Gentle Mommy Blogging: Avoiding Accidental Child Exploitation

I was on buzzfeed the other night (spending my time taking useless quizzes) when I stumbled down a rabbit hole and ended up reading several articles about mommy bloggers exploiting their children. This new internet thing we have going on has made all the lines blurry and I’m left wondering if I’m doing the right thing. Being a mom seems to be second-guessing everything you thought you knew, and I’m not about to break tradition. 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

Let’s backtrack a little bit. Hailey is the light of my life and I absolutely love her. This makes me share about her, a lot. I do monthly updates on the blog and take monthly photos of her (in addition to daily cell phone pics... there are thousands of those already!). I do all this because I love her and I want to have these memories someday. So I can look back at great photos and comment on how tiny she is. I already do this with her newborn photos and 1 month photos, so I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when she’s a teenager. 


I recently did a blog post for a brand where I created some really stinking cute magnets. I dressed Hailey up in pink and red outfits and snapped some adorable pics, which I then printed on magnets. These became the basis of my blog post. After I took the final photos, I giggled and proclaimed to friends via text that Hailey was a model. But... do I want my daughter to be a model? I don’t know. I can’t say I do in the traditional sense, but is it different when I’m the one behind the camera, making the decisions? Is she safer that way? There’s no real answer to that question. 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

I find myself now exploring the line between “loving mother” and “exploitative mommy blogger”. At what point does my desire to share her pictures and stories cross the line into embarrassing TMI? How do I avoid inadvertently exploiting my child, when all I want to do is share her with the world? The answer could be simple- don’t share her in any commercial capacity. Or don’t share her at all. But how can I hide such an important part of my life? Is it ok to have her join me in campaigns for a “mommy and me”, business edition? Is it ok only when my husband agrees? Is it acceptable only if I pay her for her work? I don’t really know. 

My job as her mom, first and foremost, is to protect her. In this crazy, fucked up world, do we as parents need to be more careful with our children on social media? We aren’t talking about sharing a story with a friendly old lady at the park, or your mom telling her neighbor the funny thing your kid did. We’re talking full-on photos and video (with commentary) being shared to that guy you went to college with and never speak to anymore. And that former coworker from 2 jobs ago that you barely know. And the chick you befriended at a bar 4 years back that posts funny memes. Are these strangers (let’s call them what they are!) people we really want to know all about our children? Or, more importantly, does it matter that they see it, or is it fine since they just scroll on past your pics because they probably don’t care anyway? 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

When I think about what I want for my child, some days I feel like it’s the opposite of what I’m doing. That whole “practice what you preach” thing is going out the window. I don’t want her to be obsessed with her looks and yet I dress us both up for photos. I don’t want her to be obsessed with screen time and yet all I do is watch tv. I want her to have face-to-face interaction in a world full of likes and LOLs, and yet I spend most of my time on my phone. I try to create a balance, but it’s hard to know where the line is between laying a good foundation and crazy, neurotic new-age mom.

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

Those articles didn’t open my eyes to these things, because I was already thinking it. They just forced me to confront my thoughts finally. In reading these scary articles, it caused me to see a tiny sliver of myself in these people. I couldn’t judge them too harshly because I understood what they were saying. What they were actually saying... not what the articles were trying to vilify them for. 

Using your child for your social media business is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you’re using your child to gain an income. But on the other hand, in doing so, you’re able to provide them with things they might not be able to have otherwise. I’m not talking about free swag, money for vacations, or even a nice home. I’m talking about quality time with them instead of hiring a nanny or putting them in daycare, showing them how you work hard to run your business, and being available at a moment’s notice for them because your flexible schedule allows it. These are things that most traditional jobs do not provide us. 

