Safe Space for a Wild Child

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When your baby starts crawling at 5.5 months, pulling herself up and cruising at 7 months, and climbing at 8 months, creating a safe playspace for her to explore her abilities and push her limits becomes priority #1. (Wine quickly becomes priority #2.)

A little backstory: Paul and I are heavily influenced by the RIE parenting philosophy, which (among many other things) encourages parents to create an environment that is physically safe, allow time for uninterrupted play, and…

“have basic trust in the infant to be an initiator, to be an explorer eager to learn what he is ready for. Because of this trust, we provide the infant with only enough help necessary to allow the child to enjoy mastery of her own actions.”

(Read more on RIE here.) 

In summary: we strive to allow Maeve space (under a close, watchful eye) to test her limits and express herself physically, without us intervening unless she’s in serious danger. Which includes learning to fall safely. A lot. And that meant dreaming up the perfect playspace!

Our first basic need was a large comfortable, cushioned playmat, for Maevie to crawl on and fall on. Finding a completely non-toxic option was a big priority for us, so when we discovered the Pillobebe CorkiMat, and they generously offered us a mat to review, we were thrilled. The CorkiMat iswhich is made from certified organic bamboo and cork – all completely safe and natural. It is so luxurious, and soft, with handy (and adorable) removeable covers that can be tossed in the washing machine which is incredibly convenient. Plus, it’s independently owned, and we love supporting indie businesses!

Maeve can take big spills onto her CorkiMat and come out completely unscathed. In fact, her new favorite game is to throw herself from her softplay climbing structure onto the mat, and land ungracefully onto the mat, over and over. I recommend it to everyone I know. It’s easily one of my favorite things we’ve gotten. (Stay tuned for a chance to win a store credit towards a CorkiMat of your choosing!)
safe playspace for a wild child

Speaking of her softplay climbing structure… this thing is amazing! Once we recognized Maeve’s instinct to climb, we really wanted to find something safe to practice on, that would work indoors. When I found the ECR4Kids Softzone Little Me Wall Climb & Slide on Wayfair.com, and it was absolutely perfect for our condo living room play area. Maeve took to it immediately, and explores every corner of it, continually finding new ways to make it more challenging for herself. It can be velcroed together in various configurations, which allows us to change it up for variety and to fit various spaces as needed. I always knew of Wayfair as a great home furnishing store online – but I hadn’t thought of it for baby until some creative googling lead me there. It was a great find!

Having such a mobile baby presents many challenges, not least of which is finding ways to use the bathroom or wash my face, or accomplish some other quick task that would prevent me from being able to keep an eye on Maeve to make sure she’s safe. We don’t have a gated-off area in which I could drop her and walk away (yet). Enter the Oribel PortaPlay: a foldable, convertible activity center that grows with your baby, evolving from a bouncer into an adjustable-height play table.

While I generally try to steer clear of using a constrictive device to hold Maeve for very long (or act as a babysitter), nor do I believe that babies need bouncers or jumpers to develop strength (plenty of time on the floor to explore builds that up just fine), it has been a lifesaver in the times that I need to ensure her safety for a few minutes at a time, while keeping her occupied and entertained. And I love that The PortaPlay is not a one-and-done gadget, since we can replace the seat with the included table top, and use it for play for years to come. It’s sturdy enough for her to pull up on and cruise around, the toys attached are simple, analog, and beautiful, and when we need it out of the way, it folds up and slides under a bed, easy peasy.

These 3 items have helped us create a safe-yet-challegning, aesthetically appealing playspace for Maeve, and it is amazing to watch her use them to learn and grow. She’s moments away from walking now, which is going to open a whole new world in terms of baby-proofing and providing her engaging opportunities to play at home – but I’m up to the challenge!

Want to win $150 in store credit to Pillobebe for your own CorkiMat? Stay tuned, we’ll be running a giveaway this week!

 

 

Affiliate disclosure: Some of the links in this website are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This helps cover overhead and keep the blog up and running – so, thanks for your support! I only endorse items in which I truly believe. Special thanks to Pillobebe, Wayfair and Oribel for providing me with their products for my fair, unbiased review. 


