Casey’s Camping Themed Nursery

Seven months later, we’ve finally decided on a theme for Casey’s bedroom: Camping and the Wild Outdoors! While the space theme has swept many parents away, I wanted Casey to grow up grounded. Instead of chasing the stars, I want him to look around and appreciate Mother Earth. We are hoping that by putting an emphasis on the great outdoors, he will grow up grateful for what he has rather than look to the future all the time. I know that sounds woo-woo, but I believe there is something in teaching our children to connect to nature and the world from which we came. Wonder at the stars instead of trying to capture them. Let someone else live out the future. Be in the present. That kind of thing.

We gave a preview of his bedroom a few weekends back when we posted an Instagram Reel of the Photowall wallpaper we chose. It got an astonishing reception, piquing many of your interests. While the room is still unfinished, I decided to share with you the products we are using to create his themed bedroom. We are converting his play gym into a tent and creating a library corner so he can have a space to pore over books. We are buying those stick-on Glow In the Dark stars so he has something to stare at on those nights he has difficulty sleeping. A hot air balloon ceiling light mimics Japanese paper lanterns to remind him of his first international trip. And a Long Live Boyhood sign over his bed reminds me to cherish these fleeting moments that only last a few years more. I hope you like it!

Building a Camping Themed Nursery

+ The wallpaper

+ This Play Tent

+ A Hot Air Balloon Ceiling Light

+ Glow In The Dark Stars

+ Galaxy Projector

+ Long Live Boyhood Sign

+ This Lantern

+ Oranges Play Mat

+ This Mushroom Pouf

+ Bunting

What It Was Like Traveling with A 6 Month Old Infant in Japan

A fellow mom-traveler once told me that six months was the best time to travel with an infant. This was after I had voiced to her my fear of giving up our favorite hobby (traveling to international countries) when I found out I was pregnant with Casey. When Japan reopened to the rest of the world Fall 2022, I knew that we had to go. Japan has been a bucket list destination for Mike and I for YEARS. We literally had plane tickets March of 2020. For three years, my biggest regret was not getting on that plane. So we decided to book a trip and I am so glad we did! These are my thoughts, tips, and gripes with traveling with a 6-month-old infant. The trip, by the way, was nothing short of amazing.

What Age Is Best for Traveling with Infants?

My mom-friend recommended six months but we booked our flight at 5.5 months. Why? Because we wanted to fly to Japan before starting solids at six months. It made meal-times with our little one easier, as he was 100% fed on baby formula, and we didn’t have to worry about exotic foods and microbacteria from another country causing sickness during our trip.

However, if I could have a re-do, I would choose to travel to Japan at 4 or 4.5 months because we set ourselves back with sleep-training. I felt like Casey was getting the hang of sleeping through the night around 4.5 months. Unfortunately with this trip, it took two weeks to set back his clock. At which point, Daylight Savings time occurred, so we are still adjusting.

Also, at 4.5 months, Casey was less energetic, mobile, talkative and demanding. At around 5.5 months, he could already voice his discontent, hunger, and tiredness with banshee shrieks and temper tantrums. We had to cater more to his desires. I think at 4.5 months, we would have to cater to his needs, but not so much his wants.

On the flip-side, I am SO happy we went to Japan at this age. Mike and I agreed that at 1 years old, we would have to worry about a toddler starting to walk (or run?) away from us. This would be a nightmare to manage with Japan’s heavy foot-traffic and metro crowds. And if he were a bit older still, we would have to deal with whining, complaining, and general resistance. Odds are a toddler would not be keen on hours of site seeing, miles of walking, and the general shopping and food scene. I could see Casey begging to go back to the hotel where there’s at least a pool! So next time we go to Japan, we already decided that Casey will be staying home with the grandparents.

What Items Did We Bring?

Let me start by saying that we brought way too much stuff. I heard that it was a bit difficult to secure baby items such as diapers and formula in Japan, so we decided to bring those with us. I was glad we did because we didn’t have to waste time trying to find these items on our trip. Since we travel much slower with a child in general, wasting time was not something we wanted to do. But for a ten day trip, I brought 100 diapers and 2 containers of Similac. We could have probably gotten away with 75 diapers (with enough to spare!) and 1.25 containers of formula.

