Mom Finds: The latest and greatest in baby gear!

So, what’s a girl to do when one of her best friends (and fellow media chicks) is having a baby and about to go on maternity leave? Throw her an on-air baby segment, of course!

I’ve been at this mommyhood thing for almost 5 years now, and know just how daunting the world of baby gear can be. I can still remember walking in to register at Buy Buy Baby, and saying to myself, “oh gosh, can someone just do this for me?!”

I’ve come to discover what really is essential in the baby gear game, and what products are sure winners. I also have discovered new products (or innovations to my old favs), that are definitely worthy of sharing.

Here’s to you and baby-to-be, Elisa DiStefano!

Fisher Price Rock n Play : This thing is a lifesaver! Sleeper, rocker, seat, and all around baby whisper. Both my babies spent the majority of their first 3 months of life in one of these things, even sleeping in it next to the bed (it’s the perfect height) at night. There’s just something about the way it holds baby, that calms and comforts them, and totally saves mom! Fisher Price just came out with the Smart Connect Auto Rock n Play version, where you can actually control the rocker from your smart phone (yay!), but even the most basic version is a dream for mom & baby. A must have indeed!

aden+anais: You’ve likely seen these muslin blankets around town or in pictures of your favorite baby. They are a staple in the baby world, adorable and super functional. They’re pricier than the average blanket, but so worth it (every new mom must own at least one pack!) They now come in a variety of fabrics & sweet prints, and the breathability and large size are perfect for swaddling, covering strollers on a hot summer day, using as a nursing cover, or simply using as something comfy to lay baby on. Travel friendly, soft & cozy, functional and oh-so-adorable. Check out their amazing sleep sacks as well!

Quick Zip: Speaking of bedtime, these innovative crib sheets are a must-have! Until you’re a new mom or dad, you don’t know the struggle of the standard crib sheet (those bumpers are barriers!!) Luckily, quick zip makes it super easy to change baby’s bedding (no matter what time of day or night!) It’s a patented two-piece fitted sheet with a base and a zip-on sheet, so when the top sheet gets soiled, it’s a simple zip and change (no struggling with getting it around the mattress.) Genius.

5 MUST HAVE PRODUCTS FOR NYC MOMS

Mixie: Another innovation that I wasn’t aware of until recently. When I started supplementing formula for Bray, I realized what a pain it was to have to carry a bottle with water and the formula separately. I thought that there had to be a better way, and even thought about creating an all-in-one myself. First step, seeing if it had been done already… and it had! Enter Mixie– this amazing innovative bottle system stores the formula and water separately, but in the same bottle. All you need to do is press the bottom when ready (pop!), mix it up and you have a bottle ready in seconds. Plus all the pieces come apart for easy cleaning.  There goes my million dollar idea. Great minds think alike.

Skip Hop: This company makes great baby products! A must have is their stroller organizer, that easily leaves a spot for mom to store her cell phone, keys and that (ever needed) coffee while strolling with baby.  Also, my favorite diaper bag ever is the Skip Hop Versa Bag. It seems they have a diaper bag for everyone, and their newest version The Highline combines high style (that’s Elisa!) with function.

We also featured some Baby Ganics essentials, and the stylish JJ Cole Freeman Bag in this segment!

Britax Advocate car seat:  I’m all about keeping it simple, and Britax has made life easier with their new Advocate Click Tight Convertible Car Seat. Super duper easy to install (did you know that up to 75% of car seats are not installed properly?) Simply pull the seat belt through the seat, press to click tight, and voila! Plus it has three layers of side impact protection for baby so it’s super safe, easily adjusts with the press of a button, has amazing comforts, and the ability to use it forward or backward facing! And, check out how stylish!!

Baby Zen Yoyo Stroller : OMG, where was this when I was buying a stroller? Compact, sexy and super functional, this top of the line stroller is so travel friendly it’s beyond amazing! Portability partners with luxury in this smart stroller that includes padded seats, a 5 point harness, a great canopy, storage underneath, and more, AND it is still compact enough to fit into a tote and go. Ah-mazing. Truly.

 

 

 

 

Summer Days (& a power packed homemade baby food recipe.)

Summer is upon us in full force, and I can’t believe how quickly the time is going. July is almost gone, and the steamy days, and lush full beauty of summer are fully at our doorstep. (I almost just wrote lazy days of summer, but c’mon, who am I joking. I have a 4 year old and 8 month old!)

20160719_184500Our summer days are full and fun, whether spending hours on the playground and exploring all the city has to offer, or lounging at the lake, enjoying long days, cool swims and canopies of green leaves. Life is good, and I feel incredibly lucky to have so much time with these little people.

This morning I started my day off with a webinar, which was quickly interrupted with  requests for pancakes (check out the super healthy homemade pancakes here.) I figured while I was at it, I’d whip up some baby food for Bray. Now 8 months old, he’s been on the baby food for a bit, but I’ve been selective in what I was feeding him since at the start of his switch over he was dealing with a bit of baby constipation (although nothing like what Aria has as a baby).

This morning I did a simple Avocado-Spinach-Pear puree, as we’ve ventured into mixing, but are still staying away from the binding foods (think bananas and rice, and trying to include a P fruit to keep things moving. A few simple ingredients and a blender, Vitamix, Nutribullet or some other mixing machine, and you’re all set.

homemade baby foodSimple Avocado-Spinach Pear Babyfood 

1 Avocado
1 Pear  (I used Andou)
1 handful fresh baby Spinach

Directions

Boil water in a small saucepan, and add spinach for 1-2 minutes until softened.

Cut pear into quarters or even eights (lengthwise), de-core, and peel if so desired. If pear is super ripe (and soft) you can place straight into blender. If pear is hard, place pieces into boiling water with spinach for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly soft.

Cut avocado in half, de-pit and remove from skin.

Place avocado, soft pear and spinach (drain from water) into the blender, and blend for 20-30 seconds on low-medium until pureed. Let cool and serve!

For a chunkier baby food (which I made today), only use half the avocado in the first puree of avo-spinach-pear, and then add the second half to that smooth pureed mix and beat on low for 5 seconds or so (or until desired consistency). You can also blend in with a fork.

Enjoy!

baby tips

**please excuse any typos. I had about 5000 interruptions, and an 8 month old reaching for the keyboard!!!

 

 

 

Newborn Colds: Natural Remedies & Advice

 

So, one of the challenges I faced this go around was Braydon caught a cold at only 1 week old! His dad and big sister were sniffling when he was born, and despite me being a pusher of hand sanitizer, hands off requests and back off glares with every sneeze or cough, both Brayden and I caught it.

There is nothing worse than seeing a little helpless newborn battling a cold, especially when you know first hand how miserable he must be feeling. Also, the anxiety of knowing it could be RSV, or something more serious, can really put a new mom on edge.

There is little you can do for a newborn, but after research and trial, here are some of the things that helped us get through.

Breastfeeding: Despite me worrying he might catch my cold, the pediatrician said one of the best things I could do for him was continue to breastfeed. Firstly, because there is a lot of water in breast milk and it keeps babies nice and hydrated, and secondly because all the immunities that I was building to the cold, were being passed off to him.

Saline Spray & The Snot Sucker:  To help alleviate congestion, I turned to little remedies saline drops. A few in each nostril helped loosen up some of the snot, and often caused him to sneeze it out himself.  The NoseFrida SnotSucker also ended up being useful in assisting clearing up congestion (found mine in Babies R Us). Unlike all of those nasal syringes that don’t ever seem to work for me, this little device did suck out some of the snot. While it sounds disgusting, it’s totally sanitary and great because it doesn’t actually have to go in the nostril (but rather suctions around the outside), so it’s less irritating for baby.

little-remedies-saline-spray-drops2.png.354x308_q85nose frida snot sucker coldnose frida snot sucker

Humidifier: A cool mist humidifier was also recommended to help with breathing and soothe baby (especially overnight). I used both a cool one in our city apartment where the heat is always pumping, and warm mist one at our weekend house since that is what I had there (cool is recommended for safety). Both seemed to help soothe our dried out throats, and make breathing easier. If no humidifier is had, you can also steam up the bathroom and sit in there with baby.

A Plug In Vaporizer: Little remedies also makes a plug in vaporizer that emits a little menthol/eucalyptuses scent (just the right amount for baby) to also help clear them up and soothe. Since you can’t put vicks on a baby, and don’t want to add too much menthol or eucalyptus to a humidifier, this little plug in is the perfect solution.

Elevation: Keeping baby slightly elevated also helps. I found myself laying Bray on my chest (while I sat up or reclined slightly) quite often so he could rest with a bit more comfort. I also had him sleeping in his  Rock n Play which kept him on a slight incline.

While baby has a cold, you’ll also want to keep tabs on their temperature and make sure they are still feeding (and peeing and pooping regularly). So long as they are and have no fever, it’s just a matter of the cold running it’s course. For Bray and I it lasted a little over a (miserable) week, but we got through.

 

newborn cold

**Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. A doctor or pediatrician should always be consulted for medical advice.

Pregnancy Must Haves: Products I swore by this pregnancy.

As mentioned in past, this pregnancy is WAY different (and more difficult) than my first. Unlike with Aria, I definitely found the need to delve into the pregnancy marketplace, and also found a real appreciation for some the comfortable and supportive products already inhabiting my closet. In the end, these were some of my pregnancy must haves.

snooglePregnancy Pillows: I didn’t use one at all the first go-around, but this time there is no way I would have been able to sleep without my pregnancy pillows. Yes, I have two (thank you my dear mom-friends who passed along), and LOVE both of them. One is the mother of all pregnancy pillows (and takes up half my bed) but is so worth it, and even the smaller one does wonders. I’ve tried to be diligent to lay on my left side (recommended) to try to alleviate leg cramps at night, and propping my top leg and head on the pillow (and really wrapping myself around it, and it around me) has proven extremely helpful and comforting. There is NO way a regular pillow would have sufficed, and I would have been lost (or at least lost a lot of sleep) without my now-favorite bed companions.

champion slip onComfy shoes: I’m all about comfort and support in my shoes, but during pregnancy it is so important. We have so much strain on our bodies, especially towards the end of pregnancy, and making sure we’re supported is essential. During the summer, I lived in my cushiony Croc flip flops (I had another mom-to-be swear by her Reefs), and when things cooled down I found solace in my Champion Unwind Sport Slip-Ons (found them at Payless of all places) Both are ridiculously cushiony, and anytime I would stray from either, I would feel it (and regret it!)

mg yoga pants maternitySupportive Waistbands (in my case, good YOGA pants): Speaking of support, I’ve needed it all around this go around. At one point, I began looking into the belly bands since I was feeling the heaviness of this baby very early on (with the 2nd pregnancy we often don’t get the same support out of our muscles), but being that the majority of the pregnancy was in summer, the last thing I wanted to do was layer up. Since my standard attire is yoga wear anyway, I lucked out that I had some great options right in my closet. In warmer temps, I loved my Ryka Recharge Capri because the nylon/spandex blend held me in well without feeling restrictive. They also have a waistband I could fold down for added support under belly, and are super comfy all around. Now that it’s cooled down, I’ve also found my MPG Yoga pants to be super supportive, and love the Harem 3/4 ruched legging by Gaiam, which, incidentally, I didn’t even wear until pregnancy, and now am totally and completely in love with. The great thing about ALL of them is I will be still be wearing them long after pregnancy.

kind-mat-yogaThe Kind Mat: Speaking of yoga, The Kind Mat Bliss was my go to mat during pregnancy. For me, yoga is a big part of life, so when pregnancy hit (even the tough parts), I tried to keep up my practice. This mat made my pregnancy yoga practices so much more comfortable. It’s super cushiony, but still grippy and strong, and really perfect for pre-natal (or any kind of) yoga.

See My Pre-Natal Yoga Tips Video Here 

Onurth-Uplifting-Oil_grandeBelly Butter/Moisturizers/Body Oils: A month back or so I saw a midwife instead of my usual doctor at a routine 8 month appointment and when measuring my belly she exclaimed, “Where are your stretch marks?!” I could not have been more thrilled. With both my first and this pregnancy, I began to lather on the moisturizers as soon as my belly started to grow. Now there is debate as to whether you can really prevent stretch marks, but regardless, even if there is just a chance, I was going to do everything in my power to prevent them. Bella Mama had sent me some product years back with Aria and I found they did the trick, but I also lather up with simple Vitamin E cream and other body oils (my latest from Onurth — a company I discovered at the pop up holiday market in Union Square). LIke I said, anything I can do, I do! TBD!

Hidden Gem: MAP Program At Greenwich Music House (the perfect pre-school option)

greenwhich music house MAPThe school days are almost upon us! NYC Public schools start next week, and while Aria is super excited about going to school, she also insists she wants to go back to her old school “with Miss. Lyra and Emy”.

Last year Aria attended the MAP (Music, Art & Play) at Greenwich Music house in the West Village. We had done the whole Nursery School application routine (alright, only really one place), but in the end decided on Greenwich Music House. In retrospect, I think it was one of the best things we could have done for her, and the program is definitely a hidden gem for west village parents.

Greenwich Music house offers a variety of programs for all ages, but the MAP program is perfect for 3 year olds, providing just what they need at that age. Art, music and play suits their age perfectly, stimulating their senses and creativity, but not overwhelming them (and it’s FUN — social skills develop too!).

We got a great variety of daily art projects sent home, seeing Aria’s creativity bloom (and I’m convinced today she’s such a good drawer in part because of this). We also saw our little one grasp onto music, finding confidence in her voice and embracing all different kinds of instruments and her own musicality.

The building is a charming brownstone, a warm loving environment that is safe and contained, and also boasts a sweet outdoor garden for them to play. Many a day, Aria did not want to leave after wrapping up with the daily, “It’s time to go now,” Goodbye Song.

MAP program greenwich music house nyc pre kLearning also extended beyond the brick and mortar of the school. The kids had a variety of field trips and outings, serving the community with a holiday sing-along at a local senior center, and taking advantage of the cultural playground that is NYC (see photo from a Very Young People’s concert at Merkin Hall).

Finally, and most importantly, the teachers are WONDERFUL. I can’t say enough good things about their care, which definitely eases an anxious parent who may be leaving their child in another’s care for the first time. Both Ms. Lyra and Ms. Emy are extremely capable, loving and caring, and very communicative with parents– providing email newsletters on what the little ones are up to, and always being open and welcoming to all.

The program is offered half days (mornings) for up to 5 days a week. We loved the flexibility of it, not having to commit to 5 days, but setting up times that worked with our lifestyle and our child. That being said, if you’re a NYC mom or dad of a toddler who’s looking for a GREAT nursery option this fall, check out Greenwich Music House. I promise you won’t be disappointed (except when it’s time to go!)

Product Review: Dubble Trubble Organic Bath Products

We’ve graduated from using solely baby shampoos, and now bubbles and fun scents are in demand when Aria’s in the tub. I recently received a line of bath products called Dubble Trubble that contains certified organic ingredients and comes in fun fruity scents (like bananaberry and cool cucumber). It also creates bubbly suds in the tub (a must these days!).

dubble trubble line

Dubble Trubble is put out by Galvin & Galvin London Kids, a company founded by UK hair stylist (and dad) Daniel Galvin Jr.  Galvin started focusing on the little ones after he had a son of his own, and wanted a shampoo for him that didn’t have harsh chemicals. Following that Dubble Trubble was born– a line that is completely free of harsh chemicals, parabens, SLS and mineral oils. There are still a few preservatives in there (some long words in the list of ingredients!), but fortunately the line highlights natural organic ingredients and botanical extracts.

What I really love about the line is they are extremely eco-friendly and also give a percentage of sales to charity (The Prince Of Wales Foundation). Also, it’s very affordable (retailing at just $4.99 at Target) and comes in super cute packaging. Galvin & Galvin London Kids also makes a hair de-tangler that I can’t wait to try (yes, we’re at that stage!). For more info go to DubbleTubble.com. 

 

Product Review: Brica Roll n Go Car Seat Transporter

UnknownScreen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.32.09 PMSo, we just returned from sunny Florida (sigh) and even though I forgot this travel item this trip, I’ve been meaning to review it for a bit. We’ve been traveling with Aria since she was only a few months old, and  on our last big trip (Switzerland, Dubai, Milan) this item came in super handy.

Dragging a car seat through the airport is never fun, and the Brica Roll N Go allows you to strap the car seat to it and essentially roll your child through the airports. It eliminates the need to have a stroller along (side-note– in Dubai airport Emirates has courtesy Maclarens available for passengers which I think is genius), and avoids you having to carry the car seat separately. We found it VERY handy in large international airports when we had long walks and customs lines (and one jet lagged toddler). Aria basically went back to sleep in her seat and we pulled her along.

It’s relatively easy to hook up the car seat to The Brica Roll-n-Go, although I will say that the base is somewhat small and at times I felt like the seat might be more secure on a larger base like the Britax version.  It’s also lightweight enough and packs easily into the overhead compartment on board.

I bought mine last minute at Babies-R-Us here in the city, but was also looking for the  GoGo BabyZ  Seat Luggage Strap option (which I couldn’t find in store). It’s cheaper and may be more convenient (although I can’t attest to it’s sturdiness & security) since it’s a single strap to store away.  I also just saw this Kids Luggage Travel Chair product on Shark Tank last night and am thinking it will be a good option as she gets older and loses the car seat all together.  Happy Travels!20140204_153344