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.

Throwback Thursday: Welcome To Mommyhood: MONTH 1

It’s Thursday and I’m throwing it back to a video I did when Aria was one month old. It was my first go at mommyhood, and I decided after a full 30 days of it, I was ready to dispense advice (ha!) Actually, it’s mainly my experience as a new mom, and now having done it a second time around, now I’m including a few tips below. Take a look at how little my sweet Aria was (and see how much she and Bray look alike as babies!)

Some of my top advice:

1) Be prepared to be sleep deprived. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but necessary. This was by far the toughest part for me, but know it won’t last forever. Sleep training typically starts around 4 months old,  although some pediatricians like Tribeca Pediatrics will start some babies as early as 2 months.

2) Get support – whether baby’s daddy or grandma or a good friend, have someone take care of baby so you can get some rest.

NYC LIVING: Check out MUST HAVE product picks for baby HERE!

3) Take it Easy – Don’t overdue it as a new mom. Remember your body is still healing and you don’t want to do too much physically. Most doctors won’t clear you for exercise until week 6, but even then listen to your body!

4) Remember it will get easier- the first few weeks are tough, but, trust me, it will get easier.

5) Take Care of YOURSELF too. I remember a nurse in the hospital telling me if I needed to let Aria cry for 5 minutes so I could take a quick shower, that’s OK.  Part of being a good parent is making sure we are mentally and physically healthy. Don’t feel guilty if you need to prioritize yourself once in a while.

Good Luck! See you in month 2!

xxoo

Vanessa

 

 

Four weeks In: Sleepily savoring every moment…

WOW! Have four weeks really passed since this little one arrived? It’s already flown by, but looking back been filled with excitement, anxiety, plenty of love and adoration, and, of course, SLEEP DEPRIVATION (definitely now set in).

Amazingly, this go around, I’m not nearly as agonized by the lack of my most favorite commodity (yes, I’m the girl who needs 8 hours a night, and struggled through years of working in morning news). Somehow with this little one, the love seems to surpass the drudgery of being tired all the time.

I recently went back and forth with a fellow blogger on Instagram, who had similar sentiment. We both marveled in how these little demanding people can have us completely exhausted, and yet still so in love (cries, cluster feeds, gassy bellies and all!)  I can only conclude that God gives us all these feel good hormones and this overwhelming love to help us deal with the trial of the first weeks of newborn life.

I must admit too, that the second time around seems SO much sweeter. I did not have this positive outlook with Aria. Perhaps it was because my body was in shock. Back then, what I was actually thinking was ,”Yikes, life as I know it is over. What the heck have we done?!”

Yet, this go around, I’m savoring every second.  It’s in part that I now know how temporary the tough time is, and also how fast the sweet parts go. That scrunched up little body laying on my chest, those funny little milk drunk faces….ahh. The fact that this baby is most likely my last also has me holding on to every little mushy, gassy, crying, funny faced, sweet, lovely newborn moment.  I also am now well aware of just how much love and happiness these little people bring, and how as they grow, that love and happiness does too.

 

 

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.

Sometimes we need to just breathe….

childs pose brightI just finished a yoga class and as always feel more open, relaxed and tuned in. These days it’s getting increasingly more difficult to move and breathe with ease (thank you baby #2), and I haven’t been able to keep up with my practice or usual exercise routine. It’s forced me to sit back, accept and try to take all a little bit more slowly (not my nature).

The latest pregnancy woe (or WHOA!) has been the excruciating leg cramps that I’ve been getting at night (think charley horse on steroids or someone stabbing you in the calf). The pain has been ridiculous, and I’ve found myself feeling it long after the initial attack. My calf muscles are all bound up, and I’ve resorted to stretching before bed (mainly long holds in down dog with deep breaths) to try and ease the pain.

So far stretching and breathing has been my biggest relief, and today in yoga class I found myself particularly tuned into the power of breath. Vinyasa, of course, is the linking of breath and movement, but we as human beings so often don’t fully breathe (in yoga or in life).

As I sat on my mat practicing pranayama, it became especially clear to me how the simple act of breathing opens us up, and allows us to move towards a place of ease and away from (even if only temporarily) pain and discomfort. We all have our own stresses and traumas, and although none can be healed instantly, the simple act of breathing is a powerful place to start.

The last 24hours, I’ve been thinking a lot about Alison Parker and Adam Ward, and the horrendous situation that occurred yesterday morning. As a former news reporter, it hits home with me, as I’ve stood in her shoes so many times. Countless mornings I’ve been out live, conducting interviews and watching the sun rise with camera men and crews who become a second family. My heart tightens when I think about this tragedy, her bright smile and potential, the lives so pointlessly lost, and the tremendous pain their families must feel. And then I need to breathe. Deeply.

We all have our own traumas. Some much greater than others, but inevitably in life we will all face hardship and pain. We will all come to a place at some point where the pain is so great that it binds us, and we feel like we simply can’t breath. It’s then that we need to most. To let the rhythmic steadiness of our inhale and exhale be our focus, and allow it to open us up, and help lead us away from the hurt. It sounds so simple (and perhaps silly when we are really suffering), but it is perhaps one of the most powerful things we can do.

So today, I say we breathe. Deeply, fully and deliberately. And hopefully, we can all find relief from whatever pain we hold.