Kanika Chadda Gupta

Parenting

Toddler Products I Swear By

Doesn’t it seem like there’s some new gadget for your toddler on the market every day? Though some products are useful, many are just plain frivolous or unnecessary. I am a minimalist (like most New Yorkers), so I only buy things I believe serve a utility and are valuable. Here is a short list of toddler products I have come to swear by. 

Lumehra FlexBag

Is it a hamper? It is a duffle bag? Wait for it. It’s both! The FlexBag was designed to make ‘mom life’ simpler as it doubles as a bag to use at home and while traveling. Consider it a hamper on steroids since it has numerous mesh compartments. I use them for my kids’ socks, undershirts, and as a way to separate my baby’s clothes from my twin toddlers’ clothes, which cuts folding/putting away time in half. The bag is made of durable, stain/mold resistant, waterproof fabric, so it’s ideal to take on the road. If you have older kids, you can leave it in the back of your minivan (your supermom-mobile as I so fondly call it!) and throw in dirty soccer clothes, shoes, etc. to toss in the laundry when you get home. Can we say mom win? You can purchase the FlexBag here.

Nose Frida

My toddler twins are in daycare and I still can’t believe how many viruses the’ve been exposed to in a matter of months. Just as they’re recovering from a cold, they seem to get better for a week, only to have a runny nose again. Enter – the Nose Frida. I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s an ingenious product made by a mom who knew the tried-and-tested bulb syringe for mucus extraction is actually a cesspool for mold and bacteria. It makes me wonder why they’re still used in hospitals. The Nose Frida is a mucus removal device comprised of an aspirator tube and a mouthpiece valve that allows you to literally suction your little one’s boogies. To clean, you can take it apart and put it in the dishwasher or sterilize it. Just brilliant. You can purchase the NoseFrida here.

Door Knob Protector

When my kids became tall enough to reach door knobs, I became paranoid that they would sneak out of their room in middle of the night and go tumbling down the steps. Child proof door knob covers by Jool Baby lets me sleep easy. It’s a very simple design that snaps over a round doorknob. No fancy lock or lever. Your kids will attempt to twist and twist, but will be swiveling the cover around and won’t actually have a grip on the doorknob to open the door. Is it bad that I get some sort of pleasure out of them trying to make a break for it knowing that it’s impossible?! Purchase your Jool Baby child proof door knob cover here.

Faucet Extender

My husband and I encourage our kids to be self-sufficient. From eating their food with a fork (no matter how much ends up on the floor) to climbing up the steps to belting themselves in their carseats, it’s gratifying for us (and them!) to see how they’re growing and becoming increasingly more independent. The Prince Lionheart faucet extender is a simple design that suits most bathroom sinks. With the help of their 13″ inch small stool, my one year old kids are able to brush their teeth on their own. They love it and so do I. Purchase the Prince Lionheart faucet extenders here.

Must-Have Organic Baby Products

 

It seems as though the major retailers in the baby industry are the biggest culprits when it comes to using chemicals and toxic materials in their products. After extensive research and trial and error, here are some of the all-natural baby products I swear by.

Crib Mattress
We have three Colgate Eco Classica III Organic Crib Mattress for our twins and newborn and love it. Made of 100% cotton and natural fibers, the mattress is firm yet comfortable. It fits right into our 3-in-1 crib/toddler bed which makes life so much simpler with each phase of our babies’ lives.

Baby Pillow
To prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), pediatricians advise no pillows, blankets, bumpers, or toys in the crib. It should be completely bare. We use this Organic Cotton Baby Protective Pillow when we are watching our little one as it prevents flat head. Organic Cotton Baby Protective Pillow

Moisturizer
Whether it’s for you or the baby, coconut oil is the best emollient, moisturizer, daily diaper rash barrier cream, hair oil, you name it! We use Tropical Life Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Why use lotions with ingredients you can’t pronounce when this works just as well, if not better!

Bug Repellent
My little ones often had mosquito bites crop up on their hands and feet (I guess they can’t resist that baby fat!), so I use California Baby Bug Repellent whenever we go outside in the summer. You can spray it on their skin and on the stroller to add an ‘aura’ of added protection.

Baby Toothbrushes
The design of these Sunzel Baby Toothbrushes prevent your toddler from shoving their toothbrush to the back of their mouth. These initial toothbrushes are a great way for growing toddlers to get in a routine of brushing their teeth and maintaining their oral health.

Baby Toothpaste
According to WebMD, “in children under 6 years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.” Our babies use Tom’s Toddler Floride-Free Toothpaste.

Diaper Rash Cream
Oh the painful diaper rash! Since urine and stool (especially the watery poopy blowouts. TMI, I know!) are acidic, they can easily cause rashes on your baby’s tush and they worsen because they’re in diapers all day long. The most important thing to do when your little one has a burn on their bum is to keep the area as dry as possible and use a barrier cream + vaseline. We use Burt’s Bees Diaper Rash Cream as a barrier cream and good ol’ petroleum jelly to seal the wound shut.

Hand Sanitizer
I honestly love all of Honest’s products. ;) The Honest Hand Sanitizer smells amazing and kills 99.9% of germs with a few spritzes.

Sunscreen
Kids have uber sensitive skin so just like us, they should wear sunscreen every day. My entire family uses Alba Botanica Sunscreen SPF 30 which is made for sensitive skin.

What all natural products does your little one use? Leave me a message in the comments below!

5 Parenting Tips When Raising Twins

 

The ultrasound technician rolled the probe over my baby bump and said “I see two heartbeats. You’re expecting twins!”

My husband and I nearly fell out of our seats. We looked at each other in disbelief and then back at the sonogram screen feeling a surge of emotions at once – joy, shock, gratitude. We always wanted a big family so having two babies in one pregnancy certainly put us on the fast track.

My boy-girl twins are a year old now and I’ve learned so much since the day they were born. From double strollers to tandem breastfeeding, tummy time to their first steps, we’ve all grown as a family and I have to say I’ve become well-attuned to their needs and am always thinking two steps ahead!

Here are my top 5 tips on what to do when raising two:

1. Have your babies follow the same schedule.

If you ask any parent of multiples, they’ll tell you this is a cardinal rule to follow from day one. Imagine this: it takes up to an hour for just one feeding, and newborns feed every 2 – 4 hours. Then they burp. Then they need a diaper change and go back sleep. And the cycle continues. If you were to do this back-to-back day and night, you would never get a break!

In the beginning, I breastfed my twins simultaneously (using a Twin Z pillow) and once they outgrew it, I breastfeed one while my husband/nanny/family member gave the other a bottle. That way, their feeding and sleeping routine was in sync. The same went for bath time, play time, etc. As toddlers, they have grown accustomed to doing everything together. They both wake up at 7 am, nap from 12 – 3 pm, and wind down for bedtime around 7 pm, with their breakfast/lunch/dinner, bottle feeds, bath time, and play time allotted for. I put a printout of their schedule on our fridge so that everyone knows what the twins are up to, which has made life so much easier.

2. Assemble your village.

Sure you may want to prove to the world that you can handle child rearing all on your own, but believe me, you’ll be tired, cranky, and won’t be able to give your 100%. The better care you take of yourself, the better caretaker you’ll be for your family.

I have been fortunate to have a husband who enjoys being a hands-on superdad. He does diaper changes better than anyone (no leaks!), orders their baby products on time (thank you Amazon subscribe and save), and reads books to them before bedtime with sound effects and Hindi translations to boot. Ask your partner to partake in all the childcare duties. It’ll help build a stronger relationship between the two of you and the kids will be thankful for that quality time.

If you’re a working mom, hire a nanny or opt for daycare. Our nanny works on weekdays and some weekends and has helped look after our twins since the day they came home from the hospital. That familiarity is key as they are so comfortable with her and adore her. We are eternally grateful to her and trust her with what’s most precious in our life – our kids.

Lastly, have your family members get involved. We live a stroller ride away from my in-laws; Our kids’ faces light up when they go to Dadaji and Dadiji’s place. My sister visits on her free weekends and my parents come stay with us when they can. Any help is a huge load off your shoulders, so don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends to come by for play time so you can take a nap or have them bring over food so you won’t have to cook. And don’t forget to thank them and return the favor in any way you can.

3. You actually don’t need two of everything.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to go on a crazy shopping spree buying two of everything. There are some essentials that you’ll have to double up on like diapers, clothes, bottles, bouncers (we bottle-fed them at the same time this way when they were infants), and high chairs, but there are other baby items where you can get by with just one. For instance, there are strollers on the market, like this one, that are versatile because they can convert from a single stroller to a double stroller (be it for twins or if you have a newborn and toddler). We have one baby tub, one jumper, one walker, and one of each toy, and guess what, they have to take turns and learn to share.

Don’t get me wrong, our kids have their moments where they fight over the same puzzle or blocks, but we let them resolve their issue on their own rather than mediating every single time. It’s the only way they’ll learn to compromise as adults and meet each other halfway.

4. Allow them to embrace their innate bond.

The bond between twins is so unique. From womb-mates to roommates, they understand each other like no one else and can truly feel what the other feels. My husband and I always thought this was special and try to capture photos of them interacting, whether they’re giggling together or giving each other high-fives.

When our kids were newborns, our pediatrician told us they should sleep in separate cribs. Somehow this didn’t sit well with me. They were together in my belly for so long, I couldn’t bear to separate them in the outside world. So I went with my gut and swaddled them and laid them to sleep side by side (this was not a SIDS risk since they were not able to take their arms out of their swaddles or roll over at this time). They looked so peaceful and content sleeping this way. Twins have an innate connection so allow them to embrace their bond; it’ll last a lifetime/.

5. Encourage them to develop a sense of individuality.

I feel I may have an easier time with this since I have boy-girl (fraternal) twins. Since they are physically different, it’s natural to accept their different tastes and interests. My son loves eggs, aloo parathas, and blueberries; my daughter likes to eat daal chawal, string cheese, and apples. My son loves kicking his toy soccer ball and playing with cars and trucks while my daughter prefers musical toys and her mini laptop. It’s fascinating to see what they gravitate towards and how they’re happy playing with their chosen toys on their own.

Lumping your twins together as one unit, especially if they’re identical, may create a complex later on. Pay heed to the foods and toys they like. Also, accept that they may be different weights and heights and reach milestones at various times. They are still two distinct human beings with different DNA. They shouldn’t be attached at the hip or be forced to do the same things. Instead, allow them to shine as individuals with their unique preferences and opinions.

I hope these tips were helpful to you and remember, go easy on yourself, trust your gut, and enjoy the ride, you supermom of multiples!

Baby Proofing Must-Haves

 

Each milestone in your baby’s life comes with a host of changes you have to make to your own lifestyle. As newborns, they can only placed down on their backs, then explore the joys of tummy time, start rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking, and before you know, your little one is running around the house amuck, curiously exploring every corner and gadget he can find. We are in the thick of our twins toddler phase and took these precautionary measures to baby proof our home (without having to compromise our interior design and aesthetic!) 

Baby Gates

We use the Retract-a-Gate mesh, retractable gate for all our stairways. Firstly, these gates are the only ones that fit our broad main entrance steps. Secondly, they’re discreet and retract away when not in use. When they are locked in place, they’re fixed and taught so the kids can’t push their way through.

Child Safety Locks

We use Magnetic Child Safety Cabinet Locks which have hooks that you place inside your cabinet drawers and a magnetic opener which you hover over the hook to open it up. I bought small 3/8″ circle felt black stickers to use as indicators from Etsy. You can’t see them at first glance and they match my white and black kitchen.

Crib Rail Covers

For the first two years of their lives, kids have to grapple with teething and gnaw at everything in sight! My husband and I were shocked to find that our twins left teeth marks in the wood of their cribs and the paint had chipped off. Not only is the wood & paint toxic for the little ones to ingest, their beautiful cribs look worn out. I came across Trend Lab Waterproof Crib Rail Covers, which are perfect for covering the crib rails, protecting the kids teeth since the fabric is a soft felt/shearling, and they’re waterproof and easy to throw in the wash as needed.

Play Yard

One of the first things you want to buy when your toddlers are walking everywhere is a play yard. Throw their toys, games, and books in there so they can play in this confined space. We have this North States Play Yard at home. As a DIY project, I covered the play yard rails with felt/shearling fabric that I bought from JoAnn Fabrics and had my tailor sew in strings every 10 inches to tie around the rails. They get the job done and protect our little teethers much like the crib rail covers.

Play Mat

Lastly, invest in a good play mat for your kids. We have the Skip Hop Geo Grey/Cream Playmat, which matches our cream/grey decor. Your kids will tumble and wrestle and bang their toys on the floor, so the thick foam cushioning protects them (and your home!)

What baby proof items do you have at home that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comment section below! 

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