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. I carry my Baby Car Kit Essentials in the trunk of my car, which contains many of the items I would otherwise need to lug around in my already filled diaper bag. If you haven’t already, check out that post (it’s my most popular to date!)

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)

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


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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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Toy & Gift Ideas for Baby

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

This post may contain affiliate links. You can trust that views are 100% mine.

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)