traveling with littles // our travel essentials

Traveling with Littles.jpg

Since I posted about our Mexico trip (over on Instagram and on the blog) I have had TONS of questions about how we traveled with the kids, what we took, and tips from the trip. So, I thought I would just put up a big post with links to everything so I wouldn’t have to type and text and respond with the same things to everyone. Plus, this is a great reference for me because as much as I love traveling, the actual act of traveling gives me a bit of anxiety, especially in the day or two before. It’s mostly the preparation, which is sort of counter-intuitive since I am such a planner, and the lists and lists of things to pack and to-dos before we leave (like I will stay up all night cleaning the house and doing all of the laundry the night before so I come home to a super clean house).

Any-hoo, onto our travel essentials. Obviously it depends on your kids, your routine and every day necessities, and your own preferences, but lots of these things work for most of the littles. Also, I have tailored this to air travel, but many of the same things are true when we drive.

Something that I had growing up was a travel backpack which was a backpack full of toys and things that I only got when we traveled. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) And this is something that we started when Eloise was tiny and continue to do. Guys, it’s magic. These are special toys that she only gets when we drive or fly, so they are really special every time. It really doesn’t have to be anything crazy or over-the-top, and remember that they have to really be small enough for your littles to carry (or else you will have to carry it!). Right now these travel-only toys include: this Doodle Pro, these Mermaid stickers, flashcards (from the Dollar Spot at Target), these headphones, coloring book or paper and crayons, and this kids’ digital camera we added as a new surprise for this most recent trip! I also include a small snack in the front pocket of her bag (usually a bar and a pouch).

I try to have Eloise carry some of her own things, but since her backpack is so tiny, realistically I have to carry some things. I generally put her stickers, a small book, her headphones, and her lovie and blanket in her backpack, and then I carry everything else. This trip I took my diaper bag (I have this Skip-Hop one which I am LOVING right now because pockets and over-the-shoulder handles or cross-body – necessary with two kids) and this awesome Lo & Sons bag (Deluxe Small). And then Aaron carries a bag too, currently this Miir backpack which is also awesome! Between all of those bags, we can usually fit everything we are carrying on the airplane without it being too obnoxious! I put all of the essentials that we will more than likely need during the plane trip in my diaper bag (diapers, wipes, water bottles, pacifier) that goes under the seat, and then at least one of the other bags goes up into the over-head bin (and includes things we don’t need immediately like extra clothes, snacks, etc.).

STROLLER, CAR SEATS, AND CARRIERS

Even though our every day stroller is pretty compact (we have the Bugaboo Bee) it seemed too bulky to take on the trip. I wanted something that either girl could sit in that would be easy to maneuver around the resort. But I also didn’t want a super cheap stroller that would break during the trip. So we settled on this umbrella stroller and it was perfect! It fit either girl, laid back for the occasional nap, had a pretty big storage basket underneath, had a cup holder (bonus!), and folded to be pretty compact. We took this stroller with us in the airport and then gate-checked it. Though not necessary, I like to put gate-checked items into bags and this one was perfect for an umbrella stroller!

We weren’t planning on doing any extra driving while in Mexico, but since we did have to get from the airport to the resort (in a vehicle) we brought both of the girls’ car seats. We don’t use them on the plane (see below) but I didn’t feel comfortable being in a vehicle without car seats, despite the assurances that Mexico does not actually require car seats for children. (Um, yikes, but that’s not the point here.) So we checked the car seats using these car seat bags. Obnoxious, yes. Practical, yes. The bags have backpack straps (which Aaron can use; I, however, will fall over backwards!) and are big enough for the seat plus we always put diapers in the seat to save room in our luggage! A note about international travel and car seats is that other countries, including Mexico, don’t have locking seat belts, so be sure to take these brackets which will “lock” the seat belt!

We also took both of the carriers for the girls (the Tula and the Ergo) since we both can use them and Aaron can still carry Eloise in a carrier. In hindsight, we should have just brought one since the Ergo went unused during almost the entire trip. (It was WAY too hot to use the carriers when we were in Mexico, for the most part!) But, we find the carriers really helpful when we are getting on the plane because it frees up both sets of hands to carry bags. And as much as I love my Solly wrap, in the past it has been too tricky to try to get Daphne in and out of it as the other carriers (though I loved it when D was a newborn).

