Tuesday tips: Cloth diapers

So I’m switching things up here (because it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to!) and talking about our choice to use cloth diapers with B.  Also I’m bringing back the Tuesday tips- woo!

I consider myself a sort-of “crunchy” mom- I try to buy organic/natural/local food and personal care items when I can for our family, but they don’t make up 100% of what I buy.  It’s all about balance for our family, which works best.  However, cloth diapers were something I’d always wanted to do- the benefits are almost too many to list- not only do they prevent waste accumulation in landfills, they are chemical free, cost effective (after an upfront cost), keep blowouts to a minimum (I am almost certain we have never had an all out poop blowout- we’ve come close, but the cloth definitely keeps things contained better), keep diaper rashes to a minimum and are just cuter that disposables!

To start this post off with 100% honesty, we do not cloth diaper B all of the time.  He wears 1 disposable diaper a day- at night- because by the time I got a cloth diaper on that boy that was thick enough to absorb everything, he could barely move his legs.  I did not want to spend $$$ trying to find the perfect combination of fabrics to absorb everything, not to mention we were already up to our ears in trial and error with the dairy/soy intolerance.  So because I like my sleep, $$ and a dry baby, we put a disposable on at night- and everyone was happy.

That being said, we do use cloth the rest of the time.  We were super lucky when B was born because my parents gifted us a year’s worth of diaper service which was AWESOME.  No having to wash diapers ourselves?  Yes please and thank you very much.  Not that washing diapers is difficult, but it was just one less thing to think about- toss the diaper in the pail and every thursday set the dirty diapers on the porch where they are magically replaced by a stack of clean ones.  Diaper service in our area costs around $50-60 a month- that’s for ~60 diapers a week.  We started off with 80 diapers a week when B was tiny and then scaled back once the diaper changes slowed down.  $50 a month is fairly comparable to what you would spend on disposable diapers in a month, especially in the beginning (10 diapers a day x 30 days in a month = 300 diapers, depending on what brand you purchase and where you purchase them from you may spend slightly more or less than $50-60).

There are a LOT of different ways to cloth diaper now- you can do prefolds with a cover, all in ones, pocket diapers, etc etc.  When I was first researching cloth diapers, my head was spinning from all the different choices available to new moms.  For us though, the choice was easier since our diaper service only provided prefold diapers.  Prefolds are a piece of cotton fabric that is divided into 3 sections.  The middle section is thicker than the outer two sections for absorbancy.  Obviously (or maybe not so obviously) wearing just the prefold does not keep clothes/you/furniture/etc dry- you need to cover it with something.  That’s where the diaper cover comes in.  When I was little I remember the plastic pull on pants that my mom would put on myself/my sister- nowadays the diaper covers are WAY cuter.  And adjustable!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a prefold- when you get them they are much more flat and thin but they fluff up the more you wash them.  It’s recommended you wash them at least 3 times prior to using them to “prep” them so they are super absorbant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are a couple of our Flip covers.  See!!  Super cute!  No plastic pull up pants here!

Since we were starting out with prefolds, I purchased Flip covers (the company who makes Flip also makes the popular all in one diaper brand BumGenius).  I liked the style of the cover and the fact that it adjusted all the way to 35+lbs with snaps.  I purchased 9 covers, which I figured was more than enough.  Because the cover is made of PUL (polyurethane laminted) fabric it is waterproof and so you can just remove the wet prefold from the diaper and add a new prefold to the cover (we changed the entire thing if the cover got dirty from poop).

