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the newbie: Car Seats

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By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


We don’t drive often because we live in a city, but when we do take road trips— to the “big” grocery store, upstate for the weekend, over to Grandma’s house—I would love for it to be a good experience for 17-month-old June.

So far, that’s not happening. We’ve had her seat facing backwards, as recommended, since her first drive. Lately, though, she’s bored and restricted just facing the car seat and a mirror—she wants more action. Because she’s now at the weight where we can face her forward, we did that last weekend for a two- hour drive to see friends.

At first, June loved it! She watched everything go by, asking her favorite question (“What’s that?!”) with glee and wonder. Then she fell asleep for an hour. Bliss. But the last half hour of the drive was… well, bad. She woke up, looked around for five minutes, and proceeded to vomit four times in 60 seconds.

We found a rest stop, used approximately 100 paper towels to clean her up and get her changed, and then kept the windows down and a bag at the ready while finishing our drive.

So… carsickness and the facing-forward change. Has anyone else dealt with this one? Any tips or tricks to offer?

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the newbie: TV Time

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By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


I’ve read a lot about how kids under two years old shouldn’t have “screen time,” which I guess means TVs and iPads, etc.

June is almost a year and a half, and she gravitates toward our devices. The phones and the iPad are pretty much game consoles for her, and she loves to watch videos of various performers singing “Old MacDonald.”

The truth is, I feel slightly guilty when she tunes into of a quick video, but I also get tired of singing “E-I-E-I-O” after the 40th time each day.

Still, I’m thinking about introducing one short show a few times a week. I could definitely use a distraction for her sometimes, if only to have a chance to unload the dishwasher without June trying to climb inside it!

Surely “Sesame Street” does no harm, right? What I wonder is: Does this “no screens before age two” wisdom hold for you other parents, or do you let a few TV/video moments sneak in here and there?

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the newbie: First Weekend Away!

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


My husband and I are attending a wedding later this month, and it’ll be the first time both of us are away from baby June for the weekend. She’s almost 13 months old now, and I know she’ll be fine… but there’s some nervous energy around this decision. That’s normal, right?

June’s nana, my own mom, is coming up to stay with her in our apartment, so she’ll not only be well cared for but she’ll also be in a familiar environment, her own bed, with her own chair and toys and sounds.

There’s a part of me that is so, so excited to get in the car, set out for a road trip, put my feet on the dash, turn on the tunes and fly free, baby-less for 48 hours! Imagine: going out for drinks and a fancy party without a care about when we’ll return, sleeping late in a hotel room, paying no mind to naptimes or rogue cheerios on the floor or whether all the outlets are babyproofed.

And then there’s another part of me that worries: Will she feel afraid without me or her dad there? Will she sleep well? Will she wake up and wonder where we are and if we’re coming back? Will she be hard for my mom to handle (she’s squirmy and heavier than when nana saw her last)?

I’m trying to picture bonding time, big smiles and laughs, grandparent love and rejuvenating moments between me and my husband. It’s all good… right?

If anyone has pointers to share about their first weekends away, let me know. I’m sure I’ll be checking in regularly… but hopefully I’ll enjoy the free time too!

the newbie: Baby’s First Birthday

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


Miss June will be turning a year old at the end of this month. I can hardly believe it! I remember those first few days at home after she was born—how scared and in love and tired and hurt and overwhelmed and overjoyed and on-the-edge I felt.

The daunting task of giving birth is well behind me, but now I have to face… the First Birthday Party. The expectations—from grandma and other mom friends and even co-workers—seem high. Too high, maybe, for a party that the guest of honor won’t remember. I mean, have you ever been to a first birthday party where the celebrated baby didn’t burst into tears at some point? The whole thing is overwhelming. Wrapping paper! Toys! Cake! Flashbulbs! Everyone is looking at you, kid.

We’re planning a backyard gathering, something simple. I’m thinking picnic blankets and cake and bubbles for everyone to play with. But… is that not enough?

I’d love to hear what others did for a first birthday. I want it to be low-key, enjoyable, and not too overwhelming for baby June. Any ideas?

the newbie: European Vacation!

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


We are about to go overseas with June for the first time. It’ll be a lovely week in France, in the country, and I’m hoping for lots of cute shots of her crawling through lavender fields. I have a dorky dream of her taking her first steps in an olive orchard or something equally idyllic.

But in addition to my excitement, I’m terrified! First, the flight: Seven hours on a plane, overnight, with my squirmy, wiggly 11-month-old in a front carrier? The task is daunting at best. I’m just hoping she’ll sleep. The strategy is milk, food, white noise and motion. It’ll work, right?

Then: The time change. We’ll land around 3am our time, but it’ll be 9am over there… whoa. Jet lag rocks my world enough—I can’t imagine what it’ll do for June. I’m thinking it’ll be pretty intense, and I wonder if we should go with the flow for the first few days, or try to stick to a schedule, or throw up our hands completely and buy earplugs.

