a weaning story

working on weaning

Kai drinking from a cup!

I can’t believe I’m writing about my son’s weaning process, and that it’s been a year since he was born. That may sound like a cliche, but it’s SO true. Time has been soaring by and I’m trying to catch up and fully realize I have a one-year-old!

Our journey started with breastfeeding. Right off the bat, I had an amazing lactation consultant in the hospital who showed us how to get a great latch. And Kai was hooked. Despite the pain in those first three weeks, so was I. I loved that I could provide nutrition for him. I loved cuddling with him (and watching old episodes of Amazing Race at the same time). Right around four months, nursing got tricky. We were nowhere near keeping a schedule, and he’d refuse a lot more than I expected him to. I panicked about whether he had enough milk several times a week. This continued off and on for, oh, FIVE more months! We had our good nursing days and our bad. Right around when Kai turned nine months old, we hit our stride with breastfeeding. We both knew what to expect and when, and it was a huge relief knowing he had enough milk every day.

At ten months we were having four feedings a day, with plenty of solids mixed in. We played around with sippy cups, but he seemed to think of them as a teething toy. When he did get liquid out, it was clear that water was NOT on his preferred menu. With breastfeeding going so well, I decided we’d work on that later since I didn’t want to give him formula in the cup, or cow’s milk, or water with juice. It was water or nada in my book.

I told everyone my plan, just to make sure I’d stick with it: I’m going to work on weaning right around the one-year mark. So here I am, with an eleven-and-a-half-month-old, and I’m still in shock over how much progress he’s made. Our pediatrician advised us to give him cow’s milk in a cup now that he could digest it. The very day I started doing that, my baby was on board with weaning. I had decided to replace one feeding with a cup of milk, but my baby decided to replace TWO feedings right off the bat. What’s more, I never had any let-down, clogged ducts, or pain. I suspect that these past few weeks some of our feedings have been a big deceptive, with him dozing off on my breast while making sucking motions but not really getting milk. Maybe we were both a little bit more ready than I ever thought we were.

We are now down to an afternoon breast milk snack and a nighttime feeding right before bed. The weird thing is he’s still not keen on drinking from a cup. He is frustrated that he can’t do it himself, because he doesn’t have the hang of using any spill-proof cups yet. We let him hold the handles of an open cup and he’ll bring it to his mouth for a few sips, but that’s it so far. I’m trying to have patience, and we mix in milk with his foods in the meantime. (Coming up soon, I’ll review his favorite cup and go into more detail!)

I feel the strangest mix of emotions about weaning. After a year of nursing, it feels odd not to have those key hours together in our day. But when I look at my son, I see a little one who is so smart, and gaining independence, and I just know that it’s for the best. Now that he doesn’t depend on my milk for nutrition, it truly feels like he’s growing up. And I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss his smallness, the little sounds he’d make while nursing, the way he’d stroke my hair, or break a latch just to smile at me. I’m going to miss the special connection we had and the little thrill of oxytocin that came along with it.

I have lots of good nursing memories. Here are a few: nursing in the car on a perfect fall day at the top of a mountain, right before going on a hike; nursing lakeside on a summer day and people-watching, nursing while playing a game with my family, and maybe most of all—nursing him the first few days of his life in the hospital. It felt like a miracle to have him in my arms and to know that I was his mama and that we were succeeding and he was going to be better than ok.

But good things are coming our way. I’m going to have independence, too. I will be able to go out without mentally calculating when and where I’ll need to find a place to nurse him. I’ll be able to wear a GOOD bra! I won’t ever be stuck in some back room at an event because he was too distracted to feed around others. (Those were some lonely times!)

We will have lots of adventures together, me, my husband, and our little toddler.

Tag n Play Pals by Taggies

taggies plush puppy

Source: Taggies

The little plush puppy you see in the image above, a Tag n Play Pal by Taggies, is unequivocally my son’s favorite toy. He got it for Christmas from his grandparents, and it has since become his comfort object. He will literally take this with him wherever he goes—picture him crawling around the entire house, pulling his dog along with him—it’s pretty much the cutest thing EVER. Kai’s beloved Taggies toy has been named “Woofie” in our house (yeah, we aren’t too creative with names), and we are already waiting for the day when Kai can call him by name.

