Breastfeeding or Formula? What to consider.

Breastfeeding or Formula? What to consider.

For a newborn, it is indeed best to breastfeed as far as possible. Breast milk has all the nutrition that a baby needs, and it also has all the antibodies that protect the baby because she doesn’t have a well established immune system in the beginning. There is, however, a dilemma many parents face, where in certain situations it might be prudent to introduce a bit of formula milk into the baby’s diet.

Let me address this dilemma a little bit. Before our baby was born, I hadn’t even considered buying formula milk as part of our shopping list. I had read and understood the importance of breast milk and was pretty confident that formula milk would only be something that we introduce after a few months. However, the day we brought our baby home from the hospital, I found myself arranging for some formula milk at the last minute. And it was because I realized during our stay at the hospital that there could be many situations, even that early, where breastmilk might not suffice for the baby. Because there is a difference between theory and practice.

When a baby is born, it is so exhausted that it barely has any strength for the first 24 hours and even our mid-wife told us that it is common for babies to not feed for that time period. And babies tend to lose a little under 10% of their birth weight due to this. However, when this period is over, it is time for the baby to start feeding and regain the lost weight within the next 2-3 days. But, not all babies are experts at sucking milk properly that early. Sometimes, they try for a few minutes but get tired quickly and fall asleep and need to be waken up frequently to feed. On top of that, the flow of milk from the mother’s breast may not be as good as desired, which might further contribute to tiring the baby out without a proper meal. And, even when it appears as if the baby has been well fed, she might still be hungry. And what if the baby continues to be hungry mealtime after mealtime without the parents realizing it? In those early days, we did face all these situations and we were advised by the mid-wives to give our baby a top-up feed at the end of each breastfeeding session to ensure that the baby really was full. And in case the baby was not getting breastmilk supply, to feed her a small amount from a tiny plastic cup (and not from a milk bottle) so that her attachment to the breast was also not lost, and she continued to get the feed that she needed.

Keeping this factor in mind, I learned that it was not a bad idea to keep some amount of formula milk at home to be used when needed. I – sorry, We – realized that introducing formula milk as a part of feeds for the newborn really did not mean that she would be deprived of breast milk. It was supposed to be used as a supplement to breast milk.

And it is not just about the supply of breast milk that is the only factor. You also need to consider the health and suffering of the mother. New babies need feeding every couple of hours even for weeks after they are born. Add to that the fact that even the most well fed baby has problems with sleeping properly at times. It is not obvious to us men how distressing the whole phase becomes for a mother who is herself in need of being taken care of in order to recover from the trauma of the delivery. I have seen my wife feel miserable at times trying to feed our perfectly healthy baby while exhausted by the irregular sleeping schedules. She cried about how much pain she felt in her back most of the times and how every moment of feeding the baby made her back even worse.

Like I said, it is almost impossible to understand completely what a new mother goes through unless you have been one and, at times, I have made the same mistake and insisted for my wife to try and breastfeed against giving formula milk. And this is where, we need to have an open mind and consider the practicalities of the situation. The baby needs breast milk, but don’t forget, it first needs milk so that it is not hungry and even the mother needs to be relieved of her stress regularly.

Until now, I hadn’t mentioned that pumping breast milk and then using it for top-up feeds as well as complete meals when the mother was resting is a great option, and this reduces the need for formula milk. Before our baby had completed her first week, I had already been compelled by the situations described above to buy a motorized electric breast pump. And, to be honest, it turned out to be a fantastic investment as we did use it a lot. However, one needs to understand that even a breast pump can be of little use if the milk supply from the breast is too slow, or the mother is very tired. Moreover, the electric pumps can be quite expensive and not everyone may be able to afford them, and the more affordable manual pumps take too much effort to pump. And if you run out of pumped milk at odd hours, it may not be feasible to set up and start pumping again while your baby is crying bloody murder and the mother is already exhausted. Having some formula milk handy can really be a life saver.

So, for new parents, the first few weeks are almost certainly a tough time and they are also a time to overcome challenges. While the importance of breast milk cannot be overstated, it is also important to remember that timely feeding of the baby is also very important as is ensuring that the mother is not subjected to undue stress in some situations.

How has your experience been? Do you think there is more to this debate than what I have written? Do share with me by posting in the comments below.

Weaning: How we stopped breastfeeding

Have you heard stories about the nightmare weaning a baby off breastfeeding can be? Have you  been reading everywhere how important it is to start weaning as early in time as possible in order to prevent it from becoming too difficult later? Yes, we did too and it used to scare the hell out of us. But, it turned out to be far easier than we imagined.

