How I clean the baby bottles

As a first time mom I had many, many questions that other people may find strange or downward crazy, however, I always thought that by asking questions you learn. Being the only child in my family, I didn’t have a brother or sister to carry for. I didn’t even have cousins younger than me, so technically my baby was the FIRST baby I had to care for. I googled and watch videos about everything: how to swaddle, how to feed, how to carry my baby etc. I found that sometimes simple answers to simple questions were hard to find, so here I am sharing now my experience, maybe it will help a sleepless mama, or at least will give you an idea of what to do.

Lets start with cleaning baby bottles!

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I am sure each mom has its own was of doing it, some maybe just give it a rinse, some boil the parts after every use, I am here to tell you about what I do, right or wrong it works for us. You can take the information with a grain of salt and maybe just use the steps that work for you.

My baby is 8 month now, and he drinks from bottles since birth. That’s a LOT of bottles to clean. First 4 months when he was eating every 3 hours, I had up to 8 bottles to clean, now he drinks 4 bottles per day, which is so much better :) . First, after he finishes a bottle, I usually fill it with water, rinse the nipple and place it on the counter. Filling it with water, makes cleaning it later much easier. If lets say, your baby ate at 6AM, but you get t wash the bottles at 6PM the milk dries out and its harder and more time consuming to clean. So, here you have, my first trick:

1. Fill the bottles with water after each use

2. Get a Bottle Brush, I have this one

3. Use natural dish detergent

4. Soak the bottle Nipples in hot boiled water with a little detergent

Now, more on number 4, sometimes to clean the nipples is the hardest part, I like them to be really clean, and usually I boil some water, set them in a bowl with a little dish detergent and hot water to soak while I clean the bottles. This is a quick sterilization method.

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Using a little detergent, the bottle brush and warm water start cleaning the bottles. Make sure you wash the sink before placing any bottles in it.

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Having a bottle brush is great, because they fit in the bottle nipples and make cleaning much easier:

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Dissemble all the bottle parts, remove the nipples from the rings and rinse well with lots of water. Assemble the bottles and place on a drying rack:

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Twice a week I use this great Steam Bags from Medela. They are very easy to use, and a great time saver, instead of boiling all the bottles and pacifiers, you just throw everything in that bag, add a little water and microwave for up to 4 minutes. Ta-dam everything is sterilized!!

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You can use a bag up to 20 times. It even has a nice log on the bag, you ca check a box every time you used the bag:

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Here are the sterilized and disinfected bottle nipples. Using the bag is such a time saver, it eliminates all the hustle of boiling the parts!

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This is how I clean my baby’s bottles. Hopefully you found some tips you can use too.

Question: Any shortcuts or advices on how to clean baby bottles quick and efficient?

 

 

Entertain Your Baby – Part 1

<Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. All the items were purchased by me or gifted by family and friends.>

To keep our baby happy and engaged, we got a few things that would entertain him. This Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym was one of the first items I added to my Baby Registry. We started using it when the baby was almost 2 months old. Honestly, for the first month of his life he cared only about milk and sleep, he started playing and exploring after the first month. All the bright colors, soft fabric and sounds captured his attention. The mat exposes the baby to different types of fabric, it comes with a bunch of toys and a mirror, that hang down just enough for small baby hands to reach out and grasp them. The toys can been detached, you can switch, also you can attach them to a stroller. The only item I didn’t like is the mirror, it is way too small, and so the baby can’t really find his reflection. The music is very nice, with jungle sounds and the best part are the colored lights that turn on and off while the music plays and kept my baby attention for 15 minutes sometime, which is a long time, believe me!

Fisher Price GYM

Another great toy that our baby loves is his friend Fredie The Firefly. We got him this toy at almost three month, and he played with it ever since. The toy is very versatile; it attracts baby’s attention with different bright colors, and a black and white pattern on the wings. It is easy to grasp, and even if it looks big, it is lightweight, so the baby can easily play with it. The body is covered in soft velour, the attached rings are great for little baby hands to grasp on and chew. The wings make a funny crinkly sound. It also has a small peekaboo mirror that we actually never used since it is too small.

 Fredie The Firefly

Another great toy you can take with you on stroller walks, or just to distract the baby in his car seat is this Baby Einstein take along Tunes, it will keep your baby happy and engaged with 7 classical melodies and some fun colorful lights. The toy is a little heavy, so it is not very secure with small babies since they can easily hurt themselves. The music is fun, and he really likes listening to it.

Einstein take along tunes

This Manhattan Toy Winkel is a great finding too, lightweight, bright colored, easy to grasp from different angles, and it can also serve as a teething ring.

