Family

My Must-Have Baby Products (Birth-4 Months)

July 10, 2015

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I think I should preface this entire post by saying that baby products are a really personal thing, and by really personal I mean that it’s really personal for your baby. What works for Ainsley might not work for another little one. Heck, I’ve wasted enough money in the last four months by buying the wrong baby products that were a total flop with my baby boss.

That said, I was super interested during pregnancy in what baby products were worth it and what products could be passed on. We have a small-ish house with limited storage space and no extra room for baby products that we don’t need. That said, here are the products we can’t live without!

1. Gummygoods Night Light in RED $27
I’m so thankful someone told me about this product! The first month of Ainsley’s life I would turn on her overhead light on the lowest setting (we have a dimmer) but even on that low setting, it would wake both of us up, making it difficult to get back to sleep.

The red light in this Gummygoods Night Light is less disruptive to sleep patterns and melatonin production than regular blue/white light. It’s been a total lifesaver when it comes to middle of the night feedings and diaper changes and travels well, too. I’m going to start buying these for my new momma friends as baby gifts!

2. Keekaroo Peanut Changer $99
This changing pad is more expensive than the traditional cloth-covered changing pads, but worth every single penny. I’m not sure how people use any other type! It’s made of a soft and squishy material that’s comfortable for baby, easy to wipe down (no changing pad covers needed!) and helps prevent bacterial growth. I LOVE it so much and so do Joe and Ainsley. I can’t tell you how many times Ainsley’s peed on the changer or I’ve gotten poop on it, and it’s such a timesaver to be able to use a baby wipe to clean messes up and move on with our day.

3. Solly Baby Wrap in Natural & Grey Stripe $65
As far as baby carriers go, this is a must-have for those first few months. It’s soft, stretchy and unbelievably comfortable for mom and baby; it’s great to have some additional hands-free time while your newborn naps in the wrap or wants to be close while you need to get things done around the house. Plus, it’s smaller than other carriers like the Ergo, so I never go anywhere without it tucked in my purse in case I need to soothe a fussy baby by putting her in the carrier. It also doubles as a car-seat cover, a burp rag, etc.

Now that Ainsley is getting a little bigger, she actually likes the Ergo 360 a little more. But those first few months it was all about the Solly Baby Wrap.

4. Coach Baby Bag $398
Okay, this is NOT a necessity, but hear me out: Years ago while I was in college I asked for the Coach Diaper Bag for Christmas because it happened to make a great school bag with all the pockets and straps. Now, six years later, I still have the same bag and have started to use it for it’s intended purpose – as a diaper bag! I guess my argument here is this: Buying quality is almost always worth it. I’ve gotten a ton of use out of a single bag, and now I’m using it for it’s intended purpose. It still looks great, holds up well and has tons of pockets. Plus, I feel a little more put-together with a diaper bag that looks more like a purse than a diaper bag. This isn’t the exact model I have, but it’s the newest version.

5. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser and Refill Bags $8
I’m so glad I was turned on to these bags! I have the dispenser and bags in my purse at all times for diaper changes on the go and have found them invaluable for holding in the stink. Plus, it’s much more polite to throw away a dirty diaper wrapped in a stink-sealing bag that won’t make the room smell after you leave.

6. Leachco Podster Infant Lounger $47
Ainsley used this little baby lounger pillow all the time during the first few months of life. She would nap in it during the day while sitting in the sunshine (my attempt and helping her get her days and nights figured out) and it was a great, comfortable way to set her down when I needed to get something done. I can’t recommend it enough! Now that she is a bit bigger she doesn’t use it quite as much, but it expands as your baby grows to get more use out of the pillow.

7. Rock and Play Sleeper $58
All the moms I talked to before having Ainsley mentioned this product, and I know why! During the first couple months Ainsley slept in her Rock and Play a LOT at night while we were working on making the transition to the crib. We put her Rock and Play in her nursery so she got used to sleeping there while also feeling snug and secure and she napped it the Rock and Play a lot as well. Around 8 weeks we made the full-time transition to the crib, but I’m not sure I would have survived those newborn days without this!

8. Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs $22 for two
These are the best burp rags out there and they double as bibs with the snaps that they’re equipped with. The material is soft and absorbent and they’re large enough to clean up big messes. They’re a bit of a splurge, so I would suggest adding them to your registry!

9. Simethicone Infant Gas Drops $7
Our pediatrician recommended using simethicone for infant gas when I was worried about Ainsley’s tummy and all the gas that she was having. When your baby is crying in the middle of the night because of tummy distress, you’ll be glad you have something to give them. I started giving Ainsley a little before bed every night during a particularly fussy period of time and it seemed to help a lot! Now that her stomach and digestive system has matured, I rarely use the drops.

And, equally important, the things we purchased that I think you could do without:
1. Pack and Play: Everyone told me this was a necessity, but we disagree! We purchased a Pack and Play with the bassinet attachment and it lasted about a month in our bedroom before we packed it up and put it away. My mom owns a Pack and Play and my mother-in-law does, too, as does my family in Idaho, so we haven’t had a reason to take it with us yet! Maybe in the future we will need it, but I would hold off on buying one until you know you’ll need it!
2. Sleep contraptions: I’m going to do a whole post on this in the next couple weeks because in the last four months we’ve purchased ALL THE SWADDLES AND SLEEP PRODUCTS you can imagine. I recently loaned them out to a friend who is about to have a baby because I couldn’t imagine another person having to spend all that money just to figure out what products you baby likes and dislikes. We ended up loving two products: The Halo Sleep Swaddle (which we were given at the hospital) and Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit, but it varies so much from baby to baby that I would advise borrowing from friends if at all possible!
3. Bottles: You need these, sure, but don’t go out and buy a bunch of bottles before your baby arrives. Like sleep contraptions, bottles vary greatly and what your baby likes and doesn’t like will surprise you. We lucked out and happened to buy bottles that Ainsley loved, but we tried others after the fact and realized that she had definite preferences. Once again, borrow a few from friends to figure out what your baby likes or buy one of a few different brands before you commit to a whole set!

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

When It’s Not “Love at First Sight”

July 8, 2015

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ainsleynewborn

Photo by Gina Zeidler 

As we were preparing for Ainsley’s arrival I heard a lot of people talk about the amazing “love at first sight” that you feel when your little one is born. People went on and on about how the minute you become a mom you are instantly changed and overwhelmed with all the feelings. Me? I was a little skeptical and more than a little worried about the whole thing. You see, when someone tells me that I’m going to feel a certain way there is a degree of stress and pressure to feel those same feelings. And if you don’t what does that mean?

Here’s the thing that people don’t tell you: You might not experience overwhelming love at first sight. I know I certainly didn’t. I loved Ainsley from the moment I saw her: she was our long-awaited and much-anticipated miracle baby, for goodness sake! But I was also exhausted, clueless, overwhelmed and navigating a whole new world with a baby I hardly knew. I didn’t know anything about her personality or her likes and dislikes and I wasn’t confident in my skills as a mother in the least, because no amount of babysitting can ever prepare you for being a mom.

I was deeply committed to being her momma, in awe of her presence and her cute little features, thankful beyond words for her presence in our life and grateful for her safe and healthy delivery. But I felt so guilty about not having the emotional love response that others had told me I would have. I carried that guilt around with me like a dirty little secret that wasn’t appropriate to disclose.

The other night while on vacation, Joe and I were laying in bed after Ainsley went to sleep just chatting on and on about how much we loved her and how much FUN she has started becoming in the last month or so. Now that she is 4 months old, she is smiling, babbling to herself, giggling and responding to us in new ways everyday. She grabs the puppy’s tail and makes funny faces to things, her eyes light up when we sing to her and she tries her best to sing along. She’s becoming a real person with real likes, dislikes and personality traits. And over the past couple months I’ve started to fall deeply in love with who she is as a unique individual, beyond the fact that she is our baby.

I told Joe, “I think I’ve always loved her, but now I really understand what that all-consuming love for her is about!” Sounds horrible, right? I mean, you’re “supposed” to love your baby that way from day 1. But with all the sleepless nights, hazy days, raging hormones, baby (and mommy!) tears, and so many unknowns, I found it sort of difficult to really make that connection. And now that things have settled into a routine and we’re getting to know our little person? Gosh, it just keeps getting better and better!