From the time our daughter turned 6 months old, we had started to talk about one day having to wean her off breastfeeding. We knew it was going to be tough because, even though we had slowly started to increase formula in her routine during the day, at night she would only fall asleep while breasfeeding. This was a major point of concern for us because putting her to sleep was already a very painful task, and breastfeeding for so long had been wreaking my wife’s back in the process. Of course, 6 months may sound like too late for most working parents around the world, but here in Sweden we have the law of Parental Leave, which allows the parent to be off for as long as they want (with some pay, but more on that later) without it becoming a threat to their jobs. So, we had decided for my wife to be off for at least 1 year and therefore we had more time to take care of our daughter and wean her.

So, when is the best time to start weaning? I think the answer to this is when you and your baby seem comfortable. One good checkpoint would be when the baby has started eating solid food, so that she doesn’t need so much breastmilk at night to feel full.

One of the most  important lessons of parenting I learned during the first year with our daughter was to focus on the most urgent problem(s) first and worry about the others later. This meant prioritization of problems and not their procrastination. For instance, it became clear to us very early that for our daughter to be able to sleep well at nights was more important than weaning her off at that stage, so we prioritized accordingly. Over the months until her 1st birthday, our daughter’s reliance on breastfeeding only seemed to be strong at night times and we did not have a plan of when and how to break this habit for her. To be honest, we also did not feel strong enough to be able to take up this challenge and wreck our sleep for a few nights. But what we did do more easily was cut off breastfeeding from her routine for the entire day except night times so that when it was finally time to stop completely, it would be less of a hassle.

Two weeks after her first birthday, she and her mom travelled back from Delhi to Stockholm and when she reached, she was visibly very tired and irritated due to the journey. She had breastfed on the plane, in the taxi on the way home as well as shortly again after entering our home because she felt scared to be in a different place after two months of being in Delhi.

When we saw that she was tired and scared to be in a new place, and was clearly not ready to sleep, we turned down the lights in our bedroom, except a small night lamp, got into bed with our daughter in between and cuddled her a bit, patted her head and spoke to her lightly so as to make her feel secure with both her parents right there by her side. Soon, she fell asleep.

That night, the idea came to my mind to try this out the next night as well and since it was a weekend, we did have the possibility to put in some time. So, the next night, we followed a routine of:

  1. Letting our daughter lie in bed for some time and become comfortable, even if it meant showing her some cartoons on the phone,
  2. Turning down the lights in our bedroom
  3. Offering her the milk bottle when she looked comfortable
  4. Playing lullabies (audio only) on my phone
  5. Lying next to her ready for sleep ourselves
  6. Patting her head while she drank her milk and even when she is done

This process of making things cozy for our daughter sometime before trying to put her to sleep made her more comfortable and within minutes of finishing her milk, she turned slightly towards her mom, patted her face lightly and fell asleep.

The first night this worked, we could barely conceal our excitement. But this could easily have been a fluke so we kept repeating this routine night after night and it worked every time. Of course, there were nights when this did not work. Children, after all are also thinking beings and there is a lot going on inside those tiny heads. But the disruptions were rare. Overall, we were astonished that we had managed to cut off breastfeeding from her routine completely and our daughter accepted it without screaming and howling even once.

While this seems all too easy, it really was a culmination of many factors including reducing her breastfeeding gradually over the months to only night-times, as well as the fact that the first time she fell asleep without breastfeeding was when she was utterly tired and scared.

Today, it has been a month and a half since the night we stopped her breastfeeding and she has never had to go back. Though her sleeping routine has recently had a major setback and we are again worried about how to put her off to sleep without wrecking our own sleeps, but that is another story for another day.

Shopping for the baby arrival

Shopping for the baby arrival

More than a year ago, I wrote a post on what our shopping list for the upcoming baby looked like, and it didn’t look good. I kept reading and researching about baby stuff that new parents might need and the list just kept expanding. Somewhere in the process, quite confused with over-research, I asked my wife’s mid-wife for tips and she had a very simple answer:

“All that the baby needs is you.”

A year, later I have realized how true that really was. As the baby came into the world, we started to figure things out as and when we needed them. In any case, it never harmed anyone to be prepared but it is also important to know that there is a lot of marketing that pushes new parents towards buying stuff that they really would never need. For instance, do you really need one of those expensive baby monitors? Does a bottle sterilizer make any sense or should one use a pan instead? Before deciding to buy something, always ask yourself ‘why’ and ‘when’ you would be using it and then buy it only if you see a very clear need for it. But how to do you know for sure that you will need it as opposed to you being convinced by marketing? Just wait till the time the real need actually arises and then buy, like I did before buying our Baby Carrier.

