Feeding will be your first official act as a new parent. And for the first few months, it will seem like you do little else, which may be true. Consider this: a new baby needs to be fed as often as every two hours; a new parent may take an hour and a half to prepare and complete a feeding. Now do the math. From the first feeding, feeding metrics (frequency, length, amount) and baby weight will become essential statistics in your life. New parents compare weight and measurements after each well-baby visit, sounding like major league scouts. The conversation inevitably turns to how the baby is fed — breast or bottle.

Any new parent can attest to the strong breastfeeding bias in hospitals. While breastfeeding classes and lactation consultants abound in hospitals, an introduction to bottlefeeding often comes at the time of discharge in the form of a free goody bag from formula makers (”blue or pink?”). The same bias exists in new parent circles, where bottlefeeding moms may feel marginalized, or worse yet, judged — this in addition to any feelings of guilt or inadequacy they may be confronting.

The positive health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and moms is well-documented. Nonetheless, breastfeeding is not the best or only option for everyone. For some new moms, breastfeeding is simple and painless from the first time. With a good maternity leave policy, these moms are good to go. For others, breastfeeding presents unavoidable, and in some cases insurmountable, challenges. And then there are those new parents who simply prefer bottlefeeding. Bottlefeeding has its own benefits: dad, siblings and grandparents can enjoy feedings and share in nighttime duties from the start.

Because of the breastfeeding bias, new parents are uninformed about bottlefeeding technique, formula choices and potential difficulties (gas, allegeries, etc.). Many nurses and doctors avoid discussing the bottle option in the hospital, for fear of discouraging a mom who may be having difficulty breastfeeding. Query whether this approach is in the best interest of the baby.

When it comes to feeding a newborn, the goal, first and foremost, is a well-nourished, contented baby. All new parents should have some bottles and powdered formula on hand, even as a back up. If you choose to breastfeed but latching doesn’t come easy or supply is a problem, use a breast pump to create and maintain milk supply. Bottlefeed using the pumped milk, combined with formula if needed. If you plan to bottlefeed exclusively, try a couple different bottle designs and stick with BPA-free plastics.

Whatever method of feeding you choose, listen to your baby and be open to change.

Happy Nesting!

Despite inaction by the FDA, states and municipalities have begun to act on the suspected health risks posed by the presence of Bisphenol-A, commonly called BPA, in certain plastics, including many that are used to make bottles and sippy cups.  On May 13, the Chicago City Council became the latest to announce a citywide ban on the sales of BPA-containing bottles and sippy cups effective January 2010.   Minnesota has passed a similar statewide measure and legislation is pending in the Connecticut and Illinois legislatures, among others.  Several major retailers, including Walmart, are also considering phasing out BPA-containing baby products.

It is undisputed that BPA seeps out of plastic into food and drink, particularly when warmed.  It is also undisputed that additional research is needed to understand the health risks, if any.  Some reports suggest that it has an estrogen-like effect, accelerating puberty and posing a possible cancer risk.  The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has “some concern” about certain potential effects of BPA and “minimal” concerns about other potential effects.   The FDA continues to conduct a “risk assessment” and, in the meantime, does not recommended discontinued use of BPA-containing products.   Late last year, a scientific panel urged the FDA to expand its review.   At the very least, no regulatory body is prepared to pronounce BPA “safe” for young children.

At nestingmode.com, we say better safe than sorry, particularly when it comes to a product your baby drinks from every day.  A number of BPA-free plastic bottles and cups are on the market, and nestingmode.com features only BPA-free bottle options, including Born Free, Green to Grow, Think Baby and Playtex Nursers.  Nestingmode.com does not recommend the use of glass bottles, which pose a number of health risks of their own related to chips and breakage, particularly when used by sleep-deprived new parents and infants.

As of the end of April, babystyle has shuttered its website and retail stores after nearly a decade of selling high style, high quality baby products, including many of its own wares. We’re sorry to see a pioneer of online baby product sales leave the space.

nestingmode.com featured a number of babystyle products — our site has been updated to reflect new “nm favorites” where babystyle products had been designated.

A more recent entrant to the baby space, TinyRide.com, has also suspended operations. (TinyRide.com is owned by the same parent as babystyle.) nestingmode.com also featured products offered by TinyRide.com, a user-friendly site with offerings that appealed to nestingmode.com users.

Many of the items offered by babystyle and TinyRide.com can still be found on nestingmode.com through the following merchants:

For assistance updating your nm My List, contact nestingmode.com customer service at customerservice@nestingmode.com.

Happy Nesting!

Nestingmode.com editors recently got their hands on an advanced copy of “The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents.” This handy volume gives a shout-out to the nestingmode.com Bare Essentials list as a helpful resource for first-time parents. Use the Bare Essentials list to discover and collect the basic necessities to have on hand when you arrive home with your newborn. Once you’ve tackled the Bare Essentials, it’s time to graduate to the nestingmode.com Essentials Complete Checklist to select and collect everything you and your baby will need in the early months.

Putting together a baby product budget is an introduction to the concept of “family finances.” It is also the ideal time to consider the many ways in which having a baby will impact your personal finances and financial planning. Pick up a copy of The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents” to begin planning for your family’s financial future.

An article in today’s New York Times should sound alarm bells for nesting notes readers and nestingmode.com users in the workplace. Legal experts in employment matters have reason to believe that the flagging economy may be used a pretense by unscrupulous employers for laying off pregnant women and new parents – a previously untouchable group. Indeed, employers may believe that current economic conditions provide legal cover for any employment decision. If you are pregnant, on maternity or paternity leave or have recently returned to work, be vigilant about the possibility of pregnancy discrimination or family status/responsibilities discrimination in your workplace, whether you are the only one let go or part of a larger RIF. To learn more, contact the Center for WorkLife Law operated by the University of California Hastings College of the Law, which operates a free hotline (800-981-9495), or contact your local EEOC office.

On Thursday, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics issued a report titled “No More Toxic Tub” documenting the results of lab tests it had commissioned to identify possible carcinogens – in this case, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane – in commonly used baby products, such as baby wash, shampoo, lotion and wipes. One or both chemicals were found in most of the products tested, which included some of the most popular brands on the market, such as Johnson’s, Aveeno, Baby Magic and Mustela.

So, as a consumer of baby care products, just how concerned should you be?

It’s difficult to tell. The thrust of the report is that products containing contaminants, when used over time “repeatedly and in combination with numerous other products” containing contaminants may increase the risk of cancer, although the risk has not been well studied. Formaldehyde is also a skin irritant, so if your baby has sensitive skin, you may want to pay particular attention to the products on your shelf. However, the primary purpose of the report is to advocate for higher regulatory standards across the board in the cosmetics industry, not necessarily to change consumer behavior with respect to the particular products studies. On the regulatory front, it is worth noting that, according to the report, Canada and the European Union bans 1,4-dioxane from personal care products entirely, and Japan and Sweden ban formaldehyde.

If you’re considering changing products based on the findings in the report, check out the Environmental Working Group Parents’ Buying Guide, which compares products based on the presence of certain potential contaminants. The same group publishes a buying guide by brand. According to the EWG guide, California Baby and Burt’s Bees look like the best brands for natural care products. Cailfornia Baby has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, confirming that it meets European Union standards, and in response to a nestingmode.com inquiry, Burt’s Bees has confirmed that its products are free of formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. The downside of these products is the price. All-in-one shampoo/wash will run you $11.50 for CB (8.5 oz) and $7 for Burt’s Bees (8 oz) compared with $2.39 for Johnson’s Head to Toe Wash (9 oz).

To learn more about baby care product safety, check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.

This morning we were enjoying a snow day in New York City, flipping through the New York Times while the kids slept in. We came across an OpEd that we thought might be of interest to nesting notes readers and nestingmode.com users: “One Ride Forward, Two Steps Back.”

A British research team recently completed a preliminary study of parent/child interactions using “toward facing” (baby faces pusher) and “forward facing” (baby faces out) strollers. The study found that parents facing their babies talked to them twice as much during a 15-minute stroll and the baby and parent were more likely to laugh along the way. The study was intended to raise questions about the effects of stroller design on language development, and we’re sure it will.

nestingmode.com features both toward facing and forward facing stroller models. During the early months, we agree that a parent-facing stroller is essential. You will want to keep on a constant eye on your little one, and s/he will want the comfort of seeing and hearing you. All of our “Stage 1” infant stroller options are parent-facing, whether you choose a car seat stroller base ($50-$75) or a multistage stroller, like the Maclaren XLR ($350) or Bugaboo Cameleon ($900).

It’s the Stage 2 stroller that raises the choice between toward facing and forward facing. For the best of both worlds, a convertible stroller with reversible seating lets your child face in either direction. The downside? Convertible strollers, like a Bugaboo Cameleon, Quinny Buzz or UPPAbaby Vista, come with a heftier price tag than an umbrella or jog stroller ($550-900+). A less costly, highly practical option is to purchase a quality forward facing umbrella stroller ($350 and under) and take along a baby carrier for longer strolls. Chat with your baby in the carrier and then place her in the stroller for a change of scenery or a nap.

As your baby gets older and increasingly curious, she may well prefer the forward facing option for strolling. That doesn’t mean your won’t talk again – stop and chat frequently, on park benches, at red lights or when you see the first blossom of spring together. (Looking at the window today, that seems far away!)

Bottom line: there’s no such thing as a bad stroller – it’s what you make of it. Whether your child is in a toward facing or forward facing stroller, make the most of your strolls together. Now we’re off for some sled riding in Riverside Park, where we will be facing in every direction with our kids!!

To read more strollers, see Strollers 101: the nestingmode.com stroller buying guide.

Happy Nesting!

Hi there!  Welcome to nesting notes, the blog for nestingmode.com, the ultimate baby product guide for first-time parents.  To simplify the nesting process, nestingmode.com is dedicated to providing exactly the information you need to select and collect the right right baby products — nothing more and nothing less.  nesting notes will also be a forum for discussing baby products, but gives us space to open up about the myriad of other issues of interest to first-time parents. 

First, a little about us.  We’re New York City parents with young children who loved the nesting process and wanted to find just the “right” products for our little ones.  When it comes to baby products, “right” is not a matter of the newest, most expensive, or most feature-laden.  Iinstead, the right baby products make sense, do what they are supposed to do well, and are an overall good value.  So we researched, analyzed and tested,  as only a strategy consultant and lawyer could do.  At some point, we realized that baby products had become a hobby and we started to share our finds with friends and family (why should they have to reinvent the wheel?).  And then nestingmode.com was conceived so we could share all we had learned with you!

nestingmode.com and nesting notes are independent of retailers and merchants, which allows us to feature only products we genuinely like and would recommend to our friends, including designated nestingmode favorites.  In addition to featured products, nestingmode.com also includes general product selection and usage tips.  In short, nestingmode.com is precisely the resource we wish we had before we set foot in a baby superstore for the first time.

Our goal is to make nesting notes the blog we wish we had in the months surrounding our introduction into parenthood.  We will be writing on topics ranging from working out while pregnant to work-life balance, from new product models to models (and other celebs) who are in nesting mode, from nursery decorating ideas to nursing in the early days, from the best sources for choosing a baby name to the best sources for finding a baby sitter.  You get the idea.  Please bookmark nesting notes and check back when you have a minute. 

Happy Nesting!