how to get your toddler to eat healthier lunches

I’m honored to be a Stonyfield Ambassador this year, sharing tips and tricks like how to get your toddler to eat healthier lunches. Come see what I’m sharing today!

how to get your toddler to eat healthier lunches | chocolateandcarrots.com

I’ve been really lucky that Liam has always been a decently good eater. We’ve gotten into ruts before where all he’ll eat are pancakes or pretzels and that’s all he’ll eat for a while. Once we’ve run out, I tell him we need to buy more at the grocery store and that usually satisfies him. We’ll pause on the unhealthier foods for a few weeks while he learns to try and love other healthy foods. By the time we purchase more goodies, he loves the new foods so much that he gets a good balance of both.

What steps have I taken to get him to eat healthier?

  • Getting kids involved in the food prep – Liam will either stand on a stool next to me or on the counter by me while I chop and prep fruits and vegetables. I will offer samples of these healthy foods and he loves tasting them! Even when he goes back to playing, he’ll come back and ask for more samples.
  • Explaining what is on the plate or what we’re cutting – Asking questions and talking about the foods makes him more likely to eat it. We talk about the color, shape, size and what it tastes like!
  • Giving kids variety – If you offer the same fruits and vegetables every single time, it gets boring. Instead, take your kids to the grocery store and let them help pick out new fruits and vegetables to take home and try. This will get them invested in the decision making process and allow them a wider variety of healthy foods to learn to love.
  • Serving Dishes – It’s like me and my favorite coffee cup: coffee just tastes better when it’s in there! Having fun divided plates, containers or lunch boxes just makes it taste better!
  • Sweets – At the other end of the spectrum, I like to also incorporate a little sweet treat into the mix. It’s all about balance and moderation. I grew up with some kids who weren’t allowed any candy, snacks or even sweet cereals. Because of that, when they got to be older they would binge eat the junk food when out of the parent’s watch. I don’t want my kids to be like that. Life’s too short to not allow kids to experience junk food! But, again, it’s all about balance, right?

how to get your toddler to eat healthier lunches | chocolateandcarrots.com

After all of this practice, meal time eating becomes less of a battle of broccoli versus chips, but more of a fun and healthy learning experience! And now that school is starting back up, you won’t be there to explain or encourage eating the healthy foods in your child’s lunch box. By exploring healthy foods prior to packing them in lunches, there won’t as much hesitation to trying the foods. And who knows, your child might really love it! There’s no reason healthy foods can’t be tasty!

Here are some healthier lunch box ready options for your toddler:

  • carrot and cucumber sticks with dressing
  • whole grain tortellini
  • grapes cut in half
  • Stonyfield yogurt pouches
  • thinly sliced apples (dipped in lemon juice to keep from browning)
  • grilled chicken cubes with seasoning
  • red, orange, yellow and green bell pepper slices – kids love colors!
  • applesauce pouches
  • peanut butter and strawberry slices on whole wheat bread
  • honey dew melon or cantaloupe cut into shapes

What foods does your child like to eat for lunch? How do you help your children eat healthier?

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.

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dear parent of the tantruming toddler

I’m honored to be a Sisterhood of Motherhood partner, a sponsored blog partner this year. I’m joining #SisterhoodUnite and making my pledge to stop the mommy wars.

Most of us have experienced dealing with a tantruming toddler in public. I tend to go in embarrassment mode: red face, avoiding all eye contact from strangers and will do or say anything to my child to get him to stop the outburst. I always come stocked with a tantrum tools in my diaper bag as bribes for the said coaxing. Sometimes my bribery works, but sometimes we have to just leave our cart and go home. Been there, too?

And most of the time when we’re out running errands, we’ll see or hear at least one other toddler have a melt down in the aisle next to us. Sh*t hits the fan and that little person can’t be consoled. I think the worst part about it isn’t the fact that your child is screaming, it’s that you’re too worried about what the onlookers are thinking of you and your parenting. Inside you feel judged. You just want to crawl inside a little hole and wait until the coast is clear to leave. It’s so embarrassing! Try as you may, the little creature won’t calm down and you see glares and stares out of the corner of your eye.

As onlookers, what do you do? What can you do? Would they want you to do something? I feel awful being just feet away from the poor parent who is clearly embarrassed, too. I want to run to them and give them a hug and say, “I’ve been there! That was me yesterday!” But instead of being a creeper, I keep on walking. Thankfully, my own toddler’s words are out of ear shot of the parent when he asks, “Why he upset?”

