Mommy Must-Haves: Baby Feeding Essentials for 2017

Boppy Nursing Pillow

EVERY nursing mama needs one of these. This snug pillow will completely enhance the breastfeeding experience for you and your bundle of joy. One of Boppy’s bestsellers, this iconic Boppy Nursing Pillow has helped millions of moms and infants create a positive breastfeeding/bottle feeding experience. This versatile pillow lifts baby to a more ergonomic position granting mom relief to arms and back. As baby grows the pillow can also transition to a propping, tummy time and sitting pillow. Choose from a colorful array of machine washable slipcovers to personalize your Boppy Pillow for full comfort and style.

Milkmaid Goods Nursing Poncho

Created by two moms on a mission to bring beauty to motherhood, Milkmaid Goods offers amazing Nursing Ponchos so moms can breastfeed in style and with confidence in public without the worry of being exposed. This unique and fashionable design cover both the front and back of the Poncho, creating a comfortable nursing environment for both you and your little one! In addition, the ponchos can double as a car seat cover, to create the perfect naptime setting for your baby whether you’re running errands or taking a peaceful stroll through the park. All of Milkmaid’s ponchos and covers are made of a stretchy, breathable, lightweight fabric for full comfort and protection. Try out the ‘Ruby Starlet’ Nursing Poncho for a fun new look for you and your baby to rock this upcoming spring season!

The Baby Booster

Getting the right nutrition while you are literally working to feed a baby 24/7 is hard! The Baby Booster is an amazing option for moms looking for that vital protein ( it is packed with 20 grams of non GMO protein and all of the essentials vitamins) needed for keeping up with babies needs. The Baby Booster is available in four delicious flavors: Kona Mocha, Tahitian Vanilla, Pina Colada, and Superfruit Punch. Each of these special shakes all contain DHA, which is a great way for your infant to receive extra nutrients! Unlike many other products for pregnant women and their baby, Baby Booster eliminates soy, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and gluten from their ingredients, ensuring you feel healthy, comfortable, excited and happy in every facet of your pregnancy and life! We love this product for late night nursing sessions to keep you going! 

Green Goo Nursing Cream

Nursing your baby doesn’t have to hurt. Bring the joy back of breastfeeding with Green Goo’s Nursing Cream. It’s crafted with a delicate formula of Calendula and Chamomile flowers and other skin-loving ingredients that are 100% organic. A Green Goo best seller, this natural salve is a top choice among nursing mamas looking for maximum skin protection, relief and is a reliable and safe choice for their baby. Simply apply the cream around the nipple area after a feeding session and enjoy the healing magic that is Green Goo Nursing Cream.

 Mommy’s Watches

If you’re a breastfeeding mom you’ve probably heard the phrase, “When in doubt, toss it out!” Now with Mommy’s Watches never throw away milk again. This mom invented gadget takes all the guesswork out of breastfeeding and helps save tons of money and time. Mommy’s Watches is a unique, innovative device that gives parents a quick and easy way to keep track of the time and temperature of breast milk bottles and bags. Mommy’s Watches gives moms peace of mind knowing their baby is getting safe meals each and every time. Mommy’s Watches is a timer which counts down faster at room temperature and slower at refrigerator temperatures while accounting for the safety guidelines. It self-adjusts the expiration time based on the temperature that is exposed to. This reusable product is perfect for any new mom, ensuring you’re not throwing out your baby’s milk too soon or feeding them spoiled milk!

Boppy Soothing Breast Balm

Make breastfeeding easier and more manageable with the Boppy Soothing Breast Balm. This nursing balm is designed to give soothing relief and protection for sore and dry nipples caused by improper latching during breastfeeding. Make nursing or pumping less painful with this non-greasy and soothing balm. Gently apply a small amount of Boppy’s Soothing Breast Balm to the nipple area after each feeding, or as needed, and quickly feel the relief. Store this hypoallergenic, paraben and phthalate free product at room temperature for its best results. No more uncomfortable pain after providing your baby all the nutrients they need from breastfeeding with this amazing breast balm from Boppy.

Four Tips Before Diving In For The First Swim Lesson

by Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes” app/ebook series

LL has his First Swimming Lesson_Book CoverTaking your child to a swimming pool to learn to swim is a fairly common experience for parents. Getting a child comfortable in the water can give a child confidence to handle a lot of new experiences. Here are a few tips to help make a toddler’s first pool experience a happy one for you and for them!

1. Getting ready!

Many toddlers are not potty-trained, or just learning how to go the toilet. To be on the safe side, until your toddler is completely toilet-trained, use a swimmer diaper underneath the swimsuit, so that you keep the pool as clean as possible. Also, it is important to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device that fits properly. Toddlers should wear these any time they are near water until both they and you are comfortable with their ability to swim.

2. Is there tech support?

Luca Lashes and his First Swimming Lesson is a great eBook/app that can walk a child through their first time in the pool! Children can get the look and feel of the pool, take a shower before getting in the pool, and have a lesson with a swim instructor. Luca and his daddy have fun in the water, and your child can join in!

3. Follow the Rules.

Every public pool has a specific set of rules. These can include “No Running,” “No Splashing,” etc. Be sure to follow these rules yourself, and teach your child how important rules and safety are in the pool area. The pool rules are there for the safety of every one involved, and should be read and paid attention to by every parent!

4. Be Safe.

Parents need to teach their toddlers that never go into the water without an adult, and parents also need to practice “touch supervision.” This means that an adult should be within arm’s reach of a toddler at all times near a pool or any body of water. For particularly early swimmers who are being carried by their parents in water, parents need to stay at a comfortable depth where a firm footing can always be maintained.

Remember to always ask your children both how they feel about the swimming pool both before and after their time in the water. This is a great time to have a “teachable” moment with your little ones! Laugh with your children; enjoy these moments, as some of the happiest times in a person’s life involve being in a pool!

 

Nicole & Damir Fonovich are co-creators of Luca Lashes,” an eBook and app series that turns “fear of firsts” into fun. The series is aimed at kids ages 0–4 and is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese. The first app, Luca Lashes: The Brown Eyed Boy with the Magic Eyelashes, is free on iTunes, and the other apps can be downloaded for $1.99 at all major marketplaces and at www.LucaLashes.com.Nicole and Damir both have backgrounds in teaching, writing and publishing. Together, they have 17 years of experience in the education field, in both teaching and administration. They live in the Phoenix area.

Making Life Easier in the Kitchen!

The kitchen is where we spend most of our time—cooking and cleaning and making memories. I love finding new products that make life a little bit easier, healthier or cuter! These are my recent finds that are worth trying out…

Cookina

cookinaI love parchment paper. It just makes everything you bake cook perfectly on the bottom (and it might have been known to save me some pan washing). My husband and I are both so frugal that I always try to make sure that I am never wasteful on the size sheets that I tear off and we still go through plenty of it. When I saw basically reusable parchment paper I was stoked! I had to try the Cookina Resusable Cooking Sheet, but I soon learned how much better it was than parchment paper. You can actually line any bakeware with it to prevent sticking (like when making banana bread—you can see how in this video). Cookina also makes a Reusable Grilling Sheet and Oven Protector that are just as amazing. These products are made using a 100% non stick, PFOA free, heat-resistant fabric and they wash very easily. They make clean up easier, food tastier and they even give you some new options for cooking on your grill. They seriously are amazing! From $12.99 at www.cookina.co

Squeez’Ems & EZ Squeezees

squeezemsFood pouches for babies have become so popular. I have always made my own baby food and never purchased the filled pouches, but when I saw the reusable ones I was thrilled. They came at the perfect time for my little one to use to eat her yogurt and apple sauce. She likes both of those foods, but with her desire for independence refuses to be spoon fed yet she still is learning to using a spoon herself. I load up both of these pouches and they are handy at home and on the go (which admittedly has been her breakfast plenty of times as we are running late for one of our morning activities). I am obsessed. My older daughter certainly doesn’t need to use these but they have come in handy for food-on-the-go for her as well. You can feel a lot better about your child eating yogurt or applesauce when you are in a hurry instead of the convenient and often not-so-healthy crackers and cereal. I am certain that with my next baby I will end up using these when we are in the baby food stage too!

ez squuezeNow to compare the two pouches that I tried…They both really are great, with some differences that might make one more ideal for you than the other. Most obvious right off the bat are the location of the openings. EZ Squeezees have a large zippered side for easy, mess-free filling, while the Squeez’Ems have a smaller opening at the top. The larger side zip is easier to fill on the EZ Squeeze, but I like how the bottom opens up to stand on its end on the Squeez’Ems. The zipper quality is great on both with no leakage or ability for a young child to open on their own. EZ Squeezees holds 6.5oz of food and can be reused about 15 times per pouch. I am not sure of the exact amount of food that Squeez’Ems holds, but they are very comparable (however, Squeez’Ems do make a larger size that can be found on their site). They are both BPA and Phthalate free, as well as dishwasher and freezer safe. EZ Squeezees can be found at www.ezsqueezees.com, starting at $9.99/3 pack. Squeez’Ems can be found at www.booginhead.com for $5.45/2 pack.

Mackenzie-Childs Bibs/Placemat

bibs placematsI don’t know what my deal is, but I have kind of become obsessed with placemats. I love to use them for my four year old. They save me some extra table wiping (wow—with this and my pan washing avoidance with parchment paper I sound pretty lazy). When I first started using placemats I was surprised how hard it was to find the cheap, easy to wipe off kind. I got in the habit of snagging the holiday ones that I found at Big Lots to create my stash. So when I saw these absolutely adorable placemats from Mackenzie-Childs I fell in love. They are very worthy of being left on the table with their cuteness! And, even though bibs get covered in smashed food and ultimately destroyed beyond stain repair I love cute bibs. Mackenzie-Childs has created bibs that match her placemats that maintain the classic mixed patterns and colors she is famous for. The bibs definitely have a unique style and I adore them. Bibs, $25 and Placemats, $28/pack of 4 at www.mackenzie-childs.com

Pyure Stevia Sweetener

pyureIf you haven’t used stevia for a sweetener you are seriously missing out. It is natural, sugar-free and tastes delicious! I love to use it in my iced tea, and until now I had not seen anything that came in big packages for baking. Pyure makes a Stevia Sweetener Bakeable Blend that is a calorie-free sugar alternative that actually measures cup for cup like sugar. It contains no synthetic ingredients, is gluten free, certified Kosher and sweetened with Pyure Organic Stevia. $34.99 for 6 pouches at www.pyuresweet.com.

Cow Wow Cereal Milk

cowwow_fruity_trudyNot going lie. When I first learned about this I thought it seemed a little bit weird. I actually skipped over it the first time but upon circling back I thought it might be worth mentioning. Some parents might find it challenging to get their kids to drink milk, and most people agree that milk is important for growing children. Well, here is a milk option that just might get picky kids interested. Cow Wow is an organic, low fat milk that brings favorite bottom-of-the bowl cereal milk to life. Yes-it tastes like the milk left over in your cereal bowl! They currently have two flavors, Fruity Trudy and Chocolate Chip Cathy with more on the way. It is made with all natural ingredients with only 6 grams of added sugar. It comes in packaged 8.5 ounce single serving cartons. I haven’t tasted it but maybe if I had it as a child I would have actually drank milk and like it as an adult. $1.99 for a carton at www.cowwownow.com.

Ecovessel-Smashbox Double Compartment Food Container

smashboxI have a crazy amount of food storage containers that I use to store leftovers in the fridge, but I do have some plastic fears so I try not to reheat food in them. I definitely feel better for food storage knowing that the materials are BPA and phthalate free, especially when my babies are eating the food! Eco Vessel makes water bottles and food storage containers of high quality, non-leaching materials that parents can be confident using for their families. They have very cool, two compartment containers that are ideal for lunchboxes and picnics! When you’re done the Smashbox collapses to about half its size, so you can easily carry it in a tote or backpack. Made with food grade silicone, it can go from the freezer to the microwave, making it easy to heat up leftovers. A reusable multi-use spork snaps on the top, so there’s no need to throw away disposable utensils. What makes Eco Vessel even more special is that they have pledged to donate 1% of annual sales to support Water for People, a Denver-based non-profit focused on providing safe water around the globe. $19.95 at www.ecovessel.com.

Perfect Children’s Wall Art…with a Cause

horse girl I am obsessed with children’s illustrations. Obsessed. We have tons of books for our girls and of course my favorite ones have the best illustrations. Every time we read one of those I can’t help but visualize them being on the wall and incorporating them into my decorating. If my favorite artwork was available to purchase you can be certain it would already be consuming the walls in my girls’ rooms.  While there are certainly plenty of options for cute artwork for children’s rooms at your favorite stores, the beauty and unique look of a hand painted book illustration is just better!

I was beyond ecstatic when I found about customizable wall art from award winning children’s book artist Phyllis Harris. One look at her web site and I wanted EVERY. Single. Print. They are adorable, beautiful, sweet, colorful, unique, faith-inspired, whimsical and just perfection!

Jesus_and_boyPhyllis Harris is the award winning illustrator of over 30 Children’s Books including ‘On Christmas Day’ (written by the amazing Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Phyllis) released October, 2012 by Booksamillion. In addition to Picture Books, Phyllis’ illustrations have appeared in numerous children’s magazine publications over the past 15 years (‘Highlights’, ‘High Five Magazine’, ‘Jack & Jill’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’). She is certainly the real deal.

In May, 2012, Phyllis launched PhyllisHarrisDesigns.com, her online Children’s Wall Art store featuring over 60 of her original illustration prints which can each be customized for any child’s room or nursery. Every print can be customized with a child’s hair color, hair style, ethnicity, child’s name and inspirational quote; and is lovingly signed by Phyllis. Oh, and it’s not just prints. They have huge murals too! The prices are very reasonable ($25 for an 8.5×11 print) and well worth it.

dancing in the woodsAt the heart of Phyllis Harris Designs is the mission to give back to children in need; and children battling serious illnesses. Phyllis Harris Designs gives back 5% of every sale to Children’s Mercy to help in their fight to save children’s lives.

I have been spending a lot of time decorating my oldest daughter’s room (now being transformed into to be a shared room for the girls) so when I first was looking through the prints I had her room in mind. And, of course, had at least 10 prints that I wanted. But when I saw ‘Dancing in the Woods’ it had to become my first choice to put in the nursery. The theme of our nursery is “Forest Friends” (Carter’s brand bedding set) and this print pulls the entire room together and makes it feel a little less “right out of the box.” elizas-roomI absolutely adore the way it looks. It is the first thing I look at every time I walk into the room and it honestly just makes me smile. Daily 🙂

More of these prints will be making an appearance in the girls’ shared room very soon!

Phyllis Harris Design’s original and customizable illustration prints can be viewed at phyllisharrisdesigns.com

 

Eco-Friendly Baby/Kid Clothes

Organic, eco-friendly clothing trends are on the rise—with good reason! They are safe for people and the environment and they are super soft. We found 3 great sources for eco-friendly clothing for babies and kids and we know you will love them. Their quality is top notch, the comfort of the fabric is swoon-worthy and the styles are simple adorable!

silkberry-babySilkberry Baby is an eco-baby and children’s clothing line that uses the rayon from bamboo.  These clothes are literally the softest, silkiest clothes I have ever felt. (I wish they came in adult sizes too!) Not only is the feel of Silkberry unbelievable, the modern boutique look of the products are adorable and perfect for both genders. In addition to clothing, they also have beanies, sleep sacks, blankets and crochet hats.  Silk and bamboo products are safe, hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial, mold and mildew resistant and offer breathability and excellent body temperature regulation. $10-$60, www.SilkberryBaby.com.

prinkgiraffe_bibsieWee Urban is a line known for its contemporary, eco-friendly gear and apparel for baby and toddler. Made with organic cotton and a distinctive screen-printing design done with 100% eco-ink.  Their clothing is cute and they have a “BiBsie” line that is genius. The bib matches the onesie it comes with (as in is the exact same screen print as the onesie it covers). It is amazingly perfect for bib-wearing droolers! They also have sleep sacks, blankets, gowns, dresses and rompers. $28-$55, www.weeurban.com

dhanaecokidsDhana EcoKids has an adorable selection of eco-friendly tees, tops and dresses for kids ages 4-12. The dresses are sweet and feminine and their limited edition lines are designed by artists. They have a more sophisticated feel that bigger kids love (they don’t want to dress like babies!). Beautiful, unique and truly wearable art! $30-$48, www.DhanaEcoKids.com.

Bonding with Baby: Baby Sign Language Builds Early Connections

By Andrea Ploehn

sign-languageIn today’s society, children spend so much time watching TV, playing video and computer games, and are plugged into their phones and other electronic devices. Parents who want to connect with their kids need to start early to build strong bonds that will last, no matter what technological distractions tomorrow brings!

Fortunately, there’s a great way that parents can engage their children at the earliest ages, and strengthen the parent-child bond. It’s a method I have used with my own children and have seen amazing results in their communication and social skills: baby sign language.

In working with my children as babies, and with many other infants, I have found that their ability to learn and understand often goes far beyond their ability to communicate with words. This is supported by research. Joseph Garcia (sign 2 me), explains that babies are able to learn long before the development of verbal language skills. “As infants learn signs, they can begin the foundation for mutual understanding,” Garcia states. “This manual communication can contribute greatly to the bonding process.”

Signing with babies also helps build their socialization skills. Babies who learn sign language are able to communicate their needs long before they can verbalize them. This reduces their frustration, builds their confidence, and helps create stronger bonds with their parents.

I remember one time when my daughter Annie was little and we were waiting for daddy to come home. We heard someone at the door, but it wasn’t dad. She started crying and signing “dad, dad, dad.” My daughter couldn’t verbally say dad yet, so if she hadn’t used the sign for dad, I wouldn’t have understood why she was crying. Instead of being clueless, I was able to reassure her that her dad was on the way.

Using sign language with babies not only boosts the parent/child connection, it’s also a great way for babies to interact with their older siblings and other family members. The bond that my kids have with each other because of sign language is amazing. I’ve been able to replace the jealously that older siblings often feel when a new baby comes, with confidence and pride in helping teach their new sibling how to do baby sign language.

Among our children, Annie helped teach her brother Brandon to sign when he was a baby. Then Ben came along and Annie and Brandon both worked together to teach him to sign. Now the three of them are teaching my youngest, Emily, all the signs she needs to know. Along the way all my kids have experienced years of benefits because of the positive interaction made possible by learning sign language as babies.

Communication and connection are the keys. In today’s disruptive, technology-driven society, these are critical factors for healthy child development. I’m so glad that doing something as simple as signing with my children has so many amazing benefits.

About the Author: Andrea Ploehn (SAY Plone as in “hone”) is an expert on nonverbal communication and teaching babies sign language. A native and resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, she holds a communications degree with an emphasis in interpersonal communication from Idaho State University. She and her husband, a physical therapist, have four children, ages 16 months through 9-years-old. For more information, visit her public website at http://www.Signing4Baby.com. Contact Andrea at AndreaPloehn@hotmail.com.

The Best Infant Car Seat?

 Inertia
 SnugRide35
 KeyFit30

What is the BEST car seat available for your infant? This question is asked by most parents when a new baby is on the way. We all do research to seek out as many reviews and recommendations as we can find. I think the truth is that there isn’t a “best” car seat, there is simply what meets most of your preferences. I compared the 2 most popular, Graco Snugride 35 and the Chicco Keyfit 30 to the Baby Trend Inertia using some of the characteristics I think are most considered.

 

But, before I get into these details I must comment on the safety factor. The single most important quality in a car seat is safety, but it is really difficult to actually compare this. Every car seat on the market has passed Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards. The only government information you can easily find are NHTSA ratings on their ease of use in four basic categories: Evaluation of Instructions, Evaluation of Labels, Vehicle Installation Features, Securing the Child. They note that all rated seats are safe, so how do you pick which one is safer than another? I don’t think you really can unless you rely on consumer reports and crash test YouTube videos you can find. So, for this reason you will not see safety on my list below.

 

LATCH Installation

Baby Trend Inertia: This carseat base has a rigid LATCH system install which is extremely easy and gives you much peace of mind. You don’t have to pull any straps to make sure it is tight enough. The base simply has 2 bars with claw-like snaps that grab onto your car’s LATCH system. Line them up and snap them on and that’s it! Angles don’t matter when using the base either which makes installation even easier to get right.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The KeyFit LATCH system of the Chicco is easy to use and install correctly. It has claw-like snaps that you push into the LATCH system then you use its one-hand Center Pull Latch tightening system to easily tighten.

Graco Snugride 35: The LATCH installation on a Graco is my least favorite. It has big snaps that can be difficult to get on (and especially off) your vehicle’s LATCH system. There is not an easy way to tighten it either. You still have to pull a strap and sometimes it is hard to pull it tighter even though the base is not installed tight enough. Graco has made the angle installation easier, however, by having a dial that you twist the raise or lower the front of the base.

 

Style/Colors

Graco Snugride 35: I think Graco wins the style race with the many, many patterns and fun color options they offer. It is easy to find something that is gender neutral, girlish or boyish in just about any color combination you would want.

Chicco KeyFit 30: There are plenty or colors to choose from with a Chicco, however there are not a variety of patterns/styles.

Baby Trend Inertia: The Intertia only comes in one color/pattern option. It is both gender neutral and fun, but you do not have any options beyond the “Horizon” color.

 

Price

Graco Snugride 35: $119.99-$179.99, available at many retailers

Chicco KeyFit 30: $179.99-$199.99, available at many retailers

Baby Trend Inertia: $179.99, available at Babies ‘R Us

 

Weight (with base)/Base Size

Graco Snugride 35: 17.6 lbs, wide base but not too long.

Chicco KeyFit 30: 21.1 lbs, narrow base good for compact cars

Baby Trend Inertia: 26.7 lbs, long base that will fit tight in compact cars.

 

Max Child Weight

Graco Snugride 35: 35 lbs

Baby Trend Inertia: 32 lbs

Chicco KeyFit 30: 30 lbs

 

Visor and Additional Features

Baby Trend Inertia: The visor of the Baby Trend is the best on the market! It is huge and offers tons of sun shade. BabyTrend took it a step further and mush mesh “windows” on the visor so baby can still look out and air flows. The handle on the Baby Trend is the nice triangle type, offering more comfort and positions to carry. The most impressive unique, special feature of this car seat is the controlled motion base, which is unlike anything else on the market. It responds to crash forces by rotating more upright resulting in better force distribution. There are 4 more recline positions that provide ultimate comfort and easier breathing for baby. There is an 8 position adjustable head support. You never have to rethread the harness of the Baby Trend. There is a dial on the back that allows you to adjust for the proper height. There is also a “cold weather boot” that is included with the car seat, that goes over baby’s legs for warmth.

Graco Snugride 35: The visor of the Graco is nice and big and it can move completely from front to back. It offers adequate sun shade. The seat is known for being plush and comfortable. The newborn insert provides very comfortable, padded head and body support.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The visor of the Chicco is very small and serves very little purpose. The newborn insert provides head and body support and proper fit with the harness.

 

Cons

Baby Trend Inertia: The BabyTrend has a plastic puzzle buckle that, although it doesn’t get hot, it can be hard to hold/snap both pieces in (especially if you don’t loosen the straps). The entire system is too large for smaller vehicles.

Graco Snugride 35: More difficult to install/tighten. Adjusting harness height requires rethreading. Upright angle causes newborn and sleeping baby’s head to fall forward. Buttons to raise/lower the handle are loud and will wake a sleeping baby.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The visor is inadequate. Adjusting harness height requires rethreading. Upright angle causes newborn and sleeping baby’s head to fall forward.

 

baby trend inertia

Baby Trend Inertia Installed in Mini Van

So, you may want to know which car seat is my favorite? I have to say the Baby Trend Inertia works really well for me. My four most favorite things about it are the recline positions, the adjustable head support, the rigid LATCH install and the visor. I love that when my baby is in it, asleep or awake her head never falls forward. I feel like my baby’s head is safer in a side impact collision with the head support (I have not tested this feature, this is not based on any proof) and I love anything that is easy to adjust with growth. I am obsessed with the ease of installation with the LATCH system. It is beyond easy to install and you don’t have to worry about it being too loose. A visor might seem like a silly thing to like, but I can’t help it. This visor is amazing and it is one thing that people comment on when I am out and about with the car seat.

 

Obviously this car seat is not perfect. The base is pretty big and you have to put the handle all the down when he car seat is on the base, which is impossible to do in smaller cars. I have had to put the handle down outside of the car before I snap it into the base in those situations. Even after that you have to make sure the seat does not touch the seat in front so the controlled motion base can work properly. In our mini van there is plenty of room and no issues whatsoever, though.  I am not in love with the puzzle buckle, either. It is pretty much impossible to do with one hand and difficult if the straps were not loosened first. My final complaint is that the buttons to adjust the handle are a little loose, so if the handle is not all the way down when it’s in the car, they jiggle around and make noise. The buttons are quiet, though and do not make noise when they are squeezed (they have never woken my baby like my Graco has).

 

The Inertia is definitely loaded with all kinds of cool special features. I think Baby Trend put a lot of research and thought into making a safe and comfortable car seat. While it is not going to be the ideal car seat for everyone, it has won my vote!

Awesome Natural Skin Care

I  got to try a slew of new products to use for skin-both baby’s and mine. These natural products made my list of “must-try,” even for sensitive skin.

derma e antisepticDerma E: Sometimes skincare products make me skeptical, but Derma E lives up to their claims. I LOVE these! Derma E is a line of natural skincare that uses vitamins, antioxidants and botanicals, while remaining paraben-free, cruelty-free and vegan.  They have a very large collection of products for a variety of needs (Vitalizing, Hydrating, Refining, Evenly Radiant, Age Defying,  Firming, Deep Wrinkle Release,  Soothing, Very Clear,  and Therapeutic Topicals). I tried out the Stop Itch and the Tea Tree and E Antiseptic Crème from the therapeutic line. They smell amazing and make your skin so incredibly soft. The Stop Itch quickly and effectively stopped the itch from mosquito bites I had. I must admit I was kind of surprised! The antiseptic crème I used on my baby’s mild case of cradle cap and it cleared up in about 3 days. We also used it on diaper rash and it was soothing. My daughter had a rash on her back and I put the crème on it and it went away quickly. I am not positive the crème cleared it up, but it certainly did not make it worse! I highly recommend Derma E for safe, effective skincare. $19.50 (Stop Itch), $13.75 (Antiseptic Crème), www.dermae.com

GDIslandGeoDeo: As a nursing mom, I love the concept of an aluminum free deodorant. I feel an extra need to be concerned with the chemicals put in or on my body. GeoDeo is a natural deodorant that contains no harmful aluminums, sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, dyes or phthalates and is not tested on animals. It is supposed to fight a build up of impurities with its volcanic minerals and Icelandic algae. I have no way test or verify this, but it’s a neat concept and I love that this company is trying to help people be as healthy as possible. GeoDeo has 3 very appealing options (Ocean, Island and Unscented), unlike its competitor Tom’s. Unfortunately for me it did not completely hide my body odor, but I think I tend to be more potent/sweaty than an average woman. I would definitely give it a try and see if it works for you. Why put that nasty aluminum in your body if you don’t have to?! $5.99, www.mygeodeo.com

newborn_2in1_detailNoodle & Boo: There are so many baby wash/shampoo products available and people love to give bath themed baby shower gifts. I think Noodle & Boo is one of the most luxurious line of baby bath products, making it perfect for gift giving. Noodle & Boo was founded by a mother of 3 children with sensitive skin, so every product uses safe and natural ingredients that are hypoallergenic and gentle. I tried the Newborn 2 in 1 Hair & Body Wash. I am not easily impressed by baby wash, but I really like this. It smells amazing, makes their skin silky smooth and rinses off easily.  To top it off their packaging is classic and attractive.  $14, www.noodleandboo.com

Guess how much i love you diaper creamGuess How Much I Love You: Dionis Goat Milk Skin Care has created a product line named after the adorable book we all love, Guess How Much I Love You. Speaking of how much I love, I truly love this brand’s Ever So Gentle Diaper Cream! It is fragrance free with a premium zinc oxide formula infused with Bisabolol, a soothing component of the Chamomile plant. This beeswax enriched formula, replete with Avocado oil helps to keep baby’s delicate skin dry and healthy. It definitely has a different, smoother texture than other diaper creams and washes off mom’s and dad’s fingers easily. It took care of my little one’s diaper rash quickly and effectively prevented another rash from appearing. The bottle is huge and well worth every penny! $12.99 (6 oz)  www.dionisgmskincare.com

Summer Lovin’ These Products!

I have been trying out some pretty cool products lately and these make the top of my list.

Smoothin’ It Out: Smoobee Magic No Cry Brush

smoobee hair brushThis hair brush was a hit the second it arrived at our home. My daughter was SO excited to have a brush of her very own. Yes-she has just shared with me for 3 years. Actually I think I am onto something with this…she has been good about me brushing her hair but since getting her own brush she wants to brush her hair all by herself any chance she can get. It has become a fun thing for her! The brush is made of wood, which I love for the smooth feel in your hand and of course the durability. The colors are great too. Pink is the color of choice around here, but the perfect colors are taken one step further with stickers for bedazzling them! This is a great idea for getting kids excited about their brush. My daughter loved putting the rhinestone stickers on her brush and she talks about all the time (as she checks to make sure they are still on there!). The answer to the big question, though, “does it really brush through hair without snagging or catching?” is YES! It actually brushes through hair very easily, wet or dry both when I brush my daughters hair and when she does it herself. Possibly the best part is that Smoobee has a lifetime warranty and a 100% refund no questions asked policy. It’s a win for you and a win for your kid! $19.95 at www.smoobee.com.

Laughin’ It Up: Itty Wigs

itty wigsI have to admit that I was a little hesitant when I first saw this product, but when I put it on my baby I instantly “got” it. It is just silly adorable! They call it “the automatic smile maker” and I agree! I am one mom who insists on putting headbands and bows on my girls before we leave the house. I just love them looking so girlie and cute and so does everyone else! People ALWAYS comment on my girls when they have things on their heads and this creative headband just makes people giggle. It is not trying to look like real hair-it is supposed to be funny! As soon as I put the curly black pigtails on my sweet, dark-haired baby I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s just cute! Hair color options include light blonde, tooti frutti (blonde with strands of color), cinnabrown (reddish brown) and midnight black. Choose a crochet headband color and add some bows for a one-of-a-kind, darling accessory. Starting at $7.50 at www.ittywigs.com.

Layin’ It Out: Monkey Mat

monkey matThis product is a clean, portable, lightweight mat that can go everywhere. It opens up to a large 5’x5′ square but the thin water repellant material folds up easily into a 6″x6″ square. It is nothing to toss this into a diaper bag or backpack. Brilliantly the storage pouch (which also has a velcro strap to attach to strollers, etc) is attached so you won’t lose it. The weighted corners are key to setting this apart from any sheet or lightweight blanket. They keep the mat in place even in decent wind (like on the beach) but if you want to keep it even more grounded, there are loops on the corners. They have a few loops in the middle for attaching toys and of course it is machine washable. I love this thing! I even used it as a backdrop for a photo shoot of my daughter and it was pretty great for that. The weighted corners hung perfectly over the chair I draped it over and its large size spread over the area I needed it to! The Monkey Mat would be great to take to the park, beach, pool, or any outdoor adventure. $39.99 at www.monkeymat.com.

Coverin’ It Up: Undercover Mama

Nursing moms don’t always have it easy when it comes to wardrobes. For me, nursing tank tops are the base for every outfit and the search for something at least semi-cute to put over it is a challenge. When I first saw the Undercover Mama I wasn’t sure why it would be better than a nursing tank. It is a tank top without any straps and 2 ways to attach it to a nursing bra in front. Then I tried one and soon found out. It’s all about the straps and bulk! Most of my nursing tanks have pretty thick straps (compared to a bra) and they are set closer together which means if I want to put on a V-neck or any wider necked shirt over the top of it the ugly straps show. Your eye is drawn to the strap with its giant plastic clasp. Not very cute. The Undercover Mama attaches to your nursing bra so it doesn’t get in the way like a regular nursing tank. You can choose the bra that fits best with your shirt and toss the Undercover Mama under it to keep your belly hidden while nursing. So instead of your outfit revolving around your nursing tank, it revolves around the stylish one you want to wear! The material of the Undercover Mama is lightweight too, so it feels right to wear under other tops. Nursing tanks are shirts by themselves so they have more substance and bulk that isn’t always great to wear under things (especially in the summer). It has 2 attachment options which make it work with any and every nursing bra you own. They come in many colors and even have an option with lace trim! $24.99 at www.undercovermama.com.

Glowin’ It Up: Serenity Star

serenity starThe serenity star is an electronic feeding and sleep system designed for both baby and caregivers. It combines an electronic feeding diary, room temperature indicator, sound machine, nightlight and clock—all in one. I had a simple alarm clock and a basic plug in night light in my baby’s room and I did not realize what I was missing until the Serenity Star was plugged in. My biggest obsession with it is the room temperature indicator. Coming into warm weather and living in a 2 story house where it’s hard to keep the air cool, I was constantly wondering if it was too hot or too cold in her room. The Serenity Star not only displays the temperature of the room, it also lights up white if the temperature is within the perfect range for baby, red if it is too hot and blue if it is too cold. It actually helped me figure out the perfect A/C setting for our whole house! When I first started using it I would peek into my baby’s room at various times while she was sleeping to see what color it was illuminating. This also helped me decide what PJ/swaddle combo to use. I love this feature and I love the glow it gives for the nightlight. Some people might think it is a little too bright, but I think it is ideal. I can see enough detail in her dark room to find/do what I need to do.  The sound machine plays a selection of 4 soothing sounds including 2 lullabies, white noise and heart beat—in 30/60 minute intervals or continuously. The feeding diary records and displays the last time feeding started. For breast fed babies, it records and displays last breast side (L or R) from which baby was fed. This product serves a lot of purposes well and the bonus is that it is way cuter than any ordinary clock you will find! I simply love it! $89.95 at www.ELMbaby.com.

Understanding the “Mantra Cry”

Learning When It’s Ok To Let Your Baby Cry (The “Mantra Cry”)

The Mantra Cry-ok for baby to cryWhile learning your baby’s cues and cries, and teaching your baby to self-soothe, your little one will have a cry that is not calling for you to come to the rescue. Learn to recognize when it’s ok to let your baby cry.

The Difference Between a Mantra Cry and a Serious Cry For Help

Although we are against letting your baby Cry It Out, it is important for a parent to realize that there is a difference in cries, and some are ok to leave be. For the first three or four months many of your baby’s cries are genuine cries for help. Newborns are very needy! But, by the time they reach this 3-4 month mark, you will hopefully be able to recognize when his cry seems to sound different than the serious cry for help. What Tracy Hogg refers to as the “mantra cry” is a burst of cry that a baby will do as he is settling down (and going to sleep). It is valuable to recognize this cry, because this is where a baby really learns to self-soothe. If you rush in to your baby every time she makes a peep, it will be hard for her to learn to soothe and fall asleep on her own. Don’t worry that you are letting you baby Cry It Out, because Crying It Out is when you ignore your baby’s cry for help. To learn more about alternatives to the Cry It Out method, read our other article.

Learning to Recognize the Mantra Cry

Every baby has his own unique mantra cry so listen carefully to learn to make the distinction. Typically, a mantra cry’s pitch and tone stay the same, while a genuine cry will escalate in tone. A baby that is crying because she has a need gets more distressed as time goes on and you can hear that in her cry. A baby that is crying because she is trying to settle does not escalate, get louder or sound distressed. These cries do not sound the same.

It will take some careful listening (and reading of your baby’s body language) to learn his cues. When you hear you baby start to cry, it is okay to stop and listen before you rush in to him. In fact, you should! You are not being a bad parent by letting him cry for a minute while you listen for differences in sounds. It is the best way for you to really learn what your baby is telling you. Letting your baby cry becomes an issue is when you ignore the cry for help and let your baby continue to cry even after you have had a chance to recognize/analyze it.

The Mantra Cry In the Middle of the Night

The “mantra cry” will also be heard at times when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night. When your baby wakes up between sleep cycles and just needs to fall back to sleep, she may do her “mantra cry” to go back to dreamland on her own. If your baby wakes at a time when you know it is not time to eat, hesitate for a minute before you go in to her room and listen to her cry. Be sure that it is a serious cry in need so you don’t disturb your baby’s attempt at self-soothing before you go in. As your baby gets older, her ability to self-soothe should improve and be easier to notice.

It will take time for your baby to learn to self-soothe. You might have to go in to his room to reassure him hundreds of times before he is ready to put himself to sleep. Every baby is different. Don’t get stressed if your baby needs more help than your friend or your sister’s baby. Just listen to your baby and learn what he is telling you. Being able to recognize what his cries and other cues mean feels great!

Recommended Reading

To read more about learning to read your baby’s cries, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems