Apr 18, 2018

Favorite Baby Products at 9 Months

As I mentioned in my last post, I love a good baby product round up. I spent a lot of time researching baby products before N was born and while I did have some product regrets (I'm sure it happens to everyone), I think the majority of my research paid off.

Before we get into it, two things:

1. Not all parents and babies are the same, so if I steer you in the wrong direction, apologies.
2. No affiliate links because I don't know how to do that and I only have two readers, so what's the point?

The Basics

Pampers Pure Diapers
Now, I've tried a lot of diaper brands since N was born. A lot, you guys. I stocked up on eco-friendly diapers before she got here, but I never found a brand that was soft enough for my liking (Seventh Generation are terrible by the way). Pampers Swaddlers worked well when N was newborn, but I couldn't stand the fragrance they put in them. So eventually, I landed on Huggies and those have been our main diaper for the past few months. They get the job done. No real complaints, but when I recently heard about Pampers Pure, I was so excited. I remember telling Brandon in those first few weeks that I really wish Pampers had a fragrance-free diaper and we could end our diaper hunt then and there. And now they do. And let me tell you, they are amazing. So soft, so cute, and chemical-free to boot. Yes, they are bit more expensive, but I usually only buy diapers when Target is having one of their baby sales (spend x amount, get giftcard), which is all the time. I'm hoping that Pampers Pure go on Amazon Subscribe and Save soon. Fingers crossed. Walmart is also a good place to buy them.

Amazon Basics Sensitive / Unscented Wipes
You guys. I've been through just as many wipe brands as I have diaper brands, but once I found Amazon Basics, I was done searching. They are hands down the best. They are large, super soft, free of chemicals, just the right amount of wetness, and crazy cheap. These are our go-to. I do like Water Wipes and Honest wipes for washing N's face and hands, but for diaper changes, Amazon Basics in either Sensitive or Unscented cannot be beat. Perfection. Look no further.

Woolino 4 Season Sleep Slack / 2 months - 2 years
This was a recent splurge, but I cannot recommend it enough. Our house is pretty old and drafty. Each room is a different temperature and it drives me crazy. N's room can get really warm in the late afternoons but then cooler at night, so I was constantly worried if she was too warm or too cold. How do I dress her for a room that is 75 degrees but will be 70 degrees in a couple hours? With this sleep sack, I don't have to worry. Merino wool does a great job of regulating body temperature and is breathable, so I love that she can safely wear this during the warmer late afternoons, but stay snug as the evening cools. It's so well made and huge! It should last her until she's two and she can wear it for both winter and summer - no changing sleep sacks for the weather or as she grows! It's machine washable (I use baby shampoo instead of Woolite and works great), but I kind of want a back up one because it does take almost a full day to air dry. Would it be weird to ask for a sleep sack for my first Mother's Day?

Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib
I am editing this post to add this product and I cannot believe I forgot to mention it. It's truly one of our favorite purchases. We had the Nuna Sena Aire travel crib in our room for a long time, but she recently outgrew the bassinet part and I am too short to put her in the crib on its lowest setting.We literally just sold that crib a few minutes ago! Anyway, we moved her real crib into our bedroom (she'll be sleeping in our room for a few more months until I can cut the cord) and we put our Lotus Travel Crib in her nursery for naps. Phew. That was long. This travel crib. It sets up easily, takes down easily, fits in its bag easily. Everything about it is easy. The reason I went for it was because it has a zipper front panel you can remove and place your baby in from the side. For someone as short as I am, this is CRUCIAL. And not only that, sometimes when N is settling for her naps, I can lay there right beside her and we snuggle while she dozes off and it's the best thing in the world. When I get up, I simply zip it up and she's safe and sound. It's genius. Oh and it's only 13 pounds and folds up tiny so traveling with it is a breeze. Love this thing to pieces.

Cat and Jack Socks
For some reason, they have terrible online reviews, but I went for it and tried them. We've been through so many brands of socks and each one has left marks on N's feet. I think she has larger than average feet and they would just look so tight uncomfortable. I finally went up a size to 12-24 months and they fit! They are also low cut, so they prevent the marks on her legs and while they don't stay on all the time, they do a relatively good job of it. And, apparently, N thinks they taste pretty good. I have to keep a backup pair on hand because her favorite thing is to eat her socks in the carseat.

