There is a commercial on the radio that drives me insane. (Um, am I the only human in NY that still listens to the radio?) It starts with something like, "Studies show that cocoa butter does NOT work to heal stretch marks! We repeat, it does NOT work!" Then they let you know that you just have to call their toll-free number to get their super-secret, super-special, super-effective (obvs) treatment that does work. We repeat: It. Does. Work. Not to mention that the super-secret ingredient is probably glycolic acid, which burns your skin and can run you up to $300 for one treatment. Or it may be retinoids, which you cannot use while you are pregnant or breastfeeding (A.K.A., right when you need the help). And it's true, the chemicals do work, but does it sound like it's worth it? Let me tell you how these chemicals work. It's super-simple actually: they increase collagen production and elasticity. They reverse the tightness that happens when your skin stretches out. You know what else does that? Shea butter. Aloe. Avocados and avocado oil. Vegetable glycerin. Lavender oil. And... cocoa butter. The key to making these ingredients work for you is using them preventatively. You can't just suddenly decide to apply topical treatments after ignoring what's been going on with your skin and health. Unfortunately, many women turn to cocoa butter, then lose their minds from frustration, and decide to drop a few hundred dollars on painful treatments or injections instead. You don't have to do that. Instead, try two things. First, watch your diet. Eating healthy fats and lots of vitamin C is actually the best way to prevent stretch marks in the first place. Second, take care of your skin regularly. The cocoa butter applications need to start before you get the stretch marks. It's so, so simple. Just buy any of the ingredients I mentioned above, and apply them to your skin as often as you think of it. Do it after you shower, or have your baby co-producer massage it onto your belly at night. Want a more deluxe option? Try this: 1 cup cocoa butter melted in a double boiler Take off burner Add 1/4 cup avocado oil Add 20-30 drops lavender oil You can store this in your cabinet for up to a year, and apply as much as you want. As often as you want. No burning skin. No doctors. For a total of about $10. Doesn't that sound like a way-better radio commercial? Get more info about S.W. Basics of Brooklyn here.
I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.
I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.
But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.
The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.
In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.
We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.
The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.
Lightweight + compact:
The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.
Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.
This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.
With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.
It just works:
I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.
So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.
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There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.
So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.
I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!
Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.
When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.
Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.
My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.
I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.
Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.
Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.
We've never felt so seen.
Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.
It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.
Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.