So, from my experience as a recent new parent, here is a list of almost everything you will need for your baby in the first few months, along with the ‘why’ and ‘when’:

  1. Feeding Bottles
    For a new-born, remember that the priority should be to only breastfeed as far as possible. But you should still be prepared with at least a couple of bottles, in case you face difficulty with breastfeeding and need to give some formula or if you need to store breast milk for later use as well.
  2. Cot
    It depends on you personally if you plan to have your baby sleep separately in a cot or in the same bed as the parents. For us, even though our baby sleeps with us on most nights, it is good to have a secure place where we could leave her for some time and not worry about her rolling over and falling off the bed. Having her own cot also means that the baby can sleep undisturbed and one does not have to worry about being too careful getting on or off the bed.
  3. Changing table (with changing pad)
    Again, it is not a necessity and you can easily manage on the bed as well. But we did find it to be excellent use because it meant we did not have to bend in order to change our baby’s diaper, which was very good news for our backs and we were also able to store a lot of our baby stuff under our changing table, so it was easy to reach diapers, creams and other baby stuff while changing diapers. By the way, for our baby, we stopped changing her diapers on the changing table when she was around 9 months old because she became too big for it and kept wanting to get up and roll over so it now became impossible to use it any more, but we still use the space to store her stuff.
  4. Onesies
    This is a no-brainer. You will definitely need lots of these since they are easy to put on and don’t have to be taken off for diaper changes. I would recommend at least 6-8 along with a few pyjamas, caps, gloves and socks. In the early months, diaper leakages and vomiting undigested milk are more frequent and it is handy to have a few changes always at hand, considering that you might not be able to wash the baby clothes every day. Babies can also feel colder than we do and it is necessary to keep them warm and that is why you will need some gloves and caps. But remember not to pack the baby too warm that they start feeling hot.
  5. Diaper bag
    As well as keeping things handy and organized at home, diaper bags are a must if you want to take your baby out. And, of course you will. Buy one diaper bag and stick with it for s long as possible. Make sure the bag you buy has enough space to manage all the stuff you need and has a few compartments to organize stuff as well. Read about the contents of our diaper bag here.
  6. Moisturizing and Diaper Rash creams
    Baby skin can get dry and rough if the weather is cold or if not taken care of. If you think it is needed, remember to apply moisturizing creams (the ones for babies, not adults) on their body as well as face. Which cream you use depends on where you live and what is available, but for us our mid-wife recommended Decubal. Diaper changing creams are a must because they help cure diaper rashes, which are inevitable if the baby wears diapers for long. We used Bepanthen and Inotyol.
  7. Nasal spray
    We had bought salt water sprays, such as Näsfrida, which are specially developed for use with babies. These have been helpful on two occasions, when the baby developed congestion in her nose due to cold and when her mucus hardened in her nose and could not be dislodged easily. I would say carrying a Nasal Spray is a must. Check your local pharmacy or baby stores to know what is available.
  8. Mobiles
    We bought a mobile hanging from IKEA that we hung via a mobile arm that was attached to our baby’s cot. It turned out to be a very interesting distraction for our baby. Our mobile had bees hanging from it which always caught our baby’s attention. Whenever our baby cried, we only had to turn the mobile a little and she would get engrossed in the bees flying around. It was a great thing to have.
  9. Baby carrier
    A baby carrier is an expensive product, but it also has a good use case. We bought an Ergobaby 360, but we did not buy it in advance (read about our experience here). It was when my wife was having a hard time carrying our 2 month old baby all day long even at home and her back was hurting her, we decided that it was better for us to have a baby carrier. Now, we just strap our baby to our chest and can do other stuff at home, such as cleaning up, cooking, or even take her out for a stroll and she observes the world pass her by. We have made excellent use of our baby carrier, but I can advise waiting untill you really feel the need for it.
  10. Formula
    To breastfeed or to use formula milk is the big debate. But even if you intend to only breastfeed, remember that at certain times, formula milk comes in very handy. We have had very stressful initial few days and weeks where we weren’t sure if our baby was getting sufficient milk or if she was still hungry. We used to give her top feed with formula just to be sure she was not hungry. Also, when the mom is not feeling well, it is good to have some spare formula milk. We use Baby Semp here in Sweden, so check what is available where you live.
  11. Diapers
    It is next to impossible to avoid using diapers. Either one can dedicate their lives to washing and changing nappies as well as underlying bed sheets, etc. every time the baby pees or poops, or one can take the easy route of using diapers. We have been using diapers since day one, and even on days when we decided to use a nappy instead, we had a tough time keeping up. I would advise that you keep at least 15-20 diapers (which means a pack each) of size 0 and size 1 handy before the birth just to be sure which size will suit your baby in the beginning, and then stock up for at least a week’s worth of supply at a time. Small babies can use up as much as 6-8 diapers a day. You can also read here about which diapers we have utilized.
  12. Stroller
    If you re going to take your bay out of home in the first few years (of course you will), you will most definitely need a stroller. We got a Bugaboo Buffalo for our baby but not everyone needs such an expensive stroller. Think a little bit about how often you are going to use the stroller and in what conditions. Do you think the stroller you need should be able to accommodate a lot of stuff, such as when you are out shopping? Or is it more important for you that the stroller is light and folds compactly and fits in your car? Do you want to be able to fit a car seat to the stroller at times? In that case, do you get adapters to fix your car seat to that stroller? Do you need bigger wheels such as if it snows where you live or if the terrain might be a little rough, or will smaller wheels suit you since you are only going to use it when you are in easy terrains, such as in a mall? Think about these things and then decide.
  13. Car Seat
    Do you have a car? If yes, then you obviously need a car seat for your baby. If you don’t have a car, you probably don’t. But think about how you are going to bring your baby home from the hospital, and how you are going to take her to the doctor for the follow-ups and in emergency cases? Do you easily get taxis which come with infant car seats? Are you going to be travelling with your baby in a manner that might require a car seat? We bought a car seat despite not having a car, and over the last one year I have realized that we used it only in the initial few days and only when we had to take our baby somewhere in a taxi and going by public transport at odd hours with the stroller was not an option. But after she was 4 months old, we have never had to use the car seat, but the reason is that we have excellent and stroller friendly public transport in Stockholm and one can get to anywhere in the city with the stroller. But is your situation different?
  14. Bottle Sterilizer
    We almost fell into the trap of buying an electric bottle sterilizer which would have cost us a good amount of money. And though there are some good sterilizers available, I was lucky to have spoken to a friend who told me that they just wash the bottles and then sterilize them in a pan of boiling water in their kitchen. And my friend’s wife is a nurse, so that gave me the confidence that we did not need anything special. Now that I reflect on this decision, I realize that if I had bought the sterilizer, that would have meant one more thing that needed to be taken care of, such as cleaning if it became dirty, maintenance in case it malfunctioned, whereas a pan needs to maintenance at all.
  15. Baby Gym
    We bought a fancy one from Fischer Price which had a mirror, music and lights as soe of the features and we started to put our baby in it from when she was 6 weeks old. She took some time to get used to it, but we did notice that she tried to observe the hangings quite a lot and the music also occupied her attention. After a few weeks, our baby had started to enjoy and interact with the gym a lot and we could leave her in it for 15-20 minutes at a time and be free to do other stuff. So, I would say you will most certainly need a baby gym, but which one completely depends on you. The point is to give the baby things to observe and touch so she learns.
I hope this list is good enough and covers all basics and essentials. Have I missed discussing anything important? Could anything be added to this list? Please comment below to let me know or if you want more explanation about something. If you like my post, do press the like button and let me know and Follow my blog to receive notifications of new posts.

