not! After a couple of uses, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep. (I often have.) This insert supposedly removes extra air from the bottle, which is a cause of extra gas and colic.
Do these bottles work? I did a little on-line research and according to the reviews on Amazon.com, people love them. They received between 4 and 4.5 stars out of 5. I’ve known a couple other people that swear by them too. I began using them with my older son (OS) because they were the only bottles that he would latch onto. He never had a problem with uncomfortable gas (although he happily generated his fair share of bad smells that made me “uncomfortable”) or colic so they may have worked great. Or maybe we just lucked out and it was never a problem to begin with. With my younger son (YS) we used them because we used them with OS. He also has had no problems with gas or colic. Or at least gas that makes him uncomfortable because I could have sworn today when I walked into the living room that someone had a dirty diaper. After checking both boys and giving them the clear, I then concluded that the dog must have moved the couch, “gone” behind it, and then moved the couch back against the wall (since I couldn’t see any evidence anywhere). The cats were hiding out in the basement so they had an alibi. Although thinking it over now, my husband didn’t have an alibi.
Are there any negatives to the Dr. Brown’s bottles? Unfortunately, there are a few. First of all, they can be hard to find. That may not be too much of an issue, since Babies R Us/Toys R Us have carried them and Target recently began to carry them too. As with most things in this day and age, they’re also available on-line. Second, not surprisingly they’re more expensive than the typical bottles. I feel they’re worth it. You can get a three pack of either the 4 ounce or 8 ounce bottles for $12.99 off of Amazon.com. Third, you have to take apart the insert to wash the bottle. This isn’t a huge deal, but it is covered in formula and can be a little gross. I have had no problem throwing all the pieces (insert, bottle and nipple) in the dishwasher. A friend of mine soaks everything first. Again, as I posted before, I recommend Cascade Gel packs with Dawn.
The final weakness, which is the only one I found before getting tired of reading the 189 Amazon.com reviews, is the one I mentioned in a previous post: if you fill the bottle above the “fill line,” it will leak. In all fairness it says it right on the bottle. So what does that mean? It means if you have a 4 ounce bottle and you want to make 4 ounces you should make the formula ahead of time in a separate container or use pre-made formula. Some people routinely make their daily formula in a pitcher first thing in the morning. Physics 101: when you add a solid to a liquid, it will make the liquid level rise (think of what happens when you sit in a bath tub.) Alternately, you can make 4 ounces in the 8 ounce bottle so when the liquid rises slightly after the powder is added, it won’t be anywhere near the fill line. Or you can just be lazy like me and wrap a cloth diaper/burp cloth/paper towel around the bottle because you haven’t run the dishwasher and you haven’t bought enough of the larger bottles that your child now requires.
If you make the nipple extra tight, it may leak, but this is true about any brand of bottle. Also, it doesn't work as a regular bottle if you remove the insert. A "friend" of mine tried it and it looked like a formula monsoon had hit my...I mean..her son.
A. Elliot’s Lesson: At least 191 parents (189 who reviewed on Amazon.com, my husband, and me) have had good results with Dr. Brown’s bottles.
I was just reading a post called Pump It Up Working Moms, and I thought I would share the comment I left on her blog. I hope that everyone knows that A. Elliot firmly believes that it is a woman's choice to decide how to feed her baby. Although I formula feed/fed my children, I am a strong supporter of breastfeeding.
I was unable to breastfeed my children for more than 5 weeks because my milk supply dropped off due to prior breast surgery. However, when I was pregnant with my first son, someone encouraged me to call my insurance company to see if I qualified for a free breast pump because of my surgery. I did, and I got a free Medela Pump in Style in the mail.
Pumping was made easier by the time I had my second son, as I learned that the hospital where I gave birth, in an effort to promote breastfeeding, looked up breastfeeding mothers' health insurance policies to see if they covered the Pump In Styles. Then they delivered the brand-new pumps to their hospital rooms. (Just to be clear, in most cases, there wasn't anything wrong with their breasts or their ability to breastfeed.) Many of my friends were able to get these pumps for free. Unfortunately, this is dependent on the insurance coverage a woman has, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Anyone can call their health insurance company to see if they are covered. It doesn't have to be someone from the hospital. Believe me, my insurance company didn't call me up and say "Do you want a free really expensive breast pump?" I had to insist on talking to a couple different people.
A. Elliots Lesson Learned:It doesn't hurt to pick up a phone and call your insurance company; you may be eligible for a free breast pump
Wanting to be a totally cool and hip mom to be, I decided to take a prenatal yoga class when I was pregnant with my first son. Never mind the fact that normally I can barely touch my toes and at that point it looked like I had a basketball under my shirt, I thought yoga would be a great form of exercise and fun. Okay, really what I thought was it was a great opportunity to socialize while I could tell myself I was doing something healthy and thus worthy of eating extra Cheetohs.
