Tips to help the reluctant nurser

I thought I would compile a few tips I have gathered from my daughter’s reluctance to nurse for one reason or another-mostly from reflux which was at its worst in her earlier months.Recently, teething has caused her to be reluctant at times, so the same tips apply to teething nursers. Friends who had already had a baby with reflux who wouldn’t nurse due to feelings of pain and trauma from associating pain with nursing/bottle-feeding told me some of these tips. I found it helpful to join online support groups to see what tips were given there as well, and the same problems and questions kept popping up regarding babies reluctant to nurse or bottle-feed so I hope this helps mommies who have been struggling to get their babies to nurse.


ethan on mommy at home


I’ll also include a section at the end about what helped us/doctor realize Katelynn had silent reflux and what symptoms to look for.

1)Bouncing the baby while nursing-This was the most helpful thing I was told to do, as Katelynn continued to refuse nursing fairly often even up to the age of 6 months when on two reflux medications. (or bottle-feeding, if the mother doesn’t think this causes too many gas bubbles.) It helped to be a distractor and often, it helped her fall asleep, which was often the only way she was comfortable enough to nurse (while asleep.) I have found in talking to other parents that requiring “dream-feeding” to nurse/bottle-feed is a very common thing for the little ones who have reflux.

2) Dream-feeding/falling asleep to start nursing-I know a lot of people have hang-ups about sleep associations like nursing to sleep and while I wish that wasn’t (almost) always the case with her up until just recently, it is absolutely the only way my baby would nurse for awhile. She was just too uncomfortable other times to want to nurse while totally awake and even if it had been hours or an entire night even-she wouldn’t nurse. You have to just get your baby eating and you can worry about all those habits later in my opinion. Babies will all have different degrees of sensitivity, so try what you like but just know that SO many parents rely on dream-feeding to get their reluctant (usually reflux) babies to nurse/bottle-feed.

3) White noise-again, the distractor
4) dark (sometimes important, sometimes not as much)
5) You want to keep tabs on a breast pump if you’re nursing and your baby is having days of not nursing well.

That’s all I recall using that was helpful-but helpful it was (after getting a good medication regimen!) I have to bounce her still sometimes if she is distracted away from home, if big brother is around, or she is teething.
Here are some of the things that I found are part of silent reflux that I either noticed before the doctor suggested Katelynn had it and also some things I read afterward that gave me those “aha!” moments when I realized Katelynn did the same things that other parents or doctors described babies doing.

1) crying after nursing, usually for a set amount of time, then feeling relaxed and happy (or maybe not..but with Katelynn its like a switch flipped.It was crazy!)

2) Pulling off the breast (or bottle) even when clearly hungry, by the cues and by the clock, attempting to nurse again but pulling away crying and

3) arching the back. With silent reflux, you have to look for this and other symptoms because you aren’t going to see the milk come all the way out of the mouth. The acid will rise and burn the esophagus and will be very painful and upsetting to your baby. Before any meds at all, Katelynn would scream nonstop for 30 minutes and I have not since heard her scream like that so thank Heaven for the meds! When we’ve tried to drop a medication, though, she does fuss and try to not nurse. It would last all day long and she was obviously hungry but wouldn’t eat due to feeling uncomfortable when eating, even when the tips given above were used. In two weeks we will be trying a trial of removing one of the medications (Zantac first for a week, then dropping Prevacid) so hopefully it will go well!

The happy ending to that story is that the trial went well and she outgrew it-yay! Currently I’m in the last stages of weaning/drying up. She is no longer nursing at all as of two days ago.


Paddling Upstream and Mom Guilt



In trying to sit and reflect, the image of a dog paddling upstream is how I feel like my mind and soul have been for awhile now. A lot is from the adjustment to two kids, the busyness and trying to keep them quiet while Ryan was working night shift (Don’t Wake Daddy game, anyone?) With all the housework, cooking, nursing (and having reflux issues that took over for quite awhile really consumed a lot of my time as she took forever to start to nurse or cried from problems with that.) I also had this monumental guilt for shorting one kid or the other for various reasons. For one thing, I used to have all this time to focus on Ethan’s special needs like flashcards, open cup practice, and so on. Now its just hard to even have time to play with him. (Oh yea, this baby also doesn’t take long naps-and sometimes had taken NONE despite all kinds of efforts.) It’s gotten better overall lately. Ethan is in a center during the day, so that alleviated some guilt because I knew he was getting his educational and therapy needs, my baby wasn’t constantly in a carseat traveling to and from outpatient therapies two times a day for her brother, and Ethan got attention and playtime. (Once the baby cried from breakfast to lunch time, and I felt bad for Ethan because he just kind of watched TV alone and played around with whatever was in the living room.) I know a lot of this is just par for the course for an older kid and baby, but with Ryan’s work schedule, it was one adult to two kids during the daytime as well as bedtime routines most days for awhile. Lately, with drinking from a cup, Ethan needs assistance because we figured needing assistance with an age appropriate cup that is better for his oral motor skills is better than independently using a bottle which is not age appropriate or good for lessening tongue thrust. That’s something else that takes up more time (but at least I can hold him when I do that. 😉 )

So it seems that “mom guilt” can be present and ugly no matter what the circumstances. Bottle feeding, nursing, full-time working, stay at home, one kids, or two (or more). I think in all the efforts to be a great mom, a great wife you can kind of lose yourself and connection to God if it’s all about what you DO. There are always things left undone as the parents’ work is never done. You try to be all about cleanliness and checking off boxes 100%? Something with the kids will be neglected. If you always feel the need to hover or simply be present dn play with your kids all day-and there might be a time or day for that-but for the most part it’s not necessary or realistic and you will have a nasty house. Sometimes you will feel like you are devoting so much to both cleaning and kids and yet still have times where your house looks like something from Poltergeist-all crazy and helter skelter. The point is, as with any form of insecurity, I will never ever feel better about who I am as a person, mother, or wife if I am trying to make myself feel accomplished on my own. God gives me my identity and making time for praying and reading the Word is always going to be the one thing that will make me feel whole and at peace. I don’t have to look to other people for validation of my hard work (although its nice to hear it from your husband and others-and they do that!) I will know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and making a difference in my kids’ lives.

Apartment Living with 2 Kids

These are some things we have come up with to make it work (because it has to!) to house a family of 4-two kids under age 3-in an apartment. It is a 2-bedroom apartment and since we cannot let the 3 year old safely room-share with his sister-we share a room with the baby! I know a lot of people like to do that or feel it is safer anyways (Considered to be a SIDS protective factor.) Anyways if you may be in this situation-this post is for you! This may apply to small houses as well.

1)First of all, getting rid of UNNECESSARY FURNITURE would be the best way to start. This is not where we started, but since its so large and you can do this before move-in day if possible, it’s a good starting point.

2)Make use of a MINI STORAGE if you can afford it. If you start your family in an apartment to begin with , you may not have to do this but because we started in a house (long story) and furnished it, we had large furniture that made it cramped when adding two children playing, crawling, etc. We opted to put our larger seating (couch) in storage and keep the love seat and recliner as well as computer chair out.

3)GET RID OF anything you don’t need, or don’t need as many of. We were able to keep some things at our parents’ houses in attics and sheds (high chairs we didn’t need yet, strollers, etc.) I am planning on doing a toy cleanse to get rid of things that are essentially duplicates or things my first child has outgrown that i anticipate my second will get as gifts anyways or that are just not necessary. I really want to separate out the battery operated toys to where I control when they come out of the closet, but that’s another story entirely haha

4) Get all the compact baby items you can! (or if your kids are a little older, then get compact kids’ items.) So this would be space-saving high chairs (we are just keeping our old one but we started in a house), maybe a potty ring instead of separate potty chair (we love the Cushie Tushie!), fold-up changing pad, etc.

5)Change the purpose os some furniture you already have or combined purposes. We have a nightstand that we turned into a changing station in our room that we share with our baby, for example. We moved our kids’ dresser into their closet recently as well. If you can do some under the bed storage, that would be great, too. We didn’t do much of that.

6) Keep your stroller or infant car seats in your car. If you had a house or just one child in an apartment, you may have been used to bringing the car seat or stroller inside after each outing or walk, but those take up so much space that it’s just easier to leave it in the car. Yeah, the strollers get in the way somewhat for grocery trips but you could work around it or just leave it at home if you know you need the trunk space for shopping.

