Blog post category: Ages/stages

Gift Guide for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Gift Guide for Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers

Note: Check out the latest (2016) version of this gift guide here!

Looking for the perfect holiday or birthday gift for your little one, a grandchild, or a family friend?  Here are our curated lists of age-appropriate gifts that are proven hits.

If you’re planning on buying a toy, see also our Buying Guide: Baby Toys & Books for info on buying safe/non-toxic toys.

0-6 months

6-12 months

1 year olds

2 year olds

3-4 year olds

All ages

  • Clothing: For a classic holiday gift, how about some snuggly jammies?  Our top picks are the organic sleepers and two-pieces from Hanna Andersson — they’re  fantastic quality and last forever!  The rest of the year, nice pieces from top brands like Baby Gap, Mini Boden, Tea Collection, etc. are always Mom favorites.
  • Looking for something handmade? Check out our top picks for baby goodies on Etsy
  • Experiential gifts: Trip to a local farm or zoo; hike at a local trail or park; a train or bus adventure; or an afternoon of art, cooking, or some other creative activity with gift giver (see also our Pinterest board for great baby & kid activity ideas)
  • Free and fun: Don’t forget the big cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper that all those presents come in!

Any other favorite gift ideas for little ones? Let us know in the comments!

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Newborn diaper giveaway!

Newborn diaper giveaway prizes

Have a newborn, or expecting a new baby soon? We’re doing a newborn diaper giveaway! We have two bundles of itsy bitsy disposable diapers (leftover from recent “testing” with our newest addition :)) up for grabs!

The prizes

BUNDLE #1: NEWBORN SIZE (shown on the lefthand side of the photo): Total of 62 diapers spanning 5 different brands (28 Naty by Nature Babycare, 17 Bambo Nature, 13 Pampers, 2 Earth’s Best, 2 Honest Co.)! The perfect way to figure out which brand works best for your family before buying in bulk!

BUNDLE #2: STILL PRETTY DARN ITSY BITSY BUNDLE (the 4 packages shown at right in the photo): Total of 109 size 2 (7-13 lbs.) diapers, all Bambo brand. (Bambo is our top pick for premium, non-toxic, eco-friendly disposable diapers — see link to our top picks guide below!)

Here’s how to enter:

1) LIKE the contest post on our Facebook page (this is how we will collect your entry)

2) COMMENT on the same Facebook post with which diaper bundle you want to enter to win (#1 or #2)!  Optional: Include a fun comment related to diapering, e.g. describe your baby’s worst blowout ever!

That’s it!  Entries will be accepted from the publication of the FB post to Monday, 11/16 at 11:59:59pm PT.  We’ll tag the winners (one for each bundle) in a follow-up comment to the same post on Tuesday, 11/17.  Full contest rules appear below.

Looking for more diapering tips?

You might be interested in checking out the following content on TotScoop.com (login required):

Not a registered user yet? Create an account using invite code “FBFALL15”!

Good luck!! And happy butt-wiping everyone <3


Contest rules & details

i) ELIGIBILITY: Open to US residents ages 18 and older. Each individual can enter once.

ii) CONTEST PERIOD: Entries can be submitted from the time the contest post on Facebook is published through end of day Monday, 11/16 (11:59:59pm PT). The winners will be announced on Tuesday, 11/17 by being tagged in a comment on this post.

iii) WINNER SELECTION & NOTIFICATION: The two winners will be randomly selected from each pool of entrants. Once their entries have been validated (to ensure that all three qualifications above have been met), they will be notified via Facebook tag in a comment on this post. Winners must claim their prize via PM within 48 hours. If a prize is not claimed, another winner will be selected.

iv) CONTEST ADMINISTRATION: This contest is being run by TotScoop. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

v) PRIZE DETAILS:

Bundle #1 includes:
– 1 unopened pack Naty by Nature Babycare size NB (birth – 11 lbs.; 26 count), plus 2 extras
– 17 Bambo Nature size NB diapers (4-9 lbs.) in opened package
– 13 Pampers Swaddlers size NB (birth to 10 lbs.) in opened package
– 2 Earth’s Best size NB (birth to 10 lbs.)
– 2 Honest Company size NB (birth to 10 lbs.)

Bundle #2 includes:
– 3 unopened packs of Bambo Nature size 2 (7-13 lbs.; 30 count each) diapers, plus 19 extras in opened package

The Lunch Box Cheat Sheet
(You’re Welcome!)

School lunch cheat sheet

First day of school: Prosciutto and mozzarella sticks, sauteed vegetables, fruit cut up into adorable little animal shapes, and homemade yogurt smoothie.  Plus a cute little note and/or artwork to let them know just how much you care.

By mid-October: PB&J and string cheese.  And a napkin.  If they’re lucky.

Amirite?

Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together a lunch box cheat sheet to pull you out of your mid-school year doldrums.  Organized by food group, it will not only remind you to pack a balanced lunch each morning, and will hopefully also give you some ideas for injecting some new foods into your repertoire.  Consult it for inspiration before your weekly grocery store run.  It is equally valid for babies eating finger foods, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age kids.  Click for a printable version that you can hang up on your fridge.  Enjoy!

