Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mommyland // Advice, tips and tricks

This list has existed and grown for over four years.. I have added things I loved/hated as the days have passed, my kiddo has grown and we added another. This list has been passed around to friends, family, friends of friends, co-workers and probably many people I don't even know. I was asked to refine the list so that it was up-to-date after having Dane and post it to my blog. 

I took a lot of time to make sure I got most everything in here and provided good information. This is a long list but I hope it is helpful. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, agree or disagree of any of my topics. I love the input of fellow mommies and will likely update this again in the future. Enjoy!!

  • Get the “Your pregnancy week to week”. " In my opinion, "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" has unnecessary scare factors. I also suggest that you get “Your baby week to week” once the baby it here. They are both wonderful books. Oh and if you need a good giggle and something to relate to, "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" It is worth the read!

  • Note: There is a section at the bottom of this post for some websites I love. Many have maternity clothes. 
  • Bella Bands--the greatest invention since sliced bread!! Google them. They are basically a stretchy fabric that goes over your regular pants so you can wear them unbuttoned without fear of them falling down.  This kept me in regular pants for a very long time. Some even into my 8th month!!
  • Personally, I preferred the Demi panel pants. I hated the big ones that go all the way over your belly. I also don't suggest any pants that have the slides on the side with "teeth" they break. I had one pair that buttoned under my belly which were good when I was still pretty little or if I was standing most of the day but toward the end they sucked.
  • Buy from the Gap, they have great maternity. Online is a must. I bought one pair of pants that I wore from the time I began showing until my due date (they were called Demi panel tie waist Khakis)  Also, their return policy is great if something doesn't fit. You can return to a regular store 
  • Old navy is ok, but most of the pants are missized--I don't think they realize your butt grows too :) Our local Old Navy now has a maternity department (they didn’t when I was preggo)
  • Go online to search for clothes. But do it early because some things take awhile to get to you. Don't order over your regular size. I ordered everything in pre pregnancy size unless the site/store said otherwise
  • Get basic pants (i.e. khakis, black, jeans).  Buy skinny jeans and leggings!! I only got to experience a little bit of this as I was pregnant during the summer. But I LOVE this look and think it would have been very comfortable!
  • Experiment with tops, I wore a lot of form fitting tops--honestly they tend to look better and they make you feel better than a big ol' tent. I suggest T-shirt like tops from motherhood maternity with the rouching on the side, I think I had them in every color.  They fit you from little to big.  This is also a wonderful spandex tank I found at Target. If I would have found it sooner I would have bought 50 of them.  I also had this green wrap top (Purchased from Zulily--again, see the end of the post) I LOVED it. I really wish I would have bought it sooner and multiple colors.

  • Buy maternity pjs. Buy some with nursing slide tops because you will wear these throughout your pregnancy and after the baby is born. I wore a lot of my regular pjs because I didn’t realize they made preggo Pjs. The preggo ones are SO much more comfortable!! 
  • Motherhood maternity is a really good store, I shopped there a lot! If you are from my area there is an outlet in Branson . There is also a regular store at the mall in Rogers. Heidi Klum started a line there last summer so their stuff should be even cuter than when I was pregnant.
  • If you are thinking of buying a swimsuit (Once you are big being in a pool is a great relief on your body) The maternity ones suck, I suggest getting one that is one or two sizes bigger than your normal size.  
  • Don't buy too many dresses -- I made this mistake. Although they are comfy they make you feel really big and trust me there are not many times where you will be ok with feeling bigger than you are. However, now they have some more form fitting ones that you can wear with legging-- which I think I would have loved! 
  • Look for tops that double a maternity and nursing tops. What I didn't realized is I would need nursing tops after he was born so if you can find some with the "slide" top it can last longer :)  The panel in the middle slides over for discrete nursing. 

