Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The cold winter air is no friend to dry skin.  This evening I bathed Lil Z-Bear and put extra lotion on him to make sure his super soft skin stays that way.  Then, after putting him to bed, I moisturized my hands and sat down on my computer, and had a sudden inspiration to write about the stuff I absolutely love to use on Lil Z-Bear’s skin, and the stuff I use on mine.

For baby

I am a big fan of the Weleda Baby Products.  In this earlier post I rave all about it.  And several months later, I love it even more and we keep it well stocked in our house.   However, I have also discovered something else that is a super powerful weapon against the cold weather.  And it is a multitasker – great for wind chapped cheeks, dry lips, and to keep the bottom well moisturized:

And the best part, Aquaphor is non-scented, cheap and available everywhere!


For Mama

Ever since having Lil Z-Bear, I notice my skin is drier than it used to be.  I am a long time user of Clinique, and I have continued to use the mild soap and Dramatically Different moisturizer.  But to give my skin some extra punch,  I’ve been using Bliss Fabulous Foaming wash (I love the gentle exfoliating action this everyday wash gives, and it is never over-drying on skin).  And I follow with L’Occitane Shea Butter Face Cream.  I am absolutely infatuated with all things L’Occitane, and their Shea Butter line is my favorite.  This is some serious moisture we are talking about here.  If you have dry skin, you will feel it almost sigh in relief as soon as you put this cream on.

Looking for a good eye cream  – I have two I love.  Clinique All About Eyes is a perennial fave of mine.  It works wonders to get rid of tired eyes, puffiness, and dark circles.  But I also love Bliss All Around Eye cream, it really moisturizes well to reduce the look of fine lines, and a tiny little tube of this goes a long, long way.

Need to slough away some flaky winter skin?  Then look no further than…..St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub.  I have been using this drugstore darling since I was fifteen!  And I loved it then and I love it now.  Once (sometimes twice) a week I scrub down face and body with this, and it never fails to leave skin soft and glowing.

Between changing diapers and washing hands, try any of L’Occitane hand creams.  I have tried a LOT of hand creams, but these are without peer.  It is uber moisturizing, and hands feel soft and supple, even after washing!

And finally, it’s hard to find time to do make-up some most days.  But these two products work wonders in giving you the flawless look in less than 2 minutes.

I am madly in love with Benefit.  Their stuff is sooo cute, and it works!  For time-pressed mornings, a quick dab of That Gal brightening primer followed by a swipe of Some kind-a gorgeous foundation faker, and you are good to go!


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Diaper Duty

I was in Target this weekend and picked up a ginormous box of diapers and baby wipes and struggled to put it in my cart.  Phew…that should be enough…for a week, I guess.  You never truly understand just how many diapers you are going to change as a new mom until you actually have a baby.  Whatever number you have in your head, multiply it by at least 2.  So it baffles me when I see someone with a small pack of diapers and just one pack of wipes in their cart walking breezily down the store.  How do they do it?  I read that the average baby goes through 2,800 diapers a year.  That means more than 90 trips to the store if you buy the dainty 30 pack every time.  Wow!  I think I’d rather stick to the unsightly box of 200.  And today, I’d like to share my review on the baby diapers we’ve used for Lil Z-Bear.

Pampers Swaddlers – We were given Swaddlers at the hospital, and we continued to use them.  I like the soft, cloth-like feel, and it has a snug yet not too tight fit that contours very well around the Lil Z’s precious legs and bottom.  Also, as far as leaks ago, besides a handful here and there, (which was mostly related to either waiting too long to change his diaper, or my novice experience in putting the diaper on) we have not had any leak problems.  I confess I had never changed a baby’s diaper until Lil Z entered this world, and the Swaddlers are easy to put on, and the tabs are Velcro-like.

Pampers Cruisers – When Lil Z outgrew his Swaddlers, I was bummed out (no pun intended) since I liked the Swaddlers so much and because it meant Z-Bear was becoming a big boy (Waaah!).  The Cruisers are great, they are simply a larger and slightly thinner version of Swaddlers.

Pampers Sensitive Baby wipes – These are unscented and claim to be as gentle as water.  I love them, they don’t irritate Z-Bear’s bum, they are soft yet sturdy, and they aren’t sticky or messy.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stay away from heavily fragranced products for baby. There simply is no need for it, especially if you have a baby with sensitive skin.  On the subject, I use Tide Pure and Gentle for baby’s laundry, and discovered it take out stains just as well as regular Tide, so I started doing all our laundry in it…it makes laundry a whole lot easier.

Diaper Cream:  Check out this earlier post.