Every time my toddler has a tantrum, I get the stares and just keep on keeping on, red face and all. However, let me tell you the most memorable act of kindness I’ve ever received when it happened to me.

Story time!

I was very pregnant with Hayden and had to make a quick run to Whole Foods with Liam. I didn’t even get a cart, just a basket because I only needed two quick things from the baking aisle. I knew Liam was nearing nap time and his patience was running low. I took the risk of taking him in to the store anyway.

*Bashes palm on forehead.*

We went straight to the aisle that I needed, which also happened to house the candy. Oye. Queue the break down when I said, ‘no':

You said no? No! My life is over! What am I going to do with myself? There’s nothing to do except scream and cry, flail my arms in the air and make it look like I’m making snow angels on the dirty floor.

Yep. That’ll show her.

It was taking me longer than I would have liked to locate my items and there was no way I could carry my toddler and basket with my giant pregnant belly. So, I let him tantrum all over the floor of the grocery store aisle.

Within minutes of his tantrum beginning, this Whole Foods angel came right up to me with a grocery cart and an applesauce pouch. She didn’t say a word, just smiled. She put my items in the cart and handed me the applesauce pouch. Instantly, the tantrum stopped and he got right in the cart to enjoy his snack. What?! We proceeded to have a glorious shopping trip, staying longer than I had planned because Liam was being so good.

A small part of me wondered if she did it to get the annoying kid to stop crying, but I like to think the best of people, so most of me likes to think that she did it because she saw a pregnant mother in need. I felt so special and supported with that act of kindness.

Anti-Tantrum Tools for your Toddler | chocolateandcarrots.com

Since then, I always come prepared with a diaper bag stocked with anti-tantrum tools:

  • Snacks – I make sure to always stock up on my toddler’s favorite snacks to give out when I see a tantrum about to emerge. He doesn’t get fruit snacks at home, so it’s always a special treat to get through shopping trips, too.
  • Water – The tantrums that are brought on because I wasn’t prepared for a thirsty child are the worst. Nothing will subside the fit and we usually have to leave. I forgot the sippy cup once and I never will again.
  • Toys – I bring small toys that my toddler hasn’t seen in a while. I keep small cars in my diaper bag for extra entertainment.
  • Germ Juice – You wouldn’t believe the distraction wiping hands with antibacterial hand sanitizer will do. And if your child is like mine, I can give him a wipe in the cart and he’ll spend a good 15 minutes wiping every inch of it. Win/win!

When I was the onlooker

I was shopping in Target with my crew the other day and saw a dad and his child. The child was at the beginning of a temper tantrum and the mother-in-me noticed that he came without a diaper bag. Ah, judgement #1. Bad. I kept thinking how crazy he was, but sometimes you forget or like me in Whole Foods, you think you’ll be okay during your quick trip.

I wanted so badly to go over to him and share a fruit snack with him, in hopes of making their trip better. I didn’t. Would it have been weird if I did that, like a creeper giving out contaminated candy? Would he have felt supported? Would he have felt less judged?

I want to commit to #SisterhoodUnite and want to do anything I can to help the parent of the tantruming toddler feel not judged. I want to help end the mommy wars.

I’m curious, if you were the parent with the toddler who is having a tantrum, what would you want strangers to do? Ignore you and your child and keep on walking? Give you a smile and keep walking? Accept a snack for the child or a hug for you? Give you a little reassurance, “I was there yesterday! I hope today gets better for you!”? Tell me! I want so badly to not be awkward and want to put a smile on my fellow parent’s faces, so they don’t feel alone in this.

Similac’s #SisterhoodUnite is aiming to end the judgement and made a wonderful video that highlights the real life anecdotes from parents:

After you watch, join in #SisterhoodUnite and head over to the Similac Facebook page and share the one thing you will do to help end the mommy wars. I’m doing it! Oh, and the Duff Sisters (Hilary + Haylie, the new faces of this campaign…gorgeous faces) are doing it, too!

This post was sponsored by Similac and has partnered with bloggers like myself for its Sisterhood of Motherhood program. As a part of this program, I have received compensation for my time, but all opinions are my own. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
Posted in toddler | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

a HUGE donation to make life #betterforbaby

I’m honored to be a member of the Pampers Baby Board. I am not paid for this; I just love the brand and the people behind the brand SO much that I want to share. Today, I’m sharing about what I did to help make life #BetterForBaby in Charleston, South Carolina, thanks to Pampers.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

Oh, Pampers. Where do I begin?

I’ve always been a huge Pampers fan. After trying all the different brands on my children, I liked Pampers the best. Fast forward 3 years and I get a call from Pampers! Pampers!!! They want me to be on the Pampers Baby Board. Of course, I accept.

Coincidentally, they were hosting the Pampers Baby Board Blogger Day a few weeks after I joined the board. I got the opportunity to take Hayden with me to meet the amazing people at Pampers and on the Pampers Baby Board.

I was in love.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

Upon returning home and learning all of the amazing things Pampers does beyond just innovating comfortable and practical diapers for my little ones, I got an email about submitting a proposal to do something that I believed would help embody the meaning behind #BetterForBaby. Basically, #BetterForBaby stemmed from the thought that:

“Babies are the most powerful agents of change in the world. When a baby comes into your life, you want to be a better person for that baby. We are all affected by a baby’s power to change us for the better. And because of this, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to make life better for baby.” -Pampers

Gosh, I just love that!

I mean, what person doesn’t see a baby in the grocery store and not smile? Okay, if the baby is crying like a crazy drunk renegade…you may not want to smile at it. But, if it’s sleeping, looking around or even smiling, you can’t help but smile.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

Speaking of #BetterForBaby, have you seen the video that Pampers put out showing what it really means? Check it out. They actually showed this video to us at the Blogger Day in June and I’m not going to lie, I was bawling.

Tears of happiness.

Now, I catch myself humming the song to Hayden as I lay him down to sleep.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

After talking with people from my community, I learned of Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina, where they are on a constant mission to help make life better for babies.

At Florence Crittenton (who have been serving SC for 118 years!!!) their mission is to help young, at-risk pregnant and parenting women to become self-sufficient and responsible mothers. They house pregnant girls ages 10-21 from ANYWHERE in South Carolina (not just in Charleston). These girls are not only pregnant, but also have other challenges and risk factors. But, at Florence Crittenton, they receive residential care, academic education, group and individual counseling, pre-natal care, and life skills instruction.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity  | chocolateandcarrots.com

They are preparing these girls to take ownership of their pregnancy and their lives. That way, they will be more inclined to make informed, beneficial choices for themselves and their babies.

Now, here’s where we come in!

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

There is a point system for doing good things like going to school, pre-natal visits and good behavior. These points can be ‘cashed’ for things like diapers in preparation for their baby arriving! Love it!

I knew I wanted to extend this $2500 #BetterForBaby grant as far as it would take me to get the maximum for Florence Crittenton.

Here’s what I did.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

I waited until there was a sale on Pampers products at Target (they always seem to sell Pampers the cheapest). It just so happened that this sale was for any box of Pampers diapers for $24.99. Then, if you bought 2 boxes, you got a $10 Target gift card in return for a later purchase.

Stay with me here.

After many hours of calculations and phone calls to Target, I came up with this:

Donated Diapers and Wipes Table | chocolateandcarrots.com

These numbers were all based on what Target had in stock and of course, what sizes Florence Crittenton could use the most.

Then, I first made 5 large transactions, purchasing as many boxes of diapers in even numbers (to get the maximum gift cards in return) as the $2500 would allow. Then, those shipped out…and I received 23 huge boxes via FedEx.

Boy, did my mail man hate me that day.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity  | chocolateandcarrots.com

Next, I used the 43 $10 Target gift cards to make 10 transactions of Pampers Sensitive Wipes. The number of wipes transactions here was due to Target.com’s regulation for only allowing 4 gift cards per transaction and needing free shipping (purchase total over $25).

All in all, I was able to get $430 MORE Pampers for Florence Crittenton with the use of the sale prices and gift cards. With a little number crunching, you can make a little go a long way!

How to extend your money to make a huge donation like this Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com.jpg

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

Finally, the day arrived when my family and I loaded up the trailer with all of the diapers and wipes!

It was a scorcher, so thank you for all of your sweat, family!

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

Within minutes, we had filled the prize room to the brim. I can just picture the girl’s faces when they walk into that room and see all of those glorious Pampers!

Please enjoy the rest of the photographs of our team delivering the diapers, the Florence Crittenton campus and some amazing facts about the programs.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity  | chocolateandcarrots.com

Florence Crittenton 2015 Fact Sheet

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity  | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity  | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity  | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity | chocolateandcarrots.com

A huge THANK YOU to Pampers for the #BetterForBaby grant!

Please visit Florence Crittenton’s website for more information on how you can help make life better for baby.

Pampers #BetterForBaby Donation to Florence Crittenton in Charleston, South Carolina #donation #charity |  chocolateandcarrots.com

This post was created in partnership with Pampers. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I received this grant to use for this wonderful program. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.

