Monday, May 31, 2010

And the winner is ....

Parenting: Love in Spoonfuls

Megs is the winner of the LOVE IN SPOONFULS baby food cookbook. Congrats! Please send your mailing address to and I'll send the book your way. Don't forget to tell us what you think of it! :)

I hope you are all enjoying the lovely holiday weekend. We're having a lazy one at home. Andrew is actually sleeping off his first taste of delicious sweet potatoes right now--yum! Photos of his orange face (to match his orange hair) to come!

We are also, of course, remembering and honoring in our hearts those who have fought for this country, regardless of the circumstances. They are much braver men and women than I, and I'm sure we are all sending them a huge thank you today and all days.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Website Review: 4Moms

I'm a big fan of web communities that let parents try out new items, share their opinions, and influence the creation of new and improved products. 4Moms, then, is a website is a website after my heart. (Especially with that whole trying out products part!)

4Moms is actually a company created by--go figure--two men back in 2005. They wanted to come up with ideas for innovative new products and brought together a focus group of four mothers to help out. What blossomed is a company which offers a handful of cool baby products that you may have seen in stores, such as the Cleanwater Infant Tub and the Goodnight Sleep Trainer.

I joined the 4Moms Insider group online just as they revamped their site into a community that offers giveaways, product testing, opportunities to earn points for product discounts, and more. While I missed the testing period of their awesome mamaRoo Infant Seat (which has 5 motions meant to mimic a car ride, a kangaroo, a tree swing, a rocking mom, and an ocean wave) I did get to enter to win one (didn't win, sadly).

4Moms Mamaroo Infant Seat, Orange

You can bet, though, that I am on the 4Moms website every day, entering to win products, working to earn points toward a product discount, and waiting for the next item up for testing--the amazing Origami stroller with power-fold and digital dashboard (are we in mommy dreamland??) I am literally in lust with this stroller from outer space!

So, get thee to 4Moms online and get in on the action. Just, remember, I want dibs on an Origami!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Check Out Queens Mama's Redesign!

Today I reached my 100th post, so I rewarded myself with a great little blog layout from Delicious Design Studio! What do you think of it? I love the tiny neighborhood theme as Queens, while part of a huge city, is filled with many different neighborhoods with their own personality and small-town appeal.

Adding the pre-made layout to blogger was super simple with Delicious Design Studio's video instructions and it didn't cost much at all either (just $20!) The studio also creates custom blog layouts if you're interested. Just pop on over to their site and send them an email with your requirements. 

I hope the redesign is as easy on your eyes as it is on mine! I'm pretty much in love. <3

Oh, and I found out about Delicious Design Studio through a super cute blog called Miss Cupcake. She uses a layout called "Powered by Cupcakes" and it is just adorable. Her blog is pretty awesome too (just recently she posted pics from the 2010 Sweets and Snacks Expo). Check it out!

Friday Follow!

Fridays are a day to make new friends on the blogosphere! Check out the Friendly Friday follow at Toddler Awesome and Smart & Trendy Moms' Blog Hop below to find great new blogs to follow and followers of your own.

Smart and Trendy Moms

You can also check out this great blog Cakeblast which lists a variety of other Friday Follows to join in on.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Product Review: Nuby Hot Safe Spoons

Hot Safe Spoons-3 + Mons.
I use Nuby Hot Safe Spoons to feed Andrew his cereal (around $4-$5 in most baby/drug stores) and I'd rate them as just "OK". As an ordinary baby spoon, they get the job done--they're soft tipped to be gentle on baby's gums and have a long, ergonomic handle to reach deep into food jars. But, the fandangled hot safe feature just doesn't work that well. 

The white tip of the spoon is supposed to change color after being in too-hot food for 15 seconds, but the color change is so faint--a pale pink--that I'm never quite sure if the color is there or not. I've tested the spoon in hot baby food (no color change) and even put it into boiling water, which elicited a faint color change for about a second. Not quite the dramatic hot safe feature I was expecting!

So, the spoons are just fine for feeding, but don't rely on the color-changing feature to determine whether food is too hot for your little one (go ahead and taste that delicious pureed meat yourself!)  Its just another lesson that, regardless of a product's advertised safety features, you need to be the last line of defense for your child. 