Manhattan Toy Winkle

We got this Tiny Love Take – along Arch to keep the baby entertained on his walks. It has a propeller that the baby loves, but started independently playing with it only at 6 months. The sun is shine and it reflects the light a little, the butterfly makes a crinkly sound that Sebastian likes. It is very easy to install, and you can attach other toys as well on the arch.

 

Tiny Love Tale along arch

If you would like to get a rattle ring for your baby, consider this Sassy Ratlin Ring is also a fun first toy, my baby played with it a few times and likes it.

Sassy Ratlin Ring 

We also got him the famous Sophie the Giraffe, which I liked a lot, it is hand painted, BPA free, 1005 natural rubber and food paint, it is light weight, makes a squishy sound and works as a teether. Sebastian liked it, but he wasn’t crazy about it as I saw other babies, constantly playing or chewing on Sophie. Sebastian still prefers Fredie the Firefly the most.

 Sophie the Giraffe

Question: These were the items I wanted to share with you. What is your baby’s favorite toy?

Baby Bottles Review: MAM, Playtex & Dr Brown’s

As a first time mom, even if I always planned on breastfeeding I still researched different bottles and even got a pump – just in case. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I actually ended up exclusively pumping.

My recommendation would be, that even if you plan on breastfeeding only, order some bottles when you are 8-9 months pregnant, most stores have a 3 months return policy, so if breastfeeding works for you, you can just send them back, and if it doesn’t, you don’t have to be stressed out and run to the pharmacy, wondering around confused what bottle to choose for you baby.

With that said, I have tried 3 brands of bottles with my baby. Here are the cons and pros of each one.

Baby Botles

Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottle Newborn Feeding Set

Pros:

-          Good value for the price, the set includes 5 bottles. Two of them are for the newborn stage, other three I started using them when the baby was 5 months old

-          the bottles are sold with the nipples attached

-          the nipple design allows baby to feed comfortably

-          the vent system seems to eliminate the air bubbles

-          BPA Free

-          compatible with the Medela pump, so you can pump directly into the bottle

Cons:

-          Way too many parts, while I do see the point of them, and understand that they are necessary to create the vacuum, cleaning and assembling is not fun

-          You need a special small brush to clean the parts

-          Not the best option of the go. If you have to mix formula, and assemble the bottle, and you are on the road it may not be the most sterile, since you have to touch many parts

-          Stage 2 nipples are way too fast, my baby is 7 months old now, and I still give him the Stage 1 nipple. The flow is too fast on #2, he gobbles his bottle is 1 minute and starts crying for more milk

MAM Anti Colic Bottle

Pros:

-          Good value for the price, on Amazon you can get a set of 3 bottles. I have this set, and also, 2 newborn stage bottles of 5.5oz

-          BPA free

-          The orthodontic nipple made of silky soft silicone is the best. My baby’s mouth shapes nicely around the nipple, and you can see that the suction is more comfortable for him, also, from my perspective I noticed that it prevents the baby from ingesting extra air

-          Very easy to clean

-          You can microwave the nipple using the bottle lead for a quick sterilization. You just have to follow the instructions

-          Much easier for the baby to hold

-          You can actually hear sometime how the anti-colic system works, by venting out the extra air

-          Since the bottle is wider, it makes it easier to mix formula directly into the bottle

-          Great milk flow, I am still using the stage 1 nipple with my 7 month old baby

Cons:

-          The lead may be a little hard to open sometimes

-          The small white rubber that is part of the anti-colic system, and sits at the bottom of the bottle, maybe a little annoying for some people to clean, but I don’t find it a big deal. If you didn’t rinse the bottle right away after a feeding, milk maybe stocked on the rubber, and since its white it makes it harder to detect, so make sure you always wash it

Playtex Drop Ins Nurser

Pros:

-          Very easy to clean, basically all you have to do is clean the nipple. You literally, just drop in the Pre-Sterilized liner in the bottle, pour the milk, and feed the baby

-          Portable, if you have to take a car trip, or don’t have access to clean the bottles right away, you can just rinse the nipple, drop in the liner and feed the baby

-          I use them to warm my baby’s milk, I boil some water, pour in into a cup, and place the bottle with the attached liner in the cut, with a thermometer in the milk, because the liner is very thin the milk warms up very fast, and saves us some time. After that I pour the milk in the MAM bottle and give it to the baby

Cons:

-          Not very environmentally friendly, it depends how many times per day you feed your baby, but you may use between 6-8 liners per day. While they do not recommend reusing the liners, I do sometimes, I clean it well, air dry it and its good to go again.

