Cause and Effect Play

As Archer grows older sometimes we struggle with new games or activities to keep him challenged and learning. My Mommy & Me instructor gave us some suggestions to group types of play and then introduce one type for a few weeks then switch. For example there is Cause and Effect play, there’s reading, there’s stacking, there’s “balls”, there’s hike and seek, etc…

Archer loves anything that makes noise — whether by shaking it or slamming it on the ground. Such a boy! I bought these toys for him as his first set of “cause and effect” toys. He LOVES them! Especially the drum. He has figured out how to use the drum stick but mostly chews on it. It’s so cute though to watch him try to coordinate hitting the drum and when he does, he gets so proud of himself. He also loves to shake the bells and smiles doing it and the maracas, those are his second favorite behind the drum. Not only are they interesting shapes, but they make a nice sound and are fun to clack together (if you buy two).

 

Products: Starting Solid Foods

To get started with solid foods for your baby you really don’t need much: high chair, bibs, spoons, sippy cup, lunch box. Here are my favorites, details below:

High chair: It’s recommended that when buying a high chair you take your baby with you and actually try them out in the display models in the store — advice I was given by a friend who runs a baby club/website. Other questions to ask yourself: Is it important that the high chair is easy to store because you have limited space? Do you want the high chair to pull up to the table or have its own tray? Do you care if it matches your kitchen? I had researched a bunch of different high chairs and we ended up with the Peg-Perego Siesta. It was a splurge, but we figure it’ll be used 3+ times a day for years and for several kids so it was worth the $300 price tag. We also loved that it collapses, saves us space by fitting right next to the refrigerator. We also found when Archer was still a bit small for the high chair the Bumbo with tray worked well — a great option for anyone starting solids from 4-6 months.

Waterproof bibs: You’ll ask yourself why you need waterproof bibs, but trust me, you do. Baby food at the start is very watery and certain foods stain cotton. We were recommended Bumkins Waterproof Superbibs and they’re awesome! The pocket at the bottom catches any drips and the nice large size covers the entire front of the baby. They also sell some that have sleeves, which is also great for when your baby starts eating with their hands. Note the bibs with sleeves are bigger and won’t fit most 6-8 month old babies.

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The most important purchase you can make for your family

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. Many people don’t know they are suffering from CO poisoning until its too late since symptoms of CO poisoning are like the flu, you might not even know you’re in danger at first. That’s why a carbon monoxide alarm is the most important purchase you can make to help protect your family from CO poisoning — it can detect the CO you can’t see, smell or taste in the air.

We bought this plug in version, but you can also buy battery operated if you prefer or nicer digital versions. This model was $18.50 on Amazon, follow link below. We have one in Archer’s room and in other main rooms of the house. I’m not exactly sure how much area each alarm covers, so we probably have more than you need, but better safe than sorry! Also make sure your caregivers have devices for CO detection.

When you travel you should also bring CO detector with you, who knows if the hotel or apartment you’re renting has CO issues. I suggest battery operated when traveling abroad to avoid any risks because of non-compliant electrical outlets.

Don’t wait, get a few in your home today!

Amazon.com: First Alert CO600 Plug In Carbon Monoxide Alarm: Home Improvement.

Product: Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bib

When registering I had heard how awesome Aden + Anais products where, specifically the muslin light receiving blankets (perfect to drape over the car seat to block the sun or to keep germs out when out and about). I never heard about this product however, until last week at my Mommy and Me.

The Aden + Anais muslin burpy bib is perfect for drooling and spit up prone babies! From 4-6 months we experienced the most drool and spit up — teething causes excess drool and spitting up becomes most problematic around 5 months. This burp cloth and bib is super absorbant and as you can see from the photo below you can wrap it around your baby’s shoulders, secured in the back with a simple button, and it soaks up everything that drips and splats from your baby’s mouth. You also can turn it easily when one section gets soaked.

Oh how I wish I registered for this instead of the Aden + Anais washcloths (which I think are too big and bulky). Make this a must have item! You’ll save yourself a lot of time changing outfits!

Amazon.com: Aden by aden + anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bib, Oh Boy: Baby.

The Best Baby Swimwear for Summer!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day! We spent the first half of the day at the beach, under our awesome Shade Shack (see previous post, it’s a must buy for parents!) and Archer enjoyed a little dip with Daddy in his new swimwear.

If you’ve taken your little one swimming you’ve most likely used a disposable swim diaper. We did that too the first few times. They soak up with water and practically act like a floatation device, not to mention they’re not too attractive. They do their job though. I wasn’t looking for any alternative until I stumbled upon these adorable reusable swim diapers from iPlay. I decided to give one a try, mostly because they were cute, reusable and  less bulky. I am happy to report they worked great! Archer is 6 months old and on the thin side and the 9-12 month size fit fine, even when wet, and will still fit as he grows. I highly recommend buying a few of these if you’re a water family like we are.

These diapers also won a 2012 Cribsie Award — I am not surprised. I definitely would have voted them the best swimwear as well.

They also sell rash guards and we did get a matching protective sun hat as well. Both worked great for our pool and beach outings.

Mix ‘n Match Ultimate Swim Diaper – Swimwear – Swim & Sun – i play.

The Must Have Baby Item…

Washcloths! I am sure you would never guess that one items you’ll need the most for your newborn are soft small washcloths. Yes, you heard me washcloths. You want them extra soft for baby’s sensative skin, small so you can easily wipe down baby without getting their clothes all wet and a lot of them! We go through 4-5 a day. Basically after each feeding, before bed, in the morning and during baths we use a washcloth to clean up Archer.

My mom was the one who said we’d need a bunch of them and gifted us about 20. I never thought I’d need as many as she said I would, but boy am I glad we have them. I use them several times a day and even stick one in my purse or pocket when heading out the door. Much less bulky than a burp cloth and just as effective while on the go.

We have some similar washcloths as those pictured below. These are from Babies R Us, but be sure to feel them beforehand to make sure they’re extra soft!

Babies R Us 8 Pack Washcloths – Boy – Koala Baby – Babies “R” Us.

Products: Itzy Ritzy Infant Car Seat Cover

A woman at my baptism class had this adorable car seat… I had never seen one so cute. When I asked about it she said it was just an adorable car seat cover! I hadn’t seen ones for infant car seats before. This brand Itzy Ritzy makes all sorts of reusable products, including sandwich and snack bags, breast pads for nursing moms and burp cloths.

This car seat cover is not only adorable (they have several patterns and styles) but it’ll keep your car seat looking like new! Don’t worry about that occasional blowout, drool or spit up getting in all those impossible to clean folks and seams. Now your car seat will stay clean for many kids to come! This cover isn’t cheap, about $100, but I’d say it’s worth it if you have it from the start.

 

Amazon.com: Itzy Ritzy Infant Car Seat Cover, Social Circle Blue: Baby.

Toys: Bright Starts Rattle

We were gifted this rattle and just gave it to Archer to play with a few weeks ago (around 4 months old) and he just loves it! It definitely is his favorite rattle at this age. He loves to shake it and chew on it.  At only $4.99 it’s a cheap and entertaining toy!

Amazon.com: Bright Starts Start Your Senses Rattle A Round: Baby.

Gear: Shade Shack Sun Shelter

Donavan and I live just 1 mile from the beach and can’t wait to take Archer this summer. That said, we all know how strong the sun can be on the beach and it makes me nervous to not have shelter or a place for him to take a nap when needed. A friend at mommy & me just bought the Shade Shack Beach Tent and Sun Shelter. It’s very portable, twists up to the size of a car sun shade, and is big enough for the whole family to fit under. I just order this from Amazon and am looking forward to giving it a try some sunny weekend soon!

Amazon.com: Shade Shack Instant Pop Up Family Beach Tent and Sun Shelter: Sports & Outdoors.

Products: Medela Calma Breastmilk Feeding Nipple

Another mom in my mommy & me class recommended this new feeding nipple from Medela. Her son wouldn’t take a bottle and she only had 2 days before she had to return to work — in desperation she tried this nipple and it worked upon first try! I haven’t personally tried this nipple yet, but it sure looks more like a real breast shape and her rave review would make me try it if Archer ever has issues taking a bottle.

 

Amazon.com: Medela Calma Breastmilk Feeding Nipple: Baby.

Gear: Cloud B Sleep Sheep

We use our Cloud B sleep sheep every night! It’s been a lifesaver when putting Archer to sleep. We attached it to his bassinet and now have it attached to the crib. When we put him down we turn it on to one of the four nature sounds, we usually choose the ocean waves, and it helps him sleep. I think this was more important during the first few months when he still was used to being in the womb and therefore needed white noise, but now it’s a habit and he seems to like it. We actually bought the travel version, the Cloud B Giraffe, for his carseat.

Amazon.com: Cloud b Sleep Sheep Four Soothing Sounds From Nature: Baby.

Reusable Diapers

When I read an article that babies in reusable diapers potty train up to a year earlier than those in disposable diapers I was ready to embark on the reusable diaper path. Then after further reading, I learned there really isn’t any hard research that proves cloth diapers help you potty train your baby sooner. That said, it makes sense to me that a baby in a reusable diaper can feel wetness more than in a disposable diaper, so therefore they’ll know when they’ve gone potty and doesn’t that help with potty training? I am not sure, but I was still convinced that cloth diapers were something I wanted to try and now almost 5 months in I am so glad we did!

Benefits:

  • environmentally beneficial
  • cost savings (over long run)
  • non-toxic
  • less diaper rash
  • possible earlier potty training
Once we decided we were going to give cloth diapers a try we needed to find the right kind. There are many different types, pocket diapers, AOI (all in one) diapers, fitted diapers, one size diapers, prefold diapers… it can be very confusing. Then of course there are many different brands of reusable diapers, BumGenius and Fuzzibunz seem to be the most popular.
With some help from a friend and neighbor who is an expert in reusable diapers, I narrowed down to two types I wanted to try. All in One Bum Genius and gDiaper reusable insert diapers. After a few days of testing we found th gDiaper worked best for us. What I liked is I could just replace the insert if the cover of the diaper didn’t get wet, I could use reusable or disposable inserts (if it was a big poop day I’d use disposable inserts) and best of all they were fitted (xs, s, m, l, xl) so they weren’t super bulky like the AOI Bum Genius diaper under Archer’s clothes. They also didn’t leak. I found the Bum Genius to leak through the leg opening — if your baby has really chunky legs this might not be an issue for you.  I also really liked the hemp inserts lined with micro fleece that come with gDiapers, they are soft and very absorbent. I love the idea of natural fibers against him vs. synthetic material.
My advice is to give it a try if you’re at all curious. Just buy 3 covers and one 6 pack of inserts and give it a try ($100 investment if you buy new, but you can often find used almost new reusables online). If you don’t have a washing machine or hate doing laundry this might not be for you. You will do laundry every day or every other day at least to clean the soiled inserts and diaper covers.
We used 5 diapers when Archer was a newborn and did the wash 2 times a day. Spend more money and buy 10 diapers or so and you can do the wash every other day! Here’s your shopping list to get started:
Diaper Cover ($17-$19 each)

Amazon.com: gDiapers Little gPant Diaper Covers Gooseberry Purple, Medium: Health & Personal Care.

Diaper Inserts

There are two sizes, small and m-xl, make sure to get the right size! Can buy on Amazon.

As I mentioned earlier, Archer had skinny legs and isn’t a chunky baby so these worked best for us. The BumGenius get rave reviews from people, they just didn’t work for us. Grovia is another brand that my neighbor uses and loves. You can always buy one of several different brands and give them all a try to see what works best for you! Share here what you find so we can get some other findings.

Gear: Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier

I didn’t buy a pumping bustier for the first few weeks while I was pumping. I just couldn’t bear the sight of them! Well, let me tell you. Holding the breast pump securing to your breasts for 12+ minutes is no fun — not only do your arms and shoulders get tired but you can’t do a thing while pumping. A friend convinced me to just get this hand free bra so I did and it was the best decision.

It’s not cute, it might make you feel like a milk machine, but it’s so wonderful to have both hands available while you pump. I also found I got more milk out when I wore this, maybe it was the pressure on my breasts. Just bite the bullet and get one!

Amazon.com: Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier for Medela Breast Pump L/XL/XXL: Baby.

Gear: AngelCare 3-in-1 Video Baby Monitor

As first time parents, we wanted the best baby monitor we could find. We also were told by friends that the Angle Care Video and Sensor Baby Monitor was the best of the best and we agree. This monitor has all you could want:

Sound: you can vary the volume as well as the sound sensitivity, which is especially important when your baby begins to sleep in their own crib and can put them selves back to sleep if they wake up. You don’t need to hear them rustling around.

Video: we love watching Archer sleep, it just is reassuring to see him in his crib when you’re on the other side of the house. It’s important too when you hear crying or talking, you can see what they’re up to without interrupting their sleep/wake cycle.

Motion Sensor: this has allowed me to get more sleep than I otherwise would have. The Motion Sensor pad goes under the mattress and detects all movement including just breathing. If there is no movement detected after 20 seconds an alarm will sound. As scary as SIDS is we love having this sensor – it keeps me from waking up every hour to check on him. I also like that if he was to be removed from his crib/bed for some reason the alarm will sound — I might be using this monitor well it his teenage years!

Amazon.com: AngelCare 3-in-1 Video Baby Monitor: Baby.

 

Here’s is an easy to use tripod for you monitor so you can angle the camera just right! Buy on Amazon.

Safety 1st Complete Nail Care Set

Trimming a newborns finger and toe nails takes care and precision! We had a few baby nail cutters gifted to us, but this was by far my favorite. I found that cutting his nails while he slept or while he nursed was the easiest.

Amazon.com: Safety 1st Complete Nail Care Set: Baby.

Gear: Snap N’ Go Stroller

You will not believe me when I tell you that you will want more than one stroller — maybe up to 3. The nicer, long walk stoller, the trunk compact stroller and the jogging stroller (last one being optional if you jog).

I found the Snap N’ Go to be so handy when running errands. I just leave it in my trunk. It’s so easy to pop the car seat in and out of while running into the grocery store or when shopping. It’s small so great for restaurants or fitting through store aisles. It super inexpensive too ($50-$75) so even though I’ll only use it while Archer is in his infant car seat it is worth it.

It definitely rides like an inexpensive stroller. You can’t steer it with one hand and it rides a bit ‘stickier’ than the UppaBaby, but it is very functional and just fine for what I use it for.

Amazon.com: Baby Trend Single Snap N’ Go Stroller: Baby.

Gear: UPPAbaby Vista Stroller

I researched every stroller there is out there I think, we even tested them at a local Buy Buy Baby (they have all the strollers out for you to try), and my husband and I agree that this was the best one for us. It’s definitely an investment, over $600, but it handles so well, rides smoothly and has a the largest undercarriage basket on the market. It is also great if you have a tall husband or are tall yourself. The handle is adjustable and can be extended for tall folks. The only negative side to the UppaBaby Vista is that it’s wide, so taking into a crowded store is not the best. Many people who like the Bugaboo end up buying the UppaBaby Vista, it’s comparable in many ways and over $300 less expensive.

Amazon.com: UPPAbaby Vista Stroller, Cole/Slate: Baby.

We used the bassinet for Archer to sleep in at night or the first 3 months — it worked perfectly and we didn’t have to spend more money on buying one. You can buy a holder for the bassinet so you can place it next to your bead and rock it if needed.

What I also love about this stroller is you can take off the seat or the bassinet and clip in your car seat — it doesn’t lay on top of the stroller seat like many strollers. You need to buy the car seat adapter to snap in first. It’s very simple. Other strollers we looked at you had to screw in the car seat adapter and it would take 10+ minutes to do. This one took less than 5 seconds to snap in and out. I also like that the car seat ‘snaps’ into place, doesn’t lay on top of the stroller, much more secure.

Another benefit to the UppaBaby Vista is it can grow with your growing family! It can fit up to 3 kids — 2 seats and 1 standing skate board attachment.

The stroller seat itself reclines nicely to a laying position or can be more upright. When we’re out and about it’s perfect for him to take naps in, he seems very comfortable. Get the Snug Seat insert when your baby is still small, maybe 3-6 months. It’ll help keep their head and body secure.

Usually strollers don’t go on sale. Here’s a little secret on how we got over $200 off on this stroller. Sign up for Land of Nod emails or follow them on Facebook. They have 20% off ANYTHING coupons and you can us it on the UppaBaby Vista — most stores won’t allow it and they will!

Here’s a video demo:

Gear: Boppy Newborn Lounger

We used the Bobby Lounger a ton when Archer was a newborn. It was where he napped if he wasn’t sleeping on us. Of course, we never left him unattended in it, but we found that he liked the snugness of the pillow and didn’t have to be swaddled in order to fall asleep. This was only used during the day, at night he slept in his bassinet.

Archer never developed the flat head syndrome which I heard some Moms say their kids had as newborns when they slept in the bassinet that comes with pack n’ play. I don’t know if this is the case since we don’t have a pack n’ play, but we never had that issue and found this to be very useful during the first few months.

Again we only used it for him to nap in during the day or to sit in while we ate dinner and needed both hands. It is important to have them lay on the floor so they can kick and squirm freely. I think the tag on this product says don’t use for sleeping so know that we may be breaking the rules on this one so use at your own risk, but again, we only used during the day and never left him unattended while napping on it.

Amazon.com: Boppy Newborn Lounger, Seed Row: Baby.

Gear: Itzbeen Baby Care Timer

During the first 2 months this was a lifesaver. You get so tired that it’s hard to keep track of when you last fed or changed the baby. We mostly used it to track feeding times so we could understand when Archer might be hungry vs. just need other soothing. We didn’t use it so much for changing or nap time as newborns sleep when they wan to and we changed him before every feeding which was every 2 hours or so.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a Mom the key to a happy baby is anticipating what they’ll need when (food, sleep mainly) and get ahead of the fussiness.

 

Amazon.com: Itzbeen Baby Care Timer, Blue: Baby.

Toys: Sophie The Giraffe

Everyone seems to have Sophie the Giraffe teething and chew toy. We registered for it as it’s kinda expensive, $22-$25, and were gifted it by a friend. It definitely catches his attention and he loves to chew on Sophie’s ears. He still has some trouble handling it and getting it into his mouth the way he wants to, but as he gets old and has better motor skills I am sure this will be among his favorite things to chew on. This toy does squeak so if you have issues with that, I’d skip on this one.

Sophie The Giraffe: Toys & Media ~ Infant Toys | giggle.

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Toys: Olivia the Owl Crinkle Crackle with Ribbons

A friend of mine gave us this crinkle owl as a gift (but in blue) and Archer just loves it! I usually lay it on his lap when he’s in his car seat. He can chew on it, crinkle it and explore the different textures of the fabric and ribbons. It’s the best take and go toy I’ve found yet because it easily fits into my purse, I can just give it to him or dangle it for him to swat at and most importantly it’s super easy to clean! Just throw it in the washing machine.

He also has a smaller crinkle monster, affectionately known as his slobber monster, that he also loves. It’s not as much the crinkle sounds at this point but that he likes to suck and chew on the fabric — it’s easy to grab while their motor skills develop.

Olivia the Owl Crinkle Crackle with ribbons by twigsandtweets.

Toys: Sassy Developmental Rock And Roll Infant Play Gym

A Play Gym has been essential in our household. Archer at first would just look at all the colors and wiggle around during tummy time. Then he started to reach and swat at the toys. Now he grabs them and pulls them into his mouth. We have two gyms and this one he seems to prefer. The toys hang nice and high and it’s easy to switch out different toys once he got too used to the ones the play gym comes with.

It’s also great for tummy time, there are bright colors on the mat as well as lots of things to look up at.

We usually put him under this in the bathroom when we’re taking a shower or getting ready. It’s safe because he’s on the floor, no where to fall, and it’s entertaining.

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My Mommy and Me instructor says it’s really best that they’re on the floor a lot, helps babies develop their muscles and learn about their body. This was great because they’re on the floor free of apparatus, but safe and entertained.

Amazon.com: Sassy Developmental Rock And Roll Infant Play Gym: Baby.

 

 

Toys: Bright Starts Lots of Links

Links are a must have! They are great for baby to chew on, rattle when linked and you can add them to almost any play gym to help mix up the activities for baby.

Around 3 months of age when their vision starts to develop better, their eyes beginning to work together you’ll notice they starting reaching with boy hands toward toys. Maybe 3 month olds’ favorite toy is a simple ring! Archer had a black and white one he loved to reach out and grab then chew on.

Amazon.com: Bright Starts Lots of Links: Toys & Games.

Toys: Manhattan Toy Winkel

I just ordered this toy for Archer, came highly recommended by some other Moms in my Mommy and Me class. Hope Archer likes it as much as their kids do!

Amazon.com: Manhattan Toy Winkel: Toys & Games.

Toys: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic

According to my Mommy and Me instructor this is the best toy for developing minds — usually good from 4+ months when they can really grasp things. It’s also great to chew on when they begin to teeth and other than most painted wood toys, the pain on this never comes off so you don’t have to worry.

Amazon.com: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic: Baby.

Toys: Lamaze Play & Grow Mortimer the Moose Take Along Toy

All Lamaze toys are pretty awesome, here is Archer’s favorite.

Archer loves his Moose. It was especially interesting to him at 3 months when he really began swatting at things — we’d dangle the Moose and he’d swat at his legs which have bells in them. He loved it.

Amazon.com: Lamaze Play & Grow Mortimer the Moose Take Along Toy, Colors May Vary: Baby.

Breast Feeding: Choosing a Breast Pump

If you’re a working mom committed to breast feeding when you go back to work, I recommend investing in the top of the line breast pump. I don’t know of anyone who has a breast pump that isn’t Medela branded. They seem to be the leader in this category.

They have several options, but the two most common are the Pump in Style and the Freestyle. The main difference between the two is the Pump in Style must be plugged in while you pump and it comes in a large bag which you can’t remove it from while the Freestyle is cordless, you charge it over night, so you can take it anywhere with you and can pump anywhere — no outlet needed. Of course the Freestyle ($350) is about $100 more expensive than the Pump in Style ($250), but in my opinion it’s worth every penny if you’re a working mom who will be using it up to 4 times a day, 15 minutes at a time.

Several friends of mine bought the cheaper Pump in Style and wished they bought the Freestyle. I took their advice and so should you! You can also keep using it for all your kids so you can think of it as an investment.

Freestyle® Breastpump | Medela.