Struggling with little one's sleep? Schedule your free chat to learn about Nested Mama's holistic approach to family sleep.
Let's face it - there are no shortage of "miracle" items targeting you, the sleepless parent, with the promise of more sleep for you and your little ones.
As ironic as it may sound coming from someone whose business centers on supporting families as they deal with the tricky stages and transitions of infant and toddler sleep, I am always VERY leery of anything that suggests it can help little ones sleep longer.
Why is that? Well, any quick look into the scientific literature on infant sleep tells us that waking at night in search of parental reassurance - whether for food or a snuggle - is normal.
That said, as I often share with clients, just knowing it is normal doesn't automatically make it easy to navigate on your own.
Enter the lovey - a strategy parents often turn to as they seek to make transitions from one means of nighttime soothing to another. Sometimes, presenting a child with a lovey results in interest that grows to attachment and the child finds comfort with the lovey. Sometimes, you give your kid a lovey and they decide that some other household object - a dump truck, a scrap of fabric, or something else - fits the role of beloved comfort object much better.
While we cannot always predict what object our little ones will deem "perfect" and worthy of lovey status, we can be thoughtful and intentional in the objects we offer and facilitate their introduction with care.
I found myself pondering this as we considered Christmas gifts for our then 3 month old. As baby #4, our littlest has no shortage of hand-me-down blankets and plushies and other typical lovey choices.
At this young age, I was looking for a lovey that could be used primarily as a source of comfort while in the car seat. I wanted something soft, sweet, and washable.
***Please note both of these photos were of fully supervised sleep surrounded by attentive caregivers.***
So why Lulla?
At this age, my primary objective was to get a sense of familiarity with an object that could offer comfort while we traveled in the car.
Not only is Lulla cute and cuddly, the doll also offers a soothing pairing of heartbeat and breathing sounds. Designed to help NICU babies who are separated from caregivers yet need the soothing sense of presence, Lulla offers an approximation (note, not replacement for) the reassurance of a caregiver's heart and breathing.
Because spit up and, well, life require all things be washable, I love how easily the outer stuffier portion removes for cleaning. No stress there!
If I'm honest, I find a lot of the musical variety lovies more grating than soothing, so the simple white noise offered by Lulla is a welcome alternative.
We know that adding anything to baby's sleep surface is not recommend, and Lulla acknowledges this, providing means to attach to the outside of a crib and thus still provide white noise during sleep.
For us, Lulla became a tool to make car travel easier on everyone. And, when little one is ready grab a lovey and snuggle it to bed, he'll have a friend he's known a long time in Lulla!
***Nested Mama is a participant in the GoAffPro Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the partner site***
What does this mean? When you purchase a Lulla Doll through a link on this blog, I earn a small commission. These small commissions are so helpful in keeping the Nested Mama blog up and running, and I only become an affiliate of products and services I feel strongly about and utilize with my own family.
Struggling with little one's sleep? Schedule your free chat to learn about Nested Mama's holistic approach to family sleep.
Are you a new or prospective doula looking for one-on-one mentorship? Schedule your free chat to see if Nested Mama's mentoring is right for you!
If you anything like me, you came to doula work because you felt called to support parents and families in and around birth.
But, the running a business part - that part was COMPLETELY foreign to me.
Today, I'm going to share a bit with you about a tool I've found so helpful in keeping my little business running smoothly - Dubsado.*
Now when I say tool, you could think of, say, a can opener or a power saw, and Dubsado is most certainly the latter.
So what is Dubsado? Dubsado is a client management system that seamlessly puts together client inquiries, intake forms (they call these questionnaires), service selections (they call these proposals), contracts, invoicing, and scheduling.
Do you struggle with getting contracts signed, consults scheduled, or invoices paid? Dubsado can significantly lighten your load, allowing you to automate your workflows. The path from scheduling a consult, filling an intake form, selecting a package, signing a contract, and paying an invoice can all flow automatically.
Do you spend significant time crafting emails that essentially say the same thing again and again? Dubsado's canned email feature can save you a ton of time. You still have the option to customize and edit before one goes out, but having a blueprint to follow can be an amazing help.
Do you want to keep all your client information organized and easily accessible no matter where you are? Dubsado makes that possible keeping all client emails, forms, appointments, and payments together in one tidy and easy to navigate client file. I love that I can access it on the go, no matter where I am, making it easy to pull up my appointment schedule, a client's preferences for in-home overnight support, and more.
