Category: Cool Stuff for Babies

My New Favorite Diaper Bag

Every parent knows the iconic Boppy feeding pillow is a must-have for baby. When the twins were born, I also fell in love with the Boppy Newborn Lounger, on which Matt, Nate, and later Lily spent many blissful hours during the first months of their lives.

Now, Boppy has introduced a new diaper bag line called the Boppy Bag Collection. Since I’m such a huge Boppy fan, I jumped at the recent opportunity to test one of the bags.

Let it be known that I have long struggled to find the perfect diaper bag. When the boys were born, I got a Skip Hop diaper bag that I loved, but it just wasn’t roomy enough for two babies’ worth of paraphernalia. So then I got a Skip Hop Duo Double Deluxe, which fit everything well and had plenty of pockets, but the thing was huge and really clunky.

When Lily was born, I decided it was time to lighten my load. So I got a Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack, which everyone seems to love despite its hefty price tag. And even that didn’t do it for me. It was so deep and didn’t have many pockets inside, so it became like a black hole that everything sank into. It would take me forever to find what I needed.

But then my new Boppy Vail Diaper Bag arrived. I was struck immediately by how great it looks. The gray “Plaza Tiles” design is really pretty, but not too feminine for Keith to carry. (The other three designs it comes in are equally nice and gender-neutral.) The Vail is a nice size, but not too big. It can be worn on the shoulder or cross-body like a messenger bag, and it hangs easily from a stroller. Plus, it sells for $59.99 at many retailers like Amazon.com and Babies R Us, making it a lot less expensive than many diaper bags.

Vail

I decided to try out the Vail for the first time on our overnight spring break trip to Baltimore. I usually carry more than usual in my diaper bag when we’re away from home, so it was a pretty good time to test the bag.

Inside the bag, there are two medium-sized pockets, one large pocket with a Velcro closure, and two small side pockets. In the medium pockets, I put things like my wallet, my phone, Lily’s sun hat, etc. I put changes of clothes for both Lily and the boys in the medium pocket. And in the small pockets, I put little items like travel-size Purell and Lily’s hair brush. The main part of the bag was for baby wipes, burp cloths, formula containers, and bibs.

On the inner part of the bag’s exterior, there’s a large pocket with a cushioned foldout changing pad that’s nicely sized for larger babies (which, ahem, Lily is). The front of the bag has a strap with a clip lock where you can secure your Boppy pillow, which is cool if you need to tote it around. There’s also another large pocket in the outer front where I stored the diapers. A shallow pocket on the bottom is perfect for stashing tissues, napkins, and other things you don’t mind losing should they fall out. And on each side of the bag, there’s a pouch that fits two baby bottles.

Finally, the bag comes with accessories that are really useful. There’s a pacifier case, a wipes dispenser case, and a matching wristlet that I got a ton of use out of. I put a couple of diapers, a travel pack of wipes, and some diaper disposal bags in the wristlet. When it was time to change Lily, I just grabbed the wristlet and the changing pad instead of taking the whole diaper bag into the bathroom and digging everything out separately. But the wristlet would also be great in the future for storing my own stuff separate from the baby’s, so that I can quickly find my cell phone, lip gloss, keys, etc.

Even with the roominess of the bag, we struggled to fit everything in it during the trip because of all the extras we were carrying, such as our camera and extra formula. But since we got home and I removed all those items, I haven’t had a problem fitting everything at all. In fact, the bag is so cute and functional that I still use it as my purse in addition to a diaper bag on most days, and it fits both my stuff and Lily’s things. With all the pockets, I’ve managed to keep it really organized, too. It is officially my favorite diaper bag, and I don’t think I’m ever going to switch.

So now that Boppy has successfully expanded into the diaper bag market, I’m excited to see what the company has in store for us next. Pack and plays? Baby carriers? Bedding? I can’t wait to find out!

Disclaimer: I received the Boppy Vail Diaper Bag complimentary to review, but my opinions are my own.

Biscotti and Kate Mack: Pretty Dresses for Pretty Girls

I’m sure all you mamas of girls can relate: Lily is 5 months old, and I’m having a ton of fun dressing her up in all of her pretty clothes. (Seriously, you should see her closet. She has a larger wardrobe than I do.) I can’t wait for a special occasion so I’ll have an excuse to put her in a fancy, frilly dress.

And when that fancy occasion does come, I’ll know just where to turn to find that extra-special princess dress: Biscotti and Kate Mack. This company—a favorite of celebrities like Katie Holmes and Heidi Klum—makes beautiful, fun, frilly dresses and swimsuits for babies and girls size 3 months to 14. The clothing is available in luxury department stores including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Saks, and more; at specialty boutiques across the nation and overseas; and at biscottiandkatemack.com.