Pureed meat, here I come!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Product Review: Snappies Breast Milk Containers

Snappies... Born of Necessity. Collect, Store and Feed Using a Single Innovative Breast Milk Container

I got a pair of Snappies breast milk storage containers from my pediatrician's office and I think they're pretty cool. These slender 1 oz and 2.3 oz storage bottles attach directly to your pump, can be attached to a special nipple for feeding, and come with an attached lid, so you're never searching for it. The lid is great as it snaps shut audibly and tightly ensuring a truly leak-proof seal. (I've knocked them over quite a few times so I can attest to that!)

Being attached, the lid is also meant to allow for one-handed opening and closing, but I've spilled milk every time I've tried! Since we all know how much crying is done over spilt breastmilk, you can bet I open my Snappies slowly and carefully to avoid any more tragedies!

The only other downside is that I wish Snappies came in bigger sizes! 1 oz and 2.3 oz meet airline regulations and are great for storing colostrum and for storing milk for premies and newborns, but I need more storage space for my 4-month old. So, I've just been using the 2.3 oz bottles to store milk for making Andrew's cereal and I freeze the rest in bigger bottles/bags. Hopefully Snappies will hear my cry and introduce larger products in the future (one can hope, right?)

Snappies are made of food-grade polypropylene material, which doesn't bind or hold fat during storage. If you're interested in giving them a shot, you can purchase a case of 12 2.3 oz containers for $13.50 or 10 1 oz containters for $8.00 at the Snappies website HERE. The containers are also available in bulk.

Happy pumping! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

And the winner is....

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Stephanie has won Queens Mama's first giveaway--a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Congratulations!

Stephanie, if you'd please send me a mailing address at, I'll get your prize out right away.

Thanks to everyone for entering and I wish you luck in future giveaways. Don't forget to enter to win a copy of the baby food cookbook LOVE IN SPOONFULS here!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Following a Bedtime Routine

Do you have a bedtime routine for your little one(s)? We didn't get Andrew on one until just recently. I think it was a combination of our cluelessness and extreme tiredness that made us hold out so long!

Now that we have Andrew settling into a routine, however, bedtime is much more of a joy. At four months old, we're finally getting blessed 8-hour stretches of sleep more often and I enjoy my nightly quiet time reading to and nursing the baby before bed.

So, what's our routine?

6:30pm: Rice cereal
7:00pm: Bathtime (& kiss Daddy goodnight)
7:15pm: Bedtime Story (Oh the Things You Can Think by Dr. Seuss)
7:30pm: Nurse (alone in quiet bedroom)
8:00pm: Sleep!

Of course, this bedtime routine is still new for us, so we have the occasional snafu. Sometimes Andrew won't fall asleep until later or he'll wake at 1am rather than 4am for a dreamfeed. Also, a trip away from home can create chaos, especially if we get stuck in traffic during cereal time on the way back!

Snafus and all, the whole family is calmed by our nightly routine, so--even if Andrew sleeping longer can really be attributed to his stomach getting bigger--I'm glad we finally got on the bandwagon. 

Is your routine similar to ours or do you not use a routine at all? I'm also curious to know if you rotate bedtime stories or if you stick to one like we do. At this point I can recite Oh the Things You Can Think by heart!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Product Review: ShadyBaby Stroller Parasol

ShadyBaby Sock Monkey Stroller Parasol, SPF 50+ Stroller Umbrella - 24" DiameterShadyBaby Pink-Brown Polka Dots Stroller Parasol, SPF 50+ Stroller Umbrella - 24" Diameter

I looked everywhere for a stroller umbrella, so I assumed the ShadyBaby Stroller Parasol would be amazing when I ordered it off of Amazon. I hoped it would replace the makeshift receiving blanket sunshade I had to rig over my Chicco Keyfit 30 when using it in the Snap N Go (the carseat's sunshade is tiny). I didn't even think $21.97 was too much money for an SPF 50+ umbrella that would keep my fair redhead out of the sun.

You know what they say about assuming, though. And, if I've made an ass of you and me, then this parasol is one giant pain in it!

First, while the parasol has two bending points to ensure a good position over your baby, it took me forever to get it situated and then the slightest bump, turn, or gust of wind knocked the umbrella out of place. Imagine what a public nuisance I was stopping every few blocks on the sidewalk to readjust. Even Andrew was giving me the stink-eye!

