Monday, August 17, 2015

Playskool Step Start Walk 'n Ride

Our little man is almost a year!  It's hard to believe, but he's all over the place - boys truly are a different animal than girls are.

He just started walking about a week ago, and I think that we have this toy to thank for a large part of it:  LINK




The Playskool Step Start Walk 'n Ride, $29.99, was a recommendation from a coworker.  It has two functions - you can collapse the green part above so that it's resting on the wheels, and it's a riding toy (baby can also stand beside it and push it).  You can also leave it as shown, and it will function as a walker.

Our little Peanut is short, only about the 3rd percentile for height.  Hence, putting this in the upright walker mode at first was a little too much for him.  He kept it down in the rider mode, and pushed it around by standing beside it.  I think he did this so much that he left permanent grooves in the carpet from his race circuit.  It helped him to stabilize and learn the basic walking movements while still giving him a sense of stability.  (It also made a wonderful bonking noise when he ran it into something stationary -- or his older sister.)  

He now loves to use this in the walker mode (even though he's able to walk on his own), and has also discovered the joy in riding it like a little car.  His little legs aren't quite long enough to push him, so his sister is happy to oblige pushing him around.  (Please forgive the phone pic - I didn't have my camera nearby.)



As you can see, that's a face of pure joy.  This toy is easily worth the $30, and is durable enough that it can be passed on to friends or family when Peanut outgrows it.  Our daughter actually also enjoys playing with it a ton pushing her dolls around, to the point where I have to remind her that it's a baby toy! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tommee Tippee sippy cups

Whenever I am home with the little man, we breastfeed.  However, as a working mother, I have to pump while I am at work, and he has to drink expressed milk at daycare.

I did a ton of research before investing in bottles.  I searched the internet high and low for bottles that were the most compatible with nursing babies - lots and lots of "top five" and "top ten" lists.  There is a lot of variation, but the most consistent bottle brand I saw listed was Tommee Tippee.  They had them at our local Target in stock, so that's what we've used since Peanut went to daycare.  He's done great with them, but he's nine months now.  He's very, very active, and is starting to resist the bottle.  This is strange, as his sister, who also nursed, probably would have stuck with a bottle until she was three if we'd allowed it to happen.

I again did research, and found that Tommee Tippee was the top name in sippy cups for nursing babies.  I got lucky enough to get to try a few of their cups!  Here is their website for sippy cups:  LINK 

First we tried the 6m+ First Straw Transition cup (LINK):



It comes in a wide range of colors.  It's just the right size for a 6-month-old to use for practice - Peanut was easily able to hold the handles (which are also removable).  He did well with the straw, and loved putting it in his mouth.  He sort of understood the process, but I had a feeling that he'd do better with a spout.  (We've since come back to the straw with much more success!)

Luckily, we also had a 7m+ Trainer Sippee Cup (LINK). 


Again, they are just adorable.  The handles were very easy to use, but Peanut prefers to hold it like a bottle, so we removed them:



It's very hard to get a good shot of this little man these days just because he's a blur of activity, but he loves this sippy.  He began by drinking water out of it, but he's transitioned at daycare to also drinking breast milk out of it.  This has been great for many reasons.  It gives him more control over his eating experience than he had when the teachers had to give him a bottle, and it teaches him autonomy.  It's also a good transition away from the bottle that he would need to make at the daycare center we use at the time he moves to the 1-year-old toddler room.  

The cup itself is also wonderful.  It's BPA-free, which is important to me.  The spout is rubber, which he loves to chew on while he's hardcore-teething.  This style does not seem to leak at all, which is a big bonus to me since he likes to keep it nearby while playing.  It's also incredibly easy to wash, since the entire top is just one piece.  It's been a wonderful trainer cup for us.

We have not yet transitioned to the 9m+ Sippee Cup (LINK), but I am excited to do so.  There is a higher capacity for fluid in there, which will be nice as Peanut begins drinking more fluids.  The lids seem like they would be swappable with the 7m+ trainer cups, so I am also glad that I will have more options.  All of the Tommee Tippee cups are dishwasher-safe, so they are wonderful options for our family-on-the-go.