If it wasn’t for my efforts on my blog, being at home with Hailey would be absolutely out of the question. We cannot afford it, period. She most likely would be in daycare (at least part time) since both my mom and mother-in-law work. She wouldn’t be waking up to my face every after nap, breastfeeding for every meal, and hearing me sing terribly to her just for a smile. Someday I’ll tell her about how I spent all day playing with her with tears in my eyes full of joy, and then after she went to bed spent an hour feeling happy that I had a break, then would immediately miss her and look at her photos. I’ll tell her all about how I had tears in my eyes at night once again, as I worked from 10pm to 2 or 3 am. All the while looking at her photo and telling her I’m doing this for her. Telling her I KNOW I can do this. 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

So you tell me- where does the line get drawn? How do I know I’m doing right by my child? The area is gray and I don’t want to open myself up to hatred and extreme criticism, but I genuinely want to know what people think about this. How do you share your children on social media? Perhaps through kind discussions, we can find the safe middle ground for all our children that doesn’t scar them for life. 

Tummy Time fun (for less than $25!)

Hailey’s been rolling over (a lot) and she seems to be on her tummy a lot more lately! It’s really adorable to watch her do it, but also a little scary when I turn around for a second and all of a sudden she’s flipped on her tummy on the floor, her changing pad, in the crib… I’ve definitely got to keep my eyes on her! Since tummy time is really important for her development, I decided to make tummy time as fun as possible. I wanted a fun toy for her that allowed her to play and explore instead of just staring around and eventually crying. And, since I’m not working right now I needed something that didn’t break the bank.

*This post contains affiliate links

Make tummy time more fun for baby with this water toy! It’s a great baby shower gift idea and perfect for playing with baby. Click to learn more about this baby list must-have item! #tummytime #tummytimeproducts #bestbabyproducts

I went onto Amazon and found this tummy time water mat and knew I had to give it a try. The mat comes folded up, and you fill it yourself with air and water. This means it’s really compact when it’s not in use, and for only $22 you can’t go wrong! There are a few more affordable options (see below) but I picked this one because it seemed like a good size and had good reviews. I didn’t want it leaking water everywhere! 

Make tummy time more fun for baby with this water toy! It’s a great baby shower gift idea and perfect for playing with baby. Click to learn more about this baby list must-have item! #tummytime #tummytimeproducts #bestbabyproducts

A lot of the reviews complain about a smell, but in the words of my husband “it pretty much smells like a beach ball would”. You could definitely air it out if you wanted to, but I didn’t feel it was overpowering or anything. Plus, the baby didn’t seem affected. That being said, the smell was much stronger when we closed it in our baby’s room, so I’d recommend storing it somewhere else.

Make tummy time more fun for baby with this water toy! It’s a great baby shower gift idea and perfect for playing with baby. Click to learn more about this baby list must-have item! #tummytime #tummytimeproducts #bestbabyproducts

As for storage, I keep it filled since I’ve been using it everyday. I’m nervous to leave it on the floor unattended (if it leaks that’s a LOT of water!) so I’ve been storing it in the bathtub when not in use- works perfectly for keeping it clean and safe from my 3 cats and new puppy.

Make tummy time more fun for baby with this water toy! It’s a great baby shower gift idea and perfect for playing with baby. Click to learn more about this baby list must-have item! #tummytime #tummytimeproducts #bestbabyproducts

Hailey’s still getting the hang of it, but she seems to love when I press down and the water sloshes around so the little foam sea animals “swim” across the water. She’s been very observant lately, so she loves studying all the different colors and images on the mat. It’s also comfy for lounging apparently, because she always takes a rest on it. And another added bonus is that tummy time often leads to lots of saliva and spitting up, and with this mat it just gets wiped right off! One less thing to launder is a win in my book. I use these baby-safe wipes to clean it off before and after use :)

Make tummy time more fun for baby with this water toy! It’s a great baby shower gift idea and perfect for playing with baby. Click to learn more about this baby list must-have item! #tummytime #tummytimeproducts #bestbabyproducts
Make tummy time more fun for baby with this water toy! It’s a great baby shower gift idea and perfect for playing with baby. Click to learn more about this baby list must-have item! #tummytime #tummytimeproducts #bestbabyproducts

As mentioned above, I got this mat because of the good reviews and larger size. They also have a pastel version for under $12, a round one for less than $10 and a mini one for less than $6, which is perfect for small apartments or those that don’t have a lot of space! I was soooo close to buying the pretty pastel one but I opted for the larger size and better reviews with the one I ended up getting.

No matter which mat you get, baby is sure to love playing around and watching the little items move inside the water. Grab one today to start your tummy time fun!

Hailey's 4 Month Update

I need to get better about posting these updates on time, but on January 28th Hailey turned 4 months old! Time flies and we’re about to do her 5 month update in just over a week and I’m wondering where the time went. Let’s see what this cute little cabbage patch has been up to!

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

At four months old, Hailey is 13 lbs and 23.5 inches tall. She’s wearing size 3-6 months clothes. She’s outgrowing her second set of clothes, the 0-3 month ones and getting better and smarter each day!

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Crawling/swimming

Hailey’s fun party trick is swimming on her belly from dad to mom. She’ll be on Johns lap and decide she wants me. So she tips herself forward, goes onto her belly and wildly kicks and flails around to get over to me (I’m usually right next to John). He’s put his hand behind her feet to give her something to push off of and she ventures over to me, slobbering on John’s arm the entire way. 

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Found her foot

Hailey found her foot! I had her on my lap and she looked down and saw a fox foot on her pjs. She was interested in it (step 1 of finding her foot) and then was wiggling it around and seemed shocked she made it move! (Step 2 of finding her foot). It was actually the cutest thing to witness as she pieced it all together. 

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Throw up monster

Ugh this month Hailey’s been spitting up like crazyyyy and it’s been super fun. We’re going through burp cloths like crazy. One day, she burped and kinda threw up but it was literally across the entire back of the couch cushion, all over the burp cloth and all down my back too! That was fun to clean up but lucky I had spot and stain upholstery cleaner so it didn’t even leave a stain!

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Great sleeper

This month was a shocker since Hailey has been sleeping at night more than most babies her age- 10, 12 sometimes even 14 hours! It was hugely helpful since I got to do work at night (hallelujah!) but also still get a full night’s rest. She also started going to sleep more easily since she’s found her thumb, and instead of 2+ hours nighttime routine, it only takes about 30 minutes. 

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Bouncer/Jumper

I think part of the reason she’s going to bed so easily is that we set up her bouncer and she jumps all day long! She’s pretty much sitting in there if she’s not eating or napping and she loves it. At first she just hung there but after teaching her to bounce and putting a book under her feet so she could reach the ground, she go the hang of it and hasn’t stopped bouncing since. We have the Finding Nemo jumper because I figured if it had to be technicolor, it may as well be something I liked. But, my friend has this one from Skip Hop which also turns into a table and chalkboard when they get bigger and I loveeeee how simple and clean it looks! I wish I had found it first because I definitely would have picked that one.

Laughing

Ugh be still my heart. Hailey finally started laughing and it’s the cutest thing everrrr. She really doesn’t laugh that often but I spend all my time trying to get her to giggle. I think she takes after her father- he doesn’t laugh all that much, while I laugh at everything. While it can be frustrating to try and make her laugh but only having her stare at me in return, it makes those few giggles I do get extra-precious. 

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Crying at strangers

I used to be able to hand Hailey off to anyone and everyone, but not anymore! Now when people come over and try to hold her, she freaks out. She’s always looking to me for comfort and to assess if the person is a friend or foe. I still can’t believe that she’s my baby and I’m her mom. I feel like theres got be someone else who’s really in charge of her! I’ll take all the extra snuggles though, and I’m trying to slowly re-introduce people in a way she’s comfortable with so she doesn’t cry as much around them (like grandmas, aunties… not true “strangers”). It usually involves putting her in her bouncer (safe zone) while they play with her and she gets comfortable with them.

