Baby & Toddler · Restaurant Reviews

Baby Shower Tea @ The Four Seasons Boston

My friend Chelsea had her baby shower last weekend at the Four Seasons. It was about 90 degrees out in Boston — kind of a harsh transition from all that cold and rain last week! — so I totally melted on the walk there, but once inside I had a Kir Royale in my hand within 5 minutes and all was right with the world.

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Here’s the best part. Five days later, Chelsea had her baby! It was definitely a surprise, but little Eloise decided 33 weeks inside mum was just long enough, and she made her entrance on Friday the 13th in the wee hours of the morning. My kind of kiddo! She’s also the second baby named Eloise that we know of this month alone, so we may have a sleeper hit on our hands for baby girl names in Boston! Our next door neighbors also chose Eloise, but they’re going to call her “Louie,” which I just love 🙂

Eloise the book: baby name inspiration for well-read parents?
Eloise, the book: baby name inspiration for well-read parents?

Before the drama of baby’s early entrance, we feted Chelsea with a classy afternoon tea, complete with fresh fruit, scones, clotted cream, miniature cupcakes, tiny sandwiches, cakes and more:

Gotta love fresh fruit served in a martini glass.
Gotta love fresh fruit served in a martini glass.
Delightful scones!
Delightful scones!
Mint and hydrangeas on every table. I got to take one home!
Mint and hydrangeas on every table. I got to take one home!

She got some great gifts for her little one (which, at the time, was a mystery gender) including a few of Georgia’s favorites: these blankets, these soft blocks, a Sophie the Giraffe teether, and all kinds of accessories for her stroller. Miss Eloise is going to be traveling in style!

We got her a starter set from the Honest Company, including newborn and size 1 diapers, baby wash, the all-essential stain remover (critical for getting diaper blowouts, throw-up and nose bleeds out of cute fabrics), along with wipes and diaper cream. I was nervous about gifting such small diapers, even though she specifically requested them, but obviously I needn’t have worried, since she ended up having a 4 1/2-pound preemie:)

I thought I wrapped this up good, no?
I thought I wrapped this up good, no?

We can’t wait to meet the little gal. Georgia is so excited to have a new playmate! As for the tea, I still think my trip to the Boston Harbor Hotel tea time wins out for experience and deliciousness (plus, that view!) but this was a really festive shower idea and I’d definitely go back. Next up: afternoon tea at The Langham; the French Room at the Taj Boston (formerly the Ritz), where they also do a Teddy Bear Tea and a traditional Holiday Tea at Christmas time; and finally The Courtyard at the Boston Public Library, which hosts a weekday afternoon tea that is supposed to be excellent. Then, I’ll have hit all the tea times Boston has to offer!

How about you — do you like afternoon tea? It’s definitely not for those short on time or money, as a typical afternoon tea costs between $35 and $55 per person before gratuity, and can last two hours or more. But I think it’s an elegant diversion from regular life, and you’ll leave surprisingly satisfied despite the daintiness of the menu. I know my mom is dying to take Georgia for tea when she gets big enough. Sounds like something really special for them to enjoy together!

As we head into that season of summer babies and the baby showers that precede them, here’s to health and happiness for all the new little ones coming into the world, and rest for their parents. I can’t believe how fast a year goes by, and that I’m soon to have a 10-month-old on my hands! Time really does fly with these babes 🙂 seems like just yesterday …

Looking for gifts for a shower this summer? Check out my list of newborn essentials, plus my guide to eco-friendly baby gifts and the wish list of things I would have bought myself just after having Georgia.

Baby & Toddler · News · Pregnancy · Tips and Tricks

Happy Mother’s Day!

Just in time for Mother’s Day: a cute picture of daddy with our 8 1/2-month-old Baby G 🙂

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We hit the mall last weekend to buy mom some clothes in her (ahem) new size.

If that’s my Mother’s Day present, I’ll take it. It’s worth it to feel good about yourself in new clothes that fit well — not wasting time trying to shoe-horn yourself into old outfits if it’s just not going to happen. A wider rib cage and pelvis is a small price to pay for that lovebug up there.

What are you all doing for Mother’s Day? I hope my fellow moms get to relax, and maybe take some time for themselves.

If I get to sleep past 6:30 and maybe read the newspaper, I’ll be happy! Speaking of which….I saw this interesting series on pregnancy health in the Boston Globe last month, and I really wanted to share it. Some of its findings were astounding (at least to me). In particular, the advice on what the flu or a high fever can do to mom and baby when you’re expecting shocked me. Not surprisingly, it says the biggest problem in maternal medicine right now is the fact that two-thirds of expectant moms are overweight or obese. yikes.

But the article said a few more nuanced things, too. One doctor pointed out that simply avoiding the flu while pregnant by getting your flu shot prevents a five-fold increase in the risk of baby having a psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia, later in life.

Another explained that recent findings show children of women who spike a high fever in pregnancy are more likely to develop autism, among other conditions, and that prenatal vitamins taken just before pregnancy, along with spacing pregnancies out by at least a year, can help reduce the likelihood that a child will develop autism. 

Really?

These are hefty claims. I’m no doctor, but I read the article with my mouth hanging open. It left me kind of frightened, to be honest. At least it was accompanied by a checklist for maximizing baby and mom’s health that I found helpful…

 Maximizing fetal and maternal health

  • Quit smoking, drinking, and drug use before getting pregnant. This includes second-hand smoke.
  • Get regular, moderate exercise before and during pregnancy. (Couldn’t agree more).
  • Eat a diet based largely on fruits and vegetables; if obese, reduce weight before pregnancy and limit weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Avoid eating fish that have high mercury levels.
  • Get illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, and auto-immune conditions, under control.
  • Prevent infections by getting immunizations, particularly against the flu, hepatitis, pneumonia, and pertussis, which can be dangerous for baby.
  • If you get a fever, take anti-fever medications.
  • Take prenatal vitamins, starting at least 3 months before pregnancy.
  • Space pregnancies allowing enough time for your body to recover. At least 36 months between pregnancies is ideal.
  • Consider tapering off any anti-depressant medication.
  • Eat organic whenever feasible.
  • Try to stay clear of insecticides and chemicals such as solvents and paint removers. When possible, minimize exposure to air pollution from traffic and fires; BPA, found in some plastics and canned foods; phthalates, in cosmetics and beauty products; and flame retardants in furniture and clothes.

I love these organic plant-based prenatals and these cleaning supplies. Of course, you can always go with things you already have on hand, like baking soda and vinegar. We also made the switch to glass bottles and lunch containers before we had Georgia. I even went the extra mile and made my husband start cleaning the cat box … just to be extra safe 🙂

I also read this awful article about how many toxic chemicals are in products marketed to babies and families. I know it’s an issue, and it’s why we’ve avoided certain brands, but I was still surprised at how pervasive the problem is, and how little some stores and sectors of government seem to care.

How about you — what do you do to avoid toxins? Do articles like this make you feel scared? or empowered to keep your family safe?

I’ll leave on an inspiring note. If you haven’t seen this beautiful photo series by Jade Beall on real women in all stages of pregnancy, nursing and beyond, it’s worth a look. Here’s one of my favorite images.

The photographer’s new book of photographs, “The Bodies of Mothers,” comes out on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014.

I hope you all have a restorative, restful Mother’s Day full of MANY cuddles, NO chores, NO cooking (who’d ever think I would say that??) and, if you’re lucky, some PAMPERING in the form of a bath, a pedicure, an exercise class, or whatever makes you feel relaxed and loved.

Cheers to all my fellow moms. Shouldn’t every day be Mother’s Day?

 

Baby & Toddler · Holidays · Pregnancy

Eco-friendly baby gifts

Sending a care package a new mom’s way, or putting together a gift for a new arrival this holiday season? Here are my fave picks for the eco-conscious, non-toxic and environmentally friendly baby and mama. These are all companies and products we use and love for our family. But first, Georgia’s first visit to Santa!

Now on to the gift ideas you came here for.

Under the Nile

underthenile.com

This company makes one of Georgia’s favorite loveys, the pink baby buddy. All of their products are organic, from apparel to toys, and they also use PVC-free dyes. None of their products include flame retardants, Formaldehyde or other chemical fabric finishings.

Baby Soy

babysoyusa.com

We love their kimono style outfits. This green clothing line is made from sustainable and organic soybean fiber, making them soft on baby and low impact on the planet. The kimono line is their signature, and makes for cozy sleepwear with easy diaper access and convenient fold-over sleeve mittens to prevent overnight face scratches from flailing little hands. We also love their soft, knotted hats, especially for sleep.

Georgia has this in purple with pink trim.
Georgia has this in purple with pink trim.

NaturePedic

NaturePedic.com

This is where we got Georgia’s mattress (and mattress pad). It is certified organic and Greenguard certified (meaning it’s been tested for chemical emissions) and free of allergens. It meets all crib regulations, also fits a toddler bed, and is made in the USA. Best of all, it’s comfortable and firm and she loves sleeping on it. A mattress and mattress pad weren’t things I was willing to compromise on, since she spends more than half her living hours breathing them in.

LifeFactory

lifefactory.com

Creators of shatterproof glass baby bottles with colorful silicone sleeves, LifeFactory designs their products to grow with your child, so you can add a sippy cup top for toddlers and eventually a regular flat cap. There are tons of colors to choose from.

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The Honest Company

honest.com

I love, love, LOVE their products. I started out using their laundry detergent because I’m sensitive to fragrances and other ingredients in commercial soap, and now that I’ve had a baby I use nothing else. We tried and loved their diapers & wipes, and now I purchase my household cleaning products from them, too. That way, I don’t have to worry about fumes or residue affecting Georgia (or me, as a breastfeeding mom) when I clean our counters, toilets and windows. In fact, their stain remover is so amazing that I was able to get a HUGE smear of black ink — from a dropped mascara wand — out of our white nursery carpet(!) Find their “welcome baby” gift package here. I also use their antibacterial hand gel at Georgia’s changing table and in my diaper bag, and at bath time their baby wash and body oil is all we use. I even use those two products on my own body so that I don’t put any toxic chemicals near her little mouth while nursing!

Honest makes a badass diaper cake with 92 newborn diapers and essential baby products in the center. What a shower gift!
The Honest Company makes a badass diaper cake with 92 newborn diapers and essential baby products tucked in the center. What a shower gift!

Anna Naturals Tea

drinkmamatea.com

Teas that are usually recommended for nursing moms are, in a word, nasty. Not these. With organic blends for preconception, childbirth recovery, nursing and weaning, there’s an option for every stage of pre- and postpartum life.

MightyNest.com

mightynest.com

The “mindful gifts” offered at this site are free of lead paint,  heavy metals, and Formaldehyde, and are hand-picked for any age range you’re looking to buy for. Parents of school-aged children can even donate a portion of their purchase to their own district’s classrooms.

Sophie the Giraffe

Georgia can’t get enough of this teether. She loved cuddling and nuzzling it before she was teething, and now it provides a safe, soothing surface to gnaw on when her gums are sore. Free of phthalates and BPA, Sophie features natural rubber and food-based paint that naturally wears away over time. Each one is hand-painted so they are all unique! Available at most baby stores, including Babies R’ Us and on Amazon.

Babies love to chew on her feet, nose, mouth, ears…

Aden + Anais

adenandanais.com

Their organic crib sheets, changing pad covers and easy swaddlers have a trusted place in our nursery. They are available at Babies R’ Us and Amazon. Read more about why I like them in this post about newborn essentials.

California Baby

californiababy.com

We use their calming natural and organic products, especially the diaper rash cream, on G before she does her overnights. It prevents rash from wetness when she’s sleeping the longest. It has a lovely peppermint scent that really is soothing. All their products are certified organic, made in the US, allergen tested and free of peanuts, soy and dairy, with no animal testing. You can find their products at Target or Amazon.

Angel Dear blankies

angeldear.net

Georgia has two of these: an elephant and a bear, both pink. (See her cuddling one of them in this post). This San Francisco-based company is committed to organic fibers and their products are luxuriously soft to the touch. I wish I had gotten G a curved pillow to match her blankies, because I think it would have come in so handy with tummy time!

Georgia loves cuddling this elephant blanket.

A Mighty Girl

amightygirl.com

This awesome site, dedicated to matching parents with empowering, educational and fun toys for girls, has lots to choose from — but I particularly think it’s cool that they have an entire guide to children’s books about the environment. Check it out.

Baby Gap Organics

We have a new baby coming into our extended family this year right after Christmas, and I’m loving some of Baby Gap’s organic cotton gift sets for the little guy or gal (it’s going to be a surprise). This collection takes gender-neutral baby clothing beyond the realm of green and yellow, which is one reason I love it!

I also love this handmade plush toy from ABCHome, and I really want this frame from Pottery Barn Kids to commemorate G’s first year. It’s so beautiful.

What are your favorite products and brands? Did I miss any?

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I am not affiliated with or endorsed by any of these companies. In some cases, clicking specific product links will earn me a small commission. I never recommend any brand or item I don’t believe in and personally use.