Posted in baby | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hayden is 6 months

Hayden is 6 months | chocolateandcarrots.com

How cute is this guy’s baby mohawk! I couldn’t help myself. 

  • Date: August 5th, 2015
  • Height: 27.5 inches
  • Weight: 19 pounds 9 ounces
  • Sleeping Pattern: Hayden wakes up around 6am and is awake for one hour before taking his first one hour nap. Then he stays awake for 2-5 hours and takes 30-60 minute naps throughout the day. Despite our efforts to be quiet, he doesn’t nap very long during the day (you try keeping a 3 year old quiet). He goes down at night for good around 7pm and sleeps anywhere from 2-8 hour stretches until his final wake up at 6am.
  • Eating Habits: Up until the last week of his 5th month, Hayden enjoyed lots of breastfeeding (every 2 hours during the day and every time he wakes at night), 3-4 4oz bottles and one ‘meal’ of baby food (usually 2 ounces). However, during the last week of the month, he has added a second ‘meal’ of baby food.
  • Development: He’s officially mastered flipping from his stomach to his back. Every time I come into his room after he’s awake, he’s laying there on his back talking and sucking on his blanket.
  • Mischief: This boy knows how to create amazingly huge diapers. Since starting solids, it’s been a poop in the diaper after almost every meal. Pee yew! He also has ‘man burps’ after every feeding…what can I say, he takes after me (the burp part, that is). 😉
  • Cuteness: He loves watching Liam and smiles back at any one who throws him a smile, even strangers. His hair has gotten long enough to put in a mohawk…precious. He’s been doing this all along, but now he does it more frequently: when nursing, rubbing his hand up and down the breast and grabbing at my shirt or bra. So sweet.
  • Talking: The last week of the month he discovered his voice! He now yell/grunts all the time, especially when he’s trying to get things into his mouth to chew on.
  • Favorites: He loves putting blankets and washcloths in his mouth. He also loves his car seat toy (he’s become a pro at pushing the buttons). He continues to love the ExerSaucer, too. The pacifier is still very soothing to him, but he doesn’t necessarily need it 24/7.
  • Firsts: Hayden had his first solid food (peas) when he was almost 5.5 months old. He did not like them one bit. He’s since tried green beans, carrots, prunes and pears. He’s not a fan of vegetables alone (at all), so I mix them with fruits. Hayden started getting his first two teeth (the bottom center) on July 31st.
  • Concerns: Teething is driving him crazy. He’s drooling and biting down when nursing.
  • A Day in the Life: He gets up, has his first breastfeeding session and we play quietly together before the rest of the house wakes up. He plays for an hour and goes down for his morning hour nap. He wakes up and has his second breastfeeding session followed by his first solid food meal of the day. He will play for about 2 hours (this will be in his ExerSaucer, activity mat, bouncy seat, mommy’s lap, in the Ergo or in the car seat when running errands). He’ll take another nap, drink (breastfeed and possibly a bottle, too) and play…repeating this all day until 7pm. He’ll wake up 1-3 times during the night until he wakes up for good at 6am.
Posted in month by month | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#unitemonday #giveaway

I’m honored to be a Sisterhood of Motherhood partner, a sponsored blog partner this year. Thanks to the support of #unitemonday, I’m trying hard to stop judging myself for my mommy slip ups and you should, too!#UniteMonday | chocolateandcarrots.com

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been terrible at comparing myself to others. It goes back to middle school when I was comparing my sense of style to my peers. Then, in high school, I was comparing my figure to all of the petite girls. This fueled a low self-esteem in an already challenging environment. Ouch. After college, it turned to comparing my occupation with others (she works for NASA, she runs her own business, she’s traveling the world, etc.).

Then, after years of battling infertility (all the while being very angry at my friends who were easily getting pregnant…why did I do that?!?) I got pregnant and was on cloud nine. Pretty soon the comparisons snuck back in. It became all about comparing how good of a parent I was and being judgmental about my own parenting!

Stop. Just stop. I have to just stop!

Sometimes the shit hits the fan, literally (or at least it’s hit the walls in my house), and you just have to move forward.

Just take a deep breathe, regroup and tell yourself it’s going to be okay. No one is perfect, even though it may look like it sometimes. It doesn’t help that with the birth of social media, other people’s lives through photos may look perfect. They’re not, trust me. Everyone is just putting the best of themselves online for everyone to see, because who doesn’t like to seem perfect? I know I don’t!

Even if I’m not comparing myself to others, I still have self-judgmental feelings creep back in.