Jujube BFF Diaper Bag Review

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I’ve been on a quest, since having my baby. A quest of epic proportions. The quest… for the perfect diaper bag! As a cloth diapering, formula feeding, baby wearing, on-the-go mama – I needed a comfortable, backpack-style bag with plenty of room for bottles (preferably insulated pockets) and big fluffy diapers and all the trappings of daily infant care. Seemed like a simple enough ask, right?

Not so much, friends!

jujube BFF review

My initial research yielded the Jujube BFF as being the best bet. Super roomy, stylish, machine-washable, even convertible from backpack to satchel for added functionality… on paper, it was everything I wanted. Plus, they’re relatively easy to find, feel, and try-on in a store, which makes it a lot easier to commit to than something I can’t “try before I buy.” So I added it to my registry, received it as a shower gift from a generous friend, and packed it up with great relish and excitement.

ju-ju-be-legacy-b-f-f-tote-backpack-style-diaper-bag-the-duchess-16Initially, I loved it. So many pockets! Such easy to clean surfaces! Such wide, supportive shoulder straps (connected by latches which makes it so easy to swivel on and off the shoulder to reach into for quick grabs)! Nice, light contrasting fabric interior which prevents the “black hole” phenomenon in many bags! Convenient top-carry handle! Matching, cushioned diaper changing pad included! Handy, mom-friendly features like a key fob and sunglasses pouch!

legacy-bff-in-the-duchess-11

But I just couldn’t seem to get my “essential” supplies packed in it in a convenient way. And it was kind of heavy, when packed. So heavy, it tipped my stroller forward if I took Maeve out of the carseat while it was hanging from the stroller hooks. Not great, Bob!

 

So I re-packed it.

And wore it on a few outings.

And re-packed it again.

And after a few months of rigorous daily use, I took a good, hard look at the reality of things. The BFF was not my BFF. We just didn’t get along. I needed a lighter-weight, differently-oriented bag that could handle my baggage, but still had all the pockets, the comfortable straps, the convertible practicality and stylish function that I desired and required.

My biggest complaints?
1. The weight when packed.
2. When the pockets were filled, the interior of the bag was rendered quite narrow.
3. My beloved Comotomo baby bottles were too wide for the exterior insulated bottle pockets.

Don’t get me wrong. The Jujube is a fantastic bag, with loads of fantastic features. But for the kind of load I carry, (bulky cloth diapers, multiple bottles, formula container, wipes, bibs/burp cloths, make-up, wallet, keys, sunglasses, cellphone, teethers/toys, extra outfit, wetbag, snacks, and more) it just wasn’t working out.

It’s not you, BFF. It’s me. We’re less BFFs, and more like, frenemies. You’re so cool and popular and well-dressed, but at the end of the day, we just don’t really get along.

I think, once Maeve is a little older, and we’re not carrying so much of her food load around (in terms of bottles), you might be a better match for me. But right now, it’s just not meant to be.

So I headed back on the old internet-research trail, tracking for the perfect bag. Stay tuned for my next review!

 


Maeve’s Faves: a baby gift guide for 3-6 months

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Tis the season for gift giving! So, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of some of our favorite items from the last couple of months to inspire anyone looking for gift ideas for kids in the 3-6 month age range.

Introducing: Maeve’s Faves!
gifts for 3-6 month old babiesManhattan Toys Sqwish: Hands-down, Maeve’s favorite toy for chewing, shaking, banging, and even cuddling. I nearly laughed myself off the couch when I saw her lay her head on it like it was a cozy pillow. It’s my favorite toy for her, because it’s made of wood, not plastic, and offers so many open-ended play opportunities. In a sea of toys that are only fun for a short time frame, this one definitely has staying power.

Baby Bling Bows: It’s no secret that my daughter is large of noggin, and finding bows that don’t strangle her poor noodle with overly tight elastic was a tall order. Baby Bling’s bows are super stretchy and wide to accommodate heads of all sizes comfortably, and come in all shades of the rainbow. They’re just darling. I have a bit of a compulsion with these, so Maeve is rarely seen without one!

Rags to Raches Rompers: These adorable rompers have my heart. They’re ridiculously soft, cozy, cute and stylish. They slip on and off easily through the stretchy neck-hole, so there’s no annoying snaps to mess with. And they’re a good investment, because they can be worn snug or loose, so one pair can last you 6 months of growth or more! I went a little crazy on Black Friday and now they seem to make up most of Maeve’s winter wardrobe. And I’m not even sorry about it.

