Diaper Bag Essentials For Moms On The Go

 

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This page contains affiliate links for your convenience. All linked products are ones I actually use.

I don’t really know how many of you actually care what’s specifically in my diaper bag, but I do think you’ll be interested in an awesome insert created by Tote Savvy that can transform your favorite purse or tote into a {un} diaper bag. I purchased the mini version in soft grey, and am loving it; now when I’m out and about with Taylor I don’t have to bring both my diaper bag and a purse, or stuff all the contents I would have in my purse into and lug around a huge diaper bag. The larger size Tote Savvy insert allows you to fit literally everything you’d have in your larger diaper bag into your favorite tote. I would totally have opted for that had I found out about Tote Savvy before buying this diaper bag. Luckily, I have a really well-stocked baby car kit in my trunk that has spare clothes and other items I can’t quite fit into my purse, that I can always head back to the car for in case of emergency. However, I’m definitely able to pack all the essentials into my {un} diaper bag AND look like a stylin’ mama thanks to Tote Savvy!

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Tote Savvy – a must have for style conscious mamas.
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Organization meets style.
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Toting my {un} diaper bag at the park.

If you’re super uninterested in the contents of my diaper bag (understandable), make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post for a sweet discount code to purchase a Tote Savvy insert and transform your own bag! Tote Savvy inserts are one of the items I think would make a GREAT gift for a new mom (see the others on my list in this post) so stock up for baby showers and/or Christmas gifts for any mamas-to-be or new moms in your life.

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Have you checked out the new Resource page yet? Click here!

Without further ado, here is everything I need to pack in my {un} diaper bag for a day out with my baby girl – it’s my hope that you’ll find something useful to help you feel even a little bit more prepared or organized:

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  1. Purse
  2. Wallet (I link the BEST price I’ve seen for an LV wallet!)
  3. Pacifier – I like storing extra pacis in small Tupperware containers like these or these. The only pacis Taylor will take are these.
  4. Teether – Sophie (I thought this was so overrated, but it turned out that Taylor LOVES it/her!)
  5. Snack – dried mango slabs which keep her happy & entertained for a good 20 {supervised} minutes. Make sure to buy unsweetened, organic, wide slabs so that your babe can’t fit the mango all the way into his/her mouth. We get ours at Whole Foods Market. Bonus – they can also double as {messy} teethers!
  6. Toy – these rings are easy to pack and by far Taylor’ favorite thing she owns!
  7. Bottle – Comotomo, the only bottle Taylor would take and one of the best for breastfed babes. There is an insulated pouch in the ToteSavvy insert for the bottle if you’re packin’ breast milk or pre-mixed formula.
  8. Book – miniature books like this classic are perfect for stashing in diaper bags AND for entertaining baby hands/minds.
  9. Disposable Bags – I have these Munchkin bags and dispensers in my diaper bag, daycare bag and car kit (click on the links to find out exactly what I pack in those bags!).
  10. 2-3 spare diapers
  11. Wipes – I buy this bulk box of travel packs (16 packs of 18 wipes each) that fit into the Tote Savvy as well as my diaper clutch.
  12. Solid Food – Kiinde squeeze pouch with the spoon attachment (I usually pack applesauce, but you can make tons of other homemade purees as I show in this post or buy your own to fill in the pouch when you’re on the go with your babe.)
  13. Burp cloth – I use these cloth diapers 
  14. Sunglasses – for Mom (similar, AND on sale!) and Baby (aren’t these hysterical!?)
  15. Miscellaneous stuff for mom –
    1. gum
    2. a pen
    3. hair tie/s – you don’t want to be caught unable to throw up a solid mom bun!
    4. hand lotion
    5. mini natural hand-sanitizer – I have theses stashed all over the place!
    6. chapstick
    7. lipgloss/lipstick – my favorite gloss ever is Laura Mercier, in Coral Reef or Nude Rose.
  16. Last but not least, the item that makes it all so stylishly possible…my ToteSavvy Mini which, by the way, also includes a changing pad which you can see rolled up on the right below:img_7346
  17. Not pictured – iPhone (because I was taking a picture with it, duh.)
  18. Also not pictured – a snack for mama (because I was out of my favorite protein bars which I’ve since remedied.)
  19. Pictured below – In December, 2016 Dr. Brown’s sent me these all natural pacifier and bottle wipes and nose and face wipes which I now carry in my diaper bag, which are incredibly handy when we go out to eat and she inevitably has a messy face to clean up and/or drops pacis, toys, bottles, etc. on the ground:

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20. Pictured below – The Mommy Hook which is perfect for hanging a purse, diaper bag and shopping bags:

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post.

Please enjoy using a 20% off Discount Code: FALLSTYLE to purchase your own insert from Tote Savvy at Lifeinplaycompany.com and turn your purse into an {un} Diaper Bag. Thank you, Tote Savvy!

xo, Ashley (1)

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10 Gifts Ideas For a New Mom

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Opinions and recommendations are 100% mine!

In the last month alone, I know three lovely ladies who have brought new life into the world and are currently in the throes of the newborn stage. Although blissful in many ways, the first few weeks with a new baby are also just plain hard – you’re recovering physically and emotionally from a really, really HUGE event while at the same time giving 110% of your heart and energy to get to know and care for that precious new baby. I can imagine it must be an even more difficult time if you have one or more other kiddos to take care of!  Having been in the newborn/brand new mama phase myself just a few months ago, it got me thinking about some of the amazing gifts I received from friends and family that made me feel super special and/or helped me get through the first few weeks.

Prior to having my own baby, I really didn’t know what a new mom could really use or enjoy during this time, and usually bought something for the friend’s baby instead. There are a lot of things I seriously haven’t clue one about about when it comes to being a mom, but I do know the gifts I personally received (or gave to myself) during the first few months of being a mom that are definitely worth paying forward.

All of us will know a friend or relative who gives birth and could use a special something during those first few weeks, so here are some ideas for gifts that would make any new mama feel spoiled.

What To Give A Mom Who Just Had A Baby:

Your time

Hands down, the best gift I was given in those first few weeks was the time of my best friends and close family. If you can make a few hours to go to a new mama’s house and volunteer to fold laundry, do dishes, cook a meal, make a grocery store run, hold the baby so the mama can shower or take a nap, or whatever they need to catch a well-deserved break, do it. I was blessed so much in this way, and it would be my #1 gift recommendation to give any new mom! And, maybe bring along another one of the items below as well : )

A massage gift certificate

To be honest, I did not get a massage until over 6 months postpartum (I’m actually going in for one tomorrow, yeay!), but I really could have used one within the first couple months. Time just slipped away from me. A mama’s body and spirit go through so much to bring that sweet little baby into the world. A massage is a wonderful way not only to release tension, but to have an hour of alone time to contemplate everything that has happened/changed, and reflect on the blessing of having a new baby. Having a gift certificate for a massage is sometimes more motivating to make and get to the appointment (new moms have plenty of other baby stuff to spend their money on!), and would be a much appreciated gift. If you don’t know of a local day spa, you could purchase a Spa Finder gift certificate that can be used at thousands of spas nationwide.

Scented shower gel –

It may seem small, but this is truly an indulgence that a new mama probably wouldn’t buy for herself that will make those few and far between showers in the early days really count – the shower may be a new mom’s only alone time for quite a while! 6.5 months later I am still enjoying the Philosophy’s Pure Grace body wash given to me by my parents’ neighbors (because I use it sparingly, not because I take so few showers haha). It smells super yummy, plus every mama needs a reminder to give herself the gift of Grace, especially during the first few months that can be so challenging. This was a thoughtful reminder for me to be gracious to myself during a beautiful, yet exhausting time with a STEEP learning curve.

ToteSavvy purse converter –

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I just recently purchased one of these for myself, the Mini version, and I’m obsessed! It’s basically an insert that transforms a purse or tote-sized bag into a diaper bag. This is the perfect gift for the style conscious mama – and something she may not have come across yet! Read more on the Tote Savvy inset and all about what I pack in my {un} diaper bag in this post.

A meal sent straight to the door –

The way to a man’s new mama’s heart is through her stomach – especially if she is nursing around the clock. There are all kinds of online delivery services now that you can use to gift a new mom and her family a dinner they don’t have to cook.  One of my best friends, who lives hours away, used Door Dash to send us pizza and Paleo chicken from one of our local favorite restaurants. Post Mates is another service for local restaurant delivery in many areas. Having food brought to us by family and friend was invaluable, but this is a great option when you live far away, but still want to show the love with a hot meal.

An emergency car kit –

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This Emergency Car Kit for a baby is something that I didn’t come up with until several months after Taylor’s birth, and would have LOVED for someone to  give to me already put together. You can find out all the details on what is in this car kit, and how to put it together in this post. I think any new mom would appreciate being gifted something like this, especially with a cute diaper wipes clutch like this one included:

A Motherhood themed graphic tee/sweatshirt –

For me, mom life IS the best life.
For me, mom life IS the best life.

I recently received this sweatshirt from ILY Couture as a birthday present from one of my best friends in the whole world, and I’m in love with it. For me, the mantra is 100% true, and it’s a truly comfy top – perfect for cuddling with Taylor. This and Lululemon black crops have basically become my uniform on my days off from work – yes, I’m that mom now. ILY is currently having a 30% off sale on their Mom Life collection: Use promo code: MOMLIFE

Below are some other options for fun graphic tees to welcome a mama into her new (or additional) role. I included super cute options for the rest of the family as well if you scroll through:

An Amazon gift certificate for online shopping –

My husband can attest that I did A LOT of online shopping, particularly on Amazon, during the first months after having Taylor. I literally didn’t leave the house for nearly two weeks (read more on my first outing here), and suddenly discovered there were a lot of things I needed but had not registered for/stocked up on (read all about that here)! I can imagine that most new moms find themselves in a similar situation – so many little things to buy for baby, but getting out of the house to the store right away is kind of intimidating/impossible. The Amazon gift cards from the baby shower thrown by my co-workers were an amazing gift that I will definitely be paying forward to my friends in the future as they have their babies. This might actually be my #2 recommended gift for new moms!

An outfit for Her

Maybe not so much the pants part of an outfit, as I know I certainly didn’t fit back into my pre-pregnancy size right away, but a shirt and accessory would be perfect. A new mom is probably not going to be doing any shopping for herself for a while, and sometimes putting on something new and stylish can just make you feel good. My husband’s Grandmother was so sweet and thoughtful to bring Taylor many lovely gifts when she first came to meet her, but also a flowy white tank top for me that was perfect for the summer weather at that time, stylish and comfortable as well. I so appreciated that unexpected gift, and had never thought about bringing a new mama friend clothing for HER… but I will now.



 

 

 

There is a whole line of this really cute teething jewelry by Mama & Little on Amazon right now that would make a great pairing with one of the loose fitting, comfy tops below for a new mama gift:

A comfy robe –

Even is she already has a robe, I don’t think you can have too many for the first month after baby. Particularly if the mama is nursing, she may very well spend a large part of the day in a robe purely for convenience/comfort’s sake. A robe like any of these would be a perfect new mom gift:

These are all gifts I’ve been given and GREATLY appreciated as a new mom. What are some other gifts you received postpartum that could be added to this list? Leave a comment below so that anyone reading this can snag your gift idea to give to a friend. 

xo, Ashley (1)

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Must Haves For Making & Feeding Your Infant Homemade Baby Food

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All featured products I have purchased and use.