This Moment Last Year

This Moment Last Year

At exactly this moment last year we were on our way to the hospital for the delivery.  In the taxi were seated Nupur with her mom and my mom at the back seat and me at the front. Nupur was scared, the moms focussed towards making her feel easy, and I was telling myself that I need to think straight during whatever came next. In some more time, we were going to move into Nupur’s delivery room at Södersjukhuset, Stockholm.

The countdown had begun to what was going to be an excruciatingly long day filled with nervousness, fear and happiness, and the back of the mind realization that lives were going to change forever. And a new life was about to be born. Someone truly wonderful was about to arrive.

Tips for Flying with your Baby

Tips for Flying with your Baby

Are you planning air travel with your newborn for the first time and are worried that it might be a very difficult experience? Don’t worry. Travelling with babies doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think.

In the current times, travelling has become quite a tedious and stressful affair what with increased security checks and long wait times at most airports, and travelling with a baby can be one of the most unnerving things parents have to do, especially their first time with a newborn.

Our daughter has not yet turned one but I am happy to say that we have already flown long distance six times with her. All our trips have been long distance (Sweden to/from India), both with and without awkward transit connections. We have learnt a lot from our experience and here are some tips that will help make your flight with your baby much easier (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Keep your luggage (both check-in and hand luggage) light.
    By keeping your luggage light, you will be able to focus on the most important part of your belongings – your baby. Having a lot of luggage will only stress you out about managing it. Would you want to be arguing with the airline about crossing the weight limit? Aim to travel without any hand-luggage, or as little of it as possible, and carry only the baby’s diaper bag, as it would also free you up to take care of your baby during your journey.
  2. Choose an airline that is known to be child-friendly.
    The first flight we took with our baby was Qatar airways and their flight crew were so helpful and so nice to our baby that it took away half our stress the moment we boarded. They came and interacted with our baby a few times during our flight, asked us if we needed anything, happily helped us when we asked for hot water for the baby, and repeatedly told us how lovely our baby was. It makes you feel happy as a passenger when you see the crew appreciate your situation and be helpful. But there are certainly a few airlines that don’t care about the passengers’ comfort. I would strictly advise against flying with them.
  3. Don’t choose connecting flights with very short transit times.
    Choose a transit that allows you to catch the connecting flight without having to rush from the moment your first flight lands. Your baby is a little human being with lots of needs. It might be suffering from a soiled diaper or be extremely hungry at the time of transit and it would be awful to ignore the baby’s needs just because the transit time does not allow one to. On our last such trip, we had a connecting time of just under 4 hours. Though this sounds a bit high, we actually did our transit quite conveniently, ensured our baby was comfortable in her new diaper and was not hungry, and then sat at a really nice restaurant at Doha airport and had nice food and coffee and basically felt really good about the trip.
  4. Book a bassinet seat and get it confirmed early for the baby.
    Especially if it is a long haul flight, but even if it is only a few hours. Having a bassinet allows the parents to free themselves to relax when the baby is asleep and it also makes the baby feel cozy and in a bed. Remember to book early because there are only a handful of bassinets available on a flight and you need to secure your’s fast. Call the airline and request a bassinet seat for your baby as soon as you have booked your flight. On our first trip, our baby fell asleep right after takeoff and slept through the first leg of the journey. We put her into her bassinet and had an extremely comfortable flight.
  5. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time at hand. Don’t rush!
    The worst thing you can do in your entire journey is to rush it. You may not realize it but time-stressed parents make the babies stressed as well. So, reach the airport early and get done with check-in and security-checks early so that you avoid the longer queues as it gets closer to the flight timing. Keep sufficient time at the airport to take care of the baby and of yourself as well. You cannot know how many times the baby will need a diaper change or a feed on a given day.
  6. Carry sufficient number of diapers in hand baggage and then some extras for unforeseen delays.
    I read somewhere that one should follow the rule of one diaper for each hour of the total travelling time, including travel to/from airport, waiting at airport, connection times and any possible delays. We followed this rule on our first trip, and though we never needed to change diapers every hour, we did have some emergencies at times so we thought this was a good enough rule.
  7. A feeding cover/blanket for the mom might be a good idea to protect from preying eyes.
