Want to give the PERFECT baby gift? You can’t go wrong with these ideas!

Favorite Baby Gifts To Give (and GET!)

First and foremost, if we are talking about a first time mom, I am all about buying things off of the registry. Most moms spend countless hours researching baby items and have a good idea what they need/want. I tend to pick a theme- sleep, play time, feeding, bath time- and buy many things related and put them together in a cute basket or an actual item you are purchasing (for example, putting many bath time items in a baby bathtub).

However sometimes, whether you’re feeling creative, it’s a second time mom who doesn’t need as much, or a good friend or family member, you may be looking for out-of-the-box ideas. If that’s the case, here are a few of my favorites!

A Basket of Books

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This is great, especially if YOU have kids. I like to have my entire family pick out their favorite books and each write a message to the new baby. Put all the books together in a beautiful basket and you have a personal, practical gift that both the new mom and baby are sure to treasure for years to come.

Monthly Onesies

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This one is relatively new since the trend of taking monthly pictures has taken off all over social media. There is pretty much a style for everyone. Go to Etsy, type in “monthly onesies” and start your search.

Here are some precious ones for a little girl

Anything Personalized

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Whether it’s clothes, a name puzzle, a book, or pretty much anything else you can think of, moms are over the moon for anything with their child’s name.

How cute is this personalized onesie from an Etsy shop? (Bonus- it’s $12!)

Love this personalized name puzzle that can also be used as a stool

Check out all the awesome stories that you can personalize!

Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair

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Moms love this for the amazing photo ops and the baby will love it right around their first birthday. Bonus that it has a slipcover so it comes off for easy cleaning.

There are so many styles to choose from so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect!

Other Ideas

  • Spring for a cleaning service or a few hours of help from postpartum doula (mine was a lifesaver!)
  • Gift certificate towards newborn pictures
  • Drop off a delicious dinner from their favorite restaurant that they won’t be able to get to in the foreseeable future (don’t ask if she wants it, she’s sure to tell you it’s unnecessary- just tell her when and DO IT)

Do you have any creative gifts you love to give or maybe something incredible you received? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

Making Life Easier The First Year- The Baby Items You Won’t Want To Live Without

Since it had been 12 years since having a baby, I was so excited to buy every last baby item I could get my hands on. I mean, what is more fun than shopping for baby stuff?!

B and I were just discussing what were the good purchases and what we could have done without. The Bugaboo that I was dying to have? Sure, it is beautiful and I very much enjoyed taking her for walks the first few months but when we were actually leaving the house on a daily basis the fact that it is two pieces and heavy as hell became a real annoyance (hello, Baby Jogger City Mini GT!). The Pack N’ Play? Well, it served the purpose of having a place to put her downstairs but I would never attempt to travel with it because it is so heavy and a real pain to take down and put up (enter the Lotus Travel Crib, which I adore). The items below are certainly not must-haves like a crib and car seat but these are must-haves for making your life a tab bit simpler with an infant.

 

 

 

Sleep Tips For Months 4-6 (which just may be the hardest months)

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For me at least, months 4 and six were tough- possibly even tougher than months one and two. In the beginning, the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to effect you the way one would think but then, BAM! it catches up and you are really, really, really tired.

This is also around the time that you will stop swaddling and when the pacifier will fall out of the baby’s mouth all night long.

So, given the above mentioned challenges, here are my sleep tips for getting through these potentially rough months.

Swaddling

In my sleep tips for the first month, I explained the importance of the swaddle. I cannot stress this enough! However, all good thing must come to an end and once your baby is able to turn from their back to their stomach, the swaddling must stop. A good transitional swaddle is the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle. You can use it as a traditional swaddle or wrap the baby across the chest. This will continue to provide a sense of security a regular sleepsack won’t give them.

You’ll first stop the swaddle during naps and see how your baby adjusts. Some are fine from the get go and others, not so much. My daughter loved the swaddle so we began our transition by leaving one arm out. We did this for naps for a few days and then at night. Once she is sleeping well with one arm out, you’ll start to leave both arms out and cross the baby at the chest (leaving both arms out). Sleep crutch number 1 is now gone!

Pacifiers- A Love/Hate Relationship

Pacifiers can be you and your baby’s very best friend. Many doctors now recommend them as protection against SIDS. I suggest only using pacifiers during nap and bedtimes, if possible, so you don’t get a baby who is overly reliant on the soothing they provide. We actually keep ours strictly in the crib and one in the diaper bag for on-the-go emergencies. When I get her up, I take it right out of her mouth and leave it in the crib.

Right around this time, the pacifier seems to fall out of their mouth all night long. You have a few choices on how to deal with this annoying dilemma, each with their own pros and cons.