Any Lift-the-Flap Books / Touch and Feel Books
N loves her books. I think we spend an average of two hours a day reading and if we stop reading, she gets super fussy at me, so we just continue on and on until I get hoarse or she has to eat or sleep. She's now in a stage where she loves books with flaps or interactive components. Some favorites are:

Pat the Bunny
First 100 Words Lift-the-Flap - I brought this out for the first time the other day and she started squealing and laughing and was so excited she could hardly contain herself. While she hates her tummy time (still not crawling!), if I lay this book in front of her, she'll stay there for a good 20 minutes looking at it.
Dear Zoo
Any Karen Katz Book: Where is Baby's Belly Button?, Zoom Zoom Baby, and Peek-A-Baby
Baby Touch and Feel Animals
Melissa & Doug Itsy Bitsy Spider Soft Activity Book

Feeding / Making Baby Food

As I mentioned here, I make almost all of N's baby food and we started with spoon-feeding, followed by finger foods. Here's a list of what helped me along the way.

Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair + Baby Set and Tray
Umm, also editing this post to add her high chair. How did I forget to write about her high chair? After about 10 friends recommending this chair, we bite the bullet and went for it. I wanted a high chair that didn't take up a ton of room, was easy to clean, comfortable for her, and would grow with her. This chair checks off those boxes and more. Even with a cushion, this chair is a breeze to clean, it looks sleek in our dining room (the gray color we got actually matches our Crate and Barrel chairs perfectly), and N seems to love sitting here (so I think it's comfy - it's supposed to be ergonomically correct). I love how this chair is going to grow with her (we've already had to move the footrest down one slot) and she'll be using this for yeas to come. My friend's daughter is seven years old and still uses this chair. Highly recommend!

Boon Swap Baby Spoons
These spoons are fantastic for a those first few months of purèes. They aren't as big as the other spoons on the market and there's a little dip in them that keeps the food on the spoon really well. I loved these and used them from 5 - 8 months.

Choo Mee Baby Starter Spoon
While N doesn't seem to mind me spoon feeding her most of the time, she does tend to want to do it herself sometimes, so I picked up these starter spoons. She loves them. They hold the food really well and if any falls off, you can easily pick it back up with the spoon. They also seem to be great for teething. She'll grab one and just chew on it for minutes at a time.

KidsMe Feeder in Size Large
This feeder is excellent and we use it almost every single day. My favorite use is for teething. I pop in some cut up frozen mango and it's sometimes the only thing that will help her poor gums. It's easy to load with food, clean, and very easy for her to hold. The only thing that bugs me is that it stains yellowish/orange from food, but that cannot be helped. I originally bought the size medium and it was much too small. If you are starting solids really early it might be okay, but I think you can go right to the large.

Nuk Mash and Serve Bowl
I use this all the time to mash up N's food before serving. If she's going to try what we are having for dinner, then I simply stick it into this bowl, give it a mash and serve. It's so much easier than breaking out the food processor or blender.

Bumkins Waterpoof Bibs
Must have! These do such a good job at keeping her clothes covered and clean while she's eating. I prefer to wash in the washing machine (in a lingerie bag to keep the velcro from ruining other clothing), but if I need to rinse them off in the sink, I can. Make sure you get the large ones (6-24 months).

Silicon Baby Food Freezer Tray
If you plan to make your own baby food, this tray is a winner. It has a lid, portions food into one ounce servings and doesn't stain. The frozen cubes come out easily too.

Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup
This is the only sippy cup she uses and I'm really happy with it so far. It doesn't leak when it topples over, but it will leak when she chucks it across the floor as I'm sure most cups would. It's super easy to clean (but don't forget the clear ring along the rim - it will mold if you don't remove and clean) and I'm hoping it does the job of teaching her how to use cup when she's old enough. She drinks from it okay, but sometimes I need to help her tilt it a bit to get some water. We are working on it! My goal is to have her drinking from a cup only at 12 months, so we shall see.

And that's a wrap. I could add a bunch more things to this list that I love (our stroller, our carrier, this picnic blanket, etc.), so if you have any questions, I LOVE to talk baby gear. Shoot me an email. In fact, if you are expecting and would like for me to create your gift registry, I'd totally be down for that. I did it for an old coworker. Not kidding.

What baby things are you currently obsessed with?

Apr 11, 2018

Foodie Baby

When I was pregnant last year, I watched an YouTube video of a mom feeding her baby solid food for the first time. Seems innocent enough, right? Then I read the comments and woah. Internet people are passionate about how to feed babies. This first time mom was criticized everything from what she was feeding her baby, how old her baby was, and was basically called an overly anxious mom who was trying to rush her baby's childhood. Yikes. I had no idea there was so many opinions about baby food. Naturally, this made me kind of nervous when it was time to introduce solids to N. I mulled over it quite a bit and went back and forth between Baby Led Weaning (no purèed foods, only finger foods) and traditional spoon feeding.

I ultimately decided to ignore the Internet people and simply go with my maternal instinct and our pediatrician's recommendations. It has worked really well for both of us.

We started N with a couple jars of baby food: sweet potato, pears, and oatmeal. She was about 4.5 months old (her doctor wanted us to give it a shot at this age) and didn't seemed to be super into it, so we backed off and waited a couple more weeks to try again.

Around 5 months, she was starting to get it and enjoyed it, so I started making her purèed food from scratch. Some say its a lot of work, but I didn't find to to be so bad and I actually enjoyed it. I made applesauce, peas, haricot verts, butternut squash, blueberries, avocado, carrots, and bananas. At this point, she wasn't eating a ton, so an hour or two in the kitchen on Sundays was sufficient. I bought The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book and it had some great suggestions for purèe combinations, cooking methods, and guidelines for storage and self-life. I definitely don't think you need a book to do this though. It's as simple as chop food, steam if needed, blend in a blender for food processor and divided into ice trays or a baby food tray (we like this one), and freeze.

She enjoyed holding pieces of real food, so I would give her a cucumber from time to time to gnaw on, but was careful to make sure she didn't take any bites off it (when she did and started choking, I stopped feeding her this way). We also tried roasted sweet potato strips and big pieces of roasted broccoli, but she did so well with purèed foods, that was our main focus and it eased my mind as far as choking went.

After a few months of experimentation with purèed foods, we are now diving into the world of finger foods! I didn't know how it would go at first, but I was surprised to see that she has an excellent pincer grasp and is totally ready to eat this way. She is also careful to chew up her food really well before swallowing (even without teeth!). Because I was a little worried about choking, her first finger foods were Plum Organic puffs, Happy Baby Teething wafers and Trader Joe's Bamba snacks (her doctor recommended these to give her early exposure to peanuts). Yup, all processed foods that lured me in with the phrase "dissolves easily". I'm a sucker for marketing.

Now, at 8.5 months, we are doing a very hybrid approach to solid foods: some homemade purèes, some store-bought purèes (things like beets, which I don't want to make or things that are hard to find like guava), some finger foods that I prepare or bits of what we are having for dinner, and some store-bought finger foods for snacks (such as Yogis and Puffs). We also do a combination of spoon feeding, self-feeding with a feeder, self spoon-feeding with the ChooMe spoon, and self feeding with small bits of food. She goes seamlessly from one method to the next and pretty much eats whatever I offer her. I'll try and savor that for now ;)

Brandon and I have always had discussions (even before a baby) about how we want to raise our child in terms of diet and nutrition. We obviously want our child to get a range of healthy foods, but we don't want to be so restrictive that they feel like they are deprived. Since a moderation approach is how we eat, we figured we'd do the same with N. [Side note: I really like Brittany's post on how to raise healthy eaters.] We do strive to make sure most of her food is organic, but we aren't militant about it. 

Here are some of her finger food meals lately:

Instant Pot garlicky organic black beans, steamed organic broccoli, Chicken Tikka Masala (mixed with greek yogurt to cut the spice). She preferred the broccoli over the other food. Crazy girl. 

Happy Baby Organic blueberry yogurt, Happy Baby mango and sweet potato puffs, organic strawberries. This breakfast was high in carbs and sugars, so I did veggie and protein heavy lunch and dinner that day. 

Whole wheat Dave's Killer Bread (I pulled this apart into chunks and made sure there were no seeds) with Kerrygold butter, steamed organic peas, organic peaches (I ended up putting these in her KidsMe feeder since they were slippery and hard to grasp.)

