Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Baby Favorites: 9-12 Months

Calvin turns 15 months old this week (How?!?!), and after seeing Kelley's 6-9 month favorites, I realized that I never posted my own favorites for my own for months 9-12!  At the start of 9 months (in February), Calvin was just learning to crawl, so a lot of these favorite have to do with movement.  Then, by the time he was a year old in May, we were in full lockdown from COVID-19, and we spent (and still are spending) countless hours at home.  We are making the most of it, so investments like the tricycle and a snack tray for each stroller are so worth it.
You'll notice a couple of toys and books, I also have two posts planned just for favorite toys and favorite books throughout year 1, but if there are any other baby-related posts you would like to see, please let me know!  At the bottom of this post, you can find all of my previous "favorites" posts!
1. Crib rail covers: Calvin loves to chew on. anything.  I started seeing little bits of something (turns out it was paint) on his face, so when I realized he was chewing his rails, I bought these.  They tie on and don't really keep him from chewing but does keep him from destroying his crib and eating paint.

2. Bookshelves: These are close to the ground, next to his crib, and he loves picking what books to read and handing them to me!  

3. Books: Calvin loves to read.  He has tons of favorites, but anything with sounds or that move are on top of the list.  His favorites at this age were: Noisy Baby Animals (sounds), Trucks (lift the flap), and Hello Farm (indestructible books).

4. Baby gate: Well, technically this was a pet gate so that the cats could get up and down the stairs, but this one works great.  It's tall and wide enough for the top of our stairs.  

5. Snack trays for Uppababy and BOB strollers: Since it's so hot out, we got both of these trays to keep his water bottle when we walk.  He also loves bringing little toys with him on walks.

6. Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Tricycle: I got this in my neighborhood swap group for $10 and could not believe how expensive they are!  I would absolutely not pay full price for this, so make sure you check out your local Facebook marketplace.  That being said, it is actually worth its weight in gold because Calvin LOVES his tricycle rides around the block.  

7. Melissa and Doug wooden toys: These are the best quality toys I've found.  These are other Facebook swap group finds, and Calvin especially anything with moving parts and wheels like this car carrier: up and down lift, cars that roll, helicopter that spins.

8. Toddler utensils: A few months ago, when using his baby utensils, Calvin kept yelling and pointing at our fork.  We switched to these and he loves them (I think they feel more like "big boy" utensils).  

9. Golf set: Calvin just loves throwing balls and hitting them with the clubs.  This is a toy I didn't picture using until he was older, but he's obsessed with it, when I ask him if he wants to "play golf" every morning, he crawls right out to the loft and grabs the balls.

10. Bubbles: We need to get a battery-powered bubble blower, because the amount of time I spend blowing bubbles is crazy haha!  This little one is so great!

If you missed it, you can click on the photos below to see our other favorites:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

52 Weeks of Cal Pal

52 weeks today and 1 year on Friday - what an amazing year it's been.... and I can't believe I somehow remembered to take a photo every week hahaha!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sonogram Heartbeat Art Canvas

A year later (yes, my baby will be ONE this month), I still love Calvin's nursery.  Now that he's a little older, we spend so much time in there playing, reading, and that's the main place where I nurse him.  I didn't do a lot of DIY projects for it (hello, exhausted all the time during pregnancy haha), but I did this one piece of artwork a little while before he was born.  It hangs in his bathroom and perfectly ties all the colors of the bathroom and bedroom together.  That's the best thing about this sonogram fetal heart rate art: you can use as many colors you want (and whatever colors you want!). 
It was pretty easy to make, and it's so meaningful.  All you need is a canvas, paint, paintbrushes, and a sonogram photo (with fetal heart rate) from an ultrasound. 
I love the way different heartbeats look, so it was difficult to choose my favorite!  I thought this one had the most opportunity for color variance and was from Calvin's 24-week ultrasound. 
All I did was start by sketching the outline of the heartbeat.  Then, I filled in the same colors for each segment of the heart rate to keep it symmetrical and blended them all together. 
Now, it hangs in the jack and jill bathroom just off Calvin's bedroom.  I smile every time I see it!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Baby Favorites for 6-9 Months