WHAT IT IS

Baby’s perfect companion at home or on-the-go!
This sweet plush puppy is covered with soft fabric and satin tags for your baby to touch and explore. The chime ball in the body makes this new friend sound as cheerful as it looks and feels!

PRICE $28-38

WHAT I LOVE

This puppy is so velvety soft and cuddly. He’s got the cutest little expression too. We’ll make Woofie bark, lick Kai’s cheek, and pant like a dog. We have him interact with Kai’s toys, play hide-and-seek with him, “read” to/with him, and generally act silly—we’ll put a bib over his eyes and make him run into things until Kai takes it off, for example. We have Kai’s toys on a constant rotation to help him stay interested in playtime, except for two toys: his stacking blocks and Woofie.

my son playing with his taggies toyI also love that it’s washable. That’s kind of a must for any baby, I’d say. And he washes well, without any matting, so don’t worry if your little one gets banana or spit up or a combination of the two on this toy—I speak from experience, people.

It’s worth mentioning that he’s got a hook that’s perfect for attaching him to a stroller, car seat, play mat, or anything that’s convenient. And Woofie’s eyes, mouth, etc. are embroidered and so he’s perfectly safe for any age (birth and up). Even though Kai didn’t have a Taggies toy until he was 9 months old, he still loves him at 11 months! Ryan and I were a bit worried that we missed having him around for the prime stage when Kai was fascinated by tags. And I do think that he would have absolutely loved this toy as early as three months old. So we were really impressed that he’s not too old for it yet. He loves exploring the silky tags sometimes, but regardless he loves playing with him. It’s a stuffed animal, after all—I may have never grown out of some of mine.😉

ON THE DOWNSIDE

The only thing I can mention here is that this toy has a sweet little jingling bell inside. It’s not loud or annoying in my eyes, but it’s sensitive to any sort of light touch. This means that we won’t be able to put him in Kai’s crib once he hits a year old—it would probably wake him up! So while I think the bell is great for playtime, it doesn’t work for naptime or bedtime. Since it’s designed for birth and up, that isn’t normally a problem. (Babies under a year old should not sleep with a stuffed animal or blankets, pillows, etc. Please take a sec to read about SIDS if you haven’t yet!)

The bell isn’t really an issue, but one real problem is that it appears our sweet little Woofie is becoming a rarity. He’s hard to find online and I’m really worried that Taggies will stop selling him. Check out where to buy below.

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

I LOVE this toy because my son LOVES this toy. It’s safe, soft, engaging, and cuddly. It’s very well made and I bet my son will be loving this toy well beyond a year old!

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon has 2 of these left at the time of this posting. TWO! Yikes. You may wanna hurry if you’ve decided to buy him.

Target sells him as part of a Taggies pack that includes a matching blanket, plush ball, and triangle. That’s why the price range I listed goes a little high, but it may be worth the extra $10 if you’re interested in a few other accessories.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Win it Elsewhere: Pampers, Penske & More

winning!

I may not have hosted my first giveaway *yet*, but I wanted to share some of the awesome corporate sweepstakes & giveaways out there right now. The prizes are BIG, which means that the chances of winning are probably a lot less than your average little blog giveaway, but I think these are worth the effort of entering!

