Tag Archives: newborn

Product Review of the MamaRoo, aka “Robot Mom”

18 Nov

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I’ve been meaning to write about this awesome super futuristic gizmo for some time now. It’s a cutting edge, state of the art, robotic baby swing created by 4moms…. Or as we like to call it here in the Freeman household, “Robot Mom”.

At around two weeks old, Tessa had her first encounter with gas, and she was convinced a demon was attempting to escape her innards. Her pitiful wails – more from fear than from pain it seemed – would only be alleviated if she was safe in momma’s arms, being rocked and cooed at. I would pace the floor, singing to her, soothing her, and feeling like an awesome super mom. She was especially soothed by being held tight in the ring sling, pressed up against my chest.

But then I’d have to shower. Or use the restroom. Or make dinner. Or do something best accomplished whilst not holding an infant clinging to you like an adorably gassy koala. So I’d set her down…. and the wails would start up again.

Now, a baby swing was filed in our B list of “things to get baby”. As long as she’s content in my arms, or the ring sling, or sleeping snugly in her bassinet, we saw no need for a swing. But after a couple of days with floor pacing – often going well into the night – I finally decided we needed to get a swing.

We were browsing the aisle at our local Babies R Us, eying the various swaying chairs and buggies that were all pretty much the same thing with only slight variations in color and size and yadda yadda yadda – when we suddenly saw it.

The MamaRoo. AKA, Robot Mom.

The MamaRoo, I imagine, is what would happen if Ikea and Apple products made a baby. It is a smooth – almost creepily smooth – gliding robotic swing that offers 5 motion patterns: Kangaroo, Car Ride, Tree Swing, Rock-A-Bye and Ocean Wave. The manufacturer basically studied how parents move while holding their baby, and created the MamaRoo to move in the same ways.

If you know me, you know I am fascinated and slightly fearful of advancing robotics. Remember when I freaked out for days over those Japanese dancing robots? First it’s dancing robots grooving to da music like so many fancy geishas, next it’s robotic baby swings violating the three laws of robotics and enslaving mankind. But I digress.

We ended up buying our potential robot overlord, even though it was way out of our price range, and even though we had a broken TV, Xbox, PS3 and camera lens to fix / replace. I’m sensing the dawn of a new age of never having new toys for ourselves. All our things are belong to Tessa now.

So! This chair! It reclines to any position along the curve underneath the seat, it takes up FAR LESS space than just about every other swing on the market, and it was laughably easy to assemble. Seriously. I decided to take a couple of pictures of Jon putting it together, and by the time I snapped a few, it was already done. Oh! and it plugs into the wall, so there’s no need to worry about batteries. With how often we run this thing, that’s a win.

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While there are nature sounds built in to the base (crickets, running water, waves, white noise, etc.) they all suck so I don’t really care for those. But what is awesome is that is has an MP3 dock with speakers! So I can play all the classic Baby Einstein music to my sweetly slumbering genius, just like I did when she was in the womb!

The only, only, ONLY downside to this swing is that is would be significantly more effective if it moved just a tad faster. Tessa is a bit of a motion junkie and the MamaRoo doesn’t move fast enough to soothe her out of a full on hissy fit. Of course, I have never owned any other swing, nor tried to soothe any other babies with a moving piece of plastic, so I’m not even really sure if it works like that. Besides, when she is upset, I firmly believe she needs her MOM, not a chair. So the chairs inability to soothe her when she’s frantic is really a moot point with me.

But I can say that I can put her in it when she’s already asleep and she’ll stay that way. And if she’s drowsy she’s happy to doze off with her robot mom. And if she’s calm and awake, she’ll be happy in the chair long enough for me to get some simple chores done.

It seems the older she gets, the more she is content with her Robot Mom. For instance, when we first got the chair I thought the mobile was really lame. It doesn’t move. It’s just some oval balls with funky designs. Big whoop. But now, Tessa LOVES those things. Seriously, they’re her first genuinely loved toys. We’ve actually taken to calling them, “Her friends.”

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She’ll stare at them, coo at them, talk to them, bust up laughing in squealing giggles as if they are just the most clever, entertaining companions on the planet. Jon and I will watch her hold actual 2 month old babbling conversations with these things, and more than once I’ve found myself genuinely asking, “What are they saying to her?!” Her imagination is already so active, and I’m immensely grateful for the stimulation those static cloth balls provide her.

