Tuesday, September 16, 2014

3 Baby/Toddler Products I Wish I Knew About When I Had My First Baby.

Does my life depend on the following three baby/child products? No. Perhaps it's more a case of "3 baby/toddler products I could live without but would never, ever want to," but any way you look at it, these three products are items that I've used nearly every single day since we welcomed them into our home and they are three products I wish I knew about (or I wish I knew were around) back when I had my first baby, four years ago.

First up is the mamaRoo. This is something we've used since the first day we brought Collins home from the hospital. Think of it as a baby swing-baby bouncer mash-up. It's that good. The number one question I'm often asked in relation to this item is, "is it worth the price tag?" Now, I can't answer that question flat out for everyone across the board. Some babies just hate things that move, move too slow or move too much and everyone is quick to tell me either they themselves or their second cousin's Aunt Judy had a baby that hated a swing. That said, I do believe the mamaRoo is absolutely worth its price tag, it's weight in gold, whatever you want to call it. Why? Because it's more than a "swing." In fact, it was never meant to be a swing at all. There's so much about it that makes it unique. 

With 5 unique motions that both bounce up and down and sway side to side, there's a variety of different motions available to soothe and comfort baby. These motions move in ways that mimic the same movement parents themselves use when comforting or rocking their baby. None of my babies preferred the vibrating bouncy seat. Why? Because, hello, parents don't vibrate! (At least, my husband and I don't). Our babies loved the rocking, swaying motion of being held in our arms or taken for rides in the car. Sometimes finding the setting your baby loves most can be a process of trial and error. For Collins, "Car Ride" on the medium speed setting and an aden + anais blanket was the magic mix that sent him right of to Sleepytown. 

When we first brought Collins home from the hospital, we would swaddle him tightly and place him right into the seat. We never used the newborn insert although some would recommend it. The seat slides on an easy axis allowing it to move from a nearly flat position to an upright position that I would compare to a small umbrella stroller or high chair. Now that Collins is older and much more interested in the goings on around him, he prefers to be sitting straight up and down.  

The mamaRoo boasts built-in nature sounds if your baby happens to be a fan of white noise or if he's ahead of the times with a penchant for say, Daft Punk or Carrie Underwood, there's a hookup that is compatible with any mP3 player allowing you to stream your own tunes while baby sways. In the beginning, I always forgot about this option and therefore we never really got into the habit of using it. 

It operates on wall adapter only which means no worries about having to constantly replace batteries and with a small product footprint and a variety of different fabrics/patterns to choose from, it doesn't scream "brightly colored baby item," if you're trying to keep your home looking less and less like the pages of a Babies R Us catalog. The mobile is pretty cool too, with reversible interchangeable balls. 

I love the mamaRoo so much that if I didn't already have three kids, I might go and have another baby just to be able to use it again! That said, the mamaRoo weight limit does not exceed 25lbs. Typically this is an appropriate weight limit for a baby seat in so much that when a baby reaches this weight, they're typically sitting up on their own and don't have much use for a baby swing/seat. At 4 months old, Collins weighs 21lbs so I fear that our time in the mamaRoo will be nearing an end sooner than I care to imagine. Also of note, if your baby can sit on his or her own before reaching the 25lb. mark, the mamaRoo can no longer safely be used. 

This is definitely a product I wished I knew was available three babies ago!

- - - - - 

Next up is the Joovy TooQool stroller. Oh how I love this stroller, let me count the ways! First and foremost not only is this an awesome double stroller but it grows and changes with your growing, changing children. Meaning that this stroller converts to a single and back to a double depending on your needs! 

The first two words that come to mind when I think of this stroller are versatile and luxurious. Coming from Joovy, this stroller is a huge deal and you can tell by the plush, stunning fabrics that it comes in as well as all of the top of the line bells and whistles this stroller boasts.

Each of the seats has a 55lb weight limit. Front seat riders are encouraged to begin riding at 3 months of age while back seat riders are encouraged to be at least 6 months of age before riding. Each seat boasts a soft padded liner insert that is easily removable for cleaning purposes. This comes in handy whether you're dealing with diaper blowouts or messy ice cream cones! Both of the seats recline but it's worth noting that the lower seat doesn't recline too far back for obvious reasons. 

