Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nate's First Christmas

For Christmas this year we traveled to see relatives. Looking back at some of the weather we ran into it might have been better if the relatives had come to Austin. Nate still traveled extremely well. On the first leg of the trip he slept all the way from Austin to Dallas. Some day this easy traveling will end.

In Dallas, we had Christmas with a good sized group of relatives. Nate was the baby of the group and everyone wanted to see and hold Nate. Nate received a number of very nice gifts, but he was most interested in putting wrapping paper and bows in his mouth.

Then we were heading to Tulsa for Christmas day. We saw the weather in Oklahoma was predicted to get bad, but we decided to make the trip as planned. We did leave earlier in order to try and beat the bad weather. The first 3/4 of the trip was no problem. Then as we neared Tulsa the snow and wind increased. The blowing snow (30+ MPH winds) made it extremely difficult to see the road in front of us. We passed numerous cars that had landed in the ditch. The visibility was the biggest problem, but as we made it to Tulsa the roads were also getting pretty slick. Oklahoma gets some ice and snow, but it was Christmas Eve and Oklahoma just doesn't have the infrastructure of states farther North to handle storms like this. If we had to do it over again we would have left much earlier or not made the trip at all. After a much slower trip than expected and a screaming Nate in the back seat (we didn't want to stop) we made it to our destination. Luckily for us the one time we managed to get stuck was in Nate's Grandparents driveway. We stopped long enough to unload Nate an get him fed before getting our car off the end of the driveway.

Six inches of snow in Tulsa kept us inside for our time in Tulsa. The Grandparent's certainly enjoyed having Nate around and it was neat to have a white Christmas. As long as we are in Austin I don't see a white Christmas here anytime soon. Overall a good Christmas that we'll certainly remember.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wilson Christmas Card

Our Christmas Card (Sherri did a wonderful job putting this together) for this year.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Wilson Christmas Card

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nate takes on an avocado

This evening we decided that we wanted to get Nate started on another food. We've given Nate rice several times and he seems to handle the rice fine. We happened to have some avocado that we were putting on burgers we grilled this evening. Nate seemed rather interested in the avocado (see picture below). So we decided that this evening after his normal meal we would try some avocado. I spooned out some avocado and mashed it to make it nice and creamy. Not only did he eat some of the avocado, he ate all that I made for him. And when I say he ate all of it, he ate it all and had almost none left on his face. With the rice he had as much of it on his face as he had in his mouth. So I'm taking the clue that Nate likes avocados.

So we'll feed Nate avocado for the next couple days, then we'll try some oatmeal. The fact Nate seems to like a fruit I think that banana will be the next food after the oatmeal. We are very pleased that Nate is handling solid food well so far. Yes, we are only a couple days in to solid foods, but so far so good.

Avocados seem to be almost a perfect food for infants. They don't need to be cooked and are very easily prepared. It is easily digested (rice cereal may cause constipation in some infants), rarely causes any allergic reactions, and is packed full of healthy goodness. So if anyone is looking for food to feed to young infants, I recommend looking at avocados and while you are at it make a little guacamole for yourself.

Nate trying to eat an avocado

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nate eats rice

Yesterday we tried to feed Nate some solid food. We had been talking about doing this for the last month and finally decided it was time. We at least tried to give him some rice. I'm still not sure how much actually got eaten, but Nate actually seemed interested in eating or at least he wanted to put the spoon in his mouth.

The rice and breast milk mixture didn't look all that appetizing, but Nate seemed pretty interested in the mixture. If nothing else he got a little more milk for dessert. We'll continue to try and get Nate to eat the rice and breast milk mixture for the next two days. We are happy that he does seem interested in eating, but we'll have to give him some time to get used to eating from spoon and not pushing food out with his tongue. Next on this list to try will be some oats.

Below are a couple pictures of Nate eating.

Nate Eating for First Time

A lot ended up not in Nate's mouth and he was more interested in the spoon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Celebration of Life

We've been gone the last few days. We made a trip with Nate to see family and celebrate the life of his great-grandmother. Unfortunately she passed away recently, but not without living a very full and rewarding life. Nate won't remember Mimi, but Mimi did get to meet Nate a couple times. Nate certainly brought lots of smiles even though she wasn't feeling her best.

Nate was really rather easy to travel with. The drive was a little over six hours each way and except for breaks when he was hungry he mostly sat quietly chewing on something or slept in his car seat. Him sleeping so much in the car during the day meant that he didn't sleep as well the first night. Combined with being in a different bed in a different place meant less sleep for everyone.

One thing we discovered while we were away was Nate is getting really close to cutting his first tooth. He has been drooling heavily for weeks, but we can finally feel the tooth beneath his gum. Nate has been a little fussy of late, but we can imagine that it could certainly be worse. Besides lots of drooling, Nate is also trying to chew on everything. He is getting very good at grabbing things and first things he does once grabbing something is try and put it in his mouth. As we go through teething I'll talk more about experiences and what seems to help and what doesn't.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stomach Sleeper

Nate is now five months old. A few days ago Nate figured out how to flip from his back to his stomach we've figured out over the last few days that he likes sleeping on his stomach. At first there were worries that we could be causing Nate harm by letting him sleep on his stomach. The back to sleep movement has really strong message that babies should always sleep on their back.

We tried to figure out if we should flip Nate back over or not. I found a lot of conflicting answers. We felt that Nate was actually sleeping better on his stomach, which he is not always sleeping great so why change a good thing. My best piece of information that was clear and concise I found when reading through information on the First Candle site ( There was the answer of what to do when baby starts rolling over. They made it clear that every baby is going to determine their favorite sleep position. By flipping them back over you end up disturbing everyone's sleep. Just make sure that sleep area is free of anything (blankets, toys, etc) that could get their face next to.

So Nate has been sleeping pretty well recently and I think being on his stomach may be a factor. If Nate ends up taking after me he'll sleep on his stomach a lot. We will still put Nate on his back to go to sleep, but if he flips over we won't do anything, except let him sleep.

In doing the research I came up with some other good news. Nate isn't in any high risk categories for SIDS. The major risk factors are below.

* Infants born to mothers who are less than 20 years old at the time of their first pregnancy
* Babies born to mothers who had no or late prenatal care
* Infants born to mothers with too short an interval between pregnancies
* Premature or low birth weight babies and multiples
* Babies born to mothers who smoke during or after pregnancy
* Infants who are placed to sleep on their stomach or side (we place him on his back)

In addition, breastfeeding and using a pacifier are thought to further lower risk of SIDS. So hopefully, with this question answered Nate will just sleep (and sleep some more).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nate's First Thanksgiving

Yesterday was Nate's first Thanksgiving. For Nate there wasn't much different from any other day except more people around the house. I must say we do have a lot to be thankful for. We've been blessed in many ways including wonderful family and friends and now we've got a happy and healthy little guy as part of our family.

Nate didn't make it to Thanksgiving dinner. He was asleep before we had the great spread that Sherri put together. I had way too much to eat and still felt full this morning.

Nate in his Thanksgiving Outfit

Today Sherri and I got out and went to our first movie together since Nate was born. We had grandmother around to watch Nate so we took advantage and went a saw a movie we were both looking forward to seeing. I'm a fan of Michael Lewis's books. I think Moneyball was actually even better than The Blind Side as a book. They are different stories. Moneyball is really about sports (baseball). The Blind Side is really more about the socialogy of society with football as a backdrop. The Blind Slide is really a wonderful story that continues to evolve and should make a better movie. Though there are rumors that Moneyball will be made into a movie as well. The Blind Side (movie) was well done and we certainly enjoyed seeing the story on the big screen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nate flips over

I've been waiting a couple days as I knew this would happen very soon. This evening Nate finally flipped from his back to his stomach on his own. He has been flipping from stomach to back for a couple weeks. He has been so very close (I think his arm getting in his way was really frustrating him), but he just couldn't get all the way over. Soon after he was on his stomach he flipped back to being on his back. Before long he'll be rolling, then who knows what.

He is also getting very close to being able to sit up on his own. He can sit up on his own for a few seconds - then he tends to fall over. Nate will still be having milk for his first Thanksgiving, but he is getting real close to being able to sit up and possibly have some solid food.

Nate trying to roll over. When picture was taken he couldn't quite make it.

Here is Nate sitting up. He only stays up a few seconds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cloth Diaper Update

I've been thinking about making some additional comments on our experience with cloth diapers for a while now. I finally decided that now would be the time to provide an update. Nate is about 4.5 months old and we've been using cloth diapers for about four months now.

From previous post, we had decided to try a mix of cloth diapers from Bum Genius and FuzziBunz. Overall, I would say we are very happy with the cloth diapers and would do it all over again if we had to make the decision again today.

Overall Thoughts on Cloth Diapering

Cost - We really are seeing a nice cost savings. Except for the first couple weeks where Nate would not fit into the cloth diapers we had bought (Nate was early and weighed 6lb when we brought him home) we've used almost all cloth diapers. We have some disposables for when we are out or traveling. So after going through the large stash we brought home from the hospital we've spent a grand total of $45 on disposable diapers (the cloth diapers were a significant investment) and most of that was spent in the first few weeks where he was too small for our cloth diapers or while we were using disposables at night. There an extra time investment to clean and prepare cloth diapers as well as an extra wash load or two every week.

Ease of use - These are not our parents cloth diapers. I was raised in cloth diapers and my parents are impressed on how easy the cloth diapers we purchased are to use. The are certainly as easy as disposables to use. There are no pins or complicated fasteners.

Cleaning/Washing - We have not started giving Nate solid foods and he currently 100% breastfed so we don't have to deal with solids we need to dump in toilet or even the strong odors that we know are coming as his diet changes. It certainly does take more time to save each diaper and wash them, but the amount of trash we have to take out is certainly far reduced. Certainly there is a cost to washing all the diapers, but I certainly haven't seen a significant increase in water or electricity bill.

Other thoughts - Nate has yet to have any diaper rash. We'll see if that continues. We believe that the cloth diapers are better than disposables at keeping solids in, but may be a little more susceptible to leaking.

Thoughts on the different cloth diapers

BumGenius 3.0 (one size) - These have been our favorite diapers. They are very easy to use with the flexible tabs and velcro closures. I do have some worries that they may not hold up as well over time as we can see some places where they seem rather worn. Also, you must be very diligent with the velcro. If you don't clean the velcro out regularly they will get more difficult to use and velcro tabs curl up. The velcro seems seems to be a magnet for any threads or hair even when attached to appropriate pads.

FuzziBunz One Size - Would be a close second. They adjust more than the BumGenius which is nice as Nate grows. The snaps are easy to close and they have worked out very well.

FuzziBunz Perfect Size Small - We've been slightly disappointed here. They are still great diapers, but they are more susceptible to leaking and with only two snaps and less adjustments they don't seem to fit Nate as well as the others. Finally, pretty soon Nate will grow out of these as they are supposed to be for approximately 8 - 22 pounds.

At some point I'll make some additional comments around our cloth diaper experience.

Monday, November 16, 2009

We've got a happy spitter

Nate is now four and a half months old. We were hoping that he would start spitting up less as he gets older. So far we have not seen a decrease in him spitting up. On the positive side the is a happy spitter. He often laughs after spitting up, as if it is something funny. So he doesn't seem to have any issue with stomach acid coming up and causing problems. Nate is also not having any issues with gaining weight and growing. He is growing very well.

So my take is the little valve at the top of the stomach is still immature and not working exactly as it should. This seems normal and may take until his first birthday to fully clear up. Nate also may just be taking a little too much food. Except for milk all over (his clothes, our clothes, floor, furniture, and I'm sure other places), it is much more of a problem in Nate's parents mind vs. a real physical issue for Nate.

Between Nate's pediatrician and some research there a few things that we may try in the near term. Put Nate on his stomach at an incline after eating, hold him upright after eating, or add some solids to the breast milk to weigh down the food a little.

Spitting up does seem to resolve itself over time, especially after baby can sit up on his own. Nate is getting very close to being able to sit up on his own so maybe we are close to being able to not carry around a spit up cloth everywhere we go.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nate's becoming mobile

So Nate is not really mobile yet, but we can see him getting there soon.

Nate is flipping over from his stomach to back rather easily (and then complaining about being on his back). Pretty soon he will be able to flip the other way and could use that to move. Right now he is almost halfway to flipping over from back to front.

Then yesterday we saw Nate doing something that was really pushing himself along the ground. I don't want to say it was crawling, at least not yet. However, with some coordination it will become a crawl. Nate has not quite figured out how to get his chest off the ground at the same time as pushing with his legs. So he is moving at a rate of about 2 inches a minute.

Before we know it he will really be mobile and we'll have to figure out how to keep up with him. This also means that baby-proofing the house will need to be done...another task for dad. Pretty soon I'm going to go crawling around the house to make a list of everything we need to baby-proof.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

When are infants ready for solid food?

So our pediatrician gave us the go ahead to start giving Nate solid foods. I wanted to understand what was behind that recommendation. The main things that doctor was looking for was the following:
  • Loss of tongue-thrust reflex
  • Able to turn away (saying he is full)
  • Hold head up unassisted (and sit up)

I trust our pediatrician, but when major organizations (AAP/CDC/WHO) keep recommending nothing but breast milk (or formula) until 6 months I have wonder at least a little.

Doing some research it seems as if it is difficult to really tell if a four month old has enough gastrointestinal maturity to handle solid food or not. At four months many infants still have what is considered an open gut. With an open gut an infants intestines could allow things into bloodstream that would stay in intestine with mature gut.

So while I don't believe we could do much harm by experimenting with some simple foods we'll certainly make breast milk his primary source of nutrition. We are in no hurry and we'll probably wait til fifth month to try some solid foods. At some point we'll probably experiment with some foods like rice, oats, bananas, or avocado. Those are some of the common first foods for infants.

Kellymom had a good list on introducing foods at six months and 12 months.

There are many reasons that 6 months of age is the "magical" age for introducing solids, here are a few

* Baby's intestines should be fully "closed"
* Babies are less likely to aspirate foods
* Baby is better able to recognize that she is full and regulate how much she needs to eat
* Baby is able to indicate she is full by turning away from food
* Baby should be have fully developed head control and be able to sit up with minimal assistance
* Baby has had breast milk or formula during the crucial first 6 months of life; giving him the healthiest start with optimal nutrients

There are many reasons that 12 months of age is the "magical" age for introducing "forbidden" solids; here are a few:

* Baby's system is less likely to think that foreign proteins, like the egg protein, need to be considered invaders and fought off. Creating an allergy is considerably reduced in older infants
* Baby has been sensitized to a variety of foods and allergies are less likely to be induced
* Baby's development is such that some forbidden foods, cow's milk for example, will not adversely affect health
* Baby's gastrointestinal system is better able to process pathogens, such as botulism spores in honey.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sick child isn't much fun

Poor Nate. He seems rather miserable. Just doesn't have the spunk he normally does. Nate came down with his first illness, a cold over the weekend. In many ways we are lucky that it is just a cold. There are certainly worse things running around these days that he could have caught.

On Sunday, Nate was extremely fussy and was starting to see a runny nose. The good thing was he had no fever on Sunday. He was also eating well. Sunday night Nate did not sleep well at all. Reminded me of when we first brought him home, waking every two hours. Mid-day on Monday Nate had a slight fever, so Sherri called the pediatrician. They were able to see them that afternoon. While we didn't think it was serious, we were not sure if it was a cold, the flu, or something else. The pediatrician confirmed a cold. While that doesn't help Nate feel any better, it does mean that in a couple days he should be back to normal. And knowing made us feel better.

So what are we doing to help Nate, saline nasal spray to keep nasal cavity moist (even though he does not like it), baby Tylenol only if fever, having him sleep at small incline (in car seat or pillow under crib mattress to help him drain), plenty of breastmilk, and trying to get him to sleep as much as possible. I'm also going to pick up a humidifier as this will probably not be the only time he has a cold.

I know colds are pretty easy to catch and I still wonder if visiting the pediatrician on Friday and being around a number of sick kids was where Nate picked this up. There are probably plenty of other cold viruses floating around our house and with Nate putting his hands in his mouth a lot lately I can see where it would be really easy to pick up a cold.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vaccination Notes & Halloween

Nate handled vaccinations much better than at two months. After the initial cries and possible a little fussiness in the afternoon he seemed to be fine. No fever, no ongoing fussiness, and thigh was not sensitive to touch 24 hours later like last time. Don't know if it was a side effect, but Nate slept for 10 hours last night, another record.

While Nate is not going trick or treating, in fact he'll probably be asleep for much of the trick or treaters tonight. We did dress him up as a monkey. I thought about finding a yellow hat and clothing and we could be Curious George and the man with the yellow hat. However, that didn't happen and we just had a monkey.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Four Month Dr. Visit

Today Nate made a trip to the doctor. Today he is exactly four months and it just happened to correspond to his four month checkup and vaccinations. Nate cried more today when actually receiving the shots and immediately afterward than he did at two months. We are hoping that his fussiness and discomfort later will be less than the two month shots. That is to be seen. We did pick up some baby acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help if he is in obvious discomfort or develops any fever.

As far as other updates from the doctors visit. Nate now weights 16lb 7oz and is up to 25 inches. So in four months he has grown 6 inches and over 10 pounds. We also got the suggestion that we should start thinking about slowing trying some solids in Nate's diet. So far Nate is 100% breastmilk fed. Over the next month we'll start adding things like rice, oats, and maybe some fruit to Nate's diet. Part of me is excited about this next phase. However, part of me is not excited about the change that not breastmilk only will bring to Nate's diapers. It has been a really nice run, which I guess has to come to an end at some point. I'll have to start getting my nose ready.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sleeping 9-to-5

While Nate still has his sleep issues he is certainly increasing the length of time he is sleeping. Until last night he has slept stretches of up to 7 hours at a time. Last night he actually slept almost 8 hours. By the time we actually got him to bed last night it was just after 9pm. Then Nate slept until just before 5am this morning. So he has almost eclipsed the 8 hour mark.

From previous experience we know that Nate will have his issues that will wake us up more at night. However, we also know that he will continue to improve his sleep over time. So very soon we should get the illusive sleep through the night in terms of our schedule. Nate has gotten much better over the last month and has started to settle into a little bit of a routine. This is good for Sherri and I as we look forward to more regular sleep. We know there will be those sleepless nights, but we hope those will be kept to a minimum.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

drooling, drooling, drooling

We have a drooler! Over the last couple days Nate has started producing ever increasing amounts of drool. Doing some reading, drooling is often associated with teething. Oh no, not teething already. We were just starting to get Nate into some better sleep patterns (except for two nights this week that he had his own plan) and we don't need teething to get in the way.

Well it could be teething, but most likely the effects of teething (actually cutting of tooth) are probably several weeks or even months away. It seems that the teeth starting to move upward are a catalyst for the body to produce more saliva (drool). With Nate it is certainly working.

I'm now finding out there are a lot of benefits to this saliva, even though it seems to be going everywhere.
  • The saliva helps heal esophageal lining that is most likely been damaging by stomach acid that is present in spit up. And Nate does spit up regularly so that is certainly a benefit.
  • The saliva will help the process of digestion once Nate starts eating some solid foods, which could be soon.
  • Saliva also help control bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria is a cause of gum problems and bad breath. So Nate should have less morning breath, even though he normally just has milk breath.

Babies don't produce any more saliva than adults, but babies don't know how to swallow it and it ends up running everywhere. The last couple days Nate has been wet. Sherri and I have ended up wet as well as lots of things that are near Nate. Just Nate growing up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nate rolls over

So this week Nate has made a significant advance in what he can do. He has a couple of times this week been able to flip from his front to his back. The first time he flipped Sherri thought it was an accident, but now that he has done it a couple times we've figured it was no accident. Flipping over is one of those early skills that babies learn. Some figure out out very early others it takes time. Next skill for Nate is probably being able to roll back over to his stomach. We have seen him try and roll from back to front, but this is a skill that he has not mastered yet.

Nate still has quite a few of these milestones to crash through over the next couple of months. Besides rolling over back to front, there is sitting up and crawling. We know that before too long we'll have a mobile child. Of course, we think Nate wants to skip right to walking. One of his favorite things is to have you hold him up while he puts weight on his legs. He is quite some time from being able to stand on his own, but he certainly is determined.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Which will be better the book or the movie. The book is certainly a classic that many a child is familiar with. While Where the Wild Things Are is not in Nate's library of books (at least not yet), I'm sure it is a book we'll share with him at some point. Nate is certainly not old enough to go see the movie. I'm guessing the movie could be traumatic to a young child. Also, movie's are not something the Sherri and I have taken the time to see since Nate came into our life.

I have a friend who is a movie critic in his spare time. Danny has always been my resource on what movies to see and not to see. When we used to see movies I would always consult his review. I don't always agree with his opinions, but we often see eye to eye and if nothing else he always provides a solid opinion. I encourage you to check out his site Crunch on This. His review of Where the Wild Things Are is here. Danny gives the move an A- and praises the all the visual aspects of the movie.

Little prop's to Danny since I'm talking him up. He will soon have a little one of his own. For some reason I think his little one will see movies than Nate. Danny - get your sleep now...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nate out and about

Today Nate and his mom got out and did a lot of stuff outside the house today. It was a very nice fall day in Austin, perfect for being outside. My understanding was Nate was in a very good mood today. I met Nate and Sherri for lunch today and Nate was happy, doing a lot of looking around, smiling, etc. While we had to attend somewhat to Nate we were able to actually eat a quick sandwich and talk without Nate going crazy at lunch. A very pleasant experience.

Tomorrow I get to spend some quality time with Nate as Sherri will get out of the house to do a couple things. Not that Nate will really care, but I'll be introducing him to a little college football. OU plays Texas tomorrow. While someday I'd like to take Nate as it is quite the experience to see that game in the Cotton Bowl with the stadium split down the middle, one half of the stadium red and the orange. Every year this is one of the biggest college football games of the year for us. We are somewhat a split household. Tomorrow one of us will be in burnt orange and the other of us will be in crimson. At this point, I won't be pushing one side or the other on Nate as I look what happened to Sherri. She rebelled against the family. All I can say is Boomer Sooner!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nate as the Seven Dwarfs

My wife were joking the other day that Nate makes a lot of faces. Soon after that comment Nate sneezed and we thought that maybe Nate is trying to play all the seven dwarfs. We may never know, but here is the photo evidence as we see it.



Yes, he sneezed.




Just add glasses

Seven Dwarfs Pictures, Images and Photos
The Seven Dwarfs
Source: Photobucket, blushesbabie

Maybe at some point we'll have him sing a little Heigh-Ho. OK, maybe I'm pushing it a little bit, but we figured this would be fun.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How long does breastmilk last

It seems there are a lot of differences in how long people recommend storing breastmilk. Sure, it is going to differ depending on how you store the milk. I've pulled some recommendations from multiple sources to show the variety of opinions. It is interesting as most of these recommendations are based upon different studies. I haven't had the time to dig in and understand the methods and details behind each of the recommendations.

From Kelly Mom -

 TemperatureStorage Time
Freshly expressed milk
Warm room 79°F / 25°C 4-6 hours
Room temperature 66-72°F / 19-22°C 10 hours
Insulated cooler /icepacks 60°F / 15°C 24 hours

Refrigerated Milk (Store at back, away from door)
Refrigerator (fresh milk) 32-39°F / 0-4°C 8 days
Refrigerator (thawed milk) 32-39°F / 0-4°C 24 hours
Frozen Milk
(Do not refreeze! Store at back, away from door/sides)
Freezer compartment inside refrigerator (older-style) Varies2 weeks
Self-contained freezer unit of a refrigerator/freezer Varies3-6 months
Separate deep freeze 0°F / 19°C 6-12 months
Source: Kelly Mom -

From CDC -

Countertop, table Room temperature (up to 77°F or 25°C) 6–8 hours Containers should be covered and kept as cool as possible; covering the container with a cool towel may keep milk cooler.
Insulated cooler bag 5-39°F or -15-4°C24 hours Keep ice packs in contact with milk containers at all times, limit opening cooler bag.
Refrigerator 39°F or 4°C5 days Store milk in the back of the main body of the refrigerator.
FreezerStore milk toward the back of the freezer, where temperature is most constant.  Milk stored for longer durations in the ranges listed is safe, but some of the lipids in the milk undergo degradation resulting in lower quality.
Freezer compartment of a refrigerator 5°F or -15°C2 weeks
Freezer compartment of refrigerator with separate doors0°F or -18°C 3–6 months
Chest or upright deep freezer -4°F or -20°C 6–12 months

Reference: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. (2004)
Clinical Protocol Number #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Healthy Full Term Infants.


From La Leche League -

Preferably, human milk should be refrigerated or chilled right after it is expressed. Acceptable guidelines for storing human milk are as follows. Store milk:
Room temperature (66-78°F, 19-26°C)
4 hours (ideal), up to 6 hours (acceptable) (Some sources use 8 hours)
Refrigerator (<39°F, <4°C)72 hours (ideal); up to 8 days (acceptable)
Freezer (-0.4 to -4°F, -18 to -20°C)
6 months (ideal) up to 12 months (acceptable)


From Abbott Nutrition (makers of Similac) -

Refrigerator Use within 24 hours if possible. Discard after 72 hours.
Freezer Up to one month in freezer compartment of refrigerator. Do not store in door of freezer.
Deep Freezer 3 - 6 months (0 F or less); store at back of freezer. Best if used within 3 months.


So from these and other sources it seems that there is a range of acceptable storage times. It is interesting that a major manufacturer of formula bases their numbers on a study with some of the shortest storage times. One other good thing I've picked up is milk is probably not bad unless it smells bad or tastes sour.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Road Trip

Not quite the same as the college road trip with the guys. This weekend we took Nate on his first overnight trip outside of Austin. We made a trip to see a number of relatives. We managed to see two of Nate's great-grandmothers, two great aunts, one set of grandparents, and an uncle. We found that we had lots of baby sitters during the days. Everyone was wanting to hold Nate.

The amount of baby stuff we had to stuff in the car was significant. Of course, there was the car seat. He slept well in the car which made the trip pretty easy. Then there was the portable crib, stroller, lots of clothes and diapers, breastpump and milk supplies, boppy, blankets, and rags. Plus probably a few other items I can't recall at the moment.

Nate traveled very well. We spent a total of about 14 hours in the car over the weekend. Most of the time he just slept in the car, at least as long as we were moving. We've found that unless Nate is really hungry he is out whenever the car is moving. At a young age he already doesn't like stop signs and red lights. On the way home we ran into some serious traffic south of Dallas (probably a wreck or a couple of wrecks). As we slowed and saw the massive backup ahead Nate woke up and started getting really fussy. My wife managed to jump into the backseat to try and comfort him. However, I could see that this was not going to be a good solution as we weren't going anywhere fast.

At this point, I grabbed the blackberry and looked at how bad it was on google maps. The traffic on google maps is a great thing. The only thing better with google maps and the blackberry may be the GPS built-into the phone. So the traffic backup was worse than I originally thought. The traffic was backed up for miles. I decided that we needed to keep moving. So I decided to take the back roads. We were close to an exit so I used the shoulder to make it to the exit sooner. Then using google maps and the GPS so I could track our progress as we made it through the back roads. Unfortunately, some of the small roads I picked were gravel (actually they were mud with a couple rocks). So travel was a little slow (but faster than the interstate) and my car is covered in mud.

In the end, we kept moving and Nate stayed asleep. I'm pretty sure we saved some time taking the back roads, but more importantly the drive was nice and quiet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More flu & bacteria

Little addition to my recent flu thoughts. There was a report that came out during the week that noted that many of the people had the 2009 H1N1 flu and died also had bacterial infections. Many of these infections were missed. Doing testing of tissue samples from the deceased, approximately a third tested positive for Streptococcus pneumonia. This information makes me believe that H1N1 may somehow allow the body to be more susceptible to bacterial infections. These secondary infections may be more dangerous than the flu itself. Here is link to summary of report from CDC.

On the positive side. During the normal schedule of immunizations infants are given a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal infections. The streptococcus pneumonia is one of many bacteria that this shot is designed to protect babies against. Nate received the first of these vaccinations at two months. So while he won't be getting the H1N1 vaccine he will have some protection against one of the dangerous potential co-infections that have affected many that have come down with the 2009 H1N1 flu.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Three Months Nate

Today Nate is three months old. It seems like forever we saw him for the first time. At the same time it seems like yesterday as the memories are vividly ingrained in my mind.

He is only three months and honestly he doesn't do much beyond eat, sleep, poop, and cry. However, all those little moments like the smiles, reactions, and the new noises are pretty neat.

I am looking forward to all the upcoming milestones like turning over, sitting up, crawling, etc. Even though those things mean that I've got to start thinking about babyproofing the house and other changes that we knew would happen at some point.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There is a lot of information floating around about the flu. Nate is not going to get any flu vaccine as he is too young. They will not give shots to anyone under six months. So it seems that the best defense is to make sure my wife and I are vaccinated. So last week we both went and received the seasonal flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine contains the killed viruses. So you cannot actually get the flu from the vaccine. In some people, their immune systems will react and flu-like symptoms will occur. I've been lucky and have never had any issues with flu shots.

The seasonal vaccine contains 3 A-type (H3N2) virus, 1 A-type (H1N1) virus, not the novel H1N1 (2009 H1N1, Swine flu, etc), and 1 B-type virus. The seasonal flu vaccine does not provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 virus which is what all the talk this year is about. The 2009 H1N1 vaccine should be available in October. More info from CDC on seasonal virus here.

The 2009 H1N1 flu has a lot of people scared. The good thing I see is the virus doesn't appear to be very dangerous. The rates of death as a percentage seem to be less than some recent common flu variants and very importantly it does not appear to have mutated. The possible mutation is one of the scary potential scenarios that have been mentioned. A mutated virus could be much more dangerous. The 1918 Spanish Flu which happens to be a A-type H1N1 variant did mutate into the much deadlier version that affected millions. More info from the CDC on 2009 H1N1 here.

We'll still plan on getting vaccinated against the 2009 H1N1 flu as we want to make sure that we don't risk Nate getting the flu. Since we are caregivers of an infant under six months we are one of the recommended groups to get vaccinated along with pregnant women, and health care workers. While the 2009 H1N1 seems to be mild I would rather be safe as this flu like any flu can be deadly.

I found a couple other interesting H1N1 resources. Local hospital in Austin is tracking H1N1 info via twitter. For more see A flu tracker, complete with maps from Rhiza Labs can be found here.

My final thoughts. The flu is mainly transmitted via the air through coughing and sneezing. If you are coughing or sneezing please cover your nose and mouth. If you are showing symptoms you can also help decrease the spread of the virus by staying home.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trim those nails

Nate really does not like to have his fingernails trimmed. He fights and squirms when you try and hold him still to cut them and we are both worried about getting more than just the nail when cutting. I've tried using a nail file instead of fingernail trimmers and that may be worse. At least with the clippers the actual cut is quick.

We had been putting off cutting his fingernails, but over the last couple days Nate has had his hands around his face a lot and he has managed to scratch himself a couple times.

We found that a two person operation works best for getting his fingernails trimmed. One person has to distract him enough that you can grab his hand and position the clipper without him squirming (which is not easy). Then if you can make the cuts quick enough he doesn't seem to fight much. Like many things it seems to be more the shock of the event (the cut in this place) vs. it actually hurting.

Even though I worry about it, we've yet to draw any blood cutting his fingernails, but he has drawn a drop or two scratching himself so the benefits of going through the nail trimming process far outweighs letting Nate wound himself. I guess our other option would be to strap his arms to his side, like a baby straightjacket. That just sounds like a bad idea.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Circumcision - would I change my mind if I had the chance

At this point there is no changing my mind, really don't have much choice as what is done is done. I actually debated long and hard. I read articles on both sides. Both sides have some compelling arguments. I actually like the two shows Dad Labs did earlier this year. Their timing was actually pretty good.

Here is the Dad Labs Debate Video for. The guys from Dad Labs and the author of Baby411 (which we have and use for reference often) talk about their thoughts.

Here is the Dad Labs Debate Video against. They talk with an intactivist.

There are some good hygiene reasons for circumcision. Then there are some pros related to sexually transmitted diseases & infection. On the other side there is the why fix it if its not broke and why take away what was given to us. Plus there is the question of pain to infants.

In the end for better or worse one of the stronger arguments for me was not wanting to answer why do I look like this and you look like this?

So did I cause undue pain to Nate? I don't think so, a couple minutes after the procedure he didn't seem any worse for wear. If I was there at the moment of the procedure I might have a different view.

One thing just to think about...Were the Jews on to something a long time ago or not? And is that still valid today?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Road Trip

So Nate took his longest car trip to date today. My wife had a meeting about an hour and a half from home that she needed to make and it wasn't a great day for me to try and stay home to watch Nate. Also I don't think we have enough milk stocked up to feed him for the time she would be gone. Plus tomorrow my wife has another obligation and we'll need all the milk we've got to feed his growing appetite.