Biscotti and Kate Mack sent me a gorgeous pink dress to try on Lily, and it’s absolutely stunning! I am so impressed by the level of detail. The top of the dress has six pretty flowers with tiny pearls and crystals in the center. The bottom has layers of gorgeous tulle cascading down, and there’s a tulle ribbon to tie in the back. Lily looked, quite simply, like a princess. (She squealed in delight the whole time she was wearing it, meaning she already knows a pretty dress when she sees one!)

The only catch? The dress was very short on Lily. It was size 9 months, which is the size she currently wears. So if you have a tall girl like mine (she was in the 90th percentile for height at her last appointment), I’d probably go a size up in Biscotti.

Here’s Lily modeling her Biscotti dress. What do you think?

Lily Biscotti dress IMG_8577

 

Little Twig Baby Wash and Lotion

There comes a point in your kids’ lives when bath time is no longer a soothing, bonding experience for you and them. One peek into my bathroom after the twins have bathed will prove this point. (Think water all over the place, soggy towels, and a tub full of wet toys.) That’s why I am soaking in every moment of bath time with Lily while I still can.

Lily loves baths. She sits back in her infant tub and smiles up at me, her rolls and baby folds glistening in the water, as I gently wash her. And a few weeks ago, bath time got even better.

I received a bottle of Little Twig Calming Lavender Baby Wash to test and review. This organic baby wash is made of a blend of essential oils and mild foam. It combines skin- softening vitamin E with a hint of lavender and chamomile and is gentle enough for newborns.

LT baby wash

I also received a small sample of Little Twig Calming Lavender Baby Lotion. This lotion contains a mix of lavender and lemon to soothe the mind, as well as vitamin E, jojoba, and tea tree oil to heal and soften the skin.

LT lotion

The first time I squeezed out a bit of the baby wash, the subtle lavender scent instantly transported me to a spa. I could almost hear the soothing music playing in the background. There really is something calming about the smell of lavender!

The lotion smelled just as awesome. Lily cooed and smiled at me as I rubbed it into her skin, and Keith and I couldn’t stop sniffing her after that.

But the best part of these products is that they really are gentle on baby’s skin. Little Twig products are phthalate-, paraben-, and sulfate-free. There are no synthetic fragrances. There are also no, nut, soy, or wheat products in them, making them a great choice for little ones with allergies or sensitivities to those foods.

We’ve been using Little Twig for the past few weeks in place of our usual Johnson & Johnson, and I have to say I really see a difference. Lily has extremely sensitive skin. (In fact, our laundry detergent used to make her break out whenever she’d rest her head on our chests.) She’s also always had some dry skin on her forehead. But the dry patches have been much fewer since we started using Little Twig.

I also was pleasantly surprised when I visited the company’s website and found that as far as natural products go, they are not too expensive. The baby wash is $12.50 for an 8.5-oz. bottle, $17.50 for a 17-oz. bottle, and $31.99 for a 34-oz. bottle. The baby lotion is $12.50 for an 8.5-oz. bottle. You can also get them a bit cheaper on Amazon.

If you’re not into lavender, Little Twig products also come unscented or in tangerine. In addition to the baby wash and lotion, you can get bubble bath, shampoo, conditioning detangler, baby powder, and diaper cream. Check out the full product line at littletwig.com and let me know what you think!

 

100% Natural Sunscreen for Babies and Kids

Having lived in sunny Southern California for the past year, we’ve gone through our fair share of sunscreen. I have to admit that due to the high price tag, I haven’t tried using any natural, chemical-free sunscreens on the twins. I’ve simply bought giant bottles of whatever children’s sunscreen happens to be on sale, in SPF 50 or 70, and slathered it on the boys before every outing. They’ve stayed sunburn-free, so it’s been working great. But in the back of my mind, I’ve wondered how much harm the chemicals in the sunscreen were inflicting on the boys.

So when I was given the chance to try out MelanSol Natural Baby Sunscreen SPF 30—a certified 100% natural, toxin-free sunscreen for kids that protects, conditions, and hydrates the skin—for this blog, I jumped at it. A 3.4-oz. bottle retails for $24.99 at puresunscreen.com and for $29.99 on Amazon.com, so I was curious to see what difference paying so much money would make.

MelanSol

First, the facts:

  • MelanSol is non-toxic and contains no chemicals.
  • It is the only natural sunscreen that uses a high-concentration blend of bio-active antioxidants. These antioxidants boost a child’s ability to neutralize free radical damage that is responsible for sunburn, early skin aging, and skin cancer later in life.
  • It is the only natural sunscreen that does not irritate the eyes.
  • It absorbs and starts protecting the moment it’s applied, allowing for immediate fun in the sun—no need to wait 30 minutes after applying.
  • It offers broad spectrum protection, safely reflecting 97 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • It is water resistant for up to 40 minutes.
  • It is gluten free and BPA free.
  • It’s manufactured in the U.S.

That all sounds absolutely wonderful, but how well would the product actually work? I couldn’t wait to try it.

The first time I used MelanSol on the twins was for a morning play date in our sunny backyard, where the kids would be splashing around at the water table and playing with squirt guns. When I opened the bottle, I was a bit taken aback. Since I’d only ever used traditional sunscreen, the non-greasy formula surprised me. It felt more like moisturizer than sunscreen. It had no scent, and it was also a beige color—sort of like makeup. I thought for sure that I’d have to apply tons of it on the boys for it to even be effective.

But I was wrong—a little bit truly goes a long way! I didn’t need to apply a lot at all, and the fact that it rubbed in super quickly was a lifesaver with two squirmy 3-year-olds. My boys also tend to look in every direction except at me when I’m applying sunscreen to their faces, which a couple of times has caused me to accidentally put some too close to their eyes. It happened again while applying the MelanSol, but the sunscreen never ran into their eyes (and if it did, it didn’t bother them).

I was a bit concerned that the SPF was only 30, since I’ve only ever applied higher SPFs on the boys. But after two full hours of outdoor play, they were burn free! I was also thrilled that I didn’t have to bathe them right away—their skin wasn’t ashy or sticky like it usually gets from sunscreen. They also didn’t smell like sunscreen.

I now fully understand the difference between all-natural sunscreen and traditional sunscreen for kids, and it sure is nice to not have to worry about chemicals going into the kids’ bodies. I just wish it weren’t so darn expensive. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for!

If you want to try MelanSol for yourself, click here to order a free sample. Then come back and let me know what you think!

 

Baseball Fanatics!

If you didn’t yet know that baseball is a religion in our house, allow me to share this photo of the twins, taken this past weekend:

LA baseball fans

Yup, this is typical attire when we’re at home. And each morning at breakfast, the boys love to “read” the box scores in the Los Angeles Times, during which they correctly identify every team’s logo. They’ll go down the list and squeal, “That’s the Detroit Tigers!” or “Look, the Baltimore Orioles!”

So my discovery of Fanatics, a leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, could not have come at a better time. Unlike most sports retailers, the site carries a wide selection of apparel and accessories for kids. (Most stores carry a lot of infant clothing and shirts for bigger kids, but very few items in sizes 2T to 4T.) Keith was also excited to see the huge variety of MLB hats—many of which are hard to find in stores—to add to his collection.

I also happened to find Fanatics just before my family experienced our greatest baseball memory thus far. On Sunday, August 17, we went to a Dodgers vs. Brewers game at Dodger Stadium. Despite the fact that the Dodgers lost 7-2—and that it was a boiling 90 degrees outside—it turned out to be our greatest baseball memory as a family thus far. The boys have been to several MLB games already, but this particular game felt extra special. Maybe it’s because we’ll be moving out of Southern California in less than two months. Maybe it’s because our baby girl will be here in 2 1/2 weeks and these outings as a foursome will be soon be ending. Maybe it’s because both of the boys’ beloved LA teams, the Dodgers and the Angels, are in first place.

But the main reason this game was so magical? It was the first one the boys didn’t spend begging for souvenirs and concessions, making us walk back and forth through the stadium, and/or pretending they had to go to the bathroom 800 times just so they could get up. This time, they were actually captivated by the game. They sat still until nearly the end and really paid attention. They clapped along with the crowd. They yelled, “Let’s go, Dodgers!” They pointed out everything on the field. (“There’s the dugout!” “There’s the umpire!”) They asked Keith questions about the players. It was truly the stuff that family baseball memories are made of.

Dodgers bobblehead

The real highlight of the outing, though, came on the drive home. The boys sat in the backseat wearing their new Dodgers souvenir batting helmets, chatting happily about how much fun the game was. Then, without a hint of irony, Matt said, “I’m going to play for the Dodgers when I’m a grown-up.”

So there you have it, folks. Write this date down: On August 17, 2014, Matthew Daniel Walters declared to the world that he is going to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I can just envision the LA Times story in 2034: “At just 3 years old, rookie Dodgers shortstop Matt Walters already knew he would one day play for the boys in blue. His twin, Angels catcher Nate Walters, took a bit longer to choose his path in life.” Wouldn’t that be amazing?

When you get a moment, check out the Fanatics website. There is something for every fan, no matter what sport you follow!

And P.S.: Yes, we are a house divided. Keith is a huge Angels fan, and I have retained my loyalty to the Mets. But while Matt and Nate love both LA teams, they often have a real LA rivalry going. Matt, who is obsessed with Clayton Kershaw, favors the Dodgers. Nate, who idolizes Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, leans toward the Angels. A freeway World Series would be pretty awesome!