    Many moms feel insecure feeding their baby in public places and it would be a great idea to carry a feeding cover or a baby blanket that can be used for privacy when breastfeeding the baby. We carried a feeding poncho on our first trip, but on subsequent trips, we realized that a baby blanket does the job equally well.
  8. Create measured portions of milk-formula and other baby food for quick use in an emergency.
    Imagine that your baby has started howling out of hunger and you are in a situation where breast feeding her, or measuring formula powder from its box is highly inconvenient. For such emergencies, I would highly advise carrying at least a couple of  portions of measured formula powder which you can quickly mix with hot water to make milk for the baby. We bought some small containers from Tommee Tippee which hold measured formula powder and can be held inside a bottle to save space as well. In emergencies, we just dumped the formula into water and the baby’s milk was ready.
  9. Keep a thermos for hot water for making baby milk/food.
    Despite security check rules, we have always carried a small thermos with hot water and not once have we been asked to throw the water away. One time, my wife had to drink a bit of it to prove that it was nothing dangerous, but that was it. It is better to risk throwing away water at security check if asked to do so, than not carry any at all and be at the mercy of ‘friendly’ restaurants at the airport to provide you with hot water for your baby’s milk/food when you need it.
  10. Prepare the Diaper Bag one day in advance.
    Remember, your baby is the most important member of your travelling party and her convenience is of utmost importance. Prepare the diaper bag one or two days in advance and do not risk forgetting important stuff in the stress of the last day.
  11. Have an easy day before your flight.
    Don’t leave any packing for the last few hours before you leave for the airport. Don’t keep any last minute tasks that might burden you. In short, plan your time so that you don’t get tired before your journey even starts. Eat well, but do not overeat or stay hungry. Be comfortable at home, relax and set that easy tone for your trip. Treat your baby with love so that it is also ready for the journey.
  12. Familiarize yourself with children facilities at the airports of departure, arrival and transit.
    Read the websites of the airports and see what facilities they have for kids. Most airports provide a stroller for babies and it can be a life saver. Find out other facilities, like play areas for kids, changing stations, etc. in advance and use them. Keep track of what is available where so that you are not stressed and confused at the airport. Also, keep an eye out for strollers when you land at an airport. One time, we missed that the strollers were kept at the arrival gate as soon as we crossed the aerobridge. We kept walking and found no strollers after that and had to wait in line for the immigration check for over an hour with the baby in our arms and nowhere to put her down. It was extremely tiring and we learnt the lesson the hard way.
  13. Dressing up the baby.
    Don’t bother dressing up your baby as if she was going for a party. Focus on making her comfortable. Babies are most comfortable when they are in their sleep clothes. We always make our baby wear her one-piece sleep-suit and carry a blanket and socks to keep her warm since flights can get a bit too cold for comfort as time progresses.
  14. Change of clothes for the baby.
    Needless to say, but easy to forget. Even on short flights, have a couple of change can be handy in cases of diaper leaks or other ’emergencies’.
  15. One Change of clothes for self
    Interestingly, the easiest thing to forget. We have had multiple instances of having our own clothes spoilt by our little one who had had a little too much milk.
  16. Toys for calming a baby in distress
    It could be her favorite toys, or a rattle or a nursery rhyme on your phone. Whatever helps distract your baby when it is crying.
  17. Be extra nice to people you come in contact with.
    The reason here is that most passengers who do not have kids might find it difficult to empathize with your situation and some might feel easily irritated if your baby is crying a lot. Of course, you don’t need to apologize for your crying baby, but when you start a trip and say polite hellos to the people around you and be slightly nicer to them, you have a higher chance of gaining empathy from those around you instead of angry looks if your baby causes a lot of trouble.
  18. Your passports and travel documents are necessary.
  19. Travel business class, even in economy.
    This is a bit difficult to understand, but please bear with me. This is more of a psychological thing. What comes to your mind when you think business class? I think comfort, privileges and ease. So, on the days of our travel, I make sure I treat my wife to good food while waiting at the airport. I make use of whatever airport facilities can help me with an easier trip. A nice coffee for the Mrs.? Your partner’s favourite dumplings? How about taking time out to play with the baby as if today is no different? Anything that makes the trip easy and enjoyable. Take things easy. Tell yourself that you are not cattle in a mass of travelers and remember to relax. Even in the rare case that your airline does not give priority boarding to travelers with children, don’t pick up your stuff and queue up way before time only to wait for eternity for the boarding to start. Relax! And get in the queue when it is almost finished.