This system worked fine when I was staying at home with B- there is a little flap in the front of the cover that keeps the prefold in place on the Flip covers that would get damp over time, so we’d just rotate covers throughout the day.  Then he started daycare- and this system didn’t work as well because the cover wouldn’t get changed as frequently, which caused him to develop a rash.  After that we started pre-making our covers- basically we fold the prefold and put it inside the cover.  Each time he gets a diaper change at school, he gets a new pre-made prefold/cover combination.  For this reason I purchased a few more covers- we now have 14 covers.  Which means we have enough for 2 days worth of diapering (B uses 5-7 diapers a day now, not including nighttime).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what our diapers look like stuffed and ready to go.  To prep the diapers for the next day takes us maybe 5 minutes of stuffing?  Probably less actually

Then…summer time rolled around and suddenly B developed a very persistent rash.  One that would not go away no matter what I did.  Thanks to the suggestion of a friend, we finally figured out it was heat rash due to the warm wet cotton against his skin.  We added a fleece liner (literally a strip of fleece cut out of an old blanket) and the rash was gone!!  These fleece liners are great too if we do have to apply some cream to his diaper area- they protect the actual diaper from the cream (which can stop the diaper from being absorbent).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a fleece lined diaper- you can see the fleece doesn’t even fully cover the prefold (and isn’t even cut straight- ha!), but it does the job just fine!

Now that we’re “cloth diaper experts”- hahaha- I decided to stop our diaper service and purchase our own prefolds.  We do a load of laundry daily anyway, so adding some diapers to that is no big deal, and since B is eating solids the poop is much easier to deal with.  We use Ecos laundry detergent and just toss in some vinegar (for fabric softening) OR baking soda (for odor removal)- don’t add both vinegar and baking soda though!

Cost wise I feel like prefolds and covers are a pretty inexpensive way to do cloth diapers.  Here’s a break down for you:

1.  14 Flip covers at $14.95 a piece- purchased from Sweetbottoms Baby, when they were having a sale of buy 2 get 1 free= $149.50

2. 24 unbleached cotton Indian prefolds in premium from CottonBabies.com, 12 for $24- $48

3.  Fleece liners- free, because we had the blanket already

Total= $198 for 14 diapers (plus 10 extra prefolds)

I purchased the longer prefolds because B is big (*cough* 29lbs at his last dr visit *cough* wearing 2T/3T at 16mo *cough*)- this size would not fit an infant well.  To diaper a newborn/infant I would purchase the infant sized prefolds (which is the size we were getting from our diaper service), probably 24-36 of them, so that would be a $36-52 investment.  And if B is still in diapers when hypothetical baby 2 is on the scene, then we would of course need more covers.

Overall this system works great for us, and I’m really enjoying cloth diapering!!  Plus there is just nothing better than a baby running around in a fluffy cloth diaper, don’t you think?

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Do you cloth diaper?  What’s your favorite type of diaper to use?

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Family photos

By now, most folks I’ve sent these out to have received them (I hope…and, I apologize in advance about the mess that my cards will make in your house- my couch was covered in glitter after doing these.  Never again will I use a glitter card!!)

Anyway- about a week before B’s 1st birthday, I noticed a local photographer was offering one of her monthly photo mini sessions.  A friend of mine had used this same photographer for family photos, and I’d been drooling over them- Anna is super talented with her photography!!

The timing just happened to work out perfectly- I’d been doing B’s monthly photo shoots on the blanket I made him (I did actually keep up with doing them, I just didn’t keep up with blogging about them), and wanted his last photo on the blanket to be a professional one.  It was only fitting, seeing as his first photo with the blanket was also professional:

 

Photo by Bella Baby Photography

It was also a great excuse to get some really great photos of our little family of three!!  Anna is so super fast with her photo processing that we got the cd of all of our professionally edited photos within 2 weeks of our mini session (and Thanksgiving was right after our session- I am super impressed)  And you know what?  I love them ALL.  She captured our sweet, serious B perfectly.  So, thank you Anna!  Locals, if you need a photographer, check her out!!

Here are a few of my favorites (all photos by Anna at aicreative):

The Christmas card photo (I’m also using this, in black and white, for my DIY canvas trick)

The birthday boy on his blanket

Sweet B with his balloon

Nothing sweeter than a boy and his daddy…

Except maybe a boy and his mommy

love those blue/grey eyes

Standin’- what this boy does best!!

Beautiful right??  Maybe I’m just biased…but seriously.  I had a hard time choosing which ones to print, they were all amazing.

Happy Holidays friends- I’m going to be fairly quiet on the blog for the rest of 2013, spending some much needed down time with family who are in town.  I hope you are able to do the same!!  See y’all in the new year!