7)If you have lots of decorations or fancy china, just pack it away. For most people, this season of life with babies and preschoolers is probably not one in which you are doing lots of entertaining that requires nicer dishes-and your kids would just break them anyway-so that’s a nonessential that doesn’t have to be kept in the cabinets.

8) SPACE SAVER BAGS are awesome for off-season or outgrown clothes.
9) If you do have an upstairs and downstairs, having TWO OF EVERYTHING (just about) is just a must for me.Two or more diaper storage/changing stations, two sets of toothbrushes (not as necessary, but helpful for a pre-K kiddo or toddler), kids’ books, a few kids toys at least (and baby!) , maybe multiple diaper pails or wetbags for each floor (right now we don’t since we are on one floor most of the time especially on weekends. Thinking about keeping little trash bags upstairs so they can just be carried down when done upstairs. Two booties are a lot of booty to change. 😉 ) Blankets and burp cloths on both floors is also so helpful!

10) Gotta make it an even ten..o I’ll share that while they aren’t much to look at, the large plastic shelves meant for garages really is what we use to keep blankets, dvds, video games controllers, books, and office supplies on downstairs. oh and some toys. 😉 We have one upstairs for medicine (no med cabinet at this apartment), blankets, and my husband’s scrubs.

Katelynn’s Birth Story-A Second Birth vs. First Birth

Katelynn is not only our Rainbow Baby but also our almost Christmas baby..she was born just a few days after Christmas and I’m glad it ended up that way. Even though I know she will always probably feel her birthday is always a little in the shadow of Christmas, at least it is afterward and not the day of (although I’m sure that can be fun for others and we would have made it work.)

Katelynn’s birth story is so different than Ethan’s birth story (also told by his dad here for many reasons. First of all, it was characteristically faster and easier in a lot of ways as a second birth. In the weeks leading up to Katelynn’s birth I had some contractions but was still at 1cm at my previous appointment. Two nights before her birth I hardly slept with no particular reason, then the night before I had a great night of sleep! The morning before she was born was a Sunday and I had some light bleeding so I thought she might arrive in a day or so. Then I had some mild contractions but I wasn’t sure if I was really starting labor or it was more random contractions. I went ahead to church and the mild contractions continued but I went on with making my grocery list then ALMOST went to the grocerty store then after talking to my husband, I decided not to go. Just after that I had some more bleeding so I called the medical exchange to see if they thought that wa okay. They said

pic by her HP fan daddy. picture property of

pic by her HP fan daddy. picture property of

probably so, but since you’ve had it twice today, go ahead and come in to get checked. We called my parents to drop Ethan off at their house on the way up to Labor and Delivery and we were hardly two blocks before my contractions started hurting more and taking my breath away. Ryan started driving faster and I remember grabbing the “sissy bar” as my dad called it when I was a kid (and what others know it as the “oh #!%!” bar” as he whipped the truck into my parents driveway. HE turned on his emergency flashers on the interstate and he said “yea, you’re in labor” and I had to agree with that!


They monitored me at Labor and Delivery and said I was at a 3 and if I progressed to a 4 they’d keep me but otherwise they would reassess the situation. The doctor never did come in to give her opinion and I started hurting really intensely while watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the tv in the room. I thought they would never check on me again and I wonder if the nurse heard me from the hall say “When is someone going to check on me?! I could be at a 5 for all they know!” because she came in 30 seconds later to check me and said I was at a 4. So the plan was for me to be admitted and finally I was and opted to walk to the room. I told the nurse once admitted that yes, I do want an epidural and thought awesome, I’m going to get it sooner than I did last time (because I didn’t realize I was in labor and thought the pain was some problem so I didn’t show up to outpatient until i was at a 6! And it took a LOT of laboring and sleeplessness to get there with my first baby.)

