Alpha Mom » Ilana Wiles parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:13:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bathroom Faucet Safety Gear: The Yay to The Nay Fri, 19 Apr 2013 14:37:39 +0000

Alpha Mom Yay To The NayIn addition to bath toys, bubbles and my daughter’s princess potty, I have also added some faucet safety gear and accessories to our bathroom to make it as kid-friendly (and safe) as possible. I tried bath spout safety covers to protect my baby from bumping her head on the hard metal faucet and a faucet extender for the sink to allow my toddler more independence in the bathroom.

1. Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover

Best Bath Spout Protectors: Moby faucet protector by Skip Hop
The Moby was the first bath spout guard we tried and is a hard rubber whale that fits over your bath spout to protect your little one from bumping her head. The biggest advantages to the Moby are that it is mildew resistant, has a hole perfectly situated so you still have access to your shower diverter, and you can use the tail of the whale to hang the cover when its not in use. Not that there is any reason to remove it as it makes a whimsical addition to your bath decor, provided your bathroom looks good with a blue accent. Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover (c. $12.99)


2. Puj Snug Spout Cover

Best Bath Spout Protector: Puj Snug
The Puj spout cover is a cute little elephant bath spout cover/guard that when placed over the bath spout, gives the illusion that the water is coming out from the elephant’s trunk. It is made of a foam which is much softer than the molded rubber of the Moby making it safer if your baby happens to bump her head. It’s malleable enough to fit over a variety of bath spouts, easily washable and also has a hole which is supposed to expose the shower diverter.  However, our shower diverter is located a little too far back and we still had remove the spout cover to switch to the shower. On the plus side, the Puj spout cover comes in three colors— blue, lime green and white so there are more options to match your bathroom decor. And it is made from recyclable materials. Puj Snug Spout Cover (c. $12.99)


3. Aqueduck Faucet Extender

Aqueduck Faucet Extender Product Review
The Aqueduck faucet extender is actually used on your bathroom sink making it easier for little kids to reach the water flow when they wash their hands. My daughter is still a little too small, even when standing on a stool, to reach her hands under the running water effectively, so we liked the Aqueduck faucet extender a great deal. It means I no longer have to pick her up every time she has to wash her hands and she can start being more independent in the bathroom. I have also heard that people like to travel with the Aqueduck but I would rather pick my kid up than touch a public faucet nozzle. My one advisory with the Aqueduck is that the rubber piece and the plastic piece are not glued together so it tends to shift around making the water spray a little unpredictable. You have to make sure it is angled a little down so the water doesn’t pool at the top and stay there after your child shuts off the faucet. Also, I would love if it came in one color, preferably white so it wasn’t such an eye sore in the bathroom (editor: I found it in gray on gray). Aqueduck Faucet Extender ($12.99)


In conclusion, I think both the Moby bath spout guard and the Puj bath spout cover are good options. I’ll give it to the Puj since it’s made of recycable materials and thus a better environmental option. The Aqueduck faucet extender is a great accessory but it needs a little refining. Still- totally worth it for your kids to be able to wash their hands by themselves.


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

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What to Expect When Your Child Is Teething Wed, 03 Apr 2013 14:01:20 +0000

This post is sponsored by Baby Orajel Naturals. Learn more about the #1 pharmacist recommended homeopathic brand for teething pain relief here.

My daughter is 4.5 months old and she has just begun some of the telltale signs of teething, such as gnawing on her hands, her blankie, toys, myself and anything else within arms reach of her mouth.

Typically, teething begins anywhere between 3-12 months… which basically says there is nothing typical about teething.

Babies can display many symptoms such as extra irritability due to soreness of the gums as the tooth is trying to poke through. They may try to bite fingers or toys in an effort to relieve pressure from their gums. Some parents report rashes around the mouth which is most likely due to the massive amounts of drool being constantly wiped from their chins.

But babies can also display no symptoms whatsoever. (Lucky parents!)

Teething symptoms usually last from about a week before the tooth makes an appearance and disappear as soon as the tooth pokes through the gums.

Well, until the next tooth tried to enter the scene and the whole symptom cycle starts again. Kids continue to get their baby teeth in up to the age of three, which means, you’re going to be dealing with this teething thing for quite some time. (below is a handy baby Tooth Tracker).

I don’t remember my first daughter being excessively fussy when she started teething but I do remember insane amounts of drool. Like Niagara Falls levels of drool.

Because every parents’ experience with teething is different, I asked a few of my fellow parent blogger friends what they went through when their babies were teething:

1) Ellen from Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms had an especially rough time with teething. She had these words of warning, “You thought you knew miserable? NOW, you know miserable… at both ends. Don’t be surprised if your little one develops a wicked diaper rash to go with those throbbing gums.”

2) Brenna from Suburban Snapshots remembers a little known side effect of teething. “Expect that even if your crib hasn’t been recalled, your child gnawing on its rails will render it unsellable.”