-          The lid is the worst part, it is so hard to take off sometimes

-          The baby is not a big fan of the nipples, I think they are too soft and not the best design

-          Stage 2 nipple provides a really fast flow, the baby finished the bottle under 1 minute

-          I would recommend this only for travel

-          Also, not the bottles are NOT microwavable

So, as you can see we are really big fans of the MAM bottles. My baby loves them, I think they are great, easy to clean and on top of all good things I said about them, the design is nice and fun.

Please note that each baby is different and maybe some bottles that didn’t work for us, your baby will end up loving. Probably, the most important message of this post is to keep trying, eventually you will find the best option that works for you.

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Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Review and how much Pumping Costs?

Disclaimer: All the products from this post were purchased with my own money, based on the research that I did. I am not affiliated with any of the below brands.

As I mentioned in my post about exclusively pumping I got my pump while pregnant, and it was worth every penny. I don’t know if I can call it a baby item, but if so, then it was the most used and useful purchase I have made!

The bag is stylish enough, that you can use as the only bag-purse while running errands or going to work. It is medium-sized, with enough space for the pumped milk, all the pumping supplies, a wallet, tissues and some snacks.

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It has 2 side pockets that can be used for your cell phone and maybe keys. It has a larger back pocket, that I found not too useful, because the fabric is not stretchable and you cannot fit larger items, only flat objects. I used to keep my lip balm, a pen and some clean zip lock bags inside it. By the way, ziplock bags are great for keeping the small pump parts clean and from preventing them from touching other items in your bag.

The suction of the pump is great; I used to pump 8 times per day the first month, and by my last pumping session I probably used it 1000 times and it still worked great. The motor is a little noisy, but not bad. I liked that you can double pump – believe me this is a great time saver when you exclusively pump. With the help of this pump I was truly able to establish my supply.

The process itself it is not painful at all, the pump had different speeds that you can adjust based on your comfort level. It comes with a small storage cooler bag and ice pack, 4 bottles and one bottle nipple. Another great feature is that you can pump directly into the bottles and store them in the fridge or feed the baby right away. I also was able to pump directly into the Dr. Brown’s bottles, which is what we used from the beginning. I found that the nipple from Medela had a faster flow, which the baby didn’t like as a newborn. Pumping directly into Dr. Brown’s bottles, saved me time from washing extra bottles.

The pump is easy to use; the booklet that comes with it is very helpful and answers most questions about pumping and milk storage. The parts are easy to clean and to assemble. To be able to double pump, you have to purchase the hands free bra, which sells separately, so add this to the cost. I had the Medela Easy Expression Bustier, and I didn’t like it at all. The Hands Free Simple Wishes Breast Pump Bra is much better, and I can’t recommend it enough. It is adjustable to fit your frame exactly, and you can change it while your body changes after pregnancy.

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One thing I didn’t like about the pump is that the suction decreased when using batteries. While I usually pumped at home, or at work using the actual charger, I had times when I had to pump in the car or other places, and the suction was definitely lighter. Also, you can pump using the batteries only a few times, before the suction completely wears off. So if you don’t have access to a power outlet, it is a little pricey to buy batteries every week, in dependence of how many times a day you would have to pump. The pump uses 8 batteries, that I intended to last for 10 pumping sessions, but I always noticed that the suction decreased by the 5th time I used the batteries, so always have extra in the bag.

The pump is definitely convenient, I have pumped a few times in the car, while on the go and it was comfortable and I can say easy. The hard part is to make sure other people don’t see you naked LOL.

Items that I had in my Medela Pump in Style Bag all the time:

-          Pump parts

-          Batteries

-          Pump charger

-          Medela Milk storage bags or Medela Bottles

-          Medela wipes for easy cleaning

-          Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple butter

-          Hand sanitizer

-          Ziplock bags

-          Small soft towel

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I always had a small, soft clean towel in my bag. After you remove the valves from the breast, there is still milk, so I used it to dry out the area, before putting on the nipple butter.

After a lot of usage my pump starting making a weird squeaky sound like almost air was inside the tubes, after I replaced the membranes the sound disappeared. I always got air condensation in the tubes, which is not a problem; you just have to let the pump running for a few minutes after you are done, until the tubes are dry.

So, it looks like pumping is expensive, here is a breakdown of the cost:

- Medela Pump – $248 on sale on Amazon

- Hands Free Bra – $40 on sale on Amazon

- Medela Wipes – $9 on Amazon. Package of 24, I had 2 boxes, total cost $18.

- Medela Milk Storage Bags – $16 on Amazon. Package of 50, I had 2 boxes, total cost $32.

- Medela Storage Solution Set – $40 on Amazon on sale.

- Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter – $9 on sale on Amazon. I had 4, total cost $36.

- AA Batteries – $11 on Amazon, pack of 20.

4.5 months of exclusively pumping cost me $440. Now, you can still avoid some of the expenses, items like milk storage bags and the Medela wipes are optional. I got them out of convenience, but you can definitely pump successfully without them. You can also skip the Medela Storage Solution Set, it all depends on your supply, if you will produce enough to even need this set, so hold on before ordering this one. Or you can just use bottles, or other brand of milk storage bags that is cheaper.

Overall, to exclusively pump is not cheap, so before making any decisions weight in on all the aspects. Exclusively pumping demands commitment and dedication, you have to plan ahead and be ready for any situation. For me it was worth it, and I would do it all over again if I have to.

Catalina

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Exclusively Pumping and Formula Feeding

I will start this post by saying that I always planned on breastfeeding, but it never worked out the way I have imagined it. What I will say next is not to justify myself, no, I don’t feel the need for other people to approve on what I did and what decisions I took on how to feed my baby. I am sharing this experience in case other women are going through the same thing!

First thing first, NEVER feel guilty! You are a great mom regardless how you choose to feed your baby! And you will have a healthy, happy baby even if don’t nurse on demand and give him formula!

When I got pregnant I made big plans to breastfeed my baby on demand and for as long as possible, I bought a pump and not one single can of formula. I thought that my milk will come the moment I give birth – which was the first misconception that I had. I eventually knew that I will feed my baby a combination of formula and breast milk, but I never assumed that I would have to do it from Day 1!

The time came and I gave birth, they actually had to use a vacuum to get the baby out, which stressed him a lot! In my birth plan I had all this great points that I wanted to follow:

-          Not to cut the baby cord until it stops pulsating

-          Skin to skin asap

-          Let the baby feed naturally, without directing him to the nipple

-           Do not offer the baby a pacifier or a bottle

Now, since my baby was stressed, his heart rate dropping, doctors noticed that he is not breathing properly, and they had to take him to the nursery after a few minutes. So no skin to skin contact for hours as I hoped. My beautiful baby boy was in the nursery, monitored by nurses for 12 hours. The nurses didn’t even bother to look at my birth plan and gave him formula and a pacifier! At the same time, my milk (colostrum) was nowhere to be found, and medical staff didn’t advise me to pump only until the next day. When I put my son to nurse he was getting frustrated, because no milk was coming out. My second night in the hospital I nursed him the whole night, because he was not getting enough and kept looking for more. That day I pumped, not even one ounce, but still something… we tried giving him formula and the colostrum that I was able to pump using a syringe to avoid nipple confusion. He still looked and acted hungry! Having mild jaundice didn’t help!

On our way home from the hospital we stopped by the pharmacy and bought a can of formula! Since I didn’t do any research on formula, I had no idea how to mix it, what kind of water to use, bottled or boiled?! After a few phone calls, and advices from friends with kids we decided to use natural spring bottled water. The first bottle of formula that I fixed for him he gobbled it down – he was that hungry and thirsty probably! Now, how can I feel bad for using formula in this case? I was beyond happy, knowing that my son finally had some “food” that will keep him full and happy!

While pregnant I bought the Medela Pump in Style Advanced double electric pump, I started pumping every 2-3 hours to establish my milk supply to be able to breastfeed. In the meantime I tried to nurse the baby, but he would just get frustrated, scream and kick all the time, and his latch was extremely painful. So I kept pumping and pumping, my supply started to build. My mom arrived to help me take care of the baby and I had more time to rest and pump. One week passed and I looked back realizing that I started pumping fulltime – 8 times a day – every 3 hours, and still my milk was not enough for the baby, we were still supplementing with formula.

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After 2 weeks of pumping every 3 hours for at least 15 minutes, I finally caught up with my baby demands and was able to exclusively feed him breast milk (from a bottle) for the next 2 weeks. I tried nursing him a few times, but again with no luck, his latch was very painful and he would get frustrated. I know it takes time and patience to establish breastfeeding, I met with a lactation consultant and she encouraged me that it would get better. With all this, I was missing one very important component – TIME – I had to physically get back to work one month after I gave birth, but I started working from home one week after I gave birth.  I realized that I don’t have the time to teach my baby to be good at nursing, and I had to make the best decision in my situation. I have a job in finance, I knew that while working from home and when returning to work I should be able to perform at my best, that I need energy and that I should be recovered after giving birth. Since my mom was there to take care of the baby, I decided that I will exclusively pump, this way my baby gets the benefits of breast milk, and I get the time between pumping sessions to get work done during the day and rest and recover during the night.