Hey mamas –

Are you getting ready to introduce solids to your babe? Do you want to save money, and have control over exactly what is going into their little body by making some or all of their food at home? Well, I would like to share the products I’ve been using to make life easier, cleaner and more organized when it comes to making and feeding Taylor homemade baby food. Initially I thought that, as a busy working mom, I wouldn’t be able to do the whole homemade baby food thing. Fortunately, once I started looking into the tools and products available these days, I found that it’s definitely possible and doesn’t take hours a week for me to do. Plus, making baby food at home saves a lot of money –  according to Mint.com, homemade organic baby food is nearly 45% cheaper than store-bought organic; homemade non-organic is almost 43% cheaper than store-bought non-organic.

Taylor’s Pediatrician gave us the green light to start solids at her 4 month appointment, but I honestly wasn’t ready. It felt weird to give her food when my body had been all that has sustained her for so long. I waited for another month until she starting showing a lot of interest in our food – even imitating us chewing as we ate. I introduced one new food to her every 3 days or so to make sure she didn’t have an allergy. Now, at 6 months old, she has tried about 10 varieties of food, and combinations of those foods (her favorite so far is quinoa + yam + zucchini).

If you are ready to start feeding solids and/or are also looking to make and feed your little one homemade baby food, I’m hoping this list will be helpful to you.

1.  Munchkin baby food feeder – this was an item shipped to me in my first Baby Bin – a personal online shopping service for your babe, which you can read more about here. You can put jarred or homemade purées, or whole veggies/fruit into the feeder and allow your baby to self feed.

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Yummy banana!

2. Béaba Babycook Pro 2X – This is the linchpin to homemade baby food making work with my busy schedule. Yes, it’s a little more pricey than a Ninja , Magic Bullet (also great options) or a blender you already have at home, but it is WELL worth it when you consider the time and money you can save with it. The Babycook steams, blends and reheats all in one! I can put in chopped up fruit or veggies (or one of each since there are two sides in the pro version!), push the steam button and walk away to take care of fixing dinner for my hubby and I, doing laundry, playing with Taylor, cleaning, etc. Just 15-20 minutes later when I hear the timer go off, I can then dump the steamed contents into the same canister, switch to blend mode and purée to the perfect consistency. I can use the residual steam water or breastmilk to get the desired thickness. Days worth of homemade baby food in less than a half hour, and I don’t need to worry about cleaning up more than two canisters? Score! You can watch a video here for more on how the Béaba works it’s magic.

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Applesauce in the making.
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Perfect consistency!

3. Baby Bjorn bibs – I saw my best friend’s daughter wearing this bib one day and totally stole the idea – my bff seriously has the best ideas! Prior to this, I was going through cloth bibs like nobody’s business and it was making me a little crazy. These bibs are great because they actually catch the food that inevitably dribbles down and can be easily wiped off after a feeding. There are lots of fun colors to choose from too.

4. EZPZ bowls – These bowls are dishwasher and microwave safe (although I don’t microwave any of her food) but the best part is that they stick to trays and tables, making it impossible for your babe to push, pull or dump the contents as they could with a regular bowl. There are also versions with more than one compartment to hold finger foods.

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Excited to try a new purée.
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EZPZ storage!

5. Sage Spoonfuls storage containers – these are great for storing food that I plan to feed Taylor within the week. I also use these to reheat frozen baby food in the Béaba Babycook.

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6. Spill mat for underneath the high chair – I bought a mat that would go underneath a desk chair because I liked the idea of clear and simple, but there are some really cute patterned mats made for this exact purpose like this one.

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7. Spoons – these silicone spoons by Béaba are my favorite. They are BPA, lead and Phthalate free and designed specifically for infants who are just being introduced to solid foods. I’m not sure what spoons to go to next, but for now these are perfect.

8. 2 Command Hooks – I bought and placed two command hooks on the back of the highchair so that I could store and have easy access to her bibs and all the little parts and gadgets that go along with feeding. See #12 for the shower caddy I use to store everything.

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Command hooks for the win!

9. High chair – I am obsessed with this OXO high chair. Highlights are:

  • you can wheel it around the house as needed (i.e. getting ready in the morning)
  • it reclines if your babe falls asleep
  • the seat fabric is super easy to wipe/clean
  • It’s also very reasonably priced, at less than $120. If money is no object and/or you care about the aesthetics of your baby furniture and products, I would recommend Stokke high chairs. I have a couple friends who have these chairs and they look wonderful in any dining room and also transition into a chair as the baby grows into a toddler and beyond.


10. Washcloths/Water Wipes – I keep several of these and a pack of water wipes (99.9% water and monk fruit extract) in the shower caddy for after meal clean ups.

11. Kiinde squeeze pouches and spoon attachment – I haven’t used these yet, but bought a whole box of 50 for when we are out and about and having a squeeze pouch would be a lot more convenient than a bowl and spoon.I also purchased a funnel attachment so that I can pour purées directly from the blender into the pouches. Taylor also enjoys trying (key word trying) to feed herself, so the flexy spoon attachment will be just perfect!

12. Shower caddy – This is a super cheap shower caddy that is the perfect size to store spoons, washcloths, bowls, etc. and hook onto the back of the high chair.

13. Ice cube trays – I like to use these by Béaba because they are super easy to get frozen food out of and into a Ziploc for storage. They’re also dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe.

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So far, I’m finding that making baby food is a lot of fun. It is also a great way to introduce lots of new foods to Taylor that our family is eating anyway. For example, I made AJ and I some zucchini with our chicken the other night, and threw a few of the cooked pieces into our Béaba Babycook and served up a purée for Taylor to try. I personally taste all of the purées to make sure they are actually tasty, and it’s pretty gratifying to see her smile or make a little “mmmm” noise when she likes something I’ve make. Am I going to make every single one of her meals homemade? That would be awesome but probably not, especially when we travel, but luckily there are some great organic baby foods to purchase in a pinch! We tried a new recipe today (to help with the constipation that can come along with beginning solids, poor baby…) that T loved: oats + prunes + pink lady apple. 