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Another unexpected plus? My cats love the chair. As I type out this blog post, little miss Fae Fae is curled up it. The chair is LITERALLY never empty. Ever. I’ll barely pull Tessa out, and one of the cats will jump in as it’s still moving. I’ve found that the cats are partial to “Car Ride”, but aren’t overly fond of “Kangaroo”. Hm. The more you know.

So overall, would I recommend this chair to new moms? Abso-freaking-lutely. It’s awesome. I want one for myself. And I hate to say it, but after Tessa and any future kids are done with this chair, I’ll probably keep it as a bed for the cats. Yes. Crazy cat lady just got taken to a whole new level.

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DIY All-Natural Baby Body Wash

16 Nov

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This recipe is so easy I don’t even know if it warrants a blog post. But post I shall, because when I was a 15 weeks pregnant first time mommy browsing the aisles of my local Babies R Us to make a grand wish list of junk my baby may or may not need, I had no clue what to do come bath time.

I had bought into the illusion that to keep my child sparkly clean, I needed to buy the piles of baby bath products lining the shelf of the baby bathroom aisle. Since every single bath product (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, etc.) was on the new baby “essentials” checklist the store handed out, I assumed, naturally, that I would be using all of these products on my newborn the moment she popped out of me. If I didn’t, I’d be a bad mother with a dirty baby. Right???!

With the help of wonderful crunchy momma friends (thanks Bree!) and gleaning info from the interwebs on the science behind baby skin and the way it all works, I finally have this whole bath time thing (mostly) sorted out.

Using the giant pile of “recommended” products on your baby isn’t natural or healthy at all. Especially not the majority of products out there. I didn’t discover all of this until around the month Tessa was born. I didn’t even think to question the current status quo of baby bath routines till I discovered the Johnson and Johnson baby products scandal, which I wrote about earlier in my DIY Baby Wipes article.

Basically, it was discovered not too long ago that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby shampoo contains the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. They’re even freaking listed on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list of known human carcinogens NOT to be used in cosmetic products. And here we are, slathering this toxic junk on our newborns skin. W.T.F?!

Baby skin is like a sponge. It soaks up EVERYTHING. That’s why you can’t even put sunscreen on an infant. The SAFE chemicals in sunscreen will get soaked up into a newborns skin and literally POISON the newborn with an overload of chemicals that would just safely sit on top of an adults skin.

So all of that said, the fact is, the best way to care for your baby’s skin is to keep it away from products – even “natural” ones, for the most part. A newborns system has to work extremely hard to remove toxins from the bloodstream, so the less you use on your baby’s skin, the better. God has designed our little munchkins so magnificently – they have naturally protective oils in their skin that are better not washed off.

BUT! Every once in awhile, if baby is getting really grimy, you CAN use extremely gentle natural cleansing solutions on your baby to help clean off and sanitize the gunk that can gather in those beautiful chunky baby skin folds.

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Here’s the utra-simple recipe I use for our DIY All-Natural Baby Body Wash:

1 cup of warm water

2 tablespoons Castile soap

1 vitamin e capsule

Castile soap is made by a process called saponification, a process in which an alkali is added to oil. This is how soap had been made for centuries until the recent proliferation of synthetic surfactants, which consist of potentially toxic chemicals. *cough*Johnson and Johnson*cough*

Castile soap made by saponification is safe because none of the unreacted alkali remains in the soap. And since the soap is made with gentle natural oils, like olive oil, it is one of the gentlest cleansing agents you can use on your baby. Used sparingly, the soap will cleanse without drying or irritating delicate baby skin, and what is absorbed into your little ones skin won’t pose a threat to her delicate little system. Just be careful with your baby’s eyes because saponified soap is not tear-free – only baby shampoo made synthetically can be tear-free.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant found in many plant and animal based foods. Vitamin E oil closely mimics the natural oils found in your babies skin, and is one of the few natural oils that are safe for direct use on newborns. The tiny amount added to the baby wash serves as a moisturizer and a preservative for your little squirt bottle of baby wash.

And there you have it! I use this stuff sparingly on Tessa, and only when she gets milk getting all grody in her neck folds. Or if she has a particularly explosive diaper. But we try not to use it all the time – and only sparingly when we do use it. For instance, the last two baths were just plain ol’ warm water baths with a wash cloth to gentle wipe away any sticky milk grime.

If your baby appears to be suffering from dry skin, cut back on the frequency of bath times and use a gentle, safe, natural moisturizer like a DIY All-Natural Diaper Rash Cream to spot treat dry patches.

And voila! Bath time with baby, made simple and fun! I am so lucky that my little Tessa loves bath time so much. She giggles, and splashes, and laughs, and watches the water droplets with such wonder in her eyes. It is such a fun bonding time for Jonathan and I as a new little family. I am going to forever treasure our bath times with baby!