I’m bringing her favorite stuffed animal, her sheets for the pack-n-play, and her noise machine, but I wonder if that’ll be enough to help her feel at home.

Any experienced baby-travelers out there want to offer any advice? I’m all ears!

the newbie: Social Babies


By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


June has a part-time babysitter during the week, and I love the individualized attention she gets. I have friends whose babies are in daycare, though, and they always talk about the great benefits of socialization. June has shown interest in other babies (she’s starting to wave to everyone now!), and she tends to get cranky if we don’t get out and see people in the afternoon.

The thing is, I don’t have the energy to set up an everyday play-date. We try to get to the park, we do have play-dates once or twice a week, but I wonder if I should be doing more. There are music classes and Spanish sing-a-longs and baby-and-me exercise programs in my neighborhood. I considered signing us up for something…

But then I heard about those books—you know, the slew of French parenting ones that came out earlier this year? They decried the “scheduled child” with daily activities and praised a more fluid and natural model. So I wonder whether getting June going on classes will mean that she’s stressed out and has no free time of her own before age one!

You can see that I’m slightly neurotic.

I’d love to hear about the social routines you started with your babies around this age (9 months). Let me know if you have any advice.

the newbie: First Foods

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


I’ll be honest: I had visions of feeding June the most natural, organic, good-for-you foods on the planet. I’d set myself up with tiny glass jars and blend healthy and delicious meals for her every craving. She would laugh and coo as she tried in-season fruits, brightly colored veggies and perfectly seasoned protein dishes!

The reality is that blending is boring, June doesn’t seem to like the foods I make very much, and those little packs of pureed organic foods? They’re incredibly convenient. June can feed herself with those! She’ll sit for an hour in a restaurant high chair as long as she has a packet to happily guzzle. It’s very freeing.

But… I feel bad. Shouldn’t I be making her food? Giving her a taste of what Mom and Dad are eating for dinner? Introducing something besides the puree texture, now that she’s 8 months old?

I’m not sure exactly what to give her, and she’s so happy with these packets. I’ll admit to being lazy: If it ain’t broke…

Still, I’m ready to move forward. Any suggestions for first non-pureed foods?


the newbie: Should I be teaching this baby something?
By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


I posted a while ago wondering what I should be doing with the long days that stretched out in front of me and June, and I got some great suggestions! Now that she’s 8 months old, the days are a lot more interactive and fun (park walks, singing, dozens of rounds of peekaboo…), but I’m wondering if I’m supposed to be doing educational activities with her. Like, should I be going over colors, shapes, sounds? Or… something?

Trust me, I’m not an intense “my baby must be super advanced” parent, I just don’t want to short-change her by always taking her on my errands and having her life fit into mine. A few things, I’d like to do for June.

I’d love to hear if there’s anything you guys did with your babies in that first year that you really loved. We have a music class once a week that makes her clap and coo, but that’s over soon and I’m looking for more options.


The Newbie: Baby Grooming
By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


In addition to my questions about brushing imaginary teeth from last week, I have a few other baby grooming conundrums, and I’m hoping you guys can offer some advice.

I’ll be honest: Baby June was born with a ton of hair. While some of it fell out, there’s still quite a bit on top that’s long, and it gets pretty crazy. I’ve seen headbands and bows, but she tears those right out. I have a soft brush and comb set, but it honestly doesn’t seem to tame the mane. I keep wondering when she should get her first haircut. Is it crazy to take an 8-month-old to a barber? In the meantime I’m enjoying her 80s hair band look.

Also out of control? The fingernails. I can’t seem to keep up with the rate at which June’s nails grow! It feels like every other day she scratches herself (or me!) with a long, sharp nail. I sit her down and try to use the tiny clippers a couple of times a week, but it’s incredibly nerve wracking. Full admission: I’ve cut her once. It was her thumb, it bled a little and we both cried (oops!).

Are these issues on other moms’ minds or am I just crazy? I’d love to hear your hair and nails tales!

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the newbie: Is there a stylish diaper bag out there?
by Melissa Walker, who can be found blogging at http://www.melissacwalker.com

I have a confession: I’ve been using a beat-up old tote bag to carry around June’s portable changing pad, diapers, pacifier, etc. But now that she’s getting older, I’ve had to add little snacks to the mix, plus bigger diapers and more toys. I give up: I think I need an official Diaper Bag.

The problem is that I can’t seem to find any that I like. At all. I’ve looked online, in stores, checked out friends’ picks. But still… I haven’t pulled the trigger. I need a bag that my husband won’t refuse to carry (this means neutral colors and no frills), and I also want one that doesn’t scream, “Mom here! Got my diapers with me!” I’m still trying to seem semi-cool, most days.

I live in New York City, so when I carry a bag, I’m carrying it all day long (not leaving it in a car) so it should be big but not crazy unwieldy. And it’d be a bonus if it hooked onto my stroller handle easily.

I would love to hear about great bags you’ve found or any possible solutions to my conundrum. Thanks, as always, for reading and giving me such great advice.

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