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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

Squeeze Em’s: Reusable Food Pouches

squeeze em's pouch

All  babies and toddlers seem to love the baby food pouches you can now buy on just about any supermarket shelf, but let’s face it, the little suckers can get expensive, not to mention that I’m not always thrilled with what some brands contain. However, the ease and mess-free feeding that comes along with them, can now also be had with Squeeze Em’s.

I was always a make-my-own baby food kind of mom, and with Squeeze Em’s any homemade mixtures can easily be made into a fun food pouch (or you can also easily get more economical and fill your own pouches with apple sauce, etc, versus paying much more for the pre-packaged). Aria loves the fun of the pouch and I love that more food ends up in her mouth (versus all over her and everything else)!

At first I was skeptical that the Squeeze Em’s would last, but with multiple washes they are still in great shape.  Also, the wide mouth allows you to easily pour your food in, and the locking tops make them super easy to travel with. They are BPA free and environmentally friendly, and you can even throw them in the dishwasher or freezer. I only wish I had discovered them sooner (when I was pureeing like crazy).  Definitely worth checking out.

Road Trip: 7 Essentials For Baby In The Car

car ride essentials toddlerSo, riding in the car with baby/toddler is not always the easiest of experiences. Unlike a lot of NYC dwellers, we actually are in the car quite often.  Our recent road trip to Saratoga (a 3+hour ride) made me realize some things that were downright essential!

1) The Perfect Car Seat:  Ok, so there may not be a perfect seat, but some are better than others. For our infant car seat, I went with the Graco Snug Ride. It is safe, lightweight, versatile (fits in the snap and go travel system which is key for travel) and has an adjustable shade (essential). I didn’t like it’s infant insert, and definitely recommend buying one like this to keep baby snug and comfortable. When it was time, we also bought Aria a convertible (front facing) seat. She actually has a couple different ones but by far her favorite is the Britax she has in Oma’s car. It’s extra cushy and she sits higher which allows her to see out the window better.

2) Window shades: I can’t tell you how essential these are to keep the sun out of the baby’s eyes and off baby’s face. UV rays can still filter through window so these shades protect and keep your baby comfortable. I first bought the White Hot Safety Shade by Munchkin, but they totally don’t stick well or cover as much window area as my second (and much better) purchase by Safety1st. 

3) A Mirror (when still rear facing): A mirror allows you to look into your rear view and see you little one’s face. Some argue it can be a distraction, but I think a quick glance is much better than trying to bend behind the seat to check in on baby.

4) Tunes: Baby’s love music. One mom friend gave me a baby’s CD as a gift and said it’s “like crack”, meaning her baby was totally addicted and instantly gratified.  Aria too chills out when her tunes get on (not to mention now she asks for “Muffin Man” the second she gets in the car). My mom gave me CD of baby songs early on and I was like, “hells no, we’re not listening to that all trip,” but that quickly changed when I realized Hickory, Dickory, Dock is much better than a screaming baby.

5) Entertainment: Small books, stuffed animals and even soft little dangling toys for infants do make a difference. Now that Aria’s a toddler (and obsessed with Barney) I’ve also been guilty of passing back the iPhone when super desperate for a peaceful ride.

6) Snacks:  Again, some people would say this was a big no no (choking hazards), but, if you choose the right snacks (bottles, pureed fruit pouches, puffs that dissolve in their mouth, etc), I can attest that it makes for a much easier time.

7) Pacifier:  Again, a “love em or hate em” for many parents.  For us they’re  a lifesaver quite often (and I’ve cursed myself the times I’ve realized I’ve left the house without one). Aria def prefers Avent.

5 Must-Have Baby Products For NYC Living

Ok, I love NYC but there are some drawbacks and limited space tops the list. All of a sudden our small 2 bedroom seemed WAY too small for the two of us and one little baby (incredibly these little beings need a LOT of stuff), so I had to get going and find the smartest and most space saving products out there.  Here are my picks:

Rock and play fisher priceFisher Price Rock N Play: This has to be one of my all time favorite products for baby’s first year. As a newborn Aria spent most of her time in it. It’s the perfect seat/lounge for baby during the day, and Aria even slept in it her first few weeks (it’s the perfect height to fit right next to your bed). Babies seem to LOVE it (I always recommend to it to my new mom friends) as they can get a gentle rock by moving a bit, and it fold super slim for easy storage when not in use (but seriously, you will use it all the time). If I were to buy it again, I would but this one because it also has the infant insert for their first few weeks.

infantino matInfantino Twist & Fold Activity Mat:   An activity mat and tummy time are essential those first few months and this one provides plenty for the little one’s senses and also easily folds down for storing. We got two mats when Aria was born (this simple Infantino and one with tons of bells and whistles including walls that could be inserted– we never used them). I would choose this compact mat one any day.

joovy high chairJoovey High chair: It’s stylish, durable, has a nice big tray and is super compact when stored. In reviews you’ll read about the gap that may exist between baby and tray hence making for a messier meal (and there was one when Aria first started using it but no big deal), but the super compact slim fold of this seat makes it totally worth a dropped spoonful here and there. Also, the leatherette seat is super easy to wipe down and stylish. No gingham or monkey prints in my living room.

graco door jumperGraco Door Jumper: At the county house we have this massive Fisher Price Farm jumperoo, but there was no way I was having one of these take over my already crowded city living room.  A great alternative is the door jumper, and the Graco is sturdy and safe with the bumper (I tried the a different brand and it was terrible– flimsy and no bounce!). You also can hang fun little toys on the Graco for added stimulation and, of course, it stores super easy!

baby bjornBaby Bjorn Active: Sometimes it’s just easier to strap baby on then have to maneuver a stroller around (subway, walk up or double doors anyone?) I had a couple different carriers but loved this one because it was provides a ton of back support (this will really matter as they get bigger). Plus, it lets baby face in or out. Bjorn also makes a custom cover for cold winter days.