PLANE

Getting on the plane with littles is always an experience. And one that gives me anxiety. I just want to be on the plane with my luggage stowed and seat belt fastened. So I make sure that we get any gate check bag tags that we need (for our stroller and sometimes our infant car seat, but not this time around) as soon as there is someone at the gate counter, and then I wait in the immediate boarding area in case there are any updates about the flight. And there are differing opinions about this, but our system is to get on the plane as early as possible! That generally means we board with the “families or passengers that need extra time getting down the jet way.” For some airlines this is the very first group to board, and for others it is after all of the gold, platinum, whatever flight status passengers get to board. But, long story short, we get onto the plane with the girls before 95% of the rest of the passengers.

Once we find our seats, I get in first to sit in the window and then Eloise will get the middle seat. I wipe down everything (tray – both sides, arm rests, window and wall) with a disinfecting wipe. My girls, especially Daphne, lick and touch everything. So there’s that. While I am disinfecting, Aaron is installing the CARES harness that we use for Eloise onto the seat; it is a loop that goes over the seat, but requires the tray to be put down for tightening, and then provides an upper harness that loops into the regular airline seat belt. Again, there are many differing opinions about how small children should be restrained in an airplane, but we have chosen to have lap infants (before age 2) and then use the CARES harness (rather than hauling a car seat on the plane). And then Daphne sits with me during pre-boarding and then during take-off and landing, just in case she won’t take her paci and needs to nurse.

Before I had littles, I didn’t put anything in the seat back pocket. But now, I load it up with wet wipes, water bottles, books, snacks. When you have a baby on your lap, it is difficult to get a bag out from under the seat, so I try to get most of what I might need during the flight out where I can easily reach it. And then we use the under the seat space at Eloise’s seat to store one of the bigger carry-ons that has things we will need during the flight, and the other carry-on goes up into the overhead bin. That leaves Aaron with no bags at his feet so he’s a bit more comfortable (since his knees nearly hit the seat in front of him).

 

PLAY

Even on a short flight little ones need something to do, so we try to bring entertaining things to keep them occupied for as much of the flight as possible. Like I mentioned above, we have special airplane toys/items that only come out during travel, so they tend to keep Eloise occupied for a little longer than normal. In addition, I bring a few small board books or magazines for her to read or to have read to her. For Daphne, I brought a few soft toys and books, but avoided anything that squeaked!

Before each trip, Aaron will pre-download shows (Daniel Tiger, Mister Roger’s, and Sesame Street are the current ones) onto either his phone or one of our computers. This way we don’t have to worry about Wifi on the plane or any sort of buffering during the show. We are pretty strict about screentime with Eloise during our normal life, and during traveling, we are equally strict. She gets to watch one (maybe two) shows of her choosing during a plane ride, but only after she takes a nap. It is amazing that a toddler can go from “I am not tired. At all.” to sleeping in a matter of minutes if it means there is a show on the other side! We don’t always get the longest naps, but we make sure she naps before a show. And, also, we try to exhaust every other possible entertainment method for Eloise before we let her watch a show; that means reading stories, snacks (so many snacks), walking up and down the aisle, going potty, etc. We know from other parents that if you offer a show too early in the trip, the only thing your toddler wants to do is watch a show!

 

FOOD

I bring tons of snacks on trips, always. Even before kids. I guess I worry about being on a plane or in a hotel room without food! I tend to make a big trip to Trader Joe’s a few days before a trip because it has the BEST snack foods. And snacks don’t have to be unhealthy. We do a lot of trail mix, dried fruit, and other healthier snacks so that I don’t worry as much if that is all Eloise will eat on the trip.

One thing that we do bring that we don’t have normally (so it’s special which magical for toddlers!) are food pouches. They are heavy but really convenient and if you have kids, TSA doesn’t make a stink about them at all. For a flight, I will put one into Eloise’s backpack for her to find and then let her choose when she wants to eat it. But I do limit the amount of pouches to one per day for Eloise. Daphne, on the other hand, was young enough on our trip that we were still transitioning between purees and BLW (baby-led weaning). So I loaded up on pouches* and brought enough for one pouch per meal since I didn’t know what the food situation was going to be.