Now that Calvin is almost a year old, I realized I never shared our favorite baby items from ages 6 months-9 months.  At this point, he was sleep trained (11-12 hours per night), just moved into his crib in his nursery, and started Baby Led Weaning, so sleeping and eating take up a lot of this list.
1. Hatch Rest+: Let's start with baby sleep.  Now that Calvin is in his own room, we bought him a Rest+ to use now as a sound machine and later to help him know when it's time to get up.  Right now, we use no light and the white noise sound all night, then at 7:30am, we set a program so that the sound stays the same but it adds a little rainbow light.  It's not enough to wake him up, but we hope as he gets older, he'll understand the "time to rise" feature.  We chose the Rest+ (instead of the original Rest) because there's an option for a 2-way audio monitor and a clock on the front (which we have turned off right now but hope to help Calvin learn to tell time with "time to rise" feature in the future).

2. Crib mesh: This was a decision that we made for Calvin because we feel that it's best for him.  Little boy (even in a sleep sack) is squirmy, and immediately into moving into his crib, he got legs and arms stuck out of the crib.  This fixed the problem immediately, and I actually think it provides an even cozier, darker environment for him.
3. Lovey: Calvin's sloth is another choice we made that goes against AAP's recommendations.  However, it was suggested by the Taking Cara Babies classes we took, and it seemed like something that would work well for him.  He never really took a pacifier, so to help him soothe at night, he has his "sloth-a-man" in his crib.  Sloth never leaves his crib, and Calvin has really made the connection between sloth and sleep.  The minute I hand him the sloth, his thumb goes in his mouth, he smushes it in his face, and he's content.  Actually, finding the link to sloth on Target, I just bought a third one (yes, we already have two that we switch in and out - I have one under my pillow in addition to his in his crib), JUST IN CASE.
4. Owlet: I shared my love for our Owlet sock and camera in our "first two months" post, but it deserves love again for a few reasons.  Calvin is in his own room now, which is stressful enough.  On top of that, I mentioned the lovey and crib mesh above, both of which are personal decisions that work for our family but are made much less stressful knowing that we are tracking Calvin's heart rate and oxygen levels.  I also love that you can pinch zoom to see baby even closer up, if needed.
5. Glider: Another item that I didn't use very much at all before Calvin moved into his nursery was his glider.  We thought about buying an expensive one from La-Z Boy but decided on this one from Target.  He nurses in it for most feedings, and we read books in it.  It's actually held up really well, and I'm super happy with it.

6. High chair: We have a dining room but don't eat in it often, so we knew that when it came time for Calvin to start eating, we wanted something for our kitchen counter.  This chair is perfect!  I love the tray because it keeps the mess in one place, the navy color hides a lot of the stains, and (even though it says not to machine wash) it washes and dries easily.
7. Utensils: Teaching a baby to use utensils is pretty funny, but these chewtensils are great.  They're super safe and the company, Bumkins, also makes this silicon plate that we also bought.

8. Cups: Once Calvin started with meals, we knew we wanted to offer open cups and sippy cups instead of a bottle at mealtime.  We bought these Munchkin 360 cups as well as an ezpz open cup (basically a silicon shot glass haha).  He does really well with both of them!
9. Wooden toys and puzzles: Calvin started loving wooden toys at this age.  He's subscribed to Lovevery play kits every 2 months that have awesome wooden toys, and we also love Melissa & Doug puzzles.  He likes the big chunky ones to chew on, and the peg puzzles are great to work on his fine motor skills.  They also make sound puzzles that are really fun!
10. Jogging Stroller: I absolutely love my BOB jogging stroller and think it's worth every penny.  I started getting back into running after Christmastime (when Calvin was 7 months) and love spending the mornings with him.  It's also great for trail walks around our neighborhood.  Even if we're just out and about (and may be through nap time), we bring this stroller because Calvin can lay flat, and it gets so dark under the sun shades.  I also bought this tray to have storage for my phone, drink, etc.
If you missed it, you can click on the photos below to see our two previous favorites posts:

Friday, April 24, 2020

First Birthday Gift Ideas

I cannot believe that Calvin's birthday is in a little under a month! 
I've been thinking about what to buy him since I didn't buy him like any Christmas presents haha - he did not need ANYTHING at 6 months, but now that he has some interests and toys he favors, I wanted to get him some things he'd enjoy this summer, especially if we are stuck safe at home for much of it.  I googled list after list and came up with these 10 gifts/gift idea categories for him.  I tried to find things in a variety of categories: pretend play, music, mobility, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills. 
1. Water table: Calvin is obsessed with the cats' water bowl and the bath, so I know he'll love this water table (that my parents are buying him... shhhh).  We are planning on expanding our patio this spring so that he'll have a great space to keep it outside.

2. Sprinkler and splash pad: Another water-related gift idea.  I thought about getting him an inflatable pool, but I thought this could be something fun and easier to move from place to place.  This isn't something he's getting but may get purchased later in the summer, especially if our pools aren't able to open.

3. Ball pit: I am just doing my best to fill my entire house with kids' stuff, huh???  This just looks like so much fun, and Calvin loves to throw and catch, so I feel like he'd love this.  Or how awesome is this GIANT one??

4. Kitchen play set: This is the first of two gifts that Mike and I are giving Boy for his birthday.  I bought this play set from IKEA with some of their little pots, pans, and food, and I'm refinishing the kitchen to match our kitchen: granite contact paper for the counter tops, silver spray paint for appliances, and dark walnut cabinets to match ours.  My plan is to keep it in our kitchen so he can "cook" with us.

5. Push car: Calvin has a couple of strollers, but I thought something like this, a tricycle, or an RC car (with a remote control for us to steer haha) would be a fun alternative for walks around the neighborhood!

6. Push walker: Bones got one of these as a hand-me-down from my coworker.  It's so cute, and if your baby doesn't have one, I would definitely suggest one!

7. Anywhere chair: This is the other gift (besides the kitchen set) that Mike and I are buying for Boy.  I actually found the chair itself in Facebook marketplace and am just buying a new slipcover with his name - it'll cost me less than half of the full price!

8. Learning tower: I've seen a few moms on Instagram with these, and they look like fun (when Calvin gets a little older).  Basically, you push it up to your counter and baby can be there with you to "help" cook or whatever you're doing.  Bonus is this one folds flat for easy storage.

9. Melissa and Doug: I love ALL of their toys.  I've learned that I'm a sucker for anything that can be personalized or is wooden.  They have a whole "Fill and spill" collection of soft toys (Cal has the bug jar) that you can get with their name on them.  I love the stacking/sorting wooden toys (We have this train), and, of course, their wooden puzzles.  I especially love the peg puzzles.  He's used these since he was 6 months, and I really think it's helped with his fine motor skills.

10. VTech: Calvin got the Kiss and Care Cows from his Auntie for Christmas and is obsessed.  I tried to find a link to them and literally could only find this eBay listing... apparently they're popular? Or out of production?  Yes, Vtech toys are loud, and yes, you get the songs stuck in your head, but he LOVES this toy.  I found a similar fly and learn airplane and pull and sing puppy on Amazon.  Put a little electrical tape over the speaker to muffle it a bit, and you'll tolerate it haha!