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Brown eyes

It seems like Hailey’s eye color is finally starting to come through and it’s a greyish brown! They seem dark so she may have my eye shape but Johns eye color. Only time will tell!

One extra long curly hair

Hailey has one single extra long, curly strand of hair! It sits straight up on the middle of the crown of her head. We were fairly certain she’d have curly hair since both of us do, and this confirmed it! We’re still unsure about hair color, since the back of her head is super dark but the top is sorta light and blond-ish in the sun. 

Hailey’s 4 month update is now on the blog! Learn about all the new things she did this month.

Nicknames

Cheese Foot is still hanging in there from her stinky Owlet foot, along with Love Dove, Love Bug, and of course still calling her my best friend! She’s stopped making her bird sounds which makes me sad, so I don’t call her Little Bird anymore. But I foresee many new nicknames coming about!

Well, thats all about Hailey at 4 months old! She’s the cutest baby I ever laid eyes on and I love her sooooo much. I’m so appreciative of the fact that I get to stay home with her daily.

Hailey's 3 Month Update

Little Hailey is now 3 months old! She changes so much week to week, and I am loving the tiny person she’s becoming. I feel so lucky to be her momma, and to still be on maternity leave soaking up every second with her. It’s a dream. Let’s take a look at all the ways Hailey has changed this month, shall we?!

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

At three months old, Hailey is 13 lbs 2 oz and 23 inches tall. She’s wearing size 3 months clothes. She’s been quite the fashionista lately, letting me dress her up in fun clothes every day!

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Watching TV

OK, Hailey’s been watching tv for a while now, but lately she’s REALLY into the TV! She whines when she’s not facing it and we are, haha. I guess she’s becoming a zombie like us. She doesn’t get much screen time besides when we’re watching tv, and we only watch adult shows so I think she just likes the lights. Either way, it’s really stinking cute when she “watches” Disney or Christmas movies!

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Singing songs

Hailey loves our little sing-alongs. I have the worst singing voice ever (and a pretty annoying normal voice, some would argue!) so I find it hilarious that she likes when I sing. She’s been loving Christmas songs, especially the slow soulful ones like my acapella rendition of Please Come Home For Christmas by the Eagles. I can’t hit any of the notes, but for some reason she loves it haha. 

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Faces

Hailey is noticing faces more and more, and loves when you smile at her! She smiles back and likes to study people. She also hates when she can’t see you nowadays, so I tend to keep her in the kitchen with me when I’m cooking so she doesn’t start wailing. 

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Smiling more

Hailey is such a happy, smiley girl! She loves singing, light fixtures, faces… pretty much everything except toys, haha. Everything makes her smile, and I am LOVING it. I spend all day trying to get those smiles and I can’t seem to get enough.

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Singing and sounds

Hailey is making so many sounds these days! She’s even been singing little songs to me, and I die every time. We also have “conversations” and she loves to tell me about her poops as I change her diaper, haha! She knows John reacts when she does a little high pitched squeal, so she does that when he’s around. It’s pretty insane how smart she is.

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Sitting upright

So, little miss Hailey is a big girl. She loves to sit upright and whines now when you hold her like a little baby. She also does “sit ups” on her boppy pillow, where she holds my thumbs and pulls herself up. She sticks out her little tongue and smiles at me as I cheer her on. Then when she’s upright, she bobbles around trying to get her balance. She’s getting really good on it, and she’ll probably be sitting up on her own soon!

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

First Christmas 

That’s right, this Little Miss had her first Christmas! I couldn’t handle it, we wore Christmas pajamas every day for the 2 weeks before, and I sang her Christmas Carols all month long. I was super bummed on Christmas when I realized I forgot to take a photo of us together. My hubby (and tripod) came to the rescue though, because we took some great shots of us in front of the tree and Hailey even smiled in the one with me! It took some of the blues away. 