You see, when I first had Liam, I felt like it was my job to be as perfect of a parent as possible. I read all of these parenting books and had all of these rules in my mind that we would follow to parent him the best that we thought possible. Still to this day, I like sticking to a routine and following through with the rules that we’ve set up. I feel like that keeps us all honest and the day predictable.

Butttt…there’s always a but (or butt…we’re potty training)… since we’ve added to our family with the birth of our second child, life has been a little crazier. It’s been especially crazy because my husband is insanely busy with work and going back to school. Because of all the craziness, it’s hard for me to always stick to the rules. No day is perfect and sometimes we all just need to let down our hair (or else I’d pull it all out…oh wait, it’s all falling out post baby anyway…ugh).

As a fun little weekend treat, I let our 3 year old decorate his pancakes with chocolate and sprinkles (yes, I have a 7 pound jug of sprinkles…from the baby sprinkle!) instead of the usual mound of berries. Then, on Sunday, he asked for the same thing. And you know what? I let him. Because, well why not? He was so cute.

He said, “Pleeeeease cancakes pinkles NNNs”, all with his hands folded like he was praying and begging all at the same time. How could I not? So, I did.

#UniteMonday | chocolateandcarrots.com

Then, comes Monday again and I can’t let him have straight up candy for breakfast every morning. I broke the rules over the weekend and I feel terrible. How do I explain it to a toddler who doesn’t understand days of the week?

Now that I think about it, I’m breaking all sorts of rules that we set for our kids because, well, life is hard and I could use a little more screen time for my kids on the weekends.

Instead of feeling guilty about my rule breaking over the weekend, I’m joining the Sisterhood of Motherhood and celebrating #UniteMonday. Every Monday follow the hashtag #UniteMonday and share any of your rules you bent over the weekend. We won’t judge. We get it. We’re all in it together.

Now, let’s all eat sprinkles:

Giant Jug of Sprinkles #giveaway | chocolateandcarrots.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by Similac and has partnered with bloggers like myself for its Sisterhood of Motherhood program. As a part of this program, I have received compensation for my time, but all opinions are my own. Similac did not provide the giveaway. I paid for that on my own and it was not sponsored by anyone but me. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
Posted in toddler | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Hayden is 5 months

Hayden is 5 months | crackersandcarrots.com

  • Date: July 5th, 2015
  • Height: 27 inches
  • Weight:  17 pounds  8 ounces
  • Sleeping Pattern: See “A Day in the Life”.
  • Eating Habits: Hayden breastfeeds every 2-3 hours all day and night. He also has 1-2 4oz bottles during the day.
  • Development: He grabs things and puts them in his mouth.
  • Mischief: Waking up 2-3 times during each this month. Bad habit? Not sure.
  • Cuteness: When you get close to him and start talking to him, he gets very excited and does this high pitch squeal.
  • Talking: Usually in the form of blowing bubbles.
  • Favorites: Pacifier, excersaucer, close face-to-face interaction, acting like a zombie and wanting to eat your face or shoulder.
  • Firsts: Hayden had his first one-on-one time with mama this month! Together we flew to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit Pamper’s headquarters for two days!
  • Concerns: I’ve been experiencing more plugged ducts and milk blisters this month. I’m thinking it’s due to Hayden’s lazy feeding. Those bottles just produce a lot quicker results for a hungry boy…I can’t blame him for wanting bottles. 😀
  • A Day in the Life: Hayden wakes up around 5:30am and stays awake just long enough to fall asleep just as Liam is waking up (around 7am). He sleeps for 1 hour and wakes up for 1 hour. Then, he sleeps for 2 hours and is awake for 2 hours. Sleeps for 1 hour and wakes for 2 hours. Sleeps for 30 minutes and is awake for another 2.5 hours until he falls asleep for good at 7pm. I’ll dream feed him once around 10pm and he’ll wake up around 2am for another feeding. Then, he’ll start it all over again at 5:30am!

Hayden is 5 months | crackersandcarrots.com

Posted in month by month | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

plugged ducts, milk blisters and treatment options

I’m honored to be a Sisterhood of Motherhood partner, a sponsored blog partner this year. Thanks to the support of my mother friends, I’m battling this hurdle in breastfeeding!

Breastfeeding is hard and in my experience, TOTALLY different from baby to baby. With my first baby, the only issues that I encountered were lack of supply. Looking back, it wasn’t that I didn’t have enough supply, it was that he was constantly spitting up what he drank and always wanted more. I ended up supplementing him with formula to keep as many calories in him as possible.

Breastfeeding plugged ducts, milk blisters and treatment options | crackersandcarrots.com

Fast forward to baby number 2. He’s 4 months old and I’ve had multiple plugged ducts in each breast. As I sit here today, I am treating another. This is a new one for me. It’s a milk blister on the nipple, with the duct plugged behind it. It won’t come unplugged and it’s been this way for more than two weeks.

My mom friends (Thank you Sisterhood of Motherhood!) have been so kind and offered their advice on how to get it unplugged (which is actually the same advice I received from the lactation consultant yesterday) and for the past 24 hours I have tried:

  • Hot showers – While in the shower vigorous massage with a wash cloth on the nipple to help remove the milk blister. This is what worked for me with all of the plugged ducts before and I would instantly nurse the baby after showering.
  • Massaging the breast
  • Castor oil compress – Take high quality castor oil and soak a piece of flannel (or cloth) and lay it directly on the breast where the plugged duct is. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on top. Use a heating pad or hot compress on top for 60-90 minutes. Then use a little baking soda and water to make a paste to clean off the breast before nursing again.
  • Different feeding positions, including getting on all fours and allowing gravity to help the flow of milk. It’s always a good rule of thumb to have the baby’s chin pointed toward the plugged duct.
  • Olive oil soaked cotton ball on the nipple to moisturize and loosen the milk blister.
  • Increasing vitamin C intake – i.e. strawberries, bell pepper
  • Taking 1200mg of Lecithin, 3 times per day – it is an emulsifier, helping to breakdown milk fats
  • Soaking the breast in warm water with epsom salt.

Breastfeeding plugged ducts, milk blisters and treatment options | crackersandcarrots.com

As I try and treat this plugged duct, I also examine what could be the cause of my breastfeeding struggles. Here are just some things to think about:

  • Stress – It’s something that I can’t seem to get rid of when taking care of my children, keeping the house straight and working from home. To tell you the truth, I don’t spend much time on myself any more and it’s become increasingly difficult to manage the stress. Stress causes your body to not release the milk as it should via the hormone, oxytocin.
  • Lack of rest – Again, with a newborn and a toddler, there’s not much time for rest. When opportunities that I have to rest present themselves, I usually take to work so I can give my children the attention they need when they’re awake and I exercise, so I can keep up with these munchkins! This is all after being up all night with the baby.
  • Upper arm exercises – When you do repetitive upper arm exercises, ducts can become plugged. Coincidentally, I started doing workout videos just last week and they include things like pushups, that I could attribute this plugged duct to.
  • Laying on your stomach – This puts too much pressure on the breasts, causing plugged ducts. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a tummy sleeper. I have been as long as I can remember. When I’m pregnant, the hardest thing about sleeping is not being able to sleep on my stomach. Breastfeeding was such an unknown with my first baby that I didn’t even consider sleeping on my stomach for that first year. However, with my second baby, I will lay flat on my stomach after feeding him in the middle of the night to get to sleep the fastest. Every minute to get to sleep is precious these days…but now I’m reconsidering that with this whole plugged duct thing.
  • Distracted baby – With our toddler running around making a ruckus while I nurse the baby every time, he gets very distracted while feeding. This cuts the feeding times short, not allowing the breasts to completely empty. I realized this was one of my issues while I was away on a trip with just my baby and he fed SO much better than he does at home. A distracted feeder means there is plenty more supply to be had.
  • Lack of water – Okay, you caught me, I’m not drinking enough water. I rarely focus on myself any more and drinking water wasn’t very high on my list after baby number two came along. Instead, I’m constantly making sure my boys are nourished, happy and safe. Plus, I can’t leave my giant jug of water out like I did when I just had one baby because my toddler will either drink out of it (wowzers, he’s full of germs) or it’ll get knocked over in the name of racing cars. I read that one of the most common things that happen is that the thickened milk is what causes the blockages.
  • Sports Bra – I noticed almost instantly that when I fed my baby after working out, while still wearing my sports bra, that ducts were plugged. I would lift the tight sports bra up and rest it on the top of my breast while he fed. Note to self: Don’t do this. It cuts off the ducts, causing blockage.

Breastfeeding plugged ducts, milk blisters and treatment options | crackersandcarrots.com

Wow, that’s a lot to constantly think about. Breastfeeding is no easy task and takes a lot of work to maintain.

Logically, it makes sense to me that I would have issues breastfeeding with baby #2 once you think about all of the reasons we just talked about. However, when I spoke with the lactation consultant, she said it’s usually the first baby that you have the most issues with and that every baby after that has less issues. So, who knows. All I know is I have rearranged priorities in my everyday life to accommodate my tatas and put breastfeeding and my body first, since it’s the lifeline for my baby.