  1. TheBump is giving away a year’s worth of Pamper’s diapers and wipes. I’ve been a champion of both cloth and disposables at different stages in parenting. Both have their merit—but that’s a blog for another time. If you’re struggling with the cost of disposables, I know your pain. Enter here!
  2. Penske is giving away free truck rentals. My husband and I have moved across the country twice, and it looks like it’s possible we’ll be doing it yet again, this time with a baby. It’s stressful and expensive, but hopefully worth it! For those of you in the same boat, I’m sure a free truck rental would be a lifesaver. The sweepstakes applies to both local and one-way moves. You can use your rental within a year after you’ve been notified that you won. Enter here!
  3. The Food Network is giving away $3,000 or a “comfort food essentials” prize. The grand prize is a cool $3,000, while first prize takes home a comfort food essentials toolkit including a slow cooker, casserole dishes, Alex Guarnaschelli cookbook, and more. Sounds pretty sweet to me! Enter here.
  4. Kiwi Crate is giving away a $250 Target card. This company makes awesome creativity kits for kids ages 3-8. They have a monthly subscription service, but a special line of their products will be sold in Target stores. They are celebrating with a super-simple Pin-to-Win giveaway. Just pin one of their products from the blog post, then share the pin with them to enter.
  5. Britax will give you a free car seat if you own a bunch of Britax stuff. If you are gearing up on Britax items big time, you should definitely do this! The scoop is that if you bought (or received as a gift) a Britax Stroller, Car Seat, Baby Carrier, Large Accessory, and Small Accessory, you can get their Boulevard convertible car seat for free. You’ll need to clip the UPC codes, fill out a form and mail them in. And I’m sorry it’s not a free giveaway, but Britax products are amazing, so I thought I’d pass this along for those of you expecting and registering for gifts. Read more here!

These won’t last long…make sure to check out the contest rules and dates if you enter. I’ll be sharing blog giveaways and hosting my own SOON!

Philosophy Bath & Shower Gels

my lil collection of philosophy body washes

my collection of philosophy body washes

I finally jumped on the Philosophy Shower Gel Bandwagon (yeah, it’s a thing) when I was pregnant with my first child. Even though I didn’t really know how hard motherhood would be, I had a feeling I could use a product that would shorten my time in the shower. I’m glad I managed to snag these three shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath combos in Amazing Grace, Vanilla Cream Topping, and Sugar Plum Fairy.

WHAT IT IS

Award-winning shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath all-in-one product featuring delightful scents

WHAT I LOVE

My favorite things about these bath gels are the luxurious feel and the SCENTS. Philosophy is known for creating heavenly scented body/face care products, and I give them extra kudos on their food scents. I am a food-scent junkie. I love a vanilla/dessert-scented anything (candles, lotion, lip gloss…) so these are perfect for me. Another reason they fit the bill is their triple-duty to work as a shower gel, shampoo, and bubble bath. When I need a quick shower (which is pretty much ALL THE TIME) these are my go-to products to keep it simple and smelling lovely.

Vanilla Cream Topping: This one is my favorite scent out of the three I own. It’s not overwhelming, but it will fill your bathroom with a sugary, vanilla aroma for a little while. The gel itself feels luxuriously creamy and lathers well. It’s cute that it features a real recipe for creating your own vanilla cream topping to pour over your favorite desserts. In one word: YUM.

Sugar Plum Fairy: This is a glittering, purpley-pink, highly scented gel. It’s a hard-to-describe berry scent that’s a little spicy and tart, with a hint of wine. This one is not creamy and leaves a stronger scent behind than the others. The first time I used it, I discovered that it made my robe smell wonderful! The glitter gets washed away when you rinse, of course.

Amazing Grace: I think for people who love the scent already, you’ll probably like this. It’s an ok scent, but it comes across as oddly generic and soapy/perfumey to me. It’s a pretty pearlescent soft pink color and has a creamy feel. I have this in a size that’s perfect for travel, so I use it the most then.

I tend to shampoo with these when I’m in a hurry, or if I’m shampooing twice—once with my regular shampoo, and once with one of these (they will really help refresh the effectiveness of your usual shampoo). I use them the most often for a shower gel, and I love how they suds up well but don’t dry out my skin.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

None of the scents last on your body for very long. Some people might think that’s a negative thing, but I actually like that it fades so I can throw on my favorite perfume without any fragrance clashes. I like that they work for shampoo, but I recommend using a conditioner afterwards for sure. Most reviews say they make a good bubble bath, but not great, as the suds don’t last as long as they’d like.

I’ve also seen some reviews from people who didn’t like the scents for a variety of reasons (too “fake”, too strong, not strong enough), and you already know I’m not a big fan of the Amazing Grace scent for these, so my advice is to hit a Sephora in person if you can to test them out. If you’re looking for a safe bet, the Cinnamon Buns fragrance is the best seller with the most rave reviews of them all. (I gotta try this! My hubby is a huge cinnamon roll addict and it sounds like it’ll make our bathroom smell like Cinnabon. Sign me up!)