We also brought an umbrella stroller. This was a great decision on our part. The umbrella stroller we had was this one and costs $40. It is lightweight at less than 5 pounds, which was useful for me. When we experienced rough terrain (aka cobblestone streets or temple hikes), we carried Casey and folded up the stroller. Mike carried Casey in a dual-facing carrier (another MUST!), while I lugged the stroller. It folds up into a slim profile and is similar to carrying an umbrella around! Plus it doubled as a staff when we were hiking up Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Mikey preferred to use the ErgoBaby Omni Carrier and I prefered to push the stroller. This worked out well, since we needed to do a lot of adjustments if we shared the same carrier. He is 6’3″ and I am 5’1″. There is one thing the carrier did better than the stroller! Casey loved to sleep in the carrier. The stroller was upright and uncomfortable for him to sleep in. The bumpy roads didn’t help either. So whenever it was nap-time, or when we wanted to stroll through a busy market, we popped Casey into the carrier and called it a day.

Other than that, we brought ten days worth of day-time and night-time outfits for Casey. In my opinion, we could have probably cut the night-time outfits in half and reused some of them, as he only really slept in them. We brought bibs, and socks. At this age, he could care less about shoes and accessories. And we brought three jackets, which was two too many in October. Japan was fairly warm during our entire stay, raining for only 2 of the 10 days.

How Was Transportation with an Infant in Japan?

In many ways, Japan was the perfect place to travel with an infant. Japan is one of the few countries where we do not have to bring a carseat or rent one out. Their public transportation system was simple, easy, and clean! We bought a Japan Rail Pass ahead of time, but to be honest, you can get by fine without one. One app that we downloaded that really helped was the SUICA app. It lets you direct transfer from your bank account funds to use for trains and metros.

There was a train every few minutes so you didn’t have to stress if you missed one. And they were reliably on time too! If you hop on a bus, no worries. They let you as long as your small infant is in a carrier. And if you are worried about crowded trains, I never once experienced the horrible videos that you see online. Part of that could be that October is not one of their peak seasons for visitors. Either way, I wouldn’t worry too much. Just avoid the peak hours if you do go during cherry blossom season!

What Are the Best Things To Do With An Infant?

There were definitely some things that were great activities for parents with infants, and others that were not. My favorites could be different from other moms, but I wanted to share them here. In general, the best activities involved being outdoors.

I loved walking through markets in Japan with Casey. There were many things to look at and he was enthralled by the lights and colors at the stands. We carried him in the carrier for the markets, so if he ever got tired, he would just fall asleep. When he got fussy, we would just point at an object in the stand and curiosity would get the better of him. He would stop fussing right away.

The same goes for temples. Because it was a lot of strolling through gardens and mini hikes outdoors, temples and shrine sight-seeing was wonderful. We avoided going inside the temples and shrines because it was fairly crowded and because indoor spaces got Casey riled up in general. We did not want to disturb the peace in the sacred spaces. But I greatly enjoyed seeing shrines and temples in Kyoto with Casey and Mike. Just like the markets, we carried him in the carrier for most of the time and he would fall asleep as he got tired.

As far as indoor activities go, one of my favorites was shopping. Japan has so many different stores to see. I had a blast just learning about their culture, seeing handcrafted items, and shopping at some of the most futuristic stores I have ever seen. We did not even BUY a ton of items or souvenirs, but walking around was enjoyable. For these adventures, Casey was mostly in a stroller. The best part about Japanese stores and temples was that they had many clean public restrooms specifically for infants, mothers, and handicapped persons. I never had an issue finding a place to change Casey’s diaper in these spaces.

What Were the Difficulties of Traveling Japan with an Infant?

In general, being in a restaurant in Japan was tough. The restaurants were typically small spaces, with counter seating or tiny booths. Some could only seat 8 people. Most of the time, the cooking is done directly behind the counter or at your table. Because of these facts, restaurants tended to be crowded, loud, and smoky. We hardly had a place to put the stroller, and the carrier was no good when we sat down and ate. So most of the time, we had to take turns holding and occupying Casey, who wanted to nab whatever was on the table.

This meant that sit-down meals were usually not that enjoyable. Our coffee dates also required us to be mindful of where Casey’s flailing arms and legs were. I much preferred to pick up food from a convenience store, at one of the train stations, or from a market. Eating standing up, outdoors, and on-the-go was a much more enjoyable experience for me than going to a restaurant. There WAS one evening where Mike and I were able to enjoy an omikase sushi meal for two. We hired a baby sitter and if I had known that that would’ve made dinners more pleasurable, I would have hired a sitter every night we were in Tokyo!

