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Packing Up the Clothes & Planning Ahead

As a new mom who hopes she’ll be lucky enough to enjoy every moment with her daughter, I am now savoring the fact that she is growing out of her 3 to 6 month clothes. It’s a sad, but exciting time. The thing that astounds me is that no one tells you how to plan ahead for her toy and clothing needs. Personally, I look at what kind of toys are in her day care to know which are best for her development. I also – as you all know from a previous blog – ask fellow moms in and out of the toy section at retailers around town or find a great sales person at a small boutiquey toy store (aka Creative Kidstuff in Minneapolis). At 6 months, my daughter is a smaller size than most (in the 25th percentile for weight and height), but I am planning ahead with clothing and toys. I have started to pack up her 3 to 6 month size and replace her clothes with “up to 12 months” and “9 month” sizing. It generally is a rule of thumb that kids should be dressed 3 months larger than the size says, but no one tells you that. My smaller baby is definitely on that scale. A friend of mine with a bigger than average baby (18 pounds at 5 months) is dressing her daughter in the 12 month and 18 month sizes. I am also trying to plan ahead by looking at all of the great after-holiday sales going on at Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Macy’s and other kids departments. You can get some great deals if you figure your child to be 3 months ahead of her age in 2010 fall/winter season. The trick is to also buy a plastic storage bin in Target or Kmart to categorize the clothes you buy, so when it comes time to put them into her clothing piles you know where to find them. I also welcome hand-me-downs from all of my friends with good taste who have children slightly older than my daughter. Seriously, I am not too proud to beg. Have e-mailed my friends mentioning this. Most are very receptive. Some even mail them to me in the new US Postal Service’s all-you-can stuff into one box rate boxes.  Hand-me-downs are great! I have received some of my best, most durable clothes from moms. My only “no-take” rule is that I won’t take any onesies or undershirts from others (like sharing underwear in baby circles – a lot happens to a onesie when you are learning how to eat). This rule also is extended to swim suits. Have received some, but I am just a little hesitant to share those. Same reason. Pacifiers also are a no-share zone. Otherwise, toys have the same “not too proud to beg” policy for me. I have received some great stuff from moms who are not having any more kids. It’s the benefit of being an “older mom” — the share factor. I also make it a policy to pack up the toys and equipment that my daughter is not using in a similar manner, marking them with age used to access if we are blessed with another child. Being in my early 40s, my time factor is a little more limited for that, so if next year we aren’t there yet… I am happy then to provide my friends following in my footsteps having a new baby with my well labeled items. I so wished someone would’ve labeled my hand-me-downs, but I look forward to providing my future baby-making friends with my new and improved hand-me-downs. I thank my friends who gave me their great stuff. It’s a great way to learn what to plan for, what to ask others and what to plan on buying on your own. To review, onesies, swimsuits (my daughter will swim next summer, so I’m planning on an 18 month size) and pacifiers are the only hand-me-down clothes or toys I won’t take. Everything else is packed up and ready to go for baby #2 (if we are so blessed) or next year will go on to my lucky friend who will need it more than I. One more thing, I would also make sure you take things from moms with kids no more than 3 years old. Many toys and clothing have a “shelf life” with safety recalls, as well as other “storage” factors which make toys and clothing not so great if left untouched for that long. Just something to think about when you are lucky enough to have a source or two or even more for those things. My husband and I are so grateful to our family and friends who were kind enough to provide us with most of our equipment, toys and clothing needed in my daughter’s first year. We are so lucky!

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The All Important Diaper Secret…

When you’re a new mom, especially one like me who did it “later in life,” you want to do everything right. You’re overwhelmed by the brand names, must-have ingredients, trends, etc. that will help your daughter or son grow & excel. Diapers is a purchase that well hits you right on the bottom of this debate (sorry, had to go there). Diapers are very much like formula — a personal decision. My decision to go convenient rather than “environmental” was just a practical one. It is true that diapers fill landfills every day and the amount of diapers my daughter goes through every day probably contributes greatly to that. It is also true that many of the major brand names are making diapers out of recyclable materials that do biodegrade. I just can’t get on top of that debate. I’m living in the here and now as frankly most new moms due to lack of sleep and frankly, lack of funds. This baby business gets expensive. Thus, I have decided to confess. I did do a little research to find a diaper that met the following “practical” criteria – 1) convenience in that it was easily purchased at major retailers, 2) expense needs to be low due to the fact that she goes through probably six to 10 diapers a day – averaging every a diaper change every three hours I would just like a diaper to come in the price range of 15 cents a piece,  and finally, 3) absorbency which if you have ever changed a diaper after a good night’s sleep or held a baby who has well — enjoyed her meal — then you know the importance of this factor in a good diaper. My husband and I started out as typical parents choosing to go with the diaper our hospital sent with us home  Pampers was our gift. It is a great brand. Soft, absorbent and conveniently accessible at every major retailer within a mile of our home for any last minute diaper runs needed. However, it got progressively more expensive per diaper as our daughter grew. Size 3 costs on average about 30 cents a piece. Value packs are not a good deal for a six month old baby who is growing by the minute. I tried a generic grocery store brand with Clifford the big red dog on it. This was not good for my daughter’s very productive digestive system. Many leaks were found and laundering her clothes made the savings insignificant. I also tried Kleenex Huggies brand. It’s soft and very good fitting, but not absorbent enough for my daughter (Their environmentally friendly brand is especially soft). It is also about the same pricing as Pampers. The environmentally friendly diapers like Seventh Generation run about 40 cents a diaper (rough estimate) and do not absorb well at all. Pampers won out in the absorbency race, which let’s face it is the most important one when you’re talking about a baby. And, then… I found out about Luv’s. It is also made by Procter & Gamble who makes Pampers. It is a great diaper in the absorbency rating. It also averages roughly 15 to 20 cents a piece for my daughter’s size 3 diapers. The only problem with Luvs is the times when she is “in between sizes” (I feel for her as I try to lose my extra 20 pounds of baby weight). Pampers offers a size 2/3 that was great and segued nicely when Luvs could not. It is also just now getting major retailer attention. I was happy to see that Target carries it, as do my favorite local grocery stores. I am a huge fan of Luvs. It meets all three of my requirements – convenience, absorbency and expense. I highly recommend this brand as it interchanges nicely with Pampers given its close “cousin” relationship as one of the Procter & Gamble family. However, the diaper debate is a very personal one. I hear it is even different between each child you have. For now, I am an avid fan and purchaser of Luvs’ size 3 diapers. You may have to conduct your own personal research on the best brand for your child. I do recommend doing so with the many coupons and samples you will receive in the mail if you sign up for all of the “Mommy Clubs” every major diaper and infant formula brand offers. Just know that if you decide to go environmentally responsible that I applaud you!  Cloth diapers, Seventh Generation or any of those. If you decide to go convenient and absorbent, I applaud you!  If you decide to aim for the trifecta as I have, I welcome any of your recommendations. For now, I’ll stick with Luvs, but I am a savvy mom and will be avidly looking for the best diaper for the next two or so years until she’s potty trained. Please feel free to post any comments or recommendations.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Special Request: The Amazing “Everything You’ll Need for the First 3 Months” Mommy List

Being a new mom is pretty terrifying. You want to make sure you have everything you need to take care of the baby. All the decisions seem overwhelming. A number of my parents friends have asked me for this list I received from my cousin that helped me set up the nursery for my daughter’s arrival. It is invaluable, but certainly not totally complete as everyone has their own personal nursery needs.