Breakfast is usually either yogurt, oatmeal & nut butter, or eggs served with fruit. Lunch and dinner always include a veggie and I'm now working on adding protein, such as beans, chicken, and quinoa.  Overall, I just try to keep a nice balance of fruit, vegetables, protein, carbs, healthy fats, and dairy and not stress too much about it. 

So that's our food journey so far. I've definitely had moments where I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was doing things right (thank you Amanda and Rachel for being my sounding board and offering great advice), but I feel like I'm now starting to find my way with it. I don't know why it was so intimidating at first, but I suppose all things baby are, huh?

I might follow up with my favorite baby food gear - bibs, spoons, feeders, etc. You know I love a good gear post!

Mar 12, 2018

What I'm Loving Lately: Under $20

While I do find them quite redundant, I enjoy reading the "Friday Favorites", "Five on Friday", "What I'm Loving" posts on many of the blogs I follow. But my biggest beef is that sometimes the products they recommend are so pricey! And while I believe there's a time and place to splurge on yourself (you complete me, Allbirds), I appreciate the little cheap things in life. Hence...

What I'm Loving Lately: Under $20 Edition

Clinique Moisture Surge 72 Hour Auto Replenishing Hydrator - $19/1 ounce

This stuff. Oh my goodness. I stopped using a lot of skin care and makeup while I was pregnant because all of the chemicals sort of terrified me, but I've decided I needed to kick up my skin care game being that I'll be 35 this year. Hold me. Anyway, this stuff is so good. I apply it at night and in the morning and it rubs in almost immediately, is non greasy, and makes my skin soft, even, and dewy. I am in love.

S&T Lil Scrubbies - $2.35/ pack of 2

I was going to splurge on a Clarisonic to scrub my face, but instead, I bought the cheapest face scrubbers out there....and guess what? I love them. Maybe it's in my head, but I feel like my face is cleaner when I used these as opposed to using just my hands. They created more suds and they just feel good to use. They are also gentle enough to use on N's scalp when she gets a bit of cradle cap.

Scrub Daddy - $3.59/each

Speaking of scrubbing...this little sponge is a game changer. I heard about it on a podcast and I'm a sucker for any type of cleaning product, so I bought a pack of three and have since bought packs for my mom and brother because they didn't believe me when I said it was a miracle sponge. They are hooked too. It's so good at getting pots and pans clean with little effort, its mouth helps you easily clean forks and spoons, and it becomes firm until cold water and soft with warm water, which is kind of a cool party trick. But the best part of this sponge? It doesn't smell after a few days. Nope. It has no odor. And you can pop it in the dishwasher to sanitize, which makes it last for a long time!

Children's Indie Music Station on Pandora - FREE!

One of my favorite things to do with N is to sit with her in front of our big den window that looks into the backyard. We look at birds, watch squirrels fight, and talk about the weather...and we listen to this music station. To be honest, I HATE most children's music. It's so annoying (no offense, Raffi). I don't even care for the Disney movie soundtracks that most people love, but this station plays cute, relaxing, and enjoyable music. It has a mix of adult songs (think Jack Johnson) and folk/rock/alternative songs for kids that sound like adult songs. Our favorite song find is Yoshimi and the Battle of the Pink Robots. It's a ridiculous and cute song, just don't look up the music video. Slightly terrifying.

Imperfect Produce - starting at $20/small box

I don't remember where I first heard about this produce service, but I'm so glad I did. I've had produce boxes in the past and my biggest gripe about them was that I couldn't choose the produce I wanted. I'd end up with an eggplant that would sit in my fridge taunting me to use it before it went bad. It would literally stress me out to see my least favorite veggies dying a slow death in the crisper. With this box, you can choose what you want and they have a large variety of organic produce for SUPER cheap. I order the small organic box which starts right around $20 and then I customize it to suit our needs for two weeks. Yup, that's about $20-$30 of organic produce that lasts us two weeks. And the imperfections aren't an issue at all,  usually they are just a bit smaller than the produce you'd see in the grocery store, which is perfect for us (I never use a whole giant onion for instance). If this service is in your area, you can use my link to get $10 off your first box (and in full disclosure, I'd get $10 too). I promise Imperfect Produce has no idea who I am and aren't sponsoring this in anyway...I just really love them.

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