Oh baby, baby: Things no one tells you about newborns

As if suddenly holding your own baby in your arms wouldn’t be mind-blowing enough for parents, nature thought it would be really funny to throw in a couple of additional awesome stunts. You will find a lot on the internet with regards to surprising baby facts, like that you will still look pregnant for a while or about baby’s first poop (don’t google unless you are pregnant). So since that’s all covered, I listed the things that no one really tells you prior, but that everyone you will tell about after any of the things listed below will happen as in “Ah, yeah right, ours did that too” like a Monday-night-quarterback. So may this blog post be like a pre-game prep.

  1. Sneezing: Babies sneeze. A lot that is. Your initial reaction being: “OMG my baby’s got a cold.” No, it doesn’t. Babies have to sneeze regularly to humidify their nostrils. Being German I came to the only logical conclusion “This baby of mine needs to be dressed waaaay warmer” (see point 3 on this list), while her dad insisted that she is just fine and there is nothing to worry. Turns out she was indeed fine and that sneezing is just part of this whole baby package. After all sneezing is also just really cute if done by a tiny bundle of joy.
  2. Baby girl’s first period: Female babies can actually get their period in the first couple of days and it’s totally normal. They told us about it in the hospital during the first initial check-up right after birth, but my overwhelmed brain didn’t process that info, so I had a mini meltdown when I spotted blood in the diaper. Luckily my partner paid enough attention, so he solved that mystery quickly. Still it was something I never knew about. The reason for the period is (as so often when it comes to pregnancy related things) the hormones your little girl was exposed to while being a womby (a womb inhabitant that is).
  3. Babys are more robust than you think: Chances are they feel a lot less cold than you think and you might overdress them in the beginning. Chances are also that you will experience a lot of anxiety when it comes to going out with your baby for a stroller walk or to a café due to fearing overstimulation. However chances are also that you worry too much and it’s gonna be just fine. Unless a place is really too noisy or too crowded with potentially ill people (like during cold seasons), it actually does your baby a lot of good to go out. However the general advice you will receive, is to exert caution. If you feel like going out for a walk, do so by all means. There is no rule of thumb. You don’t have to keep the baby indoors for a magical 2 weeks or a month, unless it makes YOU feel more comfortable to do so. That being said, babies often face a few circulation challenges while their system gets up to speed, causing them to have cold feet and hands. As long as the rest of your baby’s body is warm and pink and they are not severely underdressed (aka no socks despite the fact that it’s winter), you are on the safe side. There is the saying to always dress your baby with one more layer than yourself. While that might be sensible in winter, it might be overheating the baby when it’s a hot summer day. So make common sense your guideline.
  4. The fussy hours: A lot of newborns go through the daily routine of fussy hours for a couple of weeks until it randomly stops again. Like clockwork your baby will start screaming and crying around the same time and not stop for what feels like a couple of hours, usually in the evening hours. No, they are not in severe pain, no, you didn’t do anything wrong. They are just coping with their day and the fact that really everything is new and crazy. A baby is on a gigantic psychedelic trip, since everything is a first. At this point everyone will point out a list of suuuper helpful tips on how to cope with that and help your baby calm down, often initiated with “This always worked with you ours. Without failure.”. Chances are that it didn’t ALWAYS work. Chances are as well that some trick works one day and completely fails the other. So after having done the general check- up round of feeding, diaper and simply holding your baby to soothe it, you can try additional things like swaddlin, tummy massages or this mindblowingly effective manoever. But there will be days when none of this works and all you can do is simply hold your baby, let it feel your heart beat and let the crying rain over you like a thunder storm that you simply have to endure. This too shall pass. Try to keep your cool and also as a couple, try to not get frustrated with each other. None of you has done anything to cause it.
  5. Every baby is different: Well maybe that is not suuuch a big revelation in theory, but in practice it is hard to hold back from comparing your babies development to others. Truth be told, even the most reasonable people can suddently become competitive when it comes to their offspring. While there is a general guideline when your baby should be able to do X or Y, it really is just that: a general guideline. Everyone develops in their own pace. So yes, there might be babies that hold up their head up really early and others that seem to take unusually long to respond to dangling objects and that’s all fine. Don’t worry. At the end of the day each baby will turn into a normally functioning grown-up, it’s just they each do it in their own unique timeline. So I can only strongly encourage to do yourself a favor and don’t compare too much – neither with checklists, nor with other babies. If anything is off the norm, your doctor will tell you. Just because someone says it’s like this and that, doesn’t make it any more true for your baby. You and only you will know YOUR baby best.
  6. Letting others hold your baby: Some moms experience severe anxiety when someone else holds their baby – and yes, that can include her own partner. Others are completely at ease with others holding the mini-me, even for a longer time period. Both is completely normal. You carried your baby in you for 40 weeks, so being separated can hurt emotionally, even if your baby is just in someone else’s arms and a mere 3 feet away. At the same time, don’t think there is anything wrong with your mommy instinct or love and affection for your baby if you don’t mind someone else holding him or her. The thing is: you cannot possibly know what type you will be before actually being in the situation and this can come as a surprise to you. The toughest woman who thought she lacks motherly instincts can turn into an envious hyena when the baby giggles with joy while grandma cuddles her/him. Others might think they would be such a mommy lion who will want to keep the baby for just themselves and find themselves surprised at how easy they find it to give their munchkin to a babysitter. Unless you shield your baby away from everyone when they’ve got several month on their belt or if you randomly hand your baby to strangers on the street, chances are you are completely within the norm and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  7. Baby acne: Your baby might get a few pimples in the first couple of weeks. This doesn’t mean there is lack of hygiene in your household (unless we are talking about severe rashes appearing on their face) and it’s simply the results of hormones (yip, here they are again) working in your baby and the fact that there is always a degree of pollution and debris in the air.
  8. Baby eyes – discharge and tears: Some babies have a cream colored discharge out of the tear dugs of their eyes. In fact, sometimes there can be quite a lot flowing out. Unless their eyes are flaming red and swollen or your baby has a fever, this is all quite normal and nothing to worry about. Most of the times it’s harmless mucus. When in doubt, ask your doctor or your midwife. Most of the time all you can do is simply take a clean dry pad, soak it in warm water and wipe it off. Do NOT use black tea or chamomile tea, even though it’s often recommended, because the tiny cut leaf residue might actually irritate the eyes. Sometimes this discharge process can however open another challenging route to travel: baby tears. Nothing rips you apart internally quite like tears flowing down your baby’s cute face.
  9. Baby weight: In the first couple of days your baby will lose weight, because even if you breastfeed them within the regular recommended cycles, it most likely will take a couple of days for the regular breast milk to shoot in (even if your breasts might already feel like it did). So while your baby might get only a few milliliters out on every feeding session and might sometimes feel constantly hungry, don’t worry. They can lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight in those first couple of days and might be unsettled because they are indeed craving food. The good news is: they are most likely not starving. The milk will come, especially if you keep on breastfeeding. If you are worried about it, ask your midwife or a nurse or doctor for advice and a check-up, as of course there are cases where there is a physical challenge present like your babies cheek muscles not being strong enough to properly suck. But mostly it’s just a matter of a few days and nature has prepared for it. However, it can still catch you off guard, despite knowing about it and thus technically being prepared. It makes you inevitably feel anxious when you fear your baby is hungry.
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Oreo churros sandwiches with ice cream