  • Mommy Boppy pillow. My husband and I actually fought over this during my first pregnancy. I would wake in the middle of the night to him trying to steal it from me. Yes, stealing from the preggo. A+ hubs. Anyways, it is fantastic! I also kept it around after the baby was born as it is a prop for when you are nursing in bed. 
  • Bottle warmer—buy The First Years--it is warmed by a hot plate and is the best!! Also stay away from the big "day and night" version, this is the one I bought. It is too big and doesn't offer much more. Unless you are not nursing (I learned this from a friend) you could store the already made bottle in the back section (it has a thermal device so you can freeze it during the day to keep bottles cold at night) and then when baby wakes you can warm them right there in the room. No need to go back and forth to the kitchen with a crying baby. On the flip side of this, I have a friend that didn't breastfeed and said she started feeding her baby cold bottles very early (there is no added nutritional value to warm milk/formula) I personally think this is brilliant, if they go for it, as it will make your life much more convenient. 

  •  Good breast pump--they are expensive but buy a good one. They will be your best friend. I have the Medela Pump In-style (the name is comical all in itself) electric double pump  
  • Breast pads--By the Lansinoh ones they are MUCH better then Medela, and make sure you never run out --that is the worst
  • Extra milk storage bottles, you will be surprised how soon you need these 
  • Extra pump supplies--cones, values, etc. There was nothing worse than constantly washing/breaking these pieces. Cones, filters and valves.
  • Freezer Storage bags (I reco the Lansinoh bags) and organizer for milk. 
  • Medela breast pump wipes--these are fantastic if you pump at work or somewhere other than the house
  • Dr browns bottles-I suggest these because I think they help with gas, some people may tell you different but this is my suggestion .. get a mixture of 4oz and 8oz.. you will start off with 4oz bottles and progress to 8oz.. once you are to 8oz the 4 oz are great for storage of pumped milk
  • Bottle drying rack. I didn't think I would use this but I did every day :) Boon actually makes an adorable one that looks like grass. There are actually 2—one is called the “Grass” and the other is the “Lawn” The lawn is the bigger one and I would recommend it.  Check it out at Target. 
  • Dishwasher basket for small parts and nipples--DO NOT BUY Circo, this is a Target brand and it sucks! 
  • Spoons and bowls--Once the baby is eating baby food I suggest buying a divider plate with a suction cup at the bottom (I got mine at either BabiesRUs or Target)  Also buy the little spoons, forks, cups and bowls from Target --I think they are technically disposable but they are dishwasher safe and the perfect size for the little one. They are called Take N Toss.  
  • Bumbo is a MUST HAVE!!  and buy the feeding tray. This is what I used instead of a highchair because we eat in the living room. It is also great so they can work on sitting and playing. Just note that they will try to flip around so never leave them unattended in it. They make cute covers for them now but I am not sure if I would use one. It is nice to just toss the entire thing in the sink and rinse it off.
  • Once they get big enough to sit by themselves we moved into a portable booster seat. (Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster) We would strap it onto a regular chair, toss it in the car so we could take it to friends house/restaurants , etc He used this until he was 2 1/2-3 and the only reason he stopped was because he liked to sit in big seats like us
  • Once baby is big enough for sippy cups, I suggest these. I cannot tell you how many we went through before landing on these beauties. We have a ton and they are now "Mo" cups (translation: Milk cups) He will barely drink milk out of anything else. Now to be clear, you can't jump right into this cup as it has a hard spout on it (they need to start with the softer spouts) but once you get to the hard ones this is the best!
  • Baby bath with hammock feature the hammock piece is a must during the early months