How Was It Hiring a Baby Sitter?

When I posted about hiring a baby sitter on Instagram, everyone and their mom wanted to know what that experience was like. Mostly, everyone was concerned about the safety of leaving Casey with a stranger at a hotel in a foreign country. But let me tell you, it was the best thing we did and I would 100% do it again next time.

Our hotel managed the booking of the nanny. We went to the concierge one morning and inquired. They reached out to a babysitting agency and found that none were available for that evening but one was available for the following night so we booked it. The minimum time was 2 hours of baby sitting. The price came out to $30 per hour. And if we went past 10pm, we had to pay a little extra for the sitter’s fare home (because it was pricier late at night to get a cab). Everything was paid for and managed through the hotel.

When the sitter arrived at the hotel, they called our room and asked to escort her upstairs. She came dressed up in a black dress, and promptly took off her shoes when she entered the room. She put on a white apron and slippers. And then she told us to have a great night, bowing until we were out the door.

Casey was easy to watch. His bed time was around 7pm. We had the sitter arrive at 8pm and went to dinner from 8-10pm. We stayed out a bit later, which the nanny did not mind. Casey did not wake up during the entire time she watched him. Which meant it was fairly easy for her, too! We felt comfortable and relaxed with her. Because it was through an official agency, and because the hotel concierge was aware of her presence, we just felt safe. Japan, in general, made us feel safe. I would 10/10 recommend doing this for young parents who want time to themselves.

In Conclusion

I hope this post was helpful for those who wish to travel to Japan with an infant but have reservations about doing so. I am so happy we did it as Japan was on our bucket list for a long time. It was a great trip. Of course, you have to be prepared for baby melt-downs and slowing down in general. But otherwise, go have fun!

If you want to know how we travel hacked our way to Japan using credit card points, this post is for you! We booked 8 FREE hotel nights in Kyoto and Tokyo. And we had our flights partially paid for too. In order to live our frugal life, we have travel hacked our way to 10 countries and all over the USA. If you want to save money but still live out your travel dreams, definitely check that post out!

The First Few Months of Cloth Diapering with Esembly

Casey was born on Earth Day, something both me and Mike are proud of. As a couple attempting to live sustainably, we felt that his birthday was somehow symbolic of what we hoped for our son. Someone who appreciates nature, understands ecology, respects our place in biology and becomes a tenant of this planet we love. In line with all that, we made the decision to use cloth diapers years before we even planned on having children. I remember vowing that if we ever did have kids, we would opt to reduce our contribution to the landfills. I remember his skepticism. But what I love about Mike is his openness to new things. By the time we decided to start a family five years later, he was totally on board.

I read about cloth diapering via Erin Boyle’s blog back in 2017. It was the first time I considered an alternative to disposable diapers. I didn’t realize at the time that my siblings and I were all reared on loincloths wrapped around our bums, pinned with a clothespin. But cloth diapering has (thankfully) come a long way. Cities like the Big Apple can tout cloth diapering services wherein they pick up used cloths at your doorstep and launder them for you. But where we live has no such services. So it’s a godsend that Esembly created a diapering system that can be done at home.

The First Few Months of Diapering with Esembly

Of all the questions I’ve received as a new parent, I have not gotten as many inquiries as I have with cloth diapering. Moms all over the web are asking how it’s going. As if they couldn’t believe it could be done. But as my mom said when I showed her our Esembly diapers, “it’s as easy as cake!”. Esembly has gone above and beyond to take care of the logistics. “I wish we had something like this when you were a baby,” my mom said as she gleefully analyzed the thick, cotton inners in her hands.

To be honest, I had my doubts too. But let me tell you, I love using cloth diapers! It is just as easy as disposable diapers, but better for the environment. For the first few weeks, we solely used disposable diapers. We couldn’t use the high-waisted Esembly inners since it would rub the umbilical cord. It took 10 days to fall off. Because of this, we have something to compare Esembly to. Those who argue that cloth diapering is too much work is wrong. Yes, you need to wash the diapers, but you never will run out of them or have to dash to the store to get more.