I was also stopping to switch the clamp from one side of the stroller to the other when I changed directions or the sun shifted overhead. And, I was constantly opening and shutting the parasol when I went in and out of stores (not that neighborhood stores in Queens are stroller-friendly in the first place!) 

Also, while I was glad that the umbrella separates into two pieces for easy storage, the design is such that, when apart, the umbrella is two pointy metal rods waiting to impale you and your little one--or at least that is what my husband says! Seriously, though, this parasol must definitely be stored somewhere safe when not in use.

Sorry to put such a bad review out there, but the ShadyBaby Stroller Parasol really let me down when I badly needed it to work. If you beg to differ, though, please have a shot at defending the parasol's honor in the comments below. In the meanwhile, I'd recommend buying a sunshade instead for around the same price!

Infantino Stroller Sun Shade - Grey CirclesRayShade® UV Protective Stroller Shade Improves Sun Protection for Strollers, Joggers and Prams Black

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review & Giveaway! LOVE IN SPOONFULS: Fast and Easy Ways to Make Nutritious Foods for Your Baby

Parenting: Love in Spoonfuls
Fast and Easy Ways to Make Nutritious Foods for Your Baby
from the editors of Parenting (Chronicle Books; March 2010)


Can I say it? I just love LOVE IN SPOONFULS from the editors of Parenting magazine! Besides being packed with delicious, easy-to-prepare baby food recipes and gorgeous food photography, the cookbook is peppered with useful information on when and how to begin feeding your little one.

I wasn't actually aware that many parents make their own baby food until I got pregnant with Andrew. But, once I got wind of the trend, I knew it was something we would want to try. We're not what you would call a "crunchy" family, but what's great about making your own baby food is that you don't need to be. Making your own food is quick, economical and healthy for the entire family--really anybody can give it a try.

So, I had decided I would give it a go, but how in the world was I supposed to do it? Without LOVE IN SPOONFULS, you probably would have found me try to mash up whole carrots in a blender or forgetting to remove the skins from everything (knowing small babies need the skins removed isn't as natural as one would think!) 

Now, however, I know just how to roast sweet potatoes, boil turnips (I didn't know you boil them!) and mash avocadoes for Andrew. And I can put together fun purees I would have never thought of like asparagus and applesauce, banana and cantaloupe and broccoli and goat cheese (yum!)

Did I mention that the book is broken up into recipes for children 4-6 months, 7-8 months, 9-11 months and 12-18 months? By the end of the book you're into finger foods such as little chicken dippers with yogurt-cucumber sauce, tofu almond satay, and a kid-friendly bento box. And all the while the beautiful accompanying photos make you want to try everything from the cherry puree to the french toast bites. You may just have to make extra for yourself!

Throughout the book you'll also find great info on storing food, introducing dairy products, appeasing a finicky eater and more.  You'll even come across tons of tip "bubbles" sprinkled among the recipes addressing food allergy concerns, recipe variations and vegetable-disguing tips, to name a few. Each recipe also indicates whether it is freezer safe or not and how long it takes to make--very useful!

So, before I end this little love fest, I must say that you should of course consult your pediatrician before starting your baby on the foods mentioned in the book (and the book says this too.) One thing I will definitely ask my pediatrician about is the use of a tbsp of oil in making some of the "first foods" purees. I don't see how it could be harmful, but one can never be too careful with their little one, right?

Alright, so now that you know how awesome I think LOVE IN SPOONFULS is--and you've stayed with me through this long review--do you want to check it out for yourself? The wonderful folks at Chronicle Books have given me a copy to give away--and I can't tell you how excited I am to share this book with one of you.

To enter the giveaway, please follow Queens Mama and comment that you have done so below before May 30th. I'd also love to hear what your favorite fruit or vegetable is and if you will share/have shared it with your little one. I really love avocados and, thankfully, it is one of the most popular first baby foods. Lucky Andrew!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Product Review: Motherhood Maternity Short Sleeve Lift Up Double Opening Nursing Tee

Motherhood Maternity: Short Sleeve Lift Up Double Opening Nursing Tee
Finally, a nursing shirt that doesn't stretch out at the neckline to the point of indecency... and its cute too!

I begged my mother for nursing shirts as a birthday gift and she hit the jackpot with this $25 pink Motherhood Maternity number. It is figure flattering (its long and ruched on the sides) and, most importantly, made of a thick, stretchy cotton that doesn't sag at the bust. What's more, the neckline is high enough to cover a full-coverage nursing bra. Hallelujah!

Getting the hang of breastfeeding in this shirt did take me a couple of tries. Contrary to being called a "lift up" shirt, you actually have to pull down the top layer to expose a cropped lower layer. You then pull up the lower layer on one side, unhook your bra and voila.

Of course, doing this with one hand while hanging on to a squirmy, hungry baby with the other can be interesting--but I'm willing to brave that challenge for a shirt that doesn't sag down to my navel by the end of the day. Just remember to pull the lower layer of the tee down when you are finished breastfeeding to avoid bunching.

Motherhood Maternity makes the same exact tee in a more muted grey design for $30 and I'm thinking of getting my hands on one of those as well. Its really been a struggle finding tops that make me feel comfortable both with my larger post-pregnancy body and my breastfeeding needs, so I need to pounce on quality items like this when they cross my path!

Motherhood Maternity: Short Sleeve Lift Up Double Opening Nursing Tee
Thank you, Motherhood Maternity! I know they can be hit or miss with their products, but this one is totally a hit in my book!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Product Review: HiSense BabySense Baby Safe Infant Movement Monitor

HiSense BabySense V CU-100/2 Baby Safe Infant Movement MonitorHiSense BabySense V Baby Safe Infant Movement Monitor

I knew from the get-go that I would be one of those mamas who wanted a motion sensor for the crib. So, I registered for a HiSense BabySense V CU-100/2 Baby Safe Infant Movement Monitor at Babies R Us ($129.99). I didn't think anybody would pick it up since so many folks said it was unecessary, but there it was at my baby shower thanks to my beautiful sister-in-law!

We really liked the monitor when we were using it in our bassinet. It was really simple to hook up one of the motion sensor boards to the monitor and pop it under the bassinet mattress and it worked perfectly. I even scared the hell out of my husband a couple of times when I forgot to turn off the monitor during middle of the night feedings. It was great, though, to have that extra assurance that the monitor was working.

When we moved the baby to the crib, however, we had to stop using the HiSense. We did everything the instructions said to do--we attached the second sensor board and placed a wooden board over the crib springs to provide a solid platform for them--but the pads never registered movement unless Andrew was full-on kicking! We had constant false alarms and it was really unnerving.

We tried the troubleshooting tips in the product manual and nothing helped us out. Acually, one of the tips was "buy a different mattress," so we didn't try that one out (I mean, seriously?!) So we had to go ahead and retire our beloved HiSense monitor. Maybe it was a good thing that we let go of that crutch. But, I'm still a bit upset that our $129 monitor didn't live up to its full potential! 

I'm going to have to give the HiSense a 2.5 out of 5 stars, then. If you happen to have the sensor and it works for you in your crib, though, please send your magical tips my way! I wouldn't mind getting my sensor to work again and upping its review to a 5 out of 5. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Thing with Hand-Me-Downs

I love hand me downs. Whether it be for the baby or for myself, I'm always game to receive (and pass on) previously-loved items. Why shouldn't we be helping each other out this way, especially in this bad economy?

As we all know, though, the thing with children's hand-me-downs is that we must make sure that they are absolutely safe before using them. So, we check the web for product recalls and look over clothing and toys for loose strings, buttons, etc. But sometimes we can miss something that is not so obvious because it hasn't be recalled and/or the previous owner hasn't had any problems.

Case in point: I inherited a 5-year-old barely-used Fisher Price Ocean Wonders bouncer.  The product hasn't been recalled and all the parts are in perfect working order. Yet, even though the product is like new, I've found that there is a design flaw that can hurt your little one.

eBay Image Hosting at

In the pic above, you'll see that the green seahorse has a yellow pinwheel toy that is in just the perfect position to catch your baby's toes. Poor Andrew got his toe jammed this morning, but thankfully I was nearby to unjam him and soothe his tears (poor boy!)

I really feel bad that I didn't catch this problem earlier, but I've learned a valuable lesson. In addition to checking for recalls and damaged parts on items old AND new, you must also use a keen eye to determine if its very design features will be safe for your child. Sometimes design flaws get through even the most rigorous of product testing and mama must serve as the final product tester. You can bet I'll be going over future baby items with a (figurative) magnifying glass!

For what its worth, it seems that Fisher Price might have realized the design flaw of its seahorse bouncer element too. The new Ocean Wonders Aquarium bouncers feature a much safer ball in its place:


Health and happiness to you and your little ones!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Product Review: Skip Hop Funky Farmyard Activity Mat

I've been getting a lot of compliments on Andrew's farm animal activity mat since I posted video of him playing on it... so I figured I'd write a review!

The Skip Hop Funky Farmyard Activity Mat is one of my favorite items off of my Babies R Us shower registry. Andrew's nursery is farm-themed, and my husband and I fancy ourselves future farmers (ha!), so it was a perfect fit!

Skip Hop Activity Mat
The mat is ridiculously simple to set up and deconstruct for machine washing and folds in half (even with the soft toy bars connected) for storage. It comes with five hanging toys (a cow mirror; a musical lamb; and bunny, pig and rooster rattles) and the mat itself has play features such as a squeaky cow, a furry lamb, a detachable carrot, and a crinkly winged chicken. There are also extra toy hooks so that you can hang your own (see blue lion above with Andrew).

The only downside to the mat is that it is $59.99 at both BRU and Amazon! Sure, that's a pretty standard price for activity mats these days, but I can't help thinking that they should go for much cheaper...

In any case, Andrew loves his farmyard mat now that he is grabbing and rolling, so I would have picked it up for him even if it wasn't so generously gifted to me. There are some infant toys that are superfluous, but, in my opinion, a playmat is not one of them. We'll be playing with this mat for a good long time!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Giveaway! The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Hooray for Queens Mama's first giveway!

One randomly-selected reader will win a board book copy of Eric Carle's classic THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR. All you have to do is post a memory of your favorite childhood book in the comments section below by May 23.

Reading THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR is one of my most vivid memories of nursery school. Much better than my one other vivid memory of forgetting my show and tell and having to sit in the coat rack as punishment!

I mean, what was there not to love about a book that was so colorful and so fun in its design that you didn't even realize it was teaching you to count? What a very talented and deviously-educational man Carle is!

More than 40 years after its publication, THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR has been translated into over 47 languages and brings back such happy memories for so many of us that we must share it with our little ones. I'm so happy I can give this book away to one reader to pass along to a special child.

Good luck and stay tuned for more giveways!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: Baby Touch and Feel Animals

Animals (Baby Touch and Feel)
DK's Baby Touch and Feel ANIMALS was the first book Andrew ever received. My husband picked it up when we first found out we were expecting because of the bunnies on the cover. Of course, they don't look like our (increasingly evil) bunny, Cricket, but we've come to develop a soft spot for anything with a cotton tail and huge ears.


Exhibit A: Cricket before she grew into a electrical cord/clothing/wall-eating machine. 

Where was I? Ah yes...

After initally awwwing over the book, I placed it on Andrew's shelf and forgot about it. I've been relying on books with rhymes and more text for the baby's bedtime routine (namely Dr. Suess), so ANIMALS literally got shelved. Andrew didn't really even begin reaching for objects until 3 months anyway, so a touchy-feely book was of no interest to him.

Today, however, I spied it sitting there and decided to give it a go. And what a hit it was! The mix of furry and shiny pictures of baby animals got him touching and "talking" up a storm. I should have expected this of my genius little guy, who thinks that sunlight on our fake leather couch is the coolest thing ever. :)

So, thumbs up to DK's ANIMALS! At $5.99 it does seem a bit expensive for a little board book with, like, 10 words in it, but it probably costs close to that amount of money to produce all the fun effects. 

DK also makes a bunch more Baby Touch and Feel books, which I'm tempted to buy to keep Andrew occupied and, of course, learning. Among my favorites:

First Words (Baby Touch and Feel)Farm (Baby Touch and Feel)Trucks (Baby Touch and Feel)Bedtime (Baby Touch and Feel)

Too cute! And a great gift idea.