  • Nighttime bath wash and lotion. I swear by this stuff. It smells amazing and I think it really helps the kiddos sleep better. 
  • Cradle cap wash--Chaz didn't have cradle cap but Dane has it and it has been pretty bad. I have tried almost everything and then I stumbled upon this, Gentle Naturals. It is a little pricey for a small bottle but totally worth it. Dane's cradle cap is almost clear!
  • Baby Vicks Vaporub. I swear by this as well. I don't slather the baby with it but rather rub it on their feet and cover with socks--amazing to sooth a cold/cough. (This works for adults too!)
  • Mylocan--gas medicine. My sister-in-law says the equate version is the same –I didn’t agree when I had Chaz, but I do agree with Dane. All kids are different. This is a blessing the first few month as most babies experience gas pains. (LEARNING: don't eat lots of onions, broccoli or chocolate for the first few months, after about 4 months they have developed and you can slowly start to reintroduce these items)
  • Baby Tylenol--another life saver, We use this very little but when it is needed it rocks. I also suggest you ask your doctor at your first visit how much to give the little one. There is no instruction on the bottle for children under 2 (this goes for all meds including Mylocan so ask the Dr)
  • Buttpaste--the best diaper rash stuff ever!!! if you baby gets VERY bad diaper there is another one you have to get it from the pharmacist at Walgreens and it is wonderful! It is called Calmoseptine
  • Baby fingernail files--it is easier to file them than clip when they are really little
  • Tissue--have it in the changing table and diaper bag. Lifesaver. These kids are faucets for the first few years of their lives. Gross!
  • Mini Purell - Life is germy! We have these in the diaper bag, car, purse, etc.
  • Bath and Body Works antibacterial moisturizing soap--This is the best invention. You will wash and Purell your hands so much that the lotion in this soap is a lifesaver. We have it at each sink in our house and at my moms. It comes in a TON of "flavors"
  • Diaper Genie--I swear by this, many people live without it but I suggest registering for one--also don't forget to register for multiple refill packs as they are expensive.
  • Thermometer- I have a Braun ear version and I wish I would have gotten it sooner.  My sister-in-law has the temporal one (forehead) and she swears by it.. either way get one that is better than what comes in a first aid kit or it will drive you crazy
  • Electronic nasal aspirator. I have heard some good and bad reviews but I have to say. I love this thing! 
  • BooBoo Bunny- I know it sounds silly but this little guy has really come in handy. It has a plastic "ice cube" that you keep in the freezer and when the little one falls and bumps his/her head (because it will happen) you pop it in the bunny and they can hold it to their booboo. Genius! 
  • Angel care monitor--this is made by the SIDs foundation. It has a monitor that slides under the baby's mattress. I monitors the baby's breathing and if it stops for 15 seconds it sounds an alarm.. if this doesn't jar the baby to move it sound a louder, constant alarm. This will wake the neighborhood but it is the biggest peace of mind we have! 
  • Sound machine- this was given as a gift. It is amazing. Especially if you have an older child, or hubs, who doesn't know how to be quite. It has a ton of different sounds and a projector that you can aim at the ceiling or the wall. 
  • Co sleeper-- We didn't have this when we had Chaz but being in a new house with Dane this was a must.  I refused to walk 50 steps (Yes, we counted) from my bed to Dane's room multiple times a night. NO WAY. So we registered for this little gem. It doubles as a pack-n-play later so it will go the distance. We got it specifically for the co-sleeper aspect. You can push it right up to your bed and if baby wakes in the middle of the night he/she is literally within arm's reach. This was a lifesaver! (remember to get an extra mat cover for this)
  • Extra crib sheets-- People don't think about this until it is too late and you are washing sheets and about to put the baby down in the crib. Oops! Gotta have extra!!
  • Extra changing table covers -- same applies here!
  • Receiving blankets--We use a TON of receiving blankets. We call them old man lap blankets because we put them over him every time he was in his car seat.
  • Lots of burp rags--you will constantly be washing these. I suggest having some cute ones and some plain white practical ones. We had a bunch of white ones
  • Clock for the baby's room. For the first few months your life will revolve around when they eat, sleep and poop. If you don't have clocks everywhere you will go crazy
  • That was a good intro for this little gem. The Itzben. This is something that came out after Chaz was born. My friend Destiny bought me one for Dane and it has been a lifesaver. It keeps track of sleeping, diaper changes, eating, breast feeding, etc. And requires little to no thinking by mommy. Which is fantastic because your brain is mush for a little while :)
  • Larger travel bag, I have several LLBean boat bags and Thirty-One large bags These are fantastic for day trips when you need to carry more items then can fit in the diaper bag. We LOVE both of these bags!! For the boat bag I suggest getting the longer straps. You can get it in all colors/monogrammed/etc  We have a smaller one like the one on the left. It is black/red and says "Go Hogs" We use the thing all.the.time. The Thirty-One bag comes in a ton of colors and can be monogrammed as well. Check it out here: Thirty-One
  •  The smaller Thirty-One thermal totes are great as well. I have a few (Yes, I am a total bag hoarder) It can be found at the same site above.