DIY: Embossed paper CD case

Linking up to the Inspire Me blog hop over at House of Rose!

The 1st birthday party on friday was SO much fun!  Unfortunately, my memory card gave me the “card full” message (apparently I’ve taken enough photos this year to fill up an entire 8GB card) so I was frantically deleting in between photos so I could capture a few new ones.  I didn’t end up getting anything super great of B, but here’s a cute one of him crawling through the space we rented (a crawler’s dream location- SO much space!!):

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I wanted to give all the babies a little 1st birthday present at the party, and decided to burn them all a copy of a two cds that we listen to often in the car.  They are cds that I was pretty sure none of the other parents had, so it seemed like a good plan.  And then I realized I had nothing to put them in.  Whoops.  I wanted to make something fun, so I headed over to Pinterest to see if I could find a DIY paper cd case (spoiler alert- I did!)

I used to be a pretty avid scrapbooker and stamper, so I dug into my stash for this project.  I used some really pretty burgundy paper with a gold sheen to it – unfortunately it photographed bright red, but let’s just pretend it is burgundy in these photos.  I also used a big stamp that I’ve had forever that I haven’t gotten a chance to really use yet.

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I used a brown and a gold embossing powder.  I’m a big fan of embossing– it’s easy to do and adds a lot of dimension to a stamped project.

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The above photos is probably the best representation of the paper color.  And look, you can see how much I paid for the stamp!  Ha.  Isn’t it a pretty stamp?  I was excited to find it in my stamp stash- I’d forgotten all about it!

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I used a clear-ish ink to stamp the design, since I was using a colored embossing powder.  I stamped it approximately in the middle of my sheet of paper

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I then sprinkled some of the brown and gold embossing powder over the wet ink

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I shook off the excess and then applied some heat using my embossing gun to melt the powder

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Tada!!  Pretty!  Then I had to fold the case.  I used this tutorial, which was super easy.  First I placed the cd at the bottom of the paper, in the approximate middle:

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By the way- Caspar Babypants is a great cd (weird name, I know), if you’re looking for music that won’t drive you NUTS after it plays on repeat in your car.  The singer is the lead singer from Presidents of the USA (…millions of peaches, peaches for me…) and the music is similar to that, so it’s fun.

I folded the sides of the paper over the cd

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Then I folded the bottom (while holding onto the cd) up

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I folded the top corners in

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And then folded the top down and tucked it into the pocket that the cd was sitting in

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That’s it!!  Super easy and cute!

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I enjoyed making these- I am definitely going to be making more in the future!

What do you think?  Have you crafted anything fun lately?

Thankful for babies

Today we are having a party, for 7 little ones who are (or will soon be) one.

I’ve been lucky to be a part of a group of 6 other wonderful parents (we met through our midwife clinic centering group)  We decided to hold a group birthday party to celebrate our little ones- and to celebrate the fact that we survived our first year as parents!

I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by- and how those little helpless, squishy blobs are now becoming little people with minds of their own.

We’re not doing anything super fancy- just a potluck with lots of yummy food, and a photo area (with balloons!!) where I hope to get a couple of decent shots of B.

If you need me, I’ll be off sobbing in a corner celebrating my baby’s first year!

 

Tuesday tips: Getting formula covered by insurance

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I’ve talked about how B had acid reflux and MSPI, and how it’s often helpful to try a dairy (and soy) free diet to alleviate some of the symptoms for babies who have this.  I tried a dairy/soy free diet for B, and unfortunately it did not help ease the pain he was having from reflux.  Some moms go on a total elimination diet to try to pinpoint what exactly in their diet is causing baby’s pain/issues.  Because B was in so much pain, I just wasn’t willing to use him as a science experiment and, through trial and error, figure out what exactly was causing his reflux.  So we opted for formula- there are two types of formula that are made to help babies with MSPI- hypoallergenic formulas (like Nutramigen or Alimentum) or amino acid formulas (like Neocate, Elecare, Nutramigen AA).

hypoallergenic formula

Source

A hypoallergenic formula has the milk and soy proteins broken down so that they are easier for baby to digest (and their body doesn’t react to them).  Amino acid formulas have all the proteins broken down into amino acids, so it is as gentle as it can possibly be for baby’s tummy.  A lot of people have great luck with these formulas.  We had the most success with Neocate, and B is still drinking that today.

 

amino acid formula

Source

The downside to these formulas is their cost.  Nutramigen or Alimentum costs up to $30 for a can (which would last us 2-3 days).  Neocate or Elecare costs $50-90 a can, depending on where you buy it (and again a can lasts 2-3 days).  That means you can potentially spend almost $1000 a month on formula.  We all know babies are expensive, but the added cost of these formulas is not always something people expect.

When we realized that B was going to do the best on Neocate, I did everything in my power to figure out how to avoid paying $1000 a month for formula.  Neocate is a prescription only formula, so the first thing I did was I went to our pharmacy to fill the prescription.  They filed the information with my insurance…who flat out denied me.  Ugh.

However, I was a mom on a mission.  After a lot of time on the internet and the phone, I figured out how to get our formula covered by insurance.  Unfortunately, because not everyone has the same insurance, what worked for me MAY NOT work for you- but I say, it’s worth a shot.  The worst thing they’re going to say is no.  (I’m adding in the disclaimer that I am in NO WAY compensated by this company- they have absolutely no idea who I am)

Here is what I suggest to hopefully get your formula covered by insurance:

  1. Have your pediatrician write you a script for the formula (and this can be for Nutramigen/Alimentum, not just Neocate/Elecare) and make sure they state that the formula is medically necessary due to a severe milk allergy.
  2. Call Edgepark Medical, a durable medical supply company- 888-394-5375.  Note: You can go online, but the best way to ensure you get your formula covered is to call.
  3. Set up an account with them, and place an order for your formula of choice- I know for sure that they carry Nutramigen, Alimentum and Neocate.
  4. They will contact your insurance company and your pediatrician.  It can take up to a week to get all of your information verified, but after that, if you haven’t heard back from them, call to check on your order.
  5. Depending on your insurance, they will hopefully cover the formula at least partially, but there is the possibility that they will cover it 100%.

I really hope that this tip helps some moms out!!

 

ROAR…not just a Katy Perry song

B is 11 months old tomorrow (sob, where did my baby go??), and even though he doesn’t have the faintest clue what Halloween is, he will wear a costume tonight!  Don’t worry, we’re not going to take him trick or treating.  Our neighborhood is having a little trunk or treat get together for all the neighborhood kids, which should be nice to attend so we can get to know some other kids and parents nearby.

I wasn’t planning on getting B a costume, but then the trunk or treat event came up, and I wandered into a thrift store near our house one day and found him a costume, for under $5.  When I put it on him, I almost died from the cute (and I think he almost died from embarrassment/hatred):

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Doesn’t he make the cutest lion EVER?  he he he.  We tried it on over the weekend (there are pants too) and, as you can see by the look on his face, he was less than thrilled about it.  This little boy hates wearing anything on his head right now, so wearing the fuzzy hood was practically torture in his opinion.  But holy cow is it cute on him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEspecially from the back- even with the blue pants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACowardly lion?

 

It’s big enough that I’m hoping it will fit him again next year, when he will potentially be more tolerant of things on his head.  We will see if he is able to handle wearing it to trunk or treat tonight- if not, I have a back-up plan:

bseahawks

If he won’t tolerate being a lion, then he can go as Marshawn Lynch…in beast mode!  Go Hawks!

Either way- ROAR!!  Win win.

Happy Halloween y’all- have a fun, safe night of trick or treating!

DIY zippered wet bag

We cloth diaper around here, which means when we’re out and about, or B is at daycare, the dirty diapers have to go into something to keep the rest of his diaper bag clean.  This is where the wet bag comes in- it’s a fabric bag with a waterproof lining.  Theoretically we could just put them into a plastic bag, but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun!  Hey- when you’re dealing with poop, you have to have a little fun, right?