48 hour update: I’ve seen my OB about my duct and it she believes it’s just a chronically plugged duct (no longer painful to me, just annoying) and that the lactation tissue will go away a few months after I wean baby from breastfeeding. Just to make sure it’s not something more serious, I’m scheduled to have an ultrasound done next week.

2 week update: 5 days after I started taking Lecithin, the milk blister was removed. Then, I went on vacation and stopped taking Lecithin for 4 days and the milk blister came back. Four days after taking the Lecithin again, the blister went away. I guess I’ll be taking the Lecithin for the rest of my breastfeeding time!

This post was sponsored by Similac and has partnered with bloggers like myself for its Sisterhood of Motherhood program. As a part of this program, I have received compensation for my time, but all opinions are my own. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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Hayden is 4 months

Hayden is 4 months | crackersandcarrots.com

  • Date: June 5th, 2015
  • Height: 25.5 inches
  • Weight: 15 pounds 13 ounces
  • Sleeping Pattern: Two days prior to turning 4 months old, Hayden was waking up every 1-2 hours at night to nurse. However, as soon as he had his 4 month doctor’s appointment he started sleeping through the night! Now he wakes 0-2 times from 7pm-6am. During the day he naps every 1-2 hours for 1-2 hours.
  • Eating Habits: He is fed breastmilk with 1-3 supplementary bottles of formula every 2 hours during the day and whenever he wakes during the night.
  • Development: Hayden is becoming more alert this month. He recognizes when mommy, daddy or Liam is talking to him. He’s getting stronger and pushes himself up on his forearms when he’s on his tummy. I have a feeling he’ll be rolling over soon! He’s also finding his fingers more to suck on them, which always results in a drool soaked onesie.
  • Mischief: I can’t complain. Hayden is such a wonderful baby. I just wish he would smile more!
  • Cuteness: He’s discovered how to blow bubbles! It’s the cutest thing.
  • Talking: Hayden makes more sounds now! He’s a pro at bubble making and has given us a couple giggles (a rare thing!). He also makes a high pitch noise like he’s sucking in when he gets excited!
  • Favorites: He loves his pacifier. He doesn’t need it, per se, but it’s how he falls asleep. During the day he loves laying on his back on the play mat, playing in the exersaucer and the bouncy seat. We’ve minimally used the side-to-side swing (which is still his favorite) to encourage better sleep habits. Since making that adjustment in sleep, his nights have been SO much better!
  • Firsts: His first giggle was this month! Of course, he’ll only do it for Logan.
  • Concerns: Hayden is still very distracted and lazy when breastfeeding. It’s hard to find a quiet place to nurse during the day with crazy Liam running around! We also spoke with the pediatrician regarding his vision and we’re taking him to a pediatric eye specialist in July. Our pediatrician thinks he has a lazy eye that can be fixed with some vision exercises. Because of this vision problem, Hayden has a hard time focusing which results in minimal smiles or interaction.
  • A Day in the Life: The day begins around 6am when Hayden feeds and decides it’s time to play. He’ll stay awake for about 1 hour and then sleep for 1-2 hours. Then, he’ll be awake for 2 hours and sleep for 1-2 hours, repeated for the rest of the day. There will be at least one 4 ounce supplementary formula bottle in the late afternoon, if not two. Depending on how the day has progressed, he’ll usually continue a pattern of sleeping for 30 minutes and being awake for 30-60 minutes. Once he feeds for the last time around 8-9pm, he goes down for the night. I’ll dream feed him around 11pm. During the night, he’ll sleep for 4+ hours, waking just once or twice during the night (prior to June 3rd, he was waking every 1-2 hours…he did this for 3 weeks straight…exhausting).

Hayden is 4 months | crackersandcarrots.com Hayden is 4 months | crackersandcarrots.com

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homemade baby food recipes

A variety of homemade baby food recipes that you can make for child. I’m honored to be a contributor for Inspired Home, sharing these recipes and much more!

Make Your Own Baby Food | chocolateandcarrots.com

It’s official, I have the best time watching my children experience food for the first time. That first bite is hilarious. You can see it in their face, “Mom, what are you feeding me and why are you doing this to me?!?” But, then they begin to love the tastes and you both have fun exploring new flavors together.

I’ve made six baby food recipes that you can make and freeze at home for your child! They range from beginner to advanced baby foods, giving you a glimpse at what each stage of baby food looks like. I hope you enjoy them all!

