Squishy turned 100 Days Old and I was consumed by my inner domestic voice to plan a DIY party. I’m no Ina Garten, but there are a few things that I truly enjoy such as the company of great friends and faces that live near and far.

‘100 Days’ Celebration (baek-il) is a Korean heirloom tradition that started back when infant mortality was a big issue in Korea. The gathering typically includes both sides of the family, tons of rice cake, and can be as large or as intimate as you’d like.

Our celebration was smaller and much more casual with no traditional costumes or rituals. Instead, I did a picnic style lunch with semi-homemade dishes, fresh produce from our local farms, and light bites from Veggie Grill. Oh and did I ever mention how the wine is insanely cheap here? $65 for 6 bottles from Ralph’s. The accessories (utensils and cutlery) was ordered from Oh! Happy Day, an online party store and our local Daiso.

Overall good vibes with plenty of food, a chill baby, and lots of ro-saaay.
Photo cred. Dorothy W.; Dave L.

Puppet Play

One of my favorite toy stores in Costa Mesa called ‘Granola Babies’ is closing down at the end of the month to focus exclusively on classes. So, I picked up these wonderful puppets made by HABA for $10 each and we’ve been having fun with them ever since.

Using puppets is a great way to stimulate the baby’s brain and jump start language learning for infants, exposing them to sounds and pronunciations as early as possible. When doing puppet play, I speak in Korean while my husband speaks in Japanese/Mandarin.

We’ll occasionally catch Squishy engaging in “baby talk” back to the puppets (nothing we can understand…yet). In between naps, feedings, and tummy time, we use the puppets to keep him engaged during those down periods of time.

For older children, puppets serve as a great way to get their creative juices flowing and they construct scenarios and character development. It’s also a great way for children to overcome their shyness by channeling their emotions through characters. Give the HABA Puppet Frog a try.

Tummy Time

If there are any tell-tale signs of an impatient child, I think our Squishy has them all. This is why when we put him down for tummy time before feeding, he goes absolutely nuts. The best way, my husband and I figured, was to incorporate tummy time during his daily activities, as much as possible.

[Above] Squishy doing the classic tummy time where his entire body rests on his stomach – the goal is to get the infant to engage his neck muscles to lift his head and potentially be on all fours.

As you can see, this doesn’t make Squishy happy one bit. So why the tummy time? Since the increase of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), doctors require that parents never leave a baby unattended on his/her stomach – this includes sleeping. Personally, I grew up in an era when it was encouraged to let babies sleep on their stomachs, which aids in early crawling and minimizes the chance of having a flat head. To compensate for the lack of early muscle engagement that babies get on their stomachs, it is encouraged for babies to get 30-60 minutes of tummy time sprinkled throughout the day.

[Above] Football hold. This is an effective way to achieve tummy time on-the-go, from room-to-room. Why waste a single minute right?

[Above] Not really on the tummy, but… this is the surprisingly effective upright hold. My husband gently keeps his hand near baby’s head in case Squishy loses stability. This is a less straining way for babies to build their core neck muscles without the added strain on their neck.

This is little Squishy catching a breath in resting pose tummy time. For this pose, we placed the Boppy or Dockatot to support his stomach and back, so that he can regain composure when he needs the chance. It’s very similar to the skin-to-skin method where you lie on your back and directly place baby on your body. The babies don’t seem to mind it as much – making tummy time more tolerable for all.

On Formula

Our culture tends to stigmatize moms who decide to formula feed. Often times, moms who decide to formula feed are given the impression that they didn’t try their best. Squishy had a moderate case of jaundice and he simply wouldn’t latch. So, after a month of exclusive pumping and failed latch attempts, I felt somewhat deflated and began formula feeding.

As a mostly vegan mom, I found that there were other challenges aside from societal pressure to formula feeding. A very limited number of formula options available for vegans. My husband and I initially chose the ProSobee Baby Formula because it was technically vegan. We chose our preference for soy formula based on a few trials with others – Similac, Mother’s Best, Baby Only. Mother’s Best, while having the cleanest ingredient list, caused severe constipation for Squishy. Similac was too rich and oily.

The Gentlease Baby Formula, an alternative recommended by fellow first-time mom and sister-in-law, was effective in solving the constipation issue, but a short while later, we found ourselves trapped with a new diarrhea issue. When I consulted with my pediatrician, he mentioned that this is something that is, unfortunately, more common with formula babies. This brings me to my next point. It is very true that breastfeeding may less frequently encounter these gastrointestinal issues. Breastmilk is exclusively formulated for the baby that’s been growing inside the womb. This is why doctors and nurses so strongly encourage breastfeeding. BUT formula isn’t poison – it’s a perfectly safe alternative to meet the growing baby’s nutritional needs and a mom shouldn’t be shamed for making that choice (for whatever reason).

I’ve also heard great things about the Meiji Hohoemi Raku-Raku Cube. My friend from Japan used the cubes to supplement while breastfeeding her daughter. Formulated to mimic actual breast milk, the Hohoemi is easy to digest for babies.

If baby’s inconsistent bowel movements continue to ensue, I will give the hohoemi product a try.

In terms of taste, Squishy doesn’t have a strong preference for any particular one. As you can see from the picture he’s just happy when he’s fed.

First 5 LA

For today’s post, I wanted to share my experience with a wonderful program called First 5 LA. First 5 LA’s mission is to empower and strengthen families by offering them proper resources to establish a great start for children ages 0-5. The organization works with new families to provide affordable health care and routine in-home visits.

I was introduced to First 5 LA through Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where I delivered my son and where First 5 LA conducted routine visits to first-time moms. The first week home, my Welcome Baby Nurse came to our house to provide a routine checkup for my son.

Here’s a brief overview of the program. FYI, the program’s length varies per case and I was enrolled in a 2-month/3-visit program.

Visit 1. Post-natal check-up & initial baby check-up. I was given a handbook for new moms and combatting postpartum anxiety. Gifts included a Boppy and baby first-aid kit.
Visit 2. Communicating with babyWe were given a small package of books and pamphlets on child health. The case manager also provided options for affordable baby insurance.
Visit 3. Making the home a safe place for the baby. This was our last program visit and we were given a blanket to encourage bedtime reading routines along with a home childproofing kit.

For our follow-up phone conversation, we were referred to a similar program at the University of Southern California, which I’ll definitely be checking out in the upcoming weeks.