Packing the Diaper Bag

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The contents of my diaper bag has changed as Clarissa grows.

When she was small, and we were still living in Virginia, I had a normal diaper bag.

Her first few months, I would make sure the following items were packed:

  • an extra shirt for ME! (Either my breasts would leak or she would bathe me in some kind of liquid)
  • a baby outfit for every two hours I planned to be away from the house
  • a diaper for every hour I planned to be away from the house
  • a washcloth (wipe) for every hour I planned to be away from the house, plus one extra
  • my wetbag for dirty diapers
  • my mini spray bottle for diaper changes
  • two burp cloths and two bibs
  • my nursing cover (if you don’t plan to nurse, I would recommend a bottle for every two hours you will be away from home)

Breastfeeding timeline

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When I decided to breastfeed Clarissa, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. While I have enjoyed this journey, sometimes I have wondered how long it would last. As we near the two year mark, I thought I would share a timeline for moms who may be wondering what it looks like to breastfeed your child as they grow.

Newborn

My milk came in really quickly. The first night we came home from the hospital, I already had more milk than Clarissa needed. Pumping would have been helpful at that point, but my pump didn’t fit correctly, so I struggled with engorgement for the first few weeks.

For the first few weeks it seemed like she nursed every 1-2 hours. After a couple of weeks it became more managable and she would nurse every 3 hours or so. By the time Clarissa was four months old, she could go about four hours between nursing sessions.

Five to nine months

We introduced some pureed vegetables to Clarissa during these months. She would nurse every 4-6 hours and then eat one serving of vegetables in the afternoon when I was working. By about seven months we added a serving of baby cereal as well. During this time, she was still waking up to nurse once or twice during the night.

Ten to twelve months

Clarissa would wake up and nurse first thing in the morning and eat some baby cereal. Then she would have some pureed fruit or vegetables, some baby crackers, and nurse before naptime. She nursed after nap as well. She would eat some vegetables and jarred food with meat with us at dinner time and then nurse before bedtime. She would wake up once 1-2 hours after she went to sleep to nurse before sleeping for 8-10 hours straight.

Clarissa didn’t have any teeth at 10 months. But by 12 months she had 8! So we probably introduced finger foods later than most due to her lack of teeth.

Twelve to fifteen months

Once Clarissa had more teeth, we added finger foods to the mix. She would nurse upon waking and then have some scrambled egg with baby cereal for breakfast. She was eating more of a lunch and not nursing consistenly before naptime. She still wanted to nurse after naptime. She would eat dinner with us and nurse before bed. At this time, she was still waking up 1-2 hours after falling asleep for one last feeding, but then would sleep ten hours straight.

Fifteen to eighteen months

When I went back to work, I was nursing Clarissa three times per day. Once in the morning, after naptime, and at bedtime. But one day I forgot to nurse her when I got home and she never reminded me. So we dropped the midday nursing and she started sleeping through the night. If I had known that, I may have dropped it earlier! At this point she went to nursing only upon waking and before bed. She slept about 12 hours at night.

In January, Clarissa started playing a lot during her bedtime nursing and I was tempted to stop nursing before bed. But at that point, I knew we were moving to Korea and I wanted to be able to nurse if she needed it with all of the changes.

Eighteen to twenty one months

I was glad that I had kept with the breastfeeding when we got here. Breastfeeding during the flight kept us (and the passengers around us) sane. Then, Clarissa caught a cold like a day after we got here. We were nursing like four or five times a day again. After she got better, I weaned her down to morning, before naptime, and before bed. When we were settled in to our apartment, we went back to twice a day. She has been sick a few times since we have been here and so then we go back to 3-4 times a day and I have to wean her back down to two. But it is consistent. When she is only nursing twice a day, she sleeps through the night.

Twenty two months

Once she hit twenty two months, she shifted in her breastfeeding. Her morning nursings have been inconsistent. She will nurse one day, skip a day, nurse, skip two days, and then nurse, skip three days. I don’t think we have nursed two mornings in a row for the past month. But we haven’t made it more than three days in a row without nursing yet either. So we will see when she finally decides that she is done with the morning nursing. But her bedtime nursing has become very business like. She nurses about ten to fifteen minutes on each side and then goes to bed without a fuss.

Twenty three months

The day she turned twenty three months was the last day that she nursed before breakfast. Now she only nurses at night. I will say that since giving up the morning nursing session, her naptime is longer.  She still nurses between twenty and thirty minutes before bed. One day she decided that she wanted to nurse in the middle of the night to make up for not nursing in the morning, but I told her she was a big girl and she could only nurse before bed (sounded harsh in my head, but I know she needs to eat more during the day if she is actually hungry since she is almost two. I was fully prepared to let her cry for twenty minutes before nursing her). So we cuddled for a minute, I changed her diaper, and put her back in her crib. She cried about five minutes and went back to bed. She hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night since, even on days when I thought she would because she didn’t eat as much real food.

Two years and six and a half months

I noticed a pattern with Clarissa this winter. The more she ate during the day, the less she would nurse before bed. After she turned two and a half, she started drinking soymilk and some smoothies during the day. Not every day, but I was thankful that she was starting to make healthier choices in her diet. She started consistently nursing about 10 minutes at night. A week before she turned two years and seven months, she asked for milk in a cup during her bedtime story. I explained to her that if she drank from a cup I would not nurse her that evening and she was fine with that. That was a Monday night. Tuesday night she asked for her milk in a cup. On Wednesday night, I handed her milk and she refused. She didn’t nap or eat well that day and she wanted to nurse. That was ten days ago. I think it’s safe to say that she has weaned herself.

How to make mommy friends

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Having lived in a twenty mile radius the first thirty one years of my life, moving to South Korea has been quite an adjustment. I have never really had to start over in the friends department. But other than Tim and Clarissa, I only knew one family when we landed in the country (and they are Tim’s friends who live four hours away).

In the past, I made friends in my normal activities like work and church. But we haven’t really found a church home and I don’t plan to work in Korea. So I had to try some other ways to make friends.

Story Time

The first place that Clarissa and I ventured to was story time at the base library. I wasn’t sure how it would go since Clarissa was only eighteen months old and has a hard time sitting. But her activity level wasn’t horribly out of place with the handful of children ages two to five. She liked seeing other children, playing with new toys, and listening to stories. We have consistently gone almost every Thursday for the past four months.

This has been the most fruitful way for me to make friends so far. One girl I met actually lives in my apartment building (a 15 minute bus ride to base). Now that her baby is a little older, she drives Clarissa and I to story time and we do a commissary run afterward. Clarissa and I really look forward to our Thursday mornings with my friend and her baby.

We have also started having weekly play dates with another little girl from story time. Her mom and I get along really well. In both instances, our husbands also get along. I have casual conversations with many of the other moms at story time and I think there are a few of the other regular attenders that I would like to get to know as well.

Most libraries in the United States have free programs and classes for parents to attend with their children. Before we moved, wanted to attend a babygarten class with Clarissa, but my work schedule didn’t allow it. Libraries are also great for summer reading programs and family book/movie activities during the school year.

Bible Study

Though we haven’t found a church service that we like yet, I did find a Bible Study on base. I enjoy the weekly worship and fellowship with other women. The group doesn’t meet in the summer, but I am hoping to make some friends when it resumes in the fall. We haven’t had any play dates from this group yet, but have been invited to two birthday parties so far.

Churches are a great way to meet likeminded women. See if your church has a mom’s group or even a women’s group. If they don’t, start one so you can make friends. It doesn’t have to be a stressful thing. There are a ton of studies available, and the fellowship will be encouraging.

The Neighborhood

I guess you could call my apartment building a complex? It has two towers with at total of 200 apartments. Our building has both an indoor and outdoor playground. Clarissa and I like to go and play several days each week. We consistently are playing at the same time as some of our neighbors. The American neighbors are a little easier to play with at this point because they have all been under five. It has been great for me to get to know some other moms. There are a few Korean preschoolers as well, so I am hoping that as my Korean vocabular increases, we can befriend them as well.

Taking a walk in the stroller around your neighborhood would be a great way to meet friends. Are there parks nearby? Are there kids down the street you can invite to play in your yard?

Online

I have also made friends online recently. I am a part of an online bookclub on Facebook. It’s pretty informal but we usually read through a book in a month or two and there is discussion.  I have also recently found a Facebook accountablity group through the Make Over Your Mornings course.  Even though I am half a world away from most of these women, we have great conversations on social media.

Community Classes

Before we moved, I was looking forward to taking a few classes once Clarissa turned two. My friend teaches a mommy and me gymnastics class and there was also a mommy and me dance class at the rec center. The rec center catalog had several options of classes that parents could take with their preschool children for a great price.

Clarissa will have to wait until she is three to take ballet on base. There isn’t a mommy and me class for that. They do have a parent and child soccer class when she is three though, so we may have to check that out. There are probably more options available in the city. Maybe when I am a little more fluent in Korean we can check out some community classes here.

Note: There is an affiliate link in this post. If you purchase the Make Over Your Mornings course through the link in this post, I will make a small commission on your purchase. However, it will not add anything to your cost.

Flying solo with an infant

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Clarissa and I flew to Connecticut without Tim in July. She was eleven months old. Flying alone with a young child wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Either God was just really gracious to me, or people do genuinely go out of their way to help you if you are flying alone with an infant (when does she become classified as a toddler?)

Anyway, these are my tips for a good trip.

1. Only pack what you need.

In our case, we were going for a five day trip to visit family. My goal was to just do carry on luggage so I would not have to pay the baggage fees.

I didn’t even want to try cloth diapers on this trip. First of all, it would take up a lot of room. Secondly, I wasn’t sure how someone else would feel about washing my diapers in their washing machine. So, I just packed a few disposables for the plane ride. I knew I could buy diapers when I landed.

According to tsa rules, you can bring milk and jarred baby food in your carry on luggage. For most people, it might be easier to buy baby food with your diapers. But in my house, we have food allergies. It is harder than you think to buy gluten-free baby food with meat that also has no onion. So I packed Clarissa’s gluten-free puffs, two bottles of pumped milk, and a jar of pureed chicken for each night of the trip. I knew I would be able to supplement with fruits and vegetables at my aunt’s house.

I packed one outfit and pajamas per day for Clarissa with one additional outfit. I also brought her bathing suit, a swim diaper, four bibs, and two wash cloths. I packed a pair of socks for each day too, but we only used the socks on the plane. For myself, I wore jeans on the plane, packed a pair of jean shorts, a skirt, a shirt for each day, a sleep shirt, sleep shorts, pants for lounging around the house, socks, and underwear.

I also brought Clarissa three books, a teddy bear, and a pacifier. Everything fit into a small duffel bag and a bookbag, which made my life easier.

2. Logistics of travel with a baby

Most airlines will let you check a car seat for free. You can either send it with the normal luggage or check it at the gate. My family had a car seat available for me to use, so I didn’t worry about this.

However, my stroller made life so much easier. I read that you could check umbrella strollers at the gate, so that is what I brought. It worked well because I could push Clarissa, hang the duffel over the handles in the back, and wear the bookbag.

I did see other moms with normal strollers. If I had to do it over, I think I would have used my normal stroller to gate check. It is easier to maneuver than my umbrella stroller. I could have also put the duffel in the bottom rack. I was at a slightly awkward angle while pushing the umbrella stroller with the duffel hanging over the back.

3. Tickets
If your child is under two years old, they can fly for free. They do need a ticket though. They are called a lap infant.