Friday, April 10, 2020

10 Little Baby Things You Won't Regret Buying (or Registering For)

I thought we did a pretty good job registering for the big things we needed: bassinet, crib, swing, diapers, not too many clothes... but the one department I knew nothing about before baby was all of the little things we'd need along the way.  Luckily, I had some very sweet mama friends who provided us with these items in gifts for Calvin (some of which I was like, "why do I need this??" when I got them... boy, was I wrong.) 
The thing about these items: when you need them, you need them NOW.  I am so glad that we had so many of these on-hand when Calvin was born, and now I sneak a couple of these into each baby gift I give to a new mom and dad.  My mentality is to buy something off their registry and then add a couple of my own little touches that I know they'll need along the way.  All but one of the links below (not affiliate or sponsored links) are from Amazon, so hopefully if you need one of these ASAP, you'll be able to get it while still social distancing.  Here are my favorites:
1. All the wipes: baby, hand, boogie, and pacifier.  For baby wipes, we use Pampers Sensitive refill packs to fill the wipe warmers and wipe bags (below).  I tried to find a link to these great little Wet ones packs that we keep in the diaper bag, but with the Covid-19 related shortage, everything was sold out.  When Calvin has had a runny nose, Boogie wipes were great with the Nose Frida, and babies throw things on the ground all. the. time. and I love these Pacifier wipes.

2. I had no idea how to travel with wipes in a diaper bag - haha!  This Refillable travel wipe pouch is such a better sustainable way to bring wipes on the go!

3. This Diaper bag dispenser is basically dog poop bags for babies' diapers.  They have a light scent to them, so when you accidentally leave a diaper in your bag for a week, you won't be that upset.

4. A Baby toothbrush set isn't something we needed for a few months, but when Calvin started eating real food (before he even had teeth), we started using it.  This was one of those items I'm glad someone bought us because I never would have remembered to start brushing his teeth when I did - haha!

5. There are so many options for clipping babies' little daggers, but we loved these Safety First nail clippers (or you can buy this whole set that we use a bunch...comb, brush, nail file, tiny bottle for giving Vitamin D).

6. We first gave Calvin Infant Tylenol when he ran a slight fever after his first shots.  This was one of those items that when you need, YOU NEED IT, and don't want to run to the store for it.  Calvin loves grape, and it's been helpful when teething, too.

7. Zarbee's Cough and Mucus was something I found on my own, and we've used it a few times when Calvin had a cough.  Again, grape is the best, and if baby is under 1, make sure you get the kind without honey

8. Johnson's Sleepy Time baby set was a gift from a friend.  We registered for a couple of trail-size bath sets.  I wasn't sure what products or scents I wanted, but when we got this, it was perfect.  The scent is so perfect, and we made every item into Calvin's bedtime routine.  Nightly bath and shampoo, then lotion as he nurses before bed.  10 months later, our routine is still the same!

9. Mike does all of our baby dishes, and he loves this Babyganics foam bottle soap along with the Dr. Brown's bottle brush.  (The Babyganics soap link isn't Amazon, but you can buy the refills on Amazon here.)

10. Lastly, something for mom.  Soothies gel pads were the ONLY thing that made me feel better during those first couple of difficult weeks of breastfeeding.  I would suggest buying a couple sets and putting them in the freezer in between uses.

What did I miss?  What were your favorite little baby items?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Baby's First Easter Basket

Happy Spring, friends!  I hope everyone is staying safe during these crazy times we are currently experiencing. Working from home with a 10 month old, I'm trying to look on the bright side and enjoying spending as much time with my baby as possible.  While he's napping and sleeping, I spend time working, but I've also done quite a bit of online browsing and shopping.  I'm looking for first birthday party ideas (which will probably postponed this month, but I can still plan!) and shopping for first birthday gifts.

With Easter in a little over a week, I thought I would share my current thoughts for Calvin's first Easter basket.  Like a lot of you, I'm buying all of these things online, so hopefully I've given enough time so that y'all can shop for most of this, too.
Personalized Easter basket - I found a lot of "First Easter" baskets, but I decided to get one that he could use year after year.  Obviously, Etsy delivered!  It looks like that one I ordered isn't available for Easter delivery, but this one from the same shop is!

Candy - When I went to the grocery store a couple of weeks ago, I stocked up on some Reese's, Cadbury mini eggs, and Junior mints eggs (our favorites) to fill eggs with.  (I've hidden them so I can't eat them before Easter haha).  I imagine Calvin will love shaking the eggs with the candy inside.

Teething egg - I've been getting targeted advertising for these on social media forever, and since Calvin is currently cutting 3 teeth, I thought this would be perfect.  I also got him the Molar magician from the same company.  They're having a buy-2-get-1-free sale right now, so I bought an extra egg to save as a gift down the road.

Carrot teether - Like I said, little boy is teething, so why not give him a few options.  Plus, this is so festive!

Wooden puzzle - Calvin is obsessed with Melissa & Doug wooden toys.

Egg matching - Another festive toy that will be great for him as he gets up.  I also like this one with the little faces.

Pajamas or personalized shirt - My mom ordered this one from Etsy.  She gets one for him for every holiday, and I love the little dino.

Books - Every holiday, we give Calvin a book and write a little note in it to him.  I have so many of these from family members as I was growing up, and I cherish them so much.  I've been asking friends on Instagram for book ideas, and they did not disappoint for Easter/Spring.  Here is the full list from my post.

Egg fillers - foam finger puppetsplush finger puppetsSnoopy stickerschocolate bunny rubber ducksspring flower rubber ducksmini Easter rubber ducks (theses fit really well in the jumbo size eggs)
FYI - I know I've done a lot of sponsored posts in the past, but my posts right now are in no way sponsored or contain affiliate links, I just hope these can be a resource for other parents.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Top Baby Items for Months 3-6

Not sure what's in the water here in Charleston, but so. many. of my friends are expecting little ones this year!!  I wanted to start getting some baby posts together so that I can remember for myself as well as share with others what has worked well for us, and what I'd recommend.  Everything below is for months 3-6, and I'll be back soon with a 6-9 month post (in a couple weeks when Calvin turns 9 months... how is that possible?!).  And, of course, like I did for my first two months post (click here to read that), I am also sharing a few items at the bottom that we registered for and simply never used.  I know everyone is different here, so these are just my personal preferences!
1. Pack 'n Play - Let's start with sleep.  Calvin slept in a Halo Bassinest for the first couple of months, and little boy smushed his face into the side all the time. He seemed to sleep well like that for a while (cozy, maybe?!), but when we went to New England to visit family for the first time, he slept so well in a Pack 'n Play, so at 10 weeks when we got back, we switched him over to one in our bedroom.  Yes, having a giant Pack 'n Play in your bedroom isn't ideal (Calvin didn't move upstairs to his crib until he was 6 months old), but I'm so glad we did it.  By 10 weeks, he slept 12 hours a night!  HOWEVER, the one I was gifted cost $120, and I've learned that the only real accessory we needed was the infant bassinet (not the napper/changer), and you can save $40 with this option.
2. The Ollie - Calvin loved his swaddles.  Not sure why, but from day 1 (well, day 6 when he got home), we would use the Sleepea swaddle at night and swaddle blankets during the day.  Well, baby boy was a Houdini, so when I saw the Ollie on Taking Cara Babies, I knew I had to try it.  Well, they cost $65.  That's a lot for a swaddle.  I found a lavender one across town on Facebook marketplace for less than half price, so you know Calvin rocked the lavender!  We slept in his Ollie in a DockaTot for naps until he was 5 months when we started sleep training, and he loved it.
3. Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit - We did things a little backwards when it came to unswaddling.  Usually, people unswaddle for naps first then nighttime after naps are going well, but we did the opposite.  Calvin took some rocking to get down for a nap but always went to sleep at night like a champ.  At night, we tried one arm out, then two arms out when he was a little over 4 months, but we quickly realized we needed an in-between.  I borrowed a Merlin suit from a friend (it was pink!! - love it), and we used it for about 3 weeks before he turned 5 months old.  It was the perfect transition for Calvin.  I know it looks like it would be puffy and warm, but we put him it in naked, slipped on some socks (there are no feet on it), and he was comfy around 68-70 degrees at night.
4. Burt's Bees Beekeeper wearable blanket - From the Merlin suit, we went to a regular sleeper with the beekeeper on top.  At first, I was a little resistant to the idea because I thought it would be another thing to transition out of, but when I started to learn the benefits: helps teach a sleep association by putting it on to start every nap and bed time, keeps kids warm without the safety hazard of a blanket, keeps kids from sticking their legs through the crib rails, and prevents standing in the crib when they get older, I was on board.  I love the Burt's Bees brand for the blanket, and he wears either flannel or cotton sleepers from Carter's underneath.

