Hey, mamas! While I'm soaking up then sun with the littles (actually, they're in the shade - don't panic!), People.com Senior Editor (and, hello, my new online mama BFF) Rennie Dyball is here to fill in on the best kids products, I mean, you've gotta listen to her because testing these products is her job. Are you as addicted to reading her reviews on celebritybabies.people.com as I am?) She's also mama to a sweet baby girl who will be one before we can blink an eye! And Rennie's just so cool...she wrote co-wrote Christian Siriano's book Fierce Style. So, without further ado, here are her "best of" awards.
One of the best things I did when I was pregnant was go to Buy Buy Baby with a dear friend who has a baby of her own. She showed me what I actually needed to register for. We ditched the store's overwhelming registry check list and she introduced me to the basics:
*changing pad (no, you don't need a special table), car seat, etc.
She also showed me what I DIDN'T need:
*wipes warmer, or much in the way of newborn size clothing (family and friends love buying baby clothes).
*As for the hype about Aden + Anais blankets, well, they're worth it. If you actually learn
how to swaddle, awesome, your kiddo will nap and sleep in them night after night. But
they've got tons of other uses, from a stroller blanket to a sun cover over the car seat
(they're breathable) to a clean little resting place if you take your babe to a new mom's group or a baby class. There are tons of cute colors and themes to choose from that it becomes a real pleasure to use them.
*I'm also a big fan of the Fisher-Price Rock 'n' Play since it's a good place to put your babe down when you need to use two hands but want to keep your little bundle in sight.
*And if you're an urban mama, the stroller decision is an important one, especially if you don't have a car. Go to the baby stores - the big boxes and the boutiques - and test "drive" them to see what you like. Fold and unfold them, check out the storage space in the basket, determine if you can use the attachments. For the first six months of my baby's life, we lived in NYC without a car, so I got an Uppababy Vista because my stroller WAS my car (Julie has the Cruz...see below). I could fit a week's worth of groceries in the basket, and the bassinet seat attachment was great for naps.
*I'm a big baby-wearing proponent for city dwellers as well. It lulls your babe to sleep like nothing else and can be quite comfortable for mom or dad, too, once you get used to it. Beco Gemini is my favorite carrier but many of my friends rave about the Ergobaby as well.
My little one's very first solid food was Sprout organic baby oatmeal mixed with breastmilk. It was the most natural, clean baby cereal I could find. For fruits and veggies, I like Earth's Best in the jars. No added ingredients, all organic, and recyclable packaging. As a working mom, I find I just don't have the time to make my own baby food, so it's nice to know that there are lots of good options out there. Pouches are great when you're on the go, and the flavor combos in Happy Baby and Plum Organics are delish.
When my babe was a newborn, it was summertime, so we'd put her down in a diaper, kimono t-shirt (side snaps will save your life!) and the Swaddle-Me blankets with velcro fasteners. They're idiot-proof and will save your sanity if you, like me, never got the hang of actual swaddling. When the weather got colder, it was cotton footie PJs and the Swaddle-Me. She slept snug as a bug in those swaddles until she was about 5-months-old. Then we kept the footie pajamas and a sleep sack. The HALO sleep sacks are perfectly adequate but I LOVE the Baby Dee Dee sleep nest. It's more like a comforter and I swear my kiddo slept better in that one in the cooler months.
My top tip for a good night's rest? When your baby cries in the middle of the night, give it five minutes before you jump up and get them. Obviously, this is a tip for after the newborn stage when they are hungry all the time and your pedi may suggest that you wake them every three hours to feed. We got very lucky with a pretty good sleeper out of the gate, but we helped her to be a great sleeper by waiting those five minutes (usually it was even less) to see what happened after that initial middle-of-the-night fussing. If she persisted, I'd get up to check on her or feed, but I found that often it was waking out of habit and she'd fall back asleep on her own. As hard as it is to hear your baby cry, don't fly out of bed to pick him or her up. Wait it out, just briefly, and see what happens.
Routine is also king. Have a little bedtime system to help your baby know that it's time to go to sleep. And when you have a newborn, or even when you're pregnant, read Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block. Everyone raves about it for a reason -- the guy knows what he's talking about.
I've tried several baby baths but my favorite by a mile is the Angelcare bath support. Perfect angle, keeps the kiddo warm since they sit partway in the water and it'll last you a long time. My 10-month-old is still in it! For products, I like Babyganics shampoo and body wash and Earth Mama Angel Baby body wash. The latter is as all-natural as it gets, which I love for peace of mind, but it's not tear free so if you get it in your baby's eyes, bathtime then goes from zero to meltdown. Earth Mama Angel Baby lotion is also great, and while I go for natural/organic diaper creams too, if you ever find yourself treating diaper rash, Triple Paste works like a charm to clear it up.
This is my first baby, so I'm not sure if they're all like this, but mine is fascinated by ALL her toys, whether she's played with them once or a thousand times. So I'm a bit of a toy minimalist for now, until she gets to an age where there are particular things she wants. Faves in our house? Mozart music cube, the classic Fisher-Price stacking bowls, Sock Monkey jack in the box, and any toys that rattle. Personally, I like Miyim organic baby toys for their cuteness and quality, too.