3) Nicole from Ninja Mom was constantly confused as to whether her child was teething or not. “Not until your child gets her first tooth will you ever be so wrong about when something is going to happen. ‘I think I see a tooth poking through! No, wait, that’s just a Cheerio.’ ”

4) Although, most parents report that teething brings a certain amount of misery to their home, Bethany from Bad Parenting Moments looks back on the time fondly. “When a baby is unhappy, you have approximately two years to blame all personality unpleasantries on teething. Runny nose? Teething. Non-stop crying? Teething. Low-grade fever? Teething. Biting friends and neighbors? Teething. After age two, when your child tantrums for no apparent reason, you’ll long for an excuse as all encompassing as this dreaded milestone.”

Baby Teeth Tracker

To make teething more fun (yeah…haha), I designed this printable Tooth Tracker so that you can record the dates of your child’s baby teeth eruptions and losses, along with a handy time table of approximately when you should expect them.


Print it the tooth tracker, fill out the dates and put it in a keepsake box. Eventually, you can use it to rehash war stories to your child about what you went through when he was teething.

He’s gonna want to know the truth when he has kids of his own!

source: American Dental Association


This post was sponsored by Baby Orajel Naturals. Thank you everyone for your support. It’s advertisers which allow us to make this website possible.

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Nursing Pillows: The Yay to the Nay Mon, 18 Mar 2013 14:26:27 +0000

the yay to the nayLet’s be honest: breastfeeding can be tough. Particularly, in the early weeks when it might be awkward and uncomfortable. But pretty soon, you get a routine down, your breasts don’t hurt as much, and you figure out a method that is both comfortable for you and your baby.

One of the things that can aid in this process is a nursing pillow. There aren’t a ton of nursing pillow options on the market and mothers seems to have diehard opinions about the one they have chosen for themselves.

I put three nursing pillows to the test to see which one is the right one for me.

1.Boppy Nursing Pillow

The most commonly used nursing pillow is the Boppy. It’s a horseshoe shaped pillow that you put around your waist while sitting and lie your baby on so that he/she is at optimal distance from your breast. Obviously, you need much less arm strength if your baby is fully supported than if you have to hold him or her up to your breast yourself. It comes in many different patterns and colors, and the cover is removable so you can throw it in the wash.

The Boppy is simple and works great, with the cushion being just supportive and high enough to place the baby in the optimal breastfeeding position. Although I do wonder if it works for larger women. I am pretty average sized but in the days after my pregnancy, when I still had the baby weight to lose, I found the Boppy did not quite fit around my waist. Otherwise, it’s very easy to use and we have it lying on the couch at all times because when I am not breastfeeding, it is the perfect place to use as a little seat for the baby.

As a sidenote, since my baby had a bad case of acid reflux, the Boppy has been the best place to sit her since her head is propped up but her legs are flat to the ground. In most bouncy seats, her legs angle up toward her tummy which makes her spit-up every time. But keep in mind, your baby has to be two-to-three months old before they are big enough to sit in the Boppy.


2. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

Yes, the name, My Brest Friend, is HORRIBLE. But, I’ve had friends who swear up and down that My Brest Friend is the only way to go. My Brest Friend is much more structured than the Boppy with a foam interior as opposed to just a regular soft pillow. Lying the baby on the My Brest Friend is like lying them on a soft contoured yet flat surface, which prevents the baby from rolling in or away while maintaining her latch. Since it wraps entirely around your body, it has both back support and arm rests. The other major difference is that My Brest Friend has an adjustable strap that hold the pillow in place around your waist. If you wanted, you could stand up and walk around and the pillow would walk around with you.

At first, I thought I liked My Brest Friend better than the Boppy. It stayed in place while the Boppy might shifts as you feed your baby. The height of the pillow is optimal for breastfeeding and your baby is definitely more supported. The back support and arm rests both add additional comfort. And I liked the little pocket on the side which I used to put her pacifier.

But ultimately, I got annoyed having to stand up and strap the pillow around me, particularly in the middle of the night when the baby was in a bassinet attached to my bed. It felt much more natural for me to drag the Boppy over to my already seated self. Not to mention, it saved some time if the baby was crying or really hungry, since I could pull the Boppy around me without putting the baby down and picking her up again. No so with My Brest Friend.

The other thing to consider is that My Brest Friend is a bit of an eyesore if you leave it lying around and cannot be used as a seat for the baby. However, if you feel you want more support while breastfeeding, it’s probably the way to go over the Boppy. I didn’t feel that level of support was necessary.


3. Leachco Natural Boost Nursing Pillow

The Leachco Natural Boost Pillow is similar to the horseshoe shape of the Boppy but it has an extra stuffed appendage that shoots out of the top. When you breastfeed, you can push the appendage down on either side, depending on which breast you are feeding, so that your baby is supported in a diagonal position and more upright on your breast.

Initially, I thought this idea was genius, particularly since acid reflux babies are supposed to be fed in a more upright position. But the execution of the pillow is lacking. The pillow is so stuffed so high and fat, that it practically put the baby up by my chin. It was laughable. When I compared the pillow to the picture on the package, it was stuffed almost twice as much. I began to wonder if this pillow was meant for people with especially long torsos. I ended up finding it more comfortable to angle the appendage under my upper arm opposite of the breast my baby was feeding on, but it still was just way too big of a pillow to position the baby correctly.

If the Leachco boost nursing pillow had about half as much stuffing, it might be a real contender.


Overall, I think choosing between the Boppy and My Brest Friend is a personal decision. So my suggestion is, get the Boppy. If you feel you want more support that stays in place, buy My Brest Friend. No matter what pillow you ultimately breastfeed with, you’re going to want the Boppy as a place to sit the baby.


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

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Is My Baby Teething? Wed, 13 Mar 2013 21:17:00 +0000

This post is sponsored by Baby Orajel Naturals. Learn more about the #1 pharmacist recommended homeopathic brand for teething pain relief here.

My daughter Harlow, is three and a half months now which means I am at the miraculous time when the so-called “fourth trimester” ends, and all things baby begin to fall into place.

Not only is Harlow starting to sleep through the night, she’s napping during the day more routinely.  Her acid reflux, which caused her to spit-up constantly, appears to be dissipating, since three months is when your baby’s digestive track is more fully developed.

I’ve also gotten to know Harlow pretty well at this point. When she’s upset, I know which cry means she’s hungry and which cry means her diaper needs changing. I know the cry that means she’s fighting sleep and the whimper that means she just wants to be held.

If I’m not careful, I might think I’ve got this “baby thing” DOWN.

But I’m not going to get ahead of myself, because if memory serves from my first child, Harlow is about to throw me for a loop.

Anywhere from three to seven months old, babies start teething, and while this means Harlow will one day eat solid food and smile with pearly whites, it also means that my routine, my confidence and my solid’s night sleep might all be in jeopardy.

My first daughter went through Frank Costanza levels of irritability when her first teeth started coming in, but I’ve heard varied accounts from friends, some of who’s kids experienced no symptoms at all.

So, how do you know if your baby is teething? Take this simple Yes or No quiz to help you find out.

1. Does your baby have a slightly elevated temperature?

2. Is your baby currently sitting in a pool of his/her own saliva?

3. Is your baby showing little interest in eating?

4. Have you recently nicknamed your baby Cranky McCrankerstein?

5. Is your baby gnawing on anything and everything within arm’s reach?

6. Have you forgotten what your baby’s hands look like because they are constantly shoved into his/her own mouth?

8. Is your baby waking up way more often throughout the night than he/she does normally?

9. Is your baby crying for no particular reason?

10. Did your baby just take a bite out of your boob?

11. Is your baby doing none or all of the above?

If you answered yes to three or more of the questions above, chances are your baby is teething. Buy some teethers and be prepared for some long nights.

If you answered yes to three or less questions, your baby still might be teething— you just might be one of those lucky parents who’s baby doesn’t experience as many symptoms or pain. Just do me a favor and keep your symptom-free baby to yourself, because those of us living on very little sleep with a baby that won’t stop crying, don’t really want to hear about it.


This post is sponsored by Baby Orajel Naturals. Thank you everyone for your support. It’s advertisers which allow us to make this website possible.

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Nursing Covers: The Yay to the Nay Sat, 02 Mar 2013 17:25:51 +0000

the yay to the nayLet me start by saying, I’ve got big boobs. Especially when they are filled with breastmilk. It is my belief that big-breasted women have a much more difficult time feeding their babies discreetly in public.

I’ve watched friends with smaller chests, gingerly lift their baby up to their unbuttoned shirt, casually fling a scarf or muslin swaddle around their neck, letting it drape ever so elegantly over their baby’s head. The baby’s head completely covers any sign of boobage, therefore making the mother look beautiful, natural and effortless all at once. There are no leering passing strangers or people thinking this mother should get a room.

I am not that mother. My baby’s face does not completely eclipse my Double Ds. Or my Fs, as they were deemed by a maternity bra fitter right after I had my second baby. I don’t lift up my child to breastfeed. She lies on my lap and the boobs find their way to her. Also, I cannot do this one-handed and continue to eat a meal in a restaurant or chat on the phone in a park. I need one hand to hold the baby and the other to make sure my nipple is positioned in my baby’s mouth. If I let go, my boob tumbles to one side, with my baby literally hanging on by her teeth.

With my first child, I always made sure to breastfeed in private. I just wasn’t comfortable whipping my girls out, even though I had no problem if others did it around me. With my second (currently three months old), a lot of my insecurity and self-consciousness went away and I now don’t really care if my friends and family get an an eyeful of my breasts.

When I am out in public, surrounded by strangers, it’s a different story. I want to be that person who feels totally at ease feeding her child in a crowded restaurant, but in reality, I haven’t yet developed a technique that makes me feel comfortable.

So I tried three different nursing covers to see if one of them would do the trick.

1. Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover

The Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover is a large patterned square of fabric that hangs from an adjustable strap around your neck. The neckline is made of their patented Rigiflex which leaves a gap that allows you to see your baby and promotes air flow.

Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover has many patterns to choose from, but to be honest, the designs aren’t my favorite. They are all pretty bold and I’m not sure why I would want to call more attention to my torso while I’m breastfeeding than I would normally. But I did find one that was semi-acceptable. I liked being able to see my baby and not feeling like she was going to suffocate under a shirt. The Rigiflex definitely helped me position her on my breast and keep her there, although the fabric flapped around whenever she moved and I kept having to reposition it.

On the whole, I wouldn’t call the experience discreet, since the bold pattern and the hoop neckline call a lot of attention to yourself. I’m not sure why Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover doesn’t offer their covers in solid colors. I would totally buy a black one.

Verdict: Okay

2. DRIA Nursing Cover

Best Nursing Covers: DRIA is our favorite

The DRIA Cover is more like a regular shirt, or more accurately, a fashionable cotton poncho. It’s a large rectangular piece of fabric with a hole in the middle for your head. Then it’s kind of left up to you how you wish to get your baby inside and feed her.

I picked a cover that was striped in different shades of gray with dark seams down the front. If it weren’t for the shape, it felt like something I would wear on a normal day, plus it is super soft and premium feeling. I liked that you could plop it over your head and it was pretty even on all sides so there was no need to keep repositioning it.

I had trouble breastfeeding without being able to see my baby, until a friend suggested that I lift up the bottom and drape the excess fabric around the baby’s head so I could still see what I was doing. This worked nicely and I felt comfortable enough to breastfeed in the middle of the Metropolitan Museum, on an outing, without feeling like everybody was watching.

As another use, I left the DRIA Nursing Cover on when I put my baby in the carrier, because I realized it would protect my shirt from spit up. My baby spits up every time she feeds, which is one of the things that makes breast feeding in public difficult.


3. Bamboobies Nursing Cover

I was excited to try the Bamboobies cover because I love their washable nursing pads and recommend them highly. Plus the nursing cover comes in solid black.

Their cover is similar to the DRIA, in that it looks like a soft cotton shirt. But rather than a rectangular poncho, the Bamboobies cover is two squares sewed together with the hole for your head over to one side. When it’s on, one side wraps around your arm and the other side drapes openly, which actually looks kind of elegant.

The problem is that you can only breastfeed on one side without turning the whole thing around to accommodate the other breast. I also found that there wasn’t quite enough fabric to do the draping thing that I was doing with the DRIA. Plus, it needs to be put on correctly which is hard when you have nowhere to put the baby down (this actually happens to me a lot because I often use a baby carrier instead of a stroller). With the DRIA, I could just blindly throw the thing over my head but with the Bamboobies I had to hold it out in front of me, figure out where the hole was and what side I wanted the open drape before putting it on.

But I do really appreciate that it can be worn as a shirt.


I wish I could say that my experience with the nursing covers made me feel comfortable enough to breastfeed anywhere, and anytime, but unfortunately that is not the case. In almost every scenario, I felt pretty awkward and ended up going into a restroom where I could just take off my entire shirt and let the baby go to town.

The closest I came to feeling and looking comfortable like one of my smaller-breasted nursing friends, was with the DRIA Cover.


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

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Soft-Structured Baby Carriers: The Yay to the Nay Fri, 22 Feb 2013 21:10:24 +0000

the yay to the nayAfter I tested what feels like every baby wrap, sling, and mei-tai in existence, I moved onto soft structured baby carriers. Since it’s winter, I found myself using the baby wraps and slings inside the house and using the soft-structured baby carriers when I ventured outside.

With soft-structured baby carriers, it’s important not to skimp on price. You and your baby both need to be comfortable. The right baby carrier shouldn’t feel like any added pressure on your shoulders or back. You should be able to carry your baby for as long as he/she will let you.

Also, it’s important to note that I am dealing with a newborn so although all of the carriers I reviewed can be used in multiple positions, my only experience was front-carry and facing in. For infant carrying, with all of the carriers, you bend your babies legs and keep them inside the carrier as opposed to hanging out on either side.

1. Beco Gemini Baby Carrier Review


The Beco Gemini baby carrier comes in a multitude of different patterns or plain styles, is machine washable and its streamlined design makes it look more sporty than the other carriers. You can wear your child on the front (facing in or out), on the back and on the side. There is also a headrest which can be worn up or snapped down. It has safety buckles which prevent accidental opening and a width alternating base that allows for you to carry your baby from 7-35 pounds.

I had a few problems with the Beco Gemini. Although the buckles are designed for safety, I found them very hard to get on and off. You have to press three buttons at one time to release the buckle. Add that to the fact that the buckle is fastened in the back and I found myself getting frustrated. All the carriers are hard to get on by yourself, and this one even more so.


2. LilleBaby Complete Organic Baby Carrier Review


The LilleBaby baby carrier boosts an ergonomic design with a multitude of positions— front, back, and side with facing in and facing out options. They claim that their design supports proper baby leg positioning to aid in development of the hips, spine and pelvis. My version is 100% organic cotton and machine washable. There is adjustable neck and torso support with a taller body giving your baby added support. It also has lumbar support which prevents the waist of the carrier from sliding or cutting into your body.

It also has a head support which can be worn up or down but the LilleBaby Complete baby carrier effectively hides the hardware when it’s not in use as opposed to the Beco Gemini which lets it all hang out at all times. Another great feature is the removable sleeping hood which comes in handy to protect your baby from the sun and wind or to give him/her a little privacy and added head support if they fall asleep.

I really like the LilleBaby Complete Baby Carrier and found myself using it way more often than the Beco Gemini. The buckle is on the side and doesn’t have the extra safety button, so it’s easier to get off and on. Personally, I don’t find the extra safety feature on the Beco necessary. I liked all the little details that made the carrier more comfortable like the pad behind the buckle across your back and the hidden hardware under soft detailing. I also like the premium feel of the fabric and the more relaxed overall look of the carrier.


3. ERGO baby Original Baby Carrier Review

($105 to $115)

The Ergo baby original carrier was what I used with my first child and I loved it. The one major drawback is that it is not suitable for an infant on it’s own and you must purchase an additional infant insert. The style is similar to the LilleBaby— it has a relaxed shape but does not look and feel quite as premium. It has extra padding, a wide waist band, is made of durable cotton canvas and distributes the weight perfectly. It can also be worn front, back or hip carry, facing in or out (update: babies in the Ergo should never be worn facing out. Thank you, reader Allison). It features the sleeping hood and is machine washable.

The only other difference is that it does not have the head support option. But I still fully recommend the Ergo baby carrier, as so far I do not find myself using the head support option that often on the other two. I also recommend the Ergo for one major feature that I have no idea why it isn’t standard on all baby carriers. A front pocket. That pocket enables me to leave the house for a walk with only my keys, a credit card and a pacifier without having to worry about a bag.


I definitely recommend getting some type of baby carrier— I actually prefer to use them over a stroller. Especially now since my oldest can walk on her own. In my opinion, the LilleBaby is the best quality carrier but the Ergo has that dang pocket. Your call.


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

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Swaddles: The Yay to the Nay Fri, 15 Feb 2013 22:50:50 +0000

the yay to the nayI know there are people out there who think their babies don’t like being swaddled. I used to be one of those people. When my first daughter was an infant, we swaddled her in the beginning but she wrangled her way out of that thing and we decided that she didn’t like it.

So we stopped. And we struggled to get her to sleep from that point forward.

Then a few months later, I mentioned to a friend that my baby doesn’t sleep. She asked what I was using for a swaddle. I told her we stopped because my baby doesn’t like it. She said to try again, just tighter.

I did as I was told and my baby slept longer that night than she had in months.

It is now my belief that if you think your baby doesn’t like being swaddled, you are probably just not swaddling ENOUGH. If you make it even harder for your baby to move (moving has the potential of waking the baby and making it harder for them to fall back asleep on their own), I can practically guarantee, your baby will sleep sounder.

When I had my second a couple of months ago, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. With my first, I used basic muslin swaddles that I wrapped myself. This time I was going to bring in the big guns— swaddles with velcro, zippers and made of steel! Well, maybe not steel. But safe.

Here is my experience:

1. SwaddleMe Blanket Review

SwaddleMe Blanket Review

We got a fleece SwaddleMe which is basically a big pouch with two pieces of fabric that cross in front of the baby’s body. The top piece is secured with two velcro tabs. It’s very easy to put on, especially if you are one of those people that can’t wrap a regular swaddle for your life (I’m talking to my husband).

I like that the fleece offers extra warmth but the simplicity of the swaddle didn’t create a space that was snug enough for my baby. Harlow was easily able to wrangle her arms out (she’s a mini Houdini, this one) and the swaddle did not succeed in keeping her asleep.


2. Miracle Blanket Swaddle Review

Miracle Blanket Swaddle Review

The Miracle Blanket Swaddler has no velcro or zippers, just one long piece of fabric that you wrap continually over the baby’s body. It also has two pieces of fabric on the inside to secure the baby’s arms to her side.

It’s a little harder to put this swaddling blanket on (especially if you are trying to put a baby to bed that is already sleeping) because you have to lift the baby’s butt about four times to secure different pieces of fabric underneath. But, when you’ve got it all figured out, it is well worth it. The arm pieces kept Harlow’s arms pinned to her sides which made it impossible for her loosen the wrap. As a result, she slept for a much longer stretch of time. I also like how the absence of velcro makes it much easier to rewrap or tighten without that velcro sound continually disturbing the baby.

VERDICT on the Miracle Blanket: YAY

3. Woombie Swaddling Blanket Review

Woombie Swaddling Blanket Review

The Woombie comes in a bunch of different varieties. But the basic principle is that you zip up an ultra tight piece of fabric around the baby and snap it on the top so there is no way they can get out. This works for several reasons. 1) It’s foolproof, the zipper requires no demonstration or instructions. 2) There is no way for a baby to get their arms out but they can hold them over their body inside the Woombie (as opposed to their arms being pinned to their sides in the Miracle Blanket) which is supposed to be good for self-comforting. 3) You can unzip it from the bottom as well so you can change a middle of the night diaper with very little disturbance to your baby.

The Woombie also comes with a version that includes a velcro wrap over the zipper for extra snugness and a version that has legs instead of a pouch, in case you have one of those babies that likes to move their feet.

I like the Woombie and it did work to keep Harlow asleep although I felt not as well as the Miracle Blanket. I also felt a little funny about securing my child in something so tight, particularly with the snap right at her neck. (disclosure: we received a sample from the company to review)

VERDICT on the Woombie Swaddling Blanket: OKAY

4. Zen Swaddle Review

Zen Swaddle Review

The newest and most innovative swaddle to enter the market is the Zen Swaddle from Nested Bean which we received a sample to review. It has lightly weighted pouches that hit specific touch points on your baby (the sides and the abdomen) that are supposed to mimic a mother’s touch. It’s also 100% cotton and feels very soft and premium with an adorable little chick stitched onto the top. Nested Bean claims that touch promotes growth and alleviates stress and that most mothers who use the swaddle report two added hours of sleep a night.

My experience with the Zen Swaddle was mixed. Since my baby is very small, the swaddle was a lot looser than the Woombie or the Miracle Blanket. Since Harlow is a fussy sleeper, she needs the snugness of a tighter swaddle to help her stay asleep. There is a velcro wrap around the top of the swaddle that affixes in the back. While this makes it harder for a baby to get her arms free, since the weight of her body is resting on the closure, it also makes it a little awkward to get off. Personally, I didn’t like the feeling of turning Harlow to her side and pulling off the velcro without much leverage.

While the Zen Swaddle did not work for me on it’s own (and perhaps this will change as Harlow gets bigger), I do really like the weighted nature of the swaddle and find myself using it all the time as a blanket. During the day when Harlow falls asleep in her bouncer or on her floor mat, I often lay the Zen on top of her (making sure the touchpoints are where they are supposed to be) to help her feel secure while she naps without disturbing her to put on something like the Miracle Blanket. Sometimes, I will even lay the Zen over Harlow while she is in another swaddle in hopes the feeling of touch gets her to sleep even sounder.

VERDICT on the Zen Swaddle: OKAY to YAY (I wouldn’t buy it if I were only allowed to buy one swaddle)

All babies are different so it’s important to note that what didn’t work for me might work for someone else. Harlow has acid reflux and doesn’t like to sleep. If you have an easygoing baby, you might find that any number of swaddles are sufficient. Also, I have heard lots of moms swear by the Woombie so obviously, my opinion isn’t the only one out there.

I just know that after alternating between all of them for several weeks, I now solely rely on the Miracle Blanket. A few nights ago I couldn’t find it and my husband presented me with the Woombie to use instead and I nearly bit his head off.

In my mind, if we didn’t have Harlow wrapped in that Miracle Blanket, none of us were getting any sleep that night.


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

Amazon Baby Registry 1

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Avoiding Toxic Ingredients in Children’s Personal Care Products Can be Easy Tue, 12 Feb 2013 16:53:57 +0000

This post is sponsored by The Honest Company. We have been wanting to write about this important topic.

Honest Baby Product Care Products

When it comes to buying products for your baby, obviously no mother would willingly purchase anything harmful for their child. But we might falsely assume the most beloved and well-known brands in baby care sell products we can trust.

I’m a parent. I have a three-year-old, a two month old and a full-time job. My head is swimming with information from pumping schedules to preschool applications to remembering my Thursday morning status meeting at work. FYI? Today, I totally forgot it.

When I google “how to make sure I keep chemicals and toxins out of my children’s toys and care products,” I am met with article after article of studies, facts, figures, all of them too confusing and scary to take in. Plus, a lot of the brands mentioned are brands I would have assumed would be playing by the rules.

It didn’t take long to realize, I don’t know nearly enough about this stuff to keep myself and my babies safe from the dangerous chemicals and toxins pervasive in our world.

To see if I am the only one out there who feels totally overwhelmed by the “watch-outs” and the warnings and the names of chemicals I can neither spell nor pronounce, I created the quiz below to test your baby personal care product safety savvy.

Find out if you know your Sodium Lauryl Sulfate from your Polyethylene…

If you are like me, then you scored pretty poorly on that quiz. I’ve got way too much going on to remember the names of all those chemicals. Plus, it seems like there is new information and warnings coming out all the time and I don’t have the bandwidth to keep on top of it. I prefer someone else to keep on top of it for me.

Thankfully The Honest Company has a team of people, led by Christopher Gavigan, who are happy to play that role for me. Christopher is a dedicated leader and long-time activist in children’s environmental health, having spent many years in charge of Healthy Child, Healthy World, a non-profit lobbying for a safer and less toxic environment for our kids and teaching parents how easy choices can make our world a safer place for our families.

The Honest Company is a family company and its team spends all day, every day making sure their products meet their high standards for safety. As an added benefit, they have a high standard for design too, as evidenced in the photo below which includes their adorable patterned diapers.

They promise each personal care, cleaning and home product they sell is effective, eco-friendly, well-designed, convenient, affordable and unquestionably safe. Just take a look at their website and the detailed ingredient list they provide, which not only lists what goes into their products, it also lists what does not. It’s refreshingly explicit and transparent.

As a working mom of two, I want to think about these things but I don’t have the time. The Honest Company makes me believe I am doing good by my children and family by doing what’s easiest. How often can you say that?

Below is a cheat sheet of the commonly found chemicals in children’s personal care products. Feel free to share it, print it out, keep it in your wallet and use when looking for products for you and your family.

Or, you can just take the easy way out and shop through Honest. Sign up for a free trial (plus nominal shipping).

But, one lucky reader gets a one month supply of The Honest Company’s Family Essentials Bundle (valued at $35.95). Just leave a comment below on which Honest baby diaper pattern is your favorite. (A winner will be picked randomly using and entries are only open to adults in the US. Limit one entry per person.) The giveaway is open until Monday, February 18, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. A winner will be contacted via email on Tuesday, February 19.

In the meantime, we all can sign up for a Free Trial (plus nominal shipping).

Answers to Quiz questions:
1: #4, 2: #4, 3: 23%, 4: 60%, 5: All of the above, 6: #4, 7: Phthalates & Parabens, 8: a newborn, 9: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, 10: All of the incredibly nasty stuff above, 11: Triclosan, 12: There is absolutely no good reason, 13: Phthalates, 14: False

Resources: HCHW, EWG, and Collective-Evolution.

Thank you to The Honest Company for making this post possible.

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Baby Bathtubs: The Yay to the Nay Tue, 29 Jan 2013 08:33:06 +0000

Bathing your newborn is not an easy proposition. They’ve got more rolls than an Olive Garden and they’re squirmier than a garden snake. And while they may not bite, they can certainly scream their head off if they’re not pleased— which may, for the record, be a lot worse.

In order to make washing your newborn as painless as possible, I put four different infant baby baths to the test. Here’s what I found out….

1. Summer Infant Newborn to Toddler Fold Away Baby Bath Review ($21.99)

summer infant tub review

First of all, the Summer Infant Newborn bathtub looks pretty cheap. It’s made of blue and white plastic with a duck-patterned vinyl lining that inflates much like a pool toy. The vinyl is supposed to create a cushioned surface for your newborn. Plus once you let the air out, you can fold up the tub for storage.

I wouldn’t care about the look of the tub if it worked. But, it did not. It was a nightmare. There are four feet on the tub that need to lock into place for the inflatable portion to balance correctly. It was really hard to get the feet to lock. Once I put it down in the tub, one foot kept unlocking so the tub would collapse on one side. The other major problem is the plug to keep the air in. Once you blew it up, it was almost impossible to get the plug to stay in so you would quickly start losing all the air. I worked a good half hour until finally I thought the plug would stay, but then as soon as I filled the tub with water, it came right out.

Not that it matters, but the tub doesn’t create the best position for a newborn who cannot sit up. The inflation means the baby’s head does not rest evenly in the middle and begins quickly drifting to one side.

I hated this tub with a passion and wanted it out of my bathroom immediately. And just so you don’t think it was just me, I had my husband try it out as well and he experienced all the same issues.

VERDICT on the Summer Infant Newborn bathtub: NAY

2. Puj Flyte Compact Infant Bath Review ($35)

puj flyte baby bath review

The Puj Compact Infant Bath is an interesting option because it’s essentially a long foam bowl that you sit over your sink. The good thing about this is it allows you to wash your baby standing up, which is much more comfortable than kneeling on the floor and leaning over the bath, right after you’ve given birth to a baby. The other nice thing is that the Puj is ridiculously compact so you can even hang it on the back of a door or or off a hanging shower caddy without it getting in your way. The bendable foam material makes it easy to pack in a suitcase for travel as well.

Other advantages are that it’s free of all the chemicals (PVC and BPA) you don’t want around your child, it’s mildew resistant and easy to clean.

The big disadvantage for me is that if you put the Puj in your sink, the water runs right through it, so you will have to keep the faucet on during your baby’s bath. This means that the faucet is running directly on your baby at all times. I don’t know how much you trust your faucet, but having it quickly turn to hot or cold could be very upsetting for your baby. Personally, that’s not a chance I want to take.

Also, the Puj, as compared to other baths which can accommodate a toddler (though I’m not sure toddlers will need a portable bathtub), can only be used from 0-6 months of age. I would put it at even less. It would seem that you’d want your baby’s body to be a little more submerged after the first couple of months.

VERDICT on the Puj Compact Infant Bath: OKAY

3. The Original Tummy Tub Bath Review ($42)

tummy tub baby bath review

The Tummy Tub is touted by doctors and midwives as being the preferred way to bathe your baby. Your baby sits upright as opposed to lying down which is supposed to make them feel warm, safe and relaxed. They even say that it can act to soothe an infant that has indigestion or colic.

I wish I could say that I found this to be true, because my baby has a bad case of acid reflux. I don’t know if it’s because my baby is too small (she was born at about 7 lbs and is now only a little over 9 lbs) but I found it impossible to hold her upright in the tub while being able to wash her body. Every picture I looked at seemed like the baby was already in a stage where s/he could sit up or at least support her/his head. When I used it, mine couldn’t do either, so call into question the idea that it can be used for tiny babies.

It’s possible that in a few months, the Tummy Tub becomes the best thing ever. But I was looking for something to bathe my newborn. Perhaps I will revisit this tub in the future.

VERDICT on the Original Tummy Tub Bath: NAY (for now, and definitely not for newborns)

4. Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bathtub Review ($60)

Best Baby Bathtubs: Boon is our favorite by

Originally, I was only going to review the three bath tubs above, but I didn’t feel like I had anything in my possession that I was comfortable washing the baby in and recommending. So, Alpha Mom also invested in the Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bathtub to review.

This was the tub I needed. It has an expandable bottom that can be adjusted to fit a newborn, baby or even a toddler. It has two legs that lock securely in place (although they are slightly tough to unlock) and it folds to practically flat for hanging or easy storage. Just please remember to engage the metal support rod for the newborn position. If you don’t fold it in place, the tub’s newborn incline (as seen in the picture above) can fall to toddler position, startling your baby.

All-in-all, the Boon Bathtub is a simple, well-designed tub in which I felt safe washing my baby. Who knew that would be so hard to find?

VERDICT on the Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bathtub: YAY

Usually I do a wrap-up, but this time my answer is clear. The Boon bathtub might be the most expensive, of the group above, but since it is the only baby bathtub I tried that can truly take your baby from newborn to toddler, I think it is well worth it.


If you’re looking for ideas and recommendations for a baby registry, don’t miss our Baby Registry Checklist.

Considering an online baby registry? We recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

Amazon Baby Registry 1

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Common Enemies of Babies Tue, 15 Jan 2013 12:34:18 +0000

This post is sponsored by Boudreaux’s Butt Paste®, the effective diaper rash cream that treats and prevents diaper rash with every change. Let’s kick some rash!

If your baby is unhappy, she might not be able to explain exactly what is bothering her, but she’ll certainly let you know it’s time to start troubleshooting. Whether it’s hunger, a full diaper, or an annoying tag on the back of her onesie, an ear-piercing scream alerts not just you, but your neighbors, your congressman and possibly homeland security, that something is no-likey.

At the moment, I am dealing with my two-month old daughter Harlow’s acid reflux. So half the time, I don’t know if she is unhappy because she is hungry or because she ate too much. Hunger and indigestion seem to bother her equally, and at once.  But I’ve also come to notice that the slightest bit of wetness sends her into a tizzy and the mere sight of a swaddle ticks her off.

Every baby’s got a growing list of things that make them mad. Here are the top six common enemies of babies:

Most experts recommend swaddling to get your baby to sleep, but whenever I whip out that mummifying muslin, Harlow looks at me like I’m spoiling her evening. Once her arms are safely tacked at her sides, she wriggles and writhes like an animal caught in a net, until eventually she feels defeated and goes to sleep.

One reason swaddling may not be a baby’s friend is because it often means bedtime, something that my both my daughters fight like a disease. As soon as I flip the light off, their eyes shoot open with daggers that say “But there’s an after party I was planning to attend!”

Don’t underestimate the deadliness of a teeny tiny fingernail. They are a handful of miniature daggers, dangerous to everyone within arm’s reach. The very first day my daughter arrived, she cut her face with her own pinky. There was blood and a full week of healing. I’ve since learned to keep those puppies SHORT.

I’m not sure what babies have against vegetables but there’s a reason parents have been trying to trick their kids with planes, trains and automobiles for the past 50 years. Newsflash: Your baby knows that’s a spoon. He also knows you wouldn’t eat those mashed peas either.

Babies know what the baby gate is separating them from— sweets, flatscreen TVs, motor vehicles, people that stay up past 7pm— everything worth living for. We tried to baby proof our sockets a few years back when our first daughter started crawling. She crawled right up to it, like it was her newest toy and ripped that sucker out. It didn’t stand a chance.

Few things piss a baby off like a sprinkling of red irritated spots up and around their bottom. Can you blame them? It is both painful and embarrassing. You wouldn’t like it either. Whenever Harlow cries, I go through a mental check-list of what could possibly be wrong. If the answer isn’t obvious, I check my baby’s bottom. More than once, a fussy baby has been the result of a nasty diaper rash.

I remember giving my first daughter a bath and she started screaming. Since she couldn’t talk yet, I assumed she just didn’t want to get wet, even though she had never had a problem with baths before. But when I took her out and put her diaper back on, I realized she had the beginnings of a rash. I think she must have been crying because the soapy water was irritating her “tushie.”

Nobody wants to misunderstand their baby’s cry for help. So when you start trying to decipher what could possibly be wrong, know that in addition to “I’m hungry!,” “I’m tired!” and “I’m wet!,” it could also be, “I want to stay up to watch SNL!,” “Don’t deny me access to the kitchen!” and finally “Mom, my butt is burning!”


This post is sponsored by Boudreaux’s Butt Paste®, the effective diaper rash cream that treats and prevents diaper rash with every change. Let’s kick some rash!

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