Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Dig That Tom Guy From Maine

First, a disclaimer: I was given a free tube of toddler training toothpaste (say that 3 times fast) from Tom's of Maine. With that being said, everything you're about to read is my own opinion.

Typically I don't accept free stuff in exchange for posts or reviews or any sort of advertisement. Next Stop Baby has never been about me getting rich quick...or getting rich at all. So, I've turned down many a handout in an effort to stick to that general idea. Don't mean to brag. Too late. I have made a few exceptions over the years and this offer from Tom's of Maine seemed like an obvious one to add to the list for two reasons: 1) I love Tom's of Maine products. I use them in my home on a daily basis. 2) It was a tube of toothpaste being offered, not a bucket of cash. So, I accepted the offer with no strings attached. Meaning, I didn't promise to write this post. But, I feel a bit of a moral obligation to give this training toothpaste a shoutout anyway because I genuinely like the stuff. Or, more accurately, my daughter does.

Toddler tooth brushing has not been an urgent issue in my house. My daughter is quickly approaching two years of age and she has only eight teeth. A few more have finally broke through her gums, but they're barely visible. I know a couple two year olds who are working with a full set plus molars. So, with only eight teeth to her name, my husband and I didn't worry too much about jumping on the tooth brushing train in a real way. Sure, we got her a cute mini toothbrush and we talked about how to use it and persistently showed her how we brushed our teeth, but that was that. For a while.

Eventually, she started "using" her toothbrush with water. Using = sucking on. I've tried to teach the concept of spitting a few times, but it has not worked. Though, as my mother says, I'm sure she'll figure it out sometime before college. My mother consoles me frequently with the phrase "she'll figure it out sometime before college". After a couple months of water brushing sucking under her belt, I got the email from Tom's of Maine and accepted. The tube arrived in my mailbox shortly thereafter:



I initially worried about my failed spitting lessons, until realizing that it didn't matter because this toothpaste is "training toothpaste" and can be swallowed by the gallon, though I don't believe that's recommended. My daughter has used it for about a month and the biggest positive affect has been her improved interest in tooth brushing. In general, it's been a great addition to our tooth brushing routine. We've made no progress on the spitting front, but (again) with only eight teeth, time is on our side.

Now, I should probably give a bit more detail as to why I like this training toothpaste:

  • Like all Tom's of Maine products, it's made with their stewardship model (natural, sustainable and responsible) in mind
  • It's preservative free and artificial flavor and color free
  • The flavor is "mild fruit" and is genuinely mild flavor. I'm not interested in my daughter brushing with something that tastes like a lollipop.
  • The tube is a "no mess" dispenser so there's not gooey paste everywhere
A downer that should be noted: it costs $3.99 per tube. Not wildly cheap. But, each brushing uses such a minimal amount of toothpaste that I can see this tube lasting us quite a while. And, most naturally derived toddler toothpastes don't come wildly cheap. I did a quick Amazon.com search and found some reputable brands going for $10 for the same size tube. Wowza.

Final thought: I'm so glad it's fall. Bring on the cool weather and apple pie.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hospital Bag Thoughts

This post was inspired by a recent group email between my best gal pals. One of my dearest friends is expecting her first in a couple weeks...or days...WOW time flies, and my mom friends (myself included) were offering some words of wisdom. Specifically, we were giving her advice on what to pack in her hospital bag. It was a fun exchange and got me thinking about what I might pack differently for round two.

When pregnant with my first, the hospital bag was a huge topic of interest for me. I'm very surprised that I haven't previously written about it. When it came to educating myself on the actual delivery, my efforts were mediocre. When it came to researching what items I needed with me during the delivery, my efforts were over the top. The fact that I actually researched this issue says a lot (about my sanity). It's sort of a common sense issue. But, I'm a bad packer. Really bad. Sometimes I pack too much. Sometimes I pack too little. I usually forget two essential items - like a toothbrush and underwear. I'm not kidding. So, knowing myself, I decided that I would figure out the whole breathing and pushing thing on the fly, but I needed advanced preparation in the hospital bag department.

Based on my experience and the advice given during this recent group email, here's a pretty solid list of what to include in your hospital bag:


  • Clothes - Two post delivery outfits and one going home outfit. You will still be wearing maternity clothes and you won't be feeling awesome, so don't bring skinny jeans and stilettos. Think pajamas and comfies. 
  • Hair elastics or headbands
  • Slippers and a Robe - I didn't bring slippers and suffered with hospital socks and I loved having a lightweight cotton robe for my few trips down the cold hall.
  • Flip Flops - You're going to be using a hospital shower that is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. But, so was the shower in your college dorm. And, the blood...well...just consider bringing some cheap flip flops.
  • Toiletries - Whatever you would bring on any weekend getaway (hair brush, toothbrush, etc.), minus the glamour stuff (curling iron, eyelash extensions, etc.).
  • Pillow - I brought two. My husband and I were overwhelmingly happy to have them. Hospital pillows leave much to be desired.
  • Camera - This falls into one of my regrets. I didn't bring my Nikon SLR to the hospital. Instead, I brought my barely working snap and shoot digital. The thought process was that my Nikon is big and expensive and not worth managing during the chaos. Boo. Wrong choice. Yeah, I have pics from the hospital, but I so wish I had more and better pics.
  • Notepad and pen - There are things you'll want to write down. You can make note of which gift came from which visitor and the amazing piece of advice the night shift nurse gave you about breastfeeding and what you want on your sandwich now that you're allowed to eat and you're allowed to eat cold cuts.
  • Outfit for the baby - Your little one will have hospital provided attire for his/her stay, but needs an outfit for the ride home. Think about the season. How many layers? Blanket? Hat?
  • Baby Mittens - They start scratching right away and their nails are impossible to cut/file in the beginning, so these will come in handy immediately.
  • Snacks - While you won't be allowed to eat during your delivery (probably), sometimes you're allowed "clear" candy (think: Jolly Ranchers). Also bring a piece of fruit or your favorite granola bar for afterwards. I was starving post delivery and my only food option was pizza, which wasn't a bad one, but I would have enjoyed something more wholesome.
  • Phone and Camera Charger - Not an ideal time to run out of battery.


The one thing I remember bringing and not "using" was champagne. At my baby shower, I was gifted a mini bottle of champagne for the in-hospital celebration. When the time came, I had zero taste for alcohol and I was beginning my breastfeeding journey...I didn't want to start off on that foot. Another general consideration is not to bring your favorites when it comes to clothes. Things can get pretty messy and you may end up throwing out the underwear and pants that you bring.

There are no words to describe the excitement and intensity and awe of those first 48 hours. Nothing you bring (or forget to bring) will change that. So, bring a hospital bag but don't over think it.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Favorite Toddler Books

Including A Sick Day for Amos McGee in a recent(ish) post got me thinking about all the wonderful toddler books that my daughter has introduced to me. Technically, I've introduced her to them...but without her there would have been no introductions whatsoever, so she gets the credit. Reading is our favorite activity. She is absolutely insatiable when it comes to books. Some days she wants to read the same book over and over...and over...and over. Other days, we would get through her entire mini bookshelf, if I had the stamina.

With this in mind, here are four of my favorite toddler books that didn't exist (or I didn't know of) when I was a wee one.


Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray - My daughter doesn't get the potty humor yet...probably because she doesn't use a potty yet...but I do. And it's fabulous.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt - Another excellent comedy. And full of teaching moments as in "what color is this?".


A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead - This is total sweetness. It's about Amos and his best buds from the zoo.


Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis - This is a girl-power book. There's a nice message and it manages to avoid the hokiness that one would expect based on the title.



UPDATE (7/18/14): How could I have forgotten Otis? 

Otis by Loren Long - My daughter loves, loves, loves Otis and his friend the calf. This is another sweet one about friendship.


Most of these books were gifts. I guess other moms know what's up. Where do they find these gems? How do they get the inside scoop? How about you and your toddler - what do you love reading? What new books have you discovered together? I would love some suggestions, there's always a room for one more on the bookshelf...


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Car Seat 411

When it came to buying a car seat, I did some research. And then I did a bit more research. And then I surveyed friends. And then I did more research. (Side Note: this was my approach to most big ticket items...crib, stroller, etc.)

Where did I research? Blogs. Informational websites, including BabyCenter.com and TheBump.com. Amazon.com reviews. BuyBuyBaby.com reviews. I also read reviews in Baby Bargains. I've mentioned this book before - it's fantastic. If I were researching today, I would add WeeSpring.com to the list. It's a (free) member's website and the gist is personal reviews for any and all baby products. I highly recommend it.

What did I research? 
  • Safety. Obviously.
  • Stroller compatibility. Some strollers and some car seats don't have great chemistry don't connect with adaptors.
  • Infant vs. Convertible. Infant car seats are made strictly for infants and expire around the 10-14 month mark. Convertible car seats last from infancy through toddlerhood. I didn't look at 3-in-1 car seats (which supposedly last from infancy through small childhood) because that just seemed like too much and, therefore, not safe.
  • Cost. I didn't harp on this one. Thanks to some good, old advice from my mom, I live by the rule that you get what you pay for. And for this particular purchase, I wanted to get HIGH quality.
  • Weight. Lugging that thing around with the added weight of your little bundle is no joke. Every pound counts.
  • Ease of Use. This included installation, buckling, stroller adaptor use, cleaning, etc.
A couple weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a survey about my car seat purchase. The website hosting the survey asked 50 mom/baby bloggers to answer questions about their car seats and recently posted the results (here). Participating in the survey and reading through the results made me think back through my intense process. Each and every baby product purchase I made in the beginning was thoroughly considered. Nowadays, I've loosened the reigns a touch. I bought my daughter a toy Volkswagen hippie van at CVS the other day, the epitome of an impulse buy...which was fine for $5.99. But, for the most part, I remain an educated buyer when it comes to anything that's for my daughter. 

We have so many choices when it comes to car seats and toy hippie vans and everything else. Too many choices. Taking the time to know what we're giving to and getting for our little ones is always a good idea. 


This (above) is on my living room floor. Pretty groovy, huh?





Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Hours Have Been Eaten Up!

Before another Monday, Wednesday or Friday goes by without a new post, I should update you that things around here got real busy the past couple weeks. The short story is that my husband and I bought a house. This amazing event has eaten up my time in a major way. Side note: Every time I say the phrase "eat up" (or some version of it), I think of Where The Wild Things Are. I love that book. Just read it earlier today. Back to my house! It's significantly bigger than the teeny tiny apartments I've lived in for the past ten or so years and, as a result, it's requiring a teeny tiny bit more of everything. Everything being furniture, paint, cleaning products, toilet paper...ya know.

As a result of this incredible adventure, blogging has fallen to the wayside. But (as before), I believe this is temporary. I will continue to post whenever I'm able and I hope to be back in the swing of things in a month's time.

Until then, here's another sweet book that has stolen my heart. Check it out.