Mama Recommends

Here is a gathering of products or things that I really have come to love, find useful and would recommend to other new parents and parents-to-be. 
Books to read:
The Sleep Book for Tired Parents; Help for Solving Children's Sleep Problems by Rebecca Huntley. This book is my current bible. It has three completely different approaches to solving sleep problems for babies and for older children. It speaks of the pros AND the cons of 1. The Family Bed Approach, 2. The Small Steps Approach (Ferber Method) and 3. The Cry It Out Approach. It even discusses just deciding to live with it, and how to cope. I'm keeping this book around forever because it also discusses problems that may occur later on with older children, like kids who want to crawl into your bed, kids who get frequent night terrors and nightmares, and kids who wake up frequently just for snacks and drinks.

Books to fill:
For My Daughter, or For My Son by Lark Books. This is a special, detailed, baby book that contains questions, prompts, and lists for mothers to document for their children from birth to age 21. I've never seen a baby book like this before - it's just so fun to fill out, includes so many different ways to remember all the special moments, and also makes an incredible gift for your child when they reach age 21! I have one for Noelle and recently purchased one for Halle. You can find these at Patina stores, Target, and also online via bookstores or Amazon.

The Happiest Baby on the Block. This was the most useful thing Joey and I ever viewed after we had Noelle. If only someone had told me about this sooner! I highly recommend this to anyone planning on having a baby, because the universal 5 S's (swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, sucking) can help any baby, any where! Noelle was very colic and the 5 S's was the ONLY way we got her to calm down and sleep! Now with Halle, we still use some of the S's - just because they work! I lent this DVD to a friend, and now her difficult baby sleeps too!

Summer Infant Video Monitor. Oh my goodness. We love this. Joey's first sentence after we hooked it up was "Why didn't we get this sooner?" We finally decided to get a video monitor after 5.5 months, and wished we had put it on our baby registry and gotten it when Noelle was born. This thing is amazing! It is a normal audio monitor and video monitor in one. There's a quick button that you push in a flash to see your baby, so you don't need to sleep with the video option on all night. The picture is good, and there's 3 channels to chose from, so you aren't stuck with a bad connection. We seriously opened up the box, plugged some cords in, and were in action in less than 2 minutes. So easy and the most affordable video monitor on the market. This came in so much handy when we were sleep training. I'd recommend it to every single new parent out there!

The BOB Stroller. Seriously I had no idea it mattered what stroller to get your child. I always went with the common sense, cheapest stroller since I figured as long as it had wheels and my babe could sit in it, it was more than fine. Which, I suppose it is. However, the BOB is amazing. The wheels are like mountain bike wheels so you can go off roading with it. Sounds funny but seriously it has come in so handy with taking walks through the trails in the woods, going through snow and ice, and going through grass. The wheels never get stuck and it just glides.

Pacimals. This is my daughter's favorite, can't live without, can't be replaced, love of her life. It's no ordinary pacifier. It is a little stuffed animal with a pacifier on it that can be taken off to be washed. It can hold any pacifier actually...the NUK ones or the Soothie ones. If you pay attention throughout my blog, Noelle has this in her mouth all the time. They have several different animals to choose from and they are great. At first, when she was a newborn it was good because it would hold the pacifier in her mouth for her, so we didn't have to worry about the pacifier popping out of her mouth while she was sleeping. Then later on it became nice because it was so hard to lose. Now, it's just become her lovey...the one thing that can soothe her.

Table toppers. This seems dumb and unnecessary but it is anything but! It's actually really brilliant and completely necessary in my book. We are a family that goes out to eat a lot and it's nice to spread one of these out and know that are child isn't eating off a disgusting table top that was wiped down with a dirty rag. The bottom has adhesive so that it stays put on the table. We use these all the time and they are worth the (very little) money.

Ergo Baby Carriers. I hate to be a snob, but as time goes on and I've used more and more different baby/children products, I find that sometimes spending a bit more money on stuff really does make a  difference. With much of Noelle's infancy I used an Eddie Bauer baby carrier, that resembled a Baby Bjorn (for a fraction of the price) and carried my baby around just fine. I used it quite a bit and was content with it. I had back pain and it wasn't super comfortable but I figured that all carriers would carry the same problems. This was until I used an Ergo Baby Carrier. Wow. This is the most comfortable carrier I have EVER used. Now Noelle is at 23 pounds and almost 2 years old and I still carry her around in this carrier, because it feels great on me, and she's super comfy too! With all the extra support around the back, her weight is distributed evenly on my shoulders as well as my back so I never have back pain from carrying her anymore and we are both always comfortable. I am in love with these and highly recommend them. They can carry kids up to 45 pounds! Love it.

Fisher Price Rock 'N Play. Great product. When I had Noelle this was relatively a newer product, but now there's a similar product from pretty much every baby brand out there. These are so great. My kids sleep in them, sit in them, and they can be transported up and down stairs, room to room, super easily. They also fold up really easily and take up no space, and are ultra lightweight. The main reason why I loved it with Noelle was because she had acid reflux, so it was really nice to have her sit or sleep in something that wasn't flat, in case she had to throw up.

Medela Soft Shells. These are seriously heaven sent. Being a first time breastfeeding mom I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know that my cracked, bleeding nipples were not normal. I thought those casualties were part of "toughing up" my nipples. I had no idea that Halle had a shallow latch which was causing much worse than sore nipples. When I was dreading feedings, and seriously would curl my toes in pain every time she latched on, I knew something was wrong. Trying to heal my nipples was also another problem - anything even grazing or touching them for a second would kill. My friend Heather told me about the Medela Soft Shells and it seriously was the best purchase I've made in a long while. They give your nips room to breathe without touching your bra or shirt. You can put lanolin and nipple creams on and not worry about it coming off either.

Medela Pump and Save Bags. Man, I LOVE these. They are kind of on the more spendy side (compared to other brands and generic store brands) but it's because they come with a part that you can attach to your pump so that when you pump the milk goes RIGHT into the bag. It is so convenient and easy! No more pumping into a bottle, only to transfer it to a bag. What a wonderful product.

Halo SleepSacks. These are the best swaddles ever. The velcro on them keeps them in place and they are so easy to use. My kids both slept way better swaddled, and also would calm down significantly after being swaddled if they were fussy. We have a gazillion of these, in both the light cotton and in the heavier fleece for colder nights.

Piggy Paint. What an awesome product. I've always wanted to put nail polish on Noelle but didn't really want her to be exposed to those nasty chemical smells and/or eat the polish. Then I found this line of nail polish designed for kids. It is all natural, chemical free, non-toxic, odorless, hypoallergenic and eco-friendly! It claims to be "as natural as mud" hence the name. I love it. The best part is that it dries unbelievably fast (less than a minute) so I didn't have to worry when she started squirming round. They come in normal polish and also in polish pens, which are like markers. I bought both and like both versions!

Oxiclean Powder. I swear by this. My daughters go through a lot of hand me downs- although cute, they often have lots of remnants from past wear, including blow out and spit up stains. Well the trick is: soak the clothes in the Oxiclean powder with any detergent (although I use Oxiclean brand) in very hot water over night. Then wash them like you normally would. End result? Clothes that almost look brand new! I've used stain sprays, other powders, other methods, etc. and I find Oxiclean is the only thing that works on the toughest baby stains.

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