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Archive for January, 2013

Beware of Bulky Travel Systems

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By, Heather

Many moms come into our store knowing what they want for easy transport of their new baby…the travel

Typical Big Box Travel System

Typical Big Box Travel System

system.  A travel system is a stroller that comes with the infant car seat.  It is usually made so that the car seat simply clicks into the stroller very easily.  This makes life easier for the parent, as they can keep their sleeping infant snoozing away in their car seat.

A common mistake we see is mom choosing a bulky “big box store” travel system that she ends up hating after six months.  We usually see this mom coming to our store to purchase a lighter stroller when baby is about 6 - 9 months old in frustration.

When a pregnant mom-to-be comes into our store, we try to educate her about the travel system.  I show her one in the store, and then I ask her what she is planning on using the stroller for.  Most parents-to-be that come into our store with one idea usually leave with a completely different mindset, as we show them their options.  For example, did you know that almost any stroller nowadays can be made into a travel system?  I usually ask the mom to pick her stroller first, because the stroller is what she will be using for four years, not the travel system.  A travel system is usually only used for the first six to nine months.  At that point, baby is too heavy to carry around in the infant car seat, and is not sleeping as much, preferring to sit right into the stroller.

Baby Jogger City Mini GT Stroller

Baby Jogger City Mini GT Stroller

So my advice to a new parent would be to play around with the strollers in your local store.  Decide what you need for your lifestyle.  Maybe you want something lightweight and easy to fold that doesn’t take up a lot of room in your trunk.  Maybe you are a runner and would prefer a stroller you can run with.  Maybe you would prefer a stroller with a bassinet.  Maybe you want to be able to face your baby in the stroller.  Or maybe you are happy with the “big box” travel system.  You really never know until you push them all around and get some in-store education on the strollers.  Remember, you are going to be optimally using this for four years, sometimes every day.  Choose wisely!

Not sure what stroller to choose?  Come into SmartMomma and let us help you.  That’s what we are here for.  Happy strolling!

Building Your Breastfeeding Support System

Monday, January 28th, 2013

By, Daphne

Most women are eager to get everything ready for their baby while pregnant. Being prepared can be defined differently, depending on an individual’s style. For some, it involves a perfect nursery with beautiful décor and enough baby clothes for the first year. Others may spend more time preparing for the birth or researching the best pediatrician. Of course, many women will accomplish all of the above in great detail, but frequently, not enough time is spent preparing for breastfeeding.

A number of life’s pre-parenting problems can be solved by studying, reading, and working hard. Some have built successful careers and gained the respect of others by this ability to independently work through any surprise challenge. The answer is frequently in a book or on a website. In emergencies, priorities can be shifted to allow more time to solve the most pressing problem.

Author Daphne breastfeeding baby Elaine - Photo By Crickett Photograhy

Author Daphne breastfeeding baby Elaine - Photo By Crickett Photograhy

Perhaps not every answer is in a book. There might be times when you call a trusted member from one of your networks. This individual is the best tool when you need specific information in a hurry, and you lack the time to research it yourself. If you’re like me, you might find yourself surprised by the helpful details others are able to share with you when you finally give in to not being able to find every answer yourself. This is important to remember when you prepare to breastfeed. Though you may be able to find a plethora of facts in the books, the network, or your community, support is what will make the difference when you struggle through those early, sleepless weeks. When breastfeeding isn’t going well, every minute is a crisis, and you may find yourself wishing an expert on the topic would just move into your house for a week.

The first step in building your breastfeeding support system is to take inventory of who is already available to you.  Who will be helping you in the first weeks after you deliver the baby? Frequently on the list are mothers, mother-in-laws, sisters, and sister-in-laws. Sometimes close friends are available, and of course, the father of the baby frequently plays a role in the support structure as well. Did any of the women breastfeed? If so, did they have positive experiences? If they did not breastfeed, do they now express full support for your plan? It is important to use the word “plan” because the word “goal” allows room for others to suggest that you change your plan. Of course you can change your mind any time you wish; however, the people who are supporting you will be most helpful if you’ve made them certain about the consistent message you want to hear.

