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?!)

 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Crane Drop Shape Cool-Mist Humidifier



Pickle, our 4-5-year-old daughter, gets recurrent croup.  She’s gotten it dozens of times since she turned one, so we’ve sort of done it all.  We’ve stood her in front of the freezer during coughing fits, we’ve stood in a steamy bathroom, we’ve inclined her bed, we’ve done countless rounds of oral steroids and a nebulizer.  All of them have worked in varying degrees to help stem her symptoms after the croup has already started – and it usually starts any time she gets a cold with any sign of a cough.  Per our pediatrician and pulmonologist’s recommendations, we have also utilized a cool-mist humidifier.  We have used it both before symptoms showed up and after the croup has begun in hopes of either preventing or shortening the duration of the illness – studies have shown that cool mist is best for this.

The first time Pickle got croup, we went to Wal-Mart and got the first cool-mist humidifier we saw.  We landed on the Safety 1st Ultrasonic Humidifier.  Ours is a little older model than this one, it ran about $25:  LINK  We liked that it was ultrasonic, so there was no expensive filter to change – so, even though it was sorta plain and ugly, we figured it was worth it.  It was also pretty quiet, which was nice.  We used it for about a week when we first noticed that it started leaking.  By leaking, I mean it was leaking everywhere from the base, not just some condensation from the spout.  In addition to this electrocution hazard, we also were disturbed that the auto shut-off didn’t work on ours when it ran out of water – I usually would have to get up in the middle of the night to turn it off, rather than risk it overheating.  We continued to use it, but it wasn’t a great solution.

I started doing a lot more research when searching for a new humidifier, as I wanted to get something that would work better and be safer.  I read time and time again about how Crane (www.crane-usa.com) had the best value for their humidifiers.  I was recently lucky enough to get to try out a Crane Drop Shape Humidifier in orchid and white (LINK):



It is adorable, and the pink and white go just perfectly with Pickle’s pink-and-brown bedroom.  However, there are a ton of other colors – prices range from about $40 at retailers like Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart, up to about $55 for the harder-to-find colors.  They are ultra-sleek and modern, and very appealing to my girly-girl.  However, if you have a wee one who wants something a little more traditionally “cute,” check out their Adorable Animals line of humidifiers for the cutest elephants, monkeys, frogs, and more to ever help your children breathe easier.

As it happened, Pickle just happened to come down with a cold within days of when we got the humidifier.  (Lousy Midwest weather.)  As I mentioned before, her colds almost always evolve into croup.  That weekend, we had birthday parties, soccer practice, meetings, and more – the poor girl just didn’t have the time to be down-and-out with respiratory issues.  

We got the Crane humidifier out, and set it up in her room.  First of all, it looks adorable – a vast improvement over the previous humidifier we had.  Although it’s incredibly simple to set up, I recommend following the directions in order to get the best results from your humidifier.  We set it up about three feet off of the ground in order to get the best circulation of air.  Per the directions, we also adjusted the spray so as not to accumulate water at the base – although we put it on a waterproof surface, we really didn’t need to.  There was no leaking or water accumulation – again, we were well ahead of the Safety 1st model we’d used previously.  It was quiet as a mouse, and it wasn’t big and oppressive in her room.  

One of my favorite features is that the auto shut-off actually worked – I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night and ninja off the humidifier without waking my daughter.  If I hadn’t read the directions, it might have confused me a little bit that the light remained on to indicate that the unit was still receiving power.  The functioning auto shut-off was another big win for me over the previous humidifier!  

One more thing I’d like to note from the instruction manual and the Crane website – no medications are to be used in the unit.  This includes essential oils, if you’re an “oily” house.  There are hacks on YouTube and blogs on how to add oils to the Crane humidifier, but it is not manufactured for use with them and is strongly discouraged.

So… after all of this, I’m sure you’re wondering if starting the Crane humidifier at the onset of Pickle’s cold kept away from the croup.  Well, take a look at this face from that birthday party I mentioned – could a girl with a restricted airway work a trumpet with this much style?


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Undercover Mama Nursing Shirts + GIVEAWAY!

Once upon a time, I did a blog entry on nursing tanks (LINK).  The main benefit of nursing tanks are that they're great for nursing in public, since they cover your midsection and chest.  The downside to them is that they really don't support you much, as it's just a piece of tank top fabric.

When Peanut was born, I started out using these (much like when his older sister was small).  However, being four years older than I was when she was born, I felt quickly as if I needed some more support.  I found some good nursing bras, but they left my stomach exposed when I was nursing in public.  I could just wear a tank top over the top, but it meant pulling down or up a tank top to nurse and THEN unsnapping the nursing bra, which was just all-around a pain.  

Since neither solution was ideal, I've stuck with the nursing tanks and just resigned myself to my breasts chilling out somewhere near my ankles.  I did some searching around the internet for nursing tanks that had molded cups - I found one, but tanks ran about $60 each.  I really couldn't justify that, since I'd need more than one.  I don't think my husband would really be on board with that big of an investment in my boobs unless they're making gold or something.

Then I got the chance to try an Undercover Mama nursing shirt.  It's simplistic, yet brilliant - it's a tank top without straps that connects to your nursing bra.  when you fold down the cradle of the nursing bra, the nursing shirt folds down with it.

Image courtesy of Undercover Mama
The nursing shirt is cotton and spandex, so it's breathable; your level of support depends entirely on the type of nursing bra you use underneath it.  You can use a nursing bra with or without an underwire, and the function of the Undercover Mama is not dependent upon how wide your straps are.
There are two ways that the nursing shirt can be attached to your nursing bra. You can either use a little clip, or you can use the elastic ring to simply pop over the top of your nursing bra's clasp:

As you can see, there is a near-invisible elastic ring that connects the nursing shirt to my very beige nursing bra.  Since it hooks below the clasp, the nursing shirt just folds down when I unclasp my bra to nurse or pump.  It's super-convenient and discreet.  Nobody sees all of my postpartum belly flopping all over the place when I'm nursing!
I like the fit of the nursing shirt a lot, as well - their size guide is very similar to most regular shirts (LINK).  The shirt itself is cotton and spandex, so there's just enough stretch to it to not make it bulky and awkward underneath your clothes.  They have a huge range of sizes, so the Undercover Mama should be able to work for anyone.  
I just went with a plain white tank for my first one, but they have tons of colors and styles.  So... how would you like to test one out?  Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/motherknowsbestreviews and like us!  And go HERE for the giveaway of a free Undercover Mama nursing shirt in your choice of size and color!  That's an awesome $24.99 value - but the convenience is priceless!
Check back here on 5/1/15 to see if you're the winner!