It was also during this time that I had just completed all my childbirth classes and had gone to a breastfeeding class offered at the hospital. Armed with all this parenting knowledge and my brand-new subscriptions to my parenting magazines, I felt sure that I was ready for the challenge of parenthood. (Pause for laughter at remembering how naive I was). Which is why I was so surprised when we were sitting peacefully in our yoga poses and the yoga teacher casually told us an amusing story about how she didn’t know that women had more than one hole in their nipples. Excuse me? Could you please repeat that? Half of the class found this story funny. The other half of us had our mouths open in shock because we too had no idea that we had multiple holes in our nipples. I believe it's the "Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" that describes the nipple holes as a sprinkler system. Trust me, if you've ever watched yourself pump milk with an electric pump, it's an excellent description.
Not only did the hospital do a very poor job on the breastfeeding class (you would have thought that they would have mentioned the nipples holes and believe if they have I would have definitely remembered as would the people in my yoga class who didn't know because we all took the same breastfeeding class), but they did an even worse job at explaining bottle nipples. No surprise there since they have a vested interest in breastfeeding. Or maybe they felt that bottle-feeding was self-explanatory. Or maybe they just knew that us bottle feeders were so brilliant that we would be able to figure it out on our own. Kidding! Like I said the education was pretty lacking to begin with so I wouldn't be surprised. You certainly don't see how to bottle-feed too frequently in parenting magazines. Yet, there is talk about how bottle fed kids can eat too much formula. Hmmm...just a thought here but maybe it's because there really isn't any good information out there, so you might not know if you're using a nipple that's flowing too fast. I recently talked to another mom who had bottle fed her son and was pregnant with the second. She had no idea what the nipple stages were so she just used the newborn stage the whole time.
When I decided to start bottle-feeding my son, I was in a bit of denial, to put it lightly, that I couldn't breastfeed and was having a hard time accepting it. Imagine my surprise when I found out that bottle nipples come in different "stages". What the heck did they mean by "stage"? I guess that sounds better than nipple holes. This of course threw me into a panic. I immediately called up my cousin who had bottle fed two kids and asked her what it meant. Why was bottle-feeding so difficult? So here, dear bottle feeders, is what she told me. This is indirectly verified on the packaging on most nipples. Meaning that is that it will say "Stage 1: 0-3 months." The rest is from trial, error, and talking to other moms and pediatricians.
1) Stage 1: this is for newborns. There is only one hole in this nipple so that the formula will come out very slowly. This is important because otherwise the newborn can choke. Any newborn bottle (translation small bottle) will come with this 2) Stage 2: This for babies 3-6 months old and these nipples have 2 holes. Thus, the formula comes out faster. 3) Stage 3: This is for babies over 6 months. I never used these with my older son because we moved onto sippy cups, but presumably these nipples have 3 holes. 4) The Y-cut: This is a nipple where the hole is cut wide to so the baby can drink thicker drinks such as formula with a little bit of cereal in it.
Supposedly, you know that your child is ready to move onto the next stage when he starts taking longer than a half an hour to feed or if he seems frustrated that the fluid isn't coming out fast enough. These are both signs that my younger son displays so I was thrilled when his pediatrician gave me the okay to switch the nipples. Unfortunately, when I tried giving him the stage 2 nipples this week, he was offended by them. Yes, my 11 week old acted like I had committed a great crime and refused to use them. Thus, I am back to doing 30-45 minute feedings with the stage 1 nipple.
A. Eliot's Lesson Learned: Talk to your baby's pediatrician about what stage nipple he (the baby not the doctor) should be using.
In a previous posting, I recounted my initial adventures with Avent and its leakly bottle feedings. After basically spilling what seemed like entire bottles of formula/breastmilk drip by drip on my child, I decided I had had it with the Avent bottles. (If only my blog had existed then and I had read A. Eliot's lesson about bottle leak prevention.) Plus the lactation consultant had told me that she wasn't sure if it was my milk supply or my son's latch or lack of a latch thereof that caused the breastfeeding not to work, but either way he wasn't latching on to the Avent bottles very well. I erroneously thought picking out a bottle would be easy. Silly me! I figured I would just get one of every kind and get more of whatever he liked best. I had no idea that there would be so many choices. After all when I had gone with my friend Elle she had told me to pick Avent, so I didn't have to think about it. $50 later my kitchen was covered with packages of bottles. The winner ended up being the regular Dr. Brown's bottles.