Do you want to streamline communication with your clients and make it easy for them to access all client materials? You guessed it - Dubsado does that, too. The client portal feature give clients a clean, professional user interface to represent your brand.
That said, Dubsado does require some time and effort on your part to set up forms and workflows - but these are infinitely customizable so they can truly reflect your brand. And, they offer tutorials as well as extremely responsive customer service, so if you find yourself a bit confused, help is just a chat box away.
Want to give it a whirl? When you sign up, Dubsado let's you experiment with three client leads for FREE without a time limit. That means you can take your time setting things up and exploring the platform before you commit. And, when you are ready, you can use my affiliate code nestedmama to save 20%.
All in all, Dubsado let's me spend less time on the mundane business aspects and MORE time with client support - and isn't that what we all want in the end?
*This post includes affiliate links for Dubsado.
Are you a prospective doula looking for information on training and certification? Head here for more info!
Are you looking for affordable, eco-friendly solutions for everyday cleaning? Maybe you'd like to involve your children in family cleaning, but you don't feel comfortable with the products you are using?
I'm with you. Having my kiddos made me take much more pause before grabbing a cleaner off the store shelf and toting it home to use.
But, I also need convenience. Anything I make has to be quick and easy.
And, I confess, I do love the convenience of any kind of wipes - no spraying or soaping - just open and go.
Today, I'm sharing with you a super simple cleaning recipe I've used for several years. While it takes a few minutes to make, the end result is easy-peasy like those store-bought wipes. But, with confidence in the ingredients and a reusable wipe - woohoo!
-washcloths or rags (I use about 12 washcloths for this recipe myself - you may like more or less depending on how damp you'd like them to be.)
- container that will hold your rags + solution
- 1 c. distilled water (or water you've boiled for 10 minutes)
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 2 TB vodka
(While some add essential oils to these types of recipes, I'm pretty cautious with any EO usage because of babes/toddlers/kids/pets.)
Combine all ingredients in the bottom of whatever container will fit your rags. (I use a container I saved from the recycling.) Roll cloth wipes and stand upright in solution. Close lid and give a little shake. The cloth wipes will naturally soak up the solution and be damp when you pull one out to use.
Open container and pull out wipe. Clean. Toss in laundry. When container is empty, it is time to make another batch!
While I can imagine these wipes fulfilling several jobs, they are our go to for wiping down bathroom sinks, counters, and the outside of toilet bowls. I've found that a deep clean may be expecting too much from my kiddos, but they are all capable of a daily wipe down.
And, a daily wipe down to their standards is much better than waiting until I have the chance and need for a *deep* clean.
Happy eco-baby living!
Looking for other Eco Baby friendly recipes and projects? Check out all the Nested Mama Blogs on this topic here!
Feeding a baby. We're mammals after all, right? Despite the fact that our babies and our bodies were biologically made for this, the work of breastfeeding doesn't always feel that natural. And, because the culture that we live in isn't the most breastfeeding informed, feeding your little one whenever and wherever they need to be fed can be a bit stressful at the start.
If you are choosing to breastfeed your little one, here are a few tips that may make those initial forays into breastfeeding in public more comfortable.
Dress for success. Finding the apparel that makes you feel most comfortable with breastfeeding can be key. While many companies make specific nursing clothing, a lot of nursing parents find that a deep v-neck is sufficient for access to the breast. Others use the "two shirt method," where a top shirt is pulled up and a tank or undershirt is pulled down, keeping all but the breast cozy in clothing. Adding a scarf can be nice if you are feeling like a little more coverage or in chillier weather when an extra layer keeps you and baby more snug.
Do it on the move. Sometimes finding a comfy spot to sit down for a feed can feel stressful - or less than ideal when you need to get an errand done now. Learning to nurse in a carrier can be a tool that not only makes breastfeeding in public - but parenting a tiny person in general - more sustainable. Not sure how feed in your specific carrier? Reach out to your postpartum doula or local baby wearing group - the latter being another great resource to find friends and support.
Find your community. Nothing boosts your breastfeeding in public confidence like seeing experienced breast feeders wrangle their infants and toddlers and feed in public around you. If you don't have any mom friends to call up for a trip somewhere low-key out and about, reach out to your local breastfeeding group. There are likely a dozen or more breastfeeding parents who would be happy to meet for coffee and be your support squad as you get comfortable nursing in public. And, getting out with other parents in the same stage of life can be so helpful to building your village, too.
To cover or not to cover? Many companies sell expensive scarfs or apron-like devices to cover you and baby while nursing. While some breastfeeding parents feel most comfortable nursing under-cover, others prefer to go without. There is no right or wrong, here - only what works to make you and baby feel the best. And, at different stages your little one may heartily protest being covered or do best with more coverage to prevent distraction - only time and experience will let you know.
Bottom line: what works for you and baby is what is good and proper. Trust in that - and feed that baby!
Advice from breastfeeding parents who have been there and done that:
While nursing tops are helpful, I found that layering a tank top under a regular shirt made breastfeeding discreet without a nursing cover. Lifting your shirt up (as opposed to down with a nursing shirt) covers the action and makes for quick access. The tank top underneath covers your tummy and sides while your shirt is lifted up. - Kelly D.
I liked having a nursing cover in my backpack.... not necessarily for covering up but for any spit up. - Megan F.
Mostly though I just have the attitude that I dare somebody to say something about me feeding my child, but keep a smile on my face so everyone knows I'm confident in my choice. My last piece of advice is to not think everyone is judging you! Most people are in their own worlds out in public and aren't looking or thinking about what you are doing! You can trick yourself into seeing a lot of negativity that might not be there . - Becca D.
I went to Plato's closet and bought cute, long tanks in sizes much larger than I usually would so either the arm hole or neck hole is much larger. That way I can just lift up the top shirt, and pull the tank to the side from the armpit. It's easy, discreet, and I feel cute. - Abbi B.
I personally feel like if I can catch baby a little early before she’s all out hangry, it’s easier to have a relaxed nursing session in public! When she gets hangry is when it gets a little treacherous for me getting her settled down. So I plan my trips out accordingly - (baby will need to eat around 2, will we be somewhere where I can easily sit down to feed her?) - Carli R.
[S]omething that really helped me was always having some enjoyable to drink myself. At the grocery store- I’d always stop by the Starbucks kiosk to get a coffee, or at a restaurant order a favorite cocktail, and always had my water bottle on me. I’d always focus on 1. my baby and 2. just enjoying a drink with my babe. It was almost a mindfulness thing... when I’d start to feel anxious, like people might be staring (they really never were), enjoying a sip of my drink would help me recenter. [. . .]. [I] also just reminded myself that by nursing in public- it’s just paving the way for other moms to feel able to do so as well. I remember seeing moms nursing in public prior to be a mom myself- also remember moms nursing their babies when I was a teacher in an infant classroom and those are the moms who normalized breastfeeding for me and showed me how important it is to be confident and able to do what we need to take best care of our babies and self! So I think that every time I nurse in public, I hope this will help a mama in the future do the same! - Emma B.
With my first I was so worried what everyone around me was thinking, and I didn't want to make others uncomfortable. I experienced a number of breastfeeding challenges with my first child and ended up needing to supplement and later wean much earlier than I would have liked. So with my second, I made up my mind that I was going to try not to care what anyone else thought or if I was making anyone uncomfortable. As a woman, we often find ourselves planning for and managing everyone else' s needs, emotions, expectations in our family and societal role. I continue to try to reject that expectation and focus on my ultimate priority, which is feeding and nourishing my baby. - Grace S.
Expecting and looking for a breastfeeding class full evidence-based information and nonjudgmental support? Nested Mama offers a convenient webinar Breastfeeding: basics & beyond.
That special season is coming - you can sense the change in the air, right? As adults, the holiday season may contain obligations, to-do lists, and more - but seeing it through the eyes of our kiddos, the sense of magic all comes back.
If this is baby's first Christmas (or another holiday your family observes), you may be wondering what to put in the stocking or under the tree. One strategy I use when crafting a gift wish-list for my littles (a list that grandparents/aunties/uncles often ask for well in advance) is to think through what presents will bring us joy not just in the coming winter months, but for years to come.
With that in mind, I share below some gift ideas that have had true longevity in our house.
Wooden Unit Blocks
Their large size means these blocks are safe for little ones to grab, but their open-ended play possibilities mean years of fun (we're at 6.5 years and counting here!). We've found that starting with a basic set has allowed us to add blocks with color, mirrors, or other materials to add some layers of sensory engagement to block play.
Tegu Magnetic Blocks
While I enjoy these blocks as an adult, they are particularly great for little ones who are in that stage of wanting to build but often frustrated when the pieces don't stack like they want. And, the addition of magnets adds for a different twist on this fine motor activity. Packing just 4 blocks in my purse provided great entertainment on the go for my kiddos.