In short, I would highly recommend the Tommee Tippee line of sippy cups.  For our little man who is pretty attached to Mama, these have been an easy transition from the bottle and to a little more freedom.  We will definitely be using these long-term - and further exploring the Tommee Tippee line as he grows into toddlerhood!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dreambaby® Bath and Personal Products

I'm a safety nut.  It drives the Pickle (4.5-years-old) crazy, but I am very wary of her surroundings.  I don't want to be oppressive and crazy, but I also don't want her unnecessarily cutting her head open.

One of the hardest places to make and keep safe is the bathroom.  As the littles gain their independence in there, they're naturally more curious and adventurous.  The problem is that they're still so little that all of those sharp edges can be dangerous.  I did some research looking for one company that had items for the entire bathroom.  I came across Dreambaby® (LINK), and didn't need to look any further. 

I got the chance to review some of their products, and they're just great!  

First I reviewed the Dreambaby® Anti-Slip Mat.  It retails at $17.99 (LINK).

Even before I put the mat in the tub, I was impressed.  It's made to withstand little tiny feet stomping on it and squirming around on it without being rough or abrasive.  It has texture to help avoid slipping, but is smooth enough to be easy-to-clean.  Plus, it was cute - Pickle has been learning about coral reefs in preschool this week, so she discussed each of the animals on it in length (taking particular care to inform me that kangaroos don't swim.  Good to know.).

I took it up to the bathroom and put it in the tub - it was just the right size for our standard-sized tub in the kids' bathroom.  The suction cups were strong, but not so rigid that they didn't grip the bottom of the tub.  I started filling up the tub, and purposely made the water too hot - the cute little starfish changed color when the water was too hot!  Not only is that a great visual indicator for me, but Pickle loved watching for it to change back to the safe zone.  That kept her busy and from climbing all over the bathroom, which is happiness you can't buy.  

(Tip - the bath mat isn't on here at this time, but Dreambaby® has videos up for a lot of their products on their YouTube channel here:  LINK.  Their Facebook page also has a lot of good information and is updated often:  LINK.)

I really liked the bath mat, and would definitely recommend it to others.  The color changing is my favorite feature, and definitely one I have used.

I also got the chance to test out their Easy-Clean Potty Seat, which retails for $8.99 (LINK).  



This is a really great price for a potty seat, so I was excited to check it out.  It coordinates with the bath mat, which was adorable!  I also noticed upon opening the package that it's small in size - other potty seats that I have seen are a lot wider and thicker, which makes them hard to jam in the diaper bag when you're going out of the house.  This is small, but padded enough to be comfortable on little bottoms.

The other two features that were unique to the Dreambaby® seat were both great.  First of all, it has handles on the side for the child to grip.  These were awesome for Pickle as she was climbing up onto the seat and turning around.  I also really like the splash guard in the front - we don't need it yet for Pickle, but it will be wonderful when our little boy Peanut is older, so that we don't get have the firehose effect all over our bathroom.

The last item that I got to test out was the Bath Tub Spout Cover (LINK), which retails for only $2.99.

Again, this is very inexpensive for a faucet cover, so I was excited to try it out.  It's inflatable, so it's easy to store when not in use, or to take to a hotel when traveling.  It fit our standard-sized spout without any issues.  It inflated enough to protect little heads from getting hurt on the faucet, but wasn't obtrusive or garish.  The cover was cute, and went with the blues in the other two items.

All in all, I'm excited about these three items!  They're cost-effective ways to protect your child in one of the most dangerous rooms in the house, and they all have innovative features that I haven't seen on comparable products.  I'm going to be searching Dreambaby's other products (like safety gates, car safety items, and more) to help babyproof now that our little Peanut is more mobile.  Great company!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Re-Play "Down By the Sea" Dinnerware + GIVEAWAY

For a while I've struggled with a good dinnerware set for the Pickle.  She's big enough for regular tableware, but still little enough that she is messy.  If we use regular flat plates, food generally ends up getting pushed over the sides.  Regular silverware is just a little bit big for her mouth, and so it exacerbates her getting food on her face and clothing.  However, the infant feeding items are too little for her.

Re-play (LINK) changes that up.  They've got great dinnerware for toddlers and preschoolers.  The plates are divided into three convenient sections, and the edges are curved enough that food stays where it's supposed to be.  The sippy cups are perfect - they're big enough for a toddler or preschooler to get a full serving of milk or water, but they are just right for little hands.  The silverware is plastic, so you don't have to worry about it poking the insides of little mouths.  It's also just the right size - it's smaller than adult silverware, but it's bigger than the infant spoons that are usually what you can get at the big box stores.



Re-Play offers a ton of fun colors, like their "Down by the Sea" theme in greens, blues, and teals.  The colors are bright so that they keep the interest of a small child, but they also wash really well.



What's really cool about Re-Play, though, is for what they stand.  All of their products are recycled HDPE products, like milk jugs.  You're helping save the earth when you use Re-Play dinnerware!  Since it's from #2 HDPE plastic, it's BPA-free, as well as free of phthalates and PVC.  I'm a little obsessed with keeping these away from the kids, so I feel really good using these products. 


We had what we call "brinner" last night - pancakes, sausage, and fresh fruit.  The Re-Play set was just perfect for this - two small pancakes cut up perfectly in the big section, and the fruit and sausage fit well in the smaller areas.  The fork was sharp enough to stab the pancakes, but didn't scratch either my daughter or the plate!  

I am going to link the information for Re-Play's social media sites at the bottom of the page, because they are great about featuring sales and menu ideas on them.  (I like following pages that actually feature useful information!)

Are you sold yet?  Would you like a feeding set of your own?  Re-Play is hosting a giveaway through Mother Knows Best Reviews!  Go to our Facebook page here (LINK) and sign up!  We'll close the giveaway on Wednesday, May 27, so get your entries in!



Social Media Links:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bitybean Baby Carrier

I am a big fan of babywearing.  We did a decent amount with Pickle when she was small, but have done a lot more with Peanut.  I mostly wore him in a ring sling when he was itty bitty, and have split time between that and a Tula as he's gotten older.

The Tula is great, but it has its downsides.  It's not at all compact - if I take it anywhere, it's like it has to have its own seat.  It's incredibly hot in the humid midwest summer, as mine is a canvas carrier.  In addition, it is pretty heavy - normally this last one isn't a problem, but it can be when I'm carrying it when Peanut is tired of being worn.  My ring sling is woven, so it has most of the same problems - it's great for trips, but it's kind of a bear to lug around.

In comes the Bitybean (LINK).  I had a chance to try one recently.  On paper, the specs are similar to the canvas soft-structured carriers - it's for infants and toddlers between 3 months old and ideally 3 years, from 8 lbs to 40 lbs.  It can fit anyone from a size 0 to a maximum waist size of 46 inches, but there's also an extender you can purchase that adds an additional 12 inches.  Like many others, it can be worn in a front or back carry.  So, already it's stacking up well against the competition.

Now, let's look at the ways that the Bitybean pulls ahead - and there are many!  Here are just a few:

- Price.  In comparison to the $115 to $200 that are common for canvas carriers, the Bitybean is only $59.95.  That's at least half of the price of most other carriers!  Like many of the other carriers, you can additionally purchase an infant liner or sleep hood, which are also both moderately priced.  I know that price is a huge reason that many women feel they aren't able to babywear, and the Bitybean really helps to make that concern vanish.

- Compact and lightweight.  This blew me away.  The Bitybean comes in a convenient little sleeve that is about the size of a soup can.  It also weighs almost nothing (8 ounces!), so I can throw it in my diaper bag/purse - as you can see below, I've tried to consolidate everything to one bag already, and the Bitybean (the orange and black tube at the top) fits in there easily and doesn't weigh it down.  


- Breathable and water-safe.  I mentioned above that I throw the Bitybean in my diaper bag - that's because it is incredibly convenient to wear out and about.  It is made of a light nylon/polyester blend, so it's almost the texture of a rain poncho.  This makes it incredibly breathable and lightweight in the summer, but it has the added bonus of working great while swimming or in the rain.  We wore it on a rainy day at a festival this last weekend, and I didn't have to worry about damaging it when it rained on it, or about it weighing a hundred pounds when it was saturated with water.  The bulk of the rain just slid right off the back.  Both of the kids have swimming lessons this summer, and so I plan on wearing Peanut in it in the pool.  I can't think of another soft-structured carrier offhand that is designed to be worn in the water!  (Check Bitybean's website for good pointers on water wear, like wearing your baby in front while in the water so you can make sure their head is above water.)  

Added bonus:  If you're prone to spilling (as I am), it's not a big deal, as most liquids just roll right off and/or dry quickly.

This is what we get when Big Sis takes the photos.


- Ergonomic.  I wore the Peanut, who is now just over 20 lbs, in the Bitybean for several hours at the festival this weekend.  My back didn't hurt.  I love the quickness of a ring sling, but the problem as a baby gets older is that it's not an even distribution on your back - the Bitybean was developed with parents and babywearing experts to make it safe and ergonomic for mama as well as baby.  I wore it the past couple of weekends while doing housework, and it was convenient and comfortable.  



I am really pleased to have the Bitybean in my babywearing arsenal.  I still love my ring sling and my Tula, and they each have their time and place - but I can't imagine ever going back to lugging either of them around in my purse or in the car when the Bitybean performs every function they do and more.  Great, great buy - and cute colors (LINK)!

Friday, May 8, 2015

BityBean - Check out their giveaway!

We are really excited to feature a review with Bitybean baby carriers next week!

But if you want to be introduced to their products before our blog entry, go sign up for their huge Mother's Day giveaway!  It's available on their Facebook page (LINK), or here:  http://bit.ly/1xn5gOh 

The giveaway is huge, and awesome!  It's got a Sarah Wells Breast Pump bag, a Safety 1st Step and Go travel system, a Bitybean UltraCompact Baby Carrier, and a Little Miss Peppers Design Bracelet.  Hit it up now before the offer expires!
 
 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

BabyLit Children's Books

We are a family of readers.  We all love sticking our nose in a book and getting lost in it.  It has always been really important to us that our children share that love.

When Pickle was an infant and toddler, we had lots of books, and shared them with her.  However - they were sort of boring, I'll be honest.  There were the picture books of feet and elbows and dolls and the like when she was really little.  As she got older, we incorporated Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon types of books.  Can I quickly say that I really just don't care for Pat the Bunny?  It's super-boring graphics, repetitive without really instilling any vocabulary - the tiny little interactive pieces were really the only redeeming value in the book.  As a parent, it would be mind-numbing to read these books that really had no inherent learning value.  So, when I recently got a chance to review some BabyLit children's books with the Peanut, I was ecstatic.

What are BabyLit books?  Easy.  They're literary classics, made for little ones - but with a sense of style (LINK).  Everything from Dracula to Anna Karenina is there, but has been made age-appropriate for a small child while still appealing to adults.


Here is the selection that we were lucky enough to sample:



Pride & Prejudice, Alice In Wonderland, Sense & Sensibility, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Sherlock Homes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.  

Already this was warming my former-English lit-major heart.  Reading these, I was much more engaged and interested than I am reading other kids' books - these are stories that I know, and it was fun for me to see how they took them and made them appropriate for children.  They were quaint and fun and cool.

What was also neat about each book is that they became a "primer" in a certain skill or area.  For example, Pride & Prejudice is a "counting primer" for kids:




The BabyLit book took a classic, familiar text, and turned it into a beautifully-illustrated lesson on counting.  Five sisters (one for each of the Bennet girls).  Four proposals (beware, there's a bit of a spoiler here if you're not familiar with the book!), etc.  This is a great way to introduce the concept of numbers to a very small child without making it intimidating.  Our little Peanut man loved it, but it was interesting enough that our 4.5-year-old Pickle also asks me to read it to her over and over even though she knows her numbers.  Since P&P is one of my two or three favorite books of all time, I have no issue obliging this request!
 
The Sherlock Holmes book is a "sounds primer":




Each of the pages featured an example of onomatopoeia - a door that creaks, a shoe that scrapes, and several other words created from their corresponding sounds.  Our little Peanut loves this one the best, because I try and make the words sound lifelike while I'm reading it to him.  Here's how he tries to read it to himself:


I swear this wasn't posed.

He usually spends most of his time chewing on the books; this is actually just fine with the BabyLit books, as they are thick cardboard board books.  As such, they are incredibly durable.  

Like I mentioned before, these books are also cool.  When they're not being read by the littles, we actually have them sitting out on our coffee table as conversation pieces.  We've had a few friends pick them up and leaf through them already - they always brings a smile, and are a great discussion piece.  

I loved these books, both of my kids loved these books, and our guests have loved these books.  I would absolutely display these even if we didn't have kids, but they're great books that capture the attention of a child while simultaneously teaching them something.  (That's something of a rarity these days!)  In addition, they foster awareness and love for the classical literature that is beneficial for the children to be exposed to later in life.  What a great idea!

(Totally as an aside, but I just think this is adorable - check out their shop!  How cute is it for a three-year-old to carry her dolls and blocks and notebooks in a Wuthering Heights tote?!)