*Since I don’t normally buy food pouches, I was overwhelmed (an understatement) when I went to Target to buy them for the trip. Holy cow there are about 100 brands, even if you are only looking at organic ones! So, I started reading the labels. Many pouches (and other baby foods and drinks even) use apple sauce/puree as the main filler with only a small amount of the other flavors. My test for pouches was to find ones that were (1) organic and (2) weren’t apple sauce. And I ended up finding these Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Stage 2 that fit the bill and were in a clear pouch (bonus!) with lots of interesting flavors. Like I said, I loaded up and ended up bringing enough for 2 or 3 every day which was so, so heavy going down to Mexico, but Daphne ate them all during our trip and we didn’t have to haul them back (except the ones I saved for the flights home).

Along with TJ’s snacks, we also like Ella’s Kitchen snacks, Bambas, and Larabars (mini). We don’t usually let Eloise snack much during the day because it just destroys mealtimes, but when we travel (and especially when we fly) we are super lax about snacking. We ended up being able to get food really quickly at the resort in Mexico because there was a food buffet open almost all day, but sometimes waiting in restaurants for a meal is hard, so I always have snacks or a pouch in my bag.

 

SUN AND SAND

One thing I was dreading with the hot weather in Mexico (and also just summer in general) is sunscreen. I loathe sunscreen but the alternative is worse. I am also really picky when it comes to sunscreen and will only use physical sunscreen which means almost all of the cool sprays, mousses, dry-touch ones are all no-nos. Our favorite for the past few years is this non-aerosol spray from Babyganics which we all use. And I also picked up this Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc for our trip after reading really good reviews on it, and I really liked it! Aaron wasn’t sold on it, but the smell was amazing. Neither one of these sunscreens are super white and greasy which is what I am looking for. And be sure to test sunscreen on an arm or leg of your babies first to make sure there isn’t a bad skin reaction! Daphne wasn’t able to wear sunscreen all summer-long (because she was under 6 months) but thank goodness she was old enough when we went to Mexico and that she wasn’t allergic to either sunscreen we had.

Because we were going to be at the beach, I brought along our little anti-UV pop-up tent that I picked up at the Nordy’s Anni Sale this past summer. It didn’t get as much use as I thought since Daphne was so little this summer and we mostly just stayed out of the sun, but it folds up small enough (and flat enough) that we were able to get it into our suitcase for this trip. To be totally honest, we only used this tent one morning while we were in Mexico, but it was still worth it! I was able to keep Daphne out of the sand since she would just eat it and be covered in it (between the sunscreen and her hands in her mouth all the time) which was amazing! We have previously rented a big tent for the beach when we went to Maui and it was awesome for the beach!

If it is sunny and hot at all, my girls are used to wearing sunhats (at least Eloise is). Since neither will reliably keep sunglasses on, sunhats are the way to go. We love this iPlay one since it is super lightweight, dries quickly, and breathes. Plus, it is adjustable and has a chin tie (which is necessary for a baby who tries to pull it off). Eloise had a dark navy blue one when she was one, but I quickly discovered that the dark color got hot in the sun. So she and Daphne both have white ones. There is also this one that has more neck coverage. And in addition to a sunhat, we wear lots of sunshirts near the pool or at the beach. We have one from Crewcuts (J. Crew’s baby line) and Honest Co. but I have also been liking the ones that come with the bathing suit set (like Cat and Jack for Target). Often I will bring an extra sunshirt along in my bag and then can switch out the girls’ shirt if we are going to be in the sun so I don’t have to slather on quite as much sunscreen!

SLEEP

Ah, elusive sleep. Especially when you are traveling, sleep is elusive. We have two really good sleepers, but traveling and being away from home and in a new place can be disruptive! We try to mimic our sleep routine and schedule from home as much as possible when we are traveling. Same jammies, same lovies, same pacis, same/similar sound machine, same sleep sack.

We have this travel sound machine which has been good for the past few years, but we have been having trouble with batteries corroding in it, so I am on the hunt! Basically, I want something that is lightweight and can give us the sound of rain (that’s our preferred sound) all night long (so no timer). If you have any recommendations on a good travel sound machine, I am all ears!

And since Eloise had been recently night-time potty-trained, I brought along this waterproof mattress pad cover which is the one that we keep on her bed at home. Luckily, we didn’t end up needing it, but I will probably still bring it along with us for our next few trips since it folds up like a small blanket.

And for Daphne, I ended up bringing an extra blanket for her which I used on the plane while she napped and then hung on the side of the pack n’ play while we were in Mexico. I wouldn’t normally hang a blanket on the side of a pack n’ play but in this case we were sharing a hotel room so I needed to put something up to block Daphne’s view so that she would sleep. We put her over on the other side of the room (from the beds) to give her some space and quiet, but the sides of the pack n’ play are mesh… so we hung a blanket over one side and a towel over the other and it worked really well (the other two sides were facing the wall and the sliding door with curtains). At this point (one month later) Daphne probably would have pulled that blanket and curtain off the sides since she can now stand up in a crib, but at the time it worked!

PASSPORTS AND TRAVEL DOCS

When we decided to book our trip to Mexico for the entire, we knew it would require passports for the girls. Even though we don’t have any other international trips planned as of now, it’s nice to know that we can plan a last minute trip or take a drive across the border if we need/want to (Canada is just about 3 hours north). Plus, passports for littles are insanely cute and good for 5 years. We took our own pictures using the Murphy bed in the guest room/office for the white backdrop, and then printed them at Walgreen’s.

{Side note: This section is about vaccines. We have decided to vaccinate ourselves and our children which is a personal decision. This isn’t a post meant to be pro-vaccination, but just to explain what our process was regarding travel and vaccines.} And since we were traveling abroad, I did ask our girls’ pediatrician about any extra vaccines they may need before the trip since other countries have different exposure risks than we do domestically. He told us that Eloise was good-to-go since she is up-to-date on her vaccines (thru three years), but that he recommended that Daphne get an early booster of the MMR (which isn’t started until after one year) because there is a high risk of exposure when you travel internationally, specifically in international airport terminals. Also, since it was early October when we left for our trip, we all got our annual flu vaccines before flying.

And finally, be sure to research any other documents you might need on your trip, depending on where you are traveling, including any required visas. I also took pictures of our passports as well as scanned them and saved them to our cloud storage (just in case they got lost) and took a copy of the girls’ birth certificates and vaccine records (which I always have with me).

What are your travel essentials?

M

This post contains affiliate links.

 

project baby #2 {nursing essentials}

Back in April I shared my newborn and post-partum essentials that were important to me in those first few weeks when Daphne was so tiny and new. (And see my post-partum essentials with Eloise here.) Now that we are seven months out, I wanted to update again with my nursing essentials since these are the things that are (or have been) important to me for a much longer amount of time and will likely be until Daphne weans.

Post-Partum-Essentials

{one} (Reusable) Nursing Pads.

For me reusable nursing pads are must and Bamboobies are my go-to. Even after my supply had come in and leveled out, I still found that leakage was an issue, so these help me from having to change clothes (or at least my shirt) multiple times per day. Plus, once baby sleeps thru the night and you are going 10 to 12 hours between the first feeding and the last, you want something that will help absorb. I like the thin, heart-shaped pads for daytime since they fit smoothly, but then I like the thicker, round ones for nighttime use.

{two} Nursing Bra.

Like most new mamas, I spent the first weeks (okay, probably months) in softer nursing bras meant for sleeping. Then once my milk came in I started wearing “real” nursing bras, including underwire ones (which you have to be careful with when your milk is coming in). I still had nursing bras from when Eloise was little but found that I needed/wanted a few new ones.

I kept seeing blog posts and ads about a new brand called ThirdLove and decided to finally buy when they released a line of nursing bras. I opted for the wireless one and have been really impressed. The biggest thing about nursing bras (for me) that you don’t have to think about with regular bras is how easily the cup flips or folds down; I have a few that don’t do this well and end up soaked in milk at the end of every feeding! ThirdLove’s cups are super soft and fold really well down plus a bonus that the straps don’t slip. Guys, this is life-changing!

The other secret to nursing bras (which I have shared before) is that Nordstrom will convert any regular bra into a nursing bra for a nominal alteration fee (like $15). Definitely worth it if you are particular about a brand, or have a unique band or cup size.

{three} Tanks.