Wooden Train Set
If your little one is close to his or her first birthday, now may be a great time to add a simple train set to your list. Your participation may be required to help build a track for awhile, but eventually your child will delight in that part, too. Like the open ended wooden blocks, we've had toddlers as well as 12 year-old cousins get a kick out of our train set.
If you don't have the perfect year to get outside in colder temps, now is a perfect time to add that to your list. If you are set for winter but not the warmer rainy temps, adding a coverall and some rainboots will make it possible for you to enjoy spring weather, too.
Holidays mean roadtrips for our family and having good tunes is key to everyone's happiness. Check out the link above for some of our favorites and add a CD or digital download to your little one's Christmas list.
The more holiday seasons I journey through with my children, the more I value experience gifts. Instead of taking up space in our house, these gifts allow us to find joy together. Locally a music class at Preucil or West Music, a membership to the Iowa Children's Museum, or parent and baby classes like yoga or music
Stainless Steel Dinnerware
While it may seem impossible now, little one will be joining you at the table soon (if not already). Investing in some quality stainless steel dinnerware means you can feel confident that these dishes will last a long time.
This tray comes with a cover, perfect for storing in the fridge or taking on a picnic.
Stainless steel cups with silicone lids will last you from the sippy cup stage and well beyond. My 6 year old still drinks out of this size stainless steel cup, so we've gotten years out of our similar set, instead of buying new cups for each new stage.
Did I miss one of your favorite ideas for baby's first Christmas? Share in the comments below!
I am so jazzed to share this collaboration with fellow Doulas of Iowa City members Emma Benson and Allison Carfizzi. Read all of our tips for surviving and enjoying the holidays while expecting over on the Doulas of Iowa City blog.
It's December - hurrah! I'm dreaming of that crunch of snow, the smell of fir trees, and warm hot cocoa over on the Doulas of Iowa City blog where I share tips for baby's first holiday season.
While it can be tempting to hibernate all winter long, getting outside - even for 20 minutes a day - can be crucial for maintaining our circadian rhythm. So layer up, and get out!
A few tips for winter adventures:
When the weather is truly cold, I like to pick locations that offer dual outdoor/indoor fun. We start outdoors and last as long as we can, knowing the fun can continue inside. All four of the winter adventures listed below have that indoor/outdoor option!
If you have children who are reluctant to layer (ahem, my children, cough cough), ask them to pack a backpack to take on the adventure with necessary layers. This way they have what they need if they need it, and they can listen to their bodies and make changes.
Keep a wind chill chart bookmarked on your phone and consult the forecast before you go. (This can also give you a sense of whether or not layers are negotiable for outdoor play.)
Invest in winter gear. If you have the layers you need to stay warm, you will enjoy the time outside so much more.
If you or your child needs extra motivation, a thermos of hot coffee/tea/chocolate can go a long way in helping you meet your outside time goals.
If you haven't been before, ICNC boasts a trail network that traipses through prairie, woods, and wetland. Beautiful in warmer temps, the trails offer lots to explore in colder weather, too. The outdoor classroom is a favorite of mine when I want to get us playing in chillier temps. Inside the ICNC the lobby includes several stations to explore nature as well as a bird watching room, perfect for warming fingers and toes after outside play.
The fun at Wickiup Wandering Woods, just a short walk from the parking, continues even in snowy weather. With lots to climb, build, and explore, we like to burn off some steam before heading in to play in the kid-friendly exhibits.
If you park at the Conservation Education Center, you'll find a half-mile, crushed stone, stroller-friendly trail. The perfect length for little legs on a chilly day, this hike allows you to bundle them in stroller if the weather proves a little too fierce. Pop inside the CEC after the hike and enjoy the museum area, complete with hands on exploration.
Winter Night Hike in Your Neighborhood
While I often bemoan how early it gets dark in the winter, I find it presents a unique opportunity to get us all out and moving. With the proper layers, a headlamp or flash light, and some hot cocoa at the end, my crew enjoys a night hike around our neighborhood to see lights on display. This is the perfect way to fit in some outdoor time after work and dinner, too!
What are your favorite outdoor winter adventures in the Corridor? Share in the comments below!
Things I love:
- simple DIY
- staying warm
- getting outside
If what I just listed is your jam, too, I've got the perfect little upcycle/diy/keep you warm while you get outside project for you today! Woohoo!
Let's start with a problem - my holey, well-loved wool socks.
The moment the temperature starts to drop, I pull out wool socks for hiking, lounging, doula overnighting, and everyday-ing. The end result? A big 'ole hole right under the ball of my feet. While I could darn this sock, stitches under the ball of my feet just won't work for me.
