I can’t believe my little guy is turning 6 months old next week. Time definitely flies, but I feel like with baby #2, time is moving even faster. One of the best things about being a second-time mom is that I actually feel like I know what I am doing this time (well sort of anyway). And I think the main reason for that is I know from experience what essentials I need to have on hand to make the day (and long nights) go as smoothly as possible.
After my first baby was born, I had so much stuff, but half of it I didn’t really need or know how to use and I was just left feeling completely overwhelmed. Of course we also had just moved into our home 3 weeks before he was born, so that compounded the issue! This time around I was more confident in what I needed and what products were more of a novelty that I could skip. Since I know all too well how the lack of sleep and lack of time after having a new baby impacts the ability to make rational decisions, I decided to compile a list of my top must-have items for all the new moms and new moms to be out there.
Willow Breast Pump
Breastfeeding? The Willow Breast Pump is a must have! Ok, so to be fair, the Willow Breast Pump comes out this spring and I haven’t been able to try it yet (although I am on the waiting list to be notified when I can by this amazing machine). But, if you have ever used a breast pump, you will understand why this invention is a miracle find for any new mom. I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed my first son until he was 15 months old. With baby number 2, he has been exclusively breastfed as well up until this point. So that means with both boys, I have had A LOT of time to pump when I am away at work or traveling for a work event.
Pumping at work is annoying enough, as you have to build your workday schedule around your pump schedule, but traveling while pumping sans baby is a whole other story. Trying to orchestrate pumping while driving (hands-free of course), in the back of an Uber, or in the airport bathroom after carting your pump and supplies through the TSA security line is not exactly fun. The biggest issue for me at least is finding a space to discretely pump. Pump on the plane? Sure it’s an option if you don’t mind flashing the random stranger sitting next to you. Pump in a public bathroom stall? Sure, I mean it’s cleaner than a porta party. Even if you can pump discretely with a cover, the noise of the pump gives you away. I’m pretty sure my last Uber driver was ready to call the “See Something Say Something” hotline as I was juggling all of my tubes and cords trying to set my pump up.
So the Willow pump doesn’t just allow you to pump hands-free while you wear it, but it is also so discrete you can wear it under your clothes! You can actually walk while pumping!! And it’s supposed to be so quite no one even knows your using it. If that doesn’t sound like a modern day mommy miracle, I don’t know what does. So put this one on your radar to grab as soon as they are available because I know the amount of hours you will save in pump hassles will by fair balance out the cost of this pump.
As a dietitian, of course I am a breastfeeding advocate. However, I also recognize that not every mom or babies can breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Trust me, having two babies with tongue and lip ties, I get that breastfeeding can be hell on Earth at times and it’s not always going to work out. No mom should feel guilty if the breastfeeding journey isn’t for her or her baby. A fed baby is most important. If you choose to give your baby formula either as a supplement to breast milk or to exclusively formula feed your baby, choosing a brand that mimics breast milk as much as possible is key. And that can be hard to find – until now.
I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Happy Family CEO Shazi Visram. Not only is she an incredible business woman and an amazing mom of 2, but she is also very knowledgeable about nutrition and the needs of both mom and baby. Just recently Happy Family brands launched the release of their own baby formula line Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula This formula is one of the only formulas I have ever seen that includes everything from organic ingredients, to prebiotics, to choline, DHA, vitamin D, and iron to closely mimic breast milk. This formula is now available nationwide and is the one I keep on hand as a supplemental formula for my baby.
If you get a chance, I also highly recommend looking at the new Happy Mama product line they now offer as well. In addition to foods and bars that help to support healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding, their breastfeeding support probiotic supplement is key for me. As someone who has suffered with multiple bouts of mastitis with each baby, I discovered that research indicates a certain strain of probiotic, Lactobaccillus salivarius, may prevent mastitis. After much research, the only place I found I could purchase this particular strain (without it being included as a blend with other strains of probiotics) was in the Happy Mama Breastfeeding Support probiotic supplement. So you better believe I have stocked up and recommend it to all the breastfeeding mothers I know!
If I ever lost my baby carrier, I honestly don’t know what I would do. This is probably the best invention ever created for moms, especially moms of two or more. Being able to wear my baby while I chase my 3 year old around allows me so much more flexibility than if my hands we occupied holding him. As an added bonus, he just loves to be worn and it instantly calms him, so it’s a win-win for us both.
I tried out many baby carriers (and I highly recommend you try a few out as well to see what fits your body and baby the best) and this brand is by far my favorite. The multiple positions allow for wearing the baby from the first week of life all the way up to toddlerhood. It’s lightweight, so I don’t find myself or my baby getting too hot and sweaty, and can be washed easily (which is great since Jimmy constantly tries to eat the straps). Whether you want to wear your baby so you can workout together, have your hands free to go grocery shopping, or just don’t feel like struggling with a stroller, a high quality baby carrier is a must have!
Velcro Swaddle Blankets
If you know how to swaddle your baby without Velcro, you deserve a metal. Seriously! There are many things in life I find challenging, but I think trying to swaddle is on par with me trying to figure out how to do my own taxes. No matter how many times I try, I end up failing and needing professional help. Swaddling is the bane of my existence. When I finally think I have succeeded, my little Houdini baby wiggles himself right back out of it (or if he doesn’t, I spend the whole night away staring at his monitor afraid he will unswaddle himself and get the blanket stuck over his head).
As much as I want to just say the hell with it, swaddling is so key in those first few months, at least for my babies, to soothe them while they sleep and prevent them from waking themselves up with their startle reflex. So that’s why when I discovered swaddles that stay closed thanks to the miracle of Velcro, I bought as many as I could. These are a lifesaver. I can swaddle in seconds and the baby stays swaddled all night. I can also sleep now without panicking that my crappy swaddling attempt is going to unravel in the middle of the night and trap my baby. You can pick these up at pretty much any baby store or online on Amazon, but in my opinion, these are an essential (unless you are that freak 1% that can swaddle perfectly –in which case I applaud you!)
What are your top new mom must have essentials?
“I just can’t quit you.” Have you ever felt that way when it comes to your scale? I know I sure have. To me, the scale is like the toxic boyfriend you know you shouldn’t obsess over, but you just can’t help yourself. My relationship with my scale used to be like a bad Lifetime movie. I’d hide from it, tell myself whatever it told me didn’t matter, but somehow it always worked its why back into my life, messed with my mind, and damaged my self-esteem.
Sound like a familiar story? I think most women can relate to this type of relationship with the scale at some point in their lives. So what should we do? I’m not advocating that we all toss our scales out the window or pretend they never existed. I do think weighing yourself can be valuable from time to time (and yes I do weight myself occasionally). But we need to adjust the reasons we choose to weigh ourselves.
When you are about to step on the scale, why are you weighing yourself? What are you planning to do with the information the scale provides? I have found from working with hundreds of clients (as well as my own personal journey with the scale) that we step on for two reasons: to verify our self worth or as a form of self-punishment. We let that silly number on the scale define us. If the number is low – hooray!- your day just got instantly better. Your self-esteem is boosted, you feel energized, you feel prettier, and you feel like you are more worthy. If the number is high -#?!$@!!!- you jump off, get pissed, and feel fat, ugly, and unworthy the rest of the day. Am I right?
Guess what? Before you stepped on the scale you were just as pretty or smart or thin or heavy as you were before that stupid number popped up. That number changed absolutely nothing about you. But unfortunately, our mind doesn’t always see it that way. If you know before weighing yourself that whatever the number tells you it will impact the way you view yourself, whether that be positive or negative, then your relationship with the scale isn’t exactly a healthy one. If this sounds like you, then it’s time that you break up with your scale (or at least part ways for the time being).
Breaking up with your scale can be incredibly empowering. I know before I broke up with the scale, I was terrified that if I didn’t weigh myself daily my weight would just balloon up. What happened in reality? After avoiding the scale for over a year, my weight decreased, my self-esteem increased, and I finally developed a healthy relationship with my body weight. Now I can occasionally jump on the scale to gauge where I am at (like when I want to see if I am back to my pre-baby weight), use the number as constructive feedback, and get on with my day. I can’t tell you how much better it feels to not let a dumb number rule my life or impact my day. And you can feel this way too- you just have to go through with the breakup first!
If you are ready to stop letting the scale rule your life, use these 3 simple steps to break-up effectively:
Place the scale out of sight
When I want to avoid binging on those cookies my husband brought home from work, I don’t throw them away. Instead, I just place them where I can’t actually see them. That way, I am not constantly reminded to eat them, but they are still there when I want to enjoy some. I use this same strategy with the scale. Place it somewhere where you don’t see it or have easy access to it. If you tell yourself you are not going to weigh yourself, but then the scale is right there in front of you as soon as you go into the bathroom, you will end up weighing yourself. Instead, hide the scale in the back of the closet. Its there if you need it, but you will have to go out of your way to find it.
Trust your body
This was probably what I struggled with the most when I wanted to stop weighing myself everyday. I feared that if I didn’t weigh myself and see that number in front of me, my weight would skyrocket out of control. It didn’t happen, and there’s a good reason for that. Before, when I would weigh myself, if the number was low I felt ‘skinny’ and often found myself ‘treating’ myself to whatever I wanted to eat. Then after I would do this, of course my weight would begin to creep back up. When I weighed myself and saw my weight was high, I would be almost too careful with what I ate. This led to deprivation, which ultimately led to overeating.
When I stopped caring about the scale, all of this went away. I ate because I was hungry. I stopped when I felt satisfied. I treated myself on occasion, but mostly I just wanted foods that made me feel energized and healthy. The yo-yo dieting, the deprivation and binge eating cycles, and the desire to ‘reward’ myself with food all went away. I was more in touch with my body and my needs, and my weight leveled off accordingly.
Use measurements that actually mean something
Here’s the thing. As a nutrition professional I cannot state that the number on the scale has no value. Tracking changes in growth, development, and disease status are all dependent on weight changes, so we cannot stop using the number on the scale completely. However, I have never seen any research that says a fluctuation in body weight of a few pounds up or down is an indication of a change in any sort of health status, negative or positive, in an otherwise healthy individual. So you are doing when you focus on those small changes on the scale is playing mental games with yourself (and driving yourself mad).
If you are eating well, exercising, and trying to improve your health then focus on measurements that actually mean something. The scale can go up and down for a number of reasons, like whether or not you went to the bathroom before you weighed yourself. Measurements like tracking your waist circumference aren’t so sensitive. This can help you to gauge body composition changes without messing with your mind. Tracking fitness changes such as when you can successfully bench a heavier weight or walk a mile a minute faster than you previously had are all ways to know you are improving your health.
So put the scale away, make a commitment to yourself to focus on how you feel from your efforts to eat well and be more active versus how the number makes you feel, and finally free yourself from determining your self worth based on a silly number.
I shared these cookies with you last year, but since then I have worked on a little tweak that I think you will love even more. Okay, I can’t take all of the credit for the recipe adjustment. It was my little guy’s idea to transform them from standard raspberry oat cookies into chocolate raspberry cookies- and hey, who am I to argue with that? I am never going to say ‘no’ to chocolate!
I decided to whip up a batch of these cookies to help cut down on the amount of added sugar my family has been consuming since the holidays. Why do we need a bit of a sugar detox? Since Joey was turning 3, I decided to crack down on our potty training efforts. We have made little progress over the past six months so I decided enough was enough. Since I am home with the new baby right now anyway, it seemed like a good idea to start an intensive potty training boot camp (note to self: potty training a toddler while trying to soothe a newborn is NOT a good idea).
So the potty training crack down began and of course motivation is needed, right? Well I had exhausted the use of stickers, dollar store prizes, coloring books, etc and nothing was motivating this child. Then my husband introduced him to the Oreo cookie. Yes- we have a winner! This child will apparently do anything to eat an Oreo. And he doesn’t actually eat the cookie- just licks the cream in the middle (I don’t blame him, that’s my preferred method of eating them as well). So great, the Oreo was working and he was going on the potty consistently. The problem was the Oreos worked a little too well. He was now using the potty consistently every hour, avoiding accidents, and almost diaper free. And yes, he was requesting MANY Oreos for his efforts.
A cookie here and there I am fine with. There’s nothing wrong with a little treat every now and then. But no 3-year-old should be eating a sleeve of Oreos! So I had to wean him off by finding a healthier compromise and these Chocolate Raspberry Yogurt Cookies were the perfect solution. They pack in real fruit, little added sugar, and provide a good source of whole grain and protein for less than 40 calories per cookie! You have to try them!
If you have a cookie-crazed child at home like I do (or cookie-crazed husband as well!) I definitely recommend making these together. Whenever you can get your child in on the action in the kitchen, they are more likely to eat what they have created. These cookies are so simple and fun to make, it’s the perfect recipe to get the whole family involved in making.
- 1 cup oat bran
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 cup raspberries fresh or frozen
- 1 each egg
- 3/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a medium bowl mix whisk egg and add in yogurt.
Mix together dry ingredients and add into egg/yogurt mixture to create a batter. Mix raspberries into batter until evenly distributed. Place 1 Tablespoon mounds of batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown in color.
Serve warm or cool (keep leftovers refrigerated)
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas… sangria… one that contains few calories …. Lalala….
Are you drinking of relaxing over this holiday with a delicious cocktail that won’t pack in the calories and sugar? Me too! That’s why I decided to combine my two favorite adult beverages (wine & rum) into a healthy slimmed down sangria that pairs perfectly with this week’s festivities. On top of it being Christmas Eve, it’s also Joey’s 3rd birthday (can you believe it- we have a treenager!!), so I figured I deserved some celebration time myself- you know to mark my almost 1 month anniversary of being a mom of 2! So yes, I need a drink!
You do have to prep a little to make this drink (it doesn’t take long, I swear) because you want to allow time for the fruit to defuse into the alcohol for a sweet taste. You can still make the drink with the fruit without allowing it time to defuse, but it won’t taste quite as sweet. So if you can, make this overnight tonight and it will be ready for you to enjoy all day tomorrow – of course if you start enjoying it too early it may lead to a very early bedtime for you. Hey, maybe that’s the solution to Joey’s sleep problems- just kidding!
I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday, and of course a happy & healthy New Year! Enjoy!
- 1 750 ml bottle Pinot Grigio
- 1/2 cup fruit infused white rum I used Bacardi Razz
- 1 cup 100% white grape juice
- 2 cups seltzer water
- 1 cup red apple sliced
- 1 cup green apple sliced
- 1 cup strawberries sliced
In a large bowl, place sliced fruit, rum, and wine and chill for 2 hours. In a large pitcher, mix together the fruit & alcohol mixture along with the grape juice and seltzer. Add 1 cup of ice to chill. Serve by scooping some fruit into a wine glass and pouring liquid mixture on top. Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition Facts (per serving) 95 calories, 8gm carbs
*Remember if you have #diabetes, alcohol can increase the chances of hypoglycemia- drink responsibly, test blood sugar often, and never drink on an empty stomach