News: smart

7 Mind-Blowing Ikea Pantry Hacks

By Gen Cohen

Herb Containers

There's nothing better than using fresh herbs in your meals . . . except maybe having them so close at hand! Whip up this colorful herb container garden using an Ikea Socker plant stand and pots. Keep it in your pantry or on your kitchen counter, and fill it with all of your favorite herbs.

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10 Nursery Storage Hacks to Help You Save Space

By Gen Cohen

Caring for your baby inevitably requires a whole bunch of stuff, and it isn't easy to fit all those necessities into a smaller nursery. Not to worry — if you're working with minimal space, there are some simple hacks and products to help you keep your baby's items organized. Keep reading for a look at 10 smart space saving nursery ideas for smaller spaces, and then get inspired by checking out kids' rooms you need to see to believe.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

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36 of the Best Gifts For Infants (besides our shades)

By Gen Cohen

Baby's first holiday or birthday can't pass unnoticed. Though they may have more fun with the box than anything in it, there are still plenty of fun gift ideas to add to their toy chest. From activity gyms and bead toys to an adorable rocker and the softest play mat ever, here are our 36 favorite baby gifts for this year!

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We Let Our Baby Cry It Out, and 10 Years Later, This Is What Happened

By Gen Cohen

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12 Things Invented by Women That Moms Swear By

By Gen Cohen

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18 TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH A BABY

By Gen Cohen

Before we dive into this helpful article by Colleen Lanin, it's important to note that whether your vacation goes to beach or snow, protecting your kid's eyes is extremely important, and Ro·Sham·Bo Baby's baby polarized sunglasses are perfect for the job! Check out our pink and white kids' Wayfarer sunglasses!

Have a fun and stress-free vacation with baby by navigating on-the-go naps, time differences and cramped hotel rooms.

By Colleen Lanin via parenting.com

 

Does "vacationing" with your baby sound like an oxymoron? As someone who has ventured on road trips, beach getaways, cruises and more with my two kids, and who is writing a book about family travel—The Travel Mamas' Guide—I know that vacations now are not as easy as they were prebaby. And while there are tons of tips on how to get there, there's not much advice for how to manage once you arrive. A few simple tricks have saved some of my family's trips.

Strategic Unpacking

Just as important as what you pack—and you can check out get-ready checklists here—in my opinion, is how you unpack.

Do it immediately

As soon as you arrive (unless someone in the family is overly cranky or tired), set up your room to make it as close to home as possible. Put the baby in the playpen or hotel crib with a pile of toys and occupy an older kid with a coloring book. Or have your partner take the older sibling out to get the lay of the land while you unpack. Settling in will help you remain organized (and sane) throughout your stay.

Designate a baby-changing station

Bring a box of wipes, lay out a changing pad (I like to put a disposable changing pad on top of a hotel towel) and stack a bunch of diapers in one area. That way, you won't need to chase down the diaper bag when that first big poop occurs.

Create a play space...

Stash toys and books on a low shelf or in a drawer, or keep all the playthings in one corner. Creating a place for your baby to play will make the room feel homey and keep it from looking like a disaster area.

...and a kitchen

Even if your room doesn't have a kitchen or bar area, establish a spot where you'll keep bottles, dishes, baby food, snacks, formula and dish soap. Sometimes the bathroom is best if it has the only sink in the room.

Napping Smarts

Your baby needs her naps, but you don't want to spend your whole vacation watching her snooze. Follow these strategies for squeezing in that daytime sleep:

Start walking

When my daughter, Karissa, was a baby, she wouldn't nap in a strange crib while on vacation. So we planned our days around taking long walks with her napping in a stroller. Some moms advise bringing the lightest, most compact umbrella stroller on vacation to save room, but I always pack a stroller that reclines completely to make stroller slumber easier.

Wear your baby

If your baby doesn't sleep well in a stroller, try a front carrier (like the BabyBjorn) or baby backpack. If you've never used one at home but think it might be convenient on vacation, try it out a few times before you leave. Not all babies will like it, and it might be too hard on your back.

Go for a scenic drive

Try taking leisurely drives to check out the area while your baby naps in the car seat. And on some trips, you can coordinate drive time between destinations with sleep time.

Take turns nap-sitting

If your tot isn't an in-transit sleeper, don't be afraid to schedule naps back in the room. While it's a different vacation rhythm than you're probably used to, an a.m. break and midday siesta can be relaxing for you, too. Just consider your baby's napping style when booking accommodations; if you'll need to return to the room often, a hotel near the beach may be a better bet than a spot farther away, even if it's a bit pricier. If you can, book a room with a balcony or patio so the parent "on duty" can enjoy the outdoors, too.