Here it is:

For Baby When She/He Comes Home: – 2 pairs of mitts (helps them not scratch themselves while sleeping), – baby glider/rocker chair (there are a ton of brands to choose from mine rocks back and forth on batteries it’s a Fisher Price), – baby gym that adjusts for height (Fisher Price is the best) – Johnson’s unscented Baby soap (acts as their shampoo too-unscented is helpful for newborn sensitive skin), -baby bath with sling insert that’s padded (mine is a First Years brand), – lots of wash cloths (I have six) – 4 or so burp cloths (Aiden + Anais muslin wraps are great dual purpose wraps & burp cloths but expensive) – 4 blanket sleepers with tie bottoms (no legs, I like Carter’s brand) – 2 Swaddle blankets (Kiddopottamus brand is good and Halo has something too. There are a lot of good brands – just get Swaddle in the name) – 3 receiving blankets – 1 packet of 3 side-snap t-shirts for 3 months (new born size doesn’t last long not worth the investment and side snap shirts are good for the belly button healing after birth) – 2 packet of 3 onesies in 3 month size (I like Gerber or Carter’s brands, but MiniMe from Babies R Us is good too) – in the winter, get him/her a “BundleMe” zipper blanket that goes on the infant car seat it’s GENIUS (JJ Cole is a good brand I have the “sherpa” like one and it’s warm) – 6 cotton hats for infant and 3 month size (VERY IMPORTANT to keep on them) – 2 packets of 5 pairs of the MiniMe(?) brand baby socks 3 month size from Babies R Us – infant Saline spray (they get stuffy and the weird plastic bulp thing is really bad for them this is better) – 2 SafetyFirst nail clippers (Target carries learn from my mistake – the other ones hurt the baby and you need to cut their nails like every 2 to 3 days to keep them from hurting their cute faces. I keep one in my diaper bag and another where I nurse her) – 3 crib sheets (Circo at Target is a great brand that washes well) – 2 crib sheet “savers” (these are essential for babies who sleep through a wet diaper) – 3 changing pad covers (Munchkin brand is really great and fits well on any changing pad) – Unscented, Odor Eliminating garbage bags for dirty diapers (Diaper Genie is a hoax, it smells awful and the refill bags are tough to install. Personal choice though, many folks love them. We hang the garbage bag on one side of the changing table. Odor Free bags catch the odor really well in the Glad kitchen bags) – Mesh laundry bag for baby’s dirty laundry  – Diaper “basket” (caddy is available, but I just use a $3 basket I got somewhere to hold everything together  – Udder cream (available at Walgreen’s or CVS with regular lotions, and is an amazing diaper rash cream I recommend as it is really good for my daughter’s skin, but this is personal. You’ll have to try a lot of different ones). – 3 blankets for baby to play on – 2 packages of Diapers (start with newborn size in a small package as they grow quickly out of this size, and get another size 1 for your nursery – I use Pampers Swaddlers) – unscented wipes (get one plastic starter box with 2 or 3 refill packages)  – 3 Piddle pads (Gerber brand is good – you’ll use this when baby gets her/his first diaper rash. Let him/her lay naked on it and a blanket for a few minutes to “air out” — it’s adorable…) – for baby’s laundry detergent, we use 7th Generation Baby unscented laundry detergent (buy it at your local co-op or Whole Foods when on sale. It’s less money than Dreft and better for the baby, I’m told… but Dreft is a great brand for a lot of my friends. Again, personal choice. We do her laundry only using the baby detergent and wash all new clothes before she wears them because her skin is sensitive until she is one years old, I’m told…)

For Feeding: – Personal choice here, but I breast feed AND nurse. I don’t pump!, so I have the following:  – Dr. Andrew Weil bottles (they are the greatest and don’t leak like the others – start with 4 or so 4 oz size and get another 3 larger 9 oz sizes) – bottle sanitizer (I use the microwave version, but some folks don’t like the microwave – personal choice) – bottle drying rack is essential, get the one that comes with a drying tray too – Infant formula is a personal choice. We use Simulac in powdered form because we got a trial package and stayed with it. And now, my daughter is older we are using Up & Up generic Simulac Sensitive formula because she’s lactose intolerant it seems (It’s half the price for more powder). This is your decision. All infant formula should be as close to breast milk with iron fortified.

For You: – breast pads (I like Medela and buy the 60 pad boxes) – nursing bra (go cotton if you can – everything hurts when you first start) – The purple Lanolin cream is amazing. I’d take all the samples you can get from the hospital and buy one more medium size tube. You won’t need it past six weeks. -I also use the Aiden + Anais muscullan blankets as a cover up – the Boppy pillow is great, but regular pillows work just fine don’t freak out if you don’t get this $30+ item. It’s helpful to my daughter at 6 months in her sitting up but I didn’t really use it too much while breast feeding.

For Both You & Your Partner/Husband: – Diaper bag with lots of pockets – especially side bottle pockets outside of the bag (We have a back pack & it’s great. I highly recommend, but this is a personal decision too)

For Diaper Bag, we always carry the following: – 12 oz. bottle of spring water – nail clipper – Simulac powder packs (the greatest invention EVER as each powder pack equals 4 oz of formula premeasured and it doesn’t get clumpy) -Boogie wipes – Saline spray for infants – receiving blanket – burp cloth – bib – extra change of clothes – diapers

Hope this list helps!  You’ll certainly have a lot more to add to it when you bring your baby home. Congratulations.

December 17, 2009 Posted by | kids marketing, marketing to new moms, New Moms, What to buy for new mothers | Leave a comment

Buying the Right Toys for My Daughter’s Development

Motherhood is such a personal thing. First, when my daughter was born it was: Do you breast feed? Do you supplement? Do you simply give infant formula — and then, pre-mixed or powder form? Everyone has their philosophy about what’s the best thing for your child. DHA, iron-fortified, blah blah blah. It could make your head spin. And now, I’m at the six month stage with my first-born daughter. She is babbling. She is grabbing. She is rolling over. And she just cut her first tooth — teething like mad on anything she can get her mouth on (including my fingers – ouch). The girl is growing leaps and bounds. Now, I want to find the right toys to help her with her development — interpersonal skills, movement, textures, teething toys, musical, touch, sound, etc. But again, the philosophers appear with no clear answer. It’s frustrating. Fisher Price has a great guide on their toys that explains what phase your child is in, but it’s still so confusing. And when I was in Minneapolis, I went to a store called Creative Kidstuff where teachers often are the sales force offering great ideas for my daughter direct from experience. I purchased a few Manhattan Toy items including a great SKWISH toy that she loves to both hold, squash and suck on. It was a bit more expensive than my traditional toy trip for her, but I feel like she has some better than average toys for now. However, in New York suburban area where I am located, I am feeling like the mommy network is going to have to be a resource again. Visiting my nearest Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby, asking the nearest mom with a child a little older than her about what’s her child liked best. Bottom line is that I feel like my daughter will probably develop just fine with or without the perfect toy for her development. Pots and pans will probably do. A simple mirror is also a great toy for her at the moment. Her gaze into it with puzzlement is perhaps the most fun to watch thing she does. She is also very musical. Simple everyday items like some beans in a paper cup with a cover can occupy her forever. Perhaps,she is better off keeping things simple. Just not sure who the toys are really for these days though — me or her!

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not Getting Too Caught Up in Her First Holiday

It’s hard not to get caught up in the holidays — Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, etc. The holiday spirit is so wonderful this time of year, but are the values of wants and needs so important this holiday season when so many are without? I ponder this deep decision as I work at making my daughter’s first holiday season one filled with family and love. She is only six months old, so she doesn’t want or need anything. It feels like all that matters is the hugs and love she will get from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s a difficult message to convey to our loved ones who want only to get her something she’ll love. When she’s older, I feel like this will be something she’ll definitely get caught up in, but for now, I want to enjoy the holiday season — her first — without the materialism of the season. Only the love that she is so lucky to have. My fellow marketers may find me less than attractive this season, but as a first-time mommy I am going to enjoy this quiet early time. Perhaps, take it to convey to my daughter what the holiday season is really all about… the love of her family and friends.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment