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A Year in Review – The Must-Haves That Really Helped…

My daughter just turned 1 last month. It’s been quite busy. She’s walking and talking. There aren’t too many free moments with her now, but as I clean out her already full closet and the attic filled with contraptions she doesn’t use any more I feel quite nostalgic. It is with that nostalgia that I am creating a list for those parents about to embark on this fun journey of the first year:

FIRST THREE MONTHS – MUST HAVES:

– An infant swing  (that thing has to wind up, buckle them in and rock slowly. It’s a blessing at 4 a.m. agitations, but get one handed down or in a consignment store as it’s about $100 for a 3 month use cycle. Not worth it).

– A play mat with fun toys attached for texture and pulling. (Again, good gift or consignment store purchase as it is a 3 to 6 month purchase. Once they crawl, it is of no use).

– Taggies – blankets, toys, etc. The brand is filled with great textures and colors that my daughter loves still at 1 year.

– Breathable bumper – I poo-pooed this, but when my daughter nicked her head against the crib while sleeping. The breathable bumper went on. Bright green color is cute. The other colors feel like medicine colors to me. It is ugly and doctors tell you try not to do it. Breathable bumper is okay by my pediatrician though.

– Universal stroller that clicks your baby’s car seat right in. Don’t get any other stroller until your child is at least 6 months old. This is a huge investment that you want to really fit your child’s needs. The Universal stroller is easy to click in and fold up to store in car. Unless you live in a very urban area where you’ll walk a lot with your baby, wait. I wished I would’ve.  I use my $29.99 umbrella stroller more than my $300 stroller I had to have because the umbrella stroller is easier to get her up and down stairs while still inside.

– Dr. Andrew Weil bottles (They click so you know the nipple is on right).

– Munchkin brand dryer rack is really good with the larger hooks for bottles and smaller nearby hooks for nipples. Someone does have to improve the offerings though to provide more hooks AND a companion rack for plates, forks and spoons to click on when the baby starts on solids at 6 months and then another with less deep hooks for sippy cups at 9 months, etc. (I’ll be happy to help any manufacturer develop this. My mom friends all think this is a great idea).

– Infant formula single “to-go” packs. (Even when breast feeding, I’d use these from Simulac for those “hard to go public” moments and mix it with a bottle of spring water. It was really easy.  They keep really well. Better than those pre-measured containers you can get for infant formula).

– 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month white onesies (long and short-sleeved from Carter’s or Osh Kosh B’Gosh because they are thicker cotton and wash well. Onesies are good “protection” from the bad leaks).

– A BACKPACK diaper bag from Land’s End with side mesh bags for bottles and accessible rattle toys.

– Zip lock baggies to hold diapers with diaper wipes for those “Oh my” moments in the public bathrooms.

– Deodorant baggies to throw diapers in the public bathrooms.

SECOND SIX MONTHS:

– Lots of fun colorful bins to put toys, books and stuffed animals in for baby to easily pick and choose on her own.

– Pop-up toys with any characters make her laugh and occupy hours of her time teaching her motor skills of pushing up and down the shapes.

– Sorting toys with shapes and colors to stuff inside boxes are hysterical time occupiers.

– Musical toys such as egg shakers, maracas, drums (without sticks) and bells are wonderful teachers of rhythm and receive screams of joy from my daughter.

– walking push toys of any sort, but ideally a walking toy that can push up with a handle bar for those trying to walk and also offer a seat to others who are ready to ride.

– pull toys are fun too!

– The umbrella stroller is great at 6 months and older because it is portable enough for you to carry the baby up and down stairs and folds easily at a restaurant to become inconspicuous. Those bigger strollers are easier to undo, but really down fold up as tight — especially in a restaurant, subway or tight public spot.

– The shopping cart cover is a great invention that fits easily inside the front part of a shopping cart to give her a lovely padded area with strings and loops that occupy her for hours and keep her strapped in safely, as well as hasten the spread of germs.

– a high chair that has a washable, wipeable seat. It isn’t enough that you can wash it in a clothing washer, but you really should be able to wipe it down easily after her meals. It gets messy.

– Moistened hand wipes are really great! I personally love the Aloe Vera soft hand wipes from Babies R Us or the Nice N’ Clean hand wipes you can get there too. Diaper wipes dry out her skin. These hand wipes — even Sani Clean brand or Wet Wipes in those canisters are really good at getting everything off her. Eating is a messy time, but there are other times too. These moistened hand wipes do a great job, but also seem to have moisturizer in them. It’s not alcohol smelling either.

– Sippy cups from Munchkin have silicone nipples that really work well for my daughter. I started her with the 6 ounce cups that have handles and graduated her to one without. She also uses Advent sippy cups.  Tommy Tippee from England also look good, but she’s already in possession of more than enough sippy cups.

– Sassy brand plates with plastic tops are sectioned for easy meals and very bright, happy colors. They are dishwasher safe too (or I’ve had no problems in the dishwasher).

12 MONTHS:

– She’s now 12 months and I’m finding that she is loving to imitate me. Have purchased an old fashioned Fisher Price dial phone and various plastic cell phones to keep in places throughout our house, car and the diaper bag so she can “stay in touch” while she uses any bag as a pocketbook/purse to begin her hours of being mommy.

– Got a great plastic small trike for her with no pedals that she sits and pushes herself around our patio.

– Her big red wagon with safety straps and a pocket for her sippy cup of ice water has been great fun.

– Her blow up pool has yet to be blown up this summer, but this is a nice gift too.

– My sister-in-law bought her a plastic beach bucket with shovel and hoe that is also a favored toy.

– She plays with funny sunglasses and is just starting to enjoy smaller dolls.

– I’ve tried to get her into the Little People bus I just purchased, but she’s not ready for it yet.

– Another mommy-pushing the envelope thing I just purchased is art supplies like the 24-month Crayola crayons and markers. She loves them!  She mostly sucks on the non-toxic crayons and washable markers, but also draws – spending hours at her mini table and chairs with either her daddy or me — making pictures for everyone. Hope this is the start of a Picasso!

So, these are my daughter’s beginning must-haves. It’s been a fun first year. I miss her little cuddly baby self, but am truly enjoying the walking-talking maniac of a girl she is becoming. She plays with me as we point to our nose or belly button, read books together and cuddle. My daughter is really an engaging and fun girl who is blossoming before my eyes. And what a bonus, she’s a kid I like to hang out with, too.

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August 10, 2010 Posted by | kids marketing, marketing to new moms, New Moms, Uncategorized, What to buy for new mothers | Leave a comment

The Real Poop — Tip for Parents With a Hard Decision

It happened. I am now a real mother. Worrying about of all things — the “p” word. This is a disgusting blog entry, so if you are weak in the stomach about such things I’d suggest you stop reading this entry. However, if you have a child who has “trouble” letting go, this could save you some good money.

After my daughter spent a whole week in agony, I figured out that what I thought was first teething and then an ear ache was really she having trouble releasing very hard poops. It was gut wrenching (literally for her) to watch. With a father who is a retired pediatrician, I felt hesitant to call her doctor with this worry. I was staying with my dad for our vacation/work holiday in Minneapolis, so it was easier to ask him.

He suggested we put maple syrup in her bottle and increase the liquid intake. Turns out — it’s not just for pancakes!!

Just to be safe if his age-old remedy did not work, my dad also called the pharmacy for a natural remedy that for the sake of anonymity because it was a total rip off I will not tell you the name. This “natural” remedy or stool softener for infants under 1 year was $100 a vial. (Note: over the counter stool softener is not supposed to be given to children under the age of 1 year for some reason that my dad could not understand, but it says so on the package so we didn’t even try). Turns out, it also helped to pull back on the oatmeal she was having 3 times a day too. (Uh, DUH)… We also introduced yogurt into her diet to help with her liquid too.

The result is something I’d love to share, but well — I don’t think you want to know. Needless to say, she is her happy self again. Plus, I saved a $100 mistake that frankly would’ve really pissed me off!

February 25, 2010 Posted by | kids marketing, marketing to new moms, New Moms | , | Leave a comment

The Toy Story – Her First Seven Months of Toys! And a little planning for later…

Okay, so I am surrounded by mothers who buy buy buy every developmental toy on the market. It’s lucky for me because I inherit some good ones, but I figure there are many moms who won’t have that same good fortune. I thought I’d help with a few pointers. Again, I’m trying to be practical, but also am having some fun buying my daughter toys too. It’s just such a racket. In her first six months, I’ve accumulated quite an attic filled with toys she isn’t using now. Anyway, here’s my quick guide to what she’s needed so far:

– Infancy (1st three months) = The Glider/battery operated rocker was where she spent most of her time. She also loved rattles and anything that was soft with beads that made noise. Manhattan Toy makes a fabulous “Skwish” toy that still is her favorite grab it toy. Anything she can grab was the key for the first three months. We received the cutest ever “Pancake Bear” that is a huggable toy she loved from two months on. There is also a Baby Einstein ball with beads inside that has been a big hit with her.

– Babyhood (up to six months) = This is the mysterious stage. I’ve talked to other moms (see earlier blog) about what to get her, but the old stand bys are definitely important here. Those stackable rings you all had as a kid from PlaySkool are great. She was teething from four months on, so she liked the teething toys with bumps especially. Her favorite ones were the teething toys with handles. Links are a HUGE help here. I highly recommend buying a bag full of links to put all the toys on. At about four months, she was happily spending time in her Jumperoo at home and when at her grandparents, the exersaucer. These are similar things. The EvenFlo exercsaucer is perhaps the Cadillac with great activities. (It’s often on sale at Babies R Us and Target). EvenFlo is far superior. My parents have the extra special one with add ons that my friend gave to them. I highly recommend it. These toys last about two months, so don’t spend too much on them. Get them at a thrift store, or inherit them from a great friend or relative. It is a great gift if grandparents or good friends want to buy it for you. Just know that it lasts a total of two months in her interest. Our daughter is just about done with the Jumperoo (same thing as exersaucer except instead of a round thing, it’s on two poles and she literally jumps up & down as she plays busily with all of the buttons).

– Older Babydom (six months to seven months) = She is now at the “Fascination” stage where every motion is carefully planned. She is able to push, pull and move her self into position, so her toys that are her favorites are the ones she gets to practice this. This is especially where the toys you remember as a kid are making her happy. Sassy makes a super fun mirror with balls she can move and silly strings she can pull. Plus, the mirror makes her laugh. PlaySkool also makes an incredible drum that lights up and plays great music if she hits it that is fabulous! (We bought a poor imitation of it and are about to buy the PlaySkool version because it’s far superior. She eyes it every time we’re in Target or Babies R Us). Her favorite is another toy from my past – the PlaySkool Pop Up Friends — she has spent hours trying to figure out the up down motion of pushing or dialing and loves to push DOWN the pop up. The plastic beads are also really great for her as she can pull them apart, push them together, suck on them (she’s getting the front top teeth now) and hold them — all actions she is mastering. Today at Babies R Us, she happily played with a waffle ball that had big enough holes for her to grab. She held the ball throughout the shopping trip with great fascination. It was on sale, so I gladly bought it for her at $4.99. She sits up easily, so we put her on a blanket with toys and a pillow to support her back. She can spend hours just hanging out and playing with almost anything – including plastic lids from old oatmeal tops and tupperware. It’s fun to watch. I’m working hard at just allowing her to explore most anything.

Walking/Crawling Toys (7 months to 9 or 10 months and later) = Our daughter is about to be seven months, so she’s a bit young for these toys, but I am exploring PlaySkool again with the walk and ride toys. There are also great blow up round rattle drums from Sassy that I’m told will be great for her to work to grab as she crawls. My sister-in-law just gave her the walk-and-sit lion that I believe is a PlaySkool mainstay again. These are great. We are also about to inherit a wonderful musical table that again is a PlaySkool thing sitting on legs with tons of buttons and dials with lights that make great music for her to stand up with support and continue her fascination stage. Hoping that comes soon. She is actually ready for this one even sitting up and not standing. We also are outfitting her with Robeez these days in case she decides to walk without fully crawling. I’m told by my smart, physical therapist sister-in-law with a two-and-a half year old genius that these shoes help her grip hard surfaces and walk correctly without slipping. We have hard wood floors, while day care has industrial carpeting, so I’m aware that both surfaces have different, but equally hazardous pitfalls for the first-time walker.

Where To Shop = When I’m exploring new toys, I like to  go to small toy stores. There is a great one in my home town of Minneapolis called Creative Kidstuff, but I’m not there as often as I like living in the New York City area. She is also growing way too fast to pay full price. Kohl’s has great toy deals, where you buy one and get the other free — but they are absolutely no help if you don’t know what you’re buying. Target and Babies R Us, even Buy Buy Baby also give coupons. Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby are great for expert advice on what to buy at what stages. If you’re more diligent than I am, Babies R Us and Target will meet a toy price with an advertisement. I’m buying these toys with coupons now to plan ahead. I am also asking friends if they have left overs, and exploring the great thrift shop in Pennsylvania where my in-laws live this month when we go visit. Our attic is carefully being categorized to insure easy access if either we are blessed with another baby, or we will give a lucky friend the fruits of our daughter’s interests like we have been given. Garage sales are also a possibility.

SPECIAL NOTE/A REQUEST TO MY READERS: I urge you all to add their input to the comment section of my blog. It’s helpful. My hope is that other new first-time moms and dads can learn from my story and others. This blog could become a resource. Please post comments!!!

January 10, 2010 Posted by | kids marketing, marketing to new moms, New Moms | Leave a 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

Networking: Mommy Style

It’s amazing how easy it is to find a mommy network and the credibility it holds for first-time moms like me. Today, I went to find some simple teething toys for my daughter as she embarks on what will become her first tooth. I stopped inside the section in my nearest Buy Buy Baby store and watched a nearby mom looking over more “advanced” toys. Taking a chance that her infant daughter wasn’t the only child she was buying for, I asked her about teething toys. And the information I received was perhaps the most important endorsement I could have. It was better than the magazine article I just read. My next visit to Babies R Us presented a similar experience about baby bottles. Looking to try a new baby bottle because our Advent bottles leaked AGAIN. I asked a nearby mommy. She recommended the new Weil Baby bottles because they are most like Advent nipples, but stronger and don’t leak. I spent the $8 and tried the bottle on her recommendation. Granted, I had also read about them in a recent American Baby magazine. The combination of her recommendation in-store with what I had read about them got me to make the purchase. Then, I realized. I had become a “real mom” because I utilized the mommy network. No matter how much I’ve read about this stage in my daughter’s life. I am still prone to asking a mom on the “front lines.” Since my daughter is not telling me what she wants, I am finding out from other moms. It got me to think about how a company looking for my purchase can get me interested in a new product. One word for them is buzz — mommy network buzz and other sources such as blogs, magazine articles, newsletters, etc. There are some companies now who find moms to trial new products and then recommend them to their mommy network. It’s genius. Since I’m in market research, I am unable to join these groups. This seems to make a great deal of sense to get the mommy network a buzzing about your new product. I just experienced this first hand. It seems to be an easy thing for large and small retailers alike to institute — using their guest list and working to create a mommy network of their own.  The opportunities are endless with these special consumers — from research respondents for special panels to trial to even blog connectors. Mommies are always proud of the new information or products they find that help their kids — and share it as often as anyone will hear it. Smart retailers and manufacturers alike can and are using these networks. Genius stuff. Both the marketers and the mommy wins.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | kids marketing, marketing to new moms, New Moms | Leave a comment