My solution? Upcycle these beloved wool socks into wrist and ankle warmers that help keep the whole family cozy when we adventure outdoors.
My directions are super simple - using scissors, cut the sock at the bottom of the cuff. If you are feeling fancy, you can finish it off with some stitching (a blanket stitch by hand or some machine stitching both work equally well). Because I'm often not fancy, I have a lot of holey socks, and I stash these in all kinds of places (car/diaper bag/hiking bag/mitten and hat bin/coat pockets), I leave them unfinished and, for us, they hold up just fine.
How we uses our upcycled wool goodness:
- hand warmer
- filling the gap between glove and coat
- ankle warmer (cover that gap between sock and pant that happens when baby is on your hip or in the carrier!)
- boot topper
- knee covers for crawling babes
- in a pinch, these have doubled for socks (albeit, toeless ones) when my kiddo's socks got soaked on a hike and dry socks were in the car
For us, troubleshooting cold hands and feet can mean the difference between enjoying our time outdoors or not. Having these little warmers in my pack can make certain we get our much-need time in the fresh air, even when chilly winds blow.
Do you upcycle your wool? Share in the comments below how and what you do!
Fall is in the air, but outdoor fun with baby or toddler doesn't have to stop just because the temperature drops. In fact, without the bugs and sun of summer, you may find you get more mileage out of your adventures in the colder weather. Here are some of our favorite resources for planning cold temperature adventures and gear recommendations.
A good base layer will fit easily under other layers and keep moisture away from little one's skin. Wool is an awesome choice, but there are other less expensive materials that work well. My favorite base layers double as jammies, keeping kiddos snug in bed and making it easy to layer up and head out in the morning. A footed option, like wool tights, is particularly nice for babies.
Warm toes can make the difference between happiness and sadness on the trail, and wool socks are definitely worth the investment for both you and your kiddo. Costco reliably cares adult wool socks that I wear 24/7 in the winter months. (For baby and toddlers, I've had the best luck hunting for deals online.) And, I keep extra adult socks in the car - they are great over baby hands or mittens or as an extra layer on little one's feet in the carrier or stroller.
Because my littles can't pass a puddle by without stomping, boots are essential for us year round. While standard rain boots work in warmer temps, I find the heels wear out much faster than other options and aren't likely to make it past one season's wear with how much we adventure outside. Because shopping for footwear can be tricky, here are some of our favorites that have held up well over time.
MyMayu - These are my pick for babies and little walkers. Lightweight and cinching high on the leg, I love these from the moment my little explorers start crawling and scooching around (paired with a coverall). The option to add a liner gives them much more mileage than your standard rainboot.
Stonz - I love that these can go on over socks or baby's shoes. Like MyMayu, adding a liner allows you to uses these across several seasons.
Bogs - Baby bogs are easily for little ones to get on and off all on their own, which is hugely important as my kiddos enter the "do it myself" phase. My youngest loved hers so much that she wore them for any occasion and with any outfit.
Keen - Once my toddlers start racking up the miles on their own, the Keen Encanto Waterproof Boot is my pick again and again. I love buying a piece of gear and feeling confident that multiple kids can use it because of how well it wears. The light lining keeps toes warm in fall temps. Judging by the way my kids continually choose these boots over all other footwear options when we head out on the trail, they are comfortable, too.
All of my babies and young toddlers have despised mittens. A pair of my own wool socks pulled up high on the arm before dressing them in a bunting or jacket was the most effective. As they began to explore more, L-Bow or similar mittens that fasten high up on the arm worked best for us. Investing a pair of waterproof rain mittens may also help your little one enjoy muddy play.
Hats and More
As far as head coverings, I've found how many is more important than what kind, as hats in our house seem to grow legs and walk away. Scarves tend to drag in the snow or get caught on tree branches, so a gaiter that can be pulled up over the face for more coverage is our pick.
Baby or Toddler in the Stroller
Get Out with Friends
My toddlers and big kids always do better on the trail with other kids present. Something about being all together gives them the momentum and interest to make their way down the trail. To find friends for outdoor play and hiking, visit Hike it Baby and find your local branch. If you are local to us, check out Hike it Baby Iowa City and Hike it Baby Cedar Rapids.
How to Layer:
Video on baby layering from Wrap you in Love
Winter Layering Tips from Hike it Baby
Infographic from Ella's Wool on How to Layer Baby
Now that you are all dressed and ready to go, check out the Nested Mama series on Local Family Fun.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.