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Finding Balance

Becoming a mom is a wonderful experience (of course!), but between working, cleaning, and caring for your baby, it can also be time-consuming. Huggies has some quick, easy ways to help give you a break.

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How to Pack One Diaper Bag for a Toddler and Newborn

By Lauren Hartmann, Disney Baby

Recently, I realized that in the next couple of months I'll be packing a diaper bag for not only one, but two little ones. My daughter is still in diapers and also requires some toddler essentials when we're out. And a newborn? Well... newborns require a lot of gear. I started feeling a little bit overwhelmed at the prospect of packing a diaper bag for two kids. Would all of that stuff even fit in one bag?

So, I decided to do a trial run and pack my bag with all the essentials for a newborn and a toddler. It ended up being a great success! I definitely had to pare things down from when I had my daughter and would bring along everything except the kitchen sink for even a simple outing to the grocery store... but I think it will be much better this way. I still managed to pack all the essentials to keep myself prepared, but not over-prepared. I figure, I can always leave some emergency rations in my car!

Take a look in my bag and see what I packed, along with a few tips and tricks.

There are a lot of things you'll need to pack if you have two little ones, but with the right bag plus a little organization and forethought, it can be done!

What to pack for the Newborn:

*Baby Wrap/Carrier - I picked one that's made of lightweight jersey fabric so it can be easily thrown in my purse. I have a feeling it's going to get used a ton since I'll need to have my hands readily available to wrangle a toddler.

*Swaddle Blanket - These are great to keep on hand while you're out or even to just add shade over your car seat or stroller. I also use them in lieu of a nursing cover. With my daughter I always carried around a big, bulky nursing cover, but I much prefer using a swaddle blanket or a scarf now that I know what I'm doing. The ones in this three-pack are a cute option.

*Burp Rag - For obvious reasons. Babies are messy! These look like good ones. My daughter rarely spit up, so I only actually own a couple of them and need to stock up still.

*Binky - Many babies love pacifiers. My daughter never took one, but my son just might, so I added it in just in case.

*Teether/Toy - With my first child I carried WAY too many toys and distractions everywhere with me. Not only did these toys end up getting left behind everywhere, but they took up a ton of space in my bag. This time space is a hot commodity, so I plan on sticking to one toy that can pull double duty. A brightly colored teether is a great example. Bonus points if you pack one that makes fun, jingly noises. One of these all-in-one activity toys would actually be perfect.

*Changing Pad - Newborns require a lot of diaper changes and you never know where you'll be when the need for one arises, so carrying a changing pad is important. My diaper bag actually came with one that rolls up to fit easily, but you can find other fold-up options out there if you look.

*Bottle
- With my daughter I nursed, but also had to supplement due to supply issues, so bottles came along with us on all of our outings. In the event that we need to supplement again this time around, I would also be bringing along a small container of formula or a small cooler bag with breast milk.

*Extra Clothes - I haven't packed extra clothes in my diaper bag in ages, since toddler diapers and messes tend to be more contained than newborn messes. I recommend packing three simple outfits that won't take up much space. What you see here is a jersey pants and top combo, a one-piece romper and then if you end up getting down to that final outfit, I just pack a simple bodysuit. We love these plain white ones from Disney Baby - the grow-an-inch snaps make them wearable for much longer and the price is perfect.

*Wet Bag - I forgot to include my wet bag in this photo, but I cannot say enough times how useful one of these is with a tiny babe. They're great for storing messy clothes and/or burp rags until you can get home to wash and they totally keep the smells contained. A definite must. They're also great for keeping clothes from toddler accidents too.

*Nursing Pads - Disposables are great for on-the-go, but you can definitely also toss in some reusable ones - these are just what I happened to use.

*Clutch of Mama Essentials - I keep all of my personal affects in a clutch that is separate from all the kid's stuff. My wallet, keys, sunglasses, lipstick, etc. can all go in here and makes it easy for me to find what I need easily.

*Diapers - Something I'll be packing for both of my little ones for awhile yet (unless my daughter surprises me with her potty training skills soon). I usually only bring two diapers when I'm out with my daughter, but I'll obviously need to add more to my stash once I have a newborn around. They go through diapers at an alarming rate!

*Wipes - I love the cases that come with my Huggies Natural Care wipes when I buy large packs at Costco. I save them up and keep them all over my house as well as giving them to the grandparents or whoever else might be babysitting. It's super convenient. Also - we tried a ton of wipes when my daughter was a newborn and these were the only ones that didn't give her a rash. These will be used for both baby and toddler... and wiping tables and sticky faces and pretty much everything. I love baby wipes.

What to pack for the Toddler:

*Diapers/Wipes
- We covered this one above.

*Sippy Cup - My little one isn't great with regular cups yet, so I always bring along my own sippy cup for her - especially if we're going to be at a restaurant. Be sure to choose one that won't leak!

*Snacks - A toddler's appetite knows no bounds, so I always make sure to bring plenty of snacks if I know we'll be out for awhile. Usually this consists of some type of bar, a baby food/smoothie pouch and I usually pack a few of these snack bags with things for her to eat on-the-go.


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5 Things I Do Throughout the Day to Make Parenting Easier

With two little ones in school, Macks at home with me all day, and trying to manage a full-time job from home, I am always looking for ways that I can make things easier on me throughout the day. Our schedule is pretty concrete, so I try to stick to that to make our day go more smooth, but there are also more things that I do to make my life as a mom easier.

1. Keep a changing station in the room you spend the most time in.

We spend most of our time in the living room downstairs. After a couple of days in our new house I was so tired of going up and down the stairs to change Macks’ diapers, so I set up a cabinet in the living room that has diapers, wipes, and a portable changing pad for easy access when he needs a diaper change downstairs.

2. Keep snacks handy at all times using reusable bags.

I love these reusable bags from Bumkins. They come in a variety of sizes so that I can fill them with different snacks for all of my kids. I’ll fill up a couple at the beginning of the day and keep them in my purse so that whenever one of my girls tells me they are hungry, I don’t have to stop and get them something. I just pull out the bag and hand it over.

3. Have toys in a place that they frequent often.

Macks loves to open up cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. I’ve childproofed everything but one cabinet and drawer and I’ve filled those with containers and toys that he can play with while I am in the kitchen. He feels accomplished because he’s opening and closing things and pulling them out and I am able to get things done because he is occupied.

4. Have a bag of necessities that stays in the car.

We’ve only owned a car for about six months since moving from the city and it didn’t take me long to learn that I needed to have a bag in the car that just stayed in there. It’s full of all of my necessities while we are out and about. I have a soft and warm blanket, like this Winnie the Pooh fleece blanket. It’s filled with diapers and wipes, his favorite Mickey Mouse toy to keep Macks entertained, and baby food pouches in case he gets hungry.

5. Write it down.

Because I have so much going on all of the time, I keep a pen and paper nearby or in my purse at all times so that when I think of something that I need to do or something that worked throughout the day, I write it down. I go back to that list each night and catch up and check things off of that list.

What do you do to make parenting easier?

Image : Getty

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Dad and son hugging

The Most Precious Hug I’ve Ever Witnessed

I’ve never been a hugger. I’m not really sure why, but I’ve just never really loved hugs. I feel loved more through quality time, a well-timed compliment, or a thoughtful gesture. My husband, on the other hand, loves a good hug. My mother-in-law once told me that even as a little boy, he had absolutely no space bubble. He loved nothing more than to cuddle up on her lap, reading books all the live long day.

As you can imagine, my non-hugging ways and his hugging ones are sometimes at odds. Over the years we’ve been married, I’ve become more of a hugger, but even before having kids, he would mention how excited he was to have kids, because maybe — just maybe — one of them would end up being a snuggly, hug-lover too.

About four years into our marriage, our oldest daughter arrived and we became parents for the first time. We were over the moon and completely smitten with her. My husband was elated to be a father and was so sweet and attentive to her every need. As she grew though, as much as she did love her Daddy, she proved that she had taken after her mama in the snuggling department. Much to my husband’s disappointment, she wasn’t exactly the hugger he had been hoping for — though she did have plenty of other redeeming qualities.

I felt a little bit sad that fate had dealt him a raw deal with two loves in his life who did not share his affinity for cuddling, but he held out hope that perhaps one of our other future offspring might fill the void one day. Then, when our daughter was two-and-a-half, we welcomed Baby #2 into the world: our sweet, little Clive.

Clive could not have been more different from his big sister. Where she was often stoic and not easily impressed, he was gregarious and loved being engaged. She didn’t laugh for the first time until she was nearly 6 months old, but he laughed easily and often starting early, before 3 months. She was a curly-haired brunette and he had the lightest blonde, stick straight hair. She was dainty and delicate and more cautious; he was a bit like a bull in a china shop — bulldozing through his days with gusto. The most notable difference though, was that this kid LOVED to cuddle. If he could’ve been snuggled all day long, he would’ve been perfectly happy. He loved to be held and snuggled and would happily sit in our laps for as long as we would engage him. He adored (and still does adore) any and all human contact.

As you can imagine, this development thrilled my husband’s heart. He had finally gotten his snuggly baby, and I will never forget the first time Clive went up and hugged him completely out of the blue and of his own volition.

My husband was making our daily espresso at his coffee bar as we rushed to get ready for church one Sunday morning. As he was distractedly pulling shots and pouring them into cups, he noticed a tugging on his leg. He looked down to see Clive there, putting his arms up saying, “Hug you Dada.” It was such a sweet thing to see, as my husband abandoned his coffee pot and crouched down to our son’s level for the most precious hug I’ve ever witnessed. The pure joy that washed over my husband’s face and the look of complete peace on my son’s face as they shared this hug will forever be stored away in my mama-memory-bank. They hugged for a good 20-30 seconds, and I was able to pull my phone out of my pocket and quickly capture the moment in a photo. I’m so glad I did, because it is one that I look back at often, telling my husband, “Awww! Remember that?”

My husband is so thankful he finally got his “hugger,” and truth be told, our boy’s penchant for nonstop human touch has brought his sister and I around too. Maybe we are huggers now after all.

Image : Disney Baby

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Song and dad playing outside together

15 Simple Ways to Show Your Child Love

I love my daughter to the moon and back, but sometimes I wonder if she knows it. Even though she can’t tell me that she understands my love for her yet, there are many little ways that I’ve found to show her my love, and over time I’ve seen in her responses that it’s pretty clear that she knows she is loved.

Here are 15 simple things you can do with your child or grandchild to show them love.

1. Snuggle.

Nothing says “I love you” like a good snuggle session – even the tiniest babies can understand the love behind this. Hugs and squeezes, cuddling in bed in the morning — all of these things are an important part of building a strong bond between you and your child.

2. Drop everything.

We live in a world that is “go, go, go” and I will be the first to admit that I often find myself more attached to my phone, computer, and daily schedule than I should. I realize that work needs to get done, but make sure that sometimes you just drop what you’re doing, put away your phone and computer, and just take time to focus on your child. You don’t have to do anything exciting. Just being there and being present will demonstrate love.

3. Talk.

Just because they might not be able to talk back yet, doesn’t mean you can’t still talk to them. Tell your little one stories of your childhood, tell them about your favorite things – just talking to them is a way to show love.

4. Listen.

This is something I’m working on. I’m pretty good at talking to my daughter, but I don’t always think to stop and listen, since she’s not really speaking many coherent words yet. But, recently, I just stopped to listen, showing her non-verbal signs of active listening and she babbled on and on for about five minutes straight! Give your baby a listen – you’ll both be able to appreciate it.

5. Sing!

Hearing the sweet (at least to their baby ears) sound of your voice is a special and intimate way to show your child your affection. Sing some of your favorites – they’ll stick with your child as they get older. Or, even if you’re not much of a singer, make up a special song for your little one that is “their song” and sing it to them often.

6. Smile.

The simple act of smiling with and at your baby will provide them with non-verbal cues from you that they are loved.

7. Say “I love you.”

There is no such thing as telling your baby that you love them too often. I’m pretty sure I tell my daughter I love her at least 18,000 times a day, but at least she’ll never have any doubts.

8. Have a dance party.

Turn on some fun tunes and dance around with your baby – nothing says I love you like having fun together!

9. Give butterfly kisses.

I forgot all about butterfly kisses, but they are a sweet way to share your affections with your little.

10. Get down on their level.

Compared to our babies we are giants lumbering above them, so take the time to show you care by getting down on their level. Lay down on your belly next to them while they’re having tummy time or sit criss-cross-applesauce on the rug with them while they’re stacking blocks. This will most definitely make your little one feel important and cherished.

11. Go on an outing.

An outing doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but take a walk around the neighborhood, go visit the neighbor’s chickens, just do something fun and novel together. Getting out and doing activities together is a part of bonding for the both of you.

12. Build a fort.

Even teeny tiny babies enjoy the changes between dark and light, and building a simple blanket fort (even just throwing a blanket over the dining room table!) can be a bit of fun and show love.

13. Explore together.

Walk around your house or neighborhood and check out all the things there are to see. Tell your little one about the photos hanging on the wall or what some of the kitchen utensils in your drawers are used for. This is a fun activity that will also help your little one learn about the world.

14. Be silly.

Have fun together – don’t take yourself too seriously. Be silly with your baby. Make funny faces and do funny voices when you read them stories. Your baby will love it.

Image : Getty

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Screenshot of Smartphone apps page

10 Must-Have Apps for New Moms and Dads

Even before Judah arrived, I always knew I would be the kind of mom who is on the go and plugged in, because I’m simply the kind of woman who’s already on the go and plugged in! In those very early days as a bleary-eyed new parent, when Judah was still just a tiny newborn, my smartphone was a lifesaver.

From my experience, as a total geek mom who loves her gadgets and tech, there are so many apps out there for new moms and dads – and it can feel overwhelming about which app does what, and if you’ll really even need it. After lots of app downloads since Judah’s been born, here are my 10 favorite tried-and-true must-have apps for every new parent: from logging diapers to meals, ordering baby essentials, and even just capturing those one of kind moments to share with family and friends – these apps have it all!

Apps to Keep Tabs on Baby’s Day

Baby Nursing/Breastfeeding

This was, hands down, my favorite, most-used app when Judah was first born. For nursing moms, this free app (with In App Purchases) is an absolute essential. You can comprehensively track your nursing and breastfeeding data, from timed nursing (including from which side) all with just a simple tap on your screen. You can also record your baby’s growth data and store videos, pictures, and sound. The Premium version ($3.99) includes tracking support for Bottles, Diapers, Pumping, Sleeping, Solids, Bath Time, Doctor’s Visits, Medication, and Vaccinations. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Eat Sleep: Simple Baby Tracking

This free app does exactly what it says: it allows you to track your baby’s diapers, what and when they’ve eaten, and their sleep habits. You can even look at baby’s data over time, from daily, weekly, and monthly views, too. When you’re feeling like a “mombie” with your newborn, a baby tracking app like this is just the thing for sleep-deprived parents! Available in the App Store.

Apps to Help Keep Baby’s Essentials at Hand

Diapers.com

This free app from Diapers.com is perfect for new moms and dads who can barely find time to get out of the house and to the store. You can make sure you’ll always be stocked with diapers for your newborn with this app on your phone, because it makes ordering diapers as simple as just a few clicks! You also get free shipping on all orders over $49 and shipping only takes 1-2 days. And you can get more than just diapers with this app, so it’s perfect for staying stocked up on baby essentials whenever you need them. Available in the App Store.

Babies “R” Us Mobile Shopping App

This free app came in handy even before Judah was born: we could update our registry right from our phones! Once Judah arrived a few weeks earlier than expected, we were able to make updates to our registry as friends and family wanted to send us any essentials we needed for our preemie. In addition to updating your registry, you can find items available for in-store pickup and even order them right from your phone. A handy app to have as you pin down necessities for baby, both big and small. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Apps to Help Baby Get to Sleep

Sleepy Sounds

This free app was definitely an essential when Judah developed colic, and we had to break out an entire arsenal of new techniques to help him get to sleep. Sleepy Sounds features lullabies, white noise, and nature sounds to help baby get to sleep. You can set a timer for each sound, too. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

La Luna: The Story Project

The one iPad app ($1.99) I have to recommend is perhaps one of the most beautiful on this list. Featuring Pixar’s award-winning animated short, La Luna, the iPad app transforms the cartoon into an amazing interactive storybook where you can watch the film or read a storybook version of it, as well as watch behind-the-scenes footage. With its gorgeous imagery and soothing soundtrack, this app is perfect for bedtime. (Judah loves this app.) Available in the App Store.

Apps to Capture Magical Moments With Baby

Instagram

This free app is perfect for capturing all your magical, precious moments with baby – and add cool filters to them, too! I am a big fan of Instagram, especially as a way of capturing those moments. It can also record up to 15 seconds of video, so Instagram is a great way of creating baby videos that get right to the adorableness without any filler. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Dayli

As much as I love free apps, sometimes it’s totally worth it to pay for apps that do something truly unique – like watch your baby grow every single day with this amazing photo journal app! You can take a photo of baby’s face every day (or any interval you choose) and Dayli compiles a time-lapse video of all the photos. It even includes guides to line up faces perfectly each time. Available for $2.99 in the App Store.

Apps to Share Your Family Fun

Skype

With family and friends all over the globe, Skype has been the perfect way for Judah to keep in touch with all of the people who love him. Not only does he get to talk with them, he gets to see them too, with Skype’s free video call service. So long as who we’re calling has a webcam or even a smartphone camera, we can have video chat moments together as extended family whenever we want! Available in the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore.

Shutterfly

This free app is a mobile extension of the popular digital personalized photo products and service website. With it, you can easily create personalized photo books and other gifts right from your phone’s camera roll. Trust me, you’ll be taking millions of pictures of your baby, so this is a convenient way to bundle your memories of baby each year – and a super easy way to send out sweet grandparent gifts during the holidays! Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Image : Disney Baby

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Even Ballerinas Need a Hug

The day my three-year-old daughter was asked to leave ballet class I thought I would die of embarrassment. Sure, she and her twin sister had stirred up some trouble in toddler soccer class. It seemed the "coach" didn't appreciate them turning the goal net into a spaceship, much to the delight of the other kids, but not to the other parents. However, ballet was supposed to be the thing my daughters would naturally gravitate towards. Not because they were innately graceful - they weren't - or in love with tutus and princesses - they didn't care - but because I had spent the vast majority of my childhood as a dancer.

The first time Ms. Audrey, the ballet teacher, brought my daughter into the waiting area, she very nicely explained that my daughter told her she didn’t really feel like participating. So the two of us just sat outside the class until she got bored enough to go back in. 

A week later at the second lesson, my daughter spent most of the class underneath the piano, feeling the vibrations that the strings were making, and told the teacher she wanted to figure out how the sound came out.  Needless to say, there wasn’t much dancing to be done that day.

The third class was an all out rebellion.  According to Ms. Audrey, my daughter danced when she felt like it, questioned the teacher’s choice in music, and created a veritable conga line at one point, upending the entire plan for the class. Hence the request to remove my daughter from ballet class altogether. 

All of the other little girls followed the teacher without hesitation – or at least they tried. They pointed and flexed their feet, made giant suns with their arms stretched overhead, and waited their turn to leap across the floor.  Was I proud of my daughter that she was such a non-conformist, literally marching to the beat of her own drum? I am ashamed to admit, I was not.

In that moment when the teacher brought my sullen daughter into the waiting area filled with the other moms and babysitters – all of whom had witnessed my daughters’ previous exiles  I was disappointed. I couldn’t wrap my head around why my daughter just wouldn’t do what was expected, just be like the other 3-year old little ballerinas, yet again. And, of course, I wondered where I had gone wrong.

My daughter climbed into my lap clad in her pastel pink leotard and tights with a giant pink tutu splayed out around her, and snuggled in deep as I wrapped my arms around her in a tulle-filled hug.

“Is there a reason you won’t listen to Ms. Audrey?” I asked her.

“That’s not how I like to dance,” she said.

“OK,” I responded, “but that’s what ballet is. You have to learn the real steps so you can put them together to make one long beautiful ballet.”

I could see her process this idea in her mind. 

She squeezed me tighter.

“I’d rather be out here with you,” she said. Then she looked up at me thoughtfully, “Maybe when I’m six I’ll try again.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I agreed.

Though secretly I hoped that no matter how old she got, she would keep dancing in her own unique way – and coming back to me for a reassuring hug.

Image : Getty

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Dad and baby in stroller on the sidewalk

3 Simple Tips for Making Your Baby Gear Last

Having a great car seat, stroller, high chair and play yard is essential to a baby registry list. Sometimes, purchasing these pieces for your little ones can seem like an investment. I know whenever we’ve bought essential pieces for Soren, my first thought was, “How can I make this last and stay nice not only for Soren but for future siblings?” Because we all know that babies are MESSY. It’s almost a right of passage as a parent to constantly feel sticky, slobbered on, and have stains everywhere. And I’m sure we ALL avoid wearing white and purchasing any white furnishing for our homes! I know I do! ;)

So, how can we keep baby gear clean and make it last from one baby to the next? Check out these simple tips on making your gear look like new throughout the years.

1. Use Wipes for Everything

I use baby wipes for EVERYTHING now. Maybe it’s because they are also within arm’s reach? In any case, wipes are incredibly useful and such a multi-purpose product. I recommend keeping an extra bag of wipes sealed in the car, in your kitchen, and with your stroller. If baby makes a mess, use wipes to quickly get it up, so you prevent staining and dirt build up. Wipe down straps, buckles, trays, and fabric to quickly clean up small messes when you’re on the go! You can also purchase saline wipes. These work great too. I also recommend purchasing a few travel wipe dispensers and keeping them handy as suggested above.

2. Remember the Power of a Bib!

Bibs are great for keeping baby’s clothes clean, but they are also great for catching things that could potentially land on baby gear. Whether your little one is snacking on the go or eating a meal in his/her high chair, always make sure to put on a bib. Store bibs on a command hook behind your high chair for quick access, and always keep a few in your diaper bag for on-the-go needs! We especially love these waterproof bibs with the catch-all pockets. They are so easy to clean!

3. Give It a Regular Spring Cleaning

Be sure to set aside time every few weeks/months depending on what is needed to take the padding off your gear and run it through a delicate wash cycle. Let these air dry to prevent any shrinking. Don’t forget to use a high chair/gear cleaner to really wipe up messes and make sure your gear is free of anything icky. Maintaining the cleanliness of your gear day by day in simple ways will make it so much easier to keep up with and clean!

Looking for gear to add to your collection? Check out more Disney Baby gear over here!

Image : Disney Baby

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Mom washing baby in specialized crib

How to Bathe Baby After a Blowout (And Other Messy Disasters!)

I love giving my babies baths. It’s a peaceful end to the day, they love splashing around, and there’s nothing like tucking a clean sleepy baby into bed. But sometimes bath time isn’t so much an end-of-day ritual as an emergency situation after a diaper blowout or a self-feeding lesson gone wrong.

In that moment, what you need is a bath that gets them clean (and keeps you from getting soaked!) ASAP.

Here’s how I handle those emergency bath times (and I’ve dealt with several in just the last two weeks):

1. Undress them in the bath tub

Since their clothes are likely really messy, I like to keep everything contained. I lay my baby down in the empty full-size bathtub and undress her there so I’m not getting the mess anywhere else.

2. Grab a towel and baby soap

Before you start the water, grab a towel, some baby soap, and a clean diaper while your hands are free.

3. Use a baby tub to speed things up

When you’re trying to get a big mess cleaned up, you don’t want it spreading all over the adult bath tub or to wait for the whole tub to fill up. I find using a baby tub makes things much faster because I can fill it up in just a minute or two and it’s much easier to clean out afterward than the big bath tub.

4. Throw the baby clothing directly into the wash

Spray some stain remover in with the clothing to keep it from getting ruined and run it as soon as possible to keep the stains from setting.

