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! (Especially as she learned to take a bottle, 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)
  • a rattle
  • a soft book for Clarissa to look at

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.

Introducing Solids

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At Clarissa’s four month check up, the pediatrician said that any time after 17 weeks I could begin to introduce solids. I had not planned on introducing them that early. My original plan was to wait until she was six months old.

Clarissa got sick for the first time at Christmas. She had a cold and was miserable. It was difficult for her to nurse and she wasn’t thrilled with a bottle. So Clarissa tried peas for the first time. She couldn’t figure out how to eat off the spoon, so I put some mashed peas on my finger and put it in her mouth. She loved it! Kept trying to eat off my clean fingers.

I did find the book 100 Baby Purees helpful. The beginning section explains how to introduce solids and also has 100 recipes (obviously).

Basically, I used frozen vegetables because that is what Tim and I eat. I would pour about 2 cups of frozen vegetables into a sauce pan. I would then add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Then I would bring the water to a boil. Then I would turn the heat to low for a few minutes. Next, I would drain the water, but keep it. Put the cooked vegetables into a blender. You can use the water that you drained from your saucepan to add liquid to the blender as needed. After I pureed the vegetable, I would pour the puree into an ice cube tray. (I usually did this at dinner time or at night, so the ice cubes would be ready in the morning.) In the morning, I would take the ice cubes and put them in a plastic bag, labeled with the vegetable name. I didn’t really bother with dates after a while because I knew that I would use it within the month.

To serve the vegetable, I would take an ice cube and put it in one of Clarissa’s bowls. Then I would put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It usually took that long before it was fully melted. But it was usually too hot to eat for a few minutes. So I would serve her rice cereal while waiting for the vegetable to cool.

I started with a tablespoon of rice cereal and two tablespoons of breast milk or water. Clarissa would eat that at room temperature. As she got older and more used to solids, I used the same amount of cereal as breast milk.

I made my own baby food for budget reasons. But also because I wanted to know what was in her baby food. There is no shame in buying jarred baby food. Do what works best for your family.

In the beginning, Clarissa really liked peas, carrots, and broccoli. She definitely made a stink face when I tried to make her eat green beans. I gave up on that one pretty quickly.

She did eventually learn to eat from the spoon. I needed at least two spoons (sometimes three) at mealtimes. I needed one spoon for me so that I could feed her. But her little hands needed to be busy. She needed at least one spoon to play with. Often, she required one spoon for each hand!

In the beginning, she ate this way once per day. She liked sitting in her high chair at dinner time just to be with us, so I fed her after I had finished eating. She continued to nurse 5-6 times per day.

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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.

What baby needs from 4-6 months

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At about four months,  Clarissa decided that she hated her Swing,  which was devastating to me because that is how I got all of my chores accomplished.  So I gave my swing back and my friend let me borrow her Jumperoo.  Problem solved.  As an added bonus,  once Clarissa started solids,  she was never constipated on days that she jumped.

During this time she played at least an hour a day in her Adventure Gym.

Books are fun to add to your routine. At this point, baby will probably be more interested in chewing on the books than eating them so you will want to stick to board books and books made of fabric. The purpose of reading at this point is to expand baby’s vocabulary and to get used to the flow of language. That being said, choose books that YOU like to read because you will be hearing these stories a lot. Some of my favorites are God Gave Us You, On the Night You Were Born, and Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You.

At Clarissa’s four month check up,  the pediatrician said that she could start solids.  I had not planned on it so soon,  but a week later she had her first cold and had trouble nursing at times.  Whenever you choose to start solids, you will need a few things.

We use this High Chair. I like it because Clarissa can be at the table with us.  I can put some cereal on her tray or keep the tray off if I am giving her a puree.

I thought plastic bibs would be great because you can wipe them off to reuse them.  But honestly,  they were hard to clean.  I prefer cloth bibs that either snap or velcro in the back.  Just throw them in the laundry with your towels.

You will also need spoons and bowls with lids. I actually got some good ones from the Dollar Tree.

If you plan to make your own baby food,  a blender is helpful.  I have the book Top 100 Baby Purees. Basically,  I just take whatever fruit or vegetable I want to make and put it in a saucepan.  I put just enough water in the pan to cover the food.  Then I bring it to a boil and let simmer until soft.  Then I put the food in the blender.  I use the water from the pan as needed to give the desired consistency.  Then I pour the puree into ice cube trays and stick in the freezer overnight.  Then I put the cubes in a labeled plastic bag.  When I want to serve the puree,  I just take out an ice cube, put it in a bowl, and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

At this point,  I think socks are still optional in the house.  At this age,  she loved pulling them off her feet and putting them in her mouth.  I was forever losing them.  I would put her in socks that look like shoes when we left the house.

Once baby can sit up well,  you can put her in the shopping cart when you are running errands.  I like to use a Shopping Cart Cover because she puts everything in her mouth and I did not want her sucking on the germy cart.  As an added bonus,  my cover had shoulder straps so she was more upright.

Baby might start teething soon.  When Clarissa is teething,  she will actually take a pacifier.  She also likes these Chewy Teethers because I leave them in the refrigerator. When I put them in the freezer, they were too cold for her.

The Boppy was fun about this time so that she could have some tummy time at a different angle or sit up with some support.

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