  • Shout color catcher sheet. If you are a HOG fan, you will have red items and these things are great for the Razorback gear as well as tossing in some darker clothes with the regular washing. 
  • Dreft--some people say it is a waste but I used it for baby clothes until they are 1. I also stated using it on all the bedding in our house. I love the way it smells and it is very gentle on your skin
  • Clorox Anywhere spray--great for plush toys, beds, etc. It is great!!
  • Oxiclean spot remover-- great for spit-up/food stains. Just keep it next to the wash and spray before you toss them in the wash!
  • For car seats, do your research. We have a Peg Perego and love it BUT it is about ¼” too wide to fit in most restaurant booths and does not fit in an upside down highchair (often used if the restaurant doesn’t have slings)  We bought one car seat and 2 bases (the car seat just clicks out) I highly reco getting a base for each car!
  •  Once they are a year old they move to a forward facing seat. I think 99% of my friends have a Britax (we do too!)  It has excellent reviews but is expensive. We have one for both cars, we don’t transfer it because it would be a BIG pain. I suggest registering for this. I know it sounds weird but we received one of ours before Chaz was born. We just put it in storage and waited until he was 1. It was a great relief to know that he already had it!
  • Don't forget the mat to protect your seats. One for each car!
  • Another great discovery with baby number two is this awesome stroller hook. Ryan made his version of this when Chaz was a baby but they were smaller carribeaners. This is a giant one. Just be careful not to overload it or the stroller will tip over the second your kiddo gets out. Been there. Done that.

  • Exersaucer with fold and go function (and lots of toys)--wonderful!!!
  • Don’t get both a swing and a bouncer—we had both but should have gone with a combo. They are not both a waste but I don’t suggest getting both. If I had to chose, I would chose the swing.  Another suggestion here is to go with one of the more compact swings like this one. They are easier to move and take up much less floor space. 

  •   Play mat--I suggest the Baby Einstein with the light up star in the middle, both my kids LOVE the star
  •  Go pod- Now I have to admit, I haven't actually used this as it is brand new.. but I just know I am going to LOVE it. It is basically a pop up exersaucer, like those chairs you see at tailgating events. I can see us using this in the backyard, tailgating, baseball games, friends houses, etc. I can't wait! Stay tuned for reviews!
  • Car mirror, this goes above the car seat. This one is what Dane has now, WAY cooler than Chaz's (Sorry buddy!) It lights up and sings songs. Definitely a bonus!
  • If you have door jams, you MUST have a Johnny Jumper.. We had the one on the left.. but check out the one on the right. Really? How stinkin' cute.. 
  • Cozy coop -- Chaz and his cousins still play with his policeman version of this thing. This toy will definitely go the distance!! They also make a cart that attaches to the back so the kiddos can haul their stuff (Something all kids love to do!) 
  • Ball popper - I cannot tell you how much we have laughed with these toys. There have been multiple generations and we have gone through several. The below are the newer versions. In the end as long as it shoots a ball in the air, it will make your baby laugh!
  • Refrigerator magnets - these are super cool and come in a ton of versions. Basically there is a "holder" and then there are "halves" of pictures that you match and put into the holder. There are farm animals, cars, etc. The holder makes noise once the magnets are put in place. This is great when you need to keep them occupied while cooking dinner or unloading the dishwasher. 
  • "The" house-- This is a hit in our family and friend circle as well as the boy's school. It is takes up some room but it is thin so you can slide it places, like beside the couch. It also has longevity. I think Chaz is going to "relove" it when I bring it out of the attic for Dane. 
  • This isn't really a toy but I am putting it in this category as it will lead to a lot of fun. I personally don't have one but I would love one if someone would like to send one my way. OR I have found the directions for building one on Pinterest (Check it out if you are so inclined)  Anyways, this neat little thing allows kids to get to the kitchen counter safely! They can stand on a platform that raises them to counter height and are surrounded by side rails so they don't slip off. Ryan loves to cook with Chaz but often struggles as there is not a safe place for him to be and the step stools we have are not the best for him. Oh and the best part is it folds flat for easy storage!
  •  I don't have one of these either (Brand new product) but I think I may get one when Dane is a little older. It is a case that fits around your iPhone/iPod touch  They can play whatever apps without the fear of grimy hands or breaking it. Very cool!!
  •  Mobile-- the lights and songs are a must. I hated the one I had with Chaz and actually had to replace it several times. This is the new and improved versions and hopefully I won't have to replace it!

