Mommy MUST List and Ick List

If you have a baby/child or plan on having one some day, this is for you! Keep in mind - I am NOT an expert and I don't ever claim to be - I'm just one of the ones who has "been there, done that" and I want to share the things that have worked really well for me and the things that have totally bombed. Granted, every child and family is different and not everything works for everybody. This will be broken down into two categories: The MUST List and The Ick List.

The MUST List:
- On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo [This book is awesome and a pretty quick and easy read. I hear about friends and family members having trouble getting their babies into good sleep patterns and/or eat better, fuller meals and so on. This book is an absolute MUST. Granted, I didn't read it until Gabriel was about 6-8 months old, but I had him sleeping 10 hours at night every night consistently by six weeks old by (unknowingly) using the principles outlined in this book. I had done most of what the author(s) suggested on my own, but I can see that this isn't necessarily common practice. This book would be a life saver for a good number of people that I know. I have bought the second book and "pretoddler wise" and "potty wise" already!]

- Sleepy Wrap [This thing is amazing and it's nothing new. Mothers have been "wearing" their babies like this for probably thousands of years. When I was first exploring my options, I looked at slings and the Baby Bjorn-style carriers because wraps just looked like they would be too warm and somewhat coplicated. (I was wrong) Then I really started doing some homework and found that those kinds of carriers are not that great and are actually somewhat harmful in many ways. Pretty much everything that I found is all compiled here on the Sleepy Wrap website. If you go to the website and click on "More" you can read more about the benefits of babywearing, compare baby carriers, learn about babywearing safety and much more. You can use this kind of carrier (wrap) from birth and up to...well, for as long as you and your child are comfortable! It was such a relief to have my sleepy wrap - I could still get things done around the house when Gabriel wanted or needed to be held, I don't always have to lug a stroller around when I go places like a park, a museum or the grocery store. The wrap is comfortable for both me and Gabriel - in fact, he usually falls asleep when I put him in it! It distributes his weight evenly across my back and shoulders and I have never had any kind of pain or soreness after using it. There are SO many benefits - go read about it! I thought it would be complicated to use, but I was a pro after my first time wrapping it. It's daddy-friendly too! Other companies make wraps like this as well, such as Moby and Baby K'tan. I have never used the others, but most people who have say that they like them all and that the Sleepy Wrap is a little better because it has lycra in it so it stretches, which makes it more comfortable and easier to use. Another big difference is the price. I got my Sleepy Wrap on Amazon for 30-some-odd dollars and the others can be twice as much and more!]

Sippy Grip by Booginhead [I love love LOVE the sippy grip. It has made life so much easier! You wrap it around baby's bottle, sippy cup, etc.--even toys! and attach the other end to the stroller or car seat or cart (what have you). The end that wraps around the sippy/bottle has a rubbery inside so there's no slipping and it's all velcro attachment so it's customizable and easily adjusted. I take this everywhere I go and I never have a dropped, dirtied or lost sippy cup. They come in all different colors and they're CHEAP!]

- The Mommy Hook [I use this pretty much every day. It's basically a giant carabiner with foam on it. You clip it onto the stroller and you can hang your purse or shopping bags or whatever on it! It's so nice at the grocery store because I have Gabe in the front seat part of the cart and then where do I put my purse? I don't want to carry it and I don't want to bury it in the cart either. Thank goodness for the mommy hook! I clip it onto the cart, throw my purse on it and we're off! It's nice when you get home from the grocery store or shopping at the mall or whatever too--just load up a bunch of bags on it and the foam grip makes it comfortable to carry everything inside!]

- Amazon Mom [I am an freak. I like it because it is easy to use and I can almost always find a great bargain! Plus, if your order is $25 or more, everything ships for free! (if the seller/fulfillment is amazon) I love being able to see ratings and read reviews from other people too. The reviews have saved me from a handful of what would have been terrible purchases! Anyway, I came across part of the website that said something about "amazon mom", so I checked it out. It's awesome! They give you discounts on all sorts of things from diapers to books to nursery furniture! And when you spend so many dollars on baby stuff, it gives you free two-day shipping! Love it. This has saved me a big chunk of change--especially at Christmas time. Membership is free and the benefits can be substantial. The have a "subscribe and save" program where you can have an automatic order for diapers or wipes or what-have-you sent out every month or every six weeks or whatever (you set the timeframes subscribe/cancel as you please) and you get a 15% discount on those items!]

- Combi [I love my stroller and my amazing car seat. Combi makes outstanding, high quality products. They will have my business for life. I have already bragged about Gabe's car seat. His stroller is made by Combi as well. It's an older model, so it's no longer available or I'd give you a link to it. The upgraded versions of it are the same...only better, obviously! His stroller is awesome. It reclines in three different positions (all the way flat for one of them, which is SO NICE), it has speakers that can plug into an mp3 player (or any music source with a headphone jack) with a little pocket for the player (Gabe has inherited my old iPod nano). The front bar and cup holders are detachable and the stroller folds up pretty small. We can fit the stroller and all of our grocery shopping for a month in the trunk at the same time! And we have a tiny little Mitsubishi Galant! Combi also makes high chairs, play yards, bouncers, swings, rockers, etc. Love them. Love their products.]

- Baby Signing Time [I bought this for Gabriel for his first birthday and I wish I had bought it sooner! Within two weeks he had picked up almost every sign on the video! He LOVES it! It is so nice to be able to effectively communicate with him! I'm pretty sure there are four volumes of baby signing time and then you move on to regular "Signing Time!" for slightly older children/toddlers. They teach with music and pictures and little stories. They show other babies doing the signs, too, so your baby can see his/her peers doing their own variations of different signs (every kid is going to do the signs in their own way). The videos are great, but if you find another method to teach your baby to sign, use it! Any method is better than not teaching them at all. I would highly recommend teaching your baby to sign - it cuts down on frustration on everyone's part and it teaches babies that they can communicate without whining or crying. Teaching your children to sign stimulates early learning and language skills while instilling confidence and security through understanding. There are no downsides! They say "Babies crawl before they walk, and they sign before they talk."]

- Your Baby Can Read [If you've ever seen the infomercials and thought it was hokey, you were wrong!! The system works and it's amazing!! My sister has the program for Lily and I was astounded to hear my little 18-month-old niece reading all kinds of words from "kick" to "bubble" to "elephant"! Super awesome.]

- Sweet Little Band/"Babies Go___" [McKay is actually the one who spotted these little gems. The "sweet little band" does all instrumental hits covers of bands and musicians like Pearl Jam, Bob Marley, KISS, Madonna, Cold Play, Depeche Mode, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Guns 'n Roses, The Doors, Elvis, Led Zeppelin,  AC/DC, Abba, Aerosmith, Beyonce, The Police, Oasis, The Cure, Creedence (CCR), Elton John, Shakira and many more. Gabriel loves the music and since it's all instrumental, you don't have to worry about baby hearing somewhat questionable material. I, for one, am SO PUMPED that Gabriel gets to grow up listening to all the good stuff minus possible negative lyrical influence. Yaayy!!]

[The Ick List coming soon...]