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Two Months of Breast Milk for Baby Tessa!

5 Nov

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Baby Tessa is two months old today! She weighed in at 10.5 pounds and is 22 inches long. (She was 7.3 and 20 inches at birth!) Where is the time going?! She is growing up so fast!! Tell me time will slow down… it will slow down again right? Right?!

I am so so SO happy to report that in the past two months, Tessa has been 100% exclusively on breast milk. She has not had a drop of formula. At the moment our deep freezer is filled to the brim with donor milk, and amazing mommies keep reaching out to us offering more, so it looks like my “unrealistic” goal of having Tessa breast fed till she is weaned may not be so unrealistic after all! God is so good!

As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot produce ANY breast milk (I had all of my breast tissue removed as a teenager from a condition called tuberous breast hypoplasia) and I grew up knowing that I would one day turn to the kindness of strangers to provide the healthy milk that my daughter needed. Breast truly is best, and I never, ever wanted my shortcomings to impact my daughter in any way. For over a decade before becoming a mommy I planned on turning to donors for milk, but I doubted that I would find someone (let alone many someones) that would meet this need.

Boy was I wrong! Through every step of my journey into motherhood, I have not walked alone when it comes to providing food for my daughter. From my first regular donor, to the many moms that came to my rescue when the freezer storing my milk blew out, to all of the amazing donors that are currently blessing my little girl with nutritious food, good health, and motherly love!

And this milk is undeniably making a difference! Tessa started to get the beginnings of a cold last week. She was getting slightly congested at night, and two mornings in a row I suctioned out huge bright to dark green boogers from her tiny little nostrils. (In infants I’m told, green usually means infection. How such big boogers can come from such a tiny nose, I’ll never know.) Right when I started to worry over her impending cold, it just went away on it’s own. Before it reached a stage of interfering with her sleep, or dehydrating her, or causing fever, it just vanished. At her two month check-up, my pediatrician commented, “It’s most likely because she’s breast fed. Breast fed babies usually resolve colds on their own.”

Just one drop of breast milk contains around one million white blood cells. And these cells, (called macrophages) kill harmful germs and bacteria that cause illness in infants. Breast milk is also power packed with immunoglobulin A (IgA), which coats the lining of babies immature intestines, preventing germs from leaking through. This results in less illness overall, and mild, short-lived colds when they do strike. And that’s not even touching on the protections against allergens and asthma, the perfectly balanced nutrition and so on and so on and so on.

So when I say I am grateful for EVERY SINGLE DROP of milk gifted to my daughter – I mean that literally!

I am really, truly, completely and thoroughly thankful to everyone who has given of themselves… often pumping in the wee hours of the night. Every single bag I pull out of my deep freezer, I note the date and the time, and my heart swells with joy for the mother that had the strength and the forethought to not only feed her little one, but to prepare a bag for a mommy that can’t make her own.

I know I’m only two months into motherhood, but in this short time I’ve come to realize – Being a mother is THE HIGHEST CALLING. There is no greater single thing a woman can do in her lifetime than provide for, love and protect the little lives entrusted to her care. So to the mothers who have provided for their own, and then reached out to extend love to other children in need…. You are truly amazing. And you are making a difference in the life of my little girl.

I cannot thank you enough. God bless!

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A five day old Tessa drinking donor colostrum through the Lact-Aid Nurser.

Baby Tessa With Daddy In New Orleans

15 Oct

My favorite part of our New Orleans trip? I loved watching Tessa’s face as she took in sights and smells and sounds. She was always looking UP. As we sat in Pirates Alley for a short break, between the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral, Tessa couldn’t stop staring at crows landing on the wrought iron crosses along the tiled roof. Her eyes kept flitting to and fro, trying to keep up with the movement, with her little brow wrinkled and mouth pursed into an “O” in her concentration. Then she’d look around, at the water trickling along the cobblestone water gutters, at the artwork hung along the Vieux Carre, at the sidewalk performers tap dancing, performing solo jazz… it was making my heart so happy to see my daughter soaking in the beautiful swirl of life all around us, snug and safe in her daddy’s arms.

All Natural DIY Baby Wipes

10 Oct

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I said I was on an all-natural kick, and I wasn’t joking. After learning about the Johnson and Johnson scandals, where toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde were being used WITHOUT disclosure on the bottles in their baby bath products, I’ve taken to seriously reconsidering what goes in, on, or around my daughter.