Kickee Pants Pajamas: We discovered Kickee Pants and their incredibly well-made, adorable jammies when my nephew Grayson was a baby, and they immediately became family favorites for all babies who’ve come since. They’re made of viscose bamboo and spandex, which makes them extra soft and stretchy and they come in a ton of adorable patterns and styles with features like butt ruffles that I can’t get enough of. Maeve’s PJ collection is easily 95% Kickee. Caution: they make babies even more huggable than usual. It’s a bit dangerous.

Angel Dear Lovies: Hi, my name is Dana, I’m almost 38 years old, and I still sleep with my childhood lovie. No shame. So I took finding Maeve her own lovies very seriously. Enter Angel Dear. So soft, so snuggable. But most important, breathable. Two of Maevie’s four lovies are by Angel Dear, and she takes them everywhere she goes. I fully credit an early attachment to lovies as part of Maeve’s magical self-soothing powers, and will forever be grateful for so many peaceful night’s sleep as a result.

Fisher Price Snail: We got this toy as a hand-me-down from my nephew, and it’s a big hit with Miss M. She loves looking at herself in the mirror, swinging her Sqwish and hitting the snail to activate its song and lights, making it a great toy for cause-and-effect learning. And when she starts crawling, it can roll along with her, so it’s not just great for one stage of her life, but can evolve with her.

Chewbeads: These necklaces, toys, and stroller attachments are such high quality teething toys. Made from silicone, they’re super chompable and soothing to a teething baby’s gums. Maeve gives tons of love to the one we keep hooked onto her carseat handle.

Cheeky Chompers Neckerchew: Clever as they are for marrying a bib and a teething toy, I love these most for being the most absorbent bibs we own. Our drooly monster goes through multiple bibs daily, except when she wears these, which somehow last all day without saturating through to her clothes. And they come in an adorable array of colors and prints. But yes, the teething tip is also a seriously awesome feature, and Maeve happily chomps hers whenever they’re around her neck.

Fisher-Price Infant Bouncer: Maeve loves to bounce and bat at dangling toys, and once she learned to roll from back to belly, there were few ways we could entertain her on her back. But contained in this recliner, she would happily lay back, bouncing herself and swiping at the toys, and enjoying the calming vibrations while I got some work done in the kitchen or jumped into the shower. I got it for free from a neighbor in my Buy Nothing community, and she’s just now outgrowing it, but it was great while it lasted!

And if you want a splurgey gift idea, look no further…

Dyson Humidifier: I love this humidifier so much! When Dyson offered me one for review, I jumped at the chance, because we’ve had one of their vacuums and loved it, I know their quality is top notch. It is whisper-quiet, easy-to-use, and very sleek looking. Living in the desert, it’s hard to achieve the perfect indoor humidity year-round. The Dyson Humidifier is the perfect solution for my baby’s nursery, because we can set our desired humidity level and it will run automatically, keeping it at the perfect humidity for her space! Other, unprogrammable humidifiers either over-humidified or under-humidified her room, and now we don’t have to worry about that being a problem anymore. It also kills 99.9% of bacteria using Ultraviolet Cleanse technology to kill bacteria before the mist projected into the room, and boasts features like a sleep timer, intelligent climate control, and a handy remote so you can change settings from the comfort of your own bed (or the hallway outside your baby’s room, so you don’t disrupt their slumber)It’s absolutely wonderful and gives us great peace of mind.*

Hope this list gives you some fun ideas for how to keep a 3-6 month old in your life entertained, well-dressed, and comfortable! I’d love to hear your faves too!

 

*Disclosure: Dyson provided me a humidifier for free in exchange for an honest review of my experience with it. Thanks, Dyson!


Surviving the Newborn: My Must-Haves (part one)

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Now that Miss Maeve is leaving her 4th trimester behind (cue equal parts sigh of relief and sobbing), it’s given me some time to reflect on the newborn baby registry gear and home items that have been most-beloved by our family. To begin with, I’m sharing some of the larger, big-ticket items that made a huge difference in our lives, and peppered in some of the smaller bits that were super useful in the early days. There are far too many for a single post, so stay tuned for further installments!

