What I’ll be Packing in my Hospital Bag for Baby #2

What do you do first, pack your hospital bag, or prepare a nursery? Get ready to pack your bags mama with these essentials!

Experts recommend to have your bags (one for you, and baby) packed and in your car by¬†35 weeks. (Taxi-taking moms ‚ÄĒ stash your bags in the front hall closet.) This list is meant to be helpful, so please don’t think you have to have everything on this list! Since this is our second baby, we’ve got a much better idea this time around of what to bring, and what to leave behind!

Also, a tip for the thrifty: Ask your hospital what they provide for babies and mothers, and take those items off your list.

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Must-Haves for Mama:

[ ] Insurance info, hospital forms and birth plan (if you have one)

[ ] A warm robe or sweater (you don’t mind sacrificing to the cause if need be)

[¬†]¬†2¬†maternity bras¬†‚ÄĒ no underwire, with no padding, we love this one

[¬†]¬†Toiletries and personal items ‚ÄĒ hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash (remember, travel-sized products are your friends)

[ ] Headband or ponytail holder (avoid clips)

[ ] Cell phone and charger, phone numbers of people to call after birth, prepaid calling card (if your hospital doesn’t allow cell phones)

[ ] Comfortable going-home clothes in six-month maternity size; an open front cardigan, nursing camisole, and / or nursing top and flat shoes

[ ] 2-3 pairs of warm, nonskid socks and slip-on hard sole slippers that can get ruined (for walking the halls indoor before and after labor)

[ ] Eyeglasses and/ or contact lens case and solution (remember, travel-sized products are your friends)

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What to Bring For Baby:

[ ] Approved car seat

[ ] Nursing pillow (your lactation consultant can help you position baby if you plan to nurse)

[ ] A coming-home outfit

[ ] Warm blankets (for the ride home)

[ ] Outdoor gear like a snowsuit and hat, as seasonally appropriate (remember, babies are extra sensitive to cold)

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Hubby’s List:

[ ] A gym bag packed with a change of clothes and basic hygiene products for your partner

 

Optional Items it for Mama:

[ ] Very light reading (think magazines)

[ ] Your MP3 player (loaded with your favorite tunes, of course)

[ ] Massage oil and tools like rolling pins or tennis balls, and lucky or inspirational objects for labor

[ ] Pen and paper

[ ] Lip balm (hospitals tend to have dry air)

[ ] Camera, film or extra memory card, battery or charger

[ ] A ruin-able nightgown (you can use those lovely hospital gowns, but your own might help you feel more human) how cute is this one?

[ ] Nursing pads (whether or not you plan to nurse, you might appreciate the support and leak-protection)

[ ] Your favorite brand of face wash, shampoo and conditioner (the hospital supplies these things, but bring your own if you’re picky) makeup (as if), lotion

[ ] A few pairs of maternity underwear that can get ruined (the hospital will have disposable pairs that can be worn)

[ ] Protein bar or other favorite snacks

 

Leave at Home:

[ ] Any clothes or nighties you really like (they could get ruined)

[ ] Stopwatch (your nurse or a monitor will take care of timing contractions)

[ ] Heavy flow sanitary pads (the hospital supplies these things, but bring your own if you’re super picky)

[ ] Fluffy Slippers (they will get dirty)

[  ] Extra pillow (unless you’re ok with one that can get ruined, in a pattern distinguishable from hospital white)

[ ] Your own bathing towel (of course the hospital will provide small towels)

[ ] Hairdryer (the hospital will provide, so leave at home unless you absolutely must have your own, this one is really awesome)

[ ] Breast pump, (the hospital should have one you can borrow)

 

Did we miss any of your ‘must haves?’ What would you add? Let us know in the comments below!

 

xo,

Christine

 

 

 

The Best Gender Neutral Toys for Toddlers & Young Children

I’d like to start by saying that I don’t believe toys should be looked as “for girls,” or “for boys.” Toys don‚Äôt have a gender.