And remember, flying with your baby does not have to be a stressful experience. Treat it the same way as you would going out for a nice dinner, which means make it an experience you would want to remember. Look forward to enjoying the flying part as much as the destination.

Do you think I have missed anything? Do comment below and let me know what you think can make travelling with babies easier.

Why we bought a Baby Carrier and you should too!

Why we bought a Baby Carrier and you should too!

I had had a baby carrier in my list of things to buy while expecting our baby. Over time, I had done my research and decided that if I ever had to, I would buy the ErgoBaby 360 baby carrier. The reason I did not buy it in advance was because I wasn’t sure whether we really would need a baby carrier. I mean, I knew what it was for and how it could be beneficial, but the really high price (around $160 or SEK1500) made me put the decision on hold and buy it only if it deemed necessary. There are so many products out there and thanks to their marketing, everything seems necessary to first time parents.

Anyway, the first few weeks that I was home on parental leave with my wife and baby, we managed just fine as we also had my mom with us for help. All day long, either of us would take care of the baby so that no one in particular had to  stress out all the time. Despite this, within a few days I had started to feel my back hurt. Ditto for my wife as well. The reason wasn’t that the baby was so heavy (3 kg is nothing), but that your posture changes when you’re holding her up so much and it puts a lot of stress on the lower back. Over short terms, it doesn’t affect you much, but it takes a few days to start feeling the effect. At this stage, I did reconsider buying the baby carrier but the real push came a few days later when my mom left us and my wife and I were finally on our own.

On the very first day, my wife called me up at work around noon and told me that she felt absolutely tired because of holding the baby all day long and she wasn’t even able to prepare any food for herself. Her back was killing her and it was only day one of taking care of the baby alone by herself. I could hear in her voice how difficult she felt the situation was. I wasted no time and went online and purchased the ErgoBaby 360 from babyland.se and selected the same day delivery option. Fortunately, the delivery was free because the order was above SEK 1000 and we got the package delivered home the very same evening.

Did the baby carrier help us at all? It absolutely did. The first time I wore it around me with the baby in it, I could immediately feel the difference. My arms were finally free and by my side while the baby was held close to my chest and absolutely still. No longer was I forced to stand in an uncomfortable position in order to hold her correctly. Her head was just under my chin and I only had to bend my neck down in order to kiss her head. And the baby? She was so comfortable, she slept for over 1 hour in that position in the carrier. It was fairly easy for me to inspect her posture and ensure she was sitting comfortably inside the carrier. I did not feel any weight because the carrier’s thick band around my waist ditributed it very well. When I moved, it did not feel that it disturbed the baby at all. And so I spent the next one hour walking around our apartment, watching TV while standing, then sitting down for a while and getting up again. I joined my wife in the kitchen while she made something for us to eat. During dinner, I unfolded the head cover from the carriers front top pocket and covered the baby’s head so that I didn’t spill any food onto her. And it all worked just fine.

During the first couple of days itself we realized what a life saver the ErgoBaby 360 was for us. Though my wife finds it a bit difficult to put on by herself, I attribute that to her lack of practice rather than a problem with the product, though to be fair, it does take a bit of skill (but that is why you need some practice).