So here we were again watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , just in a different room, and it became kind of weird to watch as the pain intensified. The soundtrack from the movie seemed even more epic and motivating. Ryan looked at a loss and said “I wish I could do something to help. What do you want me to do?” and really there was nothing. I don’t even get the whole hold your partner’s hand or squeeze them to death because for a while there I was content with his moral support and clutching the bedrails sort of like I was steering the hospital bed. In between contractions, it even made me laugh a little. I was NOT laughing when I was in labor with Ethan because it lasted so long, mostly at home (the early part with no epidural) and I was so frustrated because I thought the pain would not go away for weeks as I didn’t know what it was!) This time I knew exactly what was going on and just dealth with contractions as they came and worsened…and worsened. The anesthesiologist was still not around and I was concerned that I might be rapidly progressing as these things often do with subsequent babies. The nurse apologized and said there were some emergency c sections and finally she checked me and suer enough I had been moving along but I could still get an epidural.

I started hurting more, and I started rocking from side to side as “driving the hospital bed” was not enough anymore to keep me grounded and under control. As I rocked and moaned (in a controlled, patterned action) I realized this was the same thing I remember doing when in labor with Ethan at home, rocking on our guest bed. (I wandered from beds to couches ro recliners throughout the 2 nights-mainly 1-where I was in earlier labor with Ethan.) AS time went on and I still didn’t have an epidural underway or yet in sight, I was hurting a lot and not much was keeping me feeling in control of the pain-it wasn’t out of control yet, but I was getting pretty worn out so the nurse offered something to make them more bearable as I waited. She said “it will make you feel like you’ve had a few too many margaritas.” I wasn’t sure how that felt becaue I’d only had sips of this and that, then drank a MIke’s Hard LEmonade and kept asking my friend “Am I drinking it too fast?” Yep, I’m that girl. 😉 My husband videoed me because I was being ridiculous immediately (Strong stuff!) and was laughing uncontrollably about absolutely nothing between some contractions. I remember the contractions still hurt, but I was distracted and I’m sure kind of numb. On the part of the movie where Voldemort threatens to kill everyone if they hide Harry Potter to protect him, I was giggling as a contraction ended and said “Well THAT’S what you want to hear when you’re in labor!” After Ryan videoed me I asked “Well wait…am I gonna be acting all stupid when Katelynn is born?” and Ryan teased me and said “well, yeah” and then quickly said “I’m just kidding” when he saw my crestfallen face. Then I said “oh good, I was about to cry if that was true!” then actually started crying! I was a mess. The nurse’s eyes got big when she came in and saw my immediate goofiness and it cracked me up. By the time that was wearing off the epidural was finally ready to be placed. ** Just like the first labor, the epidural made me more nervous than anything but all went well. The nurse said to let her know when I started feeling more intense pressure and I wasn’t sure how much I was “supposed” to feel. I don’t remember feeling much at all with Ethan’s birth but it was probably about the same and I was just much more exhausted going in to the hospital with Ethan. I got a tight 8 hours sleep the night before Katelynn’s birth! After feeling prolonged pressure, they checked me one last time and I was at a 10-ready to push!

There is not much to say here-it lasted all of 12 minutes! They had my feet bent up in stirrups which was a MUCH more comfortable and natural way to push than lying flat like they had me at the first hospital. They just told me when it was time to push and I did-I had a better sense of what muscles to use, probably, and had done core exercises prior to getting pregnant. (Afterward a nurse said to not do those in first trimester and I never revisited them but continued my rehabilitative hip and knee exercises.) So I think all of those things played a role in how well the pushing went! Credit goes to the good hospital staff and supportive husband as well! With Ethan’s birth, I pushed somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour-still not bad, but I do think having done it before plus the better positioning and MUCH more energy reserves from a good night’s sleep and shorter labor helped.

The only thing the doctor who examined Katelynn had concerns about was her hip being loose and said its possible she will need a corrective harness for 6 months. He said this can happen quite often if the baby is lying in the womb at an odd angle.

Everything about Katelynn’s birth was fast and thankfully, easy for the most part! While I know there are so many different complicttions and frustrating labor stories that come with any child, the main difference in our surprise diagnosis birth story (Ethan’s) and Katelynn’s was after the babies arrived, of course. I will list them numerically then probably make it a separate post.

A note of caution: I had no knowledge about Staydol, other than knowing other people who had it in the past. (But didn’t worry about it because my husband is an RN and I’m just not generally one to question doctors and nurses especially if it’s something really routine like labor pain management-I’m not saying they wouldn’t tell me, I just didn’t care about asking! HOWEVER-Something to consider ahead of time is if you are offered a pain medication before and epidural, maybe think through if it will affect how still you sit when the epidural needle is being inserted. I remember being concerned that I was going to wiggle too much because I still had those drugs in my system and I did feel a little wiggly and it was hard for me to concentrate. My inhibitions were in that in between stage of having to focus pretty hard to make sure I didn’t say something stupid to the anesthesiologist like “well hey, you’re a handsome one. Much younger than the last one though…I hope you’re experienced enough.” Since I did feel like it was hard to focus on verbal directions and stay still (although not THAT hard, mind you), the incident popped into my head when I was suffering pretty horrible postpartum headaches the first week after Katelynn’s birth. (I couldn’t even sleep for a while some parts of some nights-and I was SO exhausted.) I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I was wiggly (I don’t think I really was-Ryan and the staff probably would’ve said something.) I do remember there being a few different times the needle had to be inserted and I’m 95% sure the painful headaches were only hormone related because the epidural headaches sound MUCH worse after consulting with a bunch of women including my mother. I say all this, however, to share the possibility of drugs and movement during epidural placement that might happen, I imagine (since they do tell you to stay still, after all.) I wondered if it was the same exact stage of labor I had been in at home and thought hmmm maybe I’m a 6 now? Finally I was checked again soon before the epidural-yep, I was at a 6! So even though I showed up at a 3, I didn’t actually get this epidural any sooner than with my first baby. Oh well, some people are lucky to make it to the hospital with baby #2, right?

3rd Trimester to Do List

I thought about just doing this on my google documents but thought it might turn into a fun and helpful post. When I think about 11 weeks and some-odd days remaining to my second-born’s due date and about making any sort of “to do list”, I imagine a chicken running around in circles..the chicken being me, I suppose. (which I LOVE making to do lists…its really a coping mechanism for my ADHD..) There is something about having a second child that is just making me NOT feel ready. I posted some differences between nesting for this pregnancy and the pregnancy with my firstborn before. Comments people have made and plain old common sense has made me realize how much of an undertaking going from one to two children will be. Some other differences include the fact that we haven’t really done anything much to prep for this baby, so it feels like its creeping up on me quickly. We live in an apartment, so we aren’t preparing a room for her, and most major things like rocking chairs are already here.

At the halfway mark with Ms. K

At the halfway mark with Ms. K

I haven’t bought clothes or anything yet because I like to wait until after baby showers (and my friend is giving one) to see what else I need to get so I don’t have duplicates.

So here we are…less than 12 weeks out and I can hardly believe another baby is coming. We HAVE done some organizing and space-saving and turned the bedside table into a changing table so..CHECK. So what else to do..?

1)Make a registry, if you wish- CHECK! (Its my second, but there are some things we will need that we don’t already have. She needs clothes, obviously, that aren’t boy clothes and is being born at a different time of year than kid #1. Even if you have the same gender two times in a row, you may want to register for clothes for subsequent babies so family and friends who ask will know which clothing items are needed. People may think you don’t need them because they are wearing hand-me-downs, but babies are born at different times and different sizes SO you may have to buy an entirely new wardrobe for your second or third boy, for example.

2) Make sure you have enough maternity clothes to get you through the season in which you will give birth. Don’t want to be doing that when you are getting really uncomfortable at the end, and made even more uncomfortable by wearing clothes that don’t fit. My mom likes getting me maternity clothes so that helped a bunch. (Thanks, mom!) CHECK!

3) Once you have essential items, WASH and ORGANIZE THEM…

4) Get your child a pediatrician. I thought I had this all squared away, but since I have two kids to consider now and one with a different insurance for special needs (kid #1), this has been a tad tricky. A doctor said she would take both of my kids and now I am being told differently by a secretary because of Ethan’s secondary insurance, so I am needing to call ASAP again and try a different approach with the same clinic before I move on to another one. In our case, we want a new clinic for my firstborn anyways and we want our kids to go to the same place so that we can tote them both when they inevitably are both sick at the same time!