RATING

★★★★★ 4/5

These shower gels make me feel a little pampered despite my less-than-glamorous rushed shower time, and I love them for that! They come in delicious scents (just pick the one that’s right for you) and do a great job—but are lacking just a bit in being a super-perfect shampoo, bubble bath, and shower gel at the same time. That is a formula that I think would be pretty difficult to create!

WHERE TO BUY

Get these from Philosophy’s website, Amazon, or Sephora.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Sophie the Giraffe Teether by Vulli

Sophie the GiraffeI can’t be a self-respecting mama and product reviewer until I’ve blogged about Sophie the Giraffe. It seems everybody with a little one either already owns one (or more) or is really curious about this toy. When I showed up to a mom’s group at church with one, I got all sorts of questions.

WHAT IT IS

Vulli’s Sophie the Giraffe has been amusing babies for 50 years. Made of 100% natural rubber and food paint, the BPA- and phthalate-free Sophie is soothing and safe for your teething baby. Sophie’s unique design, pattern and texture stimulate all of your baby’s senses during playtime. She makes a happy sound when squeezed, stimulating hearing and helping your baby understand the link between cause and effect. Height: 7” (18 cm)

PRICE $20-26

WHAT I LOVE

playing with Sophie the Giraffe

my baby & Sophie

When Kai first showed signs of teething, my husband and I ran out to Babies R Us and bought this toy! We’d seen an entire display dedicated to it there, and we wanted to do ANYTHING we could to help our son with his teething pain. My favorite part? Natural rubber and FOOD paint! I was just especially aware of anything that went near his little mouth in that first year, as concern over milk and food are at an all-time high. (Is he drinking enough? How many feedings did he have today?) So this toy really relieved any mama worries I had. If you’ve seen a used Sophie before, you may be less than impressed at first: her spots have faded and sometimes completely disappeared. Maybe her squeaker isn’t working too. So, what’s all the fuss about? It really does soothe a teething baby!

Kai was drawn to play with Sophie before he was teething in earnest. He just loved holding it at first. But then as teething hit, he seemed much more intentional about chewing on it for pain relief. That’s what makes this more than a toy! Just yesterday he was purposefully placing it in his mouth right where he has two teeth coming in. I love how many different textures he can explore on it—from her nubby horns to her soft little hooves, no matter where his bite lands, it’s going to be comforting for him.

When he’s not in a mouthy mood, Kai loves trying to get Sophie to squeak by shaking her like a rattle! My husband showed him that if you hold her by the neck, she’ll flop in such a way that her squeaker will respond. Charming, no?😉

We take Sophie with us almost wherever we go. I love having the reassurance that if he needs to chew on something, she’s there.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

What a Used Sophie the Giraffe Looks Like

our well-loved Sophie after 6 months of use

I don’t really have anything to offer in criticism of this toy. But let me address some of the possible concerns you may have. Her paint does fade. It’s just the sign of a well-loved teething toy, and you can rest easy that the food paint hasn’t harmed your baby. Her squeaker can sometimes go silent after washing, which is a side-effect of a water-logged toy. The instructions say to “wipe clean”, but that wasn’t really enough for me to get any dirt off (it can get sticky!). I found that just hand-washing her quickly and then drying her well, shaking and squeezing a few times, will cure any squeaking issues. You don’t want your baby accidentally squeezing any water out during play, so this was key.

As far as the price, I totally get why some people balk at the cost! In fact, WE did too, but just went for it because we thought it would help Kai with teething. My take is that it is WORTH the money. She’s made in France, she’s all-natural, and the design is perfect. We have gotten tons of mileage out of this toy for both playtime and teething relief. And we have tried a copycat, but it was made in China and reeked to high heaven. I was horrified with the smell…Sophie does have a faint rubber smell but nothing very noticeable. My advice is to spring for her and keep your receipt (though I bet you won’t need it!)

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

I’m a fan! Sophie provides comfort during teething and entertainment even on the rare day where teething isn’t an issue.

WHERE TO BUY

You can purchase Sophie the Giraffe from a multitude of online retailers. Here’s a start: Nordstrom, Babies R Us, and Amazon.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.