Baby Stuff Recommendations: Months 8 – 12

Weellps, now that Penny is officially a whole year old, I figured it’s time for me to round out my recommendations in case you need more stuff to clutter up your house (no? only me?). Below is a list of some of the things Penny has loved most, I’ve loved most, or have just been really great (or really necessary!) as this little girl has continued to grow! I tried to find photos showcasing most of the items listed, but I have literally 18,000 photos on my phone at this point so I couldn’t dig out a good one for everything.

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I get a couple of cents thrown my way if you decide to purchase something. Feel free to check out my previous posts for recommendations for Months 1 – 3 and Months 3 – 8 too!

 

Large Nod Chair: Our 1st birthday gift to Penny was a soft foam toddler chair from Crate & Kids (formerly Land of Nod). She freaking LOVES it, and I think it’s pretty great except for the fact that she looks super grown up half the time she’s sitting in it. ::sob::

  

GB Pockit Stroller: I was in the market for a lightweight travel stroller, and picked up the GB Pockit on Prime Day. It’s more expensive than your average umbrella stroller, but it was worth every penny (pun absolutely intended)! It accommodates kids up to 55 lbs, but weighs only 9 lbs and folds up into this crazy small little cube. It’s so small, it easily fits in the overhead compartment on an airplane! The last time I traveled to Atlanta, I was able to wheel Penny directly onto the plane and to our seats — no more awkward shuffling, balancing, and trying to fold it down at the plane door before boarding! It does require two hands to collapse, but that will become much less annoying once Penny can stand up on her own.

 

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max Convertible Car Seat: Another great online find, Maxi-Cosi was having a sale and I managed to get this carseat at sale price AND used a 20% off coupon at Buy Buy Baby. It’s really plush, and I love the magnetic chest clip that I can release with one hand. Installation was really easy too — I did it myself! — and it fits rear-facing in my little Ford Focus (and I can still fit in the passenger seat up front… it’s just a bit of a tight squeeze, lol.) The only negative is that the straps can be a little challenging to tighten.

 

That’s Not My… Book Series (Usborne Books): We admittedly don’t read to Penny as much as we probably should right now, but that’s because she has basically no attention for books at the moment… except these ones! The That’s Not My…” books from Usborne Books are interactive, short, and sweet. We have three of them: That’s Not My Unicorn, Puppy, and Fox.

V Tech Baby Babble and Rattle Microphone: If the way she uses this toy is any kind of predictor for the future, I think Penny’s destined to be a singer! She loves “singing” into the top of this fun microphone toy, which also comes with a ton of various sounds and songs thanks to the buttons. My only gripe? It has this wheel around the top that has a different animal sound each time you click it. Well, it makes animal sounds for all of the animals… except for the cat! Instead of making an actual cat-like sound, the toy actually says the WORD “meow!” It’s so random and inconsistent and, yes, I know, extremely inconsequential but it bothers me sooooo much for some reason.

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Remote: Another in the world of toys that make lots of sounds and drive you bananas is this toy remote. Penny loves clicking the buttons, and I will have this toy’s version of the ABC song stuck in my head for all eternity.

Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center: I stole this toy from my sister because Penny was so into it — it’s got a little suction thing on the bottom so it sticks to the ground or the tray of her high chair, which makes it perfect for distracting her while I’m, say, finishing preparing her lunch.

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Playskool Play Favorites Busy Poppin’ Pals: Penny fell in LOVE with this toy when visiting my sister, and was lucky enough to be gifted one for her birthday! She thinks that shutting the little animal thingies down on this toy is the best thing ever, and is just starting to make the connection on how to press the buttons and flip the switches to open them back up again so hopefully that means she’ll still enjoy it for a while yet.

  

Silicon Bibs and the Bumkins Silicone Suction Plate: Mealtime with babies is a messy, messy affair (even when you’ve got a squadron of miniature schnauzer vacuums on constant patrol). When we were feeding her mostly purees, I liked the thin, flimsy, velcro-style bibs, but now that she’s dropping food down her front like she’s getting paid for it, silicon bibs with a much stiffer little area to catch food are a must for us. I also love this Bumkins plate because it suctions to the table so she can’t mess with it as easily, and is a divided plate which helps remind me to make sure her meals are balanced and varied.

 

Summer Infant Pop N’ Sit Booster: Perfect for taking to the grandparents’ place, when visiting a friend, and even just to set up outdoors on a picnic. The tray it comes with is quite narrow, but the whole thing is really compact when folded and comes in a little carrying case, making it perfectly portable.

 

Mac Sports Collapsible Folding Outdoor Utility Wagon: So I don’t actually own this myself YET, but my sister does and I gotta say it is basically the best thing you can get for yourself if you like to go to the pool, park, or beach with your kiddo. We all know that kids require like 28453485 things anytime you go anywhere for any period of time, and you can load up so much stuff into this wagon — including your kid — but it doesn’t take up every molecule of space in your trunk. I’ll 100% be getting one for next summer.

 

Baby Bling Bows: Baby Bling Bows have turned me into a total bow snob. Nothing else compares to the softness, the stretchiness, the doesn’t-leave-a-dent-in-her-head-ness (and the stays-on-her-head-ness, for that matter!) Their “thing” is that they’re so stretchy, anyone can wear them from newborn babes to adults! I can personally attest to this being true, haha. And if they get stretched out? Just toss ’em in the dryer and they shrink right back down. I’m a big, big fan and we’ve amassed quite a collection now.

Philips AVENT Powder Formula Dispenser and Snack Cup: Once we started giving Penny formula, I quickly found how annoying it was to either have to pack a plastic baggy + measuring scoop, or pre-make her formula when out and about. So I picked up this little formula dispenser, and it solved all my problems! It has 3 separate compartments and a lid with a small opening that easily rotates to whichever compartment you need to access. You pre-measure your formula powder, then just pop the lid and pour out when you need to. I was able to make bottles one-handed on airplanes this way! And the nice thing is that the 3-part compartment part is removable, so even though Penny no longer needs formula, it can still be used as a cereal or snack cup.

Baby Care Play Mat: Seen in basically every photo shown above, this play mat has been a great investment. It’s incredibly, incredibly cushy, and has protected our clumsy little princess’s perfect face after many a cringeworthy faceplant. Hat tip to my friend Anna for introducing me to it!

Skip Hop & Munchkin Snack Cups: Snack cups are a must for us since Penny doesn’t have the dexterity or coordination yet to reliably take snacks out of a ziplock bag or anything like that without making a colossal mess. We have two different kinds, and I like them both. Skip Hop’s is great because it comes with a lid, which makes tossing it your bag and taking it on the go very easy and practical. However, the Munchkin ones are much easier for her to use, as the flaps are much bigger and thus Penny was able to master it much more quickly.

And in case you don’t want to have to read all the way through my previous baby product reccommendations, here are some MVP items that I think are worth mentioning again:

 

Munchkin Weighted Straw Sippy Cup: Penny took to straws super quickly thanks to this great cup. It’s still her sippy of choice! They really are spill-proof for the most part (although I did have an issue on a plane once of water coming up and out of the straw due to the pressure change), and they prevent her from gunning her water or milk too quickly (and thus just spitting it all right out, haha.)

Hatch Baby Rest Night Light and Sound Machine: Just get it. Even if you already have a sound machine. It’s so great, so easy to set up, you can control it physically on the unit or from your phone via Bluetooth, and it just works soooo well for her. When Penny is in a toddler bed I am 100% planning on utilizing it as an Okay to Wake light, too!

 

Fisher Price Crawl Around Car: Penny seems to go through phases of being obsessed with this car and pretty much ignoring it, lol, but it was still a great investment because as she continues to grow, she finds new ways to play with it and get enjoyment from it. When we first got it, Penny was all about the horn and radio buttons, and right now she’s really into the ball maze thing that’s built into the side. It’s also been great for her to cruise on, and my nieces and nephew (5, 3, and 1) were also obsessed with it when they were visiting!

V Tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker: She’s been into playing with this from the day we got it and it’s a great height for her to use to stand, push, and practice walking. I just wish we had more open space in our house for her to really charge ahead with it! It’s also pretty annoying for anyone who isn’t a baby or toddler, because Old McDonald is not exactly an earworm I love having stuck in my head, but if she loves it, hey, who am I to stop her?

The First Years Stack Up Cups: These cups continue to be the MMMMMVP of baby toys. They cost like, $4 and yet even after months and months and months she still pulls these suckers out of her toy bin first!

 

Freshly Picked Soft Soled Baby Moccasins: If you see a photo of Penny, more than likely she has these moccs on her tootsies. Don’t come at me with how ridiculous it is to put shoes on a non-walking baby, believe me, I am ohhhhh so fully aware. I just can’t bring myself to stop — they’re my favorite! They’re always coming out with new patterns and colors, and they’re soft and fully flexible so she still has full range of motion and can feel & grip the ground with her little tootsies. This is especially great for when we practice walking outside (or anywhere that I wouldn’t want her to be barefoot.) Plus, now that she IS standing and cruising and ugh-she’s-just-so-very-close-to-walking, she’s starting to make the cutest little imprint of her foot on the leather on the bottom of some of her pairs — I dieeeee!

Cuddle + Kind Knit Dolls: Penny’s greatest love in this world is not, in fact, Sean or myself, but her stuffed unicorn, Zoe. She falls asleep stroking her mane every night and tries to drag her out of her crib every morning. She loves her so much, I had a panic attack thinking that we might one day lose or damage her, so I had to buy another one as a backup! Cuddle + Kind dolls are quite pricey, but they are individually handmade, fully knit (no buttons, eyes, or small parts to come off in little mouths) and the company has a wonderful mission where every purchase provides meals for children in need. They are well-made (Zoe goes through quite a lot with Penny, haha), but if there ever is any issue, the company’s customer service is also outstanding. I had gotten another one of their dolls for Penny that ended up having part of its ear unravel, and they replaced it tout suite, no questions asked.

All right! I think that just about covers everything I can think of at the moment, but if there are any types of things that I haven’t mentioned here or in my previous posts and you have questions, let me know! My entire life is just one gigantic overflowing pile of Penny’s junk at this point, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Question: Did you have a security item / lovey as a kid? I was pretty traditional and had a good ol’ fashioned security blanket… that I’m pretty sure just ended up disintegrating from overuse.

Dear Penny: Happy First Birthday

Dear Penny,

I lived for 29 years before I knew you. 29 years as a daughter, sister, friend. 29 years learning and growing and trying to be a mostly good person… at least as much as a self-focused, immensely self-absorbed person can be.

29 years before you took your first breath.

The breath that changed everything. Turned my whole world on its axis. Suddenly and swiftly cut my entire life into two very distinct, very separate parts: before you, and after you. And I can barely even remember what it was like before. Not to say that my life prior to becoming your mother didn’t matter, or wasn’t important, of course it was. But it’s just memories and feelings, and you’re here, real, vibrant, and alive.

Your existence brings every moment of my life into sharper focus (aside from all the foggy, forgotten things that have been lost due to mom brain, that is.) I see the joy in our daily lives with so much more clarity, and I feel the sadnesses of the world much more heavily. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you have made me a better person. After 29 years of laziness, inaction, and lots of talk but little follow-through, you make me want to better our world. To implement change — in myself, in our lives together, in the world as a whole.

You opened my heart in a way I never knew was possible, and you cut the very ties that bound me to my selfish way of thinking.

Your birth changed me in the most incredible, most unpredictable, best possible way. I know, I know, it’s all just so cheesy. This next bit possibly being the worst offender. It’s ridiculous to say aloud, let alone type and chronicle forever in the hallowed halls of the internet. But you will come to learn very quickly (if you don’t already know) that your mama is one of the most ridiculous people you’ll ever meet. And I dunno, I just kind of… own it.

August 30th, 2017 was the day you were born, but it was the day I was reborn.

This has been the absolute best year of my entire life. Yes, it’s also been the craziest, most challenging, humbling, overwhelming, frustrating, all-in-all incredible year, but I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. Seeing you change, grow, learn… it’s the most beautiful thing, and I’ve had the extreme blessing of being able to witness almost every single second of it with you.

You are so, so, so incredibly loved. Happy birthday, baby.

 

 

Donut Grow Up!

It’s here! It’s finally here! It’s Penny’s birthday week! And to kick things off, I thought I’d finally share the Donut Smash photoshoot that I did for her when we were in Atlanta visiting my sister. You may have already seen most of these photos if you follow me on Instagram (and, uh, all of them if we’re friends on Facebook, since I just couldn’t wait, hehe), but my totally unbiased opinion is that they’re great enough to warrant a second look, hehe.

I was nervous about being able to pull off this photoshoot, and contemplated hiring a professional photographer several times because I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the feel, look, and shots that I was hoping for. I figured as long as I just got one good picture of her digging into a donut, though, it would be fine.

 

(Tip: I got the donuts for her shoot from Dunkin’ Donuts, and the amount of sprinkles was laughably sparse. So I used a spray bottle to re-wet the icing and dumped a truckload of extra sprinkles on top — made for a much more photogenic donut spread!)

Anyway, as I think you can see, it turned out all that worry was for naught! Penny was a total photoshoot ROCKSTAR. She was so well-behaved, in such a good mood, I actually ended up with way too many perfect shots! Girl just really loves donuts, I guess. 😉

 

 

Yep, totally worth the intense sugar crash we all experienced after the photoshoot, hehe. (What, like I’m supposed to buy 2 dozen donuts and 50 munchkins and just not eat any of them? HA!) And the perfect way to commemorate our own little munchkin nearing the end of her turn ’round the sun! (And I’m only like 35% in denial right now, so, y’know, progress!)

Donut grow up, Penny — it’s a trap!