  • Newborn car seat padding--the wrap thing that goes around their head. The Fayetteville police (when we got our car seat installed) told us we actually shouldn't use it and it was safer without it ·       
  •  Sleep positioner--waste!! I bought 4 and Chaz woke up the second we put him on it.. my friend told me they were a waste too and I didn't believe her---$60 bucks later I will NOT do it for my 2nd kid :)  The SIDS foundation actually recommends NOT to use sleep positioners. It was in a TON of literature from the hospital when we had Dane. 
  • Bunting bags--these fit over the car seat in cold weather. We have two and Chaz hated them.  BUT I would purchase the ones that go over the handle. If you can create a “tent” I think the baby likes it better.   
  • Swaddler blankets--This was a mistake I made. The good ones (Halo) are expensive. I registered for them because everyone told me they were the best things ever, I then washed them as I did everything else. And once I brought my kid home I learned he hated being swaddled. Loved it in the hospital but hated it after just a few days. My suggestion is to wait and buy this. Your kid may love them but if he/she doesn't it is a waste of money..  
  • Boppy lounger – basically it is a baby papasan without the base. I only used it a few times with Chaz but a bunch with Dane. What is the difference? Well it wasn’t the kid, it was the depth of our couch. The new couch is deeper therefore the lounger sits nice and safe on the new couch. Measure!! 
  • Here is a little tidbit of info that caught me totally off guard.  So you see clothes that are marked say, 6 months. You immediately think "My kid will wear this when they are six months" Negative. If your kid is growing at a normal rate, or even slightly less, this will fit him/her up UNTIL 6 months. They may go over by a month but will sure be in it before 6 months. Yeah, no clue.
  • Some clothes are spot on for size and some are not. I have found that Carters is usually 100% this has remained true for both my kids no matter the age. Target clothes tend to be smaller and shrink very quickly. Gap is pretty good but maybe just a tad big. Net: look at weights and heights instead of sizes, this is a better gauge.
  • Long sleeve onesies--we love solid color long sleeve onesies. Slip them under the regular short sleeve ones and you are ready for fall and winter and still get the use out of summer clothes 
  • Walmart socks--they are the best AND actually stay on the little one's feet.
  • Sleep sacks--Everyone said they were great but once Chaz started moving he hated them so I was totally anti-sleepsack. That was until I had my second kiddo. They say every kid is different and that is 100% true. Chaz is super hot natured and Dane is cold natured. It is a long story of how I discovered this but in discovering this I found this lovely sleep sack (courtesy of my friend Sally) It is made of the best material and is breathable, keeping baby warm but not too warm. I heart these things. The brand name is Aden and Anais. Search for a good deal. I found one on for about half price of the manufacturer's price!
  • When buying clothes look at how they fasten and how they go on. We have some jammies that have to go all the way over the baby’s body and are really a beast  
  • Actual buttons on onesies and jammies are the worst thing anyone ever thought of. Stay away!!  
  • I suggest going with zippers on jammies as much as necessary --definitely when they still don't sleep through the night. Snaps are completely doable but zippers are much easier.  Children's place has good pjs.. 
  • Monthly stickers. I love these things. If you follow me you know I take pictures of Dane in the same place with the same sock monkey every month. These cute little stickers go on his shirt to document what month it was. I took monthly pictures for Chaz but I didn't have these nifty stickers. You can find these all over Etsy but website I use for these is AND as a bonus I will be doing a giveaway soon. One boy, One girl. Stay tuned. She also does cute t shirts and other things.
    • Mini notebooks--If I have an addictions this is it. I have these everywhere. In my work bag, my computer bag, my purse, the car, my husband's car, etc. I have one main notebook I keep with me at all times and the random other ones are for my quick thoughts. The way a momma's new brain works is wicked. You must write everything down as soon as you think about it. Dr questions, cool things baby does, walmart needs, etc. MUST HAVE!!
