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Archive for July, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Parenting Myths: Breastfeeding vs Formula

  Written By: Melainie

Myth #2: Infant Formula is Equal to Breast Milk:

baby mythsI realized when I looked back at last week’s myth post I had forgotten to explain to everyone that my new Friday features are going to be on parenting myths- today specifically will be about the myth that formula feeding is just as good as breastfeeding. Since I have finished my “Things To Do Before Baby” posts I decided this would be a fun topic to write on for a while. If you have any suggestions for topics then feel free to leave a comment and I will consider adding it to my parenting myths lineup.

Breastfeeding vs Formula

Is breastfeeding really best for mother and baby or should I trust the formula companies to provide my baby with the proper nutritional support? I am very strongly opinionated on this topic but not due to ignorance- rather it stems from my professional experience and knowledge as a medical laboratory scientist. No, I am not a doctor and you should always consult your doctor about any medical decisions, but I do know where the American Academy of Pediatrics stands on this great breastfeeding vs formula debate.

Milk Composition

Does formula have all of the good ingredients that breastmilk has? Doesn’t breastmilk contain environmental pollutants and possibly certain viruses that formula will not have? Scientifically speaking, formula has not been able to mimic all of the same nutrients that is found in breastmilk but it has come close in recent years. Also, it is possible although highly unlikely to transmit certain viruses through breastmilk, but environmental pollutants will be minuscule (if any) and can be found in formula too. (For more in depth comparison of breast milk vs formula I suggest reading about it on Dr. Sears’ website.)

Breastmilk

breast milk vs formulaThe exact composition of breast milk varies from day to day. Also,  for the first few days postpartum it is composed of essential nutrients and antibodies which will help a newborn to transition from the womb. After those first few days, breastmilk changes to what you would normally expect and is more comparable to formula. As your baby grows the composition of breastmilk changes to match the baby’s specific needs.

The proteins in breastmilk are unique and most easily digested and absorbed in a baby’s immature digestive system. The vitamins, minerals, and fats are in a form that makes them easily absorbed also. (Although breastmilk is lower in iron than formula, the iron is better absorbed from breastmilk.) All of these key ingredients are important and can be found to varying degrees in formula as well as breastmilk, but there are some things that formula companies cannot manufacture- at least not very successfully- the following are some components that differ in breastfeeding vs formula:

Alpha-Lactalbumin- binds with fatty acids and is now believed to have the ability to kill tumor cells (this is being researched right now as a possible treatment for cancer).

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and G (IgG)- These proteins provide your baby with your immunity, so whatever you are immune to your baby will be immune to as long as the baby keeps receiving those proteins (which can only be successfully passed on to the baby through breastmilk); and you won’t have to worry about getting your baby injected with so many immunizations at too early of an age.

Immune Cells (Leukocytes)- Another way to boost the baby’s immunity is via these amazing cells that cannot be produced in formula because it is a living cell. This is also a reason why it may be dangerous to breastfeed if you are HIV positive, because this nasty virus can hide inside the leukocyte and possibly infect your baby.

Enzymes and Hormones- These don’t survive well through processing of formula so your baby will be lacking them if you choose to formula feed instead of breastfeed.

Environmental Pollutants- Yes, they have been found in breast milk in small quantities according to recent research, but most air quality has much higher levels of these toxins than has been found in breast milk. It should not be a reason to switch to formula instead of breastfeeding.
breastfeeding vs formula

Formula

Formula has been developed as an acceptable alternative to breast milk when the baby is unable to breastfeed for any reason. It is not an equal choice to breastmilk because formula companies have not yet been able to manufacture everything that is found in breast milk, and more amazing properties of breast milk are still being discovered today that formula companies do not yet know to manufacture in formula.

breastfeeding vs formulaNow, having said that, formula also does not have the possibility of transmitting HIV if you are HIV positive, and it has a lower rate of environmental pollutants unless you happen to receive a contaminated batch (but that is rare). It also lacks immune properties and has to be carefully prepared with sterile water and sterilized bottle parts.

Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding is just so much easier, convenient, and relaxing compared to formula feeding. Plus, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to give your baby the best nutrition. Plus, you get that special bond from nursing that you will not get by bottle feeding. When my baby is upset or hurt I can calm her by nursing her. To read more about these benefits of breastfeeding check out my previous post on why I chose to breastfeed.

As for the argument that you don’t want to be the only person to feed your baby, I understand and that is why I have a breast pump- to express milk so my husband could feed the baby on occasions too. Raising children is a lot of hard work but that doesn’t mean you should take short cuts when it comes to the important issues like your baby’s health. If you don’t believe me maybe you will believe the American Academy of Pediatrics or read about it on Wikipedia to get a more in depth knowledge before making such an important decision.

If you ever need help in establishing breastfeeding you can always contact the La Leche League and they will gladly help you with any breastfeeding problems, just visit their website for more information. In my opinion on the breastfeeding vs formula debate, breastfeeding wins hands down. But don’t take my word for it, read about infant formula then read about human breast milk on Wikipedia, and learn before you decide. What is your opinion in this controversial breastfeeding vs formula debate?

PostHeaderIcon Navigating Craigslist and Avoiding Scams- My Tips

  Written By: Melainie

navigating craigslist avoiding scamsI believe that having the option to be a stay-at-home parent instead of having to finding a daycare or babysitter is very important. Occasionally I will mention ways that I have been able to make enough extra money to continue staying home with my baby (check out my Money Making Offers page for more). Now, I have finally put together a post (with my husband’s help) about how I make a little extra money from Craigslist without falling into any traps or scams- my husband has a lot of common sense in this area so I always get his advice.

Avoiding Scams on Craigslist

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH SOMEONE YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one rule and you will avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
  • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe
  • Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home
  • Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going
  • Take your cell phone along if you have one
  • Consider having a friend accompany you
  • Trust your instincts

-Craigslist.org

  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA ANY WIRE SERVICE- anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM HOLDING YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”
  • NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
  • AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION.

source: Craigslist.org/about/scams

Examples of Common Scams on Craigslist

1. Someone claims that craigslist will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that craigslist will handle or provide protection for a payment.

2. Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier’s check, which is not caught by the bank until weeks after the transaction and you are left to reimburse the bank.

3. Vague email that sounds fishy asking about “your item” for sale which may just be fishing for your email address in order to spam you.

4. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram or offers to send you a money order and have you wire some money back.

5. Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods.

Navigating Craigslist

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is a very true statement, and it is also an appropriate description of Craigslist. But, you need to use your common sense and realize that if it is too good to be true, then it’s probably a scam. Other than that, you can occasionally find some good stuff being tossed out in the “free” section under the “For Sale” category of your local Craigslist.

To communicate with a seller use the “Reply to” email at the top of the post. In the E-Mail describe what item you are interested in that way you don’t sound like a scammer. Make sure you use the above safety precautions even if you are only going to check out a freebie “curb alert” in your city.

Once you have acquired those valuable pieces of junk you can turn them into treasures and sell them back on Craigslist, in a Yard Sale, or through other local classifieds. Just check out my previous Trash To Treasure post if you need a refresher course on that. See that’s not too difficult, and everyone comes out a winner.

Do you have any helpful tips about avoiding scams and navigating Craigslist? I would love to here them and share them with my other readers!

PostHeaderIcon Parenting Myths: Name Brand is Best for Baby

  Written By: Melainie

Myth #1: Name Brand Products are Best for Baby…

baby mythsAs a new and inexperienced parent I have fallen victim to this line of thinking many times before researching products enough to really know what is best. It is instinctual for a parent to want what is best for their baby no matter the cost, and to sacrifice so we can give them everything we are told is best for them. But is it really best to buy the most expensive brands of baby products, or do these companies have us believing a materialistic lie?

I have done a little research on this due to my family’s financial hardship and the blatant fact that many baby care brands raise prices knowing consumers will pay extra money for their products. It is true, many top of the line baby companies willingly admit they raise prices or package less products for the same price because they know we, as caring and concerned parents, are going to sacrifice on other expenses to pay for those particular products. I was reading about this issue in the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago as they were discussing consumer spending cuts, and decided I would not be one of those suckers.

parenting myth

Baby Diapers

When I was a “newborn mom” I believed wholeheartedly in the superiority of name brand diapers (Huggies and Pampers) and I never thought I would bother trying the off brands because I wanted the best for my baby. This was especially true when I tried out the pack of Luvs diapers we had received as a gift, they were no where near as good as the Pampers. But, I was also given a pack of Kidgets diapers (Family Dollar store brand) which I began using after I ran out of all my other diapers. Honestly, I fell in love with this diaper brand (I know that sounds crazy but they are the least expensive yet best quality diapers that I have tried). I was so surprised that Family Dollar brand diapers would be better than Luvs so I decided on a whim to try Parent’s Choice diapers from Wal-Mart, and they were the worst! I now only buy Kidget brand diapers and it saves our family a lot of money.

Baby Food

Formula is ridiculously expensive and I am so glad I was able to nurse my baby instead of buying it, so I don’t know about brand comparisons in this area. But I did try out different baby food jars and cereals, and found that name brands or even baby brands in general are not necessarily best for baby or my pocketbook. Instead of buying expensive jars of baby food, I made my own and that helped our family to save a lot of money. Plus, my baby enjoyed the homemade baby food more than store bought. I bought rice cereal to feed her at first but found that buying quick oats and cream of wheat works well for a lower price, and my baby prefers homemade oatmeal anyway. So, I no longer shop for baby food in the baby food aisle because the prices are too high and I can give her better food that is not “baby specific.”

Baby Medicine and Ointments

This is something else that I thought I would never go cheap on for my baby but found from other people giving me these “off brand” products that there is not much difference. I thought that the expensive gripe water was best for my baby but I tried store brand gas drops and she seemed to react just as well to both. I still believe that the natural gripe water is probably better for her, but I don’t think getting the cheaper product is detrimental either.

I have also tried many types of diaper rash cream and I have to say that Boudreax’s Butt Paste is better than the others, but they all work pretty well for me. So, if you are very tight on money don’t let your electricity get shut off because you spent that money on specialty butt paste. But these name brand products are worth the money if you have it.

Conclusion

Don’t fall for the hype that the baby brands try to feed us consumer parents. You are not a bad parent if you have to cut down baby expenses and go for the cheap brands. Many parents have survived quite well without all of the frivolous things we feel we must now have for our babies to be healthy. I now do my research before I will dedicate money towards a specific brand, and I keep my eye out for any deals too. How about you?

PostHeaderIcon Exercise with Baby and Bicycle the Weight Away

  Written By: Melainie

bicycle exercise babyDo you remember my resolution to get fit? That was many months ago and it worked for a while until my weight loss plateaued. I had hoped to lose all of my pregnancy/baby weight by the baby’s first birthday, but I haven’t been sticking to my previous plan because I am constantly running after a baby on the move. So I had to come up with a revised fitness plan for exercising with my baby and doing something I enjoy (so I might stick with it).

Bicycling for Exercise

When I was a child I loved to ride my bike all the time but as I got older I outgrew my biking habit. I started thinking about this the other day as I was trying unsuccessfully to motivate myself to exercise, and realized I needed to do some exercise that I enjoyed instead of forcing myself to go through boring exercise rituals. It is especially difficult to fit exercise into my day when I have to work around my baby’s sometimes unpredictable schedule and my own daily to-do list.

I decided I needed to find a hobby that I would enjoy, my baby would enjoy, and could also be a form of exercise. For a while since the birth of my baby our exercise together has been walking, but it is not shedding the baby weight very well so I decided to add bicycling to our daily routine. My sweet husband bought me a mountain bike for my birthday so I could ride on the trails at the nearby state park, and my parents bought a baby carrier to attach to my bike so my baby can go riding with me.

bicycle exercise baby

About to Take my Baby for a Bike Ride

The first time I got on to ride my new bicycle I was so excited and figured I would be riding it all afternoon. I guess I had forgot how much leg work goes into riding a bike, because my legs were ready to give out after only 10 minutes of pedaling. Phew! This should get me in shape and losing the pregnancy/baby weight really quick! So far it has been fun, exhausting, and energizing; and this should be a great way to exercise with my baby.

Exercise with Baby

I have taken my baby bicycling with me several times now and she loves it. She has always enjoyed being outside, so I knew that bicycling would be exciting for her. Trying to fit exercise into a busy mom’s schedule can be very challenging and it may not seem worth the effort, but if you find a fun way to exercise with your baby then it will be beneficial for everyone.

I am teaching my baby that exercise is a good and fun activity that is worth planning into our daily routine together. Plus, being active helps me to be more productive around the house, keeps me healthy, and helps to tighten up my post-baby flab. My husband has even been exercising a little more after seeing me get into a fun exercise routine with the baby.

exercise bicycling with baby

My Baby Loves to Ride on My Bicycle

I want to encourage everyone to get out and play, have fun with your children, and keep yourselves healthy by exercising. Do you have a fun fitness routine with your children? Does your baby like to exercise with you? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!

PostHeaderIcon My Mischievous Walking Baby

  Written By: Melainie

mischievous walking babyAlthough my baby has been cruising around the furniture for a couple of months now, she has been a little too timid to really begin walking. Now at 11 months old, she has found her confidence and is starting to stumble her way around the house. Every day she gains more balance and curiosity as she explores everything she can get her hands on.

Baby Learning to Walk

When my baby first began showing an interest in walking I would always encourage her and clap for every step she would take. I think it helped her to learn to walk and be proud of her accomplishments, because she does get very proud of herself. She loves for people to clap for her, and has become accustomed to waiting for me to clap whenever she does anything great (like walking).

happy walking baby

My Baby’s “Proud” Face

Although she might be getting a little self-absorbed, my exciting encouragement has helped her to learn how to walk with confidence. She is now wobbly walking her way all around the house looking for trouble or ways to make a mess. At least she helps me keep the coffee table completely free of clutter, but she also tries to rummage through the trash on occasions.

mischievous baby

My Baby Attempting to “Clean Out” the Cabinets

Another thing that has helped her become more confident in walking is her Musical Activity Walker, which she loves to use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not using the seated walkers, so we found this push walker in the store that plays music when she pushes it and we are very happy with it.

baby walker

Watch Out! Baby on the Move…

FYI: It is also recommended to allow your baby to learn how to walk barefoot for proper posture and balancing, so we haven’t put her in shoes just yet. I have already ordered some Skidders for her to wear as soon as she is a little more steady on her feet. They have very flexible rubber soles and slip on like socks, so they should be very easy and comfortable for a walking baby.

baby learning to walk

Woohoo! My Baby is Walking!

It is so hard to believe that my tiny needy newborn has turned into this adorable independent baby in just eleven short months. The time has flown by very quickly and she has grown and developed so much, it’s amazing. When did your baby start to really walk? Do you have any funny mischievous walking baby stories?

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