It wasn’t easy pumping 8 times per day for 15 minutes, working 8 hours a day, trying to spend time with my baby and my family, but I made and you should not feel bad for me! I pumped 8 times per day for the first month, while working from home. I used to get an average of 22-24oz per day. I still had that great bonding experience with my baby, while feeding him from a bottle. My husband and my mom got a chance to bond with him as well, and to help me. For our family that was the best plan!

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Second month, I returned to work, and I was working from home 2 days a week. I dropped the pumping sessions to 6-7 a day. At this point we were supplementing a bottle or 2 of formula a day.

Third month, worked got crazy, I started working from home only 1 day a week. I had to drop my pumping sessions to 6 a day and supplement with more formula.

Fourth month – my baby’s appetite grew with him, and since my work schedule got even busier with sometimes 10-14 hours in the office I had to drop my night-time pumping sessions and one during the day. I pumped 4 times a day, getting him 2 bottles of breast milk per day.

Fifth month – I decided to start dropping the sessions and wean my baby of breast milk. I knew that soon I will have to take a very long Trans-Atlantic flight to visit my family, and that I didn’t want to carry the pump with me. I needed my freedom, since all the events and outings were planned around pumping sessions. I felt that I didn’t have the energy anymore. Trying to be my best at work, at home and pumping was getting to me. Sometimes at 11PM all you want to do is sleep, not pump and no ONE should make you feel bad about it, not even you.

I started dropping pumping sessions; from 4 times a day to 2, after that to one, until I never felt “full” or uncomfortable to actually “need” to pump! I would be laying saying that it was an easy decision, because it wasn’t, I cried, I felt bad, I felt like a failure, but I was the first one to replace this thoughts with positive ones. My husband was also by my side and encouraged me through the whole process. At the end of the day, my baby needs a healthy, happy mommy, who has time to play with him, read him a book or just cuddle. He got breast milk for 4.5 months, I know that I did my best, and I am happy and at peace with my decisions. Now he eats his organic formula like a champion, and he is the same happy and sweet baby!

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Will I breastfeed my next baby? I hope so, if I have the opportunity to take more time off, I would love to BF, but if I am in the same situation as I was a few months ago, I won’t change anything, because always remember, the decisions that you took at one point in time, were the best you could do in that situation with the resources that you had available.

You can find my review for Medela pump in Style Double Breast Pump here.

Catalina

Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing

Fisher-Price Cradle ‘N Swing Review

Disclosure: This item was a baby shower gift. I am not affiliated with Fisher-Price and I am not rewarded for this review. All opinions are my own.

Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing

When I was pregnant and putting together a baby-shower registry on Amazon, this swing was one of the first items I have added to the list! As a first time mom and only child in my family, I didn’t know too much about babies! Hello, I learned how to put a diaper on a baby, in this case on a doll, at the Birth Classes at my local hospital!

Anyway, when I first researched what items I “need” for a baby a swing was one of them! I believed my google search and online moms from BabyCenter and started to look into swings. The Fisher-Price Cradle & Swing – My little Snugbunny – was the first one that I saw on Amazon and it was love at first sight!

From the pictures it looks very soft and comfortable, and it ad great reviews! When I got as a gift at my baby-shower I was beyond thrilled! And let me tell you, the swing did not disappoint! It is made of a very soft and nice to touch fabric. Very easy to assemble, comfortable and secure for the baby.

We have been using it since the baby was 1 week old and he loved it from the beginning! He didn’t care too much for the mirror and birdies at first, but once he got older (3 months) he started starring at them in amazement. Now my baby is 1 week shy for being 5 month old, and he still loves his swing. I have a big boy, 18 lb now, and he still fits into the swing and now he loves to look into the mirror and at the little birds.

When Sebastian was still a newborn, we used to leave him in the swing for naps (under our supervision of course), he seemed to like being snuggled in all that soft fabric. Also, the movement helped him to fall asleep and stay so. The music options are very nice, bird sounds, nature sounds and a few melodies that sounds like a lullaby.

Another great feature is that you can change the seat position without moving the actual swing (which is on the heavy side). Overall this is a great item that I would’ve purchased myself as well.

Do you really need it? Well, if you are on a very tight budget, you can definitely skip this one, but if you can afford it, it is a nice and useful item, that will save you time and sanity LOL (any item that makes that nap will save you energy and time)!

Do I recommend it? YES!YES!YES!

Baby likes it? Yes, and it is also safe and engaging for the little one.