Easier Bedtimes

One of the most worrisome things about traveling with a baby is getting your tot to sleep in a new place. Here's how to up your odds of at least a few peaceful nights:

Do some trial runs

If you're bringing a portable travel bed, have your baby sleep in it for a few nights before you leave. That way, it will feel like a familiar, comfy spot to go night-night on vacation.

Give it a few days

While it can be tempting to throw in the blankie and drive home in the middle of a sleepless vacation night with an inconsolable baby, I implore you to power through. Eventually, babies will adjust to their new surroundings and schedule, and sleep. If you can survive a couple of nights, I am (almost) willing to promise happy vacation days ahead.

Book the right room(s)

If bedding down in the same room means no one will get any sleep, consider booking a suite or connecting rooms. A suite may offer the convenience of a kitchen area, but connecting rooms may afford more space at a cheaper price.

Stick to the routine

If your baby's bedtime ritual at home includes a bath, lullabies and a bottle, do the same on vacation to make up for the change in location.

Get adjusted

Instead of expecting your infant to shift her internal clock and adjust to a new time zone, shift your day: Stay up later or get up earlier than usual by a few hours.

Meals on Wheels

Sampling local cuisine and splurging on restaurant meals are vacation pleasures I refuse to give up. Dining with babies can be done.

Breakfast in Bed

Because our times to swim, hike, shop or visit an aquarium are limited by morning and afternoon naps, it makes sense for the entire family to eat something quick in the hotel room. So we pack plenty of ready-made breakfast foods like mini-bagels, cereal bars and fruit (bananas, apples).

BYOF

If your baby drinks formula, it helps to pack more than you think you'll need. To save space, empty powdered formula into zipper-lock plastic bags. Or order heavy staples like diapers and formula—even baby shampoo—from a site such as diapers.com or Babiestravellite.com that will ship to your destination (and since you won't have to carry the formula, consider splurging on the ready-to-feed type).

Nurse wherever you feel comfortable

You can breastfeed anywhere you are legally allowed to be.

Bend the rules

To enjoy dinners out, you may have to encourage what you would normally consider bad behavior. I don't let my kids watch TV while eating at home, but we always bring portable DVD players when we eat out. Putting on some Sesame Street for them allows us to actually taste the food we're shelling out big bucks for.

Eat early

Sure, a romantic dinner would normally be at 8 p.m., but by dining out at 5:30, you'll likely have an empty restaurant, room to park your stroller, and a short wait for your food. Alternatively, if your newborn loves to sleep in her car seat, make later reservations and then feed her a bottle or nurse her while you wait for your appetizers. Hopefully, she'll be out for the rest of the meal.

 

Now, go enjoy! Toss out all your old ideas about what a vacation should be and embrace the new craziness that is traveling with a baby. Laugh at the fact that you're at the local playground by 6 a.m. and in bed for the night at 8 p.m. Consider all the gear and baby-lugging as great vacation exercise. And then savor going back home to "regular" life that much more.

Colleen Lanin is the creator of Travelmamas.com.

 

www.roshambobaby.com

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How This Mom's Morning Routine Sets Her Up for Success

By Gen Cohen

 

There's no denying that family mornings are hectic. Parents and kids need to eat breakfast, get dressed, gather belongings… there are lots of moving parts, and an ill-fitting sock, a missing glove, or spilled orange juice can derail the schedule in an instant. But busy mornings don't have to be stressful, and there are ways to find moments of bliss within the chaos. Here are a few methods that work for my (mostly functional) family of four.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO

Wake Up Early. I set my alarm for 20 minutes before my youngest child usually yells, "Mama!" What do I do in this time? I stretch, freshen up, pull on a robe, and page through the newspaper or listen to morning news radio for a few minutes — by myself. That alone time is the perfect way to create a calm front to meet the whirlwind of energy that my kids create when they literally jump out of bed. Not a morning person? Try 10 minutes early at first and I'll bet you'll find this change helps you feel more rested overall. Bonus: This practice gives me a jump on the day when I sit down to my desk, too. No need to scroll through headlines, I've already had my morning news fix, so I can get right to work. That means the whole day is more productive.

Cue the Music. When my children bound down the stairs with requests for everything from clean shirts to buttermilk pancakes (not likely on a weekday, kid!), I put on some music. As a family, we created a "Morning Mix," which includes a little Beach Boys, a few Adele songs, and yes, one favorite Alvin and the Chipmunks number. The music creates a sense of ease that helps the morning flow, plus it's a mood booster that lifts their—and my—spirits well into the afternoon hours.

Savor a Taste. As the rush to brush teeth and put on shoes and tie ponytails swirls around me, I keep my sanity by focusing on the steaming cup of coffee I'll pick up after school drop-off. Each warm, rich sip reminds me to take things slow and steady as I begin the part of the day that is my own.

Bag the Accessories. Winter comes with… stuff. We stay organized by keeping child hats, gloves, and scarves in a bag in the entry closet. When the kids come home, they know the accessories go right into the bag. As we head out the door, the bag gets dumped and everyone grabs their respective items. It's messy but it works, which is pretty much our family motto.

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18 Easy Christmas Crafts, Ornaments and Gifts

By Gen Cohen

This list is popping with inspiration, just like our fun kids' sunglasses are popping with color, and they fit perfectly under the tree, too! Check out our blue color changing sunglasses that will delight kids of all ages! Cute Christmas ornament crafts and gifts kids can make from our favorite craft blogs. 

Tags: Crafts, Christmas

By Lauren Passell

Soft Ball
Use up leftover fabric to make these unique ornaments from Everyday Beautiful. No two will be the same!

Photo Frenzy
If you want to take your snapshots to the next level, whip up these memory globes from Little Pink Monster, perfect for your mantle or as a gift for grandparents. Kids will love picking out photos and decorating their own.

Shoe In
Did you know you can make advent calendar out of a hanging shoe rack? Start collecting odds and ends to create this countdown-to-Christmas door decoration from Whimsy Love.

Can It
Tin cans are transformed into gorgeous, vintage-y looking ornaments in this easy project from Salsa Pie. Perfect to give to Grandma!

Pony Up
Here's a DIY craft for pony lovers! This felt pony farm from Smashed Peas and Carrots can be folded up so it's perfect for on-the-go. And her pony collection fits perfectly in the side pockets.

Have a Ball
For an easy project you can make from what you have in your recycling bin, try one of these pretty paper bulbs from How About Orange. Use wrapping paper or magazine pages to make the ornaments pop even more.

Jingle All The Way
These cute jingle bell hair clips from Little Pink Monster are fun to make and even more fun to wear. They're perfect for Christmas parties or to wear all season lon

Sweet!
Using real candies and yarn, you can brighten up the Christmas tree (or any nook in your house that needs some holiday cheer) with this sweet crocheted candy garland from Dollar Store Crafts.

Pin-Up
Old fashioned clothespins make great ornaments, and they only cost a few pennies each. These angel ornaments from Dollar Store Crafts can be decorated any way your kids can think up.

Stockings in a Flash
These stockings from Prudent Baby look like they're straight out of a catalog, but they can be whipped up in 15 minutes and require minimal sewing skills. 

Tag, You're It
These personalized photo gift tags from Fireflies and Jelly Beans are so cool they might get more attention than the gift. Use brown grocery bag for a vintage look.

Scrap That
Using fabrics scraps, you can make these pretty handmade notes from Smashed Peas and Carrots for a heartfelt way to say "Happy Holidays" or "Thank You".

Snow Daze
If subtle cheer is more your holiday style, try making these wooden snowflake ornamentsfrom The Crafty Crow. They're minimalist chic and easy to make.

Home Sweet Home
Here’s a sweet idea from Dollar Store Crafts: Pick up porcelain houses for a buck each at the craft store to make a pretty painted Christmas village. Kids will love adding their own touches, like feathers, glitter and fur.

Tech Cozy
Here's something kids can make for Dad that will bring back fond memories. This Etch-a-Sketch iPad cozy from Smashed Peas and Carrots is practical and will bring back memories of the days when he was writing Santa.

Tree Huggers
These ribbon trees from Fireflies and Jelly Beans are super easy to create, and make a big cheery focal point for your home. Make one or a whole forest, and don't forget the Christmas table centerpiece!

Take Note
These cute, colorful notebooks from the craft blog Whimsy Love, made from leftover paint chips, make great stocking stuffers.

Say Cheese!
We love to get Christmas cards in the mail, and these homemade photo ornaments from Fireflies and Jelly Beans are a great way to re-use them instead of throwing them away. Paste on a family pic to make it even more personal.

Gumdrop Snowflakes
Use your favorite gumdrop colors to make fun paterned snowflakes with toothpicks. 

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