Lunch ideas PRINTABLE

A few quick pics for inspiration below.  We’re no professional food bloggers (or photographers), but you’ll get the idea. 🙂

Also check out our recent blog post on preschooler lunch gear (including the bento stuff used to make some of the animal shapes shown below).

Tortilla, ham, and Babybel cheese roll-up; cheddar pigs; roasted corn nuts; strawberries; and cucumber slices
Tortilla, ham, and Babybel cheese roll-up; cheddar pigs; roasted corn nuts; strawberries; and cucumber slices
Salami, cheese, and crackers; mandarin orange wedges; sunflower seeds; and edamame
Salami, cheese, and crackers; mandarin orange wedges; sunflower seeds; and edamame
lunch5
Tula salad animal pouch sandwich, cucumber pigs, pear cubes, beet chunks
lunch4
Meat & cheese sandwich on pita bread, cheese dolphins, cucumber penguins, grapes
lunch3
Monkey sunflower butter & jam pouch sandwich, corn, string cheese coins, strawberry chunks
lunch2
Graham cracker dippers with cream cheese & applesauce dip, salami & cheese pigs, grapes, red bell peppers
lunch1
Ham and cheese pig on grains w/ veggies, cheese mini-pigs, raspberries
max shopping cart
The best way to get your customer interested in whatever you’re serving for lunch: take him or her along to the store!

Back to (Pre)school: Backpacks, Lunch Gear, and Nap Mats, Oh My!

Top picks for preschool backpacks, lunch gear, and nap mats | TotScoop

Time for your little one to leave the nest and fly, fly away to preschool?  Dry your tears and check out these ideas for top-rated preschool gear.

Contents:

Preschooler backpacks

You’ll probably need a small bag to send along an extra layer, a change of clothes, etc.  I’ve seen plenty of parents just use a plastic bag, but if you want something sturdier or that your preschooler can carry him or herself, check out these adorable preschooler-sized backpacks. (Note: Make sure to inspect your kid’s cubby to make sure you buy something that will fit!)

Skip Hop Zoo Pack

Skip Hop Zoo backpack

These adorable and ubiquitous Skip Hop Pack backpacks ($20) are a parent favorite.  They’re compact, roomy, and come in a wide range of designs (which coordinate with the rest of the Skip Hop line).

Sugarbooger Zippee! Backpack

Sugarbooger Zippee backpack

If you want something a little different, check out the Zippee! Backpack ($25) from Sugarbooger.  Its boxy shape fits well in most preschool cubbies.  Note that it’s a few inches taller than the Skip Hop.

Pottery Barn Kids pre-K backpacks

PBK dino backpack

PBK also carries a wide range of preschooler backpacks (from $29.50), including this cute dino pack ($36.50).

Preschooler lunch

Lunch bags/boxes

Sugarbooger Zippee! Lunch Tote

sugarbooger zippee

The Zippee! Lunch Tote ($20 at Amazon) worked great as our primary lunch box last year and is still going strong, so I’d recommend it to anyone.  Not only are the designs cute, but it’s insulated, very roomy, and machine washable.  Sugarbooger also makes a cute reusable lunch sack if you prefer that style.

Dabbawalla Lunch Tote

Dabbawalla

Dabbawalla lunch totes ($28) get high marks from parents.  They are made of a neoprene-like material and feature a preschooler-friendly handle.  They are machine washable and come in a range of cute designs with preschooler appeal.

Built NY Big Apple Buddies Lunch Sack

BUILT NY lunch sack

These Built NY lunch sacks ($11-15 at Amazon) boast the design and function you expect from Built NY, all in a kid-sized package.  They are made from Built NY’s signature neoprene material, and are lined with an insulating material.  It is smaller and slimmer profile than some other lunch bags.

Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie

Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie

If you get one of Skip Hop’s backpacks (above), you may not be able to resist getting a matching Lunchie ($14 at Amazon).  They’re adorable and insulated, but in my opinion a little too small to hold a full preschool lunch (including drink, etc.).  We have one, but mainly reached for the Zippee.  Still, could be a good choice if you just need to send snacks, or don’t need to send a drink.

Food storage

Yumbox

Yumbox 4-compartment

The Yumbox Panino ($30) is our all-around favorite for hassle-free preschooler lunches.  It’s compact, yet fits a ton of food.  The divided compartments remind you to pack a variety of foods for a healthy lunch, and are (drum roll please) even leak-proof (!!).  We used our Yumbox as our primary food storage solution for preschool last year and loved it.  For most preschoolers, I recommend the Panino model featured here, which has a single large compartment that is more versatile (can accommodate a sandwich, bagel, etc. if needed).  For toddlers or younger preschoolers, however, the original five-compartment Yumbox may be a better choice.  TIP: The Yumbox’s Tritan tray is microwaveable, according to the manufacturer.  However, if you prefer not to microwave plastic, just use a silicone baking cup as a liner and your child’s teacher will be able to easily pop it out and microwave the contents.

Planetbox Rover

Planetbox Rover

The granddaddy of preschooler lunch boxes is the five-compartment Planetbox Rover ($50 for lunch box only, $62 including carry case and magnet decorations).  We love that it’s stainless steel, so no worrying about any nasties leaching out of plastic.  Unfortunately it’s not leakproof (either the outer box or between compartments), but two small leakproof containers are included.  A great option, though, if you don’t anticipate sending a lot of liquidy foods to school.  Visit planetbox.com to customize your lunch kit (including carry case, magnet decorations, ice packs, water bottle, etc.)

Wean Green Lunch Bowls

Wean Green Lunch Bowl

If you want to send foods that will need to be warmed in the microwave, glass is the safest choice.  We love Wean Green for their baby food storage solutions, and they also make this larger Lunch Bowl (13oz, $16) — it’s leak-proof and is perfect for leftovers, soups, etc.

Bento & accessories

Many parents of preschoolers choose to pack “bento-style” lunches: including small portions of lots of different foods encourages your child to try new things and eat a balanced meal; also, presenting his or her lunch in an attractive (read: animal-themed) way often increases the likelihood that your child will actually eat it.  Here are some tools to make your bento lunches easier to make and more fun to eat.

Food dividers

Silicone baking cups

When you need to sub-divide larger food compartments(e.g. to separate wet and dry foods), silicone baking cups like these are a mainstay solution.  TIP: Measure the height of your food container and look for baking cups that are the same height.  Otherwise, food will spill over when your lunch box inevitably gets turned sideways or upside down.  ANOTHER TIP: These are also great for isolating foods in a larger lunch container that need to be warmed, so your child’s teacher can easily pop them out and microwave them.

Sandwich cutters

CuteZCute animal friends

CuteZCute makes a wide range of food cutters, including these awesome Animal Friends sandwich cutters ($9).  These work great with bread, cheeses, and non-striated meats.  We also love their Panda Pocket Sandwich Kit (especially for messier fillings like PB&J; $8).

Tovolo Sandwich Shapers

Tovolo Sandwich Shapers ($5-8 each) are whimsical and practical (as they use up almost all of the bread).  Also check out the similar Munchkin Silly Sandwich Cutters ($8).

Veggie cutters

Veggie cutter

Small vegetable cutters like these animal-themed ones are perfect for veggies, cheese, and thicker meats like salami.  They’ve been just the ticket for us to get our little one to eat at least a few otherwise unappetizing looking veggies with lunch.  Here are also some more practical ones if you aren’t into animal-themed everything.

Utensils & food picks

Sugarbooger utensils

Sugarbooger makes a great, flat stainless-steel silverware set ($4-9 at Amazon) that comes packaged in a travel case and fits well in lunchboxes.

cutezcute food picks

If you’re just packing fruit or something that doesn’t really require a full-on set of utensils, consider getting some food picks that you can just tuck into your food container.  They make eating more fun, and you don’t have to worry about the utensils getting lost.

Insulated drink containers

Thermos Foogo

thermos foogo

If you need to send milk to school, you probably want to invest in an insulated drink container.  The Thermos Foogo straw bottle  ($12 at Amazon) has worked great for us. It keeps milk cold until lunchtime and is the perfect size for preschoolers (10oz.).  It’s also leak-proof (when closed; it doesn’t have a valve) and is relatively easy to clean.  TIP: Throw the container itself into the fridge for a few minutes before filling it with milk, for extra staying power.

Nap mats

Note: Not all preschools require nap mats!  Check with yours first before buying.

Urban Infant Tot Cot

Urban Infant Tot Cot

We heart this modern and functional cot cover ($35-40 at Amazon) from Urban Infant. It’s a lightly quilted cot cover with attached lightweight fleece blanket that is designed to be used on top of a cot or mat.  Note that it doesn’t provide much padding, so is not designed to be used on the floor.

Olive Kids Nap Mat

Olive Kids Pirates Nap Mat

If you need a bit more padding, the Olive Kids Nap Mat ($37-57 at Amazon) is a great choice.  Designed like an open sleeping bag, it has a cotton/poly exterior and boasts a 100% cotton flannel interior.

 

Happy preschooling!  And don’t worry Mom, you’ve got 15 more years before your little one actually leaves the nest. 🙂


Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

What you need to know about cloth diapering a newborn | TotScoop blog

With our first baby we didn’t start using cloth diapers until around three or four months, so I was excited to have the opportunity to start cloth diapering from birth with our secondborn.

This post won’t provide a general how-to or other info on cloth diapering more broadly.  There’s plenty on that elsewhere around the internet.  In fact, we’ve already got our very own cloth diapering guide and picks for the best cloth diapers right here on the blog.  Instead, we’ll focus this post on cloth diapering a newborn.

The basics of cloth diapering a newborn

OK, so here’s what you need to know about cloth diapering a newborn:

  • Newborns go through a LOT of diapers.  At least 10-12 per day.  So, depending how often you plan to do laundry, you’ll probably need ~24-36 diapers (if you plan to do full-time cloth).
  • Newborns are very small people (surprise!).  Although some cloth diaper manufacturers would have you believe that their “one-size (OS)” cloth diapers fit from birth, the reality is that, even if they do fit without terrible gaping at the waist and legs, they will probably be incredibly bulky (not to mention look ridiculous) on your newborn.  If you’re already committed to cloth, we recommend that you invest in at least some newborn-size diapers (or, if you think you’re likely to have a larger baby, perhaps size 1/small diapers).
  • Newborns poop.  Yep, a lot.  In fact, they often poop often at every diaper change.  And it’s messy: runny, explosive…you get the idea.  Containment (involving some sort of elastic) is absolutely key — unless you want to be dealing with blowouts left and right.
  • But believe it or not, their poop isn’t that bad!   EBF poop in particular rinses right out of cloth diapers (like yogurt), and hardly even smells (no, really).  So although many cloth newbies are grossed out by the idea of handling poop (and putting it into their washing machine), you’ll soon see that it really isn’t that bad.
  • The early days may be a bit different.  Many people choose not to cloth diaper for the first few days because meconium.  You absolutely can if you like, just expect you may get some stains that may not come out as easily.  (I admit that myself was lazy and just opted to use disposables for the first 3-4 days, during my own recovery.)  Also, until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off (usually around 1-2 weeks), diapers with umbilical cord snap-downs are helpful.  I reached for diapers with snap-downs for the first two weeks.

Which cloth diapers are best for newborns?

Your basic options for cloth diapering newborns are pretty much the same as for older babies.  See our basic overview of cloth diaper types (fitteds, prefolds, AIOs, AI2, pockets, etc.).  Now, here are some thoughts on using each with respect to newborns in particular:

  • Fitteds with PUL/wool/fleece covers: These offer excellent absorbency — sometimes more than many newborns need.  Trimmer fitteds are great, though, as the elasticized waist and legs provides excellent containment of newborn poop.
  • Prefolds with PUL/wool/fleece covers: An excellent, super affordable option for newborns.  I’m personally not a big fan of prefolds for older babies (whose mobility can cause them to shift and wreak havoc), but I found myself pleasantly surprised at how well they worked with my newborn.   The “jelly roll”-fold-plus-Snappi combo provided pretty darn good containment of newborn poop.   They washed up well (retained far fewer stains than my fitteds, which have more nooks and crannies), and were dirt cheap to boot.
  • AI2s (all-in-two): I loved the convenience of being able to reuse the cover and just swap out the insert — this made this style a great option for on-the-go (since you have to carry around less in your diaper bag).  With explosive newborn poop the cover often doesn’t last that long, but even with an extra cover or two the overall system is still less bulky to carry around.  Some of the AI2 systems are also very trim fitting — great for under clothing.
  • AIOs (all-in-one): Not my favorite option, due primarily to the high cost, especially for a newborn stash that will only be used for a few months.  However, as a one-piece diaper they’re definitely the easiest to use, so could be a great option for cloth newbies as well as Dads, grandparents, daycare, etc.
  • Pockets: Similar to AIOs, but require a tad more work to stuff and unstuff.
  • Hybrids: Similar to fitteds, but thanks to the water-resistant fleece layer, can be worn without a cover around the house and so can be even more convenient.

I mostly prefer to use wool covers with cloth (as I prefer all-natural fibers and need greater breathability for my babe’s sensitive skin), so we mostly used NB-size fitteds here.  However, I also bought a few prefolds, PUL covers, and AI2s to test out (especially for on-the-go, since it can be a hassle to carry around multiple backup wool covers).  Basically, I bought all the highest-rated newborn diapers out there (all the ones I’ve been coveting since researching our Best Cloth Diapers guide), so I could test them all out in person 🙂

So here are the cloth diapers we tried out with our newborn, and my assessment of each:

Green Mountain Diaper organic NB workhorse fitteds

These were the fitteds that we ended up reaching for most during the daytime.  They are absorbent yet fairly trim, fit well, and contain newborn poop explosions well — I don’t think we ever had a leak.  They are also shockingly cheap (especially given that they are organic), at $5.50 each in the newborn size.  The resale value on these is also amazingly high (you can often sell them used for almost the full purchase price), so you really can’t go wrong with these.

GMD's newborn size organic workhorse fitted (left) is just starting to get outgrown (rise-wise) by our now 10-pound, two-month-old baby (right).
GMD’s newborn size organic workhorse fitted (left) is just starting to get outgrown (rise-wise) by our now 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (right).

Kissaluvs organic cotton/hemp NB fitteds

These are a top-rated newborn diaper, so I amassed a pretty big stockpile of them before birth; unfortunately, they ended up not working that well for us.  They are super absorbent, and I love that they are all-natural fibers.  However, IMO the snap configuration is poorly designed: the umbilical snap-down is awkward, the bottom row of snaps was too low for us rise-wise after the first week or so (~7 lbs.), and the top row of snaps remains too high & loose for us even now at eight weeks and ~10 pounds.   Maybe these will fit better around 12-15 pounds, but at that point we should be fitting into many OS / size 1 diapers already.  Also, the cotton/hemp material does not wash well at all (they quickly become very rough); perhaps the cotton fleece (10% polyester) material would fare better.  Anyway, I was bummed that I didn’t love these more.  Perhaps they work better on other babies.

kissaluvs_snapped down
The Kissaluvs NB hemp/organic cotton fitted, rated from 5-15 lbs., shown here using umbilical snap-down and lower set of rise snaps. We found ourselves needing more rise after about 7-8 lbs.
The Kissaluvs NB hemp/organic cotton fitted, rated from 5-15 lbs., shown here using the higher set of rise snaps.
The Kissaluvs NB hemp/organic cotton fitted, shown here using the higher set of rise snaps. It’s still a bit too loose (even at the tightest snap setting) to be reliable on my smallish 10-pound, eight-week-old.

GMD/Cloth-eez organic NB prefolds

The gold standard in NB prefolds is absorbent, organic, and perfectly sized for newborn covers.  They fit perfectly in both our Blueberry Mini Coveralls and our Thirsties Duo Size 1 Wraps.  I was a big fan of these and recommend them highly to anyone who is looking for newborn prefolds.

GMD's NB prefold is shown fastened with a Snappi on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (left), and tri-folded into a Blueberry Mini Coveralls PUL cover (right).
GMD’s NB prefold is shown fastened with a Snappi on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (left), and tri-folded into a Blueberry Mini Coveralls PUL cover (right).

Best Bottom AI2 system (OS cover + small inserts)

This is IMO the best, easiest AI2 system for newborns.  The OS cover fit our newborn great on the smallest setting, and the size small hemp/organic inserts are absorbent, trim, easy to wash, and fit the snapped down cover perfectly.  The cover is very effective at containing newborn poop explosions, however, because the inserts don’t have elastic around the legs, you should expect you’ll probably have to swap out the cover fairly frequently.  Still, this is my favorite system for outside the house; you just need to carry around one extra cover and a few inserts.

best bottom
The Best Bottom OS shell (left) with snap-in hemp/organic cotton insert (right).
Best Bottom's OS cover (in adorable hedgehog print) on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby, on the smallest rise setting.
Best Bottom’s OS cover (in adorable hedgehog print) on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby, on the smallest rise setting.

Blueberry Mini Coveralls

Blueberry’s Mini Coveralls are my favorite standalone PUL covers for newborns.  They fit well over both fitteds and prefolds; the snap-down rise offers great adjustability; and the leg gussets provide excellent leak protection.  Also, the prints are also absolutely adorable!  If I were just going to recommend one newborn PUL cover to a friend about to have a baby, this would be it!

Blueberry Mini Coveralls (left), rated for 6-18 lbs, fit a GMD newborn workhorse fitted perfectly (right).
Blueberry Mini Coveralls (left), rated for 6-18 lbs, accommodates a GMD newborn workhorse fitted perfectly (right).

Thirsties Duo size 1 covers

This very popular PUL cover also performed very well.  Its leg gussets contained newborn poop well, and it is trim fitting so it works well even with unpinned prefolds. I wasn’t a huge fan of the (very tall) wing shape, so I ended up reaching more for the Blueberry Mini Coveralls, but these are also a very solid choice.

The Thirsties Duo size 1 wrap cover, rated for 6-18 lbs., is shown at right on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (on the middle rise setting).
The Thirsties Duo size 1 wrap cover, rated for 6-18 lbs., is shown at right on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (on the middle rise setting).

Wool covers (Loveybums, Disana, etc.)

Wool is the way to go if you prefer all-natural fibers on your baby and/or need a more breathable cloth diapering solution.  Wrap-style covers are hands-down my favorite for the first month or so, when it’s more challenging to get pull-on covers on a tiny, squirmy baby.  My favorite wool wraps are from Loveybums, Babee GreensOrganic Caboose, and Imse Vimse.  Later, when baby starts feeling slightly less breakable, I also loved pull-on covers like those from Disana, Lanacare, Sloomb, and Wild Coconut Wear.

Wrap-style wool covers are easiest to use with newborns. Loveybums (left) and Babee Greens (right) make two of our favorites.
Wrap-style wool covers are easiest to use with newborns. Loveybums (left) and Babee Greens (right) make two of our favorites.

 

Well, that’s about it.  I’ve loved using cloth for the first couple of months, and would definitely do it again.  If you have the inclination — rest assured that you can do it!  All the best and congratulations on your new little one! 🙂


 

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Essentials for the First Month with a Newborn

Essentials for the first month with a newborn baby | TotScoop

We’ve just emerged from the first month with our secondborn — whew!  Here are some reflections on the essentials for surviving the first month with a newborn.  (Hint: ix-nay on the drawers full of adorable outfits, baby shoes, the peepee teepee, and the stacks of baby blankets you’ve been ogling on Etsy.)

First, some context. Most newborns spend most if not all of their time sleeping, eating, pooping, or getting cleaned up after one of those activities — so most true essentials will make at least one of those easier.  You’ll also need some basic clothing, and a few gear items to enable you to get out of the house together.  In addition, it’s worth splurging on a few things that will make life easier so you can survive it all with a smile on your face.  Beyond that, everything else is pretty much superfluous.

1. Portable sleeper

Babies spend most of their first month sleeping, so you’ll want to have somewhere your baby can sleep during the day in your primary living space where you can keep an eye on her.  It could be a bassinet, infant seat, “newborn lounger,” swing, or playard (but you definitely don’t need all of those things!).  Many moms absolutely swear by the Rock n Play.  This time around we’ve been using the Lotus Bassinet (below) from Guava Family; I love the breathable mesh sides and the modern look, and most importantly our little one sleeps great in it.

Lotus bassinet

2. Practical clothing

You’ll need 2-3 days’ worth of clothing (taking into account multiple changes per day due to spit up, blowouts, etc.) to get you between laundry days.  Keep it practical!  Those adorable newborn outfits or footies with a zillion snaps might look cute on the hanger, but we can guarantee you’re never going to reach for them (especially when you’re sleep deprived).  In summer, bodysuits/tops are really all you need; side snaps (like those on the adorable owl bodysuit from Zutano below) are great for easy on/off (imagine tugging a vomit- or poop-soaked onesie over your floppy newborn’s head), and built-in foldover mitts are an added bonus.  The basic white Gerber side-snap tees with foldover mitts are fantastic for the first week or two, before the umbilical cord falls off.  For full-length sleepwear or footies, look for zippers vs. snaps or buttons.

Zutano owls bodysuit

3. A few high-quality, generously sized blankets / swaddles

Most first-time moms (including me with my first baby) go way overboard on blankets.  I’m still not even sure to this day what a receiving blanket is for (despite having bought at least a half dozen of them)!  You really only need a handful of high-quality blankets or swaddles; you’ll never reach for the crappy ones anyway.  In moderate to warm weather, two or three light- to midweight swaddles and one midweight blanket (for cooler mornings or on-the-go) are plenty.  If you’re the type of person who is able to master complicated handshakes or sailor knots, you might choose the classic and versatile lightweight muslin swaddles from aden+anais or SwaddleDesigns (which can double as nursing covers, car seat covers, etc.).  If you prefer something more convenient, check out the velcro SwaddleMe wraps or the Miracle Blanket.  If you have a baby who likes to sleep with her arms up, I recommend the Swaddle Up (pictured below), which our little one loves.  For classic swaddles and blankets, don’t bother buying anything smaller than 44×44″ — it’ll be outgrown way too quickly and you’ll be wishing you hadn’t wasted your money.

Swaddle Up

4. Breastfeeding essentials

If you’re breastfeeding, take the time to set up a super comfy nursing station to make those hours and hours ahead as pleasant as possible.  You’re probably already familiar with the basics: a comfortable chair, a footstool, and a breastfeeding pillow.  Then don’t forget a side table to keep everything within easy reach: for example, burp cloths, nursing pads, drinks and snacks, entertainment (e.g., iPad, light reading), etc.  I personally couldn’t survive without my Dutailier glider (uninspiring looking but crazy comfortable), my Brest Friend and Blessed Nest (pictured below) pillows, aden+anais Burpy Bibs (perfect not only for burping, but also as a nursing pillow liner), or Bamboobies nursing pads (for my overactive letdown).  It’s also worth it to invest in a slew of high-quality nursing bras/tanks/tops (my favorite bra — which I wear day and night — is from Majamas).

Blessed Nest nesting pillow

5. Newborn-ready changing station

You’ll probably be visiting your changing station at least a dozen times per day in the beginning, so you might as well get it set up just right.  In addition to the obvious (e.g. changing table/surface and pad), don’t forget ample changing pad liners (our favorites are simple and cheap cloth diaper prefolds) to catch the frequent and explosive accidents that are inevitable with newborns.  For sensitive newborn skin, give scented, chemical-laden wipes a miss; instead use Water Wipes (shown below) or just dry wipes with water.  Also, consider having a few different sizes of diapers on hand; also, don’t overinvest in any one brand or size until after you see what actually fits.  (We had a huge case of Bambo newborn diapers ready to go, only to find that they were way too big for our little one.  FWIW, we found that Pampers Swaddlers, Earth’s Best, and Honest Co. diapers fit much smaller than Bambo and Naty in the same “newborn” size.)

Water Wipes

6. Newborn-friendly baby carrier

You’re going to be doing a lot of rocking and cuddling during those tender first few weeks; give your arms an occasional rest by investing in a newborn-friendly baby carrier.  Alas, the most popular infant baby carriers (e.g., Ergo) are not suitable for the newborn stage, so you’ll probably need to get something else for the early months.  My favorites are wraps (either woven or stretchy, e.g. the Moby or Boba Wrap) and infant-friendly SSCs (like the Beco Gemini, shown below, and the Boba 4G).  (For more on the best baby carriers for the newborn stage and beyond, see our baby carrier guide.)

Beco Gemini

7. On-the-go essentials

With our firstborn, we were housebound for almost an entire month.  With our secondborn, we managed to get out of the house at least once a day right after we got home from the hospital.  The difference?  Knowing exactly what we needed to make it happen: a lightweight infant car seat (which can be easily popped in and out of the car), a car seat-compatible stroller (ideally a lightweight car seat frame like the Chicco Keyfit Caddy or Graco Snugrider Elite), a convenient diaper bag and mini-changing kit, etc.   One of my favorite little luxuries is a car seat canopy to protect baby from sun, wind, and curious strangers; check out this adorable new release from Bebe au Lait (pictured below).

Bebe au Lait car seat cover

8. Boredom busters

You’re about to spend hours upon hours doing laps around your living room and/or chained to a nursing chair.  Trust us, if you don’t already have it, get Netflix.   Or an iPad.  Or, scrounge up some light reading (note, however, that this is not the time to tackle War and Peace).

Orange is the New Black

9. Whatever will make your life easier

Whether it’s ordering tons of take-out, booking some extra help from your house cleaner, or subscribing to Google Shopping Express — whatever it takes to get some of those hours in the day back is worth the cost.  Do it!

Google Shopping Express
Your new best friend. Photo credit: Google

10. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, mama!

Last, don’t forget to take care of yourself!  A happy and healthy mama makes for a happy baby.  Whether it’s postpartum essentials, goodies to keep breastfeeding parts happy, or just some chocolate to perk you up :), sustaining yourself is important too.  Don’t skimp on whatever it takes to make sure you can enjoy those precious first few weeks!

Our Favorite Baby & Kids’ Clothing Brands

Meet our seven favorite baby & kids clothing brands for stylish, high-quality pieces at non-astronomical prices!  (Note: This is NOT a sponsored post.  We just call ’em like we see ’em!)

Baby Gap

baby gap

Baby Gap will hardly be a new discovery for most shoppers, thanks to its ubiquitous retail presence, but it’s such an important cornerstone of the American baby clothing market that we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it.  It churns out a wide range of good quality, well designed staples that consistently deliver.  Look to Baby Gap for everything from layette basics and toddler activewear to sleepwear and special occasion outfits.  They regularly have sales of 30-40%, so be patient with that itchy trigger finger.

Baby/Mini Boden

Mini Boden

This British import creates high-quality clothing with indubitable style. It is sold at select retailers (e.g. Nordstrom) and can also be purchased directly from the Boden website. We particularly love their print/applique graphic tees, baby jeans (so easy to pull up and down), and adorable sweaters.  We regularly salivate over their collections, and always make sure to load up at their regular sales.  (If you’re new to Boden, also don’t miss their women’s collection!)

Hanna Andersson

Hanna Andersson

This Swedish brand is synonymous with unbeatable quality.  Their clothing is engineered for performance and comfort and washes extremely well; pieces often still look practically new when outgrown, and are often handed down through multiple children.  Over 60% of Hanna’s products are Oeko-Tex
Standard 100 certified, meaning they are free of any hazardous substances.  Hannas are also backed by an unconditioned guarantee, and can be returned at any time.  Hanna makes our absolute favorite sleepers/pajamas and training pants/underwear, and is also a great choice for layette items and playwear.

Zutano

zutano

Zutano, one of our favorite brands for newborns through toddlers, offers cute basics and prints.  Their basics (e.g. tops and pants/leggings), hats, and booties are favorites for newborns and infants.  Note that sizing runs small.

H&M Baby/Kids

H&M

For fast fashion for the tiny set, look no further than H&M.  Swedish brand H&M offers a nice range of clothing — including basics, some organic cotton choices, and on trend pieces — for newborns through big kids.  And all at very reasonable prices!  We scoop up their 100% organic cotton basics (like bodysuits and leggings) by the armful!  If you don’t live near one of their retail locations, you can also shop their website.

Zara Mini/Kids

zara

Spain-based Zara Mini/Kids offers a different twist on fast fashion, producing a more classic feeling collection (mostly solids, in a more muted set of colors) at great prices.  They also offer a selection of organic cotton pieces at impressively low everyday prices.  If you don’t live near a Zara retail store, you can also shop online (free shipping over $50).

J. Crew Baby/Kids

jcrew

We adore J. Crew’s in-house Baby & Kids collections, which sport signature J. Crew style, as well as their curated selection of third-party brands (e.g. aden+anais, Nature Baby, Petit Bateau, Baby Oeuf).  (The cashmere pieces aren’t the most practical we’ve ever seen, but most everything else is both adorable and machine washable.) Kids styles (2+) are available in selected J. Crew stores; Baby styles aren’t available in most stores, but shipping is free on all online Baby orders.

Debunking 8 Pregnancy Don’ts

Debunking 8 pregnancy don'ts! | TotScoop

Many pregnant women adhere religiously to all the pregnancy don’ts flung at them.  I certainly did my first time around!  Don’t eat sushi or soft cheese! Don’t ever lie on your back! And so on. But are there really legitimate reasons behind all of these commandments?  Now that I’m pregnant again (sorry kiddo, everyone knows mama doesn’t care as much about #2), I decided to apply a healthy dose of skepticism and look into the underlying facts.

It turns out there are indeed good reasons behind many of the limitations of pregnancy (no shocker there), however, there are also a number of don’ts that aren’t ironclad. Here’s the run-down on 8 pregnancy don’ts that aren’t actually as restrictive as you might have thought.

NOTE: I am not a physician; I am just sharing the results of my research (and note that I’ve made a strong effort to consult only reliable, fact-based sources). As always, please consult your doctor for medical advice.

1) No seafood (mercury)

Methylmercury — a metal found in certain fish which can impair the developing brain and nervous system — is a legitimate concern, but one that doesn’t mean you should eliminate fish from your diet entirely.  (On the contrary, many women actually don’t eat enough fish, which offers excellent nutritional value including high quality protein, vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids — great for your baby’s development.)  Just make sure you avoid fish that are high in mercury (such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish), and limit other fish in your diet. The FDA/EPA suggests eating 8 to 12 ounces (2 to 3 servings) of low-mercury fish per week, and limiting “solid white” (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week.

2) No sushi or other raw seafood

A non-negligible risk of parasitic infection does exist with fresh raw seafood.  However, many people are not aware that restaurants are actually required to flash-freeze almost all types of fish before serving it raw — a process which kills any parasites.  Additionally (a nice surprise I didn’t realize), some types of “sushi” actually contain no raw fish — for example, California Rolls contain only cooked crab or imitation crab — and thus have already had any bugs zapped.

Additionally, viral or bacterial infections can also be a concern with raw seafood and sushi.  However, an estimated 85% of seafood-related illness is actually associated with mollusks (such as oysters and clams) — not the types of fish typically used in sushi, or many other forms of seafood.

Thus, as long as you avoid shellfish and high-mercury fish, and you don’t have particular reason to be concerned about viral or bacterial infection (for example, if an establishment looks unclean or you witness unsafe food handling practices), your risk of contracting foodborne illness from sushi or raw seafood is actually quite low.

3) No soft cheese

It’s true that pregnant women should avoid raw and unpasteurized dairy products, and eggs, due to risk of listeriosis, salmonellosis, and other foodborne illnesses.

As a result, many expecting moms cross all soft cheeses — such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Danish blue, Roquefort, gorgonzola, and Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and panela — off of their shopping lists.  But did you know that most cheese sold in the US is made from pasteurized milk, and thus is safe to eat?  Woohoo!  Just check the label to make sure it’s marked “pasteurized” first.

4) No deli meat or hot dogs

Pregnant women are also warned to avoid all deli-style/refrigerated meats (such as ham, turkey, roast beef, bologna, salami, and proscuitto) as well as hot dogs, due to risk of listeriosis.  However, many don’t realize that thoroughly heating any of these to the point of being steaming hot will kill any present Listeria bacteria.  So, while we wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating these every day, if you have a real craving you can zap it and eat to your heart’s content.  If you want to play it safe, consider avoiding turkey, which is apparently more frequently the culprit in listeria outbreaks than other deli meats.

5) No caffeine

Studies have linked high caffeine intake with miscarriage, stillbirth, and pre-term birth.  However, moderate levels of caffeine have not been proven to have any negative impact on pregnancy.  The definition of “moderate” varies depending on what study you look at, but the threshold is believed to be somewhere between 150-300mg per day.  Until more conclusive research is conducted, most experts agree that expecting moms can safely consume up to 200mg per day (that’s about one 12-ounce cup of coffee).

6) No alcohol

The conventional wisdom goes something like this: “Nobody knows how much alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid it entirely.”  But flip that statement on its head, and you also have the fact that no credible studies have ever shown any negative impact from light drinking during pregnancy, either.  Frequent heavy drinking and binge drinking have unquestionably bad repercussions (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, behavior issues, lower IQ, etc.), but a survey of all the studies done to date suggests that light drinking (up to 6 drinks a week) is perfectly safe.  Ask your doctor and get her view.

7) No sleeping/lying on your back

Another pregnancy no-no is thought to be sleeping or lying on your back (e.g. while exercising) after 16-20 weeks of pregnancy.  The conventional wisdom is that this position reduces blood flow to the fetus, causing it to get less oxygen and fewer nutrients.  Pregnant women are told that the preferred position for sleeping on their lefthand side.

Although this is generally true, it’s not life or death to do this around the clock, or freak out if you wake up lying on your back.  Many doctors advise that your body will let you know (e.g. nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath) long before any harm will come to your baby.  So if you don’t feel any discomfort, rotating in and out of the various positions— whatever is most comfortable for you — is probably fine.

8) No hot baths/jacuzzis

It’s true that you shouldn’t raise your body temperature above 101-102º F — especially during the first trimester, when doing so can cause birth defects.  But water temperatures up to 100º F are perfectly safe.  So hot baths are fine — as long as you can step in comfortably, rather than needing to gingerly ease yourself in.  As for hot tubs, most are factory programmed to maintain a water temperature of 104º F.  So, while we wouldn’t necessarily advise it, you may be able to sit in them for up to 10-20 minutes (the amount of time it takes to raise your body temperature to 102º F or higher) without any ill effects.  Alternatively, see if you can find a way to adjust the temperature down to 100°F.


Well, expecting mamas, hope that helped to debunk at least one pregnancy myth for you, and will help to make the nine months of your pregnancy at least a little more tolerable. Personally I’m off to sip some (low-caffeine) green tea and enjoy a salad containing some beautiful (pasteurized) gorgonzola!