Everyone who has ever been to Spain knows churros. Those tasty dough sticks that you can dip in your coffee or chocolate for breakfast. But how about having them like a sandwich with ice cream in the middle as a great dessert option? And how about making them even better by adding Oreo cookies to the equation? This recipe makes 4 churros sandwiches.

Ingredients

  • 12 Oreo cookies
  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • ¼ cup of sugar plus a second ¼ cup for rolling the churros in
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 cups of vegetable oil (for frying; the amount depends on the size of your pot, the aim is for a 2 inch/5 centimeter depth)
  • 4 generous scoops of cookies & cream or vanilla ice cream

Start by splitting the Oreo cookies and separate the cream from the cookie shells with a knife and place in separate bowls. Grind the Oreo cookie shells in a food processor until you have Oreo cookie flour. Wisk an egg in a small bowl and set aside. Afterwards, place the water, butter and sugar in a pot and bring it to the boil. When the butter and sugar have melted, feed in the flour and pulverized Oreo cookie shells. Drizzle it all in bit by bit and slowly, so you have a smooth result. Use a spatula to massage the floury ingredients in. I find this much easier than with any other kitchen utensil. After everything is blended, add the egg while taking the pot off the heat and massage it into the dough as well. Once that is done, fill your dough into a piping bag and prepare a tray (that fits in your freezer) and put a layer of parchment paper on it. Now pipe a spiral ring of 2 inches in diameter each. The amount of dough should result in 8 of the rings, a.k.a. 4 churros sandwiches. To allow the rings to preserve their shape during frying, put them in the freezer for 45 min to one hour.

As for the frying, use a large/ideally high pot, add the vegetable oil and bring it to a boil. The tell-tale sign that your oil has reached the right temperature is when you dip in a spatula and little bubbles form around it. Peel the frozen Oreo rings off the parchment paper with a spatula and let them gently glide into the point to avoid any of the hot oil to spray out and potentially injure you. Cook them for 3-4 minutes. When they’re done, they will float on the top. Prepare a plate or cutting board and place 2 layers or paper towels on it for soaking up the excess oil.

Give the churros rings 2 minutes to cool down and then roll them in a small container with the ¼ cup of sugar mentioned in the ingredients. Place the sugared result on a plate and top it off with a scoop of ice cream and place a second sugared churros ring on top.