One of the reasons why I chose the ErgoBaby 360 over others was that I read more good reviews about this baby carrier than any other. My favourite review site bäst-i-test.se (though only in Swedish) also listed this as no. 1 and I usually take their recommendations without question. This carrier has a good build, a wide waistband and comfortable shoulder straps to distribute the baby’s weight well. For a newborn who cannot support her head during the first few months, one needs an ErgoBaby infant insert which is bought separately, but I purchased the ErgoBaby 360 Start Paket, which includes the infant insert.

Of course, ErgoBaby 360 isn’t the only option in the market. Another good option is to buy the BabyBjörn One baby carrier. It has equally good reviews as the ErgoBaby 360 and is comparatively slightly cheaper. Personally, I haven’t tried out any other baby carriers myself, but am quite convinced that these two are the best of the lot.

So, what should you consider while buying a baby carrier?

First and foremost, is the price. Can you afford a ErgoBaby 360 Start Paket (incl. Infant insert), which has a marked price of roughly SEK 1500 (I got it for approx. 1200 after discount on babyland.se). If not, there is no problem in going for a cheaper option by looking at other ErgoBaby models and the Babybjörn models. (There are some other brands also, but I haven’t done any research on them.)

Is the baby sitting in an ergonomic position in the carrier? Babies are supposed to sit in frog position and having the correct ergonomics is very important. ErgoBaby360 had the best ergonomics of the lot that I could figure out and therefore I went with it. Some older models of BabyBjörn were heavily criticized for not been ergonomic but the BabyBjörn One, released in 2015, has fixed that. So, do consider the ergonomics.

How long are you going to use the baby carrier that you are planning to buy? Is your child’s age/weight close to the upper limit for that carrier? Is it worth spending more on a carrier if you are going to use it for a shorter durations?

Material. Think about where you will be using the baby carrier. Will it be a hot environment or cold? Does the carrier that you are considering look like the baby will feel too hot in it if the environment is such? Having a mesh instead can help cool the baby down but it can get dirty easily and might cause a rash to the baby if it is expeosed to her skin. Is the material Oeko-tex certified? This basically means that the fabric is free from hazardous sunstances.

Baby position in the carrier: There are some carriers, such as the ErgoBaby 360 which allow the baby to sit in 4 positions: Front Carry Facing You, Front Carry Facing the World, Back Carry (like a backpack) and Carry on Hip. Not all carriers allow all 4 positions, so think about how you intend to carry your baby and invest accordingly.

These are the factors that I could include in this post and already, the post has become quite long. So, in a nutshell, our baby carrier turned out to be a life saver for us and it gives us the comfort and freedom we longed for without letting our baby out of site.

What do you think about this? Are you using or planning to use a baby carrier? Do share your experience by commenting below.

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Pee, Poop and Burp: The First 40 Days

Pee, Poop and Burp: The First 40 Days

For the first 2 days after our baby girl was born, she only needed a change of diaper every 6-8 hours. She had her typical blackish gooey poop and we could barely tell if she was peeing at all since there were no leakages. The midwives told us that the baby did not need to burp because she was having very little breast milk in the beginning. So, I thought we were doing fantastic at under 3 diaper changes a day. In fact, I enjoyed changing her diaper a lot. She never cried, except when hungry, and even then, it was a low cry and she would calm down as soon as she was fed. She was turning out to be an extremely well-mannered baby. And I proudly trumpeted this fact to friends and family.

WRONG!

Only a few days on and the little one gave us a shocking reality check. She now pooped much more often, more like 6-8 times a day and specially after each feed, sometimes more. At times, she pooped again immediately after the new diaper was put on. And then you needed to redo the whole exercise of laying her down on the changing table, remove her diaper, clean her with a wet cloth and dry her and put on a new diaper, all the while putting up with her relentless ear-shattering shrieks and howls. (Did I mention that she hated being put down on the changing table now?) Often times, having just been cleaned up and the next diaper on its way out of the bag, the little one discovers she forgot to pee in the previous diaper and does that on the changing table itself. Sometimes, directly on my hands. We scramble to prevent the pee from flowing onto the changing mattress and clean her up once again before putting on the next diaper. The shrieking and howling continues relentlessly.

Where Pee and Poop were causing such mayhem, how could the Burp stay behind? Having a really small tummy, she was always too full after a feeding session and appeared irritated, so I would lift her to my shoulder and pat on her back a bit in order to elicit a burp. But it wasn’t that easy. It still isn’t. Before we even pick her up for a burp, she throws up a mouthful of milk onto her chin, neck and clothes. It’s a race between her and us, can we pick her up in time to prevent her from vomiting? Even when we pick her up first, we need to hold her straight otherwise she simply vomits out all the milk and then wants to be fed again. Holding her straight was yet another challenge because she would start scratching my neck with her fingernails, pull at my collar and suck my shirt for milk, all the while throwing her little frail head around wildly while I struggle to hold it in place.

At other times, she would asleep while on the breast and wake up shortly afterwards to realize she has her mouth full of milk. Not knowing what to do with it she ends up coughing all of it out onto the tired mum, following the scene up with another burst of crying and maybe re-feeding.