  1. When they lose it, let them cry it out. For me personally, I wasn’t ready to just let her cry it out at this point but some people do and have great success. Do what works for you and you feel comfortable with!
  2. Take away the pacifier completely. The pacifier is a sleep crutch, just like swaddling. You can totally take it away at any point you wish to. Be prepared for a few (3-5 is average) rough nights but they will get the hang of sleeping without it. However, if you choose to take it away, DO NOT PUT ANOTHER SLEEP CRUTCH IN ITS PLACE! Do not start picking them up, rocking them to sleep, or putting them in bed with you.
  3. Go in and replace it. Ughhhhhh. This is what I did and let me tell you, it was a rough few weeks. During this time, I also worked with her during the day on learning how to put the pacifier back in her mouth. I also did what’s known as “the sprinkle”. This is where you sprinkle many, many pacifiers in the crib in hopes of the baby finding one and replacing it themselves. During this time, I was not getting her up for feeding, rocking or anything- I just went in and stuck the pacifier in her mouth.

Other Challenges During This Time Period

Teething, traveling, a growth spurt, a sick baby- all of these things can throw a fairly well scheduled baby off course. My advise- whatever you do, do not start bad habits you’ll have to break later. When your baby is up screaming because they’re in pain, absolutely pick them up, rock them, soothe them but then put them back in their crib. You may have to do this multiple times in a night- tag your partner for a break but stay the course! With parenting, now and even when they’re teenagers, the easy thing to do is usually not the right thing to do. Parenting is hard work but the end result (in this case a baby who has good sleep habits) is worth your effort and energy.

*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns. 

 

 

Remember Your Child As They Are Right Now- Birthday Letters

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Maybe I put it off because I knew I would cry. And I did. Three times.

I came across the idea of a birthday letter awhile back. Each year, around your child’s birthday, you write him or her a letter about their year. You talk about their successes and challenges, their interests and special times you shared. It’s basically a snapshot of your child at that particular age. Then, whenever you see fit (maybe after college or when they themselves become parents) you give them all the letters.

I finally sat down to write three birthday letters- Raina at 16, Shaye at 12, and Juliette at 1. The letters to the older girls weren’t easy to write and filled with major emotion. These girls are walking the line between childhood, teen years, and adulthood on a daily basis. I somehow managed to capture both how great the girls are as well as what a trying time adolescence is.

This is where the crying starts 😉

Think of your child now at whatever age they are. They will never be the same again. They are growing and changing each day and the joys and stresses of today slowly fade into the joys and stresses of tomorrow. By next year, what will you remember about the child your child is today?

Below I’m sharing my letter to the baby. If you choose to write a letter to your child, I promise you won’t regret it!

Birthday Letter- Juliette, age 1

Dear Juliette,

What an amazing year it’s been, my precious Juliette! I prayed for a healthy, happy baby who sleeps well and that’s exactly what I got. You are by far the most enjoyable, easy baby and every day spent with you is a treat. Your doll-like face and beautiful curls gets attention everywhere we go and you give your smiles away freely to all we meet. You are truly a ray of sunshine!

You are adored by everyone. I can’t tell who’s eyes light up more when you and your dad see each other. He greets you with a “Whattttt Uppppp, Kiddddd?!” and you throw your arms up and shine like the sun. Your sisters rush to your side first thing in the mornings and as soon as they get home from school. Your brothers love to spend time with you and you get a kick out of finding them in your “Everyone Loves Juliette” family book. We wish you grandmothers, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins all lived closer but we look at their pictures every day and cherish the time we get to spend with them.

Some of your first loves were the book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and your stuffed panda we call Dan. We could always make you smile by singing “Hello to Juliette, it’s so nice to see you” from your first music class. You enjoy eating everything; there hasn’t been a food we’ve introduced that you haven’t liked.

I will hold in my heart the way the small hairs on your head made a spiral when you were first born. The open smile you would give when you were really happy. Sleep position- how you would nuzzle into me when you were trying to fall asleep.

Soon after you were born, your sister remarked, “how do we love her so much when we don’t even know her?” And there it is, simply stated. You were born and our hearts were filled with more love than we knew was possible simply because you are you. Happy first birthday!

 

 

 

Newborn Sleep Tips – Months 2-4

Terms to Know-

45 Minute Intruder- one sleep cycle; babies seem to miraculously wake up from naps right at the 45 minute mark. This is because they are transitioning from one sleep cycle to another. They are really not ready to wake up. They will be crying; a well-rested baby should wake up happy from a nap.

Dreamfeed- The very last feeding of the day. The baby is sleeping and you stick a boob/bottle in a sleeping baby’s mouth. Do this right before you go to bed for the night but not after 11pm (that would be considered a middle of the night feeding). This “buys” you time by topping off their stomachs. Turn on minimal lights. Do not change the diaper unless you smell you need to. No talking.

Loveya transitional object used to help the baby fall asleep

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Jules sleeping in my arms- swaddled but not wanting to be put down. Me looking very tired.

Sometime around four weeks, your little human will start to be awake more.

This is also the time when colic may begin and when you will start to see what type of baby you have. It is true- some babies are easier than others. There’s no way around it. And colic? It’s a bitch. Two of my three had it. You will be in survival mode and live on coffee, catnaps, and your baby’s smiles (even if they are far and few between). These are the things you cannot control. You will be working on the things you can.

First, you need to create a sleep haven, a delicious sleep environment. A black out shade is a must. Continue to use the sound machine and keep on swaddling your baby. When your baby outgrows the SwaddleMe swaddles,  I love these because they help with transitioning out of the swaddle after 4 months. Around 3-4 months, introduce a lovey. This is our favorite. Make sure to buy at least two so you always have an extra. If you have a baby that fights sleep, these are the weapons in your arsenal.

Optimal wake time is no longer than 1 hour and will most likely be in the 30-45 minute range, at least at the start of this time period. You will probably be on a 2-3 hour feeding schedule during the day and hopefully longer at night. EASY is still in play (and will continue to be through out the first year).

During these months, your first goal is to get the baby to sleep WHEN you want her to. You are beginning to put a schedule into place so the focus is on the time. The WHERE is secondary. So yes, sometimes the baby will sleep in your arms during the day. This is not to say the WHERE isn’t important! I highly recommend putting the baby to sleep for naps in her crib righty away for naps (see newborn sleep tips) but sometimes that’s just not possible.

Around this time I became frustrated because she was only napping for 45 minutes, not the two hours I was aiming for. I googled it (what else do we do these days?) and it’s a THING! The 45 Minute Intruder, otherwise known as a big pain to new moms. So 45 minutes comes and you have two choices- run in and give the paci and run right back out OR let your baby fuss and hope she goes back to sleep. I chose the former and this happened every day for a few weeks but the…YES! We got through it and arrived in the promised land of two hour naps (we are still there at 9 months). Do not give up! Remember anything less than an hour is a “CRAP NAP” so don’t just throw up your hands and say my baby doesn’t nap. All babies need sleep to grow and develop optimally.

Evicted!

Right around 10 weeks, I made the transition from the co-sleeper in my room to the crib in her room. This was mainly because I kept hearing every movement and getting her up when she didn’t need to get up. This was also the time when she began sleeping through the night. By night, I mean after the dreamfeed, she would sleep until around 6. For many, 6am does not feel like wake up time but anything more than six hours is considered sleeping through the night so embrace it! By 12 weeks, I would definitely recommend making the move.

You want them sleeping at three months

where you want them sleeping at three years.

Sample Schedule

6am- Eat/Activity

7am-9am SLEEP

9am- Eat/Activity

10am-12pm- SLEEP

12pm- Eat/Activity

1pm-3pm- SLEEP

3pm- Eat/Activity

4pm- 6pm- SLEEP

6pm- Eat/Activity

This is the long stretch; try to keep the baby up for longer at this point, aiming for 8pm. This is a good time to begin a bedtime routine that includes a bath, stories and other relaxation activities

8pm- Sleep for the night

Sometime between 10pm-11pm- DREAMFEED

During these months, if your baby is still taking middle of the night feedings, always wait to see if they are just “fussing” or really crying because they’re hungry. Keep feedings all business- no lights, no talking and only diaper changes when absolutely necessary.

All days are different. Some days you’ll be lucky to get one solid 2 hour nap. As with anything in life, you need to have GOALS and that what any schedule is- a goal. It’s where you’d like them to be. Accept that it’s not always going to happen but don’t give up!

The first four months are the hardest. By putting solid sleep practices into place, you are helping both you and your baby get the sleep you both desperately need!

*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets Eat! Starting Solids

It’s an exciting time. You and your baby are ready to explore the world of food together!

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Most doctors recommend starting between 4-6 months. Our doctor said Jules was ready at 5 months based on how she was sitting and her cues (beginning to show interest in what I was eating and trying to grab food from my plate). Back in the day, it was very common to begin with rice cereal because it is thought to be easy to digest. Nowadays, rice cereal is falling by the way side (did anyone see yesterday’s news report? Arsenic???) and most doctors will give the green light to begin with oatmeal or vegetables. Ask what your doctor recommends at their four month check up so you can put your plan in place.

First, will you be making some or all of your baby’s food? If the answer is yes, you may want to look at baby food makers and there are certainly plenty on the market. Since I knew I would be making some but not most of her food, I didn’t want to invest in yet another gadget. I have a Vitamix (which I highly recommend because it rocks) and a steamer and that is really all you need. I picked up a few freezer containers so that when I make a batch of food, I can freeze the rest in individual containers.

You will also need soft spoons, small bowls, and a ton of bibs of you don’t have already.

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I love this bowl and plate set and it’s currently on sale at Pottery Barn Kids

Next, if you’re buying foods, you’ll be starting with Stage 1. Baby foods come in stages based on the simplicity of the food, the amount it is pureed, and the size. For example, a Stage 1 food may simply be “carrots” while a Stage 2 may be “carrots, butternut squash and apples”. Stage 1 foods are typically 2 ounces while stage 2 are between 3.5-4 ounces. I did a lot of research on brands and I stick with Plum Organics and Happy Baby. Both are organic with non- GMO ingredients but what I think sets them apart is the variety of meals after stage 1 and less added ingredients. At most of my local stores, the stage 1 foods were in short supply (so annoying) so I did a big order from diapers.com and stocked up.

As per the doctor’s recommendation, we gave the same food for three days in a row to watch for allergies. We would try new foods either in the morning or around lunch time to allow for plenty of time to watch for any adverse reactions before bed.

With fruits or vegetables, you would begin by giving half the pouch and give the remaining half the next day (they are good refrigerated for 24 hours). If beginning with cereal, follow the directions on the box. If your baby is eating everything you are serving and wanting more, increase the amounts.

After we had a few foods under our belt, a typical schedule looked something like this.

7am- bottle

8am- oatmeal with fruit (we love this oatmeal that was recommended by a friend)

11am- bottle

12pm- a vegetable

You’ll then add dinner and eventually replace the afternoon bottle with a snack.

I felt strongly that I didn’t want to give her vegetables combined with fruit because I thought it would possibly turn her off to regular vegetables (I worried she would grow accustomed to the sweetness of the fruit) so I stuck with stage 1 for awhile.

Even now at 9 months, I still buy stage 1 fruits and buy only stage 2 vegetable meals, always with some type of protein.

Random Tip– Target makes these fruit pouches that we buy for the big kids which have exactly the same ingredients as the baby food pouches for a lot less $ so if you are a Target shopper, make sure to check them out

Jules did experience some constipation when we began solids, which is fairly common. Prunes and pears, as well as the probiotic oatmeal, worked wonders. We still stay away from bananas because they are so binding.

At our 8 month check up, we were given the green light for her to eat anything (with the exception of cow’s milk and honey which cannot be given until after the first birthday). Now the real fun begins!

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns. 

 

 

Hush, Little Baby- Sleep Tips For The First Month

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First, my disclaimer- I am not a sleep expert by any means. However, I have had three babies who are all good sleepers and I do think it has to do with the sleep strategies I have put in place from day 1. So here is my wisdom, taken from experience and countless books and articles regarding sleep. Since it’s a lot to take in, I’m going to do it in multiple posts, broken down by months.

Month 1

Terms to Know-

  1. E.A.S.Y- Eat, Awake/Activity, Sleep, You Time
  2. Swaddle- The way you wrap a baby to prevent the Moro Reflex that WILL wake them if they are not properly swaddled (up to months 4-5)

Items You Need-

  1. Swaddle blankets
  2. Sound Machine
  3. Pacifier, if you chose to use one

With a brand new baby, any type of schedule is difficult to put into place. My advice for the first month is to keep EASY in mind but don’t worry if the baby won’t stay awake after eating. The Optimal Sleep Time for the first month is no more than 40 minutes, and usually a lot less. Try for stimulation but babies need A LOT of sleep so let that baby sleep! *** It is important to realize there is a difference between real sleep and comfort sleep. Let me explain. A real sleep will happen anywhere. The baby is tired and needs sleep. A comfort sleep happens when the baby is comfortable, in your arms for example. They doze because they are content. When it’s awake time and the baby is sleeping in your arms, make sure to put the baby down and see if she stays asleep. That’s how you’ll know the difference.***

During the day– When you want the baby to sleep, I recommend a light swaddle such as the Aden and Anais blankets. I use the crib from the start for at least 1 to 2 naps which I think is helpful later on. For some reason, moms can be scared to use the crib so I recommend starting during the day when you’re awake so you start to feel more comfortable.

At night, from now until around week 10– Swaddle that baby tightly using the Summer Swaddles (I tried soooooo many and these were the best). I recommend putting the baby down for the night in a flat bassinet, pack and play or co-sleeper in your room. Then when she wakes for the middle of the night feedings, keep the lights very, very dim, change her, feed her (keep talking to a minimum) and put her back to bed. Yes, even if she’s still awake. You are starting right away to teach her to fall asleep drowsy.

Notice

It is not an easy month. You will be sleep deprived. And cranky. And more in love than you thought possible (even if it’s not your first!). If you take only one thing away from this article and by far the most important sleep advice for this month- DO NOT GIVE UP ON THE SWADDLE! The Moro Reflex is a very real thing and all babies have it. You must find a swaddle that works for you and your baby to extend a deep, restful sleep for you both.

*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns.