Tips for personalizing your baby’s nursery

Tips-for-personalizing-your-baby-nursery

While I was pregnant, one of my favorite activities was preparing the nursery. Before I even found out whether I was having a girl or a boy, I had started imagining a warm, loving environment to bring my baby home to.

When I was little, my favorite movie was The Lion King, and I loved the idea of going with a theme that connected something from my childhood to my son. But, I was a bit concerned that his room wouldn’t feel personal enough if I focused solely on this theme. So, I decided on a general jungle theme for my baby boy nursery. This allowed me to buy the things that I loved from the Lion King collection—like this Lion King bedding set—but still personalize the baby room with my own finishing touches.

These are my top tips for personalizing your nursery:

Consider including something in your baby’s nursery that was special to you as a child. It will be fun to tell your kid about it as they grow up.

Browse deal websites for art prints and decor that you love. Framing prints yourself will also save you a bundle, and give your baby’s room a personal touch.

Get family and friends involved! Personal notes anticipating baby’s arrival will be special to read later, when your child is more grown up. Signature frames are perfect for this.

Leave room for some ongoing projects. I bought a frame that holds monthly pictures of my baby. Each month, we took a picture of my son with the same teddy bear and a month sticker to track his growth. At the end of the year, I had a great collage of photos that showcased how quickly he had grown.

Don’t be afraid to break away from your theme. My husband loves baseball, so naturally, we put a few baseball pieces in the baby’s nursery.

Leave room for gifts from friends. Looking back, the one thing I regret is over-planning. It didn’t leave room for gifts. When my sister bought my son his first share of Disney stock, which came with an adorably framed and personalized certificate, I had to rethink and shuffle some things around, so the room wouldn’t look cluttered.

Remember to get a comfy nursery rocker or nursery glider. You’ll be grateful to have a comfortable spot to rock or nurse your baby in the wee hours of the morning when you are somewhere between awake and asleep.

Ultimately, it only matters if you like your nursery, so ignore the latest trends and pick out what is special to you!

Everything you need to know about baby clothes

baby clothes essentials - everything you need to know about baby clothing

Who doesn’t love a pudgy little baby in skinny jeans? I will confess that I once spent 15 precious minutes trying to get baby’s skinny jeans over her pleasantly pudgy thighs, only to find I was faced with the same struggle after the next diaper change. That’s all it took for me to quickly ditch all of the delicately decorated baby outfits and uncomfortable clothing. Here are some tips about the baby clothes you really need—and how to get them for less.

Must-have baby clothing

To get straight to the point, the basic and functional onesie (long and short sleeve) and footed sleepers are essential! Our favorite outfits soon had a common theme: They were all comfortable for baby and easy to put on and take off.

While zippers are easy to use, I actually preferred snap buttons so that I could change baby in the middle of the night without undressing her completely. Also, the Halo Sleepsacks have been with us since day one and are the only way we can ensure our baby is both warm at night and sleeping safely.

Babies grow really fast!

The one thing to remember is that your little one will grow so fast in the first year. It is painful to spend a lot on a cute baby outfit only to see it worn once or twice. So I would recommend stocking up on the aforementioned everyday essentials, as these are what will get you and your baby through day after day.

Best-kept secret

It’s equally important to take care of all this baby clothing, so that it lasts and can be used by multiple children! I find myself doing laundry so often due to spit-ups and blowouts and was initially very frustrated when the stains wouldn’t come out. But then a close, trusted friend and mom let me in on the secret of OxiClean Baby Stain Soaker. This stuff will literally take out any stain. I am amazed every time I use it, as it has saved countless of poopy outfits from winding up in the trash can.

Recycled clothing

Hand-me-downs are one of the best things that have happened to parents (aside from their kids, of course!). Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they also help you save so much money. You can almost always get cute baby clothes handed down to you from friends and family as well as like-new pieces from rummage sales and consignment and second-hand shops with kids’ clothes.

Share photos of your adorable little one dressed in her favorite outfit. Post pics to Twitter or Instragram with #WalmartBaby.

The baby registry: How-tos & must-haves

Tips for your baby registry

For me, making a baby registry was kind of stressful. Don’t get me wrong—it was fun thinking about all the wonderful gifts loved ones would shower me with, but I quickly became bogged down with the overwhelming abundance of choices. And I had no idea where to start.

Good news: It doesn’t have to be like that for you! Here is the best advice I can give you as well as some must-haves for your baby registry. And remember: If you don’t get something crucial off of your registry, or if you forgot something, you can always buy it later!

Research other moms’ lists

I quickly discovered that other moms have already done the work for me—and the same goes for you! The number one, most helpful tool when I was researching what to register for? Pinterest. One night when I was ready to tackle the assignment, I went on Pinterest and typed “baby registry” into the search field, and a billion curated lists popped up. I decided to take five of those baby registry lists, print them out and cross-reference the suggestions. They were each a slight variation of one another, so within a night or two, I was able to come up with a very solid list of needs and wants for my little guy. I showed my list to two of my friends with toddlers, and they confirmed my choices were good ones.

You don’t need it all

You may think you need everything in the baby department, but honestly, you don’t. I found that I didn’t use half the newborn clothing I had, because my little guy grew so fast. I didn’t need a portable bottle warmer, because he didn’t mind his formula cold. Once you get to know your little one, you will learn their likes and dislikes. At that point, you can get some specific baby products to suit them (and you!).

Don’t stress

Don’t overthink your baby registry. Rely on pre-made lists, customer reviews and what you like the look of. It’s not worth stressing over. It’s a fun process, so enjoy it and let people shower you!

Go-to items for new moms

  • Swing. AMAZING! I did not register for one, and I wish I had. I ended up buying this one later.
  • Baby PJs with zippers. Trust me when I say this: Buttons are a nightmare! A crying baby in the middle of the night is stressful enough.
  • Muslin swaddlers. A few good wraps are essential for keeping your little one cozy and snug while they sleep.
  • Bathtub. This one is easy to use, flattens and hangs on a door for easy storage.
  • Soothie pacifiers. These are great for newborns and definitely helped relax my son. I have about 75 of these because I’m always losing them!
  • Play mat. This safe spot for putting your little one down is great for their development and gives mom a bit of a break!

Share photos of your registry experience or your baby shower! Post pics of yourself choosing or receiving your baby essentials on Twitter or Instagram with hashtag #WalmartBaby.

3 essential tips for traveling with kids

Family-vacation-travel-tips-baby

Traveling with children can be a scary thought. But trust me when I say this: It can be done, and your family will benefit from it. My family has traveled all over the world, and the six of us are headed to Costa Rica this summer. Traveling opens up your children’s eyes to new cultures, new foods and different languages. It gives them a sense of adventure while building curiosity. Your family will bond even more as you navigate through new places, deal with the unexpected and have some fun without the comforts of home.

Here are three tips to help you prepare and pack for traveling with kids.

1. Stay at a place with laundry machines or services. Washing machines are a huge help for two reasons. First, you can pack fewer clothes. (Five outfits per kid/per week is a good rule of thumb.) Second, you can do a load before you leave, so you return home with clean clothes, and don’t have to face that ugly chore after your wonderful vacation.

2. Bring only what you need. I have a tendency to bring EVERYTHING I could possibly need…and more! If you are traveling with a baby, most places sell formula, diapers and wipes. Unless you have a baby with specific needs when it comes to these, bring just enough for the first couple of days, and buy the rest of your supplies when you get there. You can find sunscreen, bug spray, shampoo and other toiletries just about anywhere!

3. Pack an awesome travel first aid kit. I have a mesh zip pouch that is stocked with everything I might need should a small emergency arise. It is the envy of my mommy friends, and they’ve even asked me if I could make them one for the next time they travel with children. Here is a list of what’s in my first aid kit for kids:

This first aid kit for kids goes with me everywhere and has saved the day on multiple occasions.

A little bit of preparation will go a long way in a successful family vacation. And don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure when traveling with kids — it’ll come in handy when things don’t go exactly as planned. Happy travels!