I was not on the trip, but Nate handled the trip well. Like many babies the car tends to make him sleepy. Most likely the motion. So most of the drive time he was asleep.

The fact the trip went well bodes well for a longer road trip we are thinking of taking sometime in the near future. Still no cross-country trips, but an overnight trip longer than two hours.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Nate still has many cases of hiccups. He has had frequent hiccups starting well before he was born. While in the womb Sherri would often mention that baby is hiccuping. If I had hiccups at least once a day and often time more I'd get pretty frustrated. However, Nate seems to take them in stride. I wonder if he is thinking why doesn't everyone else have hiccups this often as they don't seem to bother him much.

Hiccups seem to be very normal for babies and the frequency and length should decrease over time. I know it is an old wives tale that hiccups mean you are growing, but Nate is certainly growing and he does hiccup a lot. I can see where the rumors persist.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Sleep Advance

I believe we may have just had a minor breakthrough on the sleep front. Of course, we could take a step or two back, but last night Nate slept really well. He only woke us up once during the night. Typically he has been waking up twice at night needing to feed. If we can keep this up on a somewhat regular basis it will go a long way to us not being zombies in the morning.

For whatever reason, last night Nate really didn't want to go to bed. We had tried to put him down a couple times and he wanted nothing to do with sleep. Once he finally decided that he would go to sleep, he sleep for five hours. Sherri and I woke up and both asked if we slept through Nate waking up earlier. Nope, he had actually slept the whole time.

So during the 10th week Nate managed to only wake us up once during a night. The next target is sleeping through the night. We know that may be a little ways off, but if he can keep up his feat of last night it will go a long way to us getting some more reasonable sleep.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nate's Activities - Spitting up

Nate is now in his 10th week. He is starting to become more alert and active, but most of his activities are still centered around sleeping and eating. One of the other things that Nate seems to do plenty of is spit up. We have burp rags scattered all over the house to deal with those issues when he decides to let loose of a little milk. Of course, there never seems to be one handy when we need it. We often are walking around the house with an old diaper or burp rags on our shoulders. I'm thinking we should have clothes with built in burp rags.

Occasionally we worry about all the spitting up and that Nate could have problems. Everything we've read and feedback from the pediatrician is spitting up is normal. Almost every infant deals with some amount of reflux. The muscle that serves as a valve between the stomach and esophagus is still immature. Over the first year this muscle should start working properly and the reflux (also known as GER/Gastro Esophageal Reflux) should go away. If the reflux doesn't go away then treatment for GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) may be in order. Need for treatment is rare. The rule of thumb that we'll go by is as long as he doesn't complain or seem in pain after spitting up and he is still gaining weight then everything is probably fine. Nate is usually happy after spitting up. Usually he seems rather proud of himself or thinks it is funny. So I think he is fine.

So hopefully over time the spit up will go away. Until them we'll have little milk spots all over our clothes (and elsewhere).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Need the rain, but sun is good on stains

Here in Austin, TX we are in the middle of a serious drought. We actually got a really nice rain today. The grass already seems greener and the temperatures were way down as it was rainy or cloudy all day. While the rain was great it makes one thing harder to do - put Nate's cloth diapers in sun.

The sun works a little magic on cloth diapers. The sun has three advantages:
  1. Helps further dry the diapers and inserts.
  2. Fades or gets rid of stains not completely removed in wash.
  3. Reduces any odors left after washing.

I imagine the neighborhood's homeowners association frowns on our makeshift clothesline. However, our little setup is ideal in so many ways. By using the power of the sun you can save energy vs. using the dryer and using less chemicals to get rid of the stains and odors.

Even though cloth diapers are more work we are still very happy with our decision. Using disposables don't have to think about do you hang diapers in sun or not. There are other people that use liners for cloth diapers. I keep meaning to look into those, especially once Nate starts eating solid foods and the stains and odors may increase.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First night in Baby's Room

Last night was the first night that Nate slept in his own room. Since we had brought him home he had been sleeping in a bassinet in our bedroom. We had been debating on when to start having him sleep in his crib. There are some arguments that you can let infants sleep in another room immediately. Others believe that mom and baby should sheep near each other for as long as possible.

I don't want to debate pros and cons of each. I'll say that every baby is different and what works for one may not work another. One of key trade-offs is now when Nate wakes up we have to go across the house. This means feedings may not be as convenient. We have a baby monitor set up so as far as sounds go he might as well be in our room.

We are hoping that very soon Nate will only be waking us up once a night. Currently he is waking us up twice a night with time between feedings being 3 to 4 hours. As that slowly increases our sleep should get better.

Nate still is having some gas issues, but it has gotten a lot better. With the combined fact that he was sleeping better over last couple nights and he is starting to outgrow the bassinet, we figured it was about time.

So everything went well. Nate slept well in his crib. Hopefully future transitions will go so smoothly.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taking Nate Out in a Stroller

Over Labor Day Weekend we took Nate out on a couple errands as well as took him for a couple walks around the neighborhood. We bought a stroller frame that would work with his infant car seat to make the whole process as easy as possible.

When looking for strollers most manufacturers offer these large travel systems. I can see where they are good for some people. They can be large enough to carry everything, except for maybe the kitchen sink. They also tend to be rather heavy, harder to get in and out of car, and not as easy to push around. While they do fold up, we really needed something that would fold up as small as possible. Without getting into the ones that cost a mint the lightest travel system stroller we found was over 17 lbs (without car seat) and most were heavier. My wife is definitely keeping her current car (a Mini). She loves the vehicle and while a second kid may push us to a new vehicle (she's already talking about a Mini Clubman) right now she is not giving up her Mini. When looking for car seats and strollers we had to make sure that they would fit in the Mini. Almost all the car seats will fit in the Mini, but we found that due to some configuration issues it is best to put the seats on one side or the other vs. in the middle.

Sherri's mini 
Sherri's Mini

Looking at some of these stroller travel systems we figured that they just would not fit into the Mini very well. They were designed for the Minivan or SUV driving crowd. We found a great stroller frame from Baby Trend. The Snap N'Go stroller fits our Graco Snugride infant car seat well. The car seat snaps right in quickly and easily without any modifications. The stroller rolls great, really does open and close with just one hand (if needed). It is also light enough to easily get in and out of car, even with one arm. The Snap N' Go is a maximum of 12 lbs without the car seat. The Snap N' Go will also work with almost all infant car seats.

And the big bonus is we can fit it into the Mini. No it is not small enough to fit in the Mini's trunk, but we can put it into car in any of three ways. It can go in front seat, back seat, or most commonly we fold down half of back seat and put in in through the rear hatch.

Once Nate moves beyond the infant car seat, we'll go with some form of lightweight umbrella stroller and put the frame away for a while. Yes, with a travel system you do have the option of using the stroller without car seat which can extend its life, but we figured that the umbrella style will be best fit our needs best as Nate grows. I'm doing my research now and will probably purchase one later this year.

Nate in Stroller
Nate out for a walk

Snap N'Go stroller
Snap N' Go folded up

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our little ball of gas

So just as we thought Nate was starting to get over his gas issues, he had significant issues last night and this morning. We know that babies have gas, there is just no way around it. However, it was seeming like the gas was subsiding as he was not waking up with gas problems multiple times during the night or making the loud grunt/crying noises associated with his gas.

We have been doing lots of pedaling and pushing his knees to his chest to help with the gas that he does have. That does seem to really help him. We'll certainly try and figure out if there is anything we've done that could have brought on more intense gas and try and correct.

One possible thought is with all the crying he did earlier this week, maybe all that extra swallowed air is finally working itself out of his system. If this was the case seems like a terrible spiraling effect. First more crying, this leads to more gas, which leads to more crying, and repeat. We must find a way to break the cycle.

On another note. We are starting to see some good smiles out of Nate.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Post-vaccination Notes

So a little 36-hour post-vaccination note. The first couple hours after the shots were no different than Nate's typical day. However, after a few hours he decided to express some of his displeasure. He was starting to meltdown. After quite a bit of walking around and swinging we did get Nate reasonably calm. We found that doing some babywearing in the front carrier was quite effective at keeping him calm. The injection sites were noticeably sore as touching near them would set him off.

Nate also had what we believe was a slight case of diarrhea. After a fairly normal night, the day after was filled with more sleep than normal. Now after about 36 hours Nate seems to be back to his normal self. I think before the next shots (at four months) we may do a little research on taking baby Tylenol or other medicine to reduce pain and swelling.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Growth and Pediatrician Visit

We knew Nathaniel was a eating and growing well. We didn't realize quite how well. He is now 12lb 6oz (5.6kg). So he has doubled his birth weight in two months. His length is good, but at 22in (55.9cm) he is still a little short. We knew we were not going to have a basketball player, this just confirms. All else went well with pediatrician visit.

Being that this was Nate's two month visit it was time for vaccinations. He got four different vaccinations. One was oral and the other three went into his thighs. Two into left thigh and one into right thigh. He took the shots like a champ. There was some crying, but between the cold Dr's office and the shock of needles that can certainly be expected. Now we are hoping that if there are any side-effects they are minimal at most. So no more shots for two months. One shot was DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis), IPV (Inactive Polio), and Hepatitis B combined, the second shot was Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), and the third was PCV (Pneumococcal Vaccine). The Rotavirus vaccine was given orally.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New baby is like jet lag

I was trying to describe to someone how I was feeling the last two months. Yes, I'm sleep deprived and not myself, but I'm still functional for at least part of the day, especially after lots of caffeine. Then there is the fact that you don't feel in control. You don't know when you are going to be able to sleep or how long you'll be able to sleep.

I started to think back and this feels a lot like jet lag when flying back from Asia. The big difference is it has taken a lot longer to get back to normal. In this case back to normal may be a different normal. The advantage of jet lag is you return to normal after a few days. It has been two months and we are still struggling with sleep.

So if you've experienced jet lag from really long flights and haven't had kids that might give you some expectation of what you are in for. If you've had kids and are going to be flying long distances for the first time you already have an idea of the jet lag will likely feel like. Of course, everyone is different on how they deal with sleep derivation, jet lag, and newborns. Just my personal observation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nate's Favorite Pacifier

We've got multiple pacifiers sitting around the house. There is one that seems by far to be Nate's favorite. And it is the one we got as a handout from the hospital. I don't want to call it free as I'm sure we paid for it in one way or another. If we would have known this pacifier would be his favorite I would have asked for a handful before we left the hospital so we could have more of these sitting around the house. Note to self - if there is a next time see about grabbing a couple extra. Of course, as we were leaving the hospital we weren't using a pacifier as we were trying to make sure there was no nipple confusion.

Here is Nate with his Soothie®.

Nate with Soothie
We could go buy a couple additional as they are relatively inexpensive pacifiers. The Soothie is only recommended for babies without teeth. So its life is limited. Looks like babies with teeth could make holes or tear apart the relatively soft Soothie®. The Super Soothe® is the tougher material for babies with teeth. Notice they are designed to look like the real thing, which may be why Nate likes it.

For more information on Soothie®, the manufacturers website is

Photo courtesy: Philips Children's Medical Ventures

Friday, August 28, 2009

Football Season

Football season is here or almost here depending on your view.

Most of the college football teams will start their seasons next weekend.

Sherri has her undergrad degree from the University of Texas and mine is from the University of Oklahoma. I actually have have degrees from both fine institutions. However, one school certainly has my loyalty. Needless to say there is a little rivalry on Saturdays in the fall. So we've got Nate ready for college football this year.

So you can see from the pics Nate will be a little conflicted or confused this fall.
Then besides the American football season getting ready to kick off, football for the rest of the world (soccer) is gearing up, especially in Europe. Some of the leagues are already into their season or start this weekend. The EPL is in their third week and La Liga gets going this weekend. This Saturday there is a huge match between Arsenal and Manchester United. We didn't have a jersey for Nate to show his preference for teams and he probably doesn't even care.
It will be a while, but before too long I look forward to kicking or throwing the ball with Nate in the backyard.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Baby Don't Stink

Before Nate came Sherri was all worried about having a diaper genie or similar device to keep the diapers from smelling up the place. I figured how hard is it to take the diapers out everyday? Well someone did give us a Diaper Champ as a gift.

So at least for the next couple months I have figured out that we really don't need our Diaper Champ. While it is pretty cool with the handle to drop the diaper inside. I also like the fact that you can use any bag and not specially designed bags for the product. Below is a picture of the Diaper Champ.

Here is what we are using at the moment for most of the diapers. We are recycling grocery/retail bags. Because the odor is so faint we don't even have to take them out very often. I've heard others describe the smell of breastfed babies as something resembling the smell of buttermilk. My understanding is formula fed babies are a whole different ballgame of smells. We have a week old bag of diapers in our bedroom from when we change Nate at night and we don't even notice it. Below is all we really need for first six months.

So I'm sure we'll be glad we have the diaper champ once he starts eating solid food. But as long as he is a breastfed only baby the diaper champ is overkill. Just another advantage of breastfeeding.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baby Carriers

One of the gifts that we've used quite a bit so far is a soft front baby carrier. It has had two main uses. First, we like to go take walks and Nate likes to sit in the carrier. He tends to be very calm when we take walks while he is in the carrier. This leads to the second use. I can put him in the carrier around the house and as long as he is not really hungry he likes hanging out next to me and usually remains fairly calm.

So if you have or are expecting a baby I would recommend getting one of these carriers and adjust it to your size. Since my wife and I are different sizes it means I get pretty much all the baby bonding time with the carrier. Now my wife has sling that she wears quite a bit and that works well for her.

The carrier that we have is the Infantino Eurorider. I can't compare, but it looks somewhat similar to the BabyBjorn products. The BabyBjorn seems be a little higher-end model and I really like the concept of the BabyBjorn Air with the hot weather in Austin.

Overall we really like the Infantino Eurorider. We can take reasonably long walks and it is comfortable for me and Nate. They say you can use the carrier until baby weights about 25lbs. We'll see how comfortable the carrier is as Nate gets over 20lbs.

This a picture of Nate and me after our walk yesterday.

So I'll continue doing my babywearing. I see this a big plus for everyone. Nate likes being in the carrier. I get to do some bonding and they say there positive physical development aspects of being in a carrier.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

529 Plans

With school starting this week I thought I would make some comments on my research on 529 plans or qualified tuition plans. Yes, it will probably be 18 years before any of this money is used, but as college expenses continue to go up seems like now is the right time to get started.

At some other time I'll touch on Savings Bonds, Coverdell Plans, and Uniform Gifts to Minors. This time I'll just stick with 529 plans. I see three categories of 529 plans. The first are state sponsored pre-paid tuition plans. In Texas, the current version is the Texas Tuition Promise Fund. With a pre-paid tuition plan you are locking in to today's rates for tuition. With the typical pre-paid plan you purchase credits can be used directly at state schools. With most of the pre-paid tuition plans if your child ends up at a private school or out-of-state school the money can still be used, but you'll likely get a lower conversion rate. Then are state sponsored and private college savings plans. Every state and the District of Columbia sponsors a college savings plan. Some states have both pre-paid plans and college savings plans, others just have college savings plans. Often there are tax or other advantages to investing in state 529 plans. There are also private 529 plans. These are college savings plans that are managed by groups like Vanguard and USAA.

All 529 plans are similar to Roth IRAs. Your contributions are money that has been taxed and is non-deductable. Any proceeds are not taxed (at least by federal government) as long as proceeds are used on qualified college expenses. Most states that have an income tax (Texas does not so this is not much of an issue) give you a break by not charging tax on state sponsored 529 plans. Money that is not used for qualified expenses is subject to income tax and 10% penalty.

Pre-paid plans are a little more restrictive as they can only be used to pay for tuition and required fees. Proceeds from college savings plans can be used for any qualified college expense. This includes items like books, computers, and room and board.

A couple other notes around all 529 plans. The account holder (custodian) is the owner of the plan. The beneficiary can be changed with out any penalties.

Everyone's situation is different and I would recommend that you do your research and homework before investing in any plan. There is a lot of information out there and there are details available for every possible plan out there. For Nate, I'm going to have both a pre-paid component and college saving plan component. Now I've just got to figure out the mix in which I'll invest each year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Infant Tears

So yesterday we had one of those sad milestones for an infant. I wasn't nearly fast enough preparing a bottle yesterday as Sherri was away for a while. She did leave plenty of her breastmilk just in case.

Nate was crying and as I was trying to comfort him I noticed tears streaming down his face. We had not seen tears fro him and while they are not something I want to see it does tell us that his tear ducts are working properly and are not blocked.

Infants tear ducts seem to be capable of producing tears in the first month. Typically by 2-3 months infants will see tears. Some infants have blocked tear ducts which may mean no tears for many more months. In almost all cases,i the tear ducts will take care of themselves over time. There are cases in which more drastic measures may be taken to deal with blocked tear ducts, but looks like we are certainly in the clear. Now we just have to deal with the sadness of tears when Nate cries.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sleeping Longer

Last night Nate slept for 4 1/2 hours straight. That was his longest uninterrupted sleep to date. We realize that one night may not mean this will be the norm. However, it does prove that he can sleep for long enough that on a good night he would only have to wake up once at night to be fed.

Even though Nate slept for 4 1/2 hours last night, once he woke up he didn't want to go back to bed. So the overall nights sleep was not wonderful. However, maybe before too long we'll get back to enough sleep that I won't have to drink large amounts of caffeine during the day to not be a zombie. I started thinking about a few months ago when I was sleeping well at night. A cup of coffee or a Dr. Pepper in the morning got me going and that was about all I needed all day. Now at least two cups of coffee in the morning and a couple caffeinated drinks during the day are more the norm. Even then I'm still not myself.

So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just don't know how long the tunnel will be.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Nate's Schedule

Or lack of schedule is probably the best way to describe it. He pretty much sleeps and eats as he wants. Just as we think he might be settling into a pattern...wham he decides to change.

So I guess the good news is at this early age you really can't expect a pattern and this should not reflect how well he will settle as he continues to grow. I haven't seen any solid data, but it seems like a lot people think at 3-4 months there is a significant amount of development and in some cases a switch just seems to go off.

I know we are looking forward getting a little bit of a schedule so we plan things like sleep. As I'm writing this it is well after midnight and Nate seems to have lots of energy. After feeding him about 10pm we've been trying to convince him that he should go to bed. The only convincing that has been done is Nate convincing us that he needed more to eat. I'm hoping he runs out of energy soon so I can call it a night and get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Anniversary with Nate

So today is Sherri and my 3rd wedding anniversary. We've had three good years. This year will be different with Nate. In years past, we've gone out for a nice dinner and enjoyed each others' company.

This year we've got Nate. It seems interesting how priorities change. Our plans will be to go our for a nice quick meal based upon when we get Nate fed. Then the place we have chosen needs to be quick and we can pack up to go quickly if we get some kind of melt-down. Or we may just go for take-out. Finally, this Wednesday Sherri has things she wants to see on TV. Tonight is finale of Top Chef Masters and the premier of the new season of Top Chef Sin City (Las Vegas).

One interesting thing I came across today on mashable. Some of the best sites for parenting videos. The Martha Stewart probably won't appeal to me much, but the bonus site - Sesame Street should be a good one to remember for the near future. I'll admit I was a Sesame Street fan and while things have changed I think it will be good to see Nate raised with Sesame Street as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Infant Vaccinations - How much does it hurt

Two months will be here before we realize it. Don't know if it is time flies when you are having fun or sleep deprivation makes us not realize how fast things have gone.

One of the things that happens at two months is vaccinations. We are both pro-vaccinations. We just can't see Nate having to deal with many of the diseases that are so easily prevented. So at two months here are the recommended vaccinations: DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (whooping cough)), Polio, Hepatitis B, Prevnar (pneumococcal bacteria), HIB (Haemophilus influenzae bacteria),and Rotavirus. Then there are followups and additional vaccinations at a year for diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella.

I do understand the arguments that some people have that by vaccinating you are not allowing the immune system to optimally strengthen itself. But then some of those same people are the ones sending their kids to things like measles parties. To me that just seems like a recipe for disaster. Diseases like measles can be really nasty. Others worry about the safety of vaccinations. That may be a topic for another date, but every study I've ever seen says that vaccines are safe. Yes, there can be some side-effects, but the minor risk is so much less than the reward.

So one of the things that crossed my mind is how much pain will we be subjecting Nate to when his shots are administered. I'm thinking there will be three or four pokes. Now when I think about it when I get shots they really don't hurt, except for that initial sting. Now a baby does have to deal with the shock which is probably the worst and most upsetting part of the whole process. My reading seems to concur that this is most likely the case.

One of the vaccinations I most want to get Nate is the HIB, which protects against pneumonia and meningitis. We recently had a friend who's daughter came down with a case of bacterial meningitis before she was vaccinated. Even catching it early they spent many days in the hospital, several spinal taps, lots of antibiotics, and many prayers. She recovered nicely. However, after reading how serious meningitis can be to a child anything I could do to prevent it I will.

So I'm also going to try and make sure that I go to the pediatrician with mom and Nate, if nothing else to comfort mom during the process.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pee and Poop Conversations

I can remember a couple years back someone telling me your conversations will change when you have a child. Things like pee and poop will suddenly become a common conversation.

Before Nate was born I can probably count on my hand the number of conversations with my wife around even slightly related to peeing or pooping. In just a couple weeks those conversations have gone to the point where I don't think I can count them all on my fingers and toes combined.

Today there was actually a conversation around poop. I had come home and one of the things my wife mentioned was Nate's poop was back to a more yellow color. This is actually very good news. The last couple days his poop had some green shading too it. This was coupled with some pretty rough gas. The yellow coloring more likely means that we've probably got pass the worst of the gas issues (at least for now). So between time and the things we did to try and remedy the situation something is working.

So Nate also seems to be less fussy and more his normal happy self. So hopefully this means a happy and somewhat more rested family for the next couple days.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baby Got Gas

Nate has gas. Of late, especially at night, it has been pretty bad. We don't know how much it really hurts him, but the grunts and cries certainly keep everyone up. We've been trying to figure out what is behind Nate's gas.

Here are some of the common potential causes for a breastfed baby: immature digestive tract, gas bubbles entering through crying, eating, and sucking on pacifier (what comes in must go out), foods mom may have eaten, and foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. The list could be longer, but this seems pretty long for us. The good thing is Nate doesn't really seem to have colic, just bad case of gas. They may be rather similar, but from the descriptions I'm glad colic hasn't struck.

We've tried to burp and massage Nate a lot. That alone doesn't seem to have solved anything. From our reaching simethicone (mylicon) usually isn't very effective. We've tried some gripe water and it may have helped, but it is really hard to tell. We've looked at probiotics to help out his digestive system. No idea if that will do any good. I'm convinced that the foods mom eat make almost no impact on gas. Then Sherri is going to make some adjustments to try and reduce what Nate sees of the heavy letdown.

One thing that at least seems to help Nate feel better is to move his legs like he is bicycling. That usually seems to make him feel better and the cycling is often followed by letting out gas.

Hopefully all this will be behind us soon. Unfortunately a lot of the gas issues may just take time to work out on their own. One of the better sources ( that I've found on many baby topics lends weight to the argument that time may be the most effective. More at

So we'll have a few more nights to deal with gas and lots more bicycle movements to come for sure.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fuzzibunz vs. BumGenius

If you would have asked me a couple months ago what Fuzzibunz or bumGenius was I wouldn't have had a clue. Today I probably know more about cloth diapers than I probably should.

After much research on cloth vs. disposable and then different types of cloth diapers we figured that we really couldn't make a decision. So we purchased a couple different types of diapers. We purchased a set of bumGenius 3.0 one size diapers, a set of Fuzzibunz perfect size (small for now) diapers, and a set of Fuzzibunz one size diapers. We looked at other brands and so many had positives and negatives in our mind. In the end, we thought the Fuzzibunz and bumGenius diapers were our favorites.

Fuzzibunz Perfect Size

We bought some small Fuzzibunz to start with. Our plan, if these work out, is we'll buy some mediums for Nate as he grows out of the small. The snaps are easy to secure and the the diapers are easy to put on and take off. The small is supposed to work for babies 7 - 18 lbs. Maybe it is Nate's build, but these were really a little big for a 7 lb baby. We just couldn't get them to fit well enough around the legs to prevent liquid from getting out. As he has grown this has worked itself out.

fuzzibuns perfect size
source: Fuzzibunz

Fuzzibunz One-Size

These are made to fit a baby from 7 - 35 lbs. They have multiple adjustments including elastic straps. Then they also have three snaps on each side for fastening. I think the third snap (hip snap) gives a little better fit than the two snaps per side on the perfect size diapers. The one size did seem to swallow Nate a little bit at first, but that can be expected with a diaper that will last until potty training. Long term this diaper probably will adjust to Nate's growth better than any other.

fuzzibuns one size
source: Fuzzibunz

bumGenius One-Size (3.0)

The bumGenius have a little different design. They use velcro for fastening and snaps to adjust. They are a one-size diaper (7 - 35 lb). The use of velcro makes the fastening really easy, even when Nate is kicking like crazy. I do worry that the velcro may have a limited lifespan, but it looks like if you take care the velcro (you might even have to clean it) it should stand up ok. Worst case you could rip off and sew on new velcro for a second child. I also like the pocket that bumGenius has vs. Fuzzibunz for the insert. The bumGenius one size actually did the best job of fitting a small baby of the three diapers we have. Hopefully these will work as well as Nate gets older as it did when he was small.

bum genius
source: bumGenius

I think we'll learn a lot more about cloth diapers over the next two years and I can see my opinions potentially changing. Right now the bumGenius are my favorite, but I can see benefits to each of the diapers and how those specific benefits may change which diaper stays or becomes my favorite over time. In addition to the cost, environmental, and health benefits of cloth diapers they also come in fun colors.

Probably won't be the last time I write about cloth diapers. If nothing else I'll try and update our experiences over time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers

So before Nate made his appearance, we decided to look into cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers. We knew that diapers were going to be a major expense over first couple years and we wanted to spend our money wisely. As we started our research we found out that some of the new cloth diapers are not the simple prefolds that we were raised on. No more are trying to stick pins into a crying baby. That in itself would have probably meant lots of accidental draws of blood. The cloth diapers of today are about as easy to put on and take off as disposables. Doing a lot of reading it did become evident that there were pro and cons to both sides. The disposables are certainly convenient. However, the big item that caught my attention was even buying the high-end cloth diapers I can see a pretty significant potential cost savings over disposable diapers. And if we do indeed have a second child that can use the same diapers then the savings becomes even greater.

So we are almost six weeks from Nate's birth and the jury is still somewhat out. I do really like the cloth diapers, but Nate was pretty small being early and he just didn't fit into the cloth diapers initially. As he has grown he fits in them pretty well. We still use the disposables at night. More for convenience than anything else.

So why are cloth diapers interesting. One of the big arguments for cloth is they are better for the environment. Well, by the time you wash all those diapers I'm pretty sure there is still a positive environment impact, but I can see where the foreign made cloth diapers, water usage, and detergent start to negate that big advantage just a little bit. Another cloth diaper advantage is that babies are less likely to have diaper rash. Saving Nate this pain is a real positive in my book. I won't go into the argument behind this, but it does seem to make sense. Then there is the claim that babies wearing cloth diapers tend to potty train faster. We will see on this one, but the faster we can stop buying/washing diapers the better.

So why are disposables interesting. Convenience, convenience, convenience. Yes, all you have to do is throw them away. No trying to store to wash. No having to bring diapers back if you are out. No worrying about knocking solids off. Then there are day care providers that don't want to deal with cloth diapers. So that is a pretty compelling argument.

However, the #1 argument in my book was cost. I figured that 2.5 years of diapers was about average. Some children will go longer and some will get potty trained sooner. If you figured that you will spend about $1.80 per day on disposable diapers (estimate $0.18 each at 10 per day initially, $0.225 each at 8 per day as they grow, and $0.30 each at 6 per day before they are out of diapers). That means for one baby I estimated you'll spend about $1642 in diapers alone. You might be able to reduce that slightly buying in bulk or going with low end store brand. However, you can certainly spend more on the high end Pampers or Huggies. For a set of reasonably high-end cloth diapers (mix of sizes) that should last Nate until he is potty trained I will end up spending a little less than $500. If you add the extra water and detergent costs, lets say $5 / month you need to add $150. Then there will be times you use disposable diapers for what ever reason (traveling, came early and used newborn disposables, using disposables at night, etc.). Let's say that is another $200. So if you can handle washing diapers and dealing with the extra time needed to handle cloth diapers I estimate that you can reduce your diapering costs by about $800. Then the cloth diapers can be reused so for baby number two the cost savings become even more pronounced.

I won't say that cloth diapers are for everyone, but I've been impressed so far. We have a little liquid leaking problem with one of our diapers because Nate just isn't really big enough for the way they are sized. At this point there have been no blow outs (or even anything close) with the cloth diapers.

Soon I'll go over the brands of cloth diapers we chose and the pros and cons of each.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another reason not to take babies to movies

Babies tend to cry quite often. I certainly don't enjoy hearing the crying and I especially don't enjoy hearing my own son cry. This worry of is there something wrong, is he hurting, etc. goes on in your mind. But I've learned that females tend to have another reflex around crying. Breastfeeding mothers will experience letdown reflex (sometimes called milk ejection reflex) with they hear a baby cry. It seems reasonable that the female body makes milk ready when baby cries, which is most common reason for infants crying.

So my wife went to the movies yesterday. I stayed home and took care of Nate for a couple hours. There were a couple babies at the movie and they were crying. So not only was it a possible interruption to all the rest of the people trying to watch the movie, but the letdown reflex caused a significant buildup of milk in my wife's breasts. This pressure caused her to run home directly after the movie to pump (or feed) to reduce the pressure which was becoming rather painful. So she didn't get to accomplish a couple other errands and the end of movie was not as pleasant due to excess pressure in her breasts.

Not that we were planning on taking Nate to the movies, but I have another reason why babies should not go to the movies.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why Breastfeeding

One of the things that Sherri and I decided on early was that she would breastfeed. It just seems to make sense. Not only is it the perfect food for babies, breastfeeding has positives for moms as well. Breastfeeding gives time for mom and baby to bond. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula and has hormones, antioxidants, and antibodies that help babies grow and protect them from infections. Breastfed babies also have lower incidences of SIDS, asthma, obesity, and diabetes. Then add the benefits to mothers, breastfeeding helps get rid of pregnancy weight and studies show that breastfeeding helps reduce certain types of breast and ovarian cancers as well as diabetes.

So based upon this why doesn't every mother breastfeed? Seeing Sherri struggle getting Nate to breastfeed gives me one clear indication. Sometimes is just isn't easy. The formula makers have made it easy. With the bottle there is no latching issues, no bruising, cutting, or soreness of nipples from baby. Plus anyone can easily feed the baby, and there are no problems later with work interfering or breastfeeding in public. 2007 data from the CDC states that 73.8% of mothers in the US initially breastfed. That number dropped significantly by the time babies reached three months and was even lower at six months. UNICEF goes even farther with estimating that 1.5 million infant deaths could be prevented worldwide if every mother exclusively breastfed for six months.

I have gotten quite a bit of satisfaction being able to feed Nate with breastmilk that Sherri has pumped. Makes me feel closer and hopefully that is some good early bonding between dad and son. I'm hopeful between breastfeeding and pumping breastmilk we can keep Nate 100% mom fed for six months.

I will say that without the lactation consultants and Le Leche League meetings and resources Sherri would have had a much more difficult time breastfeeding. I can see why so many people give up. The first week or two was really rough and she'll probably have scars for a long time to come. I am VERY grateful to these resources and encourage all mothers to learn more through resources like these - you and your baby will benefit.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nathaniel (Nate)was born June 30th 2009. He was earlier than we expected (about two weeks). He weighed a whole 6lb 2oz and was 19in long. We thought except for a name we were pretty much ready for his arrival. Or at least we thought. I want to be a pretty active Dad and I'm looking forward to experiencing him growing up.

Many people told me to be prepared for lack of sleep. But until you experience it, I didn't realize how much the lack of sleep would really affect me. At times I feel like a walking zombie. I'm looking forward to Nate sleeping a little more between feedings. Right now Nate is about 3 hours between feedings (start to start). Another hour or so between feedings would be nice. I think that extra hour will make a big difference.

One of the other things getting used to is changing so many diapers. I've changed a lot of diapers in the first couple weeks. I read about all the diaper changes, but until you change 10 diapers in a day I just didn't realize. I'll talk more about diapers and our choice to go with cloth. We (well Sherri) also chose to breastfeed. It really makes a difference as the doesn't smell.

Off to get a nap....