A week or two after her birth, I got to thinking. You can’t put sunscreen on an infant because newborns have what is called a high body surface to volume ratio. What this means is that proportionately babies have more skin for the size of their bodies as compared to that of an adult. Sunscreens are made of chemicals. On an adult, the chemical exposure is relatively minimal because the body surface ratio is smaller than a baby. Therefore, babies get a higher “dose” of sunscreen than adults, and babies can literally overdose on the chemicals and have serious adverse reactions.

The thing is, the same is true of every product you put on your child’s skin. The FDA regulate chemicals based on their safety levels for ADULTS. So for instance, while parabens are considered “safe” up to a volume of 25%, putting that “safe” amount on an infant will literally poison a newborn.

So when you think about it, conventional baby wipes contain a variety of ingredients that are being absorbed into baby skin in far greater quantities than you’d expect – and in quantities that these huge companies legally are not required to disclose. And when you consider that the average baby wipe contains parabens, phthalates (artificial fragrance), PEG’s, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol and a variety of other chemicals, it’s worth seriously reconsidering slathering this junk all over your babies bottom 14+ times a day.

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services and FDA Guidelines, here are some of the known risk factors of the various chemicals that are found in conventional baby wipes:

Parabens – Weakened estrogen production and breast tumors.

Phthalates – Early puberty in girls, reduced testosterone production in boys, genital defects and testicular cancer.

PEG’s – Uterine and breast cancers, leukemia and brain cancer.

Propylene Glycol – Cancer and reproductive dysfunction. Propylene glycol is also a known allergen and eye irritant and can also be toxic to your immune system.

Phenoxyethanol – Shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. It has also been shown to cause reproductive problems, and the FDA has even issued warnings that use of products with this chemical could cause “respiratory distress or vomiting and diarrhea in infants”.

And so on and so on and so on.

Now, I’ve been using conventional wipes on Tessa for the past 4 weeks, waiting on my shipment of all natural and organic ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs. (Most of the ingredients are hard to find in their pure form, with no additives, at the local markets.) So I’m not saying that baby wipes are the devil. But I don’t intend to continue using them now that I have a better, safer and healthier alternative in my home. While she may not be absorbing enough of these chemicals to cause a noticeable reaction or long term harm, why put these chemicals on my baby AT ALL, when there is a better alternative? I firmly believe that my baby deserves the best.

Now, I trolled the interwebs for natural baby wipes recipes, and I finally decided to use a slightly tweaked version of these wipes from Wellness Mama. Here’s the skinny:

1 roll of heavy duty paper towels

Dispenser container

1 3/4 cups warm water

1 tablespoon of pure aloe vera gel

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap

2 vitamin E capsules

1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil

6 drops of lavender essential oil

6 drops of lemongrass essential oil

Cut a roll of heavy duty paper towels (like Bounty or some such) in half. You’ll be using one half of the roll for one batch of wipes. Pull out the center tube, and put your wipes in their container. Next, mix the ingredients together and gently swirl until slightly bubbly. (Note: If you don’t plan to use your wipes right away, use distilled water since tap water can potentially grow bacteria in your container after a couple months. But seriously. NOT using wipes right away? Hahahahahahaha….) Pour the mixture over your wipes and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. For REALLY absorbent towels you may need to mix up another half batch of the liquids. Anyhoo, after ten minutes, close your container to lock in moisture, and voila! Homemade, DIY, all natural baby wipes!

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Why these ingredients:

Pure Aloe Vera Gel – This acts as a moisturizer for babies bottom. It is gentle and suited to sensitive skin. It is also a natural anti-bacterial agent.

Apple Cider Vinegar – The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar effectively soften and soothes dry skin, fighting diaper rash. It also works as an astringent and an antibacterial, killing harmful bacteria and fighting yeast infections.

Liquid Castile Soap – An all-natural, oil-based soap that’s extremely gentle on the skin, cleanses thoroughly, and does not require rinsing.

Sweet Almond Oil – While the aloe vera gel works as a moisturizer, the sweet almond oil works as an emollient – it softens skin rather than hydrates it. It also acts as a humectant to help prevent the loss of moisture, effectively fighting diaper rash.

Vitamin E Capsules – Acts as a preservative. Vitamin E contains natural antioxidants which extend the life of oil based products. Just a few drops do the trick.

Lavender Essential Oil – Not only does the lavender oil add a nice scent to the wipes,but lavender oil is known for its skin healing properties and its use as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic and deodorant!

Lemongrass Essential Oil – Known for its analgesic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, bactericidal, deodorant and fungicidal properties.