Diaper Genie – I read mixed reviews on this, and I was skeptical about the Genie.  But now that we have it, I can’t imagine doing without it.  We use the Diaper Genie Elite II, and we have no problems with diaper smells.  The bags that need to be purchased separately can get expensive, but I think it’s a small price to pay for the convenience. 

Changing table – This is another essential that we can’t imagine doing without. It makes changing diapers so much easier, and is great for getting baby dressed.  If I could do it over again, I would get a changing table with a side table attached at the same level as the changing pad.  Because now that Lil Z is getting bigger, there isn’t enough room for the baby wipes box on the changing pad, and using the shelves on the bottom is an extra step that could have been easily avoided.

Diaper Stacker: This contraption made from cloth and a hanger seems unassuming, but I’d say it’s a must for every nursery.  Ours hangs on the wall at the same level as the changing table, and being able to just reach over and pull one out is a huge benefit.  It’s a lot easier than reaching down for diapers stacked in a box or bin. It sounds small, but with so much strain on your back with baby activities, every little thing counts.

Be sure to have hand sanitizer (with a pump) on the changing table.  Oh, and the baby wipes warmer…that you can skip.

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There is so much conflicting advice out there about what is worth buying for your baby, and what is a waste of money.  I am sure that every mother has a different experience because every baby is different.  I read a lot of stuff that said that the so called ‘sleeping aids’ for babies are a waste of money, but here is a list of tried and true things that worked for us in drifting Lil Z Bear into dreamland.

Disclaimer: We have been very blessed with a baby with a sweet temperament, who is a good sleeper.  If we are blessed with a second child, and the baby has a feisty temperament or is simply not a great sleeper, I know some of these methods just may not work.

Swaddle:  Swaddle your baby.  Swaddle your baby.  No, seriously, swaddle your baby.  Make sure you do it right.  Baby’s arms should be relaxed and near his sides, and his elbows should not be poking out.  If not, no matter how tight you swaddle, baby’s arms will pop out.  And speaking of tight, don’t be afraid to wrap the little one up nice and tight.  Yes, the baby may struggle to get his arms out.  But once he falls asleep, he will stay asleep much longer.  And swaddling the baby will keep him comforted and content.  The other trick: CONTINUE to swaddle your baby well after 12 weeks.  We swaddled Lil Z Bear for a little over 5 months, and it worked out great.  We used Aden+Anais muslin Cloths and SwaddleMe (Make sure you get the right size of the swaddle me, we used a small for the first 3 months and the medium for the following 2 months.)

Sleep Sheep:  Lil Z Bear’s sheep is called “Gulbi” and she is a true pal.  The gentle white noise in the background has been a lifesaver to drift him to sleep and to keep him asleep.  We used the heartbeat sound when he was a wee little thing, and now use the ocean waves and the whale sounds, both of which he loves.  Thinking of splurging?  Get the full size one for the crib, and the travel size to take with you.  Because the familiar sound will help the little one fall asleep in unfamiliar surroundings.

Fisher Price Aquarium:  There are a few on the market, but this one is the best.  It’s no longer made, so we had to do some serious internet searching before we found one brand new.  And we paid a premium for it.  But it was totally worth it, because Lil Z loves it, and we love the convenient remote it comes with.  I’d recommend using it after at least 3 months, when baby will be more interested in it.

Twilight Turtle:  When I opened this package up, I was a little disappointed that all the little turtle does is light up.  But now, after using it for nearly 5 months, it’s the perfect night light, with soothing colors, and the projected stars are quite pretty.

My Little Lamb Swing:  We LOVE this swing.  We only use it to for Lil Z’s naps when we need to get him to fall asleep quick, or when he is overtired and cranky.  It works like a charm every single time.  I am going to miss it when he outgrows it (which is coming up soon!).  Tip: Once baby has fallen into a deep slumber, you can turn the swing off.  Then, if he wakes up and you need him to sleep a little longer, just turn the swing back on and baby is often lulled back to sleep for a bit longer.

Cry-it-Out:  I know this one is controversial, and I truly believe that every parent should find their own path on what is the best method for putting your child to sleep.  For those parents who are all about No Cry, I say kudos to you since this method requires a lot of hard work and patience.  In our case, we use a mix between Cry-it-Out and Check and Console.  This method works for us:  we place Lil Z in his crib sleepy but not yet asleep, and he never whimpers for more than 10 minutes before falling into a deep slumber.  On nights when he is overtired or overexcited, or just moody, he does cry for more than 10 minutes.  When it has been more than 15 minutes, we pick him up, play with him for 10 to 15 minutes, and then put him down again.  It usually doesn’t take long for him to fall asleep after that. 