Toys are Gender Neutral

I hope you’ll agree that the toy list I’ve put together are¬†GENDER NEUTRAL (as all toys are). Everything on this list is wonderful for girls and boys. Loved by both, and equally NEEDED by all.

I hope you’ll consider the ways all children will learn learn through playing with,¬†whether Legos, a doll house or kitchen.

Toy List

Best Toys for 1 Year Olds

Best Toys for One Year Olds

Best Toys for Toddlers

Best Toys for Toddlers

‚ÄúPlay Is The Work of the Child‚ÄĚ Maria Montessori

According to Montessori, the essential dimensions of play are:

  • Voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful and spontaneous
  • Creativity expanded using problem solving skills, social skills, language skills and physical skills
  • Helps expand on new ideas
  • Helps the child to adapt socially
  • Helps to thwart emotional problems

 

If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools. Through toys, children learn about their world, themselves, and others. Toys teach children to:

  • Figure out how things work
  • Pick up new ideas
  • Build muscle control and strength
  • Use their imagination
  • Solve problems
  • Learn to cooperate with others

 

Toddler Toys

Wooden Blocks

These are the absolute best open ended toys for young children. Even elementary aged children love to play with blocks.

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Rainbow

Another favorite open ended toy, this rainbow has endless possibilities for play.

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Small Animals

A set of small animals, or two or three, can be used for sensory bin play or endless imaginary play. The Schleich animals have exquisite detail, and will keep interest of older children with their life-like quality.

baby animals

Vehicles with People

Community helpers are so big with toddlers, and these vehicles are perfect for pretend play.

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Duplo Legos

Legos are a open-ended toy that every household needs to have. Duplos start young children in the early years to develop building skills.

duplo

Play Kits

Vet Kit Shaving Kit Scarves

Children love to play make-believe, and these kits explore grown-up skills and group play. If you don’t have scarves yet, they have so many uses. From dancing to learning signals, they truly are an open ended toy!

scarves

Baby Doll

Boys and girls benefit from playing with dolls, empathy and nurturing are not just skills for little girls. I absolutely love this new born doll is anatomically correct! Available in Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic and African, boy or girl.

baby

Doll House

We have gotten so much play out of our doll house. Excellent pretend play for boys and girls! In my daughter’s preschool class the boys often play rescue games with the the dolls and the girls jump right in. This particular house is the most gender neutral one I’ve seen.

dollhouse

Kitchen

There are hundreds it seems, of play kitchens on the market, and for good reason. Boys and girls love to role play mommy and/ or daddy preparing meals in the family kitchen. This kitchen from Ikea is a good value, but check your local market for resales,  you can often find one for a great price and most can last through several children.

kitchen

Pots & pans, cookie cutters, mitts, spoons, ladles, spatulas

We love our Ikea play sets for the kitchen. These are the perfect size for little hands!

Play Food & Shopping Basket

Grocery shopping is another favorite role play of young children. And these soft foods are our favorites!

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Fruits Veggies

Puzzles

Shapes Tool Puzzle Community Helpers Puzzle

You can never have too many puzzles (although my husband might disagree with me on this one). There are so many amazing teaching puzzles on the market today, these are just a few of ours that we love.

Cash Register

A tried and true favorite, this retro toy is making a come back. I love the simplicity of this one and I’m so glad they brought it back!

Cash

Alphabet Toys

Alphabet toys are a great way to introduce letters. Organically the child can explore the shapes, and we like to make the sound of the letter, not specifically the name of it yet. I love that this set has upper and lower case letters, and the wood pieces are in the actual shape of the letters.

alphabet

Train Set

Perhaps traditionally thought of as a toy meant for boys, little girls love to play with trains. Building a track with a grown up, and moving pieces around give endless hours of fun.

train

Play Tools

Our little girl loves building things with daddy, and tools are a great way for bonding with parents or “fixing” the child’s own toys.

tools

Spill Resistant Paint Cups

As children get older, they crave opportunities for independence. You want a clean house- these spill resistant paint cups help us meet them somewhere in the middle.

paint

Tea Set

Equally loved by all children, the right tea set teaches caring for others (offering drinks) taking turns, and introduces some basic etiquette (sitting at a table together).

tea set

Color Sorting Toys

Color sorting are one of the most favorite games of toddlers. Toddlers love order, and color sorting gives them an opportunity to practice those skills. Its amazing how fast children learn to sort.

Color Sorting Shapes

Music Instruments

Music is such a critical piece of development, I could write an entire post just on music and music therapy. A few good quality pieces will bring hours of joy to your children. And I love the simplicity of these instruments that require the child to do all of the creative work.

Band Piano Percussion

 

One Year Old Toys

Stacking Toys

We love these stacking toys, the cups are a steal at $3 and have given so much joy from such a simple toy. The imagination of children is just amazing. From playroom, to tub, to traveling on a plane and flying to see grandma- our stacking cups have some serious miles on them!

Stacking Cups  Stacking Rings

Baby Doll

Baby’s first doll should be soft, sweet and have a friendly face. We love playing with our soft doll and remember- they’re not just for girls!

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Shape Sorting Toys

Another toy that has brought joy not just to us, but our playgroup friends as well. Babies and even toddlers love this sweet little house!

sortor

Balls

The ultimate baby toy, but these texture balls are one of our favorites. Eager young children love to put everything in their mouths, and these little balls are so easy to wash. Another favorite of our little ones, and all the children at our playgroup gatherings.

balls

Push Toys

Every single child loves to have a toy they can push- moms and dads, you’ll love how compact this one is! This zebra is another well loved toy, and makes just enough sound as you push it along. You’r little one will love it!

zebra

Pop-up School Bus

Another timeless classic, we have one from my husband’s childhood. The peg people pop up when you push them down- baby’s first lesson in cause and effect! The cheerfully painted school bus and little people make this a hit with all children!

school bus

Ramp Toys

Toys are amazing things, did you know this is a first lesson in reading? I know! What? Yes, this simple little toy in which cars are dropped at the top of the ramp and drive down, yet allow full visibility, train a child’s eye to love down the page of a book! See, I told you toys are good for learning!

car ramp

Big Knob Puzzles

Big knob puzzles are a great first introduction into the world of puzzles. The over sized knobs make it easier for tiny hands to firmly grasp, and friendly pets, and fruits give little ones a good practice for things around the house.

Fruit Basket Pets

Mega Blocks

These are perfect for tiny hands, just learning how to put two blocks together!

mega blocks

Animals

All children love animals, and if you’re going to get small animals, I would highly suggest starting your collection with Schleich. Younger children may not yet notice all the fine details, but older children will. These are great for sensory bins, playing with blocks and other toys, the possibilities are endless. Starting your little ones with some of the larger animals, then slowly adding to the collection will be toys you can grow with.

Dog Horse Tiger Polar Bear

 

What are your favorite toys for little ones?

Remember, we don’t have to have every toy- just the right ones! Toys that entertain our kids are one-and done. We don’t want that! Look for open ended toys that let the child play, use their imagination and can grow with them!

 

xo,

Christine

 

We Love Ballet ūüéÄ

Have you heard the secret? We LOVE Ballet!

I am so excited to share with you one of our favorite places, Tutu School Raleigh! Founded by Lara¬†O‚ÄôBrien, Principal Dancer at Carolina Ballet and Owner of Tutu School Raleigh, this has to be one of Raleigh’s most magical places for little girls. From toddlers to pre-teens children are invited into the fairytale, an unique opportunity to learn the grace and poise of a ballerina while playing and twirling to some of the most beautiful uplifting music.

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With a lovely storefront, and in the heart of downtown, we adore this space. The instructors are so warm and welcoming to the children. Each of them very patient and loving as if they were their own little sisters, we have loved every staff member we have met so far!

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Parents are welcome and encouraged to come for end of week recitals held at the end of camp. And the youngest ballerinas can bring a caregiver to twirl and dance with them! We love all the magical touches the school includes, even for the littlest ballerina, keeping everyone engaged and excited to come back for their next class!

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For slightly older children, camps offer a fantastic chance to be emerged into a full week of ballet. A ballet theme week including learning steps of the real ballet, engaging exercises, crafts, a picnic lunch, and lots of twirling make the camp special and oh so memorable. We loved our week of Swan Lake Tutu Camp this summer. It was such an awesome opportunity for our little ballerina. She made some amazing new friends and loved the instructors.

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Center Stage

 

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Dresses from Favorite Ballets

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Look at that detail!

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The magic!

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So many perfect details!

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Ready for a recital!

Lots of space to slip on ballet shoes, or read a story!

 

Do you think your child is ready for ballet school? Head over to¬†Tutu School Raleigh¬†and please let them know we sent you! It’s great to be social,¬† you can see even more photos at¬†Tutu School Raleigh Facebook Page.¬†Then be sure to come back here and let us know if you sign up for a class!

Ballet Books!

Can we recommend a few great ballet books too? Your local library may have many of these!

Angelina’s Cinderella (Angelina Ballerina)¬†by Katharine Holabird

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet by Jane O’Conno

Child’s Introduction to Ballet by Laura Lee

 

The Ballet Book by DARCEY BUSSELL

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

OLIVIA Dances for Joy by Natalie Shaw

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer

 

Ballet_Books

More Ballet Stories we love:

Pinkalicious: Tutu-rrific by Victoria Kann

Bea at ballet by Rachel Isadora (Author, Illustrator)

 

We love hearing from you! Are you looking to enroll your little one(s) into ballet class? Have you ever seen a live ballet? We’re so fortunate to have such an amazing dance company in Raleigh with talent and women entrepreneurs right in our backyard!

xo,

Christine 

Beach Packing List for Toddlers

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We’re going up, up, so high on an airplane this week to visit Florida! Andy and I just celebrated our fourth year wedding anniversary are so excited that busy season is finally over! Yay! For those of you that are new around here, Andy works in the accounting world as an auditor, and they are slammed this time of year with lots of extra hours. Which means, a little vacation is well deserved for all of us!

I’m so excited to be visiting my mom and spending a week with her going to the pool and the beach! We have gone to visit before, so this isn’t our fist trip. However it seems we continue to need to find new ways to keep her entertained on long trips. You know what I mean? Toddlers are busy little people always learning, always on the go!

I’ve rounded up a few of our must haves, plus some new suggestions from friends we’ll be trying out!

 

Clothing

 

 

We love sundresses, and living in the south we are obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer. I love their bright colors and patterns, especially for beach trips in the summer! Two of our current favorite designs are this toddler shift dress and this adorable baby girls dress. The best thing about being two, is you can still wear 24 month sizes and toddler girl sizes too! Yay!! Our two very favorite bathing suites are these from Target; coral and waves!

Accessories

 

 

 

Minnie Mouse Sunglasses | Straw purse | Wide-brim Hat | Tropical Hat

Adventure Sandals | Swimming Vest

 

Travel

 

Minnie Mouse Umbrella Stroller | Stroller Fan| Water-resistant Sunscreen

Magna-doodle Board | Fun Magnetic Board| Leak-proof water Bottle| Snacks to Go | Reusable Activity Pads

 

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Carrying it All

Freshly Picked Butterscotch Beige | Skip Hop Caramel

At the airport or going on a road trip, it’s great to have a place that is convenient to keep everything your little ones might need handy. These are both great bags that look stylish and help moms and dads make parenting look easy!!

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Will you be traveling this summer? What would you add to the list? Leave us a comment below, or join us on Facebook and Instagram for more conversations! Looking for our other post on our minimalist packing list? It’s here:¬†A Minimalist Guide to Stress-Free Traveling with Toddlers & Babies

xo,

Christine