5) Pre-register at the hospital (I’ll be honest-don’t even remember WHEN you do this, but judging by my sister who is just a little over a month ahead of me on her pregnancy due date…I think its soon. They will want to know which doctor you pick so yea..I need to get cracking on cracking down with those doctors’ offices who are sending me mixed signals..grrr.)

6) TDAAP/Whooping cough shot and flu shot (depending on time of year I suppose)-I got a flu shot first time I was pregnant I believe, but this is news to me to have pregnant women being recommended to get whooping cough shot. I talked to my OB office about it and they plan to give it to me this week.

7) Discuss with doctor when to come to the hospital for labor pains, etc.
8) Finish up knitting projects (or whatever projects you may have.)
9) Get Christmas shopping done early! (because my baby is due early January)
10) Get a big brother present for baby #2 to “give” Ethan.
11) Stock up on household toiletries (and freezer bags!) and cleaning supplies to avoid lots of running to the store.
12) Do lots of meal planning, focusing on easy meals and freezer meals (and cook some freezer meals so that will be ready to toss in the crockpot during extra sleepy days!)

Nesting with Baby #2 vs. Baby #1

I have not made it all the way through, or even to the third trimester, of my 2nd pregnancy. So I’m mainly writing this for fun, not so much because I think I know all there is to know so far about how expecting a second child differs from the first.

My son is asleep (finally) in the hospital with pneumonia so I needed something to do! This has been on my mind lately-how different it is so far to expect the 2nd vs. first child during pregnancy.

1)First, we actually were taken off-guard by this pregnancy, which I’m sure is common with many pregnancies after the first-born! We had been trying a few months prior, but we had two miscarriages so we had intended to stop trying awhile, so this one was a surprise.

2) It is just all around harder to keep up with the fitness and healthy eating I want to do. I am taking care of myself, but life is just different when you already have a kid! I haven’t been able to do as much the past couple of weeks with my kid being sick.

Awaiting Ethan anxiously!

Awaiting Ethan anxiously!

At the halfway mark with Ms. K

At the halfway mark with Ms. K

3) Nesting looks more like taking things out of storage, trying to remember where things were, and downsizing our apartment to fit a family of four. (Maybe I’ll do a post on managing a baby/family of four and room-sharing with two kids, one being an infant. We are going to have to get a minicrib because the crib/changing table combo we had for our first will not fit in our room. )

4)For me, in addition to trying to get in those last “only child” fun times before baby arrives, I’m trying to get some things together for Ethan’s pre-reading skills .

5)Also, there’s not quite as much planning and registering with the second since we already have so much from the first (Although we do need a few new things that need replacing and we need girl clothes!) Since this baby doesn’t have her own room, there is also no nursery to get ready so that makes it feel weird, like “What do I do with my nesting urges?” haha Some of that is taking care of itself because again, it gets pretty busy with the one kid. 😉

6) We have so much going on with the current kid, that we don’t really talk (and maybe not think about) the second baby as much. I feel kind of bad saying it, but I think its honest and probably true of many parents out there expecting their second, third, fourth, etc.. Of course, I think about and cherish her like my first, but the first is already here making his demands on purpose or without meaning to (again with the sicknesses and other needs that come up that he cannot control.)

7) Instead of wondering what it will be like to have a child and to be a mother, I am thinking of how we will manage the two and imagine myself alone with the two with all their needs. I go back and forth thinking of ways I will need to give time and attention to my first child because I want to reassure him he is just as important to us as the new, dependent infant. On the other hand, I also try to think on ways to be sure we give the newborn attention because she won’t be talking, performing, and so forth. So already, all these different less pinterest and “the” type thoughts and daydreams with the second pregnancy.

Best Brother Ever

Best Brother Ever

8) I think you become more of a practical thinker with the second baby and therefore the second pregnancy. The same people who may have purchased a glowing lullaby globe for the ceiling the first time or boogie wipes with the first child may settle for buying or registering (if you even do a registry for baby #2) things we all learned are more essential like diapers and sleepers. I know I’m expecting to need lots of clothes meant to be comfy and for sleeping with this next baby, although I will gladly accept and buy cutesy girly things as well, being my first daughter and all. 😉

9) Since I have now witnessed the money-saver and satisfaction that is consignment clothing, as I think on what I will purchase right before or sometime after this baby is born to get what I’m lacking, my mind is more tuned to when those consignment sales will be rather than heading for the full-priced items at Dillards or Target!