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What are your babe’s favorite foods? Any combos I need to introduce to her?  I’d love to hear from you!

xo, Ashley (1)

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

 

Personal Online Shopping For Your Baby


Hey mamas!

I can hardly wait to tell you about this awesome service I was recently introduced to, Baby Bin. It’s convenient, useful and simply fun. This is the perfect service for busy mamas who value usefulness, relevance and quality yet don’t have the time to run around to a million stores – we’d rather be spending that time snuggling our babies, am I right? As a busy new, working mom, I’m all about online shopping and time saving services (hello Instacart, Door Dash, Amazon Prime, etc.) and Baby Bin fits the bill.  Baby Bin is a personalized online shopping service wherein a personal shopper (a real life, experienced mama) selects age/developmentally appropriate products for your baby that are shipped directly to your doorstep. It’s like Stitch Fix for mamas + babies. I’m absolutely LOVING this concept right now.

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How It Works:

To get started, you enter some information about your baby so that your personal shopper can select items that would be particularly useful for his or her age and stage. You will be sent an electronic preview of the items selected, and get to decide what you want sent directly to your home and what you could do without. You only pay for the items you choose to keep! If you end up deciding that you don’t want to keep anything that is sent to you, Baby Bin has a FREE shipping and return policy for 30 days.

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Babybin - Essential baby products

What I Kept:

Of the many recommended items in my online preview, I chose to have the following six shipped to us:

  1. Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash – $8
  2. Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment – $9
  3. Guess How Much I Love You Board book – $5
  4. Goodnight Moon Board book – $6
  5. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Disposable Changing Pads– $7
  6. Munchkin Baby Food Feeder – $6

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My favorite item and one wish for next time:

My favorite item so far has been the Munchkin baby food feeder – I had never seen this product before, and the timing was spot on as I began introducing solids to Taylor two weeks ago. I put a piece of banana into the feeder the other morning and she seemed to really enjoy gumming it. The only thing I thing negative I can say about my experience with Baby Bin was that I wish that there had been some toy/activity options presented – hopefully next time!

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I look forward to our Baby Bin personal shopper introducing us to other useful brands and products, as well as sending practical items I would need to buy anyway – all without having to give up any of my precious time with sweet T. I can’t wait for next month’s Baby Bin!

Want to give Baby Bin a try this month? Click this link to get started!

If you order a bin, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

xo, Ashley (1)

This post contains affiliate links. All views and opinions are, as alway, 100% mine.

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Baby Car Kit Essentials

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This page contains affiliate links for your convenience. All views and pictures are mine. If you purchase an item through one of the links, thank you!

You thought you would only be gone from the house for 20 minutes and baby’s just been fed and changed – no need to bring the diaper bag along…Of course, this ends up being the one time you discover a flat tire when you come back out from the store, baby has an unexpected and rather intense blowout, a traffic accident has you basically parked on the freeway 5 minutes from home, insert other unexpected and/or messy situation…. Well, it’s a good thing you’ve got your emergency baby car kit stocked and ready to go!

Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a Boy Scout Master, but in my book it’s always a good idea to be over prepared. This post will outline all the essential back up supplies you and your infant would need in case of a mess, change in the weather, delay, mom brain forgetting to re-stock the diaper bag, etc. I hope this visual and list can give you some ideas to create or add to an existing baby car kit.

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Baby Car Kit Essentials

1.Soft book – if you get stuck somewhere unexpectedly having a book on hand would be a great distraction and keep boredom at bay. Taylor loves soft books like this classic Cat In The Hat and they can be easily stuffed into your car kit. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is also a great choice.

2. A Toy – for the same reasons as above, a toy or two will come in handy. Taylor is entertained by these rings for shockingly  long lengths of time, and an Oball is another standby favorite. For more on developmentally appropriate toys for 0-4 month olds read this post.

3. Hand Sanitizer – I have one of these Babyganics hand sanitizer pumps in our change table caddy, nursing station basket and in the emergency car kit. I like this brand because it is alcohol and paraben free, yet 99% effective in killing germs. And, trust me, you’ll wand a healthy pumping of sanitizer after a major, on the road blow out.

4. Baby WipesWater Wipes are my go to – they are natural, gentle and only have two ingredients (99.9% pure water and 0.1% fruit extract) therefore you can use them for wiping baby’s bum, hands and even face.

5. Sanitizing Wipes – You may very well need these to wipe down a carseat, trunk bed, etc. I’ll leave it at that ; ) Our new favorite wipes brand is Babyganics; I have been buying these individually wrapped packets and stuffing them in my car, pockets diaper bag, portable high chair pocket, purse, basically everywhere:

6. Spare Outfit for Mama – I have this striped top in several colors. It’s long sleeved, yet light enough to use as a spare in any season. Add a pair of jeans that can be worn with casual or dressier shoes, and you’re good to go in case of a blowout or spit up emergency.

7. Storage Bin – I bought a cute bin for $5 on sale at Target, but these Ikea boxes are cheap and would work perfectly. I have 4 or 5 sets of these. The rest of the set can be used for nursery drawer organization as shown here:

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8. Extra Pacifier – I like storing extra pacis in small tupperware containers like these or these. Taylor will only take the Soothies brand.

9. Nursing Cover – You may or may not be nursing and/or concerned with being exposed when breastfeeding, but I like having a spare nursing cover in the car just in case. Here are

my favorite styles:

10. Swaddle Blanket – my favorites are these Aden & Anais muslin blankets – I use them to cover Taylor’s carseat to shield her from the sun, and also to keep her warm when it’s a little cold or windy out.

11. Baby Sunscreen & Diaper Creams – these are totally up to your preference, but I personally feel most comfortable using this Neutrogena Pure & Free baby sunscreen on Taylor.

12. 3-4 extra Diapers

13. Diaper Disposal Bags – I have these Munchkin bags and dispensers in my diaper bag, daycare bag and car kit (click on the links to find out exactly what I pack in those bags!).

14. Pair of Socks

15. Burp Cloths – I have 4 packs of 10 of these cloth diapers that I use as burp cloths. The will come in handy when wipes just won’t cut it.

16. Spare Pair Outfit for Baby – Seriously, just grab a onesie, a pair of pants and a beanie or hat that you already have – you don’t need anything fancy. I picked up this spare pair changing set on Gap.com when it went on sale because it was just SO stinking cute, and I couldn’t resist. They still have a couple other cute spare pair sets for boys and girls that come with a neat little zipper pack you could throw into your kit. Make sure to keep the size of your spare outfits/diapers updated for baby! I highly recommend creating a “spare pair” set from Primary.com. They have the best baby basics in SO many different colors, for really reasonable prices (all under $25!) – plus, you get 20% off your first order (click the banner below to shop)! To learn more about Primary and some of my other mama must-haves check out my Resources page.

Here would be my recommendation for a spare pair outfit:

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The outfit and changing pad fit inside this pouch!

17. Changing Pad Clutch – there are so many versions of this available. I have this one and really like it, but here are several other great options like this one or this one.

Other Miscellaneous items I’ve found SUPER handy to keep in the car:

A Restaurant Kitcreate a Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to reduce the stress of dining out with babies and eep it in the car alongside your Baby Car Kit. You’ll find a full list of contents for babies and suggested additions for older babies and toddlers, as well as 10 tips to make dining out with a baby less stressful in this post.

Click on the picture to find out more on this bag!

A Grocery Cart and High Chair Cover –  it’s just more sanitary than plopping her down without wiping down the surface with sanitary wipes I may or may not have with me…


Feeding related items

*A spare bottle,single serving of formula and a sealed water bottle to use for mixing. I did not include this in my photos as I am still exclusively breastfeeding, but if and when I switch to formula this will be a must have in my car kit. If you have a toddler or older kiddo, definitely include an emergency snack in case you get stuck somewhere! For babies just starting to eat solids, these Happy Baby meltable yogurt snacks are perfect to keep in the car in case of “hanger” in an unexpected situation:

* I keep a bag of spare pump parts in my car at all times in case I forget to restock  something in my pumping bag the night before work. Read THIS post to find out exactly what I pack in my pumping bag for work. If you’re a nursing/pumping mama I also recommend having a manual pump in your car in case you get stuck somewhere away from baby unexpectedly and need relief.

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So there you have it – everything you need for a well-stocked baby car kit. If you want to know what’s in my diaper bag and how I keep all the little baby things organized, check out THIS POST!

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All the essentials for a baby car kit.

xo, Ashley (1)

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If you liked this post, check out other posts in this series:


Teething In Style (featuring Happybébé)

Teething In Style Bib Bandanas for baby

I was quite surprised to discover that Taylor already had two teeth buds popping through at only 3.5 months old! The perma-spit soaked onesie and St. Bernardesque drool definitely clued me in that teething was right around the corner.

If your babe drools as much as my lil early teether does, then you know they can easily require 3-4 soaked top changes a day. Not the end of the world, obviously, but it’s definitely a hassle to change out an entire outfit.

A better solution? BIBDANAS!

Somebody is excited about her new accessory!

Bibdanas are much easier to swap out than going through multiple shirt/outfit changes – simply snap on and off.  Plus, I feel they add a little bit of flare to even the simplest of outfits. Throw one of these over a plain onesie and, voilá, your babe is stylin’! These are definitely a must-have baby item.

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Allll the cool kids are wearin’ em!

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Happybébé makes SUPER soft and absorbent bandana bibs that also happen to come in incredibly cute patterns for boys and girls. They’re by far my favorite bibdanas I’ve come across! Bonus – they are also very reasonably priced. I highly recommend picking up a 4 pack for your babe, or as a gift for someone else’s. Happybébé bib bandanas would also be a unique, fun add-on to a baby shower gift for a mama-to-be.

Our babies are gonna drool, so why not let them do it in style?!

Starting today, you can receive 10% off all Happybébé products on Amazon using the promo code MYBEBE10.

My happy baby in her Happybébé!
The perfect, functional baby accessory!

Thank you to Happybébé for sending us these adorable bibdanas, just in time for my early teether –

We LOVE them!

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xo, Ashley (1)

Taylor’s headband: Hello Kait

Onesies and Shorts: Gap/Old Navy

Shoes: Old Navy

Stuffed animals: Jellycat {see below}

Toy & Gift Ideas for Baby

Developmentally Appropriate Toy & Gift Ideas for Baby (0-4 months old)

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If you are anything like me, the plethora of baby toys out there is completely overwhelming; the potential of wasted money and unused toys laying around the house seems inevitable. In this post I will share the developmentally appropriate toys that Taylor actually engaged with from 0-4 months old, and at which month I introduced them to her. Hopefully this will help you narrow down the field if you are in the market for your own babe, or a gift for someone else’s. Of course, every baby is different and will gravitate toward certain toys according to their individual interests, but I’d bet that most of these are universal baby favs!

In choosing toys for Taylor I asked three main questions:

  1. Based on research, which toys are best for development?
  2. Which toys will my baby actually engage with at what month/age?
  3. Which toy are not so completely obnoxious that I won’t be able to stand having them around?

A great source to answer the first question is a blog written by a Mama/Occupational Therapist:
Mama OT. She has great toy and gift guides that list items that will support the development of little ones at various ages and stages. I definitely bought Taylor several toys based on her advice. I also work with Occupational Therapists and School Psychologists regularly in my line of work, and the gifts they gave Taylor are also included in this list – I’d say they are pretty trustworthy sources for developmentally appropriate toys as well!

