Thursday, December 6, 2018

Newborn Baby Favorites

Hi Friends!

In case you didn't know, we are expecting a baby girl VERY soon!

I swear I have had amnesia about what I need to have around the house for a newborn baby.  I stumbled upon a list of items I made for a friend buried deep in my outbox, so I thought I would share.

First and foremost, I am obsessed with Moms On Call as my go-to resource for everything schedule, health, and parenting philosophy related.  I bought the set of 3 books before Teddy was born and used their schedules like my bible. They also have a super helpful app you can download (schedules) and following their Instagram is amazing too.  I am not positive if it was the MOC schedules or just his nature, but Teddy was an amazing sleeper and still is to this day.  Their health guides (common illnesses, etc.) were also great to alleviate some postpartum anxiety when little problems would come up with Teddy as a newborn.  GET THE BOOKS! :)

Feeding: Teddy wasn't having wet diapers at the hospital, despite all my efforts to feed him and getting help from the lactation consultant at the hospital.  I gave him some ready-to-feed formula (see below) to supplement until my milk came in.  I tried hard to nurse him once that happened, but he was falling asleep every dang time and he was simply not getting enough to eat because of it. I made the hard decision to exclusively pump and it was a total rollercoaster.  I pumped up until we went on vacation at 8 months, then used a frozen stash for about another month, then switched him to Baby's Only Organic formula (no, it is not for Toddlers) until age 1. He had no problem transitioning to regular milk at that point.  I am hoping nursing goes better with Baby #2, but I know there is no way to plan for what may happen, so I have to be open to all options to get her fed!

Preemie Nipples - get in case you have a chugger. 

Bottle Brush (buy 2, you have to replace often)

Similac Ready to Feed 2 oz Bottles ( just have for right when you get home from hospital so that you can give baby something easy in a pinch until you figure out how breastfeeding goes or what kind of formula you want to give baby)

PackIt Cooler (available in all types of patterns, designs)

High Chair (we didn't start using until about 5 months)

Green Sprouts Burp Cloths

Bibs - you'll want something with a waterproof backing to start like these

Medela Sterilizer Bags, I went through tons - get 2 to 4 packages. 

Medela Quick Clean Wipes - buy two packs. 

Long Handle Spoons (you won't use until between 4-6 months).

Bowls - we just use little bowls we have on hand that can go on the microwave. 

Breastfeeding Specific Items:  
{Before I even start this list, one of the best pieces of advice I got from a friend (thanks, Stacia!!) was to TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR NIPPLES, from DAY ONE!! You need to baby them like you're babying your baby.  I exclusively pumped with Teddy, and I would put my boob-ease (see below) on both BEFORE and AFTER pumping, then I would always use a nursing pad to cushion before putting on my nursing bra. I never had problems with blistering, etc. and I was lucky enough to avoid mastitis.}
Pump (Medela Pump In Style) - if you pump a lot, consider renting a hospital grade pump, like the Medela Symphony (you probably won't know if you'll need a hospital grade until she's born and you see how much you will be nursing versus pumping). 

Medela Car Adapter (lifesaver!!!!) 

Hands Free Bra (get two): this one is the best

Boob-ease - I preferred this over Lanolin.  Use it every time you nurse/pump.  If nursing, you can apply after to soothe nipples.  If pumping, apply before and after. Get two pots of it, one for each floor. This is all natural and does not need to be wiped off before feeding/pumping

Lanolin this stuff is good (get two tubes - one for each floor).  I think it's good to have Lanolin on hand.  It has other uses besides a nipple cream, you can use it on chapped baby lips, for example. 

Nursing Pads - these Lansinoh ones were my favorite. Use them to prevent leaks, but also for comfort on your nipples.  Change them often.  Buy lots. 

Breast Friend if you plan to nurse, people swear this is better than the Boppy. 

Soft Shells are amazing when your nipples are sore.  

Breast milk storage bags - I swore by the Kiinde Twist, Lansinoh are cheaper. 

If you use the Kiinde system this organizer was great for initial freezing. 

Nursing tanks. 

Nursing sleep bras. Get at least two of these, more if you can. 

Nicer nursing bras - the cake brand at Nordstrom is nice.  If you can tolerate an underwire nursing bra (some say these give them clogs), Nordstrom will take any bra you want and alter it to make it a nursing bra. 

Milk Snob nursing cover, doubles as a car seat cover, etc. 
Baby bath tub - this Angelcare one worked great for us up to 6 months. 

You'll want a padded kneeler to save your knees. 

Bath thermometer - keep the temp between 90 and 100 degrees. 

Bath toys, little duckies or something. You don't need a ton. 

Hooded Towels (lots!!) & wash cloths (lots!!).  Keep a warm washcloth on baby as soon as you put him/her in the tub, drape it across belly to keep warm, trust me! :) 

Get a very mild soap/shampoo - I would recommend this Eucerin or Honest Company (available at Costco!!).  A little goes a long way. You don't want to use a lot of soap on them, their skin dries out VERY fast. 

Soft baby brush & comb - use the soft brush on her head every bath and scrub a little to avoid cradle cap. 

Slather baby in lotion after every bath, trust me! Don't forget the cheeks. I am obsessed with this Eucerin lotion, which I still use on Teddy nightly.  We go through tons, so if you like it, stock up. 

Diaper cream - I would suggest Desitin extra strength.  They have it at Costco!! 

Aquaphor, get some. 

Vaseline - get a big tub. 

Diaper Genie - do yourself a favor and get two, one for each floor. Stock up on the bag refills, you can apparently buy them at Costco, but I have never seen them at ours. 

LOTS of wipes & diapers. I swear by Pampers Swaddlers diapers, but everyone is different. The Kirkland brand wipes at Costco are very good and mild on skin. 

Skip the wipe warmer, if you don't get baby used to warm wipes. Baby will tolerate cold ones and you avoid issues when you're out and about and only have cold wipes. 

Changing pad & cover.  Get a soft cover like this one.   

Cheap, old fashioned, cloth diapers (like the Gerber ones at Target) - use as extra burp cloths, to clean up messes, for under baby when changing diaper. 

Diaper caddy like this one - good to have for downstairs. 

Diaper bag - I have this backpack, which I love. 
Baby monitor. You will want a video monitor.  Our first one was horrible, I am looking to buy this Infant Optics monitor for Baby #2. 

Rectal thermometer - (we used this one). The only way to accurately take an infant's temperature is rectally. They don't mind it. Watch your pediatrician do it once. You can buy little alcohol wipes to clean the tip and put a little vaseline on before use.

Shopping cart cover like this, because shopping carts are gross. 

These antibacterial wipes are amazing. Wipe down high chairs, toys that fall on the ground, etc. 

I personally think these pacifiers are the best for newborns.  Don't be a hero, use them! :) 

Have some infant tylenol on hand, you can call the doctor for dosing. 

Have some infant benedryl on hand, you can call the doctor for dosing.

If you exclusively breastfeed, you need to give Vitamin D drops daily, ask your pediatrician about this at your initial appointment. 

Other things we used on occasion were Lotramin AF (for bumpy diaper rash with doctor's approval), 1% hydrocortisone cream (used on drool rash, get doctor's approval). 

Nose Frida is a MUST HAVE.  Don't waste your time with those stupid bulb syringes.  Get the extra filters.  BE BRAVE!!

Saline Spray

Cool Mist Humidifier this one is good. We use ours every night in his room.

Baby mittens - use to prevent baby from scratching her face. You can also use socks. 

Baby sunscreen & bug spray - just good to have on hand for summer babies. 

Toy for car seat/stroller (one that attaches) 

You definitely need a play gym - we loved this one.

Sophie la Giraffe here, do not submerse in water or she will get moldy. 

Teethers like these Razberry ones or ones you can freeze. 

Pacifier clips.  You can also use to clip toys, etc. 
Strollers/Car Seats:  
There are many amazing options.  I do recommend a travel set. Buy two bases if you have two cars for the infant seat. To give you an idea...

We bought the NUNA PIPA car seat and Nuna MIXX stroller. 

Skip a jogging stroller unless you are a runner :)

An umbrella stroller is a great thing to have for traveling (like on a plane...). 

Get a stroller organizer for your phone/keys.

Car set cover - shade them from the sun.You can use the milk snob (see above). 

Take your car seat and base to a fire station or other location to check that it is installed right. Taking one car in is fine, you'll get the idea. 

Car mirrors like this one, buy two (one for each car). 

Window shades like these

I love these stroller blankets. 
Pack-N-Play: we love our Graco one, set it up in the living room and use as a diaper changing station when they are little



Bouncy Seat (any kind will do, just make sure you have one!)

Baby carrier - I would recommend this Ergobaby for a summer baby. 

Floor tiles like these are nice to have. 

Jumper like this, they won't use until 4 months at the earliest. 

Nursery/Sleeping:  We had Teddy sleeping in a mamaroo for the first two weeks and the pediatrician was horrified and told us it was SO unsafe and we needed to move him to his crib ASAP.  Eeek!! We bit the bullet and put him in his crib, swaddled, at two weeks and never looked back. Best decision ever.  This time, I have borrowed a bassinet for the first couple of weeks and then we will see if we are ready to move to the crib.
Crib & crib mattress - I feel pretty strongly about this mattress, but it's pricey. We did buy an extra mattress cover in case of a middle of the night mess.  

Breathable fitted sheets - these aden + anais were my favorite. 

Dresser and/or changing table. 

Gliding/rocking/reclining chair with a pillow and supersoft blanket. Make sure to have a little table next to it for water, a light, etc. for you. 

I wish we would have registered for a bassinet. (We have borrowed one from a friend this time!! Thanks, MB!!) 

Different swaddles - definitely get HALO Sleepsacks (buy 2 in Newborn & 2 in Small) and we also liked the SwaddleMe ones. 

Noise machine - we have loved this one


Baby hangers if you have a closet - get lots, they are cheap. 

Swaddle Blankets these were my favorite. Have several. 

Boppy Lounger is fantastic for naps and lounging when they are really little. 

For under 3 months, we lived in onesies and sleeper pajamas. Have a few fun outfits, but mostly, you just want baby to be comfortable. 

Baby socks.

Get a weather-appropriate hat for walks outside. 

Teddy was a summer baby, so this time around we are in a totally different ball game with a January due date.  A winter must-have for babies is a Bundle Me for the car seat, that way you don't have to worry so much about putting baby in super warm clothing when you go out.

I hope this helps someone out there, or maybe you can pass this on to a friend!



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gatlinburg/Georgia Trip 2018

Good morning, everyone!

I swear I just blinked my eyes and almost two months have passed since we took our family road trip down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Lanier Islands, Georgia for a family wedding.  I promised you a recap, and this trip was just so good that I needed to document it.

I'm sure some people thought we were a little crazy for embarking on such a long drive with a toddler, and maybe we were, but I am happy to report that the drive went surprisingly well!

We left our house early Monday morning (Labor Day), around 6am.  We made a big fuss about the "car trip" aspect of the vacation ahead of time, which I highly recommend doing if you're driving with a toddler.  Teddy ate it up and was so excited to get going!

For the first leg of our trip, we planned to drive from the Chicago suburbs down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in one day's time.  To break it up, we were going to stop at the Indianapolis Children's Museum to let Teddy run off some energy before his afternoon nap.

We stopped for bagels and coffee near home, then hit the road!

Teddy did great on the way to Indianapolis.  He was awake the whole time, but did not get cranky at all at that point.  We didn't even have to bring out the iPad for movies that morning.  Instead, he loved playing with his Melissa & Doug Water Wow books in the car.  {Note to the rookies like me...make sure to fill the pens up with water before you leave the house to avoid having to do so while on the road!}.

I have so many fond memories of going to the Indianapolis Children's Museum with my parents growing up, and our trip there with Teddy did not disappoint! He was in HEAVEN the whole time.  That stop was a huge highlight of our trip and a lifesaver as far as making it through the drive down to Tennessee in one day.

From dinosaurs, to trains, to fast cars, this place was IDEAL for a two-year-old little boy!

We left the Children's Museum after about two hours and just in time for Teddy's afternoon nap.  He was wiped out and slept well into Kentucky. 

When we got into Kentucky, we decided to stop to eat at a Zaxby's.  Maybe this place isn't new to everyone, but I've never been! I must say I was pretty impressed with how clean it was and how good our chicken was.  

This was the point of the trip where I realized that every single stop was going to be exciting for Teddy, as he thought it was all just part of the "car trip" adventure. 

{By the way...those Water Wow books and sticker books were a lifesaver while we waited for food at restaurants on this trip!}

We finished our drive around 7:30pm and pulled into a grocery store in Gatlinburg to get some food for our cabin.  By that point, Teddy was super cranky and the grocery trip was not so great.  

But...we powered through. 

In Gatlinburg, we two-bed/two-bath cabin on VRBO and it was perfect for us. This place was so beautiful! The view was more than I could have imagined and the price was a steal. 

One thing I am glad I did was to bring a special toy for Teddy to play with at the cabin.  Teddy gets up SUPER early (think 5:30am to 6:00am) and I thought the toy would occupy him for a while in the mornings before I felt human.

I love all of the Little People sets and found this Camping Playset on Amazon.  The trick is... DO NOT let your kiddo see the toy before you leave your house! Teddy caught some glimpses, but we were able to save face and make the set mostly a surprise when we got down there. 

Some favorite memories from nights at the cabin, other than gorgeous sunsets, were Teddy enjoying a huge jacuzzi tub that was in our room for his bath time and then following that up with watching Paw Patrol in his very own gigantic bed with 10,000 pillows.   We aren't at the point where he is sleeping in a big bed like that, so we brought his pack-n-play, but he splent plenty of time snuggling up and enjoying his "shows" while resting. 

We did coffee on the deck and made eggs and bacon at the cabin in the mornings.  Justin loved taking dips in the hot tub on the deck in the morning, and Teddy got a kick out of watching him.  I am pregnant, so I didn't get to enjoy the hot tub this time...bummer. 

We were in Gatlinburg for Monday night - Thursday morning and the plan was to set up on big activity for each day, follow that up with a late lunch, and then head back to the cabin for naptime and to have dinner and relax back there.  

There were SO MANY night time activities that would have been fun for families, but in the interest of saving money and savoring some truly restful time, we decided to have the evenings be quiet and it was totally fine for us this time.  

For dinners, we made these HOBO Foil Dinners and they were SOOOOO good.  Don't wait for a camping trip to make them, you can put them on the grill and they are amazing! 

If you are looking for night time family activities, I heard that Dixie Stampede is fantastic. I also thought about taking Teddy to Hillbilly Golf. 

After our breakfast on Tuesday, we headed to the much anticipated Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.  I was surprised to hear this is one of the top aquariums in the country, and it was a must see for our shark loving toddler.  

This aquarium has a "shark tunnel" that is a football-field long. The way you get through the tunnel is on a moving conveyor belt. I am still undecided on how I felt about the conveyor belt, but I suppose it makes sense to keep people moving along.  Seeing so many sharks like that was incredible. 

I would say the other highlight of the aquarium was a giant, multiple floor high, jungle gym.  Teddy had a blast playing in that thing. Thankfully, between the two of us, we were able to keep a close eye on him and he could enjoy it.  I also really appreciated some of the older kids who helped him get up to the slides when he was having trouble.  Lord knows I was not crawling up there with my pregnant belly! 

After the aquarium, we headed across the street for lunch at No Way Joses. This was your typical mexican fare, but it was super reasonably priced and they were VERY accomodating of kids.  Teddy enjoyed his kids taco and I loved my chicken quesadilla.  I believe Justin also got some tacos, which he loved as usual. 

We ended our day back at the cabin relaxing and making those HOBO dinners on the grill. After Teddy went down, I would make smores in the microwave and Justin & I watched the new season of Ozark on Netflix. 

Wednesday we drove over to Pigeon Forge to head to The Track to ride go carts.  We were a little early, so we stopped in a couple of cheesy gift stores, which were a hit because of the huge shark/bear entrances. 

After some looking around at the stores, we headed over to The Track right when it opened. We had the park all to ourselves, which worked out perfectly with a two-year-old who hasn't quite grasped the concept of waiting in a line.

I was so impressed by this place! It was very clean and well maintained.  The workers were so positive and friendly, and they really made it a fun experience for Teddy even though the place was totally empty that day.  There were plenty of rides that Teddy could enjoy, and Justin loved that he could ride on some of the go carts with him.  If your kiddo is at least three feet tall, they can do almost everything at this park.  I also thought we got a great value.  We bought 55 tickets for $50, which was plenty of tickets for us to do everything as far as the rides and play some games inside the arcade.  {Pro Tip: Stop at Food City in town and you can get a brochure with a $10 off $50 coupon!}. 

That day, we went to Smoky Mountain Brewery for lunch.  This place was also great for kids, but beware, the pizza does take a while to cook.  We decided to get Teddy some chicken fingers and french fries instead of making him wait for the pizza, and I'm glad we did. Those came right away.  Justin said the beers were good, and they had some generic root beer, which was fine for me.  I was kind of hoping they would have a local root beer, since I obviously can't drink beer right now, but I get that not everyone is into root beer.  Once the pizza did come, it was worth the wait! 

We came back for naps, did leftover HOBO dinners, Teddy had his bath and shows, and we ended our night with some more Ozarks. 

The next day we woke up and it was sadly time to go! I can't forget to tell the story about Teddy and me seeing a black bear.  We had read in the reviews for the VRBO that many of the guests had seen black bears off the balcony.  We had been looking for bears the whole time we were there, but no luck.  We even had Teddy in on the hunt.

Right before we left, I was taking Teddy out to the car to put him in his car seat.  Justin was back up in the cabin doing a last check to make sure we got everything.  I turned around to take this picture of Teddy in front of the cabin...

And when I turned back around, there was a black bear right by our car! AHHH! I was so excited, but also terrified.  I quietly dropped my bag, grabbed Teddy, and went back inside to see if we could see the bear from the balcony out back.  Unfortunately, he had moved on.

But thankfully, he was not inside of our car.  That's right...we realized once we were back inside that our car doors were open, with all of our snacks inside.

I was positive for about five minutes that the bear was in our car. We sacrificed Justin to go make sure the coast was clear (HA! Well, he was the one who left the doors open!).  No bear, so we were on our way!

Here was the little review that we left in the book at the VRBO cabin, if you are interested!

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Log Pancake House for breakfast.  Teddy was super cranky for some reason at this meal, but he did eat all of his pancakes, so I guess that's a win.

After breakfast, we were on our way to Georgia for a family wedding! The drive from Gatlinburg to Georgia was unforgettable.  Unbeknownst to us, we drove straight out of town and up into a mountain.  It took us about 45 minutes to get up, and about 45 minutes to get down.  While it was such a cool experience and gorgeous, I would be lying if I said I didn't have anxiety the whole time because our gas tank was almost on EMPTY and we had no idea when we would run into the next gas station.  So...word to the wise, always gas up before you leave town! :)  I was convinced we were going to end up on the side of the road calling AAA, but we made it to a small town at the bottom of the mountain in time. was onto Lanier Islands for the wedding weekend! We enjoyed our stay in Georgia too.  I would compare this resort property to the Sea Pines resort in Hilton Head if you've ever stayed there.  We stayed at the lodge, which I think was the best idea with a little one.

Teddy loved playing at the pool with everyone and we even got to go on a pony ride.  That was a nail-biter for me, as I had to lead the horse and trust him to hold on tight and also trust the horse not to freak out and kick me!

The wedding itself was HOT HOT HOT, which was difficult for me as I have not handled the heat as well this pregnancy.  The bride was absolutely gorgeous and Teddy had a ball dancing, he just did not want the dance party to be over!

We pretty much left carrying him surfboard style mid-tantrum out of there at about 9pm.  That's what you get with an over-tired, hot toddler.

We headed back home Sunday and stayed overnight somewhere random in Southern Indiana.

I will say the last leg of the drive (on Monday) was challenging, because I think Teddy was just plain ready to be done with the car at that point.  It was good to get home and have an afternoon to re-organize and re-set before starting that work week.

This trip was SO GOOD for my soul and it was so special to have time just the three of us before this new baby arrives. I felt like I was really able to unplug and relax, while getting to share a ton of fun new experiences with Teddy.

We will definitely make a trip back down to the Smoky Mountains with our new addition.

Next time, I want to go a little further into the Fall to see the leaves changing...I'm sure it is GORGEOUS!

If you're thinking about going to Gatlinburg or Lanier Islands, feel free to send me an email or post a comment below and I will be happy to give you some more suggestions!