Changing nappies are a breeze thanks to the button closures at the front. Multiple snaps make the diaper customizable to your growing child’s size. No wasted diapers that your baby outgrew. The outer fits snugly and keeps wet inners from soiling clothes. Yet the elastic band around the legs and waist make these comfortable to wear. Plus the outers have cute designs, to boot! We have six different outers and we can change them based on his outfit for the day.

How to Clean Esembly’s Cloth Diapers

People always ask, “What do you do with the soiled diapers?” You remove them and toss them directly into the Esembly diaper bag. Since Casey isn’t eating solids for now, there is no need to remove anything from the nappies. Poop, pee, nappy – all of it gets tossed into the bag. You don’t get your hands messy at all. The diaper bag, by the way, fits into this Dekor Diaper Pail pretty well in case you are searching for one. However, a pail isn’t necessary as you can hang the bag on a hook quite easily.

To clean, all we do is toss dirty diapers and bag into the wash. We use Esembly’s washing powder with their agitators (the best invention ever!) and run a normal cycle, followed by a heavy duty cycle. It takes 40-60 minutes to dry in the dryer and voila! If you wish to reduce your footprint even more, laying them under the sun works wonders. It actually results in a neater looking nappy.

To my surprise, the inners haven’t stained one bit. They haven’t shrunk in the wash and they don’t stink. They haven’t caused diaper rash (whereas the disposables started to) which goes to show how nice they are for your baby’s bottom. They store nicely in a basket on our changing cart, and take up less room than a box of disposable diapers.

Some Caveats

To be completely transparent, there are a few caveats. We bought the fewest amount of inners and outers needed to sustain us. We have 21 inners and 6 outers. To be honest, I think we could have survived with 3 outers. Meanwhile, 21 inners could have been 24. Minor changes aside, one caveat is that no matter how many you buy, you have to do laundry every 2-3 days. For us, 2 days seems to be the number. Of course, not everyone has the time. Balancing laundry amongst other chores and working full-time is a difficult feat. The privilege of having job flexibility cannot be ignored.

Second, it is an investment. We bought the diaper system, agitators, wash powder, and diaper bag. We were gifted 3 inners and one outer. We nabbed the rest during a sale. (Check out their clearance section for awesome deals on outers.) The total cost was $250. I would recommend adding it to your baby registry if you want to save money. For the curious, this is my curated baby registry list.

Lastly, Esembly works for most situations. Whether you are at home or away, it isn’t much different from disposable diapers. However, the cloth diapers aren’t as absorbent as disposables. Meaning, if you want your baby to sleep through the night, using disposables in the evenings may be better. Likewise, if you’ll be out of the house for a while with nary a changing table in site, then a disposable diaper will make your child more comfortable. There is always the option of purchasing overnight liners from Esembly which absorbs more. We opted not to go that route and still use disposable diapers part time.

Trying is Better Than Perfect

Let me be the first to say that we aren’t perfect, and Esembly isn’t either. But trying is better than being perfect, so don’t let the caveats stop you. Don’t let perfection get in the way of reducing your landfill contribution, even if its a little bit. Using Esembly half the time still reduces 3,000+ disposable diapers per baby! So give it a go. Their try-it kit is a great place to start.

Esembly is a partner brand for TheDebtist. I try to promote companies that I have tried and love. Whenever I choose to partner, I consider the ethics and values behind the company. This is no different. The thoughts and opinions in this post are mine own, as are the experiences. Thank you for supporting the brands that support my post.

Baby Bay Review: The Journey Thus Far

It has been two months since Casey’s birth. Since bringing him home from the hospital, we have solely used our Baby Bay bassinet as a crib. There are many reasons why I chose to go with Baby Bay, which I outlined in this blog post before Casey was born. Every reason stood the test of time. I love this bedside sleeper and would not have chosen any other if I got the chance. Now that he’s a bit more grown up, I wanted to provide an update on our Baby Bay journey thus far.

Baby Bay’s Sizing

Despite being in the 90th% percentile of infants for height, Casey still hasn’t outgrown his bassinet at two months old. We chose to go with the standard size and it still fits! To be honest, I worried he would outgrow it before three months of age which is when we planned to transition him to a crib. Especially since his dad is 6’3″ tall. I am happy to report that it isn’t the case. If you worry your child will be a giant or if you plan to use the Baby Bay co-sleeper for more than three months, they have a Maxi option which is longer in length. And if you have a tall bed to match your tall stature, they also have a Tall crib.