Month 1

During the first month of life newborns are sleepy little blobs of cuteness that can’t do a whole lot else but eat/poop/sleep, but it’s still important to introduce sensory stimulation – auditory, tactile, and visual. They can see objects 8-10 inches away but can’t make out details or the full color spectrum just yet. They also like to look at faces, especially Mommy and Daddy’s! I bought Taylor several black, white and red high contrast items that she was really into (she was particularly taken with the beaver on the  crib bumper shown below!).

Below are the 5 items she focussed on most during her first month:

Black and white crib bumper:

Baby Faces board book:

Black and white board books like this one:

Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Mirror:

Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy:

Month 2

At 2 months old, colors and high contrast items are still super important to stimulate a baby’s visual senses. They’re starting to figure out the world a bit more by this point. This is a great time to introduce a play gym – you can rotate the hanging toys every few days or change your babies position to open up a whole new visual world. Play gyms, like the one I linked below, are also perfect for tummy time as there is plenty to look at and touch on the mat itself.

Here are some of items that we used a ton during Taylor’s 2nd month:

Set of rings (we use these to dangle toys from her stroller bar or bring objects on the play gym nearer to her vision/reach. She also just liked to watch a chain of rings dangled in front of her.):

High contrast books (ones with repetition, colorful picturesbath books, or indestructible/board books for teething later on are best):

Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball (she loves this ball even more now that she can grab and not just stare at it!):

Skip Hop play gym:

Month 3

At 3 months your baby will likely begin to touch, bat at, or even grab everything within reach. I tried to find toys I could place in her hands that she could hold onto as she developed this new physical skill. Here are a few toys that Taylor enjoyed and could easily grasp at this age:

Oball and Oball rattle:

Lamaze Musical Inchworm (this was her BFF for several weeks.):

Are You My Mother cloth book (T LOVES to pull the little stuffed bird out of the nest!):

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Activity Toy:

Month 4

During month 4 you’ll probably notice your baby’s improved hand-eye coordination, closer attention to the books you’re reading him/her, and the beginnings of understanding cause and effect. Your baby might even begin teething like Taylor did! As I write this, Taylor is in the tail end of her 4th month.

Here are the toys we added into the rotation this month that she has enjoyed playing with:

Lamaze Firefly Freddie (this is seriously the toy to replace all  toys for her right now – it even has a teething piece attached! We hook this up to the center of her play mat and she goes to town !):

Sassy Rattling Ring (we dangle this from her play gym using a few of the rings for easier access. Also great for early teethers):

Sophie the Giraffe (another awesome teether, plus there are cute board books to go along with her!):

Ring stacker:

Well, there you have it – our list of developmentally appropriate, engaging toys that aren’t too tacky : )

Up next in my developmental toy “to-buy” queue are a Play Cube and Play Table. I have my eye on these:


What toys did your baby like best? Help  me get ahead of the game – what toys did your baby and toddler really like from 4 months and older? Thank you!

xo, Ashley (1)

10 Breastfeeding Must-Haves For New Mamas

10 Breastfeeding MUST-HAVES For New Mamas

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First of all, let me start this post by saying that however you feed your baby – be it exclusively pumping, breast or bottle feeding – is awesome. I have no opinion on what is “best” and I don’t think that’s something for anyone to judge. I know many women who wanted to breastfeed their baby but couldn’t, and others who could have but chose not to. All of their babes are growing and thriving because they are being FED. So, to each mama their own!

If you are able and choose to breastfeed like I have, it really helps to know which of the MILLIONS of products out there are actually useful, since there are so many on the market.  The list below includes the exact items I have used, liked and had success with. Some of these items I also included on my baby registry essentials post as well. I hope this list is helpful to new mamas who are going the breastfeeding route!

1. Burp cloths

We use Gerber disposable cloth diapers in lieu of burp cloths. I swear at one point I had one of these hanging off every couch arm, chair and bedpost in our home. Taylor had reflux so we may have used more than the average family. I bought three pack of  10 which makes it so that I’m never without several on hand, even if I haven’t done laundry in a while. They are cheap, soft, super absorbent, and I don’t care if I have to throw one away occasionally. You can also place one under your baby’s head for side-lying nursing, so that you don’t get any spills from their little mouth onto your sheets! I think cloth diapers are a pretty good substitute for their oftentimes more expensive burp cloth counterparts, even though these are really, really cute!

2. Breastfeeding pillow

 The designer of the My Brest Friend nursing pillow is seriously a genius. As a new mom, you and your baby both are trying to figure out this whole breastfeeding thing. It’s not easy by any means, so at least you can be as comfortable as possible during something you’ll spend A LOT of time doing in those first weeks and months. The adjustable, noiseless release {trust me, this comes in handy} buckle allows the pillow to wrap around you to provide nice lumbar support. Unlike a Boppy or other nursing pillow, the surface is very sturdy – I called it my baby tray – that your babe won’t sink down into which really helps you keep good posture.Lastly, the pocket is perfect for storing items you’ll want handy (i.e. TV remote, cell phone, baby nail clipper/file, nipple cream, natural hand sanitizer, mini lotion, etc.). I do recommend having an extra slipcover for it for when you have to change it due to the inevitable spit up, blow out, et. al. They even make a My Brest Friend for nursing twins!!

3. Bra pads

Protect your bras/camis {and your dignity if you’re leaving the house} by throwing a pair of these in. If you don’t, especially in the first few months of breastfeeding when leaks are bound to happen, the milk can leave stains on your clothes. It’s a good idea to keep a couple spares in your diaper bag and/or pump bag just in case you’re out and about and have forgotten to pop them in before leaving. These disposable nursing pads by Hey Mama are soft,absorbent, reasonably priced, and can we talk about the adorable packaging?  They also make a cute tin of all natural, nice-smelling nipple salve!