Oh baby, baby: Fun gadgets

Oh, wouldn’t life be boring without the ability to purchase unnecessary things that make it fun and exciting? Here are my favorite items that you will not need, but may want. I certainly did. First and foremost: with anything that is NOT a survival essential, I strongly recommend to ask friends and family before any purchase if one of them has the desired gadget/item at home and if you can try it out with your baby. Why? Because it saves you money and frustration to make sure your baby likes it and that it works for your family first. That might be less necessary with stuff that is relatively cheap (like baby sunglasses), but with bigger purchases like a swing, it definitely makes sense.

One fun thing for most babies is being in the water. Whether it reminds them of their time as belly inhabitants or it’s simply the fact that everything is all cozy and warm in the bath, it seems like the little munchkins can’t get enough. One way to enhance that is with the Floatie (click here). This is a cute neck ring that ensures your baby’s head stays afloat while s/he is swimming in the bathtub or when you take them to the pool or a lake. While it ain’t something for the first months, it is certainly a fun gadget as soon as your baby is more or less able to hold up his or her head. It is also a great thing for bonding time with dad. In our family anything water related is dad territory, as we see it as important that each parent has their own personal time with our daughter and since dads can’t breastfeed, swimming and bathing are great, positive activities to bond.

A shocking truism is that no matter how much we love our babies, even the most dedicated mom needs to take a shower or prepare a meal so that she doesn’t starve. At least from the perspective of your little munchkin, this can be a big no-no. This will be less the case in the very first weeks, but as soon as your mini-me is getting a little more active around week 4 or 5, you will want a strategy to soothe and occupy your baby. Enter the portable baby swing into the equation. This will gently rock your youngest family member while you borrow a couple of minutes for yourself. We have this one by Ingenuity and so far our baby is as smitten with it as we are. Since it is portable, you can set it up wherever you currently are – kitchen, living room, nursery, etc. The only downside of this one: the animals face towards you, not your baby; however, that can be fixed by readjusting the strings. I recommend getting a portable one, as some options are set up being fixed to the ceiling or are not really mobile. They are usually only good for the first six months, so you might want to look into getting one second-hand.

 


Halloumi Avocado Bacon Salad With Dill-Lemon Dressing

Halloumi is one of Cyrus’ tastiest gifts to the world. It has rightfully become popular, as it is a wonderful meat substitute for BBQs and other culinary applications, as you can marinate and grill it just like you would with a steak or burger patty. It’s traditionally made out of a mix of goat and sheep’s milk, although a lot of providers use cow’s milk as well. Coupled with maple syrup, it becomes divine.

This salad is an amazing weekday dinner option that’s perfect after coming home from the gym or as a refreshing summer dish on a hot day. Its rich flavors leave nothing left to wish for as far as meals are concerned. This recipe makes 2 servings as a main course. Prep time is 20-25 minutes, depending on whether you do the bacon and halloumi parallel or one after the other.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 2/3 cup of sweet corn
  • 5 spring onions
  • 5 ounces (125 grams) of halloumi cheese (click here)
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of dill
  • 3 tablespoons of native olive oil
  • Salt and ground pepper

Start by chopping the avocado into dices and the spring onions into small rings. Add it all to a salad bowl, along with the sweet corn. Fry the bacon in a pan on medium heat until crispy. Make sure to put the bacon into the cold pan and then turn on the heat, as this makes for crispier and less greasy results. You also don’t need to add any butter or oil for frying the bacon. Once the slices have reached the desired state of crispiness, lay them on a paper towel to soak up all the extra fat. Then fold the paper towel and crush the bacon inside, then add the crumbles to the salad bowl. Pour in the dill and you are ready for the grand finale: the cheese.

Afterwards, cut the halloumi into slices (or dices, whatever floats your boat) and cook it in the pan with the vegetable oil and maple syrup. The latter allows the halloumi to slightly caramelize and gives it a unique and super tasty flavor. Once the halloumi has gone a dark golden color, add it to the bowl.

As for the dressing, squeeze one fresh lemon into a small glass or bowl, add the olive oil, salt and pepper and whisk it all together. Note that there is no need to have any vinegar, as the lemon adds all the acid that is needed. Mix it into the other salad ingredients and enjoy. Serve it while the halloumi is still slightly warm.


You’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by… a smooth(ie) criminal

That’s right, this sneaky soft talker of a smoothie will steal your heart in a flash. Guilty of being tasty. This one thrives on the awesome taste of maple syrup and by God does it thrive. This recipe makes for one generous serving and is an ideal meal replacement, if you want to skip dinner for a nutritious yet enjoyable option.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of chilled oat milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop of My Protein Maple Syrup flavor
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds
  • Nutmeg

Truth be told, the maple syrup protein powder is for people with a real sweet tooth. So you might want to tone it down a bit. This can be achieved with the help of the banana, which coincidentally also ensures a healthy dose of potassium, minerals and vitamins with your smoothie. Flaxseeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids and a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, which can lower your risk for heart-attacks.  Lastly, the nutmeg can help your body eliminate the toxins accumulated in the liver and kidney and overall contributes to a better night’s sleep, as it is said to be a great home remedy for treating insomnia. After all, a good night’s sleep is the best foundation of a healthy body and mind.