In my opinion, these wipes work FAR BETTER than conventional wipes. After using them my hands feel SO SOFT. I seriously want to use these as hand and face wipes, they are that gentle and cleansing. I last changed Tessa’s diaper 2 hours ago, and my skin STILL feels clean, fresh and gently moisturized.

While making the baby wipes, I also made a small batch of “butt spray” to keep on my changing table for the really, uh, generous diapers of Tessa’s. (How is baby poo so.. sticky?!) It’s essentially:

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon castile soap

1 vitamin E capsule

2 drops sweet orange oil

Again, the castile soap is cleansing and does not require rinsing, the vitamin E serves as a preservative, and the sweet orange essential oil drops are mainly to add fragrance, though the oil is a natural antiseptic and bactericidal. Just mix well, put in a spray bottle, and then spray directly onto babies bum for really sticky messes.

Not even ten minutes after whipping up a batch Tessa was kind enough to supply me with a test diaper to try out the effectiveness of my concoction. And let me tell you, it works like a charm. It cuts through poo quickly, cutting down the number of wipes used, so there’s no pushing around and spreading the mess. It also made cleaning her little lady parts free of wayward butt goop much easier.

I thought that going the DIY route would be a form of sacrifice, using sub-par product with superior ingredients. But in all honesty, the wipes and spray work BETTER than the store bought variety, and they are roughly the same cost, if not cheaper. Happy me, realizing that giving your baby the best is so EASY! ^_^

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The Freeman Family in the Month of September

4 Oct

Life in abundance comes only through great love. – Elbert Hubbard

I honestly don’t even know how to adequately sum up our family in the month of September, except to say that we are changed forever with the addition of this tiny little creature named Tessa. I knew I would love my daughter. I already loved her so much when she was just a thump and a wiggle in my belly, and I knew that love would amplify and magnify when I held her in my arms and locked eyes with her for the first time. But I had NO IDEA. I don’t think anyone ever really could know. The love flooding my soul is so infinitely better than I ever could have fathomed.

This little tiny girl is a part of me, and a part of my husband, and she contains both of our hearts. Our love is now combined in this angel and somehow multiplied a thousand-fold. I am changed forever as a person. As I spend each day praying for her, going to great lengths to keep her exclusively on breast milk, surrounding her in a healthy environment, using only natural products on her to keep her safe in any and every conceivable way that I can – mind, body and soul – I find that I am taking better care of myself. I am striving to be the woman that I need to be to help her become the woman that God intends for her to become.

She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and Jonathan. And we are still in awe. How can this be? How can she belong to us? How can she be ours? She’s precious. Priceless. The most worthy thing on this planet. And having her here has made the world a better place.

We will love her forever. We can’t NOT love her forever. This tiny frail creature, so helpless and trusting and innocent, is a mighty force exerting a power stronger than any I’ve known. Every ounce of her being demands to be loved, to be held as a sacred creation of God Almighty. She’s covered in the fingerprints of the Being that spoke the stars into existence, and she outshines them all. Her little baby feet, her tiny little toes, her petite fingers that struggle to grasp my pinky… if this baby princess demands worship, how much more so the God that created her?

Tessa is a miraculous and sweet little piece of heaven. Jonathan and I are so blessed. I cannot wait to see our family grow month by month… I have no idea what life has in store for us, but I am excited for this miraculous journey. Life has certainly gotten sweet.

Happy October my friends!

Baby Tessa’s Birth Announcements

2 Oct

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So all of Tessa’s baby announcements should be out and received by now! I was so excited to use pictures from her one week old basket photos we took. I did my best to make sure all of our milk donors received one, but if I missed anyone, please let me know!

As gaga as I am over pictures, I haven’t actually had much experience in working with things like birth announcements, Christmas cards, and the like. But now that I have the prettiest princess on the planet as part of our family, that is of course going to change.

I didn’t know where to start with the announcement prints or where to go. I was shying away from places like Walmart because – well, it’s Walmart. I shop there more than I shop anywhere else, but I still leave the store longing for a shower to wash off the reeking stigma of Walmart people.

That said, after shopping around (Walgreens, Shutterfly, etc.) the price and simplicity of Walmarts online Digital Photo Center won me over. The designs were clean, easy to tweak, and each order came with an envelope included. And! They were one hour in-store prints. Quick, easy and awesome. I’ll most likely be using them in the future for other cards and projects.

So if I missed anyone, please speak up! I’m in the process of actually organizing my street addresses and such, so I don’t have to do the mad address scramble each time I want to send out cards. See? Gettin’ all domestic and shtuff. Go me!