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 ( 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 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!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mumi & Bubi Solids Starter Kit

As I mentioned in my last blog (HERE), we are doing a mixture of homemade purees and baby-led weaning with our little Peanut now that he is over 6 months old.  The Baby Brezza has been great for us, it's worked out really well for him.

When we first ordered the Brezza, I wanted to find a good system for freezing and storing the purees.  When I made food for our older daughter four years ago, I had just frozen items directly in these little containers (LINK):

12 containers cost about $15.  Since I wanted to freeze a few weeks' worth at a time, it wasn't really cost- or space-efficient to use these for large batches.  The seal also wasn't one I'd use for long-term freezing, which I had learned back when Pickle was little.  So, I wanted something to use to freeze them that was a little more convenient.

I did a lot of research, and came across the Mumi & Bubi Solids Starter Kit (LINK).  

These are two stackable trays that are air-tight containers that work a lot like ice cube trays, but more convenient.  Each slot holds 1 oz. of baby food, and there are 21 slots per tray.  Amazon has the two trays for around $28 (LINK), so you're getting 42 frozen items for that price.  Not a bad deal.

They are very good at freezing, and very easy to use.  The lids are secure and tight, I haven't had any freezerburn.  It's very easy to pop the foods out, since the cubes are frozen with a curved bottom (sort of like a half-moon).  You just push on one side of the cube, and it slides out.  Some foods seem to pop out better than others - if your cube doesn't want to slide out, simply run the bottom of the tray under hot water for about ten seconds, and then they should slide out easily for you.  Do not bend the tray like you would an ice cube tray, as that can damage it.  The trays are dishwasher-safe on the top rack, and wash well.

When the foods are frozen solid, I pop them out and put them in zippered bags, and then put the zippered bags in freezer-safe storage containers.  This is probably a little overkill, but it makes me feel safer to have the dual layers of protection.  

I originally got the little containers from the beginning of this entry to send to daycare.  The problem with those containers is that they're not tall enough to accommodate one of these frozen cubes.  So, even though it's a 2-oz container, you have to cut one of your 1-oz frozen cubes in half and jam it into the container - even then, it's sometimes hard to get the top sealed tight.  You would need two 2-oz containers in order to get a 2-oz serving.  Not very practical.

Next I tried the Sage Spoonfuls storage set (LINK), about $27 for 12 4-oz containers on Amazon.

These work well - since they're wider at the base, the rounded, long-ish cubes fit in here, and you can actually fit 4 oz of food into a 4-oz container.  I use these primarily, since they're a very secure fit of the lid.  I'd recommend them strongly if you don't mind the price.

However... they ARE a bit pricy.  If you skip the Sprout containers listed above, it's not a bad price (not what my husband says), but there are definitely other BPA-free options that work with the Mumi & Bubi Cubes:

- The First Years Ziploc Snacks-To-Go (LINK) - Run $5.75 on Amazon for three 8 oz bowls and three 4.5 oz bowls, all BPA-free.


These work great - we don't need 8 oz of baby food yet, so we're just using the 4.5 oz tubs.  They're big enough that the curved cubes fit in them.  I really like the lids, I feel like I can put them in a bag for daycare and they won't spill all over the inside of my bag.  However - we send two containers of baby food to daycare every day.  In order to get 10 of the 4.5 oz tubs, we need to get four of them.  4 x $5.75 = $23.  You're spending about the same price as you would for 12 of the Sage Spoonfuls (although you'll also have a bunch of the 8 oz tubs, in addition, which will come in handy later).  A little more cost-effective, but not as good as it could be for something that just doesn't have the same quality of product.

- Ziploc Extra-Small Square Containers (LINK) - I would get these at Wal-Mart, not Amazon.  They run $2.57 for eight of them at Wal-Mart, while you're going to spend $10.99 for the same number at Amazon.  Each BPA-free container is 4 oz.  

These are by far the most cost-effective method.  They fit the cubes pretty well, although I haven't tried to get all four oz in there.  The downside of them being the most inexpensive is that they're definitely not as durable as the other options.  These are meant to be disposable eventually, and they don't seal as well.  They are also not as durable, the tops can sometimes break after usage.  But, for $2.57 for 8, it's not like you're making a huge investment to just go buy more.

So, that was likely way more information than you ever need about transporting pureed banana somewhere.  I just know that it took a lot of trial-and-error for me, and it would have been nice to have definitive information on how to freeze and store these.  The Mumi & Bubi work just great, and are worth the investment, in my opinion.