Every day we are thankful to be blessed with such a happy and healthy baby.

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This Thanksgiving weekend was chock full of firsts.  I was in such holiday weekend mode, it was near impossible rolling out of bed this morning, getting dressed, heading to work and leaving Lil Z-Bear home.

Z-Bear loved sitting in the warm kitchen and watching mama cook.  He was especially excited when we got ready to put the turkey in the oven.  But wait a second…that’s not the turkey!

Uh-oh, sorry Z-Bear, it got a little confusing since you are both the same size.  But he forgave us and was happy to see just how nice the turkey came out. 

And he digged in with us. Lil Z got his first vegetable that day: sweet potatoes…he was a fan!

The next day we went out and bought our little guy a highchair.  I was enjoying using the Bumbo chair for the past couple of weeks, but now that we have the highchair, it’s so easy for feedings, we absolutely love it.  He loved it too!

I spent the weekend preparing pureed organic veggies – sweet potatoes for now, and carrots and avocado to try out later in the week.  I always knew I wanted to feed Z-Bear homemade baby food, and this weekend I discovered making it is a cinch.  I simply roasted them in the oven until super tender, and mashed them until they were smooth.  I also put in a dash of pepper, because I am counting on Z-Bear to like spices just as much as I do.  I am in love with these freezer containers we found at Babies R Us for storing.

Saturday was the first night hubby and I went out without the baby.  We went to an engagement party for a family friend, and we had a good time.  And we got to come home to this fellow…notice that he is out of the swaddle!  Yes, that was another first this weekend, he has now moved on to the Halo Sleep Sack.

We wrapped up with a lazy Sunday, staying in, playing with Z-Bear, watching movies, and enjoying some quality family time.  The perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

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We have officially started giving Lil Z his first solid food.  He is 2 weeks shy of 5 months, but I confess, I was antsy to see if he would even know what to do with a spoon.  That, plus he is hungry as a horse lately, and I gathered it just may be time for something other than milk.

 His first food: Earth’s Best Organics Rice Cereal.  I bought the ‘Convenient Packets’, and I would recommend doing so in the beginning since the little one may not get the hang of it right away, and this makes sure you only open a little bit and the cereal stays fresh.  I used Tommee Tippee feeding utensils, simply because I wanted to give the company’s products another try.  My prior experience with their bottles was not so successful, but I am happy to say that the feeding bowls and spoons are awesome, and we give it a big thumbs up.  I also bought food pots for on-the-go feeding because they just looked so darned cute.

Z-Bear looked like such a big boy sitting on his Bumbo chair when we began the feeding.  We love the Bumbo chair, and not just because it has such a fun sounding name.  It works great at this stage, before we are ready to move on to a highchair, and it uses up such little space.  For the first feeding, I used half a tablespoon of Earth’s Best Organics Rice Cereal mixed with one tablespoon of breast milk.  He was definitely intrigued by what mama and papa were so excited about when we began the feeding, but it didn’t click with him that he was supposed to eat it.  So the first try was not really a success.  I wasn’t discouraged and we tried a few days later.  Only this time, I added equal parts cereal and milk, and what do you know, Lil Z was opening his mouth wide and ready to eat the second time around.  He gobbled it up in a matter of minutes.  We were so proud!  Can’t wait until he is ready for more foods and I can start preparing baby food for the little gourmand.

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In a perfect world, I would not need to make a single baby bottle for Lil Z.  In a perfect world, I would have breastfed him until he was 2.  Yes, that’s right, 2 years, as in 24 months old.  That’s what I would have wanted to do.  But, alas, perfection is not always attainable.  So Lil Z has been drinking from a bottle, whether breast milk or formula, for quite some time now (whatever ‘quite some’ of 4 months is).  We’ve tried 3 different bottles for the Bear, and here’s my review of them.

Dr. Brown’s Standard Plastic 4 and 8 oz bottles : When doing my research on baby bottles, Dr. Browns kept coming up as a favorite amongst reviewers.  So I went out and bought a pack.  I like these bottles.  A lot.  And I use these bottles for Z-Bear. That being said, there are a few drawbacks, but even then, these bottles always come out a winner.  The look: I like the traditional look of these bottles with the cylindrical shape, the white cap, and the clear nipple.  Inside the bottle is a two-piece internal vent system that reduces air bubbles.  The result: Lil-Z seldom has problems with gas, burping, or excessive spit-up.  An added bonus is that they easily fit the Medela breast pump I use, so I can pump directly into the bottle if I want. The bottles are BPA free and we are happy with them.  They are a pain to clean though because of the extra parts inside.  And a little tricky to assemble when bleary-eyed at 3 in the morning.   But simply putting them in the dishwasher at the end of the each day and preparing the bottle before going to bed can easily solve these two problems.  They are durable, we have been using the same bottles for over 4 months now, and they are still in very good condition.  A more serious issue is that they tend to leak when not assembled just right.  I don’t have this problem anymore, but in the beginning when getting used to the bottle, it was rather frustrating.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature 5 oz bottles:  I read some good reviews on these bottles; they were particularly recommended for breastfeeding moms because of the nipple shape.  They are cute to look at, but after trying them out, I would not recommend them at all.  They just aren’t very user friendly.  The bottle is awkward, the nipple is more awkward, and often during feeding the nipple would fold into the bottle and frustrate Lil Z.  He didn’t like the bottles, and neither did we, and we retired them after a few short weeks.

