Top Ten Baby Shower Gifts

We are just emerging from baby territory into young kids and it wasn’t long ago that we were having gifts showered upon us in preparation for an entire new phase of our lives.

Karissa is officially a kid and Madi, sadly, is no longer a baby in many ways. It’s a very bittersweet thing. But because we are fresh out of baby phase, I definitely still know what my favorite baby products are.

Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Diapers

This is the practical parent in me speaking! Unless someone is doing EC, they’re going to need a ton of diapers. Why not give them a bit of a head start! We were given many, many different varieties and sizes of diapers at our baby showers for Karissa, and we didn’t have any left over. My favorites at the time were the Honest Company, they seemed comfortable enough, baby friendly, lots of cute prints/patterns, and most importantly (in my opinion), they didn’t leak like a lot of the other natural brands did. Since our kids are older now, I’ve actually changed to cheaper diapers, HEB store brand or Pampers depending on where we’re shopping.

2. Animal Pacifiers

I’ve written in depth about my experience with losing my breastmilk when Karissa was young. Because of this, she used a pacifier as a soothing mechanism frequently for a few months while we adjusted to the situation. I was bound and determined not to use pacifiers in our lives, but let’s be honest, sometimes life doesn’t care about our plans.

It only seemed natural to make sure that Madilyn had a pacifier that she liked, just in case. We settled on this cute moose pacifier  pretty quickly, and she loved it! Neither of my kids used pacifiers for long, maybe 2-4 months, but Madi still carried it around as a dear toy and chewing device for a long time. Worth every cent.

3. Books

We have a million books in our house. We have so many, in fact, that recently I made some cardboard bookshelves to try and keep them from being thrown across the floor every day. Which didn’t work, by the way–now the kids just take pleasure in removing them from the shelves to peruse and then toss on the floor. Argh.

Anyway, books are a great way to get a child interested in learning! I try really hard to read to the girls every day, and when I’m just not feeling it thankfully their dad steps in and handles things.

Some of our family favorites include: Little Yellow Bee, the GruffaloBlue Hat Green Hat, Dinosaur Dance (most Sandra Boynton), Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, Mr. Paint Pig, Karen Katz lift the flaps, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

4. Baby Carrier/Sling

Hands down the number one most used item in my day to day life every day for the last (almost) three years is a ring sling. A family member gifted me a wonderful Maya wrap for Karissa’s baby shower and I was instantly in love. I actually ended up buying a second one, a lightweight summer sling, and a water sling.

Matt and I both tried many varieties of carriers and the ring sling is what we were both most comfortable with. The learning curve is so-so, but once you figure out how to comfortably sit baby in one it’s so fast and easy. I personally couldn’t do any of the front carriers well and I had a Moby wrap that I genuinely tried to get the hang of, but the way she sat in it always felt unstable for me. User error, surely. A big plus to the ring sling for me was that the kid sits on one side/hip, so my dominant hand and other side remained largely free. Usually it’s helpful for doing whatever work I’m trying to do or carry the other kid.

5. Multipurpose Healing Balm/Diaper Ointment

We use Kuumba Made salve for EVERYTHING. Any cut, rash, itch, or skin problem at all gets this salve slathered all over it. It’s just wonderful to not have to worry about having multiple tubes of stuff for different purposes when one great concoction will do the trick.

6. The Nosefrida

The Nosefrida is the modern parent’s solution to the uncomfortable problem of snot and congestion. This wonderful device replaces a traditional bulb syringe and is, in my opinion, easier to use and easier to clean.

7. Toys: Manhattan Toys, blocks, musical Caterpillar

This ridiculous caterpillar lived in our house until the batteries finally died, and then for a year after that, that’s how popular he was. As babies the girls both just loved the little mirror and the tune he played, and frequently it was the only thing that would calm them down when upset.

Some other wonderful toys for young ones include almost anything from Manhattan toys: we had the winkel rattle, classic baby beads, skwish classic rattle, and bababall. The bababall is still very popular with everyone for throwing because mom doesn’t get mad if soft toys are thrown in the house. These blocks are also still very popular. Blocks are really great. We used Megabloks for a while but swapped them out for Duplos now because I really like the size and options better.