The airline will tell you that the safest thing is to pay full price and buckle your child into a car seat in their own seat. However, I am of the opinion that if the plane crashes we are all in trouble. The likelihood of that happening is very small. So Clarissa was definitely a lap infant.

No one asked to see her birth certificate. They just wanted her ticket. Also, it may have been coincidence, but I was unable to do online check in. My theory is that it was because Clarissa needed a special ticket.

4. Keeping baby happy

Clarissa is a very social baby so she was content to people watch a good portion of our trip.

I made sure to change her diaper before getting on the plane, once we landed in Philadelphia, before boarding in Philadelphia, and once we arrived in New Haven.

We read some books while we were waiting. I also let her crawl and climb a bit. She had a bottle and some puffs in the airport in Philadelphia.

I was concerned about her ears on the flight. But I gave her a pacifier during take off and landing. She did not have any problems. She even took a nap on the second flight.

Sleep (or lack thereof)

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I know that I once wrote that I would never give advice about sleep. While Clarissa still fights going to sleep every chance she gets, I do have some ideas on how to put your child to sleep. Or maybe how not to…

I was so blessed that I was never alone at the hospital. Either my mom or Tim was with me the whole time. I also had several visitors. Needless to say, Clarissa was held constantly in the hospital. The only exception was when the nurses would come to do vitals or take her to the nursery for check ups. No wonder Clarissa wanted to be held constantly when we brought her home!

The first few days at home were really rough. On top of learning how to breastfeed, I could not figure out how to get Clarissa to sleep on her own. She slept wonderfully while I was holding her. Then when she fell asleep and I would try to put her flat in the Moses basket and she would immediately wake up screaming. After a few nights, I tried putting her in the rock and play bassinet. That was way better! As long as I put her down asleep, she would sleep for a while. The problem was that she needed to be asleep. So when she had her days and nights confused, I was out of luck. Thankfully my mom lives nearby so she would come over and hold Clarissa for a few hours each day so that I could sleep.

She did get herself into a pattern of sleeping most of the day and being awake most of the night. The problem was that I held her during the day while she slept, which meant that Clarissa was always happy and rested but I was exhausted. Eventually, I learned to take a nap with her from 8-11pm because I might not get to sleep again until 6am. She was great at sleeping from 7-10am as well.

I remember the first 6-8 weeks being so hard that I questioned why I wanted to be a mom in the first place. I read articles about sleep online. I knew I didn’t want her to cry it out at six weeks. I just felt stuck. A friend recommended The Sleep Lady®’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy. I actually agreed with the psychology of the book. It seemed like something I could try. The book has a program, but said you can’t really put baby on a schedule until six months. It did have some recommendations for better sleep. The book had great ideas. The problem was that Clarissa never read the book so she didn’t know what she was supposed to do!

A friend told me that when they turn two months it gets easier. She was right! Magically at two months, Clarissa started sleeping from 2am-noon, only waking to nurse and then go back to sleep. She also started sleeping for longer stretches. I remember the first time I woke up to go to the bathroom before she cried. I realized that I had slept for five hours straight and freaked out! I kept checking her to make sure she was still breathing! I woke her up in the process. That happened a few days in a row and then I started sleeping better. Of course, it probably helped that I could see and touch her in the bassinet from my bed!

Once she was sleeping 8-10 hours at night, she stopped napping during the day. I had a two month old who refused to nap. But I was a way happier mom because I was finally getting some good sleep at night. I really felt like we were getting into a good groove.

So if you are tired and frustrated, I feel for you. But it should get better!

Looking back, there are a few things I will do differently with the next baby.

1. Let the child sleep in the bassinet at night. I know that I will want to snuggle my baby during the day. But in the evening, she needs to start sleeping in the bassinet or crib.

2. Put the baby in the bassinet before she falls asleep. If I always wait until the baby falls asleep, she is not going to learn to fall asleep on her own. Along with this, I would start a bedtime routine when the baby is really young so she starts to understand what happens before she is supposed to fall asleep.

3. As much as possible, sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it means sleeping several hours in the middle of the day. Until that baby learns the difference between night and day you might not sleep otherwise.

I am also going to be better about asking for help. I am not weak or high maintenance for needing sleep. Besides, I am sure I can find someone who will love to hold my baby for a an hour or two so I can sleep.

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What you really need when baby comes home

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Having a baby can seem overwhelming. What do you really need when baby comes home from the hospital?

Car seat. I went to a baby Expo before Clarissa was born. They said that every car seat on the market has to pass certain standards, so get what you can afford. I will say that we started with Graco Snugride Classic Connect Infant Car Seat, but after a few months, she felt confined and we ended up with Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Car Seat, which she still loves. Also, if you have more than one car, I recommend buying a base for each car. Makes life easier.

During winter our Car Seat Cover was extremely helpful in keeping baby warm during car trips.

Onesies

Sleepers. A lot of my friends raved about swaddle sacks. Clarissa didn’t like feeling confined. She was also born in August, so it was hot anyway. I really liked footed pajamas with a zipper. Way easier than snaps for middle of the night diaper changes.

Burp cloths

Receiving blankets

Somewhere for baby to sleep. I really like Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper because she could sleep right next to my bed. I could hear her breathe, stir, and cry. Plus, she hated to be on her back and this kept her at an angle. And if she started moving a lot, it would rock her back to sleep. (She seriously slept in this until she was eight months old and figured out how to sit up and roll over in it. I only moved her to the crib because it wasn’t safe anymore.)

A place to feed baby. A friend gave me a Swivel Glider and it works wonderfully. But you can breastfeed or bottle feed from a chair or couch just fine. Find something comfortable for you because you will spend a lot of time there.

Somewhere to change diapers. I have an oldschool changing table from a friend. But you can put a changing pad on a dresser or even on the floor.

A few bottles. Even if you will breastfeed, you will want bottles so that someone else can feed baby while you sleep.

A breast pump. You can read more about the benefits of pumping.

Diapers and wipes. If you want, you can read about how and why I cloth diaper my baby.

A place for dirty baby laundry

Baby shampoo or body wash. I say or because the ingredients are typically the same!

Baby lotion

A friend let me borrow her Portable Swing. Clarissa wanted to be held most of the time. But she could rock in this while I did dishes, made dinner, or took a shower. We have a large dog, and this swing was great because Josie couldn’t knock it over.

Once Clarissa was closer to three months old, she really enjoyed playing in her Baby Einstein Adventure Gym. That was nice because she could either use this or the swing so I could get a few things done around the house.

Optional :

Socks. Unless it is winter, I would not worry about socks. Clarissa moved her feet so much that they kept coming off and then I was losing them all over the place.

Bibs. Clarissa hated bibs! She would scream when I put them on. In the beginning, I had too much breastmilk and it would spray her face and get on her clothes. But I had plenty of clothes, so I just changed her onesie after a feeding if I needed to. If you want to try bibs, get cloth bibs that snap or velcro. It is hard to tie a bib on a wiggly baby and when you are finished with the bib, you can just throw it in the wash.

Baby towel and wash cloth. You can always use the normal adult ones.

Baby bath tub. We washed Clarissa in a wash basin in the kitchen sink until she outgrew it. Then we moved her to the bathtub in the bathroom.

Baby monitor. If your baby will be sleeping in a different room, you will want a baby monitor. A simple sound monitor will do. It doesn’t need to be fancy.

Stroller. If you plan to be out and about, a stroller will make your life easier. There are so many to choose from. I like Graco LiteRider Classic Connect Stroller because it is light and folds up easily.
Baby carrier. Clarissa did not like the one I have. But the problem may have been the fact that it was summer and so she would get hot easily.

Pacifier. Clarissa randomly took a pacifier at six months and again at ten months. But other babies take them all the time.

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