Medela 5 oz feeding and storing bottles:  I like using these bottles when I pump, and they are just as easy to use when feeding.  Simply put on the Medela nipple and you’re ready to go.  These are the bottles we use for on-the-go feeding.  We take the stored breast milk out of the fridge, throw it in the diaper bag along with a nipple and we are good to go.  I definitely recommend getting a few of these if you plan on pumping.

 Tips:  Get a dishwasher basket to wash the parts for the bottles.  I use Munchkin, and it works great.  Wash the nipples by hand with soap and hot water and then use a sterilizer in the microwave (we use the Dr. Brown’s one).  It will make the nipples last a lot longer and keep looking like new vs. putting them in the dishwasher every time.  I am amazed at how many people say that a bottle warmer is a waste of money; for us it has been a lifesaver.  We use the First Years babyPro SmartWarmer, and I like that it has so many settings to choose from.

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I make my way to the lactation room at work about 3 times a day.  And by lactation room I mean the utility/LAN room tucked away behind the customer support department in the building next to ours.   It’s cold and excessively noisy due to the fans blowing near the spaghetti mess of wires and routers combined with the whir of the breast pump.  But I don’t mind it much.  It’s private and I’ve grown to love the hour to hour and a half I spend in there each day thinking about Lil Z-Bear, what to make for dinner that night, and why I never seem to be able to find the right length for pants as I stare down at my feet.  I am so thankful for each and every day that I can produce milk for Lil Z, and today I want to share my review of products I have used related to breastfeeding.

The pump: Medela Freestyle.  As a mom, you quickly discover that Medela is synonymous with breast pumps.  It’s hard to be in love with a breast pump, but I sure like this fellow.  It’s lightweight and powerful, and I can get up to six 20 minute sessions with just one battery charge.  However, I am not a fan of the SoftFit breast shields, and I prefer using the PersonalFit breast shield that fits easily with the Freestyle.  I don’t use the hands-free option; I don’t mind sitting the 20 to 30 minutes holding the pump while daydreaming.  Unless you have small breasts, I definitely recommend getting a larger shield rather than the default size that comes with the pack; it’s much more comfortable.  I also recommend checking with the hospital to buy your breast pump, they often sell it at wholesale prices, I got mine $100 cheaper than retail.

Breast cream:  Apply a small amount of breast cream after every pump/nursing session.  You will be glad you did.  I have tried both Lansinoh Breast Cream and Medela Tender Care.  I like the texture of Medela better, it glides on easily and it works great.  However, if you are dealing with a lot of soreness and pain, then Lansinoh, which is pure HPA lanolin, does a better job at coating.  You don’t need to wipe off either before feeding, which is a plus.

Nursing pillow:  Check out this earlier post.

Teas to help with milk production: I’ve tried Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk and Yogi Woman’s Nursing Support.  Traditional Medicinals works much better.  They both taste like fennel seed and are very drinkable, no sugar or honey needed.  Also, eat oatmeal.  It works!

Nursing covers:  Bebe au Lait covers are cute and what a name!  However, they really don’t work any better than using a receiving blanket.  Better yet, try aden + anais swaddle cloths as a nursing cover: they work great because of the very pliable muslin material.

Breast pads:  When you are breastfeeding, it feels like…ahem…your headlights are always on.  Breast pads are great not only to soak up any leakage but also as an extra padding between the world and the ‘gals’.  I’ve tried Lansinoh Disposable Pads and Philips AVENT Ultra Comfort Disposable Pads.  I prefer AVENT because it doesn’t have the odd cup shape and the unnecessary extra adhesive strip that Lansinoh does.

Notes: Medela Quick Clean Wipes work great when you don’t have water to clean the pumps.  Also, stick to these Medela bottles instead of the longer Medela freezer bottles.  The latter can easily tip over, and believe me, watching hard-earned breast milk spill will make a grown woman cry.

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