Category Archives: Parenting

New Parent Adventures: Baby Tracking App

Today's Timeline

I’m a proud data nerd, so it probably comes as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of our baby tracking app. It’s the great aid to my sleep deprived brain and the keeper of our daughters history so far – at least all the important statistics like weight (4.9 kg), height (57 cm), and dirty diaper count (445).

We use the Feed Baby app. We paid $4.99 for the Pro version so we could sync data between our phones faster and not have ads but the free version is pretty good. The main competitor, Baby Daybook, looks very similar and I’m not sure there is much that separates them.

Sleep By Day

The app’s main day-to-day feature is helping mothers keep track of what side they’ve most recently breastfed the baby on. It’s also a great aid to help decipher the baby’s moods and answer the some key questions. When was the last time she fed? Is she constipated, when did she last poop? Maybe she’s over-tired, how much has she slept today?

The charts and statistics have been handy for seeing the patterns in her habits. For example, Astrid’s steadily been getting better at sleeping at night, with longer sleeps and less time awake for feedings and diaper changes. Of course we can feel that, but the data really shows that although there has been a few hiccups, her sleep patterns have been steadily improving.

Sleeps Heatmap

It’s also useful for tracking her weight, height, and head circumference and comparing them against standard growth curves. Astrid started off small and lost 10% of her weight in the first 3 days, but has rapidly growing since then.

Growth Chart

There are a bunch of features we haven’t used yet, but will as Astrid gets older – like new teeth and vaccine tracking.

So if you have a newborn, I highly recommend getting a baby tracking app. It will make your as sleep-deprived life much easier.

New Parent Adventures: First Triumphs and Fails

There is an excellent parenting podcast called Mom and Dad are Fighting, which starts each episode with the hosts retelling a triumph or failure from the past week (for a taste here is one of my favourites). It’s been 1 month since Astrid was born, and Emily asked me what our triumphs and failures have been. Here are our answers.
Drowzee soothing
Dad’s Triumph: Astrid has been particularly fussy the past few evenings (growth spurt?). I’ve found that wearing her in the Baby Bjorn and slowly walking around the neighbourhood with a gentle bounce soothes her to sleep better than anything else. This alone is a success, but the real triumph is realizing that Pokemon Go is a perfect companion to our walks. Astrid is soothed to sleep and I get some video gaming time. Win-win! Our neighbourhood is a real Pokemon hotspot (and full of Drowzees), so even late at night there’s usually crowds of people around which is comforting.

Mom’s Triumph: When Chris went back to work I was struggling with how to fill my day and how to do errands. I was feeling better physically and wanted to go out and do things, even without a regular schedule. I knew that riding the bus was an essential way for us to expand our radius, but was quite intimidated. I had one particularly urgent errand that forced me to give it a try. Astrid slept the whole way there (yay!) but was wide awake on the way back. As soon as we got on the bus she began to holler. I managed to pick her up and settle her on the bus before putting her back in the stroller and rolling her off at our stop. The most satisfying triumph is one that involves overcoming a little turbulence. 🙂

Dad’s Fail: With each day, I’m feeling increasingly worn out. In Astrid’s first week, I would heroically jump out of bed whenever she was fussy and bounce her for as long as it took to get her to sleep. I didn’t care if it took hours. But my heroic moments feel more forced now and after 10 minutes of holding her in my arms my back gets sore; after 20 minutes it starts to go numb; and after 30 minutes I’m spent. I wish I had done more exercises to strengthen my back before she was born. I’ve also managed to lose 5 lbs and I’m not sure where it went.

Mom’s Fail: We were out and about with Astrid in her stroller and decided to drive home in an Evo car sharing vehicle. Since our infant car seat  is the seat part of the stroller, we just popped it off the base and buckled it into the car – super convenient. Chris and I got in the front seats and drove off. About half way home I realized that we never buckled Astrid into the car seat. We don’t strap her in when we’re walking because it scrunches her in so tightly. I drove the rest of the way very carefully, but we probably should have stopped and strapped her in.
False Creek Stroller Walk

Continue reading New Parent Adventures: First Triumphs and Fails

New Parent Adventures: Cloth Diaper Service

Saucy Bottoms Supplies
Our cloth diaper service has been invaluable. I’m not sure what we would do without it. None of the alternatives are very appealing – washing cloth diapers ourselves sounds exhausting (especially as we don’t have ensuite laundry) but creating mountains of garbage with disposable diapers would cause more guilt than we could handle.