Newborn registry must-haves
Nuna Pipa Car Seat: Stylish and safe, the Pipa is one of the lightest-weight and comfortable-to-carry carseats on the market. It has a revolutionary “dream drape” with SPF protection that keeps baby safe from the elements and harsh sunlight; which closes down over baby with magnets! Genius! It installs with tremendous ease, and has the added safety of a “load leg” which minimizes downward rotation in the event of an accident. Maeve loves her carseat, and I love that I can trust that she’s as safe as possible whenever she’s in it. It also has nice little clips on the sides to hold the straps away while you load/unload baby, which is a lifesaver when trying to transfer a sleeping baby without rousing the beast within.

Jujube BFF Diaper Bag: Because I’m a big advocate of babywearing, I wanted a diaper bag that wasn’t worn across my body and would accommodate a baby sleeping on my chest. Enter the Jujube BFF, which is a convertible backpack that can also be used as a shoulder/cross-body carry if desired. Best of both worlds! It’s also machine washable, which is unusual but absurdly practical. The fabric is super luxe, and there are pockets a’plenty to organize everything you need for a day out with baby. The straps are super comfortable, and even when it’s packed to the gills, I’m happy to wear it for hours on end without a sore back. Plus, the patterns they offer are some of the cutest on the market, in my opinion. If I could afford it, I’d have a few different styles to rotate!

Solly Wrap: Speaking of babywearing, how could I leave out my wrap? Having a baby in Los Angeles, in July, made many commercial baby carriers much too hot for daily use. I mean, who wants to carry around a human furnace, wrapped in sweatshirt material, in the summer? Unlike others, the Solly is made of a comfortable, breathable t-shirt material, and holds baby snugly and safely against my body. Being able to plop Maevie into the wrap when she’s super fussy calms her down instantly, and it’s a great place for her to nap when she’s feeling clingy but I want to be able to be productive and have my hands free. It’s also the perfect place for her when I’m walking the dogs, so I don’t have to deal with a stroller and two leashes!

Stokke Sleepi Mini Crib: We chose the Stokke Sleepi Crib system for Maeve for a few reasons: a) it’s solid wood and sturdy construction makes it likely to last many years, and hold up to the abuse she’s sure to launch on it over time; b) it converts from a bassinet to a full-sized crib, to a toddler bed, to a twin bed, and then to 2 chairs, even! It has many lifespans built into it, making it a great value; c) it’s freaking adorable; d) we scored it during their annual sale, when you can get the bassinet with full-sized crib extension kit for the price of the bassinet during non-sale times. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture, and the wheels make it very convenient to move around. Stokke has a high resale value, so if we decide to move onto another sleep option in the future, we’ll get a great return on the investment.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Stroller: Paul is a car guy. He used to race, and values comfort and luxury above all else in a set of wheels. So when it came time to choose a stroller, I knew he’d want to be involved in the process. We thought we had a stroller picked out, abut when I went to a local Bugaboo event, I was floored by it’s quality. It rides like an absolute dream, thanks to it’s sophisticated shock system, and it can turn on a dime, making it easy to navigate in small spaces. It folds and unfolds with minimal effort, and comes with a beautiful bassinet that converts into a stroller seat once baby is old enough. I walk a LOT with Maeve, so having a comfortable, convenient stroller makes a big difference in my days. After using the Bugaboo for a few months, I can safely say I’ve become a bit of an evangelist for their brand. It’s absolutely the best on the market, in my opinion, and worth every penny. (Plus they also have quite a high resale value, which makes it a wise investment.) I’m such a big fan of the brand, they invited me to become a Bugaboo Brand Ambassador!

Dutailer Prestige Motorized Reclining Glider: Among the many mom’s groups that I belong to on Facebook, one of the most oft-heard pieces of advice were “invest in the most comfortable glider/recliner you can.” So, I took that advice to heart and we splurged on this bad-boy. Rather than having to force the ottoman back in and hoist yourself up out of the chair (which can be tricky when holding a sleeping newborn), the motorized recline/incline function glides you into position smoothly and quietly, which makes a huge difference when you’ve just spent an hour getting your cranky baby to sleep and don’t want to disrupt her. It also sports modern, stylish profile compared to many of the overstuffed and bloated baby chair options out there, so it blends in beautifully with our living room furniture. Pro-tip: we ordered ours from Bed Bath & Beyond, and used the 20% off coupon, which brought the price down to what the non-motorized version of the chair would cost. Score!