I purchased a couple of zippered wet bags before B was born.  They’ve held up fabulously (we have this one by PlanetWise) with daily washings- I have zero complaints.  However, one day I showed up at B’s daycare and discovered that another little boy, who had just started there, had the exact same wet bag!!  Uh oh.  We’ve already had a couple of incidents where we’ve ended up with a diaper that wasn’t ours, and having the same wet bags hanging next to each other would not help improve our odds of coming home with only our diapers.

I had a new wet bag all picked out and waiting in my Amazon shopping cart- and then stumbled upon this pin on Pinterest.  I haven’t sewn in almost a year- and decided a DIY zippered wet bag would be the best way to get back into the swing of sewing again.  There are lots of pictures to walk you through it- which is great because I have never installed a zipper before!

So off I went to pick out some fabric- I got a yard of a woven cotton, and then went in search of PUL fabric (polyurethane laminated fabric, what makes the bag waterproof on the inside).  Unfortunately my local fabric store did not have PUL in stock- whop whop.  I had to order it online.  Thank goodness I was able to get a little cashback on that purchase!

I won’t walk you through the steps because the tutorial I followed is very thorough, so please reference that for a walk through.  Want to see how it turned out?  Of course you do…

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I picked out a fun fish themed print (a surprising choice for the marine biologist, I know).  I decided to play off the orange fish on there and use an orange zipper and orange PUL:

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I really like this pattern- it was fairly easy to sew, even with the zipper installation, and I was able to customize the size for our needs.  I liked our old wet bag, but it was a little on the small side.  This one is 12″ wide and 20″ long and holds an entire days worth of diapers with a little room to spare.  Not to mention it has a carry handle on the side which is great for hanging the bag up (our old bag didn’t have a handle and daycare had to put a little zip tie on the zipper).

The bag has been in use now for almost a month, and has held up extremely well.  We wash it daily and I have yet to see any wear on the bag/zipper/handle.  And no leaks- so it’s serving its purpose well!

As far as cost goes, this bag cost me less than $20 to make- $7 for the woven fabric and zipper (I only used about half of the woven fabric and I had a coupon) and $6 for the PUL (factoring in a coupon, shipping and cash back)- $13 total.  Not bad- plus I like that I have an almost limitless choice in pattern for the outside!!

What do you think?  Have you done any fun sewing/crafty projects lately?

Acid reflux and MSPI in babies

I’ve mentioned before that B had acid reflux as an itty bitty baby (and what gear worked well for us to keep him as pain free as possible).  I also mentioned that he had/has MSPI- which is a milk/soy protein intolerance.  In his body, the milk/soy proteins aren’t able to be broken down, and they leak through the intestine into the blood stream, which causes a reaction.  For B his reaction was acid reflux, as well as bloody diapers (caused by actual damage to his intestine).

Did you know this is more common than it sounds??

Most new babies have some sort of reflux (I feel like they need to tell you this in all those baby classes you take as a new, soon to be parent).  The flap that keeps their stomach contents in is very weak and immature, so when you lay baby down (or lift their legs to change them), some stomach contents come out.  Gross, yes.  And some babies will spit up every chance they get (or so it seems) and it doesn’t phase them (aka a happy spitter).  It’s just a laundry problem for mommy and daddy and anyone else within spitting distance.

Source

 

This goes away as baby gets older and more mobile- sitting up, crawling.

When it’s a problem is when it’s accompanied by pain.  Which usually means a screaming, crying baby.  I don’t know about y’all, but whenever B screamed at that age, my blood pressure went up about 20 points and I couldn’t even think straight- all I wanted was for it to stop.  Tell tale signs of reflux are:

  • long bouts of inconsolable crying (especially right before/after spitting up)
  • back arching while crying
  • curdled looking spit up
  • acid smell to their breath
  • hiccups
  • congestion during sleep/after waking up
  • sour faces in their sleep
  • grunting/squirming/leg lifting in their sleep (although that’s also gas related)

Not all babies who have reflux will spit up, however.  The stomach acid comes up just enough to burn their esophagus, but it doesn’t actually come out of their mouth.  I’m pretty sure this is what most pediatricians deem to be colic- baby cries for no reason and they can’t really explain why, so with a wave of their hand they say “oh, it’s colic.  they’ll grow out of it.”

This is incredibly frustrating- it’s so hard to watch your baby suffer.  And time literally stops moving when you have a baby with reflux- seconds feel like hours.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that, in a lot of babies, reflux (or other problems like bloody diapers, eczema, excessive gas) is caused by dairy and/or soy proteins- whether they are coming from breast milk or formula.  Not all the time, but it is more common than you would think.  Again, one of those things you wish they told you about in the new parent classes!

My best advice for new parents– if you suspect that your baby has reflux or if they are having major skin issues or anything else that is flagging your mommy radar, eliminate all traces of dairy from your diet, for a minimum of 2 weeks.  Soy proteins are similar to dairy proteins, so to be safe it is a good idea to eliminate all traces of soy as well- which proves to be very tricky.  Soy is in EVERYTHING and comes in many forms (so does dairy by the way).

 dairysoyDairy image; soy image

It takes 2 weeks for dairy proteins to leave your system, so if you’re breastfeeding it can take a month to see some sort of relief for baby (2 weeks to leave your system, 2 weeks to leave baby’s system).  I know this feels like an eternity, but often this is enough to do the trick, without having to resort to medication or formula.  Look at it like a science experiment- change one variable at a time and evaluate the results, then change another variable (eliminate additional allergens from your diet such as wheat and/or egg; add medication; switch to formula).

I bring this topic up because B is eating solids- and I’m starting to challenge those foods that I’ve kept out of his diet.  Being MSPI isn’t a life sentence- babies usually outgrow this at some point.  So far we’ve trialed wheat (passed!), eggs (passed!) and soy (passed!).  Dairy is next up, and while I’m still scared (reflux rearing its ugly head again is always in the back of my mind) I’m hopeful.  We are going slowly and being optimistic!!

Some great resources that have helped me:

B’s monthly photos

I’m still keeping up with monthly photos of B!  It’s so fun to look back at them and see how much he’s changed over such a short period of time.  Some fun information for you in regards to his weight/height/head circumference:

Birth

7lbs 13oz- 70th percentile
20.5 inches long- 50th percentile
14.5 inches around (head)- 70th percentile

5 months
17lbs 15.5oz- 80th percentile
27 inches long- 90th percentile
17.5 inches around (head)- 80th percentile

This boy is literally growing before our eyes- he is fitting comfortably into 9mo clothing and some 12mo outfits (I naively thought he would be wearing 12mo in the fall, not summer, but Grandma came to the rescue and sent him a ton of cute outfits to wear in the hot Georgia weather…which hasn’t shown up yet.  Hellooooooo spring in the south- where are you?? I feel like I’m living in Washington- seriously 48 degrees in May?  Not normal.  I’m cold!!)

Anyway, I digress.  On to the fun part- the photos!  Here’s month 5:

I love that his personality is really starting to shine.  He is in 12mo clothing in this photo.

And just for comparison, here are months 1-4:


Brand new

One month

Two months

Three months

Four months

The end of month 4 brought a LOT of firsts for B.  He got his two bottom teeth in- and those suckers are sharp!!  He also deliberately rolled from tummy to back (he started doing this around 3 months but just figured out HOW to do it recently)- we cheer every time he does it and he gets the BIGGEST smile.

He’s become quite the wiggle worm in his crib too- we put him down facing one direction and he can wiggle all the way around to face the other direction by the end of a nap.  He also recently started rolling onto his tummy during the night- but doesn’t realize he knows how to do this during the day yet (it’s coming though- and I think some form of crawling isn’t far behind that).  He also can sit unsupported for a few seconds at a time.  

It’s hard to believe that in less than a month he will be 6 months old- and we will be starting solids!!  I’m excited and terrified at the same time- we had so many tummy troubles with him at the start of his life, I don’t want to start all over with those again.  Can’t he just be on a liquid diet until he’s 20?!  He’s really starting to show signs that he’s ready though, so it’ll be really fun to see him try out new tastes and textures.

I can’t believe how fast time goes when you are a parent- but I’m enjoying every second of it!