Thankfully there are cloth diaper services in almost every city. We chose to go with a Vancouver company called Saucy Bottoms. We’ve been super happy with them and would recommend them to anyone in the Greater Vancouver area.

Twice a week they pick up our dirty diapers and drop off a fresh load of cotton diapers, cloth wipes, and fleece soakers. We are encouraged to use as many diapers as we need each week (the cost is a fixed $30/week no matter how many we use). Yesterday’s drop off of new supplies (shown in the picture at the top) had 65 new diapers and 60 cloth wipes. So we’re probably going through 15-20 diapers per day right now. Generally, they replace the diapers at the same rate as we use them, but if we ever come close to running out (which has happened once) we just call them and they drop off more.

Diaper Shells

In addition to the cloth diapers, Saucy Bottoms gave us six water-proof outer shells. We’re responsible for cleaning them. They’re usually good for several changes before some poop leaks onto them. Then we wash them by hand or in the washing machine and let them air dry before using them again.

When we signed up for the diaper service, back in May before our daughter was born, the Saucy Bottoms owner dropped off our first batch of cloth diapers and gave us a 30-minute tutorial to how to use them. She also has a series of instructional videos on her website (Saucy School) showing how to use their diapers in case we forget.

The diapers are easy to change, although that hasn’t stopped me from screwing it up once or twice.

Diaper Fail

The best part is our baby’s skin has done very well in cloth diapers. 3 weeks old and no sign of diaper rash and we haven’t had any need to use any creams or powders.

Astrid: First 10 Days

In the Garden

We’re 10 days into our new lives as parents, and it’s time to document what we’ve loved about these early days with our newborn daughter. I think we’ve been pretty lucky so far. She has her fussy moments, but she’s pretty easy to soothe and rarely cries for more than 10 minutes before we figure out what she wants. We’re definitely sleep deprived and beholden to her whims, but we’ve learnt to nap when she naps. At night she’s been sleeping well between feedings with a two or three long stretches (2-4 hours) most nights. By most accounts, we’re doing ok.

Favourite Moments

  • First night at home when I took Astrid from an exasperated and exhausted mother and soothed her to sleep while mommy slept. I’ve never felt so accomplished.
  • When Astrid starts to doze off, she makes a lot of faces – frowns, smiles, furrowed brows, yawns, and zombie eyes.
    Relax
  • Our first social outing. We got her all dressed up to take her to meet the neighbours. We were just about to leave the house when she made a big poop. So we undressed her, cleaned her up, changed her diaper, and then redressed her. Then when we were 2 feet out the door she pooped again, so we had to repeat the process. We’re starting to understand why parents are always late.
  • Showing her off to the neighbours.
    Meeting the Neighbours
  • Emily really enjoys having Astrid fall asleep on her chest after feeding. It’s their special bonding time.
    Tummy Tme
  • Bath time in the kitchen. She hated the first bath she had in the tub, but was pretty calm for the sponge bath we gave her next to the sink.Bath Time
  • Seeing how much joy the grandparents get from holding her. Before Astrid was born, I naively thought it would be best to have a few days alone with her before the grandparents visited. A chance to try and learn her needs on our own. But I was wrong. It’s been a huge help to have them visit and impart their parenting advice.
    Grandmothers
  • 4 am Daddy Dance Parties. When she doesn’t fall asleep after a night-time feeding, I take her to another room for dancing, bouncing, and exercise time. It helps her fall asleep and sometimes we both pass out on the couch together instead of moving back to the bedroom.
    Passed Out
  • How well behaved the cat has been. I don’t think Boo likes the baby but he is content to just ignore her. He hasn’t lashed out or seemed stressed at all. I’m not sure we could deal with a misbehaving or anxious cat.
    Boo and Astrid
  • Watching her sleep with her thinker pose.
    Lil Thinker

Welcome Astrid – Our New Baby Girl

Baby Astrid
Last week, this little bundle of joy entered our world. It seems like every moment since has been spent feeding her, soothing her, and changing dirty diapers. We’ve managed to find some time in between to eat and sleep when she gives us a break or when the grandparents lend a helping hand. It’s been exhausting but we’re loving every moment of it.