Now that the kids are older, this LeapFrog music player, dubbed “the green thing”, is the most popular toy around. Someone gave this to Karissa when she was really young and soon after Madilyn was able, they began to fight over it. We actually bought a second one, which I kid you not to my horror perished in an open cup of water about two weeks after we bought it. We finally replaced the one that we lost with a pink one, which is now the “pink green thing”. The original one, now nearly 3 years old, is on it’s last legs, so I am both amused and embarrassed to admit that serious talks have begun on whether or not to buy another “pink green thing” to replace the original. I am probably making a mistake in revealing the most popular toy in our house, because we seem to heavily rely on Amazon’s stock of these and may rely on it until our kids turn 18 and move out of the house.


8. O Ball

My aunt gave us the O Ball  when Karisssa was 3 months old and uh honestly, I wasn’t all that excited. I mean, I got the concept of it, but it seemed really lackluster. So very, very wrong. This wonderful contraption mounts onto strollers, carseats, rockers, and probably bouncers (don’t know, never tried one) and so many things can be attached to it! This was a wonderful distraction for a year or so for Karissa, and then about 3 months for Madi because her sister would come over and take the toys that were hanging away from her.

This pairs wonderfully with the musical caterpillar from earlier. There were many, many hours of musical caterpillar hanging on O Ball when Karissa was small.

9. Rocker or bouncer

A lot of hours were also spent, for both of my girls, in a rocker a lot like this one. I can’t find the actual one that we used, I guess the latest and greatest model has replaced it. Any time I needed my hands free I could put them in here, usually with the O Ball to play with, and feel confident that they were comfortable and secure. Some naps were even taken in here, huzzah!

10. Money

I know, money is such a lame gift, but if you don’t know what they need they will be ever grateful for the donation.

Taste Safe Slime

Karissa likes to paint, but Madilyn is a bit too little to be handed tempera paints yet. Instead, I tried to make her a baby substitute…except that I don’t keep wheat flour in the house. Say what I may about wheat, but the gluten makes for great stickiness with craft type projects. Anyway, I substituted psyllium husk powder, and the results were acceptable, but not really paint. Instead I got goopy slime stuff–not the intended result, but fun sensory play regardless!

Be careful with this,  while technically taste safe psyllium husk can cause constipation.


1-2 tbsp psyllium husk powder

1 tsp salt

1-2 cups water

Food coloring



1. Combine salt and psyllium powder in a bowl. Add water and whisk with a fork.

2. Separate into multiple small containers.

3. Add whatever food coloring combinations you like. If you don’t need it to be taste safe you can also add glitter, sequins, beans, rice or beads as well–get creative. We added glitter for Karissa and she loved it!

Adventures in Breastfeeding

Even before Karissa was born, I knew how important it was to me to be able to breastfeed her. I knew that it was undoubtedly the best nutrition that she could get, I wanted the bonding experience, and I felt that it was the greatest, most natural thing that could happen. The thought of holding my newborn in my arms as she happily chugged away elated me.

When she was born, however, it wasn’t all that easy. She breastfed, and it wasn’t bad, but we had some problems. We had some correct latching issues. She had a bubble palette. I had sore nipples from lazy latching (with both kids). She was constantly comfort nursing. The real big problem, though, was the milk itself.

A word of wisdom through personal experience: don’t believe people who say that all breast milk is the same and diet doesn’t matter. A few weeks into it my sweet newborn baby had this horrible green and red mucous poop, a red ring around her butthole, she was spitting up constantly, she was wheezing and she had a terrible rash. The consultants at my lactation clinic and her pediatrician both said that what I was eating wasn’t the problem and scoffed at me for thinking that the breast milk could have been causing her problems, but intuition and Internet research indicated otherwise. Always trust your gut (ha). So began my quest into starvation in an effort to find out what she couldn’t tolerate. I already don’t eat most grains, so this was going to be tough.

First I eliminated dairy, since her awful rash had first appeared a day after I had eaten cheese. Dairy takes a while to leave your system, though, and waiting to see improvement was maddening. My mother in law thought that I was nuts and made it very obvious. It’s understandable–our parents didn’t know as much when we were kids as we do now. After about a month her skin looked a little better, but she clearly wasn’t healed. I went back to the worldwide web in search of clues.

Next came soy–dairy and soy protein intolerance very often coexist. I guess the proteins are similar. Now, I’m used to glancing at food labels, but you really have no idea just how much has soy in it until you can no longer eat it. Suddenly hot dogs, sausages, and trail mix were no-go. Marinades too. Anything fried in oil that I didn’t fry myself was a strict no fry zone (har har). We learned that the effects of soy scared us most–it caused the wheezing, skin problems, and digestion issues–but also went away the fastest if I accidentally ate it, 24 to 48 hours. We were figuring it out, but still not there.

Last was eggs. She was around 3 months old now, and grandma thought that I was an uber-nuts extremist for cutting all of this out of my diet, but I needed to know and I wanted her to have exactly what she needed. Finally her bloody poop and rash went away completely and we knew what I had to avoid. I did accidentally eat oat flour once too which prompted a 24 hour rash (I guess that a lot of oat flour can be contaminated with gluten). I was on an autoimmune paleo diet, eating ridiculous amounts of sweet potatoes and coconut flakes to try and keep up with milk production, but I lost weight at an incredible rate with so little variety. I lost 50 pounds in 6 months.

Then we discovered that I was pregnant again. I was devastated when Karissa  began to lose weight and fuss constantly around 8 months old because, unbeknownst to me, I was not longer making milk (I had been told by a nurse that this wouldn’t happen and that I didn’t need to worry, so our baby STARVING didn’t evdn occur to us). We met with a different pediatrician who finally agreed that it sounded like she was intolerant of many various proteins. Since there is not a mainstream formula that is both dairy and soy free, he suggested that we ramp up her solid intake and use milk alternatives. He also advised that I stop trying to breastfeed–he thought that it would encourage her to eat. When we left his office I broke down crying–how could I give up nursing her? I wasn’t ready, and neither was she. This was a new world of pain, not being able to provide what my daughter needed. Luckily I found Sammy’s Milk–a goat’s milk alternative formula–read her story, and cried with both sadness and relief as I placed my first order.

The first week of bottles and extra solids was a nightmare, but we both adjusted. She seemed like she was scared that if she ate or drank it meant that I wouldn’t let her nurse, so the routine became that she got to comfort nurse after meals for as long as she wanted. I spent all day in the kitchen with her for weeks trying to get her to gain weight, and finally we hit our stride. Karissa comfort nursed throughout my entire pregnancy with her sister in spite of the fact that all I had to offer was colostrum. I am so thankful that neither of us never gave up: in spite of the intolerances, milk loss, teething and soreness we refused to let it go. Because of the laxative effect of colostrum she pooped a ton; her diaper consumption nearly doubled overnight!

Towards the end of the second pregnancy I remember just wanting it to be over so that I could see Karissa’s reaction to the milk coming back. I was able to resume eating eggs and dairy since she had outgrown her intolerances and was now eating them herself. Madilun was finally born and when it came to breastfeeding she was a born natural. She immediately latched herself and rarely needed help.

I am incredibly lucky: I’ve never had major complications with breastfeeding, never had mastitis or anything serious. I had milk blisters for a few weeks–that sucked (ha). The hardest thing for me was painfully sore nipples at the end of my pregnancy with Madilyn–Karissa wanted to suck and it would drive me crazy, but I let her. Ah, the things we do for love. Me and the girls are tandem nursing now, which is incredibly great and very rewarding. I love seeing my girls together snuggled up in my arms or gazing at one another while holding hands. Sometimes I wonder how long Karissa will want to breastfeed because of the difficulties we had, and I intend on letting her choose when to wean within reason (if she gets to 4 or 5 and hasn’t weaned perhaps we’ll reevaluate). She still wakes me up a few times a night to nurse, whereas her sister already sleeps pretty well. I can’t blame her, I really appreciate the comfort of the ritual as much as she does. She wants to lay in my arms and fall asleep, and I love knowing that she’s there next to me.

Thus far in my parenting adventures breastfeeding has been a crazy, hard, and great experience.