As with Eloise, I don’t like nursing tanks. I think they can be great for those first few weeks, but beyond that, I like the support (and look) of a bra. But, I do wear a tank top basically every day so that when I do nurse, my belly isn’t exposed; I just pull down the tank when I need to nurse. I have multiple tanks with the thin (spaghetti) straps from both H&M and Old Navy in white, black, and grey that basically covers any shirt situation along with an old “nude colored” cami (similar to this) which is great for under white shirts.

{four} Boppy Pillow.

When nursing Daphne, I have found that I use my Boppy nursing pillow so much more than I did with Eloise (seven months out), like whenever I am home during a feeding. I find it is much more comfortable for me to have the support of a pillow and will probably continue to use it until Daphne is too big! This time around I also bought this beautiful pillow cover from MadlyWish which is made from the Rifle Paper Co. fabric line. Guys, it sounds silly, but this pillow cover makes me so happy. I wish I would have gotten a fun cover for the Boppy when Eloise was little. Instead I used the very juvenile ones that came with the pillow. So, get a Naked Boppy Pillow and find a shop (there are tons on Etsy or Instagram) that sells beautiful covers and you are set!

{five} Hydroflask Waterbottle.

Until about two months ago, I was using the same Camelbak waterbottles that I got when I was pregnant with Eloise. They worked fine and were great for keeping me hydrated during pregnancy and post-partum. However, when they started leaking (from the drinking spout) and becoming harder to clean, I started shopping around for something else. Enter: Hydroflask. I had heard great things about Hydroflask from other mamas but couldn’t get myself to buy a waterbottle that was so expensive! But then I did. And it was so worth it. Seriously. My water stays cold for hours or until I drink the entire bottle (usually the latter). If you are on the fence at all about one, do it. I got the wide-mouth one and added the straw lid because with two little ones, I never have two hands available to screw open the lid!

And along with these essentials, I probably should mention a breast pump. I didn’t have a great experience pumping with Eloise but we bought this new Naya Smartpump this time around and I really, really like it (well, as much as you can like a breast pump). A lot of people are surprised when they find out that I pump because I stay home with the girls, but sometimes I need to be able to be away from Daphne and we also give her a bedtime bottle which (right now) is pumped milk, so I am currently pumping twice per day.

What were your nursing essentials? Did they change over time or from your first kiddo to your second (or third)?

M

This post contains affiliate links.

project baby #2 {newborn & post-partum essentials}

This time around I felt so much more prepared for post-partum life with a newborn (though the toddler is throwing a bit of a curveball!), but there are a few new things that I have found especially helpful these first weeks! {See my past newborn and post-partum essentials.}

Milkies Milk Saver - Copy

ONE. Milk Saver. This is something that was shared by a  good mama friend and that I never would have bought or tried without a personal recommendation. You basically stick it into your bra on the opposite side that you are feeding on, and it catches the milk that you would otherwise leak (or let-down) into a nursing pad or bra. It doesn’t seem like much, but especially when I have gone a long time between feeds (like first thing in the morning after going all night) I can get half an ounce to three-quarters just from one side! Then I add this milk to the milk I am pumping, and since we are still only doing a one-and-a-half ounce bottle each evening, it makes a difference. One thing to note is that it’s foremilk (and not hindmilk) so it won’t fill baby up as well, but I would rather Daphne drink it than it all be wasted.

Pumping Bra - Copy (2)

TWO. Pumping Bra. If you are going to pump, you might as well pump both sides (there are some exceptions to this) and it really sucks if you have to hold the pumps onto your breasts (haha, pun intended!). I have used this pumping bra for both girls, and even if you don’t use this exact one, get one if you are planning on pumping at all. These bras make pumping hands-free which is amazing; my first pumping session a few weeks ago I didn’t know where this bra was and it was the longest 15 minutes of my life! Plus, When I am pumping, it is total mama time and I give myself full permission to zone out on Facebook or Instagram.

LilyPadz

THREE. LilyPadz. Nursing pads, especially in these early days and weeks, are super important. I used the reusable Bamboobie ones (and still do at nighttime) but these LilyPadz are a game-changer! They are sticky silicone pads that basically prevent leaks between feedings (unless there is a LOT of milk leaking!). My advice would be to wait a week or two after birth before starting them because your nipples will be super tender and maybe a little raw. Plus, if you are using any type of ointment or cream, these are a no-go.

FOUR. Lactation cookies. There are some foods that are supposed to increase milk supply, a few of them being rolled oats, Brewer’s Yeast, and flaxseed. And it just so happens that if you add these things to a chocolate chip cookie dough, you get chocolate chip cookies that help you lactate! I tend to always have a sweet tooth post-partum so I don’t have any problem eating a few of these thru-out the day! {We call them “Mama’s special milk bars” at our house so that Eloise doesn’t realize that I am actually eating cookies all day long… though I think she might be catching on.}

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of thick cut oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons Brewer’s Yeast

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flaxseed meal and water; set aside 3 to 5 minutes.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Stir flaxseed mix into butter mix and add vanilla. Beat until well-blended.

Sift dry ingredients, except oats and chocolate chips. Add butter to dry ingredients. Stir in oats and then chocolate chips.

Drop on parchment paper on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes.

*recommendation to eat 4 or more per day!

FIVE. Sleeper gowns. We had a few of these with Eloise, but I don’t remember them being as helpful as they are this time around. I basically mean a nightgown that has snaps or a zipper for easy diaper changes in the middle of the night. It is hard enough to change a newborn’s diaper with any outfit on since you are doing it so frequently, but in the middle of the night (or even a sleep deprived day) a simple in-snap is much-needed.

SIX. Gloves. Also another thing we didn’t use with Eloise. Maybe it is because we started trimming her nails earlier? But, we used gloves on Daphne for the first five weeks since her little nails grew so quickly (and were so sharp!) and the in-hospital pediatrician recommended we don’t trim her nails for the first few weeks since the nails are basically fused to the skin at that point. A lot of newborn tops and outfits have built-in gloves which is super helpful, but I would still recommend picking up a pair!

June and January Booties

SEVEN. June and January booties. Eloise was born in the summer (during our hottest month) so socks weren’t really a thing we worried about until she was quite a bit older. But, since it was still pretty cool in March, I did worry about Daphne’s feet being too cold. I picked up these June and January booties (because they were impossibly cute!) with a clothing order before Daphne was born, and quickly found out these booties were perfect in lieu of socks! They have Velcro and are actually small enough around the ankle to stay on Daphne’s feet (which is the big issue with socks for babies). I ended up ordering another couple of pairs because I was so happy with them and Daphne was wearing them (and still does) every day.

EIGHT. Swaddle blankets. We probably have ten or fifteen swaddle blankets (at least!) that have accumulated from the time Eloise was born. They make great gifts and are actually really useful as a make-shift nursing cover, burp cloth, car seat cover, etc. and, for swaddling! Both of our babies have loved/needed to be swaddled for soothing and sleeping, and even though we use a zipper swaddle at night (we have been using this one with Daphne) we use a blanket a lot during the day which is why they are all over the house! This grey one from Lou Lou & Co is my absolute favorite though because it is super soft, a little stretchy, and makes for a great swaddled baby! I think it may become my go-to baby shower gift.

What were your essentials?

M

This post contains affiliate links.

project baby {newborn essentials}


as promised, here are my essentials for a newborn. obviously this isn’t everything I needed or used for eloise when she was a teeny babe, but if my memory serves me right, these are the things that helped us tremendously! aaron & I were both pretty adamant about not filling the house with baby gear (& stuff) & we did a pretty good job (& still do).

also, see my pregnancy essentials & post-partum essentials.

{one} swaddle blankets. even if your baby doesn’t like to be swaddled, swaddle blankets still come in handy & have lots of uses: spit-up rag, nursing cover (tie two ends together & slip over your head!), blanket, car seat cover, sun shade, & the list goes on. eloise LOVED to be swaddled (we called her our baby burrito) for those first months. we loved the aden & anais ones, especially the larger size.

{two} Rock N’ Play. we had the standard rock n’play (just had a vibrating function) & it was hands-down the most used piece of baby gear we used. it is lightweight, keeps baby propped up, & cradles baby just a bit. we kept it by our bedside to use as a bassinet (for the first five weeks), used it all over the house as a place to have eloise sleep or hang out (particularly useful when you want to shower & no one else is home), & used it as a travel bassinet when we took a road trip to boise at christmastime. I know the new versions of the rock n’ play include lots of fun features, including self-rocking (!). I don’t know whether we will make the upgrade for any future baby, but we will most definitely be using one of these.

{three} Boppy pillows (nursing & lounger). the Boppy nursing pillow was & has continued to be a lifesaver. I have used the Boppy pillow for nearly every single nursing  session with eloise. even aaron uses it when he gives eloise a bottle. it is also great for newborns when the neck isn’t quite strong enough to make tummy time more than just a face plant (see eloise here). the Boppy newborn lounger was also awesome those first months to give eloise a place to hang out. we used it on our couch a lot & once I started pumping during the day that is where she hung out (before she could roll). we didn’t have a swing (ever) or a bouncy seat (until a few months in) so if we weren’t holding her, she was hanging out in the lounger.

{four} toys for tummy time. it was other mamas who first suggested that I add toys to our baby registry (thanks amanda & kendra!). it never dawned on me that baby might need toys so early, but we definitely used them starting those first few weeks. we had a few early favorites: Oball rattle, loopy rattle, & monkey. I would also suggest some type of mirror. during tummy time, we would hold a toy out in front of her face a few inches, & then move it from left to right & up & down once she started tracking.

{five} mama friends & a community. I didn’t know how isolating being a new mama would be, but it really is. regardless of how you are recovering (from natural birth or c-section) you will likely be home a lot those first weeks (or months). venturing out of the house is important, but it is so much work to get out of the house with a newborn. I feel incredibly fortunate that we have a local organization PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) which I have talked about before. the entire point of the program is to help build your community (your village!) by placing you in a group of other mamas (or parents) who live in your neighborhood & have a child the same age as yours (within a few weeks or months). for 12 weeks I was able to meet with these other new mamas & get out of the house for a few hours on monday morning. if you are expecting a baby, be sure to ask around to see if there are new parent groups (facebook is a good resource) that you could join. on a bit of a related note, setting up a meal train (or having a friend or family member set one up) can be helpful. it is so nice to have food prepared for you & maybe even someone to hold your new babe while you eat (or shower or sleep). & if you aren’t feeling up for visitors, food can still be dropped off at the front door.

{six} baby carrier. baby wearing has been a thing for some time, & aaron & I were both on board with it. I had heard mixed reviews about the Moby wrap so I opted for the K’Tan wrap instead. I used the K’Tan a lot in those early months when eloise was sleeping all day & would nap on me in order to get things done around the house, or just to walk around. the only thing about the K’Tan is that it is sized, so we just got one that fit me (I had an XS). we also got an Ergo carrier because every parent we knew had one & loved it (we had a Nordstrom edition I snagged at last year’s Anniversary Sale). the Ergo 360 was just coming out when I was registering & since it had no reviews, I opted for the well-loved original. we starting using it with eloise when she was just a few weeks old (with the baby insert) & have loved it ever since. it is sturdy & completely hands-free, & aaron & I can both use it (with some adjustments on the straps). I used the Ergo everywhere – the grocery store, walking around Greenlake, vacuuming the floors, window shopping. next time around we will probably try the Ergo 360 (since it allows for front-facing) & the Solly baby wrap (since I have heard good things about it). regardless of what type of carrier you use, definitely try one (or two)!

& lastly, I would recommend a good baby phone app (see here where I talked about the Baby Connect app) & a journal of some kind (or a blog) since those early days & milestones happen so quickly & you just don’t have headspace to remember every little thing!

mamas – what were your essentials for those first few weeks & months?

M

this post contains affiliate links.

project baby {pregnancy essentials}

Pregnancy_Essentials

this post has been a long time coming & I was hoping to get it out sooner, but better late than never, right?