    • Sign up for emails. They will send you one once a week based on where you are in your pregnancy. They give great advice and even have a mommy message board for other moms or preggos to pipe in. You will also get baby emails once a week after the baby is born. I still get them and read them every week!
    • Sign up for all the children's clothing store coupons--Children's place, Gymboree, Gap, Crazy 8, Carter's, etc If you are going to spend money, you might as well save some. 
    • Same for products -- P&G products (pampers, tide, vicks, puffs, etc) Johnson & Johnson, Clorox, Similac,, etc. If there is something you find that you love, look it up!! Everyone offers coupons and most offer free stuff!!! You will get a ton of email but just sift through it every day or so and you will be fine. It is totally worth it!!
    • Take socks to the hospital. Not for baby, but for mommy. The floors are yucky and your feet get cold. Do it. Trust me.
    • If you are nursing I suggest starting to pump early, within days of coming home. I didn't do this for my first and I can tell the difference. It was harder for me to keep up with Chaz. With Dane I started pumping a few days after I came home from the hospital. I would nurse him whenever he needed and if I was feeling "full" and he was sleeping or content, I would pump. Not only did this build up a nice supply in my freezer, I really believe it increased my milk supply. Double bonus!
    • Scissors in the changing table. I use these daily.. usually multiple times. 
    • Have a separate smaller laundry basket for the little one. You will be doing smaller loads more often with baby stuff. It is easier if it is already separated out. 
    • I suggest instead of buying diapers to get a running gift card at WM or Target. We added 10 or 20 bucks every time we went to Wal-Mart then when it is time to buy diapers you have a gift card with money (you never know how long they will be in a size)   
    • Get a good camera and learn how to use it before the baby is born. We made multiple mistakes here  
    • If you are going to purchase a good camera and/or take a ton of purchase, I suggest you purchase an external hard drive. This is peace of mind. You can store your pictures on the external drive and you don’t have to worry (so much) about anything happening to them 
    • Learn how to use an online photo service. I use and Snapfish --highly suggest them. They are really easy and have no fees.
    • One of the mistakes I made was washing/boiling all the pacifiers and nipples beforehand--I didn't realize they were different sizes. My suggestion here is to boil the first stage nipple and pacifiers but wait on the others (leave them in the packages that say the age) until the baby is a bit older and needs that specific one. OR you could end up with a kid like my older one, who NEVER took a paci.. There was another 30 bucks down the drain :)
    • Not only should you use online registry before the baby is born but you should use online “wish lists” for birthdays, Christmas, etc. They are great! We still use them as do many of my friends and family.
    •  Read reviews. I know "Why do I care what someone else thinks about something??" Well, why are you reading this post. There you go! Because moms have opinions. If we LOVE something, we will tell you. If we HATE something, we will certainly tell you. Read them. Trust me. 
    • If you love family pictures and are planning on having your little one's picture made I have a few tips
      • make the appointment ASAP. Good photographers book up quickly. You should have your newborn photographed within the first 10 days in order to keep the "newborn" look
      • Keep a visual list (either on Pinterest or in a word doc) of the shots you would like.
      • Be reasonable. Local photograhers are good but it is all about how well your baby responds. They are going to need to be in a very warm environment and be well fed-- prepare ahead of time
      • Save up, or ask for gift certificates. Pictures aren't cheap 


    1. I also didn't know that when the clothing said 3, it was really 0-3... My daughter didn't get to wear a lot of clothing because of that. GLad you are passing on good info. My daughter loved to be swaddled, and we still (17months) use a sleep sack when cold out.

      1. i am glad you enjoyed the post. I am also glad I wasn't the only one who missed the memo on 3mths vs 0-3 mths. What a shame!!! Please pass my blog along and check back often. I love new people!