Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Squishables

I'm sure there are some people who read the title of this post and thought I was going to write about a type of snack product — something like Go-Gurt or one of the many kinds of toddler-friendly slurpy packs of pureed fruits and veggies.

But no, that's not what Squishables are. They're these:



I was so paranoid during my pregnancy that I didn't buy Baba G anything until I was nearly at full term. And then when I finally felt like everything was going to be OK, the Squishable Fox was the first thing I ordered. (Remember Baba G's real middle name is Fox!)

Only a few days old, and already subjected to silly pictures

These things are a big 15-inch-high ball of the softest, SOFTEST "fur" you will ever feel. I loved the fox so much that I bought his "micro" version as well:



The micros are 3 inches high and then there's also a "mini" version that's 7 inches high.

As you'll see in my next post, we used the Squishable Fox as a marker for each of Baba G's monthly milestones up until his 1-year birthday, which was last week.

Mr. Fox even played an integral role in BG's birthday party: he was the model for our cake!

For moi?
Fantastic Mr. Fox!
Hmm... INnnteresting...

The bottom line: Squishables are the coolest. I realize not everyone wants a huge furry ball sitting around their place, but if your kid likes soft things or stuffed animals in general, I encourage you to check out the dozens of different options — there's an octopus, a few kinds of dragons, cats, weird things I've never heard of — there's something for everyone.

Each design varies in price, but on average, the full-sized versions are $39, minis are $19 and micros are from $5-$9. Some kinds, like the octopus, even have a huge bean-bag version for around $142.

They seem to be adding new animals and various fantastical creatures all the time, too! Stay tuned for the monthly Baba G and Mr. Fox pics soon...


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In Search Of: Baby-proofing Products that Work

Baba G is really enjoying all of the benefits that come with being able to walk. The biggest perk (for him) is that he's stable enough to reeeeaaaacccch for just about anything, and he takes great joy and pride in opening cabinets, drawers, our piano cover, the trash can ... you name it.

Benches are for suckers!


SuperBaby will now attempt to fly a few inches off the ground to open the door

Why'd someone throw out this perfectly good box?

We moved all of the dangerous stuff to our top cupboards before he was even born, but since he hasn't quite grasped the whole concept of getting your fingers out of the way when you slam something shut, we added some baby-proofing locks around the condo.

The problem is, the vast majority of what we bought — which is all from Safety 1st because that's the only brand any place near us in the city seems to carry — is really poor quality and immediately breaks, or doesn't work for our particular type of cabinets and drawers.

These stove knob covers (in picture below) have done their job, but BG immediately figured out that the folding cabinet door next to the oven can be opened. We haven't been able to find anything that works here (or for some of our other cabinets) because you need a wooden "lip" to drill a latch-holder into, and our shelving wasn't made that way. (Meaning, these things won't work.)

What's more, we bought a latch (once again from Safety 1st) that was supposed to keep your oven locked shut, and that crappy thing fell off within a few hours (it was supposed to stick on the side and latch over the door).


Nice try, Mom.

Gold Mine: the food pantry!

For our double-wide cabinets like the ones below under our sink, we use this contraption, which does the job, even though I ram my thighs into its prongs and curse approximately 10 times per day. (I have it unlocked in the picture below, you can see it hanging on the left door.)




Doorknob covers and the standard electrical-outlet plugs and covers have also worked just fine. But NONE of our drawers will work with the Safety 1st products.

So here's what I'm In Search Of: Products or general advice related to baby-proofing cabinets and drawers when the widely available items don't work. Has anyone out there tried one of the magnetic lock systems? I'm not entirely sure that would work with our cabinets or drawers, either, but I'd be curious to see if anyone else has found success using those.

In the meantime, Baba G The Condo Explorer is going to keep having fun!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fun with Boxes and Packaging

I'm forcing myself to take a break from a huge freelance-writing project I've been working on to check in and share some pictures of the most ridiculous package I've ever received.

This package was ridiculous because it had enough filler material to protect a case of wine and/or a set of china, yet all that was in the humongous box was a 4-pack of onesies. 


I mean, seriously.


But Baba G certainly had fun playing with it all. Proof once more that kids would rather mess around with boxes than real toys.

A few days later, a bottle brush arrived from the same place (Buy Buy Baby). Its package was almost just as insane.



I don't get it. But at least BG had fun pushing that box all around the floor, too.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bright Starts Elephant Snuggle & Teether

The older Baba G gets, the more, um, active he is when we take him out to a restaurant. If I didn't realize the need for quiet toys before, I do now.

On New Year's Eve we had the trusty Gund Worm (oops, Caterpillar) to fall back on:


Another great option is the Bright Starts Elephant Snuggle & Teether.

Here's what it looks like:

And here's a short video of BG playing with it on a car trip when he was nine months old. 

video


Shots of that same trip:


The elephant has that crinkly stuff in it that babies seem to love so much, and its feet are some sort of teething material. The fact that I don't really know what kind of material it is is part of the reason it took me a few extra days to write about this product.

FOR THE LIFE OF ME I cannot find any product material information for this damn elephant. It has been so frustrating and annoying. I'm trying to steer clear of toys with BPA and other bad stuff in them now that BG puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. And clearly something with the word "teether" in its product name is meant for babies' mouths.

I went on the Kids II web site (the parent company of Bright Starts) and the only way to contact them was to fill out a form with your mailing address and all of this information I didn't want them to have. There was no email address or phone number.

When I was on my search for information for this post, I came across this blog entry from 2008, and in the comments section a woman said that she contacted Kids II and they said: "All of our teething products are phthalate, PVC, BPA and Latex free."

Now, once again, that information is from 2008, and who knows if the commenter was even telling the truth, and if that really is the case, WHY IN THE HELL is this not stated upfront on the Kids II site or on any retailer's page? (Kids II doesn't sell any products through their site.)

It's not like I'm tossing out hand-me-down plastic toys we were given from friends or refusing to let BG play with things he gets as gifts that are clearly not BPA-free. But I am trying to make a point to understand what materials he's coming into contact with and have also let family members know that we are really trying to keep things as toxin-free as possible going forward. I just wish companies made it easier for us to know what's in their toys. (You'll see in upcoming posts that even totally eco-friendly brands seem to bury this kind of information — it's so bizarre.)

Mmm... BPA.  (I kid. I hope!)
The bottom line: Who knows whether or not the Bright Starts Elephant is actually BPA-free, but I'm going to hope that blog commenter was telling the truth about her communication with the company and then convince myself the product is safe because "teether" is in its name.

These guys go for about $17, and BG has enjoyed playing with his since the early days, so I consider that a great value. Except for the feet, it's really soft and floppy. I thought he'd grow tired of it by now, but it's still our go-to toy for car rides and is also usually on hand for restaurant visits.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hanna Andersson Sleepwear

We've been lucky to get a lot of great hand-me-downs from friends who bought NICE baby clothes for their kids. That's how I came to know about the Hanna Andersson brand, which makes the cutest onesie-sleepers of all time. Whenever Baba G is in one of them, it takes everything in me not to just constantly smother him with YOU'RE SO CUTE COULD YOU BE ANY CUTER YOU ARE SO SNUGGLY PLEASE PLEASE SNUGGLE WITH ME hugs. 

The weird thing is, it's like he knows this.

Hee hee... I got her! (6 months)
You better work! (6 months)

Still posing at 11 months

I don't put BG to bed in these because they don't have feet, and his nursery's not the warmest room in the world, so we use Carter's fleece-ish onesies (and still put socks and a bodysuit-onesie on underneath) for nighttime. But when we're chillin' around the condo during the day, the Hanna Andersson outfits are a great pick.

I started panicking because my friends' supply of them runs out after the size BG's currently wearing. So I just checked the brand's site for the first time and had a geek freak-out because of all of the Star Wars pajama options they offer for toddlers. Yeeessssssss.

The bottom line: While I only have experience with the sleepwear onesies from the Hanna Andersson brand, it sure seems like this company is pretty great overall. First off, they're Swedish. (That's my ancestry, so clearly the Swedes rock.) Secondly, their stuff is made out of 100% organic cotton with no harmful chemicals, and meets all kinds of crazy-high European standards. (Sad fact: the U.S. doesn't care much about chemicals in kids' clothing.) And then there's the whole cute-as-hell and comfy-looking-as-hell factor.

Are they the cheapest outfits ever? No. The sleepwear pieces you see above run between $28-$32 on the HA site. Thank goodness for my friends' kids! Ha.

Finally, I just found out that Hanna Andersson has some retail locations (and outlet stores!) across the U.S. Perhaps there's one by you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everybody!

Last night my husband and I kept our nearly decade-long tradition of going to a great restaurant on our corner for an early dinner before settling in to count down the end of 2012 with my man Anderson Cooper (and Kathy Griffin) on CNN. This time, of course, Baba G was with us, and he impressed the other patrons with his snazzy outfit.


The other diners were less impressed with his table-banging whenever he got bored, but a steady supply of Puffs, an applesauce squeezy-packet thingy and some quiet toys kept him happy the majority of the time, and we were able to wolf down three courses and return home in an hour flat.

When we got back, BG made it clear he was not going to last until midnight.



But he did have one last second wind before bedtime.



What's crazy to me is that on New Year's Eve last year, I was (obviously) pregnant, and even though my due date wasn't until January 14, I was CONVINCED that I was going to go into labor while at the restaurant, and that then we were going to have the "B-team" of doctors and nurses who drew the short stick for the holiday shift at the hospital. (Though I'm sure whomever gets stuck working those nights is just as qualified and professional — but it really was a huge fear of mine.)

Little did I know that I still had over three weeks of waiting for Baba G to make his move, as he didn't arrive (and when he did, it was not even by his choice) until 10 days after my due date. I should've had an extra dessert that night, dammit.

I hope you all had a wonderful time over the holidays. Baba G got (too many) cool toys that I'm excited to tell you all about soon. But for now, I'm going to enjoy this one last day of avoiding the real world, work, and the cold weather outside.

Here's to a great 2013...