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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Stone Barns, snow days and one super healthy (delish) cookie recipe.

We’re waiting on spring here in NYC, or getting confused by the weather gods. One day it’s warm and sunny, the next snowing.

Here are a few sweet pics from last weekend that pretty much sum up the crazy weather.

princess picking flowers stone barn

Friday, we headed to our weekend house, making a pit stop at a favorite of ours, Stone Barns. It was a warm beautiful day, and Aria (ever the princess) decided to pick a few flowers…

until we realized they weren’t wild…(oops!)

spring flowers for oma

…but not before gating a sweet bouquet for Oma.

Fast forward to the very next day, where we woke up to SNOW covering the cars and deck…

snow

…and an anxious 4 year old ready to get out and enjoy it.

snow day kids

Ah…the parental joys of kids and snow gear.

The romp in the snow was short lived, so we moved on to a warmer activity.   I found this Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe online (always up for a healthy treat), and Aria and I baked them up. I’d cut the cinnamon down to 1/2 the amount called for, but really they were pretty stellar (and healthy!)

chocolate chip healthy oats cookies yum

So, here’s to making the most of any weather, and hoping spring finally arrives… for good.

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.

The Homestretch: Am I ready? When’s it gonna happen? Give me a sign!

We’re in the homestretch! I’m due Monday and have been feeling like this kid could come any time. Two nights ago, I had crazy new cramps down my inner thighs and some shortness of breath, and I thought for sure both were a sign that labor was going to start sooner than later. But, alas, 2 days later he’s still cooking.

labor coming

Two days ago: Wednesday night, October 21 9:30pm

I’ve been trying to remember how I felt (and if I had any clear signs) in the days leading up to Aria’s birth. I can recollect feeling different, but, then again, she was a week late so every day that passed I was anticipating her. The night before she was born, I had started getting contractions at 10pm, and it all rolled very easily from there (she was born the next morning), but I don’t remember the signs before that all started. I now wish I had written down everything I felt in the days leading up.

I’m thinking this boy will arrive in the next few days (I’ve been chatting with him for a while to come this weekend, or on his due date of Monday, as it would be most convenient for me), but even though I feel like he might, I also have no idea. I’ve been asking friends and googling some common signs that labor is coming soon, but bottom line is anything can happen at any time.

Nonetheless, if it’s any help to any expectant moms out there, here’s what’s going on with me right now.

Pressure & cramps: The crazy leg cramps I had the other night were not the common charley horses I felt all through this pregnancy. Instead, they were intense sharp pains down my inner thigh (perhaps he’s hitting a nerve?), that took my breath away. I’ve had them here and there since, but the other night they were hitting one after the other, so it had me thinking labor was definitely on it’s way to meet me.

I’ve also felt more pressure and bearing down in my pelvis. Now it could just be that the bigger he gets, the more I feel. After all, he’s gotta be a pretty good size by now, and is definitely in position. They say in the last day your baby “drops,” but this boy has been head down and ready to go for months. Lately though, ANY little move he makes, I FEEL.

I also sense a build up of what feels like a fluid pressure at times. It’s hard to describe, but almost like my water could break at any moment. With Aria, it didn’t break until I was in the hospital, and, since I experienced that, I can kinda recollect the feeling just before, which is this build up/pressure feeling I’ve had the last few days. But, nothing popping just yet, so I guess for now I’m good.

Nesting: I’ve been scurrying around trying to get things in order the last few days. Some say this burst of energy and intense “nesting” often comes days before labor sets in, but I still wonder if it’s just my procrastinating nature, and the fact that now I know it’s crunch time, that I’m finally getting shit together for this boy. It’s so funny, because for Aria I was setting up a room and making sure all was as it should be months in advance, and this poor baby gets things pulled out of the attic and dusted off last minute.

Emotional: I’ve definitely been more emotional as of late. I found myself crying during CNN the other night. Granted it was a Lisa Ling documentary that was a bit tender, but never would have brought my pre-pregnant self to tears. I’m sure it’s all these crazy hormones, and perhaps the anticipation of the unknown that’s got me a bit off kilter. Many woman say they’re more crabby also leading up. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about that.

Speaking of being off, when I was thinking we might be close the other night, I got a little jittery because I was home alone and thought, “Is this whole thing making me nervous?” (As clearly shown in picture above!) Nerves aren’t common for me, but the reality that all was about to change in life (and hey, that I could be pushing out a kid that night), did put me a bit on edge. I think it’s totally natural for women (and dads to be for that matter) to feel that way. I guess I just didn’t expect it to come over me since this my second go-around, but, hey, life IS about to change… BIG time!

This Morning. Still in there!

This morning. Still in there!

No matter, what the signs or symptoms, I’m thankful that in the end I know that I am ready. We never have all set, and the unknown is scary, but having had Aria and knowing the incredible impact she has had on my life reassures me. Before her, I had no idea how deep and wide and unconditional love could be. Granted, with her it was not this immediate gush of love upon delivery like you see in movies, but it has been a steady and increasingly heavy hold on my heart. A love that has grown to be more immense than I could have ever imagined. This, and even the swell of my heart as I just caught sight of the banner on this page and her sweet newborn face, totally put me at ease and crush any and anxiety I might feel about number two. In fact, it only makes me look forward to meeting him, and starting another new adventure. So, we’re in the homestretch. Bring it on.

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!

Pregnancy Take 2! Mo babies, mo problems.

2nd pregnancy woesThe countdown is on, and in these last few weeks (and for the last few months for that matter) I have been increasingly aware of my limitations. As mentioned this previous posts this pregnancy is SO much different (and more difficult) than my first.

With Aria all was a breeze, and I barely even felt pregnant until late in the game. I did yoga until the end, walked our 6 floor walk up with no issue and, aside from a couple late night charley horses, I barely even felt any side effects until days before she came (and she was a week late!)

So, it was a bit of a rude awakening this go around. I was thinking, “Pregnancy? No problem! I’m a pro. I’m made for this!” Well, perhaps I was a bit too cocky, and the powers that be decided to bestow upon me the realities of pregnancy that most women deal with, because this go-around is FAR from easy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, thank God I had no serious complications or problems, but I have felt this pregnancy for the last 9 months. From waves of nausea early on to ongoing side effects like shortness of breath, heaviness and pressure (also low lying placenta which fortunately receded up), to some serious debilitating leg and foot cramps (ouch) and, oh, and let’s not forget that ever increasing back pain, this baby has made me well aware that pregnancy is no walk in the park!

I also got much bigger, much faster (although thank you to all who say I look “so cute” or “amazing”, and yes, my standard response is still, “I wish I felt that way!”) I probably surpassed how big I was with Aria at about month 8, and sleeping and doing ANY sort of real activity has become trying (at best).

I’m also definitely more crabby (when I suffer, we all suffer!), and more emotional. When Aria cried going off to school the other morning, I cried with her (oh, silly mommy). I had to remind myself that she’s 4, and I’m pregnant, so it’s all OK.

From talking to various second time moms-to-be, I’ve realized I’m not alone in this pregnancy struggle. We’re older, often chasing after a little one and our bodies are just not a s tight or supportive as they used to be (seeing they’ve already been stretched out the first go around.)

I’m also not sure if it’s a boy vs girl thing, but I’m hoping that since Aria was so easy in-utero and then a tougher baby early on (colic, gas, etc), that means this one is going to be saintly when he comes out. I’m kinda counting on it.

Yoga & Pregnancy: What NOT to do (video!)

I made this video months back after being in yoga classes (regular group mind you, NOT prenatal), and being dismayed that some instructors are not giving the pregnant ladies special attention (or modifications!).  I wasn’t particularly worried for myself,  as I was aware of what NOT to do, but a few times I had another preggo in the class and was definitely concerned for them. One time in particular, I wanted to walk over and say “Please, stop doing that!,” to a mom-to-be who was taking class as if she wasn’t carrying a 7+ month fetus.

Problem viewing video? Click here to view on Youtube! 

Bottom line is, yoga is great during pregnancy, but in a standard group class, we typically can’t not rely on the instructor to guide us through the whole time. Many of them don’t even know enough about pre-natal yoga to offer great modifications as the standard RYT (registered yoga teacher) does a brief study on it, but not nearly enough (which is why pre-natal teachers have separate trainings.)

That being said, mamas-to-be, please arm yourself with knowledge before jumping in a regular group class. Or, better yet, take a few prenatal classes to get going on the right track. Regardless, here are some clear NO, NOs from me to you. Ultimately, remember to listen to your body, and don’t push it (no, matter what anyone says). Take care of yourself and baby!

Disclaimer: Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.