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

Baby Fists

Hailey learned how to make a fist and chew on it this month, so she spends a lot of time sucking on her hand. Then, she also discovered her thumb and started sucking that too! It’s mostly when she’s hungry or feels uncomfortable, but it’s pretty funny for some reason. She also grabbed her toe the other day when doing her sit-ups and I thought that was pretty great too. I had to snap a photo for memories, even though I’m sure she’ll be grabbing her foot all day long soon enough.

Hailey is now 3 months old!! Click through for the full monthly update and photos.

I can’t believe another month came and went, but luckily we seem to be getting into a rhythm lately. Hoping I can get more blog posts done in 2019- we may have the grandmas coming to babysit while I work! Until then, I’m a naptime hustler trying to enjoy every second she’s awake.

PS- Can we talk about how she’s not only getting cuter every month, but my photos are improving too? I’m gonna be a pro by 12 months!

Hailey's 2 Month Update

I can’t believe another month has gone by! My little girl is getting so big and while I’m loving all the new parts of her personality, I’m missing my teeny baby. However, I wouldn’t change these new smiles I’m getting for anything!

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

At two months old, Hailey is 10 lbs 6 oz and 22 3/4 inches tall. She’s wearing size 0-3 months clothes. She hates onesies going over her head, so we’re mostly wearing sleepers and dressing up occasionally when she goes out. She’s officially my new best friend, and I ain’t even mad that she poops her pants. 

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

Wonder Week Nightmare

The first week I spent home alone was ROUGH. Hailey was up all night, eating every hour and not letting me sleep at all. Every night was like a slumber party I didn’t agree to attend. I’d catch up on sleep in the morning, when she usually slept from about 6am to 10am or so. Luckily, by the end of the month Hailey was sleeping through the night. This momma is super happy about that! 

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

Smiles

I’m so happy to say that we’re getting more and more smiles from Hailey! Lately she’s been smiling because we are smiling. She loves being held, talked to, or even having her diaper changed if you smile at her while doing so! She also does this almost-laugh where she smiles big and makes a cooing sound. I’m pretty much in love with it and will do almost anything to make her laugh! 

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.
Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

Look Who’s Talking

Ok, so they’re not actual words but Hailey just started making sounds and “responding” to us when we talk to her. Whether it’s with some noises or a smile, conversations don’t seem so one-sided anymore! She also discovered her tongue this month. She would stick it out and play with it, lick things (like a blanket touching her lips) and even would copy me when I’d stick my tongue out!

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

Songs

Hailey’s getting into the holiday spirit! She loves when I play Christmas songs for her, and loves it even more when I sing them to her! She even seems to anticipate it and immediately calms down when she hears the music start up. Then she starts to smile and breaks into a big grin when I start full on singing to her! She melts my heart, I swear. I’m like Olaf near the fireplace. Some people are worth melting for, and she’s definitely one of them!

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.
Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.


My Favorite Things

Still a big fan of the boobie. Hailey also loves attention/smiling, Christmas songs, and playing Mommy Watch Me Poop. She loves sleeping and lounging on the boppy, and hearing me sing “head and shoulders, knees and toes” plus the Winnie the Pooh song. 

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

Nicknames

I’m still calling Hailey Little Bird and Little Chirp Chirp (from her cooking sounds she makes when she stretches). I call her an animal when she’s trying to find the boobie and cheese foot, because her owlet makes her foot kinda sweaty and stinky haha! 

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

Fitness Star

Hailey is a master at pulling things. She loves my hair, John’s chest hair, and my mom’s cross. She’s also starting to do sit-ups! She’ll grab my thumbs with her entire tiny fist and use them to pull herself up into a sitting position. 

Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.
Hailey is now 2 months old!! Click through for the full update.

I’m amazed by how much Hailey is growing and changing everyday. She’s my little BFF and I love every day and every minute I spend with her! Even diaper changes make me happy, mostly because she’s smiling the ENTIRE time!