So, the first 40 days with our little baby have been much tougher than I had ever imagined. There were times when it felt like either we were the worst parents or this was the most difficult baby ever. I often wondered why babies just don’t stop crying even though we were doing everything that they needed. I also wondered if there was something that all other parents knew, but not us, which made our parenting a bit worse.

But after the first 40-50 days, things have improved and we are now in a different phase with our baby. More on that later.

How has your experience been? Do let me know by leaving a comment below.

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And remember, you can always get in touch with me if you have any questions, by visiting my Contact page or emailing me at: peepoopburp@gmail.com.

It’s a Girl !!

its-a-girlOn the morning of 13th of January 2017, and after an excruciating 28 hours in labor, while it was freaking cold and snowing outside, the clouds parted and our ray of sunshine, our sweet little angel, finally entered our world.

“It’s a girl!” I announced to my wife with tearful eyes as the midwife turned the baby and opened her legs. The very next instant, the baby was placed on the mother’s chest, skin-to-skin. We were spell-bound. In that instant, we forgot all the tiredness that we had been feeling over the last 2 days. We had our baby in our arms.

We couldn’t believe it was a girl. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because we had become so used to the bump that it would still take time for us to process that it has now become a real person. We had imagined it would be a girl. We had also imagined it would be a boy. We knew it could be either. But seeing our baby girl for real turned out to be so different from imagining.

After a while, the nurse asked me if I would like to hold my baby for some time while they helped my wife relax. They asked me to take off my t-shirt and be skin to skin with my baby because she needs that. I was so scared. She was so tiny. I was scared of picking her up. But they told me I would be just fine.

It’s my daughter… It’s MY DAUGHTER!

And then I held her in my arms and everything else in the world became unimportant. This, Now, was Everything.

Our little baby girl is adorable and quite healthy. The mother is doing excellent, though still a bit exhausted. Our mothers are here to help us and they have both been amazing in sharing our load.

Even now, 2 weeks after the birth, I can’t believe I have a baby now. I can’t believe I have a daughter. I can’t believe I am a Dad now…. Maybe it will take some more time to sink in. Maybe, I should change the tag line of my blog now.

How has your experience been? Do share by commenting below.

(This post was originally written on 15th Jan 2017, but I forgot to publish it and only realized that today.)
(Pictures will be later.)

Crossing the Due Date

due date calendar

Today, 8th January 2017, was our baby’s calculated due date. But the little angel has decided to make us wait a little longer.

We had come to anticipate that our baby might arrive earlier than its due date. Why? Simply because we had been told that the baby can come anytime from two weeks before till two weeks after the due date. Add to that our excitement, being first time parents, and the fact that both our moms have arrived from India for the birth of their first grandchild. So, starting a few days before christmas, when folks at work started going for holidays, I would leave work everyday wondering if I would be coming back the next day or not. I’ve been going to bed every night half expecting to be woken up at odd hours to discover that my wife’s pains have started. Days have turned into weeks, temperatures have plummeted over 20 degrees, snow has covered the whole of Stockholm, but our baby has not yet shown up.

I remember once asking our mid-wife if it becomes apparent during the later stages of the pregnancy whether the baby might come earlier or later. Maybe the position of the bump might indicate something? She told us that there is no such prior indication and that the baby decides when it wants to come out. “Oh!” said I as I looked at the bump, “So, YOU decide?”

I spoke to the baby a few days back and told it (we still don’t know if it is a he or a she) that we have already completed all the shopping for it. I asked the baby what more it needs me to do before it is happy enough to come out. I did not get any answer, not even an acknowledgement.

So, I thought to myself if there was something I have forgotten to do or was there a certain way I needed to call the baby out? That it has grandparents and great-grandparents and uncles and aunts desperately waiting for it obviously makes no difference to the baby’s mood. I had to try something different.

So, that night I had an idea. Maybe the baby needs some sort of homely Indian stimulation. I created a playlist of top Govinda (a popular Indian actor from the 1990s) dance songs on YouTube and played them for 2 hours while we sat in front of the TV watching. In between, I would ask my wife if she felt anything different. No! So, the next evening, I created an even bigger playlist of other popular Bollywood dance numbers – old and new – from Salman to Shah Rukh to Aamir (amongst others). Despite another couple of hours wasted in front of the TV, nothing happened now too.

I have tried everything else I could. I have sung to the baby, danced, thrown commands at it, suggested dates, pleaded, but nothing seems to work. I guess it gives me a glimpse into the future of our household. Gone are the days when things progressed according to my planning. Something, rather someone, else is going to beat my plans from now on.

So, today, the due date is here and about to pass in another few hours. But our stubborn baby has quietly demonstrated who exactly will be making decisions over the next few decades. And, I better get used to it.

So, we wait again.