In addition to the myriad of configurations that this stroller allows, one of my favorite features is the expandable canopy on the front seat. In addition to the neat sun visor flap, hidden by a zipper within the canopy is an extendable canopy that offers incredible protection from the elements.

I have used this stroller during walks around the pavement in our neighborhood, across grassy fields while visiting local farmer's markets as well as strolling the stores (and clothing aisles) of our local mall. It transitions easily between surfaces and doesn't at all feel like a heavy, bulky stroller, especially when used in the double capacity. 

Both my 4 year old and 2 year old have ridden in the second lower seat and they've each ridden comfortably and in style every time. My 4 year old is very tall (44") so while he's had to adjust himself a little to fit beneath the first seat, he manages to do so easily and comfortably. 

When used as a single stroller, the seat can be placed into position facing inward towards you or outwards, as most traditional strollers. Being able to constantly watch Collins and interact with him while strolling is something I was never able to do with any of our previously owned strollers so again, this is another one of my favorite features.

Storage beneath the stroller is on point for being able to hold all the things one needs while traveling with kids. Without a second rider, I can easily fit two bags in the storage basket below as well as extra blankets, lovies, snacks, etc. Of course when the second lower seat is engaged, storage becomes a bit more limited. 

My husband loves this stroller because the handlebar adjusts and as he's a bit taller than I am, he likes the ability to change the height of the handlebar to suit his comfort level. 

Lastly, when looking to store this stroller, it folds nearly flat! Yes, the stroller can be folded and stowed with one of the seats attached however, I have found it easier to remove each of the seats, fold them flat and then fold the stroller frame flat before hoisting them into the back seat of my SUV.

When I first started using the stroller I was bummed there wasn't any cupholders available for drinks! The joke was one me though as Jovvy makes great attachments to hold cups and other important things one may need close at hand while strolling! 

Joovy really hit it out of the park with the TooQool!    

- - - - - 

As you can imagine with three little boys, I've been through a ton of highchairs/booster seats. In the very beginning, we didn't even register for an actual highchair because I knew we would be low on space in our kitchen and I didn't want to add one more large piece of baby furniture only to consistently be shuffling it around our kitchen. Instead, I registered for (and used for our first baby), one of those feeding seats that attaches to any existing chair. This worked well for us until I realized that despite the towel barrier I had created on our kitchen chair, the plastic of the baby seat was ruining the finish on our chair. I then turned to Joovy and purchased their ultra sleek, very low profile Nook feeding highchair. 

I loved everything about that seat. Sure the fabric seat was a little difficult to get back on once it was removed for washing but did you hear me? It was removable for washing. In the washer and dryer. Amazing. It also folded flat for storage. But then my second learned how to remove the tray piece and throw it all over the kitchen when he was done with his meal. I literally had .7 seconds between his exclamation of " all done!" and the flinging of the tray and food remnants to quickly run to him and wipe him and the tray down. Not ideal. 

I then began the hunt for another one of those booster seats that attaches to an already existing chair but this time with a tray that couldn't be removed by an angsty toddler. And I hunted. And I hunted. And I tried out a couple of models, each with a tray or tray piece that could easily and quickly be removed by my two year old Houdini. 

But then Joovy sent us the incredible HiLo. Already a big fan of Joovy I couldn't wait to test it out. The biggest test, of course, being the tray removal and food flinging. A glutton for punishment, I picked the messiest first meal I could think of when I strapped my almost-two year old into it. As I served him his pasta with red sauce and a side of yogurt, I watched him devour it, paint a little bit with it and then exclaim, "all done!" And I waited. I watched as he pulled and picked and pushed and grabbed. I watched as he pushed his little toddler belly out in an attempt to pop that tray right from the seat. Nada. 

It was as if the heavens opened. 