10) Guess I should make it an even 10, right? There is an added excitement and dimension to this pregnancy because I am happy to be providing two kids with what I hope will be some of their most treasured relationshipss-siblings.

Products that will be lifesavers for when you have toddlers


1) Mr. Clean Magic Erasers-You may need this much earlier than when you have a toddler, but I list this first because this was the very product that inspired me to write a blog post on helpful things. I had never heard of this and my husband suggested buying them finally after I’d tried all kinds of things to get the stains from pureed baby food off the walls, etc. I assumed we would have to paint over it and were waiting until the time we could afford the time and money for paint. So there it sat (especially in one spot that was obvious and glaring and sat there for months, and yes people came over in that time period and saw it, no doubt.) I wish I had taken a before and after picture (I guess I can share an after.) Just imagine that it used to look like an abstract painting, basically! (only slightly was messy.)

2) Large Playpen-We just have the regular kind that we use from time to time that is in a hexagonal shape (Toys R Us) and it comes with stakes that you can anchor it into the ground for backyard play. I’ve mostly used it for when I’m cooking, to keep him in one area at various ages from 1-3. My nephew has one with toys attached to it and its more colorful (don’t remember where it’s from, but some sort of containment larger than a Pack N Play is nice to have.) The first one folds up, but I think you have to take the second one apart.

3) DVDs (or something to watch) We like DVDs because Ethan does, basically. He likes to select the one he wants to watch by looking at the picture and font on the DVD case. That is also something I have found MOST useful when I’m cooking and need him to stay in one room. He also has learned a lot from his DVDs, just by hearing the singing and talking and some are more educational than others but either way he gets good language practice and dancing practice in.

4) Booster seat-The main benefit I can see from this is it saves space. That’s really important living in an apartment. Also maybe feeling even more part of the family meal as an older child by using the tabletop, which brings me to the next suggestion…

5) A clean enough to eat off of table each mealtime-Maybe you are one of those parents who refuses to let your kids eat off the table even from a very young age, but since trying new foods and eating has been such an issue at times, I still let my 3-year-old (a young 3-year-old) eat off the table if that is where it lands or he pours it. It is just inevitable in our home, so I just make sure the table is cleaned with soap some time before meals so it’s no ta big deal if he eats straight off the table. I think he sometimes does it because I put the food in a bowl when maybe he needed a plate, or even when on a plate he just feels its easier to get his utensils in the food straight off the table. I don’t know-but I’m a practical, bottom-line person and if he will eat something new, something with a veggie, or just SOMETHING, then he can eat anywhere off the table for now. Not to be bossy, but especially if your kid has delays in OT or anything regarding meal times, you may want to consider letting go of some of the strict rules go in order to get your kid to learn to eat well. Take that for what its worth; our firstborn is only 3, after all. He has made progress, though.

6) A tiny stool (got ours at Toys R Us)- This is good for the obvious; assisting to wash hands,etc. but you may just not think about it at first. If your toddler’s legs are long enough, maybe to be used alongside a potty seat ring like…

7)Cushie Tushie from Mommy’s Helper (sold at Walmart) We have tried a few different potty chairs (2 I guess) as well as had Ethan straddle the adult toilet, but the Cushie Tushie has been the best so far. He will sit there longer (because its more comfy, hence the name) and it is easier to clean than the “cushy” seat that was attached to a small potty chair on the ground. Again, this is space-saving and it comes with little hooks for the wall (also a ring so you can grab a part that does NOT have pee on it. (If you made it this far to having toddler though, having pee on your hands is probably no big deal to you anymore.)

8)Kids CDs -Since our kid is such a lover of music (especially the Wiggles!) having kids CDs in the car helps me to not have to listen to whining and makes for a more pleasant car ride-short or long. If my kid will listen to the radio, sounds good to me provided its clean music. As he got older, though, he grew more impatient and had to be in the car more often and longer to get to his developmental center. So Wiggles CD it is.