*I received many of these products for review consideration; all opinions are my own.*
I have a beautiful family of nieces and nephews living just across town from me. My daughter was born between the oldest two and youngest two, so they’re very close little cousins; Serenity and her younger cousin, Talia, are best friends, and absolutely adore each other.
Six weeks ago, we were blessed with the youngest of Serenity’s four cousins. Stephen was a surprise baby, and we are so glad he’s here! And as I told you last week, I was recently privileged to throw him and his mommy, Kristine, a baby shower.
Serenity was not impressed with all the cool new toys and books and clothes getting packed into a gift bag that mommy made VERY clear was not for her (though she took it a lot better than she did this weekend when I wrapped all the Christmas presents; a little short sighted on my part, doing that in front of her). I even read Guess How Much I Love You to her before adding it to the bag, but she still cried, then got mad, then cried again. She finally accepted the inevitability of the situation, but not before shooting me some epic side eye (see above).
The baby shower two Sundays ago was really fun, and Kristine walked away with many wonderful gifts from friends and family who attended or sent gifts with others if they couldn’t come in person. I had a ton of fun putting together my own gift for little Stephen, and in the midst of preparing for his shower it occurred to me that I have come across some wonderful baby products over the past two years since my daughter was born, and maybe — maybe you guys would enjoy a hand baby shower gift guide? Especially since your reaction to the encouragement diapers was so positive. So…here it is!
Baby Shower Gift Guide 2014
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is an iconic fixture in children’s literature, and after two decades it celebrates its introduction to a second generation (and in some cases, third) with a special 20th anniversary edition. This special keepsake edition is larger than most, and constructed of high quality materials that give it a little something extra in terms of feel and heft, and the classic illustrations are somehow more vivid and vibrant, leaping off of every page.
The story is the sweet tale of Little Nutbrown Hare and his father, as they seek to express just how big their love for each other really is. Parents and children love this story for the tender and whimsical themes it portrays, and it’s a frequent and well deserved choice for baby showers.
I cannot personally relate to this story as I grew up without a loving father. But when I read this book, I think of my husband and daughter, and I get it. Kristine was very happy when she unwrapped this book, and I hope they have many wonderful memories over the years around it. You can pick up a copy here.
Dancing Feet! by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown a cute rhyming board book that’s intended to inspire movement, and help them develop object association skills. The art is a unique form of photography that I love, and is very pleasing to tiny eyes that thrive on hard lines and bright colors. It’s very repetitious, but that’s part of the charm.
The Clicker Clacker by HABA is a fun wooden rattle that’s fun for a variety of ages from infant to toddler to preschooler. An interesting rattle that’s fun to gum for babies becomes a noise maker for toddlers and a musical rhythm instrument for older kids. If you’re looking for a baby shower gift with staying power, this is a good choice.
I’m saving the book for another gifting occasion, but we gave Stephen the rattle at his baby shower. Serenity was excited to see it come back out of my closet, and sad to see it go into the bag, but she felt much better about it when I told her it was for Baby Stevie. You can buy the book here, and the rattle here.
We received both of these in our Austin Lloyd box this summer; you can read more about that here.
I was given a bottle of Tummy Calm Pure & Natural Gas Relief when Serenity was about four months old, and it about saved our lives. The poor girl really struggled with painful gas for months, and no amount of pumping her legs or conventional gas drops helped more than a little. But this stuff? This stuff is pure magic. ? It’s a homeopathic medicine, containing a variety of natural ingredients and no sugars, gluten, soy or other yucky stuff, and it smells and tastes great! It’s the only FDA-registered homeopathic anti-gas drops for children in the United States (and is made in an FDA-regulated and FDA-inspected facility), it’s non-habit forming, and works in literal minutes. You can find it for purchase here.
We gave a copy of My Big Bright Bible Board Book by Christina Goodings to Stephen when he first came home from the hospital, along with a blanket and diaper rash cream. I wanted him to have the useful items right away, and we thought his siblings would enjoy his book for him (and we were right). This book is very cute, very sweet, and very simple. It’s main charm lies in the introduction to Bible stories using simple words and adorable pictures. You can pick up a copy here.