4. Breastmilk storage bags

 I recommend these storage bags for any pumped breast milk you will not be feeding your baby right away. I store them in 2-3 oz increments and lay the bags flat in the freezer union they are frozen, which is a big space saver. When it’s time to use the milk, you can easily defrost it under some warm water, pour into the bottle and voilá! These are great if you want to create a stash of your breastmilk for when you go back to work.

 

5. Nipple shields

 These look a little bizarre when they’re in your bra, but I swear you will not regret having these for those first few weeks while your body is still getting used to breastfeeding. Trust me, having raw skin rubbing on the inside of your bra and shirt has to be one of the most uncomfortable feelings ever, and these were the only way I was able to alleviate that discomfort. Even if you only need to use them a couple weeks, they’re worth the small investment. I didn’t know about them until one of my best girlfriends clued me in, so I’m hoping I can pay that forward!

6. Lanolin Cream

That same girlfriend of mine once compared the feeling you have the first few weeks of nursing to a thousand fire ants. Need I say more?  The Lactation Consultant at the hospital gave me a sample tube of this Lansinoh cream and told me to use it before and after every feeding, which at the time I thought seemed unnecessary/overkill.Some women have better or worse experiences than I did, but all I can tell you is that using this cream before and after every nursing session was the only way I was able to persevere through the initial discomfort. Don’t get discouraged if it’s painful for several weeks – it was for me. Stick with it, because it truly does get better. If your pain seems greater than normal I would definitely suggest talking to a Lactation Consultant if you can, as soon as you can – they can help with latch and/or positioning issues that could make the difference.

7. Extra storage bottles

If you plan to pump, you will definitely need extra bottles to go with your pump. I store 4 empty Medela bottles/lids in my pump bag every day, as well as a couple extra lids just in case I forget. You can pop these in the freezer or transfer the pumped milk into storage bags. You can see the rest of what I pack in the pump bag I carry back and forth to work in this post.

 

 

 

8. Nursing Tanks/Bras

A nursing cami and yoga pants was my uniform for the first month after Taylor was born. It just makes life easier – who wants to fuss with anything else when you have a hungry, screaming newborn in your arms?

There are so many out there but here are the tanks, bras and sports bras I actually like that have held up to many, many wears and washings. The Cake bras are by far the most comfortable, in my opinion : )

{I bought some cheapy ones early on but they were not supportive or functional enough. It’s worth the investment, especially if you plan to nurse for a while}:

9. Nursing cover/scarf

There are all different styles to choose from, many of which can be disguised as just another part of your outfit. I have several different nursing covers; I store one in my pump bag, one in my diaper bag and one in my car just in case.  I love wearing my black infinite nursing scarf for travel days – super convenient. And, hey, if you don’t want to cover up at all then don’t. I’m all for normalizing breastfeeding in public if that’s your comfort level!

Below are 4 different styles to consider:

10. Water bottle

Last but not least, a good water bottle WITH a straw. One of the most important things you need to do while you’re breastfeeding is to stay hydrated! You  You will be especially thirsty in the first few weeks as your supply is coming in. If you become dehydrated, your supply may dry up as well.  So yeah, water {and lots of it!} is pretty darn important. Just when you thought you’d get a break from the pregnancy induced 20 bathroom trips a day…. The straw piece just makes it easier to hands-free, lean over and sip on while nursing or especially if you have to pump (i.e. when/if you return to work.). I have two of these, and plan to order two more to keep at work so I can cut down on one thing to schlep back and forth.

 

There are my top 10 breastfeeding must-haves for new mamas! Enjoy the special bonding time of feeding your babe, however you choose to : )

xo, Ashley (1)

 

5 Tips To Survive Your First Weeks Home With Baby

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Before giving birth to my daughter, Taylor, I thought I was equipped for our first weeks home together. My husband and I had her nursery furniture all arranged, I’d washed and put away the tiny clothing and accessories, stocked up on diapers/wipes/etc, and had the carseat installed.I thought I was ready to rock….

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All of the aforementioned certainly helped me feel like less of a chaotic mess, but looking back now, boy was I in for a big awakening those first days/weeks! There truly is no way to prepare for the new skills you’ll need to instantaneously acquire once your baby arrives: soothing them when they cry, surviving on minimal (or no) sleep, breastfeeding/pumping/bottle-feeding, keeping up with your own health whilst giving 110% to your baby, etc.

In the hopes of helping other new mamas navigate those first few weeks with your new bundle of joy, I’d like to share five of my new mama survival tips:

1. Take care of yourself, please –

Get enough to eat and drink. Keep snacks and a water bottle (I highly suggest a big one with a straw like this one that I have two of) next to where you nurse since you’ll be there pretty much around the clock. I can’t stop eating these protein bars. Seriously addicting.

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We actually utilized a meal delivery service for the first several months we had Taylor to supplement cooking, and were also blessed with parents and friends who brought us tons of fresh and frozen meals that lasted for weeks. Instacart is a grocery delivery service that can be lifesaving as well – I know I did NOT feel like going grocery shopping for quite some time, and they’ll shop for you and deliver to your door for a fee – perhaps not something you’d continue on with forever, but definitely helpful in the first weeks with a baby. If there is a Door Dash food delivery service in your local area, I would also recommend signing up for it -For a small delivery fee, you can have your favorite local restaurant’s food delivered right to your door. When I come home at the end of a particularly tough or long workday, the last thing I want to do is cook and clean up a meal. Those are the nights I hop on the Door Dash app (sometimes even on the way home at a stop light – eek), order a local favorite for my hubby and I, then get on to playing with my baby girl for the couple precious hours I have with her before she falls asleep! I’m so glad I found out about this service. Lastly, I know isn’t a “green” choice, but having a stack of paper plates (100 for only $13 HERE) for those first weeks saves you dish washing time. Any ways to make your life easier during those tough first weeks help!

Lastly, when you’re physically up for it, get outside for a walk . I can’t tell you how helpful it was to take daily walks, even if it was only around the block once or twice the first couple of weeks. You can progressively walk for longer stretches and you’ll be logging the miles [and shedding those preggo pounds] before you know it.

2. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” –

Everyone told me this, and I didn’t listen until I started feeling like I was losing my mind from exhaustion! Seriously, leave the laundry and TAKE A NAP.  Don’t stay up to get in alone time, even though you’ll want that too. Those things can wait a couple weeks. Elicit help from your partner, friends and family so that you can get some sleep. Your sleep is SO critical to being that best mama you can be! Another suggestion is to pump so someone else can bottle feed in the middle of the night every once in a while – it’s amazing how great you feel when you get even a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep in those first weeks!

3. Make friends with dry shampoo –

Maybe I’m the only one, but I think I only took a shower including washing/conditioning my hair 3 times in the first few weeks. Slightly hobo status, but between using nap time for a shower or sleep, I chose SLEEP! This brand is my favorite  for keeping your hair looking fresh(er) when you don’t have time for a shower. This is also a great, less pricey option that works well too.

4. Maintain good posture –

All the bending and slouching can really do a number on your back. I know you’ll be thinking of your baby’s needs before your own, but trust me – you need to be preventative with this so that you can continue to give your all to your babe. Invest in  a good nursing pillow like the My Brest Friend (my fav which I talked about HERE) and be cognizant of bending at the knees to pick things up, tightening your core when you lift baby off the changing table or out of the crib,  ot slouching, etc.

5. Soothing the baby tool kit –

This was probably the most difficult thing to figure out, and every baby is so different, but here are a few of the ways we were able to successfully soothe Taylor when she cried or need to go down for a nap/the night:

  • Taking walks with her in the Ergobaby Carrier with the Infant Insert – maybe it was all the running/exercise I did whilst preggo, but the girl LOVES her some motion!

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    • Bouncing on a yoga ball – this in combination with patting her bottom if she was really upset was a sure fire way to soothe her and even get her to fall asleep. Similar to rocking, but for Taylor, much more effective. Plus, you can actually travel with a deflated yoga ball/manual pump if needed.
    • Swaddling – I thought Taylor hated swaddling, so I let her be “free” for the first 5 weeks of her life. And guess what? Neither of us slept longer than 1.5 hours that entire time, UNTIL I tried out the swaddle again and low and behold she start sleeping 6-8 hours at a stretch at night and the 20-30 minute crap naps extended to 50-90 minutes! Give swaddling a try – I am lazy and uncoordinated so I use the cheater’s swaddle (Halo Sleepsack Swaddle) Taylor has two at home, and one at daycare, and I swear this is the single best thing for calming her down and readying her for sleep now [4 months old at the time I write this].

  • “Shhhing/Patting” – this is the latest way we’ve been able to soothe Taylor and get her to fall asleep without the need for motion (rocking, bouncing, walking, etc). It’s really been a game changer. Read more about the method in the book, which is now my baby bible, The Baby Whisperer.

I’m still a total amateur mommy and every baby is different, but hopefully there is one little nugget you can use or share with another new mama! If you have any questions please email me at ashley@taylor-mademama.com. I’d love to help new mamas in anyway I can!

What other ways did you or are you surviving the first several weeks with a newborn?

xo, Ashley (1)

How To Pack For Travel With a Baby (featuring EZPacking)

 Packing for Travel with a Baby (2)
Last weekend AJ and I took Taylor down to San Diego for a 4 day mini-vacation, her first ever trip away from home. We attended the beautiful, heartfelt wedding of some of our very best friends – AJ was actually the officiant! My parents graciously flew down so that we could attend the wedding and related festivities, and I know Taylor had a blast spending special time with her Grammy and Grandad. It was a fantastic trip and Taylor, per usual, was a rockstar!
I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about the whole traveling with an infant process beforehand: from how to pack all the things she needs day to day, to hauling around all our baby gear, to how she’d sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, and how on earth to pack all of her things in my suitcase in a way that wouldn’t be a complete mess.
I want to share a product I found that made the process of packing and accessing Taylor’s things SO much more organized and enjoyable – EZ PACKING CUBES. These packing cubes made packing all the many baby things and accessing them upon arriving at our destination so simple (hence the” EZ”!).
 I purchased the Starter Set, which is one cube in each of the four sizes. The company was gracious enough to also send me a laundry bag to go with the set which ended up being crucial for all those dirty onesies and burp cloths throughout the weekend!

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Here are 4 reasons why I’ll never pack without the EZPacking cubes again:

  1. They are transparent. I was able to easily find the things that I packed for Taylor and keep everything organized as I didn’t have to rumple through all her clothing looking for a particular item.

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2. The cubes can be packed to utilize the entire height of the suitcase – so, no wasted space! I was able to pack ALL of my things + Taylor’s easily, as you can see here:

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3. They come in several different colors (black, green, pink, blue and gray), which would be perfect for mamas packing for more than one little and sharing a suitcase. If/when we have another addition to the family, I know this will make packing for/vacationing with two so much easier. Seriously, an organized mama’s dream:
4 colors 4. 
I was able to quickly set up an organized, little makeshift changing station in our room, then pack it and all her other cubes up in about a minute when it was time to leave:

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Mamas, seriously these are well worth the investment. I only wish I’d bought a second set up front.

This is not a sponsored post, but EZPacking has kindly extended a discount for my readers.  Enter code: “taylor” at checkout for your discount:
https://www.ezpacking.com/

Here are a few other photos from our first family vacation:

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Daddy & T enjoying the view.
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My best girl.

Taylor’s moccasins: Freshly Picked

 

ALL the gear.
ALL the gear.

xo, Ashley (1)