I love toys. I especially like toys that don't require batteries. My oldest son accumulated quite a few toys when he was a baby. Some are cool, others not so much. So, now that my youngest is 5 months old and started to be interested in toys, I've been trying to phase out the lame toys and add in new ones. I do a lot of online research about toys that are new and seem interactive. That's how I came across Yoee Baby. I immediately contacted them to see if I could review their product. They sent me the monkey.
The Yoee Baby is cool on several levels:
I'm always on the hunt for baby toys that travel well. And by that I mean not only do they physically hold up, but also serve a few purposes. We like to travel as light as we can, so I have to be really particular about what toys I bring with us. The Yoee Baby has been really helpful in our travels. It doesn't take up that much room in my carry-on, so we can use it for flights. Since it has the teething ring, I can attach it to practically anything with my Chewbeads GO Links. Sometimes I attach it to our suitcase so my son can bat at it.
I've even brought it to our Itsy Bitsy yoga class. It's a yoga class designed for babies and it's the one class I do just with my youngest. We're encouraged to bring toys to occupy the babies during class. It's the only toy I bring because he's fully entertained with it. I can let him chew on the handle, put it out front for Cobra position, or tickle him with it when he's on his back.
I wish that there were more animals to choose from. Right now, they offer Puppy, Kitty, Monkey, and Lion. I think adding a Fox would be a smart move (especially since they have brightly colored bushy tails.) Otherwise, this has been a toy that has gotten a lot of use in our home and I would recommend it to families with babies.
I've had two beautiful kiddos in the past 3 years. I knew my body would fluctuate through pregnancy and post-partum. What I didn't count on is that even if I went back to my pre-pregnancy size, I might not be able to fit into my old jeans. Everything seemed to shift. Plus, I now spend most of my time playing cars on the floor with my oldest or running upstairs to tend to my crying baby. I'm always on the go.
I realized on my latest trip to Vancouver, BC that I needed something warmer than leggings. I went through all my old jeans (and I had a lot) and none of them fit me. I went to the store and tried on pair after pair of jeans and I couldn't find anything that felt comfortable. I ended up getting a pair that fit at first and then slowly would stretch out and I would constantly be pulling them up. Not a flattering look.
So, when Svelte contacted me to try their shapewear, I was intrigued. I've never really be into shapewear. I guess I just think of Spanx. But, I looked through their website and I thought their clothes were not only cute, but they looked like they were good quality. Then I saw that they offered jeans! I knew I needed to try them out!
When they arrived, I was surprised that they felt like real jeans. I had been thinking they'd be more like jeggings or something. But they felt just like my stretch denim jeans I rocked pre-pregnancy. I immediately tried them on and I liked that the top of the jeans hit my natural waist. I have a long torso, so jeans always feel low-rise, even when they aren't cut that way.
I was a bit concerned that the waist panel would feel like my maternity jeans. While maternity jeans were comfortable for a few hours, mine always seemed to sag after awhile and I would constantly need to pull them up. After I had my baby, I bought a pair of pull-on jeans that I found at Macy's on clearance and after a few hours, the waist-band would stretch out and I would need to tug to keep them on. So, I was pleasantly caught off guard when the jeans felt just as great at the end of the day as when I first put them on. I decided to see how they'd do if I wore them again the next day (without washing) and they still kept their shape! Never did they feel like they were falling down or that I needed to adjust them.
What I like about Svelte Jeans:
What I don't like about Svelte Jeans:
The jeans normally run $112CAD (or about $85USD.) At first, I thought that was pricey. I'm someone that usually shops the sales or at discounted stores like Nordstrom Rack. However, after wearing them on and off for the past couple of weeks, I'd say they are definitely worth the money. Not only do I feel "put-together" when wearing them, but they are just as comfortable as my yoga pants. I'm even intrigued to check out their line of leggings to see if they are the same quality.
Svelte Shapewear sent me this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
For those with small children, you know the struggle of constantly picking up toys that get tossed around the house. I usually have my oldest son pick up his stuff and put it in his room. He has some storage cubes and he knows where he's supposed to put his toys. I want to do the same with my youngest. But finding good-quality storage solutions that can survive toddlerhood can be tricky.
I was browsing on Amazon for items that might add a global element to my youngest son's nursery. He's starting to play with toys a little bit and I've been hoping to find something fun to separate his baby toys from the rest of the toys. That's when I came across Kaikai & Ash's toy storage cubes that feature cities from around the world. I contacted them and they send me 4 toy storage cubes to review.
As soon as I took the first one out of the bag, I realized how much sturdier they were than the ones we had in our basement and in my oldest son's room. This was fantastic news because the ones in my 3-year-old's room are already misshapen and partially collapsed because we tend to overfill them. They also fold completely flat and because of their weight, they stay flat.
They were also BIGGER. The cubes measure 13" x 13" x 13" and they fit perfectly in our IKEA shelves (which is essential, as we have them in practically every room.) This also means I've been able to put more toys/clothes/blankets in them than other cubes, which keeps more clutter off our floors.
The felt detail on the front is also well-constructed. They are sewn on and seem like they will stay awhile. Plus the designs are even more adorable in person. I had a hard time choosing because the colors are also so bright and playful. And I like that they are gender-neutral, which is not always the case when looking for children's room decor.
In the past, I've paid $5-$10 for cubes from IKEA, Target and Big Lots (the ones that are slowly falling apart.) Amazon sells these cubes for $18.95. That's a big price difference. But the quality is superb. If you're looking for toy storage that will last (as well as being used as a train/boat, building blocks, etc) I'd highly recommend these.
I wouldn't even limit these for just toys. My plan is to transition our guest bedroom into a travel-theme using elements from the nursery. I will definitely incorporate them because they don't look too babyish/kiddish. These storage cubes will be great for holding bath towels and extra sheets. They would also make a great base for a gift basket about travel-items or for a bridal shower with the honeymoon destination. I might also transition some to hold our travel items (noise-canceling headphones, battery chargers for phone, the latest Liane Moriarty novel, etc) so I can always find them before a flight.
I'm hoping to fill our Paris box with children's books and toys that we pick up on our upcoming trip. It's been fun teaching my 3-year-old about the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe just based on the felt appliques on the front of this box. He's also starting to name the letters in Bonjour Paris, which has been exciting!
Kaikai & Ash sent me the toy storage cubes in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I'm always looking for new baby products to try with my 4-month-old son. He's been having a hard time sleeping and I thought maybe it had to do with the unusually cold weather we've had in Seattle. I came across Gunamuna's Gunapod and it looked like a great fit for my family. They sent me their Alphabet Luxury Bamboo Duvet for review.
As soon as it arrived, I was giddy. I tore open the box, ripped off the bag and felt the fabric. It was so soft. It was softer than my baby's skin. I found myself petting it over and over because I couldn't get over how incredibly silky it felt. My son was starting to get sleepy, so I thought I'd try it out on him immediately. The zippers were really smooth and it was easy to get him in the Gunapod. My son loves anything soft and he seemed to enjoy rubbing his cheek on the Gunapod. I put him in his swing and he fell asleep instantly and stayed asleep for longer than usual.
When he woke up, I kept him in the Gunapod since the house was cool and I wanted him to stay warm. I felt some rumbles and my first thought was "Please don't blow out my Gunapod, I mean YOUR Gunapod!" I laid him down and it was so easy to unzip the bottom of the sack, keeping my son nice and warm while I checked his diaper. Thankfully, it was a false alarm! My 3-year-old was able to easily zip up the Gunapod around my baby all by himself.
We've been using it every night for the past 3 weeks and not only has he kept it clean (knock on wood) but he hasn't felt cold once. We're able to use lighter weight pajamas (instead of fleece) and he stays comfortable. He also seems to want to stay in it all morning. When we start doing formal nap times with him, we will be using this Gunapod as his signal that it's time to sleep.
What I like about the Gunapod:
What I don't like about the Gunapod:
We've been using it non-stop every night for the past 3 weeks and my husband and I can't get over how much we like the Gunapod. I've been trying to think of anything I don't like about it and it's been a struggle. I even went on Amazon looking for negative reviews to see if I was just missing something, but I came up empty. If a new Mom asked me what sleep sack she should buy for her baby who is no longer being swaddled, I would recommend she get this product.
Gunamuna sent me their Gunapod for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
I love Seattle. I'm proud to say that I'm a born and raised Seattleite (well, Seattle-adjacent.) I love our trees, ferries, rippling streams, and coffee shops. But what I'm most proud of is our fabulous small businesses. When I heard that Milk Bakery (a new online bakery) was opening in Seattle and offering lactation cookies and granola bars, I immediately contacted them to see if we could collaborate.
Milk Bakery believes in "Judgement Free Breastfeeding." I really love this because I was caught off guard how many people commented on how I fed my oldest and wanted to know how long I'd keep breastfeeding. They make cookies for breastfeeding moms, formula feeding moms and all moms in between. I especially love this because I remember how hard it was to eat anything with I had my oldest son. I was just so busy and overwhelmed and by the time I would have a few moments of quiet, the last thing I wanted to do was make myself something to eat. So I just didn't eat. This time around, I'm making it a priority to eat.
I've always been intrigued by lactation cookies. I've tried Mother's Milk Tea in the past, which has helped my supply. So many Mom friends swear by lactation cookies. Others say they didn't help their milk supply. I love that Milk Bakery says on their website: "If our delicious cookies and granola bars help you produce milk, great. If they don’t, eat them anyway because you deserve a treat." This is a statement I can get behind!
Kate, the owner, was kind enough to drop the cookies off at my husband's work so I could try them out. My husband had just left for lunch, so he had his co-worker pick them up. She also is a nursing Mom, so I told her to have the first taste. Her first impressions were that they were super crunchy, which surprised her. She was eating them at her desk and it was getting a bit messy. She popped one in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it and they became a lot chewier. She suggested pairing it with Mother's Milk Tea for a nice tea and cookie treat. I got a text from her later that evening and she definitely noticed a difference in her milk supply, which surprised her because she's been nursing for quite awhile.
I decided to try my first Milk Bakery cookie for breakfast with my coffee. I tried to Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. I popped it i the microwave for 12 seconds and it was nice and warm and chewy. I loved the flavor! The oatmeal definitely came through and it tasted more substantial than other cookies.
Then about an hour later, I tried the Coconut Oatmeal for my second breakfast. I was surprised just how much the coconut flavor came through! I'm a Hawaiian-cookie addict (just ask my husband) and this rates right up there with some of my favorites!
About an hour after my second cookie, I noticed some tingling after I fed my son. When I fed him a few hours later, I definitely felt fuller than usual. That evening, I was able to pump 4.5 oz. I pump every few weeks so I was happy to get that much. However, my son was going through a "leap" and was nursing more frequently, which might have led to me producing more milk.
I did not try the Double Chocolate Chip, but I was really glad to know she offers a vegan cookie. Not because I'm vegan (I'm not), but because I know a lot of breastfeeding Moms who have to eat a strict diet because their baby has allergies. Sometimes those Moms end up going straight to formula because it's hard to maintain a strict diet. Vegan options are great for Moms who'd like the option to continue breastfeeding.
The cookies were so tasty that it was really hard for me to limit myself to just 2 a day. But, I wanted them to last a bit longer. I was able to pump 4.5oz-5oz of milk once per day every day I had the cookies. Usually when I pump, my son cries likes he's not getting enough milk for the next 2 feedings. However, the days I ate the cookies, he seemed happy and full after each feeding. I can't say for sure that it was the cookies.
The 2 bags of cookies lasted me a week (eating 2 cookies per day.) I made a point of sitting down and enjoying my cookies with my coffee each morning. Regardless of whether or not it helped my milk supply, it was really nice to set aside something that was just for me each day. It was the little bit of self-care that I needed to survive the craziness of raising a baby and a preschooler.
If you'd like to try Milk Bakery, head to their Etsy Store to purchase their cookies.
Milk Bakery sent me their lactation cookies for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Earlier this month, I was contacted by Dr. Dana to see if I was interested in reviewing their Nail Renewal System. Up until this point, all my product reviews were items I specifically sought out to review. I like to keep my blog focused on travel-oriented items.
However, they contacted me right after I had broken 2 nails and chipped another while traveling around Vancouver, BC. It made me realize how brittle my nails were and how it was impacting my travel experience. My husband is too nice to say this, but I am straight-up snippy when I break my nails because they snag on just about everything and I get so worried I will scratch my kids.
So, Dr. Dana picked the right day to email me. I had never heard of this system before, but I'm always intrigued by nail-care options. According to their materials, "The Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System is a breakthrough, once-a-week, three-step system that restores dry, damaged nails back to a healthy, hydrated, high-shine state--instantly."
Step 1: Glycolic Prep for Nails
The first thing you're supposed to do is exfoliate your nails using glycolic acid. I twisted the pen (about 20 times) and then brushed the acid onto my nails. The pen was really easy to use and I was surprised how fast I was able to coat each nail.
Step 2: Perfect Grit Priming Wand
Then I primed the surface of my nails with the 3-way wand to remove damaged nail cells and allow for maximum absorption of the next step. I swept my nails about 5 times with each of the sides (this is the maximum times they recommend.) I could have easily filed my nails 20 time or more and I really had to slow down to make sure I didn't over file.
Step 3: Deep Hydrating Formula
Finally, brushed the gel-oli generously on my nails, cuticles and surrounding skin. The gel-oli contains their proprietary Phyto Crystal Complex, which is a bioactive natural nail strengthener derived from the sap of a French evergreen tree. It's yellow, which caught me off guard at first.
What I Thought About Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System
Day 1: It was super easy to coat my nails and they were very shiny.
Day 2: My nails feel a lot smoother and more hydrated.
Day 3: A couple of my nails chipped a bit.
Day 10: Applied Nail System again.
Day 14: Nails look healthier and have stopped chipping.
Day 21: Applied Nail System for 3rd time.
Overall, I really like the system! My nails definitely don't feel as dry and brittle now. The skin around my fingernails also looks better. The thing I like best is that it just takes a few minutes to do and I can continue to do things while the oil soaks in.
Dr. Dana provided the Nail Renewal System for review purposes.
When I talk with other families about traveling with young kids, many of them tell me they won't travel because they are afraid it will disrupt their child's sleep routine. Some of them have specific routines that are hard to replicate other places. We've traveled the world with a baby and we've picked up a few tricks.
One way that we've had success with baby sleep while traveling is that we follow a bedtime routine that incorporates SleepSacks. They are easy to pack and don't take up nearly as much room as a full blanket. When we change his diaper and put our son into his jammies, we slip on a SleepSack so he's ready for bed. Then I usually nurse him one last time, pop the binky in his mouth and I'm able to set him in his bassinet or crib while he drifts off to sleep.
HALO has a new design of SleepSacks available and they sent me one to review. Here's what I thought:
What I Like:
What I like most about our HALO SleepSack is that I feel like I'm keeping my baby safe while he sleeps. I love using my cute blankets when he's in the stroller, in his swing or anywhere where I'm keeping my eye on him, but I get a bit nervous at nap time or at night. The fleece is the right thickness for our house in Winter so I don't worry about him being cold. I'm also able to clip my son's pacifier right to the SleepSack so it's always nearby and not pulling on his clothing.
HALO's Safe Sleep Tips
To enter to win a HALO SleepSack, head to my Instagram page.
When I found out I was pregnant for the second time I started to take inventory of the baby items I had. I'm usually a fairly frugal person and I'm all for re-using items. I figured I was all set for baby items. Then I really thought about what I liked and disliked about the products I used with my oldest. I realized that I bought a lot of items without doing much research. After being a Mom for a couple of years (and talking to countless other Moms) I had a better idea of what I needed.
I reached out to each one of these companies individually and requested to review the products after I combed the Internet looking for highly rated baby items. Many of them have won awards or have a lot of buzz around them. These are items that I would have purchased.
Here's what I came up with:
1. A Better Nursing Cover
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I knew very little about breastfeeding and I went on Etsy and ordered a cute Hawaiian print nursing cover that shielded my chest and clipped in the back. It was very flimsy and I could never get it to feel comfortable, which in turn made me less comfortable nursing in public.
This time, I had a much better idea of what would work for me. Covered Goods sent me their Classic Grey & Ivory Stripe multi-use nursing cover. It's a poncho-style nursing cover, which makes it easy to slip on and I don't have to worry about side-boob. You can also slip and arm through the neck hole to make it a one-shoulder style nursing cover. It can also be used as a car seat cover, cart cover and make-shift blanket (or burp cloth) and it easily fits in a diaper bag. The fabric is stretchy and more absorbent that my first cover, which is nice if you need to quickly sop up milk drops. It also makes a handy rain poncho when I wear my son in a carrier. It comes in a variety of prints. I chose this print because I wanted to feel more discrete when breastfeeding in public this time. Though there are other companies who offer nursing ponchos, Covered Goods is the true original.
2. Somewhere Safe to Set the Baby
When we brought our first son home from the hospital, we ended up holding him almost non-stop all day everyday. This was awesome for bonding!
However, this time around, we also have a toddler who has meltdowns and needs physical attention (including long hugs and being carried), too. This is why our Dock-a-Tot has been vital to survival in our house. It's been so helpful to have a safe place to set the baby down when I need to turn my attention to my toddler. When he's in the Dock-a-Tot, I don't have to worry about him rolling off the couch or getting stepped on. It's lightweight and easily taken up and down the stairs (unlike our bouncers and swings.) It's also a good place to set him when I'm reading to my toddler or getting him ready for the day.
It comes with a piece of cardboard that slides into the mattress area so it will keep its shape when stored or transported. This is really important for those of us who travel, because it's so easy for items to get crushed and not hold up. It also comes with a nice carrying case with a handle on it.
3. A More Functional Diaper Bag
As with most items purchased as a pregnant, first-time Mom, I chose my diaper bag more for aesthetic reasons than functionality. My first diaper bag was cute, well-made and could store a lot of things, but it was heavy. Even after I consolidated the amount of things I packed in it, it was still heavy.
This time, I chose Lassig's Green Label Neckline diaper bag. They sent me their Black Melange one to try out and I love it! There is seriously a pocket for everything so I feel somewhat organized. And did I mention that it's pretty stylish? I've had about 20 Moms ask me about my diaper bag in the few months I've been using it.
This also makes a great travel bag because of how spacious it is. I recently took it on a trip to Vancouver, BC and I was even able to zip it up because everything had it's place in the bag.
4. A More Comfortable Baby Carrier
Since I can't devote 100% of myself to my newborn (unlike the first time around), the baby carrier has been essential to getting additional snuggles. Chimparoo sent me their Ocean Woven Wrap and I love it! I was too intimidated to try to wrap my oldest, so I met with a babywearing consultant who showed me exactly how to do a very simple newborn wrap. I was amazed how much more comfortable wrapping was compared to my soft-structured carriers. Not only is it completely adjustable to my body, but my baby feels really secure and supported. And because it isn't stretchy, I know I'll be able to comfortably use it through toddlerhood.
This is actually my husband's favorite carrier. We probably have 12 carriers in our house, but this is the one he grabs most often. It only took him a couple of tries to figure out how to tie it and adjust the fit. He loves to wear our infant while he plays video games, works on the computer, cooks dinner or is just trying to soothe him. Our toddler likes sitting on it while my husband pulls him around the house, magic carpet style!
5. My Brest Friend
I've had great luck with My Brest Friend nursing pillow.
When I nursed my firstborn, I just couldn't get comfortable. I had another brand of nursing pillows and I still needed to prop pillows under the nursing pillow to get my son at the right height. I ended up only using it for bedtime nursing and just used pillows the rest of the time. This time around, I knew there had to be a better option.
My Brest Friend sent me an Organic Nursing Pillow to try out and I found a cute cover on Amazon. While it isn't a new product, it was new to me and I was excited to try it out. First off, I love that there's a pocket! I mean, I feel like most things become a hundred times better when they have a pocket. It makes sense with the nursing pillow because I don't have to hunt around for creams, nursing pads and snacks. I also like that it clips behind my back, so it feels really secure. The pillow is firm, which alleviates a lot of pressure from my arms.
I started using it as soon as I came home from the hospital and after the first feeding I regretted not bringing it to the hospital with me! I love how firm the pillow is and that it offers back support. I'm able to clip the pillow around me so it doesn't move (something I had a problem with in my old pillow.) It's so comfy that I usually end up wearing it while I burp my son and sometimes he falls asleep laying on it. I really wish I would have had this My Brest Friend pillow for my oldest.
6. A Sound Machine
We used a cute giraffe stuffed animal that also had some white noise built in for our first baby. We used it on occasion off and on and then stopped using it. He is a great sleeper and we trimmed our nighttime routine to an almost embarrassingly short ordeal and we figured we'd eliminate anything from the routine that we could.
This time around, I was petrified that the baby would wake up our sleep-loving toddler. For those who don't know, sleep-deprived toddlers turn into little monsters that make parenting about a thousand times harder. I did not want to jeopardize anyone's sleep. I had been hearing good things about Marpac's Dohm Sound Machine from my Mom friends and was excited when Marpac sent me one to try out.
It was a lot smaller than I expected, which is a good thing! I thought I would use it primarily in our nursery, but that hasn't been the case. We've had our baby sleeping in our room and my husband's CPAP acts kind of like a sound machine (which means our baby will definitely need the Dohm in his nursery in order to sleep later on.) But, we've been using it a lot in our toddler's room so he isn't constantly woken up by our baby's hunger cries and general fussiness. It's also helped during our toddler's nap time because it downs out the other sounds from around the house (especially when we have older kids over who no longer nap.)
7. Milkies Milk Savers
Breastfeeding was really hard the first time around. My son had been born 5 weeks early and had a stint in the NICU. He wasn't able to latch for several weeks and I ended up getting mastitis that turned into a staph infection and it was a whole ordeal. I pumped every 4 hours around the clock for 3 months to make sure he had enough milk. I was exhausted.
This time around, I'm trying to set myself up for success at every turn. Milkies sent me one of their Milk-Savers to try out and I was instantly intrigued. The basic concept is that when you nurse your baby, you wear the product on the other side so it will collect the milk that is released. I'm all for anything that could potentially cut down on time spent pumping.
I first tried it when my baby was 6 weeks old and our nursing routine was established. My son is a power eater and is often stuffed after 5 minutes of nursing, so I was a bit skeptical on whether I'd collect any milk. I was pleasantly surprised to realize I'd collected about half an ounce in those few minutes. The Milk-Saver was also pretty comfortable, as I forgot about it once I started nursing. While this product is great for me, it's also perfect for those who nurse for a longer time at each session.
8. A Puj Tub
The first time around, I figured that the newborn phase would be short, so we got a baby tub from a consignment sale and just held our first baby in it for the first few months. It was made of hard plastic, so we usually had to put down a towel or something to make it more comfortable. Bathtime was a horrific ordeal and we would get stressed out just thinking about it.
I heard about Puj after seeing that my cousin had registered for one. She usually has well-thought out products, so I knew I needed to try one out. Puj sent me their tub to test out plus their travel version. When they arrived, I was surprised how flexible and light-weight the tubs were and how easily they could be stored.
My husband and I tested out both of these and I have to say I'm a fan! We tried both of them in our bathroom sink (since it's the closest room to the nursery) and the travel version was a perfect fit for our son for the first 2 months! It weighs practically nothing and my baby seems really comfortable in it. I was able to leave the water running (our pipes take awhile to heat up) and it kept the right amount of water on my baby the whole bath. After his bath, I can pick it up one handed and empty the water and put it away. Plus, it folds up so it's easy to pack for trips.
The regular size would be perfect for those who do baby baths in the kitchen sink. We thought we would this time around, but our house layout doesn't make this an ideal option. It fits (barely) in our bathroom sink, but I seem to spill a lot of water when trying to empty it. I usually use mine as a liner for the baby bath tub we used with our oldest to make it a much more comfortable experience. That means we use a tub inside of a tub inside of our bathtub. If our bathroom sinks were larger, I would just use the Puj tub for simplicity's sake.
9. Kangaroo Care Shirt
I did skin-to-skin with my oldest as soon as I was able in the NICU and after I saw the amazing effect of it, my husband and I continued for months after.
I just discovered kangaroo care shirts a few months ago and was delighted when Vija Design sent me one to try. While I'm a big fan of babywearing, I love that it takes literally no effort to get my baby secured on my chest. This is great for when I need to use both my hands to help my toddler with something or I don't have a carrier nearby. I also like that it converts to a nursing top. You can read my full review here.
10. An Easy Nursing Necklace
When I nursed my oldest son, he would pull on all my regular jewelry and I was afraid my special necklaces would break. So, I went on Etsy and found a couple of nursing necklaces. I wasn't sure what I was looking for and I ended up getting some that pulled my hair a lot. I spent a lot of my time adjusting the necklace and fidgeting with my hair.
This time around, I decided to find a necklace that wouldn't pull my hair. I came across Vintage Honey and really enjoyed perusing their selection of necklaces. They offer a lot of prints and colors that are fashionable and are easily added to any outfit.
It's super comfortable to wear and it doesn't feel bulky. My son likes to grasp it when he nurses and I like to watch his little figures exploring the beads. I also wear it when I babywear sometimes so he has something to hang on to.
11. Chewbeads CB Go Links
It's amazing how important it becomes to find toys with rings when you have a baby. It's the best way to attach toys to strollers, car seats, swings, other toys, etc. The problems I ran across were that not all toys came with rings and those that did weren't always the right size. That's where Chewbeads CB Go Links come in.
I like to use them in a chain to create my own mobiles. We have a lot of toys with clips that I can hook onto the links. I also like to attach rings to my laundry basket so my baby can do tummy time (while trying to reach the toys) and I can fold laundry and watch him. It's really the only thing that makes folding laundry interesting for me.
They are also made for teething. It's easy to add a couple to any baby carrier to carry teethers or use them as teethers themselves. I like to attach our Little Saplings Airplane Teether and TrendyMommyDesigns Owl Teether using the rings to my baby carrier.
12. Teething Toys that are Attachable
With our oldest, I collected quite a few teething toys to see what he might like. It turns out what he liked most was to throw the teething toys. With baby #2, I learned to seek out teething toys that could be leashed to something.
I was really stoked to find the Chewy the Hippo teething toy. It's really easy to squeeze to make it squeak. It comes with a velcro loop that makes it easy to tether it to stroller or carseat straps. The hippo arms are also easily linked to other stuff using the Chewbeads CB Go Links. It's similar to our Sophie the Giraffe, but less "throwable." Sophie is nearly impossible to keep inside a carseat or stroller as she can't be attached very easily. I love all the little ear nubs, feet, etc that are perfect for little mouths to nibble on.
It's no surprise that I was instantly drawn to the Little Saplings Airplane Teether. I love the airplane design so much! I'm also a fan of wooden toys and thought this would be a great thing for my baby to teethe on since wood is natural. It's also very sturdy However, the big selling point for me was that there was a big hole in the center so I could attach it to just about anything!
Finally, I was determined to try the TrendyMommyDesigns Owl Teether, after seeing one of my babywearing friends using one on her carrier. I love that it has silicone beads as well as the large silicone owl. There are a lot of areas for babies to gnaw on and it's actually a cute accessory for my baby carrier. I like that it has the look of a nursing necklace, but isn't a necklace. It's like jewelry for my carrier. It's also easily attachable to any carrier, and I tend to keep it in my diaper bag and attach to whatever carrier I'm using.
13. Goumikids Mitts
There are few things when raising a baby that terrify me. One of them is cutting their nails. I've had one too many experiences of clipping their fingertips and it's truly heartbreaking. I'm so nervous about it that I have completely handed off nail maintenance to my husband, who has better luck then I have.
So, the Goumikids Mitts have been a lifesaver for me. Baby nails grow so quickly that it seems like as soon as you cut them, they are sharp again. In order to prevent our baby from scratching himself, we put these mitts on his hands. After my son gained more control over his movements, I still used them so he wouldn't scratch me when he nursed. It has made our nursing sessions much more pleasant!
14. Drool Bibs
I didn't understand the importance of drool bibs with my oldest. I figured he had so many cute outfits that I would just change his clothes if they got wet. And I thought the bib look was really lame. Then, I started noticing that his chest was always red and I realized it was because his shirts were always wet. So, I grabbed his terry cloth baby bibs and started using them.
Now that I'm on baby #2, I wanted to find "cool" drool bibs and just use them from the get-go. Matimati bibs have been a great fit for us! Not only are they bandana style (which makes all his outfits look a bit more hip) but they come in trendy prints. I figure if my baby has to drool, he might as well look cool doing it. Plus, when you order a set of bibs, Matimati will donate a portion of the sale to Chain Reaction, a nonprofit fighting human trafficking in Asia.
While there are a lot of companies making bandana style bibs, the layer of fleece on the back of Matimati bibs really sets them apart. They truly keep clothes dry, even if your baby drools or spits up a lot. We like to keep at least one in the diaper bag at all times.
There is nothing worse than when your baby has a cold. Well, there are actually many things worse, but it's quite heartbreaking to hear your little one struggle to breathe. And no one seems to get any sleep. My family loves our Nosefrida. We love it so much that we have acquired 3 so we have one in every spot we'd need one. It's great for clearing out goopy mucus (and entertaining to watch someone else do it.) But, when our baby has dried boogers making it hard for him to breathe, we reach for our Oogiebear. It's a tool designed specifically for this purpose.
It's the perfect size for gently scooping out the boogies in your baby's nose. Like many parents, I used to try to get them using my fingernail, which was way too big for my baby's nostrils. It also was tricky to get much out. Now, I just use my Oogiebear for a painfree way of removing the boogies. My baby doesn't even seem to notice it. It also has a handy design which prevents parents from digging in too far into their baby's nose or ears. It keeps us from being too vigorous, which is appreciated.
16. SnoofyBee Changing Pad
Like many new Moms, I primarily used the changing pad that came in my diaper bag when I was out and about. I even used a changing pad from my sister-in-law's old diaper bag as my go-to changing pad downstairs in our house. As you might have guessed, once my oldest started moving around more, the changing pad became a slip-n-slide and I had to hold his arms back with my leg and grab his legs with my hand, leaving just one hand available for the actual diaper change. Then I noticed an ad on Facebook for the SnoofyBee that looked like a real game-changer.
SnoofyBee sent me their brand new changing pad. I like that it's easy to wipe down and is a nice size. We keep it downstairs in our living room for daytime diaper changes and it's been really handy. Right now, my infant is too small to use the coolest feature, which is that the top part of the changing pad creates a cone that keeps little hands away from the diaper area. There are also places to attach toys, which I'm excited to try out in a few months. It also folds up pretty compactly and will be great to take on trips with us or stash in the car. I also think this would be fabulous to use on changing stations in public restrooms to keep my baby from getting dirty. The only thing I don't like about it is that the velcro snags on some clothing items and it can be tricky to fold up one-handed while holding my baby.
17. Zoocchini Buddy Blanket
Babies tend to accumulate many blankets, especially through baby shower gifts. It just happens. We have a whole tub of baby blankets from when our oldest was born and we realized we only used blankets that were made especially for him or swaddle blankets. When I came across Zoocchini blankets online, I was very curious to see this hybrid in action.
Zoocchini sent me their Giraffe Blanket Buddy to try out. What makes this blanket unique is that there is a toy attached to it, so the toy won't get lost and little hands have something to explore on stroller walks. My baby is just 2 months old, but he's able to grasp the leaves and the ears of the giraffe, which is fun! I really like how soft the entire blanket is and it's perfect to keep my baby warm in his carseat or swing. I think it will be good for tummy time because he can try to grab the giraffe. My toddler also likes to pet the giraffe and asks me if the baby need his giraffe blanket quite frequently! If you're planning to give a blanket as a baby shower gift, this is definitely one to get!
Dock-a-Tot offered me a discounted rate. I was offered the rest of these products at no charge in exchange for honest reviews.
When traveling with a baby, one of the most important things our family can pack are some good swaddlers and sleepsacks. My husband is a self-proclaimed "Master of the Swaddle." He took a class at our hospital, watched YouTube videos and practiced with baby dolls before our oldest was born. He can swaddle our son with just about any blanket, towel or piece of fabric he comes across. Every time he's near a friend with an infant, he always asks if he can swaddle their baby. I, on the other hand, am not as passionate about swaddle blankets as I'm usually exhausted by the time baby needs another swaddle. So, I'm a big fan of swaddlers.
Babies are picky and what works one month, might not work the next. Or baby blew out/threw up on their swaddler or sleepsack and you need a clean one. So I contacted several companies that create innovative swaddlers and sleepsacks so I could test them out and compare them.
Below are my reviews of each one. I'd like to note that I tested these on my son from the time he was 4 weeks until he was 13 weeks old. Before that, he was only swaddled with blankets. My son is a good sleeper, is in the 95th percentile for height and weight and (thankfully) doesn't suffer from colic or have any health issues. It's been my experience that different babies react differently to being swaddled and when they go through "leaps" (according to The Wonder Weeks) their sleep can be affected.
Embe Classic 2-Way Swaddle
What I Like:
Embe Signature 2-Way Swaddle
What I like:
Nested Bean Zen Swaddle
What I like:
What I like:
Milkmaid Goods Swaddle Set
What I like:
What I don't like:
Bitta Kidda Sleep Sack
What I like:
I'm really glad we had the opportunity to try these different swaddling products. As I said before, my son is a solid sleeper and he slept well in all these products. I appreciated the different weights and designs, especially when I thought about how well they would travel. If you've tried any of these, please leave your review in my comments!
Nested Bean, NuRoo , Milkmaid Goods, Bitta Kidda, and Embe provided products for review purposes.
My family loves to explore the world, but it's not something we can do all the time. So, we also like to learn about places from around the world from the comfort of our own home. However, it can be tricky to find age-appropriate books for babies and toddlers about world travel. Most of the books I see are geared for elementary-aged kids. This will be fantastic when my kids get older, but right now they just don't have the attention span for those books. Thankfully, three authors have remedied this by offering engaging board books that highlight different countries.
Hello, World by Ashley Evanson
There is a board book series written by Ashley Evanson called Hello, World that feature destinations such as New York, San Francisco, Paris and London. This series is published by Penguin Books and they sent us copies of all the books to review. The illustrations are bright and it's easy to clearly make out each landmark.
Out of these places, our toddler has only been to San Francisco (so far) so it's been fun to show him photos of our family touring around and seeing the same sights as in the book. This book also focuses on numbers, which is perfect for my toddler who enjoys counting things.
The New York book's theme is colors, which is my son's other passion. I've always thought of New York as being black and white, so it's refreshing to see the colorful images. My son's favorite thing to find is the yellow taxi!
My personal favorite is Paris and it's theme of shapes because I spent my 18th birthday in Paris on a school trip and have wonderful memories of the city. When I look at this book with my son, we talk about my experiences at the different places (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, etc.)
We do the same thing with the London book. It's fun to tell him about my time there and what I thought of the landmarks. The London book focuses on opposites, which is fun because my son is developing his sense of humor and he likes to say big things are little and vice versa as a joke to see if I will laugh. It also features a red, double-decker bus!
All Aboard by Haily Meyers
Along those same lines is a book series by Haily Meyers called All Aboard where they show destinations accessible by trains such as California, London, National Parks, Washington, D.C., and New York. This series is published by BabyLit and they sent us the London, Paris and California books to check out. I really like this series because there aren't very many words, so my toddler can "read" the story to me by telling me what he sees on each page. Again, the artwork is really beautiful in this series as well! The last page of each book also offers a bonus educational component (for example, the Paris book lists French/English translations of key things in the book.) It's a great way for this series to grow with babies and toddlers.
My son has been to California a few times, so we like to point out where relatives live and what we did in each city. My toddler is an uber-fan of trains, so one of his favorite things is to look for the train or the train conductor on each page. Sometimes the trains are in random places, but we find that really funny!
The London book is really cool because there are trains AND double-decker buses, which is the best combination for my toddler! I like that the pages feature travel-related items like passports and suitcases in addition to significant landmarks. My toddler is able to point at the items and tell me what they are and how we use them. It's a great conversation starter about international travel.
The Paris book is my personal favorite out of this series. I minored in French in college and it's fun to pass along some basic French to my toddler (who's currently learning Mandarin.) He's at the perfect age to pick up a few words in several languages. I like that the French is optional since there isn't much of a story. So, you can just talk about the fun places with babies and younger toddlers and then add in the French element later on to refresh the book.
Tiny Traveler by Misti Kenison
Misti Kenison writes the Tiny Traveler board book series that covers Egypt, France, Italy and Japan. This series is published by Sky Pony Press and they sent us copies of Italy and Japan to review. I like this series because it includes places outside of the U.S. and Europe and the illustrations are clear and vivid. I really hope China is next on her list of books to write!
We took our toddler to Italy last summer, so that's been a fun book to read because he remembers a few of the places. The theme of this book is numbers, which is fun for my count-a-holic toddler. Our favorite page is the one where we can count pizza because then we can talk about yummy food! I also like the page about paintings because art is a huge part of world culture.
His cousins go to Japan every summer to visit family, so he's also been interested in the Japan book because he knows that's where they go. The theme of this book is nature and features bamboo, cherry blossoms and a Zen Garden. This is nice because we visit a Japanese Garden in Seattle frequently and he's able to use the information from this book out at the garden. I love it when books encourage children to make connections to the outside world!
Lonely Planet Kids Pop Up Books
When my husband and I travel, we like to bring hard-copy guide books so we have something to reference, especially when staying places without wifi. Lonely Planet is one of our favorite guide book companies, so we were both intrigued to find out they had a line of pop-up books for kids.
The nice thing about these pop-up books is that they seem pretty durable. They are recommended for kids ages 5-8, but I think they are also suitable for younger kids. I don't think the pop-up features will be easily torn off. I also like that the pop-ups are somewhat subtle so they add a dimension to the book without feeling like it's going to pop out in my toddler's face.
Any of these books would be great to take on your airplane ride to that destination to show your child what they might see on your trip. My oldest likes to read the books over and over again and point out the landmarks from each country. What's really cool is that now he recognizes these landmarks when we see them on TV, in other books, or in photos!
We received these books complimentary for review purposes.
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I'm a mom to a 3-year-old and a baby. We believe in traveling as a family as soon as possible and sharing our tips and tricks with other families!