Live Clean (Baby) is a wonderful all-natural and chemical-free line of baby care products designed to clean and soothe your baby’s delicate newborn skin without any nasty drying or irritation. We were thrilled to receive a full set of this great product when Serenity was only a couple of months old (she’s about 3 months old in the picture, above). They last forever!! I actually tossed the baby wash before it was fully empty because after close to two years of use, it still wasn’t empty, but was starting to crust up pretty badly around the opening of the bottle. Our favorite product was definitely the baby wash! In addition to being made with natural and chemical-free ingredients, it smells great, suds nicely, and left her skin soft and hydrated. The lotion was a close runner-up for favorite product, and our favorite things about it were the light, natural scent, and that you barely needed any at all, so it lasts forever! You can learn more about these great products and find out where to buy them here.
For any new mom, keeping milk off her clothes can be a “delightful” experience ranging from mildly annoying to “I’m just never wearing clothes or leaving my house ever again!!” Nursing pads are insanely useful, but not all nursing pads are created equal. Disposable pads are convenient because you don’t have to remember to wash them or sort through your laundry looking for new ones, but they are also not nearly as durable as reusable breast pads, and some women can’t use them at all because their delicate breast tissue doesn’t play well with the chemicals inherent to disposable absorbent products (I would know, and I don’t like to talk about it #shudder). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my hands on reusable nursing pads when Serenity was nursing, but I recently found out about Cupcake Nursing Pads from Cake Maternity, and everything I’ve heard says that they’re the best in terms of quality, comfort, and cost. Unique on the market, they can be customized for light, medium, and heavy protection using an ultra-soft organic cotton outer layer that transfers moisture to the cotton hemp fleece inner layer, which you can double and triple for custom protection and fit. If we’re blessed with another baby, I plan to get at least one set of these awesome nursing pads for myself, and they definitely make the list for potential baby shower gifts for my friends! You can by a pair here, and check out all of Cake Maternity’s offerings here.
Baby Mantra baby products are a wonderful gift option for any new baby and their mama. They’re certified natural, made with pure ingredients like shea butter, lavender, coconut, avocado, and they’re all cruelty free and vegan. We got to try the Detangling Conditioner, Calming Massage Oil, and the Calming Lotion. My favorite is the massage oil – it smells delightful, is light and non-greasy, and is ultra-hydrating! You can find all of these products and more here.
We received a Buccaneer Bill Clutching Toy from HABA to give to my sweet new nephew for Christmas this year, and it was so cute, we almost couldn’t get Serenity to give it up! It’s constructed of beech wood, non-toxic and stain resistant varnish, and held together by durable elastic. I love the adorable details, especially the teeth on the fish, and the freckles on the pirate. Too cute! ? Kristine loved it, and once he gains enough motor skills not to what himself in the face, I’m sure Stephen will, too. You can get one of these cute toys here.
Another wonderful line of baby skin care products I’ve had the privilege of trying out this year is the Little Love line by Orico London; a premier line of certified organic products designed to give protect and sooth delicate baby skin. The key ingredient is Neroli oil, a baby-safe essential oil that’s known to have calming properties. These products smell wonderful without being overpowering, and they go on light and smooth, without leaving icky residue on you or baby. You can find all three products we received – Nurturing Baby Massage Oil, Protecting Baby Skin Balm, and Gentle Soothing Wash – here.
This summer, we were sent the Diono Travel Pal Car Seat Organizer and the Diono Stow’n Go Back Seat Organizer. They were meant to accompany us on our trip to Wyoming, but sadly they didn’t arrive until after we got home, so we didn’t get to test them on the road as we’d hoped.
I did end up using the Travel Pal in Serenity’s bicycle trailer this summer, though, and it came in super handy! She packed it full of board books, a couple of small stuffies, and a spill-proof water cup, and off we went! Since the five-point harness in her trailer keeps her from leaning down at all, this was a great way to keep all her stuff within her reach.
We still need to install and test the Stow’n Go – our car is actually quite clean, but the entire backseat is taken up by a piece of baby gear I need to deliver to its new home (it’s been in there for months), so I can’t use the backs of the seats for anything quite yet. Plus, Serenity is still rear facing in her car seat, so she wouldn’t get much use out of it for a while. That said, I really wish I could get the Stow’n Go installed sooner than later (next week, if all goes well!) because it would drastically cut down on the number of random kid things floating around loose in the back seat, right now! The pockets are very generous, and it can easily fit a couple of water bottles or kid cups, travel sized coloring books and markers or crayons, smaller toys and games, and the big pocket in the center could be used for anything from storing a tablet or portable DVD player to a change of clothes or diapering supplies. Elastic straps keep it snugly affixed to the seat back, and an sturdy canvas strap attaches it to the seat at the top.
Serenity has almost outgrown her seat’s rear facing capacity, so when we flip her around to forward facing soon, she’ll be able to keep her stuff nearby with both the Travel Pal and the Stow’n Go. As a busy mom who doesn’t want to be fishing around in the back seat all the time, I think that’s fantastic! And I love Diono – who wouldn’t, with fantastic products like these, and their incredible selection of car seats!? You can pick up these great pieces of baby gear for yourself or a friend here and here.
What I would have given to have had Skin Tight Toning Serum by Mama Mio right after Serenity was born! Not only is it made with no nasty chemicals, the ingredients it does have harness nature’s power to tighten, smooth, hydrate, and brighten crepey, sagging skin post-pregnancy or extreme weight loss. And it smells great! We also received Mama Mio’s Lucky Legs – perfect for revitalizing tired legs. Both of these products would make perfect baby shower gifts for expectant or newly postpartum mothers. You can find these and many more Mama Mio products here.
One of the cooler baby gear products I’ve come across this year is the Motorola MBP36S Digital Video Baby Monitor. This powerhouse of a video monitor is wireless, comes with a 3.5″ LCD parent screen, has two way crystal clear communication, remote pan, tilt, and zoom, infrared night vision, room temperature monitor, and includes five built in lullabies! Both the camera and the parent screen are super lightweight, and can be used with standard wall current, or wireless using batteries (included). The parent screen has a built-in kick stand so you can set it upright on your desk or kitchen counter and keep an eye on your little one whatever you may be doing. Ever worry that you’re out of range with your end of the monitor? You don’t have to worry with this unit, because it emits a tone if you do step out of range (it emits another tone to alert you to a low battery). And one of the coolest features of this awesome video monitor is that you can purchase additional cameras and view them all in split screen mode, or cycle through them in full screen. Pretty awesome! This feature has so many applications – more than one kid and bedroom, funny shaped room with hidden angles, front or back porch security, visiting child napping in your guest room. And since the entire thing is designed to be wireless, you can easily take it with you wherever you go! You can pick up your own Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor here, and snag an extra camera here.
Another awesome baby gear product we got to try out this year is the Pack ‘n Play Playard Smart Stations in Sapphire by GRACO. Like the Diono products mentioned above, we were expecting this to arrive before our road trip to Wyoming in July, but sadly it too showed up almost a month later, due to shipping delays. Unfortunately for testing purposes, we moved Serenity into a twin sized bed when we returned home from our trip, and no longer had any need of a portable crib.
So one fine day in September, I set it up in the front yard, to get a feel for how this model works. I knew what I was expecting, based on playards I’ve encountered in the past, but the Pack ‘n Play Playard Smart Stations is full of surprises!
This playard has some awesome features, including: a portable changing table with integrated storage for wipes, diapers, and supplies; a portable travel bed that rests inside the playard as a bassinet, and can be removed and taken anywhere you like as a stand-alone bed; a removable toy bar with detachable plush stars for baby’s entertainment; a control panel that plays nature sounds and lullabies, with a vibrating attachment that soothes and comforts; a large storage organizer with removable mesh basket provides pretty much all the bedside storage you could ask for; a built in soft glow light allows you to easily check on baby in the dark without turning on a light; Graco’s signature push-button fold feature and included soft carrying bag allow for quick and easy fold-down, storage, and transportation. The playard is constructed with breathable mesh for maximum ventilation, and you can leave out all of the attachments to use this playard by itself! All of the attachments fit fairly compactly inside the changing table when not in use.
The bassinet can be used until your baby tops 15lbs or is able to push up on their hands and knees, and the changing table can be used until your baby is 30lbs (the changing table is concave to help prevent accidents, but you should NEVER walk away from your baby while they’re laying on the changing table, at any age or weight). The playard can be used for babies and toddlers up to 35″ tall, and unable to climb out on their own. In addition to Sapphire, the Pack ‘n Play Playard Smart Stations come in Tangerine and Presley, and coordinates with matching Graco products including a highchair and car seat. You can learn more about this awesome playard here, and purchase it here.
It’s easy to find great gift ideas for new babies — but what about their mommies? Belli has you covered. I received samples of their All Day Moisture Body Lotion (it relieves dry skin, and contains wonderful ingredients like chamomile and vitamin E), Pure & Pampered Body Wash (cucumber and lavender oil cleans and hydrate), Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator (vitamin C and grape seed oil moisturize and illuminate), and Eye Brightening Cream (vitamin K, to revive tired eyes and reduce fine lines).
Belli products are free of yucky chemicals like phthalates and artifical dyes and fragrances, they’re cruelty-free, they’re allergy tested, and they’re safety tested to avoid any ingredients that may be linked to birth defects or harmful effects to babies while breastfeeding.
My only complaint about these otherwise wonderful (and fantastic-smelling) products is that I could not get anything to come out of the pump on the Eye Brightening Cream bottle, so I wasn’t able to test that one. But based on the other three products, I would say this was likely a fluke rather than poor material quality, and I feel comfortable recommending it. You can find these and other great products for mommy here.
Before Serenity was born, I was given a set of Tickled Pink Wonder Bumpers to dress up her room and provide a safe alternative to a traditional crib bumper (which are not at all safe for use in any crib, ever). Unfortunately, the crib I found second hand turned out to be a dropside, which are also unsafe, and since we wanted to co-sleep anyway (which IS safe, when done right), we never bothered to get a new crib. Which meant I couldn’t use the Wonder Bumpers. I was extremely sad about that, because they’re adorable!!
Wonder Bumpers are soft, fleecy, padded sleeves that zip up around each individual crib slat, and are reversible. They’re designed to fit any crib, they’re machine washable and dryer-friendly, the zipper is lead-free and designed to not be accessible to baby while in the crib, and you can purchase additional bumpers in sets of two if needed. The fabric is 100% cotton flannel, with a Poly-foam insert.
Since I couldn’t test this product at home, I took the set (which included a fitted flannel crib sheet and the adorable green and white crib blanket pictured above with Serenity who was about 2 months old at the time) over to my friend Tonja’s house, and tested the sheet and several of the bumpers on her daughter’s crib. The sheet was an excellent fit, and extremely soft, and Serenity loved the blanket! The bumpers were a little tricky to get the zipper started (I could have used an extra hand), but once connected they went on quick and easy. They’re reversible, so I was able to achieve an adorable solid / pattern design that I absolutely loved!
You can find the Tickled Pink design here, and see the entire lineup of Wonder Bumper designs here. We gave ours to Serenity’s little cousin Talia when she was born, but if we are blessed with another baby in time, I hope to get another set of these great bumpers; this one is my favorite.
One of my very favorite skin care products I discovered this year isn’t actually intended for babies, but is not only safe to use with any age, I highly recommend it! CapriClear 100% Coconut Oil Spray is an innovative spray-on moisturizer, intended to soothe and hydrate dry and sensitive skin, reduce the appearance of stretchmarks and scars, and even treat eczema.
We’ve been using it as a light moisturizer for curly hair (a tiny bit goes a long way to alleviate frizz), and to treat moisture rash (diaper rash) during potty training. This stuff is amazing!! We’ve been using it for about a month, almost daily, and we’re only down to the last 3rd of our 1.9oz spray bottle (the size also makes it conveniently travel-friendly as it meets TSA requirements for flying with liquids).
CapriClear 100% Coconut Oil Spray is made from fractionated coconut oil meaning that it’s the purest form of coconut oil available, is fragrance-free, and contains no fragrances, emulsifiers, dyes, parabens, sulfats, gluten, or anything else you don’t want on your skin or in your body. You can purchase your own full sized 5.2oz bottle here.
What’s your go-to gift for baby showers?
*I received the items listed in this guide free for review consideration; all opinions are 100% my own, and I only endorse brands and products that I am comfortable using with my own family.*