So if you’re a new mom or soon-to-be mom or even thinking about having kids in the future, I want to encourage you. You don’t have to feel any certain way at any certain time. Maybe you’ll experience that great “love at first sight” moment like some people do, or maybe, like me, it will take you a little longer. Whatever your journey, there really is no “right” way to do things or a set of benchmarks that you need to reach and different moments in your development as a mom. Just like your baby reaches developmental milestones at different times, moms reach those moments at different times, too!

Madison

Fashion

Stitch Fix July Review

July 7, 2015

Stitch Fix July 1Right after returning from vacation I had a new Stitch Fix box to welcome me back to real life. I’ll admit, it helped a bit in softening the post-vacation blues and was a fun surprise when it arrived at my door yesterday morning. Since I haven’t decided which items to keep and which to return, I was hoping you might be able to help me with this month’s box? I’m super torn on what items to keep! Let’s dive in…

PS: Interested in signing up for Stitch Fix? You can do so with my referral link HERE.

1. Brixon Ivy Azure Lace Overlay Blouse $54
I thought this top was sort of strange before I tried it on, but when I look back at photos that Joe took, I really like the top?! I’m not entirely sold either way, because in some respects it seems a bit casual for work and doesn’t really fit my style, but it’s fun and a little different, too.

Stitch Fix July 42. Pixley Carlyn Pleated Skirt $58
I wanted to love this skirt, but I’m not sure it’s really the most flattering thing? Overall, stretchy waist skirts don’t tend to be the best look for my body type, at least that’s what I’ve always thought. And I have a skirt that’s pretty similar in color and shape, so I’m not sure it meets a real “need” in my closet at this time.

Stitch Fix July 23. Pixley George Crochet Detail Knit Top $44
As you can probably tell from the photo, this top was a little bit too short for my long torso. That said, I’m not sure I would think about keeping it even if it was longer. It’s casual and cute, but at this point I’m not really looking to buy clothes that are super casual. They need to work for the office and at home!

4. Kut From The Kloth Kate Boyfriend Jean $78
I love this brand of jeans and have purchased a pair or two from Stitch Fix before. My complaint is that they are semi-boyfriend but not really? I have a few pairs that require you to roll the bottom up and this just seems like more of the same. I guess I would rather have a pair of skinny jeans that fit well. But I do love the way these fit and how comfortable they are!

Stitch Fix July 35. Pixley Joaquin Hooded Vest $74
I asked for a denim vest but was told in my comment card that they weren’t able to find a denim vest and included this vest instead. I’m not a huge fan of the loose fit and giant pockets at my hips. Although I appreciate the effort of including a vest, this one doesn’t really seem like a suitable alternative to a denim vest. I was hoping for something a little more cropped and fitted.

So what items would you keep? Which ones would you return? I desperately need your help deciding this time around!

Madison

Stitch Fix affiliate links used. Opinions are my own.

Family

Traveling With a Baby

July 5, 2015

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We just returned from our first long vacation with Ainsley; in fact, we were gone for 10 days, the longest trip we’ve taken since our travels to Italy! I was more than a little nervous to be traveling with a baby, especially since our trip included a flight to Boise, a 2+ hour drive through the mountains of Idaho, and a couple different places to rest our head over the course of the trip. I researched about flying with a little one and how to adapt and adjust along the way, and our travels were really successful! Here are a few things I learned along the way…

1. Be flexible when possible. 
I went into our trip with the mentality that I was going to have to be more flexible than normal. Ainsley typically sticks to a pretty routine schedule during her days and goes to bed around 7 each night, but transitioning to a different time zone and spending time with family, I knew that it wasn’t going to be entirely possible to stick to our regular sleep schedule.

Instead of stressing about the whole thing, I decided to try and go with the flow as much as possible, within limits. Ainsley added a cat nap into her night time routine and went to bed a bit later, around 9 pm each night, which allowed us to go out to dinner with family while still getting Ainsley to bed at a reasonable time. I was surprised at how well she did! She slept 8 or 9 hour stretches each night, probably because she was so worn out from all the new experiences, and slept in a little later than normal to compensate for the later bed times.

2. Ask for an extra airplane seat. 
Our flight on the way out to Boise was totally full, so an extra seat wasn’t an option. But on the way home our flight had a number of open seats. We got to our gate a little early and asked about getting an extra seat for Ainsley so we could take her car seat on board. The gate agent moved us around to a row with an empty seat and we got to take the car seat on board. It was great having a bit more room for Ainsley to move around and nap in her car seat and it was awesome not having to worry about bothering the person next to us!

3. Feed during take-off and landing.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but we fed Ainsley during take-off and landing and we had no issues with her ears bothering her. She ate well and was such a trooper during both flights. During the second flight we had to do a little walking up and down the isles to get her to settle down and sleep, but everyone we sat near was SO friendly and the flight attendants did everything they could to make our trip as comfortable as possible.

4. Know airline policy.
Do a little research in advance so you know what you can/can’t take through security and what you’ll get charged extra for when you’re flying with a baby. Security will let you take your bottles of water for formula through security even if they are more than 3 ounces, and the same applies to breast milk without volume restrictions. You can gate-check your stroller/car seat without an additional charge, but any extra baggage will be charged the standard airline rate unless you buy a separate seat for your baby. If you’re traveling internationally, most airlines offer discounted infant and toddler tickets and, as mentioned above, if you have a plane that’s not full, check with your gate agent about getting placed in a row with an empty seat so you can take your car seat on board.

5. Keep your sleeping quarters as normal as possible. 
Ainsley sleeps in a room with black out shades and a sound machine, so we wanted to keep her sleeping conditions as normal as possible. Our family had a pack and play at our destination with a bassinet so she was up higher in the pack and play, and it worked great! I also traveled with a bunch of black trash bags and masking tape in case the room was light and we needed to create a black-out shade in the rooms we were sleeping in. We didn’t end up using them, but it was nice knowing we had the option.

Additionally we traveled with Ainsley’s sound machine and used it on a portion of our travels to keep her room free of distractions. Overall we were really surprised about how adaptable Ainsley was and we realized we don’t need to be nearly as quiet as we thought we needed to be when she slept!

5. Pack to be prepared.
I’m not a big fan of over-packing, but when a baby is involved I think it’s best to have everything you might need. We took along a mini first aid kit and some baby first aid essentials, including baby Tylenol, just in case, as well as all her typical toiletries, a few toys, a couple muslin blankets, books and a number of teething toys and pacis. My goal was to have everything we needed and eliminate having to go to the store or search out a Target at the last minute. It saved us money in the long run and gave me peace of mind knowing we had everything Ainsley might need if something went wrong.

6. Bring a sling or baby carrier!
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Saved us a couple of times to have my Solly Baby Wrap in my purse to wrap Ainsley up and soothe her. Plus, your family or friends might have fun wearing your baby; I know my little sister did!

7. Keep calm and carry on. 
Overused phrase but good advice none the less. On our way home, Ainsley had a massive blow-out in the security line at the airport; we’re talking poop dripping on the carpet in line! I took a deep breath, stepped out of line and whipped out one of our handy disposable changing pads and changed her right there in a matter of minutes. Never was I so thankful for extra zip top bags and our roll of arm and hammer disposable diaper bags to clean up a huge mess in a hurry. An added bonus? I got compliments from the TSA security man on my fast diaper-changing skills!

Madison

Family

My Little Sister’s Wedding

July 1, 2015

photo (95)We traveled to Idaho last week to celebrate my baby sister’s wedding to Alex! They got married in the most beautiful location in the mountains and we constantly found ourselves in awe of the beauty around us as we celebrated their marriage and new life together.

I haven’t attended many smaller weddings, but after this one I’m pretty sure that keeping the guest list down to just close friends and family is where it’s at. It was SO much fun to have the setting nice and intimate and much less stress, too!

We rented a house on the venue property for the weekend so the whole family could stay together and hired a babysitter for Ainsley on the day/evening of the wedding so we could enjoy the wedding and fully put our attention on the bride and groom. Ainsley dropped by for a little while and then headed back to the house to go to bed on time.

The happy couple is celebrating by honeymooning in Denmark and then settling into life in North Carolina. I couldn’t be more excited for them as they start their life together! Here are a few photos from the day…

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