Baby Bay’s Functionality

Rather than mounting our Baby Bay to the bed, we opted for caster wheels so that we can wheel him around the home from room to room. Our living space is on the same floor as the bedroom which has been wonderful for this product. I can understand why the caster wheels may have limited function in a two-story house if the bedrooms are separate from the living space. However, for those living in apartments, studios, bungalows, or in floorplans like ours, the caster wheels are a god-send. We’ve been able to host guests at the dinner table, take showers, or cook in the kitchen with baby always in sight. The versatility saved me in the beginning. During the newborn phase when he did a lot of sleeping, I could set him down without having to pick him up in order to move him from room to room.

Baby Bay’s Helpfulness

Most importantly, having Casey bedside at night is the absolute best! Even before I gave birth, I knew I did not want to set my baby down in a crib located in another room. There are many reasons to love any bedside sleeper. First, for safety. I can easily see if he is sleeping well in the middle of the night without having to get up or out of bed. Second, for comfort. My night-time feedings were made better with Baby Bay. I had a C-section and couldn’t move much without experiencing pain and discomfort the first few days. My husband had to help me sit up. With the Baby Bay right next to the bed, my husband would simply lift Casey out of the sleeper and put him in my arms to nurse.

Having the Baby Bay supported me during my hardest moments and darkest nights. I was able to recover AND take care of my baby at the same time.

Baby Bay’s Quality

The Baby Bay bassinet far exceeded my expectations. Aside from being functional, it is a quality product. The wood feels sturdy, which makes me comfortable putting my baby in it. It wheels around with ease. The locking mechanism of the caster wheels ensured that my child was exactly where he needed to be. The mattress is firm, but seems comfortable for Casey. We never had any issues with sleep. Although every baby is different, we took this to be a sign that the bassinet was good to lie in. I ordered two jersey sheets, which I alternated in between spit-up accidents. Two was more than enough to get us through. The sheets were soft and never caused any skin irritations for our baby.

I would 100% get this product again if I had a do-over. I highly recommend the Baby Bay bassinet to all moms. Right now, TheDebtist audience receives a discount by using the code SAMANTHA10 at checkout.

We were partially gifted our Baby Bay. All thoughts and opinions in this post are mine and written in all honesty. I will not receive a commission from any Baby Bay purchase you choose to make. I only wish to thank you for supporting the companies that support this space. All content is my own. Thank you for following along on our Baby Bay journey.

Our Curated Road Trip Packing List for an Infant

Well, there we’ve done it. Our one month old has his first road trip under his belt. This past weekend, we trekked to Phoenix, Arizona to meet Casey’s uncle for the first time. It was also his uncle’s graduation from dental school. We used the occasion to test our tolerance for traveling with infants. Total trip time was 8 hours each way, including 2 hours of charging time for our Rivian EV. The charging time was divvied into two breaks, allowing us to feed, change and play with Casey. The verdict: Much easier with family around, adequate planning is a must, and staying minimalist helps reduce stress. I curated a road trip packing list for a one-month old infant, in case you don’t have the time to make one yourself.

Please note: This list is curated to our particular needs. For example, our hotel room provided a crib, which means we didn’t need to pack anything for our sleeping situation.( In case you are curious, we stayed with IHG this time around using points we earned from opening the IHG Premiere Rewards Credit Card a few months earlier. That’s the first step in planning ahead!) If your housing option did not provide a sleeping spot for your infant, a portable bassinet for a one month old will suffice. My favorite travel bassinet is Dock-A-Tot’s Kind Bassinet. It weights 5 pounds, folds flat into a box, and has a firm, quality mattress for your baby. I wrote my thoughts on it here. A pack-and-play works just as well but is much bulkier and heavier to carry. We own the Chico Alfa Lift Travel Playyard.