5. Enjoy the fact that you have a clean baby when you weren’t expecting it!

While a bath may not have been on the agenda, it’s nice to have a super fresh baby to cuddle with after the fact.

And if your baby is a bath-lover like mine, she’ll probably see it as an extra bonus too!

Image : Disney Baby

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Parents playing with child playing with finding nemo doll

The Biggest Signs That Your Family is Complete

After welcoming our fourth baby into the world two months ago, my husband and I have had a lot of discussions about whether or not we feel that we are “done” having babies.

It’s such a foreign concept to me, having had a couple of surprise pregnancies that changed my life in completely wonderful ways, that we could plan such an eventful end. Family planning is such an individualized decision and for me, I’m not entirely sure that I could ever close the door on more babies. I love having a big family, and even when the arrival of our babies seemed unexpected, it always seemed like the most perfect gift once I held them in my arms. How could I ever doubt that?

I’m struggling with any decisions of whether or not we would like more children. We are both young parents and have a lot of years ahead of us where we could grow our family if we choose to do so, but it also feels like a road could be open for us to walk down for growing dreams, careers, or new experiences as well.

Not every mother wavers as much as I do. Kristel Acevedo, a fellow Disney Baby blogger, shared with me her and her husband’s recent decision to move into the next stage of their lives as a complete family of four. “Once [our daughter] Isabel was born, I just knew that was it for us,” says Kristel. “My husband and I are in full agreement that two is plenty for us. It feels like that’s the most we can handle – financially, spiritually, emotionally. We love our two blessings so very much and we feel like this is our family.”

I admit that I have somewhat of an obsession with talking to other moms about how they made the decision on how many children to have. It’s such a personal and widely varying decision. Some mothers have strict ideas about planning their families while other take a more laissez-faire approach and sometimes, the decision is simply out of our hands.

But what I’ve noticed in talking with other moms is that the decision on how many children have isn’t based on advice from a parenting book, or what your neighbors think, or how many children your mother had. It comes down to an inner voice, a feeling of what you and your partner feel is best and learning to trust yourself as a mother. As Kristel describes it, when she and her husband made the decision to be a family of four, she felt perfectly content. “We both feel really at peace with this decision,” she says.

As for me, I am still searching for the feeling of peace, and I’m not sure if I will find it until I hold just one more baby in my arms, but I look forward to what the future may hold for me and my family either way.

What about you? How did you make the decision of how many children to have?

Image : Disney Baby

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Baby in white standing in crib

The Most Helpful Items for 5 Huge Baby Transitions

I always heard parents say, “Time really flies by,” and didn’t think much of it until I had my own kiddos. Turns out, they are right! I can’t believe I now have a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old. My-oh-my, I feel like I just gave birth to each of them a few weeks ago.

With each phase of their lives comes new beginnings, and it seems that they move on to the next steps of life so quickly. I don’t know how I could have gone through all of those changes in such a short period of time without the help of the things on this list.

Check out my list of “next steps” and what we used to help us transition:

1. Bottles to sippy cups.

Bentley is our first little dude who actually likes milk, and we had quite a trying time getting him to give up the bottle — that is, until we got this Mickey Mouse sippy cup from NUK. It has the feel of a bottle and a similar-shaped lid, but the nipple is what sets it apart the most. It has the texture of a bottle nipple and will even fit your existing NUK bottles, but it comes in the shape of a sippy cup spout. This made the transition easier for Bentley to take a hard-topped sippy cup later on, because his mouth was used to the shape.

The NUK cup also has handles on the side so Bentley could learn to hold it on his own. He loves to drink his milk out of his Mickey Mouse sippy cup, and we love that it helped us transition so smoothly.

2. Pacifiers to NO pacifiers.

This one is a bit tricky, because it isn’t always the easiest task getting your baby to no longer take a paci. Both of our boys used them, and Bentley still takes one when he sleeps. I think NUK pacifiers have the best shape for the orthodontic effect on the teeth. Plus, NUK comes in a ton of different sizes for different age ranges.

Truth be told, we got KJ off of pacifiers when he had a fever blister. He couldn’t use one for a few days, so we just took them and put them in a drawer, and he never saw them again. He only asked for them a couple of times the first two days, and then it seemed like it was “out of sight, out of mind.”

And instead of putting a pacifier in his mouth to get him to fall asleep at night, I instead began scratching his back to soothe him to sleep. Now he asks me to scratch his back each night, and I love getting to spend that extra five minutes of quality time with him, helping him to fall asleep.

Reminding KJ that only babies take pacifiers and being a big boy meant that it was time to say goodbye to his pacifier helped us as well.

3. Crawling to walking.

First bit of advice: don’t be in any hurry to get your child to walk. Pushing them to do something they aren’t ready for will only frustrate them more. You can, however, encourage them vocally and with certain items that will aid in the learning process.

The best way to strengthen their little legs is to get them moving! Getting a bouncing activity center like this Minnie Mouse Premier Bouncer is sure to do just that. It has a bounce pad and a seat that spins for endless fun, plus great interactive toys and even a chewable teething toy.

A few months after they start their bouncer adventures, you can move on to a walker, like this Minnie Mouse Bows and Butterflies walker. This helped KJ and Bentley get used to the motion of their legs and feet pushing them forward and backward. It also helped them to strengthen muscles they weren’t using as much while crawling. Plus, it’s loaded with a toy deck to keep their attention. Did I mention how perfect this is to entertain your little one while you cook dinner? And it even has a removable toy tray which is perfect for tummy time!

4. Crib to the bed.

If you’re thinking ahead for this one, then buying a crib that BECOMES a bed, like this Magical Dreams 4-in-1 Crib from Delta, is the right way to go. Not only is it a gorgeous crib, but it converts into a toddler bed and is just as beautiful in each setup.

Regardless of whether your crib converts, or you purchase a new bed for your little one, I highly recommend making it a BIG deal when you get it all set up with its mattress and new bedding. We told KJ that he was getting a big boy bed, that we were so proud of him for being such a cool kid, and that we couldn’t wait for him to see how awesome his new bed would be. That way he was really excited when we got it all set up.

You could even redecorate the room with a new theme. Anything that makes it seem like a big deal will help with the excitement of the transition. And good news: Now you can snuggle your little one while you read stories to them at bedtime. It’s a win-win for your little one and for you!

5. Diapers to the potty.

Don’t fret, this transition takes a while and has many layers. We started by buying Pull-Ups for KJ so that he could get used to the pulling down and pulling up motion when it was time to use the potty. They also have designs on them that are more similar to the designs on underwear so the appearance of them introduced KJ to what underwear would look like.

Our next step was to purchase a potty just for KJ. We actually have two, one at our house and one at Grandma’s house so that he always has somewhere “special” to use the restroom. I love this Jake and The Never Land Pirates potty because it has a comfy seat, removable potty bowl, and a flushing handle on the side. The handle teaches him to flush and gets him used to hearing a noise after he potties. I was always afraid of the sound of a flushing toilet, and although the potty sings a song, it still reminds him that you need to flush and to expect a noise afterward.

Once we got the special potty for KJ, we also bought a potty seat so that he could safely and comfortably fit on top of regular-sized toilets. If you’ve ever attempted to put a toddler on a normal-sized toilet, then you’ve seen the face they make where they stiffen up and think they are going fall in. This potty seat allows them to use any regular-sized toilet while giving them handles to hold onto and a comfortable, smaller seat to sit on. And don’t forget about the step stool so they can climb up to the potty. It can also be used at the sink when it’s time to wash their hands or brush their teeth.

Then, we bought some potty toppers so that he could have a clean toilet seat to sit on when we are out at a restaurant, at the mall, or even at Disneyland! They easily fit in a diaper bag or purse and ensure that your kiddo will be sitting on a clean potty.

As quickly as time flies by, we have to be ready for each stage with our little ones. I am so glad I thought ahead about some of the stages that were coming so that we were prepared as parents to help our little guys along. And I’m definitely happy that KJ is now 3 years old and potty trained!

Image : Disney Baby

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