If you are hearing only supportive comments about breastfeeding, this is a good start. Positive comments include, “I loved nursing my baby, I didn’t nurse my baby but I’m excited to support you with your choice, and I’m going to take care of you so you can take care of your baby.” Some red flag comments include, “We’ll buy some formula just-in-case, it’s important to get the baby on a feeding schedule, my babies slept well because I put cereal in the bottle, and I’ll hold the baby because you’ll need your rest.”

Author Daphne Nursing Her Baby - Photo By Crickett Photography

Author Daphne Nursing Her Baby - Photo By Crickett Photography

Why are those “red flag” comments considered negative? Having formula in the house makes it easier to supplement when you already have an adequate milk supply. Unnecessary supplementing frequently leads to a lower milk supply. If you find yourself in a situation where you truly need formula, it’s available at every grocery and drug store, and many of them are open 24 hours. Feeding schedules can negatively impact breastfeeding because a newborn really does need to nurse at a minimum of every two to three hours, sometimes more often. By following your baby’s nursing cues, your breasts will adjust to the exact amount of milk your baby needs. Encouraging your baby to wait too long for feedings can result in a lower milk supply and a baby who gives up on expressing the need to eat. Cereal should never be put in a bottle, whether you are feeding with breast milk or formula. Some experts believe that solid food at such a young age can lead to obesity. Finally, you may want someone to hold your baby while you sleep at some point, but most of the time it’s important that you and your baby sleep close by. Unless you reach a dangerous level of exhaustion, which does happen from time to time, you will likely not be able to get as much rest when someone else is caring for your baby. Ideally, those who are helping you will be taking care of you, and your only responsibility will be feeding and bonding with your baby.

Because breastfeeding success depends on frequent, almost constant nursing in the early days, find a comfortable chair in your den, and plan to stock it with snacks, water, remote controls, reading material, a phone, and a laptop. Having this “breastfeeding station” established will help your supporters understand that you and your baby will be together nearly all of the time. Put your to-do list on the refrigerator, and when people ask how they can help you, mention your list, and then you won’t have to feel like you’re giving orders. You might even have icky tasks like “clean the bathroom floor” on it. It doesn’t matter because you’ve presented the list as what you planned to eventually do. Let your helper decide if she wants to tackle the bathroom floor or cut up fruit and wash your towels.

You may already have many friends and relatives who currently breastfeed or breastfed in the past. If this network of people is large enough and you are comfortable asking for nearly daily help and information in the beginning, you may be in good shape.

What if your immediate family and friends are doubtful of your choice to breastfeed? What if you do have good support, but no one remembers or knows much about breastfeeding? What if you like socializing with others who are sharing your same experiences? This is when it becomes important to build a larger breastfeeding community before you give birth to your baby. This lack of a larger support group is the most common reason for why women end their nursing relationships with their babies before they are ready. Though there are women who truly can’t breastfeed, too many of the reasons I hear for having to switch to bottle-feeding are preventable. We make the best choices with the information we have at the time, and a larger support group will give you more information and help to successfully work through the early difficulties.  Even if you discovered you were one of the few people who could not exclusively breastfeed, you may find a great deal of comfort in knowing that you truly had all the information you needed to make a decision to supplement or completely discontinue breastfeeding.

While you are pregnant and not yet in the sleep-deprived newborn stage when every moment is about survival, it is important for you to see breastfeeding in action. In Wake County, La Leche League and Nursing Mothers of Raleigh are great groups to visit to see nursing babies. Breastfeeding USA is also available in some areas. All of the groups are free of charge and have trained leaders to help with the more technical breastfeeding concerns. Go to the group that is most convenient for you, listen to the women, ask questions, and form friendships. Moms who are currently nursing are always more than happy to share their success stories. Witnessing struggles in action and suggestions by the members of the group will help you determine what is normal for breastfeeding and help you with feeling confident that most breastfeeding difficulties have relatively easy solutions. True, there are challenges that require more work, but it is inspiring to see women face those problems, eventually overcoming them.

If you are nervous about meeting new people or feel like going to a monthly or weekly breastfeeding group is too much to fit into your schedule, remember that you will feel 100 times more vulnerable and busy when you have a newborn. Get any anxiety out of the way and invest the time while you are pregnant. Then you will feel more comfortable seeking help from your extended support group when you haven’t showered in two days and you’re not sure if your baby will scream for the entire meeting. You will feel comfortable because you’ve seen mothers in all states of appearance and mental stability and know that you will be accepted as you are. You’ll remember another person’s baby crying or having a giant diaper blow-out in the middle of the meeting and know that everyone understands that babies act like babies. No matter where you are in your journey, there is support for you. All the group asks is that you do your best to meet the needs of your baby.

Despite this description that includes struggling mothers and crying babies, most meetings are positive and fun. The best part is that friendships are formed, and often playgroups develop. You can lean on your new friends for not only breastfeeding support, but every other issue related to adjusting to your new life status of being a mother!

La Leche League Breastfeeding Support Meetings - Every Tuesday at 11:30am at SmartMomma

La Leche League Breastfeeding Support Meetings - Every Tuesday at 11:30am at SmartMomma

If you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed, begin seeking out your support network today. It is never too early to attend meetings. More time spent with breastfeeding women results in more applicable knowledge that you can rely on from the moment your baby is born. And of course, if you don’t remember anything, you now have any entire group of people, including trained leaders, who you feel comfortable calling who will take you step-by-step through solving any challenges.

The Appeal of the Designer Diaper Bag

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

By, Daphne

While I’m planning a post for later in the week about steps to take during pregnancy to improve your early breastfeeding experience, I decided to go ahead and have fun writing about the diaper bags that call my name every time I’m in the store.

For most of my life, I have not been a person who chooses to carry bags. In college, I only carried a wallet and key combination, and I only reluctantly decided to carry a handbag after realizing that having my keys attached to my wallet and addressed license was probably not all that safe.

It wasn’t until I was nine months pregnant and ready to redeem several Christmas gift cards when I finally decided to buy a designer handbag. No woman at 40 weeks wants to shop for new clothes, and I wanted to splurge on myself one last time before my baby arrived. Of course, once I experienced the quality and fashion experience of a designer handbag, I found a way, over time, to build a small collection!

When it came to diaper bags, I was originally certain that the basic, affordable bag would be sufficient. To be honest, my simple bag was all I needed. Actually, I now remember that I had to throw away the first one when a surprise poop during a diaper change spread across the bag, and the stains wouldn’t wipe clean. The strap on the second bag broke after a few months, but it still held all my baby boy’s diapers, clothing, and various other necessities. Four years later, I had a baby girl and still chose a conservatively priced bag that had a slightly feminine look to it. For some reason, I thought that the gender of my baby had to be reflected in the look of the bag that I carried rather seeing the bag as a reflection of my own style. It only occurred to me recently that if my handbag doesn’t need to be gender appropriate to my child, the diaper bag I carry doesn’t need to be boy or girl themed either. Unfortunately, my choice to switch to cloth diapers with my daughter resulted in a broken strap much more quickly. The bag didn’t have a designated hook for a wet bag, and the strap was not strong enough to support the weight of soiled cloth diapers.

Now that I’ve had some time to look at the higher quality diaper bags, I wish I would have made the investment sooner. First, some of these bags are actually machine washable. That would have changed the outcome of my first diaper storage tragedy. All of the bags that caught my interest have a hook that is strong enough to support the weight of a wet bag. Clearly, much more thought has gone into these baby supply accessories, as the options for storage appear to be endless. Every unzipped section reveals many smaller compartments to store unlimited child-related necessities. I know in the early days, I needed separate spaces for Lansinoh, burp cloths, diapers, wipes, extra baby clothes, sometimes an extra shirt for me - babies are messy, water and snacks for me, and anything that would have been in my handbag. Later I had to add snacks and drinks for my toddler. Finally, these baby supply totes hardly look like diaper bags at all. The designer understands that the diaper bag doubles as your handbag for a period of time as well. Beyond the diaper years, they can easily be carried as handbags or office bags on their own, completely independent of an accompanying baby. I like the style of the designer diaper bags so much that I want to buy one just for my personal school and office use!

Today I looked at three bags I have considered for purchase:

The Petunia Pickle Bottom Toffee Roll Boxy Backpack’s fabric caught my attention immediately. It’s

Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack

Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack

absolutely beautiful! Exciting features include a built in changing pad that unfolds out of a zippered section on the side. I like the flexibility of carrying it as a backpack or as a shoulder bag. The backpack option would be most appreciated when trying to chase an excited toddler! My only disappointment with this bag is that Velcro holds the cover closed. This noise violation can be a hazard when trying to maintain a tranquil atmosphere around a sleeping baby. Fortunately, most of the other Boxy Backpacks have magnet closures.

Timi and Leslie Dawn Bag in Cloud Blue

Timi and Leslie Dawn Bag in Cloud Blue

The classiest style is the Timi & Leslie Dawn in Cloud Blue. A unique feature of this bag is a set of straps that attach it to a stroller, and I appreciate a smaller matching purse that comes with the bag that includes credit cards slots and a zippered pocket. This allows you to have a separate purse while knowing it can easily be stored inside the diaper bag. The best feature, however, is that no one would ever suspect you are carrying a baby accessory. It truly is a great fashion choice!

My absolute favorite choice is the Ju-Ju-Be Be All Bag in Coral Kiss! This bag has a fun, bright fabric, and it is machine washable! The interior antimicrobial lining is a light color to help with visibility of the contents, and the storage options are endless! The compartments on the sides for baby bottles are stretchy, easily

Ju-Ju-Be Be All Diaper Bag in Coral Kiss

Ju-Ju-Be Be All Diaper Bag in Coral Kiss

accommodating my water bottles, and the tags indicate that the bag is large enough for a laptop, allowing me to consider purchasing it to store my school needs. I could keep diapers and books in it at the same time!

Of course diaper bags are not at the top of the list for what you need most for your baby, and any bag will store your little one’s belongings. However, if you are in a position where you could spend more to tote around your baby supplies, go for it! The quality and advantages are worth the money. Have fun and be fashionable!

Introducing Our Very Own LLL Leader…Daphne!

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Hi all.  I wanted to introduce you to Daphne Flowers, a SmartMomma regular (she leads the LLL Tuesday meetings) and a recent addition to our regular staff as well.  She is going to be joining me in the social media world, so expect to hear a lot from her on this blog and on Facebook!  Daphne…take it away!

If you were asked to tell your story of motherhood, what would you share? No matter where we are in our

Smart Momma Daphne and baby daughter and son.

Smart Momma Daphne and baby daughter and son.

journey, from thinking about conceiving or adopting to the first day of kindergarten and beyond, we all have our experiences of mothering to share with others. In turn, we as mothers frequently feel a sense of satisfaction when we hear a piece of another mother’s story that resonates with our own joys, failures, successes, and moments where we struggle to survive.

Smart Momma Daphne and son

Smart Momma Daphne and son - Photograph taken by Crickett Photography

As a fellow mother creating my own story, I am going to be sharing many of my own mothering moments with you. My name is Daphne Flowers, and for the past year I have been leading weekly La Leche League meetings at SmartMomma. Now that I have recently begun working in the store, I look forward to helping women with breastfeeding concerns more frequently throughout the week! My six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter keep me entertained and busy. Certainly the mothers who have connected with me throughout my children’s lives have helped each day feel more manageable!

By posting on this blog regularly, I hope to connect with all of you through our common journey of motherhood. While my most comfortable area of knowledge is in breastfeeding, I plan to write about many more topics including trying to conceive, pregnancy, birth, post-partum recovery, creating a post-partum support system, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, newborn care, sleep for mom and baby, entertaining baby, child development, toddlers, food and nutrition, baby-wearing, diapering, mothering, and decorating the nursery.

Daphne patiently waits on her toddler's tantrum.  LOL!

Daphne patiently waits on her toddler's tantrum. LOL!

Though I continuously have a growing list of ideas for the blog, I am also interested in knowing what would catch your interest. Feel free to e-mail at daphne@smartmomma.com to express what topics would be helpful for you!

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