Share your family vacation travel photos with baby! Post pics of your little one on the road or in the air on Twitter or Instagram with hashtag #WalmartBaby.

Tips for assembling baby furniture

how-to-assemble-cribs-baby-furniture

While the anticipation of a new little family member is a bundle of joy and excitement as well as overwhelming, assembling baby furniture can be, well, just overwhelming. Putting together a Radio Flyer is one thing, but a whole baby crib is another—not to mention the accompanying changing table, dresser drawers and nursing glider.

The work can be grueling and usually requires some handiwork, plus four sets of hands, not just two. Over the course of raising my two kids, I’ve put together many pieces of nursery furniture and have learned that if you keep these few simple tips in mind, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration.

1. Take no shortcuts. Read the instructions and do so thoroughly. Like you would a recipe you’ve never made before, read through the whole thing before you get started and as you unpack the pieces. Getting a visual tally of how the parts look in real life versus how they are drawn on the directions is key.

2. Enlist help. I strongly suggest you get a friend or your spouse to help you. I know it’s just a bunch of wood and hardware, but it can get complicated pretty fast, especially when assembling a crib. Since it’s the biggest piece of nursery furniture you are likely to construct, putting the ends together and lining them up correctly will require four hands—one person on each end of the crib.

3. Use the right tools. Baby furniture of all kinds is manufactured so that parts can be put together with a single Allen wrench (also known as hex keys)—a hexagonal tool for securing bolts and screws with hexagonal socket heads. While it means you can’t use a Phillips or flat-head screwdriver to build the piece, it does mean you only need one tool to put the whole thing together. Be patient, and use the wrench provided.

A properly built crib means maximum safety and a longer lasting piece of furniture. And once the baby furniture is in place, all you need is the baby!

Share photos of your nursery in progress! Tag pics of your nursery coming together on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.

Toilet tales: The ups and downs of potty training

Potty training tips for toddlers

Our little family recently started one of the most challenging phases of toddler-hood: potty training. We had given it a try before, with mixed results. Our son, who is now just over 3, only seemed interested in using the potty if he was in a particularly good mood or if we managed to bribe him with stickers or other treats. We weren’t consistent, and he was still perfectly comfortable running around in a soggy diaper. So, the potty training experiment stalled for a bit.

Once our son became comfortable at his school (and his teachers started urging us to start training again), we felt good about getting back into the ring. We let him choose the underwear he wanted and bought a few “potty” books to help encourage him. His teachers assured us they would be consistent at school as long as we were at home. Then, the week before, we continued to remind him that in a few days, he was going to start wearing underpants and using the potty. He let us know just how UNexcited he was about the idea of trading in his diapers for using a potty. It took some negotiating, showing him how he would be wearing underwear like daddy and even showing him how daddy uses the bathroom. We also promised him stickers.

There were accidents. Many, many accidents. For that first week, we did a load of laundry every single day, filled mostly with his wet clothes. His school sent him home each day with individual plastic baggies of soggy pants. Slowly but surely, he started getting used to it. Each trip to the bathroom meant patient encouragement while reading the story of a character heroically using the potty, followed by a choice of a new sticker to decorate his shirt.

Now, just a month or so in, he is confidently using the bathroom by himself. There is still the occasional accident, and we are still working on using big toilets away from home. We put him in a diaper at night, because he just doesn’t yet have the control to make it through the night. But the biggest challenge we still face is learning how to poop in the toilet—he still prefers to do that in his diaper.

If you are in a similar situation and are struggling to help your little guy or girl leave the diaper behind, here are some things that are working for our family:

  • Be patient.
  • Be encouraging with every small victory and supportive after every accident.
  • Load up on stickers, books and little treats to help celebrate each successful bathroom trip. Bribery works.
  • Be patient.
  • Let them choose things like their new potty or training seat, underwear and step stool. Giving them a choice will help them feel important and that they are participating in the process.
  • Take baby steps. It is not all going to magically happen at once.
  • Let them tell you when they are ready. If you try to force it, it might backfire.

Oh, and did I mention be patient?

Share your potty training moments with us! Tag pics of your potty-training toddler on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.

Real Walmart nurseries: Trendy decor on a budget

Designing a nursery can be one of the most fun experiences for a mom-to-be. Even though I am not a mother, I have watched friends design amazing rooms for their bundles of joy, and I follow all the nurseries that our customers post on blogs and social networking sites. I am always blown away and inspired by all of the creativity!

What’s trending?
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of modern design influences, soft white nurseries, DIY paint projects as well as bold colors and prints. Many of our customers favor the Walmart.com exclusive Baby Mod collection, which has that trendy modern look without the huge price tag.

Look at the bold modern nursery that Alyssa Z. from Salt Lake City, Utah designed with our Baby Mod Modena 3-in-1 crib!

Walmart-baby-mod-nursery-style

Soft white-on-white looks are also really becoming popular, as seen in this world-traveler look that Carolyn V. from Burbank, Calif. created around our Graco Charleston 4-in-1 crib.

SONY DSC

These rooms each have cribs that are less than $200, but they look like a million bucks!

DIY for budget-friendly finishing touches
Our customers are style mavens, and I am always in awe of their DIY projects and how much pizzazz they add to each room’s overall look. One idea is to paint the platform base of our Baby Mod Olivia 3-in-1 crib a vibrant color to give your nursery an extra pop of personality. And don’t stop there! Keep going with your dresser and changing table. With a little paint and imagination, you can create a chevron or striped design in a snap.

Bold bedding
Bold prints are also huge right now, especially in bedding. One of my favorites is our Sumersault Colorburst 12-piece bedding set, which mixes and matches vibrant bright colors and patterns.

The best part of my job is that I am able to showcase items that help moms create the well-designed, eye-catching nurseries they want—for less. Families save money without sacrificing all the fun of decking out their new addition’s new room!

I can’t wait to see more beautiful rooms from all of you. Happy designing!

Share your nursery design style with us! Visit our nursery gallery, or post your favorite images to instagram with the #Walmartnursery hashtag.

Share your nursery style with us! Tag your nursery in progress photos on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.

Making my own baby food: Tales from the kitchen

Mom feeding baby homemade baby food puree

Making my son’s baby food was something that I never even considered until a friend gifted me the Baby Bullet. It got me thinking and researching homemade baby food—and wow, be careful what articles you read! There are some articles and blogs out there that will downright convince you that all prepackaged baby food is evil, and I’ll admit it: I got sucked into the hype. I was determined to give my son only homemade wholesome foods, so the Baby Bullet quickly became my best friend. It is easy to operate and quick to clean. On occasion, like when I was making bigger batches of food to freeze, I wished it was a bit larger. Luckily, it was easy enough to just divide it into two portions.

The best thing about the Baby Bullet is that it makes your baby food perfectly smooth. We discovered pretty quickly when my son was small that the puree would come flying back at us if it had any lumps, and when I attempted to make food in my food processor, it was too lumpy for my son’s sensitive palate. I am weird about food textures too, so I guess he gets it from his mama!

If you are going to make and freeze your baby food for the week, I highly recommend the Annabel Karmel FreshFoods Freezer trays. They are the perfect portion for when you first introduce purees to baby, and as baby gets older, you can just warm up two cubes at a time. As a working mom, this saved me so much time during the week. You just pour your finished puree into the freezer trays (like filling a big ice cube tray), put the lid on and pop it in the freezer. The lid isn’t airtight, so I popped out the cubes as soon as they were frozen and put them in freezer bags instead.

Now that my son is 15 months and eating mostly finger foods, I still use my Baby Bullet to make his favorite breakfast for the week—a smoothie of strawberries, banana, yogurt and a bit of baby oatmeal to thicken it up. He eats it daily. I simply make it over the weekend and freeze it for the week.

Oh—I also no longer feel like all prepackaged baby food is evil! I blame it on being a nervous, first-time mom. I still make most of his food myself, so that I’m in control of how much salt and sugar he is getting, but I’ve learned that buying a baby food pouch or premade snacks is just fine as long as you check out the ingredients.

Share your homemade baby food or baby feeding photos with us! Tag your messy baby pics on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.

4 maternity wear must-haves

New mom in maternity top

Shopping for maternity clothes is a nightmare. I don’t believe anyone has ever gone maternity shopping and gotten that giddy, excited “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how many cute things I just bought!” feeling. Your body changes so quickly, and the choices out there are extremely limited. Then there is the sticker shock. Maternity clothes are generally 30% more expensive than the non-maternity version. Add the fact that you only need them for 6–9 months, and you can blow through a clothing budget before know it.

I have four kids and bought a new maternity wardrobe with each pregnancy. How? I wore the same few things over and over again. (And I wanted to burn every piece as soon as I got back into my pre-pregnancy clothes!) So after four rounds of this, here are some absolute must-haves to make it through your nine months.

1. A ponytail holder or rubberband is the best tool you have. It’s a cheap, MacGyver-ish way to get some breathing room as you gain those first few pounds. I recall one afternoon when my pants felt so much tighter than they were that morning. I pulled off my ponytail, looped it through the buttonhole, wrapped it around the button—and voila!—I could breathe again.

2. Loose, blousy tops were a great investment, because they hid my bump in my first trimester and lasted all the way to the third.

3. Full-panel maternity leggings. You will never want to take these off. Enough said. Definitely check these comfy leggings out, and stock up.

4. A top or a dress that makes you feel pretty. Sometimes you just need to look good even when you don’t feel good. So I bought a beautiful, printed dress that showed off my bump and garnered tons of compliments. On those days where I was suffering from complete exhaustion, bad heartburn or morning sickness, that dress was a miracle worker. This sleeveless dress is one that just might do the trick for you!

Share your magical maternity photos with us! Tag your baby bump pics on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.

How I survived breastfeeding twin, preemie boys

How I managed breastfeeding preemie twin boys

As a recent mom of identical twin boys, people often ask me what it’s like. And to be honest, my husband and I feel so lucky our boys were our firsts. We had nothing to compare it to and didn’t know any better! I’m also so thankful we made it through the first six months, what I honestly consider the hardest months of our lives.

Arriving eight weeks early, our boys were preemies. They spent their first two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We will never forget the doctors and nurses who took care of our boys. Their dedication and hard work inspired us to be the best we can be—both at work and as parents.

I will also never forget the two months of intense breastfeeding “boot camp” in the NICU. Teaching two preemies to nurse is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. (And the feeding tubes in their noses didn’t help!)

The boys basically rejected me every day for two months. They would latch for a few sips, stop, let go and fall asleep. Preemies are so tired at this age, and it’s hard to keep them awake long enough to train them. I would spend about four hours each day training them to breastfeed and the remaining time pumping so they could get my milk supply. It was very tiring and so frustrating.

We started with a bare breast, but when the boys became frustrated with the effort of staying latched, we added a nipple shield, which (thankfully!) worked great for us! It triggered their suck reflex and gave them more to latch onto than just a bare nipple.

If you’re faced with a similar situation, my advice is to do your best, and try not to let it stress you out. These little preemies have a mind of their own! Persistence is key. Because when they finally got the hang of it, it was the most satisfying victory! A true accomplishment for the three of us.

From that point on, it was all about multitasking. How do you breastfeed one and soothe the other while they wait for you? It’s not easy—especially when it’s 3 AM and you haven’t slept in days! But my secret savior was the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper. It was my second set of hands, and fostered my strongest memory from those first months at home: Breastfeeding one of the boys while I used my foot to rock the other, soothing him as he waited to feed.

Not only did the rocker allow me to juggle both boys, but it also allowed them to sleep comfortably at night. No one tells you that many newborn babies don’t like to sleep flat. (They can get uncomfortable due to reflux.) The sleeper sits at an angle and made their colic disappear. Truly magical. To this day, I carry this secret along with me and share it whenever I can!

Share your favorite baby feeding photos with us! Tag your pics on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.