The HiLo is another one of those products that grows with your children as they grow. As a family with three small boys, this aspect especially appeals to my husband who doesn't agree with my whole "but it's a new baby, it needs new things," mantra. From six months to six years, this highchair and booster seat easily accommodates your growing little diner. 

With a sleek, modern design this chair fits easily into any room of the house (although I'm not sure why you'd be using it in any room other than your kitchen). It also comes in seven different color variations which is kind of fun and exciting. With minimal crevices, it is a breeze to clean and can easily be wiped down with soap and water as well as disinfected if need be. Truth be told, there have been a few occasions when we've just taken it out back onto the deck and hosed it off, leaving it to dry in the sun. How awesome is that?

But the best part of the HiLo's durable design is that it easily rotates from an infant/baby highchair (6mo+) to a toddler chair/booster (2yo+). That's like having two chairs in one! 

The Joovy HiLo gets extra points in my book for versatility, durability and anti-tray-flinging and our two year old loves that he can join us right at the table and dine like "a big kid" but without the risk of him jumping down mid-meal and making a mess. Thanks Joovy for making mealtime easier, more attractive and just a bit less messy. 

I received these products for free in exchange for my honest review 
as I have expressed above. I would never, ever endorse a product 
that we didn't truly enjoy using, especially one that makes my life as a
mother and homemaker easier, safer and more enjoyable.  

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  1. I was excited to read this because I'm expecting my first baby in January and was hopeful for some good tips (finally) but I have to say, each one of these, although they maybe really nice to have, the price of these items are way out of any persons baby budget unless you have the money to spend on it. I would say getting these items free to review and write a post about is nice, I would like them too if I didn't have to fork over the money for it! Don't want to be negative and say these products are not good or nice, just wish more baby related post were more practical for families on a lower budget.

    1. Hi Liz, I once wrote a much more comprehensive (and affordable post) about new baby must-haves here: http://www.iloveyoumorethancarrots.com/2012/07/newborn-necessities-my-new-baby-must.html. I appreciate you not being negative- and I included the link above so that everyone can check it out. As a mom of three, I have spent a pretty penny on things (like other double strollers, high chairs, etc. because everything for 2+ kids tends to be more money!!) but you're right- these items are of a much higher price point. Hopefully you'll find my earlier post helpful! Congratulations to you!

  2. I have two little boys that keep me extra busy. I don't have any of the 3 products that you mentioned above but they do truly seem like they are easy and make life much easier. I especially love the high chair. How innovative. Joey seems to have some really great products. I'd love to test products out like you do.

  3. Now I need to get preggo so I can buy all of these. Haha. That stroller looks awesome!

  4. we are huge fans of the mamaroo in this household!

  5. Sold! My son is only 14 months and I'm thinking about all this awesome stuff I can buy next time around lol my husband is going to shoot me..

  6. In your honest opinion having not received these for free would you still buy it? Especially the mamaRoo? $260ish is a LOT (in my opinion) to spend on a baby item that they might not even like? I guess you could try to sell it if they didn't like it. Almost wish we could test drive these things before committing to buy!

    1. I would absolutely have purchased the mamaRoo (and had planned on it when we found out I was pregnant with Collins). Our swing was three years old, as was our bouncy seat and I feel like sometimes those items (especially if well-loved) wear out greatly after 2 babies. I had heard and read so much great stuff about the mamaRoo that I would have purchased it regardless. Friends of mine have gotten theirs much cheaper through consignment stores and Craigslist. I also LOVE the Joovy TooQool. Since I already have a myriad of double strollers, I wouldn't have purchased this one since I already have ones that accomplish the same task- BUT- if I was in the market for a double stroller that I could transition to a single and back to a double- or if I was a first-time Mom starting a registry? Absolutely. Well worth it. The high chair, while amazing, is a high price point. But that said, if I didn't already have a handful of feeding seats, it would have been smarter to invest in this three years ago.. You know what I'm saying? It would have eliminated the need for all of the seats in between.

  7. I should have bought a mamaroo! Darn it! I guess I need to have #5 now. Kidding, kidding.


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