Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Baby and Toddler Products I LOVE




Every (expectant) parent knows that the internet is FULL of lists of things you must register for. A lot of these things are junk, one time fads or things that may be useful if you happen to have a baby who likes it. Well since this is my blog and I do what I want here- here is my list of products that I LOVE(D) for my babies. When I say "loved" it means that I liked everything about them and I thought there was nothing they could have done better. This list is by no means exhaustive of "things you need" but if you're going to register for/ buy something in one of these categories, I think these are the best choices.

CAR/ TRAVEL PRODUCTS
1. Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant car seat
  The Chicco Keyfit 30 is my #1 go to when I recommend an infant seat in my capacity as a CPST. It's narrow (side to side) and compact (front to back) so it will almost always fit the car. The base is incredibly easy to install with either the lower anchors or with a seatbelt thanks to the built in seatbelt lockoffs. If you buy extra bases for each of your cars, it's super convenient to alternate pickup and drop off at day care with different caregivers. It fits premies well (not that my giant babies had that issue) and it lasts until 30lbs or 30 inches tall (infant seats are almost always outgrown by height before weight). It lasted my 99th percentile baby until 8 months. It's easy to tighten and simple to rethread the straps as baby grows. The cover is machine washable (on delicate cycle). If I had one quibble about it- the sunshade is a little skimpy, it was never an issue for me though. When I clicked it in to the stroller, I just pulled the stroller sunshade over the gap. It's right about middle of the road when it comes to price. You can get less expensive seats but you can certainly pay a lot more for a more difficult to use seats too.


    Sunshades are a necessity in a car without window tinting. I love these cling film style shades because they can be cut to any size (which I needed in my VW Beetle) and they can't become projectiles in a crash like the roller shade style ones. They're cheap too! Just spritz your windows with water and use a credit card to smooth out the bubbles.



   This is a shower cap style cover for an infant seat. It is NOT a BundleMe. Nothing comes between baby and the harness. This sits on top of the car seat and zips open to get baby out. It keeps the cold air out and baby safe. Very important for a winter baby (or for any season baby in Ohio, because you never know)


    I wouldn't put this in the essential column but having soft toys with fun things to do like the buckles on this turtle can be the difference between peace and quiet on the road and ripping your hair out. We all love him.


BREASTFEEDING/ PUMPING PRODUCTS
    I was somewhat skeptical of this product at first. You put it in your bra on the side you're not nursing from first and it catches the let down instead of it being absorbed by a pad and thrown away. Then you pour the milk into a bag and put it in the freezer. It worked the best in the early days- before my supply became well regulated, so about a month or so. Still, it saved about 2 ounces (for me) per feeding that would have been otherwise wasted. As any mother who works outside of the home knows- that stuff is liquid gold.


2. LilyPadz
   In the early days of breastfeeding, I definitely recommend Lansinoh Ultra Thin disposable nursing pads. Before your supply is regulated, there's just too much leakage to be contained with LilyPadz. After your supply is regulated though- LilyPadz are the perfect pad. They are not absorbent- instead they just seal everything up so there's nowhere for it to go. They are silicone pads that have a renewable adhesive. So you just smooth them on over your nipples and go. Then, at the end of the day, peel them off and rinse with water and let dry to renew the adhesive. Seriously, they work great. No muss, no fuss and you don't even have to wear a bra to keep them in place.



3. Hands Free Pumping Bra


    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (#thanksObama), every woman is entitled to get a breast pump through their medical insurance. My insurance provided the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. It has a "hands free kit" that is a series of straps and clips to fasten it to your nursing bra. It's a pain in the ass. This stretchy band goes over top of your bra when it's time to pump. You just wrap it around yourself, fasten it in the front and stick the cones in the slits in front. It takes about a minute to do and is far more comfortable than any other hands free option I tried. If you're pumping because you're going back to work- you need to be able to double pump. Don't try to sit there and hold the cones- ain't nobody got time fo dat.



4. Comotomo Baby Bottles
    We all loved these bottles. With my first- I used The First Years BreastFlow bottles. I hated them because they had two nipple parts, a ring and a bottle to wash every night. The Comotomo Bottles were great because they are wide and flat, encouraging a latch similar to a breast. They have minimal parts to wash (nipple, ring and bottle) and they have various nipples (slow, medium and fast) and two sizes of bottles that are all interchangeable to fit your baby's needs. The bottles themselves are silicone and soft. I found them to be very durable and easily lasted the year that we needed them, and are in great shape still.



5. Boon Grass Drying Rack
    I love this drying rack. It's cute and so functional! The grass design makes it so you don't have to carefully place things on pegs, anywhere you set it, it's going to stay and have good airflow for drying. The added accessories (twig, flower, etc) are nice to put small pieces and straws on. Even though we are long out of the bottle phase, this drying rack is still on our counter because it's just so useful.



DIAPERING PRODUCTS


1. Keekaroo Diaper Changing Pad
    I have been through 4 changing pads throughout my two kids. Three with my first and then I found this. It's the perfect changing pad. The first pad I bought was the Kuster Jelly Baby Pad- it was cute and functional until the foam started picking out and breaking down. Then I tried two different "standard" mats. First- don't buy covers. Changing mats get poop on them. ALL. THE. TIME. They need to be wipeable- not launderable. Ain't nobody got time fo dat. So, when using the standard pads, without a cover, they are wipeable, but the vinyl is not durable. Both of the pads began to rip and break down after a short time using them. The Keekaroo mat is a soft, wipeable, durable mat. 2.5 years of diaper changes later, it looks as good as the day I bought it. I love it. There is no substitute IMO.



2. OXO Tot Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser
    It's perfect! Most people register for a wipe warmer. I found that the wipe warmers tend to dry out the wipes too much. This is just a wipe dispenser (so you can buy bulk wipes instead of tubs) with a weighted piece that sits on top of the wipes so you don't end up pulling out 10 when you wanted one. The seal is great and the wipes stay moist forever. If you want a warm wipe, hold the wipe in your hands for a few seconds before you wipe.



3. Huggies Little Movers
    I've tried all of the disposables. Huggies are my favorite- by far. They have an elastic strip at the back to contain blowouts, fit great and don't sag (unless it's been way too long). Every time I try another brand we all quickly realize why we like Huggies best. Because they are the best.



FEEDING PRODUCTS


1. Infantino Squeeze Station
    I make my own baby food. It's quick, easy and cheap. There are many ways to freeze homemade baby food. With my first, I used the little containers at first then switched to freezing it in ice cube trays. Ice cube trays are definitely the most economical and simplest option. With my second; though, I decided to try pouches. I LOVE it. You'll also need a funnel and the bag refills. Even though we are done with baby food, I still use the squeeze station to make homemade yogurt pouches for both kids.



2. Ninja Blender/ Food Processor
   If you're making baby food (and I highly recommend it!) don't bother with those cutsie "baby food processors". They're a waste of money. Buy a good quality food processor/ blender and never look back. It'll be useful long after baby food is done and it'll actually puree the food. We love our Ninja!



3. Bumkins Bibs
   I went through a lot of bibs with my first. Most of them were too small. The towel style ones were large enough but then you have to pull the mess over their hair to take it off. Finally I found Bumkins SuperBibs. They're great- large, washable, flexible, waterproof and attach around the neck with Velcro.



4. Keekaroo Café Booster


    From the same maker as my favorite changing pad, the booster seat is made of the same durable, easily wipeable material. It attaches easily and securely with straps to any chair and fits under the table when pushed in. We love it.



MISCELLANEOUS


1. HALO Sleepsacks with Swaddle
    Safe sleep guidelines are for babies to sleep in a crib, on their backs, by themselves with no added blankets, sleep positioners, bumpers or stuffed animals. Sleep sacks and other wearable blankets became the way to keep your baby warm. I tried a couple other swaddlers with my first but I quickly found that these were the easiest and least escapable way to keep my babies swaddled. I did finally get the hang of swaddling with a blanket with my second but I still prefer the sleep sacks with swaddle for their ease of use. They make many different types for all kinds of weather.



2. AngelCare Bath Support
   This thing was amazing. I tried two different baby tubs and a different bath support with my first that I hated. It's so hard to hang on to a slippery, floppy newborn and wash them. This allows you to have a secure place to set baby while washing and you control how much water they sit in. It's great. I wouldn't do without it.



3. Safety First Magnetic Cabinet Locks
    These are just a massive upgrade from the push in catch style of cabinet locks. They unlock with a strong magnet. You don't have to stick your fingers inside the door and find the catch. They don't break. The worst that can happen is losing the magnetic key and then you'll have to find another strong magnet to get your cabinet open.



4. Sleep and Play outfits with ZIPPERS!
    I hate snaps. One piece, one zipper. Speed and efficiency!



There. I've now saved you all the trouble of trying a thousand things that suck. You're welcome. :)