"Regular?" you might wonder. What does that even mean? Well, dear readers after having two children, asking numerous pediatricians, leaders of parent groups etc., I finally found the answer from second child's hospital pediatrician who ironically also wasnt able to breastfeed. If you are breastfeeding your child and want to give them a bottle, you need to use a wide mouth bottle. Why is this? The latch, or fishface as I've heard it called, that your child forms with the wide mouth bottle is the same one that she forms when she latches on to the breast. With the regular bottles, the whole nipple, and small "areola" if there is one, go inside of the baby's mouth. For a baby like my first one who had trouble latching, these types of bottles are the best because the bottle just slips inside her mouth and she doesn't have to "latch" on so to speak. My second child uses both kinds depending on what is clean.
For reasons I don't understand some of the brands don't label them as wide mouth (these typically are the store brands) so here’s A. Elliot's rule: If the whole nipple can fit into the baby's mouth it is a regular nipple and not a wide mouth nipple. I hope I cleared it up for you.
Wide mouth bottle on the left. Regular bottle on the right
Why is there more formula on my child's outfit than I seemed to have put in the bottle?
On the advice of a friend, I had registered for the newborn starter set of Avent bottles. They supposedly are the bottles that are most like the breast, and after all I had these grand visions of filling them with tons of freshly pumped breast milk from my expensive breast pump so that my husband could feed the baby.
My first pumping efforts had more modest results. So the first time I used the bottle I had a mere 2 ounces to give. I carefully poured my liquid gold into the bottle (not yet realizing that the milk repository that came with the pump converted to a bottle (more on that another time)), and screwed the cap as tightly as possible lest a single drop be lost. I gently applied the nipple to my little one's lips and watched in horror as it all poured out the sides.
It turns out despite all common sense and human nature, when tightening the nipple caps you are not supposed to turn the cap tightly. "That doesn't sound right!" you may be saying. "That sounds contrary to what I think I should do." But yes, dear bottle feeders it is true. The pressure in a tightly capped bottle causes the bottle to leak all over the place. This is true for both wide neck bottles as well as regular bottles. So if you have a leaky bottle, and it's not due to a crack or overfilling the bottle, loosen the top a little bit and it should work just fine. Trust me.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If more of the bottle is on your child instead of in your child, try loosening the cap.
A smidge over 3 years ago as the nurse handed over my first child to me to breastfeed for the very first time, I really thought that breastfeeding would work. After all I was the knowledgeable, well informed mom who had gone to the breastfeeding classes when I was pregnant. If I wanted to breastfeed than I would be able to breastfeed.
I had had a breast reduction 6 years prior, but my surgeon had many patients who were able to successfully breastfeed, and even the lactation consultant said it was possible. In fact the woman in the room next to me at the hospital was a fellow veteran of surgery, and after exclusively breastfeeding her first two children, her third had latched right on. I also attended the required breastfeeding class at the hospital when I gave birth and I met with the lactation consultant 4 times including one time at my home. It was a huge shock to me when my 8 day old baby ended up in the ER for dramatic weight loss, and I was devastated when the same lactation consultant told me "some women aren't meant to breastfeed and you're one of them". You know it's got to be pretty bad when the representative of the forces of breastfeeding tells you to throw in the nursing bra.
I grappled with thoughts like "how could this have happened when my son's weight was being closely monitored" and "I'm a horrible mother" and did I mention that it was National Breastfeeding Awareness Month? I then realized that while I had learned all this stuff about breastfeeding, I had no idea how to bottle feed a baby. Case in point: when I was in the ER, I let him drink the whole bottle of formula the resident had handed me. I let him try to get out every last drop. The resident then yelled at me to take the bottle away because apparently I was supposed to make sure there was a little bit of formula left over so he wouldn't suck in air and then get gas. (He gets enough without my help.) Gee, I sure wish someone had told me that BEFORE I had a baby.
Then there were all the issues of what formula to use, what bottles, why were the bottles leaking, what do you mean there's different nipple sizes, to heat or not to heat, etc. Never mind the pressure from some people not to use a bottle at all. Such a big deal was being made of this big move to breastfeed that those of us who couldn't were and have been left to fend for ourselves (the bottle feeding info was no better with my second child). I also learned that a lot of parenting in general involves trying to figure it out as you go. When my first child was born I started keeping a list of things I wish people had told me about parenting. This blog will contain the stories of my experiences and those of many friends through which we learned these lessons (and any other anecdotes I randomly feel like sharing).
A. Elliot's first lesson: Leave some formula in the bottle so you don't give your baby (extra) gas.
For those of us who didn't get an instruction manual with our babies and for whom parenting hasn't always gone as planned. On a more serious note this blog is about supporting a woman's ability to make her own choices about parenting including the choice, for whatever reason, to bottle feed her babies formula.