I am almost certain (because I have taken polls!) that I am the only mama who misses being pregnant… don’t get me wrong, I love being eloise’s mama! but I adored being pregnant & look back on that time fondly. I feel very fortunate to have had a very healthy, fun, & low-risk pregnancy, & I wanted to share some of my must-haves. {I am putting together my essentials lists for post-partum, newborn, & possibly feeding (solid foods), so stay tuned if you are interested!}

{one} jersey dresses. I didn’t end up buying very many maternity clothes & really tried to either wear or buy things that were non-maternity. one of the great pieces that I wore over & over in my last trimester (& since it was warm by then) was a jersey dress. I owned a few pre-pregnancy that I was able to make work, including my favorite target purple maxi dress that I wore to the hospital! but, the best dresses I found for pregnancy were Sonnet James dresses. I discovered SJ in the fall of 2013 & quickly ordered the Stella dress for our trip to Hawaii. hands down one of my favorite dresses ever! I picked up a few more once I found out I was pregnant because I knew I could wear them during my pregnancy & after. I worried a bit that I might stretch them out, but I haven’t had any issues post-partum. I have found that my Quincy & Doutzen dresses (mine are past season colors) are a bit long when I don’t have a bump, so I will probably be visiting the Nordstrom alternations department in the very near future {my Stella & Kate dresses are midi length & are perfect!}.

{two} reusable water bottle. water, water, water. my midwife couldn’t stress enough how important it was that I stay hydrated during my pregnancy. I knew I needed to find a good water bottle that could travel with me between home, work, & everywhere in-between. thanks to amanda for her recommendation on the Camelback bottles! having already been thru this with her first child, she knew exactly what I would need, plus because of the straw end it could be used hands-free which was perfect for labor & delivery! I ended up with the Camelback Eddy Insulated Water Bottle (& also the non-insulated version) & they were perfect!

{three} body oil. for me pregnancy brought on some mild acne & very dry skin. {for the acne I used Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash that is free of salicylic acid & benzoyl peroxide.} I had read that body oil could help prevent stretch marks (though the truth is that stretch marks are genetic. you can do some things to help, but you cannot actually prevent them…) so I started my search for a body oil. it didn’t take me long wandering down the aisles of target to find Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Body Oil. I fell in love instantly! it soaked into my skin & left it feeling silky & hydrated, & had the most amazing lemon scent. I used it all over my body after showering, including my bump, & the smell of lemon will always remind me of my pregnancy with eloise!

{four} low-impact workout. the best advice about working out during pregnancy is to have an already-established workout program that you can continue thru-out your pregnancy. luckily for me, my workout of choice is Pure Barre & it is a great workout that can be pretty easily modified for mamas-to-be (there is a Baby on Board package – 3 months unlimited class pass). whatever workout regime you choose (yoga, running, Zumba, etc.), just stick with it! there were a few weeks during the first trimester that I had to forego my beloved PB classes because I was just so sick, but for the majority of my pregnancy I was attending class twice a week, & even went to class two days before eloise was born! I had a healthy pregnancy & I was able to keep active; I know this is in part because of staying in shape.

{five} ginger chews. oh the nausea of the first trimester. I felt nausea many, many times before I was pregnant (thanks in part to being very motion sick as a kid) but nothing can prepare you for nausea during pregnancy! I don’t like spicy, but these Gin Gin chews saved my life! I kept a stash everywhere just in case – desk drawer, purse, nightstand, car. you can pick them up at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

{six} prenatal vitamins. this is not meant to be medical advice (since I am not a medical doctor) so follow whatever recommendation your own doctor gives you! for me, my OB-GYN had me taking pre-natal vitamins years before I was pregnant. her recommendation was that any woman that was pre-menopausal should be taking pre-natals; there is no harm, the first few weeks of pregnancy are the most important for these vitamins (& most women don’t even know they are pregnant yet!), plus it is great for your hair & nails! anyways, I was taking some generic woman’s multivitamin from target, but had to find a new one as soon as I got pregnant since they were making me sick. I found the Rainbow Light Prenatal One Mulitvitamin and Spectrum Essentials Prenatal DHA at Whole Foods & no longer had any problems with my tummy. I always took them in the middle of dinner (usually my biggest meal) so that I knew I had enough food in my belly, though I take them now before breakfast (usually) & I haven’t had any issues. the multivitamin is a pretty big tablet (it pretty much has to be or else you have to take lots of pills) & if you have trouble swallowing big pills I am almost certain there is a capsule form. the DHA is great because it isn’t fish oil (it is vegan except for gelatin in the capsule) so there is absolutely no aftertaste!

mamas & mamas-to-be, what were or are your essentials?

M

this post contains affiliate links.