What’s your favorite family baseball memory? Leave a comment and let me know!

The Most Bad-Ass Lullabies Ever!

We’ve taken many music classes with the twins, and despite the fact that many of the teachers have Disney-worthy voices, they’ve always insisted that “babies like their mommies’ and daddies’ voices best.”

Yeah, not my babies. I have a singing voice not even my own kids can love. Sometimes when I start singing along to a song in the car, they’ll yell, “Don’t sing, Mommy!!!”

But the boys do love music, and they can even appreciate good music when they hear it. The other day, Nate started singing Brian Wilson’s “California Role” under his breath, much to Keith’s delight. When we listen to a top 40 station, the boys will shout, “That’s Katy Perry!” or “I love John Legend!”

Still, Keith and I are definitely subjected to our fair share of kid music. After 30 minutes or so in the car, the boys will start whining, “We want to hear our music!” Then we’ll have to listen to Parachute Express or Greg and Steve for the gazillionth time, until we’re ready to blow our brains out. And the Toddler Tunes channel on cable seems to have not updated its playlist since Matt and Nate were babies.

So when Keith and I discovered Rockabye Baby, we were instantly hooked. Rockabye Baby takes the rock music parents love and transforms it into instrumental lullabies. The company has put out more than 50 albums to date, giving the lullaby treatment to artists including the Beatles, U2, Coldplay, and David Bowie. Babies and kids love the music because it’s beautiful and soothing, and parents love it even more because it includes recognizable songs from their favorite bands. No more listening to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Hush, Little Baby” over and over again at nap time and bedtime!

For parents who want a little more variety, Rockabye Baby recently put out its first compilation album and mini picture book. The album, called “Good Baby, Bad Baby,” features 13 lullaby versions of pop hits, including Beyonce’s “Halo,” Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie,” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” According to Rockabye Baby, the album “is sure to make for a smooth bedtime regardless if your baby is as good as gold or bad to the bone.”

Good Baby, Bad BabyRockabye Baby sent me a digital copy of the album to review, and I have to say—I love it! I felt the company found really unique and interesting ways to “lullaby-ify” the songs. I was also pleasantly surprised by the more unexpected inclusions, like Radiohead’s “Creep” and Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence,” both of which are amazing.

Matt and Nate listened to the songs with me while playing. They really enjoyed the album as well, but Matt asked a few times, “Where are the words?” (All of the lullabies are lyric-free.) That just proves the music is best for what it was intended for—nap time and bedtime, when kids are trying to drift off to sleep.

The boys did get very excited when they heard the lullaby version of their favorite pop song—Pharrell’s “Happy.” When the first notes started to play, they both stopped what they were doing. A look of recognition crossed both of the boys’ faces at about the same time and they started shouting, “It’s ‘Happy!’ It’s ‘Happy!'”

And like Matt and Nate, I think “Happy” is the best song on the album. I was a bit mystified by the inclusion of Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’.” (Really, could you get more inappropriate for little ones?) But as I said, none of the songs include lyrics, so it was included more for the tune and for parents to enjoy.

In short, I am really thrilled to have this album now that my baby girl will be here in less than a month. I plan to purchase more Rockabye albums prior to our cross-country drive to our new home in Virginia in October, because I think the songs will help all of the kids nap—and Keith and I will really enjoy listening to them. Let’s just hope they don’t also put the driver to sleep!

Check out this YouTube clip of the Rockabye version of Pharrell’s “Happy.” It’s awesome, right?

Rockabye Baby CDs are available for purchase at www.rockabyebabymusic.com/music, or you can download the albums on iTunes. Here’s to long naps and restful nights for you and your little ones!

 

Biking With Twins

Keith and I have never let having twins keep us from doing the things we love. Sure, we sometimes hire babysitters so that we can have some kid-free time. But more often than not, we simply get creative so that the boys can enjoy our favorite activities right along with us. We’ve taken incredible hikes in the mountains of Colorado with the boys in backpacks on our backs, we’ve eaten many delicious restaurant meals with them beside us in high chairs, and they’ve even accompanied me on quite a few marathon shopping trips (bless their patient little hearts).

Since moving to Southern California, we’ve discovered another activity we love—bike riding. We debated buying bicycles to ride along the beachfront because we thought it might be too tricky to take Matt and Nate along with us. But boy, were we ever wrong. We purchased an awesome bike trailer—the InStep Sierra Double Bicycle Trailer—for the boys to sit in, and they absolutely love it! Sure, Keith does all the work pulling them, but he gets a great workout, and we all have a lot of fun.

Click here to read my full review of the InStep Sierra Double Bicycle Trailer on babygizmo.com. Then head on over to Amazon.com to buy one!

Bike trailer
The twins enjoying a bike ride in their InStep Sierra Double Bicycle Trailer