She was born on June 29 at 1:21 a.m. (11 days late), after a very long day for everyone. At birth she weighed in at 3.020 kg and measured 51 cm and came with a full head of hair.

First Selfie

Family Photo

Blankie Time

Canada Day Family

Astrid

New Parent Adventures: Getting Ready for the Baby

Baby Shower Flowers

Emily is now 39 weeks pregnant and is officially on maternity leave, which means the baby could arrive any day, although I’m guessing we’ve got another week or two to wait. Just in case, we’re making sure we’re ready to go now.

We’ve started filling our freezer with leftovers and easy to heat up meals. Our friends from our prenatal class keep running into each other in the Wendy’s drive-thru, and we don’t want to fall into that trap (although I hear they have a good baked potato).
Frozen Meals

The baby room is all set up with a crib, bassinet, and changing table. We have a stack of cloth diapers provided by Saucy Bottoms (we’re going with a service because we don’t have in-suite laundry), plus a dresser full of hand-me down clothes.
Baby Room

We’ve added a few shelves to the baby room to hold all the books Emily got from her baby shower.
Kids Book Shelves

Now, we we’re ready to grab our hospital bags and head out the door when the time comes. (Hopefully it doesn’t look like this.)
Pretend Hospital Trip

We still haven’t figured out transportation. Depending on when labour starts, it will either be a car sharing vehicle from Evo or Modo, or a taxi. Emily has vetoed riding to the hospital in a bike trailer.

Best Guess

New Parent Adventures: Strollers and Car Seats

Elephant
Baby preparations are well under way. We’ve been slowly acquiring baby stuff, mostly hand-me-downs from friends, family, and neighbours. Emily has put her sewing skills to work creating a stuffed elephant and a wrap to carry the baby in. For big ticket items, we bought an Ikea crib, but we’ve been struggling to find a stroller and a car seat.

Considering we’re a car-free family and plan on staying that way after the baby arrives, a car seat may seem like a weird purchase, but it’s the only mandatory item we need before the baby arrives. The hospital won’t let you leave unless you have a car seat to put the baby in. Plus, we’ll need it whenever we use car-sharing vehicles and rental cars.

Our main criteria for a car seat:

  • light and easy to transport
  • can be installed quickly and safely without a base (we found European belt routing while researching the options)
  • can be integrated with a stroller for those times when we need to walk a few blocks to get to a Car2Go or Modo vehicle
  • not ridiculously expensive (since it will hopefully be used infrequently)

A few weeks ago we bought a Baby Trend City Clicker LX Travel System from Babies R Us. It was on sale and we liked the minimalist stroller frame when the car seat was attached. After hauling it home (in an Evo car sharing vehicle), we set it up and were dismayed to find two problems -a defective wheel lock and a broken plastic clip. We contacted customer support at Baby Trend and after a several phone calls and emails that went nowhere, I gave up and returned it for a refund. The car seat seemed decent, but the stroller was flimsy and cheap, with crappy wheels.

Baby Trend City Clicker LX Travel System

After that disappointment, we did a bit more research and agreed to invest in a better system. We decided on getting a Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 car seat (which we’ll pick up soon). The car seat might be a bit more expensive than we wanted, but we’re convinced European belt routing is essential for a car-sharing family and there aren’t many car seats sold in North America with that feature. We found a used Peg Perego Book Plus stroller on Craigslist and picked that up last weekend. It’s really well designed and I think we’ll be happy with it. The real test comes when the baby arrives next month.
Stroller test drive