5. Activity gym - Calvin has played on this since he was a couple weeks old, but around 3 months, he really started kicking on the mat and grabbing for toys.  He even rolled over for the first time on this mat.
6. Rainforest Jumperoo - This thing is expensive, but this was another Facebook find!  I bought one for $15 when Calvin was 3 months old, and we started using it when his feet could fully touch the ground around 4 months.  He's loved it ever since.  Yes, it's one of those giant, loud, way-too-bright toys that takes up half your living room, but even if he's fussy, I put him in this, and he's content and laughing!

7. Bumbo floor seat - Gosh, I shop second-hand a lot.  This one was $5 on my neighborhood page and worth every penny.  I used it when I was cooking and took showers, and Mike used it in the garage working.  Calvin even had his first big belly laughs in this when he was with Mike.  We love it.
8. Sophie the freakin' giraffe - There is absolutely baby crack in these things.  Around this age, Calvin wasn't too obsessed with the actual giraffe, but he LOVED the teether that came with it in the gift set.  I plan to do a whole post on toys and what ages he's loved them, but I also thought this deserved special mention here.

9. Swim diaper - We brought Calvin to the pool for the first time at 5 weeks.  We learned quickly that they don't make disposable swim diapers below size 3 (I think he was in size 1 at the time), so we bought this reusable one on Amazon.  It's amazing and has adjustable snaps to fit up to size 5.
10. Ring sling - I finally figured out how to use this thing!! And we've loved it ever since.  I love carrying my little snuggly boy close to me.
And, of course, here are a few items that we haven't loved or used.  If you have any tips and tricks to use any of these, please share them!
1. Electric nail file - We tried everything to cut Calvin's little daggers.  We started with the nail clippers in this Safety 1st kit, and Mike joked that he was 58 for 60 with the first 6 nail cuts (I lost track after that), meaning that he only nicked Calvin twice.  (Trust me, he always tried so hard, that baby was just squirmy!)  Mike didn't love doing the traditional nail cutting, so we bought one of these filing kits.  Well, he wiggled a lot, and I swear it filed his skin more than the nails.  So, we went back to the regular nail clippers.

2. L'ovedbaby kimono onesie - This was a suggestion from a friend to not have to pull poopy onesies over the baby's head, but these weren't that soft (especially for the price), and gosh I hate snaps!

3. Nursing and car seat cover - We never used it as a car seat cover (Calvin is nosy and likes to look everywhere haha), but I used it a lot during the first month or two.  Now, I've definitely become more comfortable with breastfeeding, and that paired with the fact that he eats for 6-7 total minutes instead of 15-20 minutes per side, it's not even worth putting it on.
4. Baby wrap - Yeah, still never figured this one out.  I always felt like he was going to slip out the bottom, but if we have another kid, I've told myself I'm going to master it - haha.

5. Door jumper - As much as Calvin is obsessed with the Jumperoo, he is equally not as in love with this door jumper.  While the Jumperoo keeps him stationary to jump, in the door bouncer, he swings from side to side a lot and has had some close calls with the door frame.  Also, at this age, he couldn't even stick his arms out of it, it was so tall - haha!  We use it sometimes for a change (and it's good for travel), but overall not as good as we had hoped for.

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