Our Curated Road Trip Packing List for Infants

  • Nuna Infant Car Seat which doubled as a rocker when set on the floor.
  • Uppababy Cruz V2 Stroller which carried him to and from events and restaurants.
  • YogaSleep Rohm Travel Sound Machine which is perfect for long car rides and to drown out loud hotel neighbors.
  • Product of the North Elkin Diaper Bag perfect for lugging essentials during site seeing. It comes with a changing pad which us all we needed to change diapers both in public restrooms and on the hotel bed
  • Crane Top Fill Humidifier  – I did not pack a humidifier and instantly regretted it. Due to Arizona’s hot, dry weather, my infant’s skin shriveled up on the car ride there. I luckily was able to borrow a humidifier from my brother’s apartment, but I will bring ours the next time I visit!
  • Baby Clothes (2 outfits a day, plus pajamas at night). When packing, I like to bring layers so the outfits are customizable to the weather. I definitely brought a sun hat for the bright Arizona sun. I also prefer onesies as pajamas.
  • Diapers. We have Esembly diapers at home, but I recommend going with disposable diapers while traveling. There may not be frequent enough stops to address changing cloth diapers, and the laundry situation may be non-existent depending on where you stay.
  • Dock a Tot Swaddle or Sleep Sack.
  • Plenty of baby bottles and formula. If you breastfeed, consider a hand pump for the long car ride. Unless you want to stop for thirty minutes every two hours on your road trip, a hand-pump is a must! A hand pump is more portable and versatile than an electric one. You can discreetly pump in the back seat and then feed baby the breastmilk without taking him out of his car seat. Anything to shorten the trip is key! I brought the Medela hand pump and it was a life saver. I am excited to use this on the 12 hour plane ride to Japan in October. Leave the bulky electric pump at home.
  • If you don’t breastfeed: formula, bottles, and a bottle brush. Sterilizing musts: Dr. Brown’s sterilizer bags work well! Just pop them in a microwave at your hotel room and sterilize parts in less than two minutes! Bring paper towels to dry them. We also brought our Munchkin Pacifier Sterilizer. On-the-go sterilization for when we drop the paci.
  • Infants don’t require daily bathing at this age. We gave Casey a bath the night before we left, and just wiped him down with a washcloth dipped in water. However, we were only gone three days. For a longer trip, I recommend the Frida Soft Sink Baby Bath. We love ours! It fits in most sinks, dries quickly, and folds neatly into a small suitcase.
  • Toiletries. Diaper rash cream and moisturizing lotion is great. We didn’t bring ours but I wish I had because Arizona is just way too dry for his delicate newborn skin.

While this list seems long, this is all we needed.

Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser Is A Beacon of Light for New Moms

The first few weeks of motherhood is a haze. Everyone tells you “it’s hard work”, but in my opinion, it is more akin to walking through a fog. Between mourning the loss of my previous life and navigating a new body mutilated by child-birth, it’s no wonder post-partum depression gets the attention it deserves. My soul was in transition between the death and birth of a self. Like floating somewhere in the in-between, with no direction to go. So it may sound cliche when I say that Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser served as a beacon of light for this new mama, but do hear me out.

Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser is exactly what every mother needs and wants for those early post-partum days. This beautiful bedside bestie is a beacon of light for nursing moms. A soft yellow glow keeps feedings calm thus allowing baby to fall right back asleep once finished. The diffuser itself keeps mama grounded with scents that remind her this is where she’s meant to be. That everything is in place, as foreign as it may feel.

Before the Glow Diffuser, I was a groggy mess in the evenings. Night-time was the darkest. Getting up was a pain. I hated the disruption of my slumber. Casey was fussy, and I was always on edge. Since introducing Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser into my routine, my night-feedings have become much more enjoyable. The scents cut straight through the fog. Aroma therapy at its finest. And it’s as if Casey picked up on it, too! If babies can truly pick up on our emotions, then we could use a lot more zen, mamas.

The light doubles as a task light for times when Casey is sleeping in the bed-side bassinet but I am not quite ready to retire. They say sleep when baby sleeps, but sometimes what you really need is to reclaim a bit of your time. I can read a book in bed with the Glow Diffuser on my nightstand. I can also move it to my desk space on the other side of the bedroom and work. Sometimes my husband and I speak in hushed whispers about parenthood before drifting off to sleep. The light mimics romantic candlelight, perfect for relaxation and easing into bed. And if we happen to fall asleep before turning it off, then it’s no brighter than a nightlight and none of us would know any better.

Vitruvi hands down makes some of the prettiest diffusers on the market. They are elegant, timeless, and modern in that minimalist way. Their stone diffusers have taken over every influencer’s home, but for me, the Glow Diffuser is what fits in mine. It is tiny, which is perfect for our small space. It is light and portable, which is great for movement (whether that’s from room to room or for our travels). There are two possible settings: continuously running for 4 hours, or intermittently running for 8. Because of its size, it doesn’t take much water to fill the tank, and I am shocked that it lasts the full four hours run-time!

I like that the scent is strong enough to fill a corner of the room, without being over-powering. The confinement of scent is a good feature to have when there’s a baby sharing the space. I can enjoy the soothing benefits of Vitruvi’s amazing scents without overwhelming Casey’s developing senses.

Vitruvi boasts luscious oil blends, which have many benefits for mood. I would highly recommend Vitruvi’s Signature Kit. It features blended scents that encapsulates this time period in a mama’s life. Legacy blend reminds me who I was before and motivates me to reclaim parts of my previous self. Sleep blend nourishes me in the now and gets me to rest when I need to. Pacific blend gives me a taste of the outdoors when I’m stuck at home, making it easier to stay present. And Golden blend is a sneak peek of what’s to come – the beacon of light on the darkest of days.

Since being gifted the Glow Diffuser for Mother’s Day, I have felt the fog lift. The scents cut through the haze, providing me with some clarity as to my new role in his life. I’m starting to retain bits of myself while adapting to someone new. Every mama could use that. Because of this, Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser goes on my top 5 things every newborn mammy needs.

Vitruvi is a company elevating homes with their gorgeous diffusers and luscious scents. This post was sponsored by Vitruvi who kindly gifted us their Glow Diffuser and their Signature Kit of essential oils blends. The links in this post are affiliate links from which The Debtist may receive a small commission shall you decide to purchase Vitruvi products. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own, as well as all creative content.

Memorializing Casey’s Story with Kept Collection

In a world where overwhelm is the social norm, it’s nice to discover a baby book reimagined. One that works well for a busy mama. Or a late-to-the-party mama. Or a mama who just doesn’t have the energy to sort through a million photos on her phone, organize them onto a page, and write little cute anecdotes for each pic. Kept Collection has created a baby book for the modern world. It is a book that will keep up with the business of life, go with the flow, and stand the tests of time.

Kept Collection got it incredibly right with their open-ended templates that hone in on what you care about remembering. This leads to individualization of each page. No books could ever be alike. The book is easy to complete, with prompts that help parents jot down ideas, memorable moments, and important events. The layout removes the added stress of trying to figure out WHAT exactly to put in a baby book. The templates give a guideline for keep-saking, without the added pressure.

Plus these books aren’t just for mamas! Dads, too, have a great time filling in these pages. Their added perspective or alternative view would be worth jotting down, as it may be completely different from mom! These would make great gifts for new grads as well. Personally, I would have loved to read what was going on inside my mom’s mind when I was growing up. I would love to know what moments she cherished, and which challenges were most difficult. If I received a book like this from my parents, it could have guided me on my own parenthood journey. It’s a book that has a place on a shelf in your child’s future home.

I honestly can’t say enough good things about this baby book. I am absolutely in love with it! And they are gorgeous. Kept Collection baby books are bound by beautiful linens in rich, earthy tones. The brand uses US-based materials that are high-quality, and the pages themselves are smyth-sewn. Holding this book in my hands feels all sorts of special. It is something worth cherishing.

This post was in collaboration with Kept Collection who kindly gifted us a book to try. As always this is my honest review. This book has earned its keep on our shelf. One day, I hope to gift it to Casey, so that he may know some of the finer moments we forget to recall.

Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Moms

Breastfeeding is its own kind of monster. I was more prepared for the birthing part than I was for the aftermath. That is, swollen boobs, plugged armpit nodes, spilled milk, sore nips, and a whole lot of tears. TMI? I spared you the more painful bits. Let’s just say I walked around the house like Quasimodo until I figured out how to relieve the pressure. Physically, emotionally and mentally. Every midnight melt-down I had was related to breastfeeding somehow. That being said, there are a number of sanity-saving, breastfeeding essentials that I can’t imagine surviving without. Previous mamas paved the way, as did my lactation consultant who is absolutely heaven sent. Here are a few necessary items that I suggest you get BEFORE the arrival of your newborn. Trust me, every item is an investment for your breastfeeding future – and your serenity.

Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Moms

+ A very good ALL-IN-ONE nursing and pumping bra. This bra from Kindred Bravely is a work horse. It is an absolute favorite of mine. I can pump on one side and nurse on the other. I can also pump on both sides and the bra holds my Spectra S2 pump parts in place while I read a book or scroll through Insta (guilty!). Without the bra, I would have to hold both pump parts in place. If you also use a Haakaa and hand-express or manually pump, this bra will ensure it stays in place even if the suction comes lose while breastfeeding on the opposite side. Anything that avoids uselessly spilled milk is a blessing in my book! (I also own Kindred Bravely’s French Terry Nursing Sleep Bra and it is the softest material ever! So COZY! I use it exclusively at night time.)

+ Silverette Nursing Cups. Another mama gifted me nursing cups from Silverette USA when she heard I was expecting. “Nothing else gave my boobs relief except these bad boys,” she wrote candidly in the card. Alas, I can attest that these silver dollars are a life-saver. It protects nips from chafing and provides relief during off hours. It holds the breastmilk intact in case of leaky boobs and protects nipple cream being wiped away by your cotton bra. Lastly, it covers nips completely from drafts and wind. Nothing is worse than cold air on sore, aching nipples. Since I use these, I haven’t yet had to use a single disposable nursing pad insert!

+ Lanolin Nipple Cream. I bought this even before I gave birth and I am so glad I did! This product is soothing. I apply it right after each feeding. Then I cover up with the Silverette cups which I hold in place with my Kindred Bravely bra. It’s an entire production!

+My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. I have tried multiple nursing pillows but this one worked the best for me. I even tried the larger, deluxe version of this pillow but the original size fits my small frame best. It literally acts as a “workstation” for breast-feeding. The pillow prevents spilled milk and messes from getting on the couch, bed, or chair. The pocket can store bibs, baby bottles, and even my cell phone. On either side of the pillow are two bumps which support the baby’s head during feeding. It is comfortable for me to wear despite having a C-section, and the back support is absolute clutch! My husband also loves this boppy and wears it when he is bottle feeding Casey.

+ Mother’s Milk Tea. My best friend gifted me Mother’s Milk Tea when I was still expecting. I saved them until now. I drink one every day, which is supposed to help with milk production. In general, though, any tea that relaxes me also helps with breastfeeding. Nursing success highly depends on mom’s stress levels (hence why it’s important to invest in these essentials!). A cup of calm chamomile definitely does the trick!

+ Comfortable Robes. Look. During this time, I am nothing but a milk machine. It may sound dramatic, but I feel like I just set the baby down when he is already ready for another feeding. We feed every 1.5 to 3 hours, and some feedings take an hour. Soooooo, yes the math adds up. That being said, I have to be ever ready to feed and robes are just so much more comfortable than getting dressed. When we are at home all day, I will opt for a robe instead of a button down shirt. My favorite place to source robes are Coyuchi and Parachute Home.

+ Haakaa – The Haakaa is great for catching let-down. Which happens both while feeding baby on one side, or randomly after hearing baby’s cries. It also happens right after a warm shower! All that feel-good vibes really spikes the oxytocin, which promotes milk flow. I own two just so can catch let-down from both sides while I get ready after a good shower. These babies are so easy to use, too! Simply suction it onto the non-latched boob and it’ll ensure not a single drop of milk is wasted. Just be careful baby doesn’t pop it off with one mighty kick.

+ A Hassle-Free Night-Time Nursing PJ Set – I started out wearing my husband’s oversized T-Shirts as my C-section scar healed, but they immediately were ruined by the third day when my milk supply came in. So my mom brought me robes to wear all day long, but at night-time, I couldn’t hop into bed with a tangly robe! So I turned to button down tops that I had in stock. Flannels worked until it got too hot (I blame the hormones). As summer nears, a short-sleeve night-time nursing PJ set like the ones from Hatch are a must-have! These are my favorite!

Of course, there are other things that would be nice to have but we did not end up buying. A glider would be life-changing, but our tiny home cannot permit much more baby items, let alone a furniture piece. I’ve also considered reusable wool nursing pads. Two should do the trick, but I am making do with the nipple shields for now. And it seems like no matter how often we launder, there could never be too many bras. If you have any other must-haves, feel free to share with the community! Mamas helping mamas are my favorite thing.

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