P.S. There’s a recipe for a baby curry in there that is so delicious! Shh…I ate it for lunch. Don’t tell Hayden.

Head over to Inspired Home to see all 6 baby food recipes!

I have been selected by the International Housewares Association to be a contributor for Inspired Home. While I have been compensated for my time, my opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.

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my food story

I’m honored to be a partner with Similac. I’m excited share my food story and to tell you about their newest product, Similac Advance Non-GMO.

Hayden tring the new Similac Advance Non-GMO | crackersandcarrots.com

I haven’t always been health conscious. Actually, growing up, my house was always the ‘cool food house’ to my friends since my parents stocked it with amazingly delicious junk food. It was always so fun to see my friend’s faces light up when they had their first taste of things like Fruit Roll Ups or Goldfish. In a way, I seemed to feel bad that their parents made them eat healthy foods all the time, not being flexible to allow them cake except for at their birthday party.

I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything. I loved every second and have such great memories in the kitchen (and don’t think by having a variety of junk food in the house means that we didn’t have healthy foods, too) where my mom would prepare home cooking and she’d also have oodles of fruits and vegetables for us to choose from, too. I think the foods in my family’s kitchen just embodied the decade I was born in (the good old 80-90’s).

The term ‘organic’ wasn’t a thing yet since everything coming from the ground is by definition organic. It wasn’t until 2002 that the USDA created the organic seal to officially certify that foods were grown without pesticides and antibiotics and many other high standards and practices. By then, I was in high school and the general consensus was that the higher priced organic foods was a fad for the rich eccentric crowd. However, fast forward a few years and stores like Whole Foods and Earthfare started popping up locally and had readily available options for buying organic foods.

By my college years, I had befriended people who were more health conscious and together we learned about taking care of our bodies through exercise and foods. While I still didn’t purchase organic foods, I was taking the right steps towards eating healthier with less processed foods. Then, I got married and my husband and I educated ourselves more on certified organic products and decided to slowly begin budgeting for organic foods where they were most important (dirty dozen). Once we got pregnant our first child in 2011, I had a huge sense of responsibility to provide him with the healthiest upbringing possible, starting from what I ate while pregnant. Of course, this continued once he was born in 2012. He was this clean slate that we were in charge of fueling!

Hayden tring the new Similac Advance Non-GMO | crackersandcarrots.com

I continued to learn everyday about different foods and slowly made the transition to things like organic milk and yogurts, local non-antibiotic eggs and I have even dabbled in non-GMO products like canola oil and some processed snack foods. As time has progressed, my husband and I have made the decision to sacrifice some other luxuries to budget to feed our family (roughly 80%) organic foods.

We’re teaching our children the ways of healthy eating (and don’t think that organic = healthy, organic chips are still chips, carrots are healthier than chips, even if the carrots are not organic) and taking care of their bodies at an early age. Of course, I’m not going to refuse them the deliciousness world of junk, either. It’s all about moderation. We use that wiggle room of 10-20% to splurge on things like ice cream sundaes (have you ever made homemade magic shell?!?), organic fruit snacks, gummy worms (hello worms ‘n dirt!) and of course, chocolate.

I’m still learning myself on how to better feed (and bathe) my family and just recently discovered that organic and non-GMO products start in even baby formula! Similac just came out with a non-GMO version of their Similac Advance formula last week after listening to parent’s requests for it. According to Similac, “Similac Advance and Similac Advance NON-GMO have the same ingredients; they just have different sources for the ingredients.” Either way, it’s nice to have another option for parents who are concerned about GMO’s when feeding your baby.

Introducing the new Similac Advance Non-GMO | crackersandcarrots.com

Our 4 month old, Hayden has recently been trying out the new Similac Advance Non-GMO and has taken to it just fine. It blends well in water like the original Similac Advance and I have no complaints on my end! I now have the added reassurance that even my baby is being fed another alternative. Now, if they would make the Similac Advance Non-GMO or Organic in those little on-the-go powder singles like they do with the Similac Advance! They are perfection when traveling!

So, what do you think? Is your baby ready to try the Similac Advance Non-GMO?

You can find Similac Advance Non-GMO at Target. Here are some answers to FAQ. Thank you for giving us parents more choices!

Introducing the new Similac Advance Non-GMO | crackersandcarrots.com

This post was sponsored by Similac and has partnered with bloggers like myself for its new product launch for Similac Advance Non-GMO. As a part of this program, I have received compensation for my time, but all opinions are my own. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
Posted in baby food | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment