The second time's a charm
With our second baby (a boy!) arriving some time in early April, we've been around the block once now and I know what I DO and DON'T want in preparation for another newborn. With my daughter, I fell for a lot of the typical "YOU WON'T SURVIVE WITHOUT A WIPES WARMER" type scare tactics aimed at new moms. Trust me, you don't need a wipes warmer (girl, you don't even really need wipes). So this post will serve as both my personal registry and wish list, as well as a guide for moms out there who might be looking for alternatives to the Toys R' Us catalog recommendations or to anyone looking for a gift for the eco-friendly health-conscious moms in their lives.
Before I start listing out products and brands I've been ogling, let me talk about a key principle: HAND-ME-DOWNS ARE AWESOME - Don't turn them away. I know we all want the shiny new things but not only is second-hand extremely practical (since babies wee and spit and poo on everything. Every. Thing.), they are also quite a bit healthier if they're coming from a good home. First off, they've off-gassed and out-washed their industrial chemicals, so even if it's not organic fair trade unicorn cotton, it's actually much cleaner and gentler for baby. It's also less impactful on the environment. I could go on a rant about "fast fashion" and how it's affected my choices for my personal wardrobe, but children go through clothing and shoes at an EXPONENTIAL rate--it's "even-faster fashion." For this reason, you won't find much in the way of clothing and shoes on my list. I'm planning on going mostly second-hand in that department. Same goes for baby items like swings and carriers and play mats and toys. It's so much STUFF that has to go SOMEWHERE when you're done with it. Buying new can have its perks, but I would be happy with pretty much any of the items I'm about to list coming to me second-hand. This also makes the case for buying really quality items if you choose to buy new, so that they're still in good condition for another baby or to pass on to the next family when you're finished with them. Keep the lifelong impact of your purchases and choices in mind from the beginning.
That said, here are the items we hope to integrate into our home as we settle our nest for another baby, as well as a donation opportunity in lieu of a gift.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had a crib fully assembled and made up before she was even born, as most moms do. After she was born I quickly tapped into my crunchy-mommy instinct and decided I didn't want her sleeping in a separate room from me (she slept ON TOP OF ME for at least a week if I remember). Number of nights my child has slept in a crib in the past three years: 0. So we are in 0 need of a crib or any of the accompanying crib accoutrements. I'm looking for co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and portable outdoor-friendly sleeping solutions.
- A Moses Basket
I've been following @theyoungfolkcollective and @cubandco_ on Instagram for a while and not only do I love the style of their moses baskets, but they're a sustainable, eco-friendly, and ethically-made brands. I'm partial to the Au Naturel and Raw moses baskets from The Young Folk Collective, but they have an array of beautiful colors (and diaper bags, too!). I also love the Safari moses basket from Cub and Co.
And what a great item for a hand-me-down, a family heirloom, or a fun toy for the kids when they're older, or a farmer's market tote! And these kinds of items are REPAIRABLE so if some weaving is coming apart or a handle is loose after years of love, you can fix it instead of replacing it entirely.
- A Co-Sleeper and Bed Sharing Nest
Another Insta-mom-friend I've followed for nearly two years now is @lovebirdbabynests. I've loved seeing her small-scale home business grow into something amazing! She hand-sews (and customizes) "baby nests" for safe and cozy co-sleeping, and I also envision them as great for camping, fitting into a moses basket, laying next to me in a restaurant booth, or putting on my lap on the plane when we travel this spring for my brother in law's wedding. Aren't these just adorable?!
Another reason I like these is it offers options for varied positions as opposed to the C-shape babies are often left to rest in. The majority of newborns spend a significant amount of time in their little carseat carriers (that also transfer to strollers) and their sleeper swings, which keeps them in a constant spinal C-shaped curve not optimal for development. In my view, the carseat is really a safety device meant for the one specific event of riding in the car, not for resting or other activities. I could put a baby nest like this into our little wagon and jaunt across the block to the park or the coffee shop just as easily and conveniently as a carrier and stroller.
Any mom knows that those 2am marathon nursing sessions leave us scrolling Instagram and Pinterest for....well, a while. BellyArmor makes an array of products (some with organic materials) designed to shield pregnant bellies, babies, even scrotums! from the effects of radiation. In addition to cutting down on your own wi-fi exposure in the home, you can drape this blanket over belly or babe and cut down radiation by 99.9%. Want!
- A Baby Swing...
...but not just any swing. Really and truly I don't want another hunk of plastic in my house, or one that plays lullabies or has flashing lights. And have you SEEN the price tag on some of the trendy-looking natural baby swings?...$500 to just put my baby down for a bit to take a nap or let me get dressed? No. An affordable option, ethical and sustainable materials and work ethic, and an actual SWING? Yes. I would like this La Siesta organic baby hammock. Not only is it made of organic materials, it's just so much PRETTIER than the conventional baby swings on the market, and it's only $79. Call me vain but I don't particularly like it when every room of my house has some kind of garish primary-colored kid contraption that clashes with my style and decor. This is so functional and clean-looking. It holds up to 44lbs of weight and my three-year old doesn't even weigh that, so it'll last us a while. If you aren't able to hang one from the ceiling you can also purchase (or make) a wooden frame like the one pictured here.
Speaking of those late night thumb-twiddling nursing sessions that last forever, here's an excellent book I recommend for all women and moms: Diastasis Recti: The Whole Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation by Katy Bowman. (Ok, this is one I do already have--sort of, I've lent it out a few times and I can't put my finger on it.) Keep it on hand for a few pages here and there while you're nursing. It's a fun, practical, and informative read all about how your LIFESTYLE and the way you sit, stand, walk, and move affects that abdominal separation many of us experience after pregnancy. It includes a ton of simple and gentle recovery exercises you can do almost anywhere. A gift within a gift is that it will introduce the mom in your life to the amazing work of Katy Bowman (who is a personal role model...ok, "hero"...to me) and her many books, popular podcast "Katy Says," and her newly-available online classes. You can purchase her many books and class subscriptions at www.nutritiousmovement.com and follow her @nutritiousmovement on Instagram.
Any good book is a great gift to pair with nursing supplies for new moms. Nursing can be the ONLY time we have to sit down undisturbed and read for a while. I have fond memories of reading my own books aloud to Penelope when she was a newborn, and she would fall asleep to the sound of my voice. My all-time favorite parenting book that I will read again when baby arrives is The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff which I highly recommend. A few others on my want-to-read list right now are Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Mindsight by Dan Siegel.
- Organic Cotton Reusable/Washable Nursing Pads
Milk boobs leak, everyone. In case you didn't know. The last thing I want is a repeat of the crinkly, plastic-y, sweaty disposables I used the last time around. Companies like Glad Rags and Etsy stores like ECOMOONPAD make cotton or wool organic + washable + reusable + breathable nursing pads, as well as menstrual pads for the after-birth phase. (Companies like Charlie Banana also make sets of nursing pads, post partum pads, and cloth diapers--because those are on the list down the line here, too.)
(And a tip for new moms, you can create your own soothing gels with aloe and essential oils, apply to your pads and nursing pads, and then put them in the fridge or freezer. Sweet, sweet relief. They're called "padsicles." You're welcome.)
- Nursing Bras and Clothing
If you're purchasing a nursing bra for yourself or a mom in your life, look for some organic materials (although a lot of nursing bras will have a small amount of synthetic blend to help it stretch), and find something without an underwire or wires to hold up the sides, since these can interrupt the lymph and milk ducts in the breasts which is painful and potentially harmful. I like the bras from Pansy and Blue Canoe, and the tank and cami tops from Pact Apparel (available online and at Whole Foods and other health food stores). You know what? I loved my nursing bra hand-me-downs from friends, too!
- Nursing Covers and Scarves
I'm one of the moms who falls right in the middle of that choice between public vs. private breastfeeding. Don't get me wrong, I'll feed my baby whenever and wherever I want to, but as much as I love some good naked outdoor time I'm not dead-set on flashing strangers in the park. I like to wear a scarf or a sweater or a blanket over my shoulder in the same way you might wear headphones at the gym--it says "excuse me, I'm busy, please leave me alone" when I don't want to be disturbed (because often baby is going to want to sleep afterward, too). I like breathable organic materials--think San Antonio in spring and summer--and prints that I will actually wear, like THIS, THIS, and THIS. Almost any light and breathable swaddling blanket or wrap will do just fine, too, by tying two corners together and putting it around my neck. Tread lightly when you visit spearmintlove.com because their adorable patterns will break your internet. I can't even pick one (or 4).
- Baby Bottles
I love my Medela breast pump that I got when I had my daughter, and it was an amazing piece of machinery when I was still working full time. Now that I work from home, it won't be much of an issue, and I still have all the parts and bells and whistles leftover from that set. For the occasions when I'm not able to nurse, I'd love about 3 of these glass and silicone baby bottles from Lifefactory.
FOR BABY CARE
As much as we are all trying to be cognizant of what we're putting on our adult skin and hair, babies' skin is even more delicate (and perfect!). Washing gently with water is pretty much all that perfect newly-vernixed probiotic-infused skin needs. I take the "less is more" approach, so I'm looking for products that are effective and convenient with minimal ingredients.
This is a diaper cream, a rash and cradle cap treatment, a nipple salve, and pretty much any other kind of skin soother baby (or mom) could need. Living Libations is one of the highest quality skincare lines out there. A mom herself, she's blended all organic and/or wild-harvested ingredients like seabuckthorn, jojoba, calendula, chamomile, sandalwood, and beeswax. Take it one step further and get THIS Living Libations baby bundle with the balm, shampoo, baby oil, and organic hemp washcloth.
- Wash With Water bath products
As I said before, our babies' skin is so plump and luscious and healthy, we really need to just leave it alone. But sometimes they spit up on themselves, or blow out up the back of their jammies, or get into any assortment of situations where they don't have that fresh-from-the-oven baby smell. For the occasion of bathing and shampooing with a gentle cleanser, I like Wash With Water. While a lot of other "natural" products out there are still technically "safe," they still contain ingredients like surfactants and glycerin which is damaging and dehydrating to the skin. This one keeps it clean to a higher standard than a lot of brands you find in the store. (They're also on Instagram @washwithwater).
- Bath Water Filter
While we're on the topics of bathing and healthy practices for the skin, let's talk about the water we're bathing in. We're careful to filter the tap water that we drink to remove chemicals, sediments, even traces of pharmaceuticals in the water, but we don't always filter the water that comes into contact with our skin. When we bathe in water, that has direct access to our blood stream because it isn't subjected to the natural filtration system of digestion. It's just skin-to-bloodstream. There are lots of options out there for shower filters to filter out chlorine, industrial chemicals, and other yuck-stuff from our tap water, but not a lot of options for bath water. Here's a $50 solution: a bath ball filter from Crystal Quest. They have a lot of options and products for your home. I also love and recommend everything Berkey.
- Diapers and Wipes
While we're on the topic of water and baby skin, let's talk about wipes. First of all, wipes are kind of overrated as a "necessity." After going through an entire diaper phase with one child already, I wish I hadn't spent so much money on wipes. I also know a lot of moms who go through the struggle of finding the "right wipes" for their baby, as in which ones DON'T cause a blistering rash or an allergic reaction. How 'bout we just avoid that altogether. My strategy this time around will be to make most of my at-home wipes myself using a recipe like THIS one from Earth Mama Angel Baby. I'm going to choose to see wipes as a convenience item instead, and try to limit using them to when we're actually out of the house or when I'm unable to make them myself. (And what's to "make" really? Most moms on the block will tell you we've used a wet washcloth in a pinch and everything is FINE. Let's do that more.) I really like Water Wipes which you can still find at most stores with a health-food section, and even Target carries them in bulk. Once you realize you're PAYING for a wipe that's mostly water though, you'll appreciate them more as a convenience item anyway.
On the diaper front, I know everyone's expecting me to cloth diaper my baby, and I promise I thought long and hard about it. Where we're living right now, we have one of those tiny washer and dryer sets that stacks on top of each other in a closet, and I am feeling like the stress of exclusive cloth diapering might be more than I can manage until we purchase a new washer and dryer. I am opting for the convenience route here for the time being. What I did often with my daughter is use cloth diapers while we were home (and after she'd had her dutiful morning poop) and then used disposable while we were out and about. Balance, compromise, call it what you will. I'll call it "strategy." I would love THIS set, or something like it, with just six cloth diapers I can use intermittently (if you have a Thrive Market account, you save 25%). My general rule for disposable diapers is no chlorine, no fragrances, no other chemical treatments. I'm not going to try to get much pickier than that. Brands that fit this criteria and are also easy to find locally are Seventh Generation, Honest Company, Earth's Best, and Babyganics. I could do an entire blog post on diapers (I won't) but you can do your own digging into each of these brands and see which ones resonate with your lifestyle and values as a company.
- A Backpack ("Diaper Bag")
This time around I really don't want a typical "diaper bag." I have a nice black one already (that actually doubles as my "dress up purse." #momlife) but I quit using it daily because it was really throwing me off trying to carry a baby and a bag and probably three other things while my diaper bag slowly slides off my shoulder. With two in tow, I really want a nice backpack. I've hijacked my husband's hiking backpack as my daily carry-all bag which has been useful, but I do sort of always look like I'm either going to class or going hiking.
I love these ethical and sustainable bags by Kanken. They're durable + stylish and most of all just really functional. I have my eye on THIS one, THIS one, and THIS one, all of which could easily be adjustable and interchangeable between my husband and I. And I like having a pocket or two on the outside of my bag so when my daughter inevitably makes me carry the most special rock she's ever found, or hands me a wad of used tissue while we're on a walk, I have a quick easy pocket to reach without taking my bag off. And in the spirit of making things easier on mom, they also make these equally-awesome and adorable mini backpacks for kids because it's time for my kid to start carrying her OWN stuff!
I'm adoring these recycled faux-leather (and so reasonably-priced!) backpacks from Matt and Nat. Can you even BELIEVE these are made from recycled plastic bottles? Imagine how easy wiping spit and handprints off these would be... (You can read more about their ethics and sustainability HERE and follow them @matt_and_nat on Instagram). These come in some fresh colors, too. Yeah, I'm a crunchy mom and I'm cool with healthy choices that aren't always the most fashionable, but have MERCY if a mom doesn't want to look and feel sleek and stylish for just a day in her life. I mean MY life.
- A Buggy Board Stroller Attachment
I know, I know, parents of two always pine for the double stroller. However, I do not want a huge stroller that doesn't fit through a door, I don't want another device, I don't even want to be using a stroller that much. Solution? At www.buggyboard.info you can purchase this great little attachment for your toddler-aged kiddos to ride on while you push the stroller. They have attachment kits for 99% of the strollers on the market. It saves the bulk of the extra seat and also gives your bigger kids freedom to get on and off during walks as they please. Not super ethical or sustainable, but the way I see it I'm wasting less by not ditching the TWO strollers we currently have to invest in a new one. Seriously, how COOL are these? (Also available at Target).
There's a lot moms need after birth to recover, relax, and restore after childbirth. Along with your physical in-person support and all you do to help out, here are some thoughtful and helpful gift ideas for the recovering new mom in your life.
- Living Libations Yoni Serums
Don't worry, you don't actually have to say the word "yoni" out loud if you don't want to, but you can't ignore the fact that a mom's lady business needs some extra care and attention before and especially after birth. Living Libations has some excellent serums for both jobs, with the highest quality botanical ingredients. Especially if you're a mom gifting to another mom with an "oh, honey, I've been there" tone in your baby shower card, these are perfect.
- Feather Eagle Sky Love Oil
Soothe momma's life-giving belly and boobs with a top-notch body oil. I'm so happy to personally know Jessika LeCorre and to have used virtually every single one of the amazing products she creates (she's @feathereaglesky on Instagram). A gorgeous mother to three, this woman knows beauty and self-care (um, would you LOOK at her?). Her "Love" oil has anti-inflammatory energizing ginger that promotes circulation, cardamom to stimulate lymph and blood flow, sweet almond oil for skin hydration, analgesic and calming lavender, and yummy vanilla. Basically the perfect recipe for rejuvenating a new mom.
On that note, gifting mom a post-partum massage, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, a haircut, or other service is another thing I know all moms WANT but we are much too busy being nurturing and selfless to ask for it.
- FOOD: Home-Cooked or Dinner To-Go
Any new mom will tell you what a LIFE SAVER it is when friends and family come by to bring a nourishing home-cooked meal. I still remember receiving salmon and risotto, eggplant parmesan, hearty salads, and delicious casseroles in those first days when all I could do (and needed to do) was rest. If you're gifting to a crunchy mom and you're like "What do I even make?" and you're Googling "What is gluten?" or you're just too far away to personally deliver a hot meal, then a meal-by-mail option could work! I have personally tried the boxed meal subscriptions like Hello Fresh and found them to be wasteful, low-quality ingredients, and still requires the effort to cook the meal itself. There's a list HERE with 13 Paleo-friendly meal delivery services, and there are more out there if you search! Another option is to look for freshly-prepared meals from restaurants and grocery stores in your area. For example, San Antonio has places like MY FIT FOODS which prepares healthy grab-and-go meals, or Jugo Juicery which has freshly-pressed organic juices, acai bowls, and healthy snacks (plus they have massage services *elbow, elbow*). Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Central Market have lots of prepared foods and grab-and-go options as well, and it's very easy now to gift someone an eGiftCard so they can get pop into Whole Foods for a delicious and healthy pre-made meal.
TOO CUTE NOT TO MENTION
- Baby Moccasins
I don't think my daughter actually put shoes on until she was about 5 or 6 months old and even then they weren't really necessary, so I recommend getting baby shoes in the 6-month range at the earliest (again, hand-me-downs!). I love anything from Soft Star Shoes (@softstarshoes), and they have selections for everyone in the family from newborns to adults. I like THESE monogrammed moccasins (our little boy's initials will probably be GAP, which I am just now realizing this very second and wondering if we should reconsider...). Freshly Picked (@freshlypicked) has some squee-worthy leather moccasins as well, like THESE and THESE. You can find some affordable moccasins for $12.99 in every color imaginable at Jane.com, too (@veryjane). All really cute ways to let those developing baby feet move and groove naturally.
- Baby Clothing and Toys
This is one of those things everyone sees and just lovingly WANTS to buy for a new baby. Especially you grandmothers. You can't help yourselves. As I've said before I'm SO happy with hand me downs, even if second hand items are purchased for us and given at a shower or as a gift. No shame in that! In general my personal preference is to purchase eco-friendly, sustainable, and healthy products if I (or you) buy new, and I also prefer not to dress my kiddos in clothing with really gendered or weird slogans and phrases on them. I'm sorry if it was you, but when my daughter was born I donated away a bag of perfectly good clothing that said things like "Diva" and "Born for the Catwalk" and things like that. Same goes for absurdly-large brand logos that turn my baby into a little billboard. It can sound picky and ungrateful, but it's better than secretly giving things away behind someone's back. (If you're a mom receiving some so-brand-new-they're-stiff clothing that smells like a perfumed department store, a few good washes and laying the clothing out in the sun over a few days can help clean them up a bit.)
A few brands I like and have some ADORABLE clothes are Colored Organics, Two Birdees, Burt's Bees which now has organic clothing at Whole Foods. (There are so many more brands out there--you can google "organic made in US baby clothing" and see what pops up.) We especially love any of those little sleep-sacks that looks like little dresses--they last a long time and are so convenient and useful.
In lieu of a gift--some of these items are rather costly--we also highly value donations to other families in need around the world. I want to live a healthy lifestyle, I want to bring awareness and support slow fashion and healthy parenting practices and all that, but I also see other mothers who have nothing but their own arms to offer their children. We have all the resources we need to provide a healthy life for our new baby. If you would like to make a donation to aid fleeing families in Aleppo, please visit https://preemptivelove.nationbuilder.com