Sonos Speaker System: White noise is a sleeping baby’s best friend, but one of the issues with many of the white noise machines on the market for kids is that they turn off after a specific (and often short) amount of time, which can: a) disrupt a baby’s sleep, or b) make it harder for them to put themselves back to sleep if they wake in the night. The Sonos System is run with your smartphone or computer, so you can control the speakers from anywhere in the house; and integrates with various music sources like spotify, pandora, amazon and itunes, so you can play any of your music at any time. Albums or playlists can be played on repeat, so your white noise is guaranteed to basically never end. We used a “Rain for Sleeping and Relaxation” album for ourselves before baby, and now also for Maeve, and it works wonders. We literally leave it on 24/7 in our bedrooms. It’s also great for regular life, no baby required.

Yoga Ball: Babies love to be bounced. Think about it: they lived for 10 months in your belly, and every time you moved or walked around, they were being gently bounced and sloshed around in their wee habitat. So, when your newborn is going through a growth spurt, or gassy night, and won’t stop crying… the ball is your best friend. I made the grave error of waiting 6 weeks until I got my own yoga ball for Maeve, but as soon as it arrived, everything changed. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Get yourself a ball, yo. (Bonus: bouncing on the ball is great for leading up to labor and managing pain during labor. More on that in another post.)

A&A Easy Swaddles: So many swaddles that are designed for convenience involve velcro, which I find to be highly disruptive to a drowsy baby in the middle of the night. And my leggy lady’s gams were often quite constricted by the sizing of these styles. But the Aden & Anais Easy Swaddles use a simple snapping system that’s much quieter and convenient, I think. And they have roomier leg sacks for kicky babies like mine to have freedom to move. Plus, they’re made of the signature A&A supersoft muslin, which breathes beautifully and is so gentle on their skin. These swaddles quickly became favorites in our house!

Mamaroo: Maeve is a baby who likes a lot of motion in her ocean, and the Mamaroo is a favorite swing among the mamas in my family. It’s got several settings for different sways, and can be controlled by your smartphone so you don’t have to get up every time you want to change the setting, speed, or sound option. It’s the perfect place for baby to hang out while you eat, and the mobile has been one of Maeve’s favorite conversation partners since she learned how to coo.

Rock N’ Play: While it feels a bit like overkill to have two swings in the house, lugging the Mamaroo between our living space and bedroom was getting quite tedious… and sometimes Maeve only wanted to sleep in motion. My mom generously gifted us a RnP with motorized rocking and a vibration feature, which folds away nicely when not in use, so it didn’t take over the bedroom. Maeve loves napping in her RnP, and the vibration feature is wonderful for helping her slip back to sleep after waking from one cycle, which is key for a baby learning to sleep longer over time. Now that she’s older and doesn’t require motion as often as she did during her younger, fussier days, she still naps in her RnP whenever she’s unswaddled, because it’s sunken and cozy and somehow helps contain her moro reflex better than a flat surface does. Rock N Plays are also notoriously useful for babies with bad reflux issues because they can sleep in there at an incline, if that’s something your little one struggles with.

Kind Bars: Nursing a young baby is hungry work. You’re up at all hours, and chained to whatever you’re sitting in for eons on end. That’s where a snack station comes in handy, and I found Kind Bars to be the best kind answer for these late-night or early morning snack attacks. They’re hearty and healthy and easily the most delicious snack bar on the market. The fiber and protein are super essential for new moms. I personally love the Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate, and the Apricots, Almond & Yogurt flavors. Plus, nuts are good for milk production – so it’s an extra excuse to chow down! If you plan ahead, you can even make your own!

Preparation H Wipes/Suppositories: If you read my (overly-candid) post, “What I Didn’t Expect About Expecting” over at Club MomMe’s blog, you know that I was already suffering from ‘roid rage before giving birth. But after 4 hours of pushing, you can only imagine what kind of horrors lay beneath me. (Though, please, don’t imagine that. Once seen, it cannot be unseen. Trust me.) If this happens to you, don’t just ignore them and hope they’ll go away. Prep H will be your new best friend. And if that isn’t enough, ask your doctor for a prescription steroid suppository. That stuff, quite literally, saved my ass. And that’s all we’ll say about that.

I’ll be sharing more of our favorites from the newborn stage, along with the things that I’m falling in love with now that she’s less squishy alien and more of a fully-developed human… so stay tuned!

 

{Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog.}