Ladybug Snuggle Sack

March 31, 2012


Today is Astrid’s birthday party and the theme is ladybugs because she loses it every time she sees a ladybug. Even more so when she sees a flag, but I wasn’t going to do a United Nations theme for a two-year-old’s birthday party.

While I was hunting for not-too-over-the-top ladybug stuff online, I came across this adorable “snuggle sack.” It’s basically a way cute sleep sack, but with snaps at the shoulders and a bottom zipper instead of a front zipper. All in all, less convenient for middle-of-the-night diaper changes than the standard full-length  front zip style but still a great way to keep your tiny one warm in her crib during the day and adorable for visiting admirers.

Comes in an owl theme too, if you prefer a woodland look.

Baby Aspen Ladybug Snuggle Sack (0-6 months), $36.99 at Diapers.com or $32 at Amazon. Or Little Owl, same price. 

Bottom line: a sleepsack and one of their blankets for swaddling if you’re feeling a little jersey-loving and spendy. 

I love Giggle. They have helpful, knowledgeable staff and beautiful products. Their selection is definitely on the high end of the baby products spending spree, but among the products they carry, their prices are good, so if you’re considering a Sleepi crib or a Bugaboo stroller, definitely buy it from them. Or if you’re just browsing around for the odd Flensted mobile or baby detangling shampoo, they’re your place too. (Don’t look their stuffed animals in the eye though. They have the oddest collection. Those animals look like they might take you out.)

I stop by there occasionally to check on what’s new for the newborn crowd and on today’s visit I checked out their new Better Basics line of clothing and blankets. It’s definitely basic: onesies, side-snap infant Ts, pjs, accessories, blankets and sleepsacks, all in organic cotton, most in bold stripes, some in baby pinks, blues and cream.

Oh – and a $500 crib. Which isn’t a very basics price, if you ask me, but  then again, we got Astrid their $450 Alma mini crib, so clearly I’m OK with some level of splurge. (To be fair to us, our apartment was a studio and we had no space for a proper crib. But still…)

Anyway, back to the clothing. It’s heavyweight cotton and I like the stripes but homie please: $30 for two side-snap T-shirts? Those are Kate Quinn prices and, honestly, her prints are so unbelievably cute, I’m not sure any stripe can compete.

I would, however, consider two things from the Better Basics line, even for the most minimalist mama: the sleepsacks ($29, made by Halo, the big name in sleepsacks) and their receiving blankets (a steep $36 for one). I am a big fan of jersey cotton for baby clothing and gear. It’s very soft and it’s warm without resorting to synthetic fleece (which just feels really hot to me). Jersey blankets are the best for swaddling (because they stretch a little), and I love jersey sleepsacks (over, say, single-ply, light cotton or too-hot fleece). So if you like stripes, are determined to go all-organic, and have a little extra room in the budget for excellent jersey, step on up!

Giggle Better Basics Stripe Receiving Blanket, organic cotton, $36 at Giggle.com or in stores

Halo SleepSack Wearable Blanket, organic cotton, in the Better Basics stripe, $29 at Giggle.com or in stores

The Swing

December 3, 2011

The baby swing is just that: a swing. Plus a motor. Most models have a number of speeds and play music or white noise (usually pretty tinny). The swing is your at-home version of taking your baby for a walk or driving her around in the car to soothe her to sleep. Secondarily, it’s a place for Juniorette to hang out while you do a little housework or chat with a friend. You know: in all your free time!

But here’s the deal for all us minimalists: they’re pricey, they have a big footprint in your home, and even if your baby loves it, you’ll only use it for six months or so. Which is why, as the Minimalist Mama, I’ll officially say that a.) if you want one, try to borrow one, and b.) it’s not a must-have.

That said, we had a baby who wouldn’t sleep for love nor money, and the swing (borrowed) was our saving grace from months two to four, at which point we transitioned her back to the crib. But she napped and slept all night in that swing for two months. I know it’s not supposed to be good for their posture and we should’ve found another way and so on and so on, but, man, were we tired! And there’s only so much you can take on at once.

During the day, the swing is a more entertaining alternative to the bouncy seat or just lying around in a crib or on a play mat (which, let’s be honest, only works for five minutes without your full attention). Since we had a bouncy seat, I thought we’d save space and skip the swing, but a friend offered hers and I took it on the principle that you never know, right? Thank goodness I did!

Keep in mind that most bouncy seats don’t bounce without your (wo)manpower so they’re more for having somewhere semi-upright for the baby to sit and watch you cook or whatever, so you don’t have to have her in a pack or sling. The swing runs on its own, so you’re not fully on-duty to keep your little one moving or entertained. (The bouncy seat wins hands down for flexibility though: you can pick it up with one hand and take it into the bathroom with you to get a shower vs. the swing, which practically requires two people to shift.)

Also, unlike a lot of baby gear, I don’t know of any baby who has rejected a swing outright, so I think there’s a low risk that you won’t use it if you do get one. (When she was very small, Astrid didn’t like it but clearly she took to it after that, so do try again in a week or two if you have one and your little one isn’t going for it right away.)

Bottom line: like the rocker/glider, if you plan on having multiple children, the swing might be a good place to invest from dollars. If you’re only having one (or that conversation hasn’t started yet!), borrow a swing and see how it goes. If you just can’t fit it in your place, don’t worry about it. It’s a nice thing to have, but it’s not a disaster if you don’t have one. You can always hunt one down later if your infant has sleeping issues and could use some motion. The covers are easy to wash – although often challenging to remove – so you should feel comfortable picking up one used off craigslist or from someone on your local parent’s network.

The one we borrowed was a basic Graco Silhouette Swing that swung side to side (some swing front/back) and it worked fine, although changing its dying batteries in the dead of night was a giant pain, and the fact that the attached mobile never moved was a design flaw. Despite my hesitancy to outright recommend buying one, I am #$(*&! loving the new Fisher Price Zen Cradle Swing. Not only does it not look like a circus threw up all over it, it has a plug as well as a battery pack, you can adjust it to swing front/back or side to side and it has a built in blanket. If I had another infant in the house right now, I’ll admit, I’d order this one without thinking twice. If they made an adult size, I’d order that too.OK, fine, I’d order that first and then get the baby one.

Fisher Price Zen Cradle Swing $129 at Amazon

Baby Clothes: Tea Collection

November 21, 2011

OK, so it’s a shopping time of year and minimalist though I may be, I’ve got another item for your Christmas wish list. I don’t recommend getting hooked on Tea Collection clothing any more than I do Kissy Kissy, but it’s nice to have a few tasteful pieces for special occasions, showing off the new baby and taking photos he’ll thank you for later! (And, in the scope of expensive baby clothes, at $30-ish per piece, this is still on the low end of that category.)


Tea Collection is a San Francisco-based company that started making baby clothing a few years ago and now runs all the way up to size 12 (kids) plus has started a women’s line. The clothing is made from heavy cotton that wears and washes really, really well, and the patterns are great. The last couple of seasons have been Mexico/Spain-inspired but the hues are always subtle: plums and indigos and the like. Although I know little ones can pull it off in a way that I can’t, I’m still not a big, bold pattern fan, but I love theirs. More like small, stylish patterns, especially in their infant line.

Astrid looked fetching in one of their pajamas for three or four months last year and still sleeps under one of their super-soft cotton blankets (purchased at their semi-annual sample sale).

Note on their blankets by the way: they’re in the category of larger-than-most + stretchy jersey that I recommend for swaddling, so you might think about investing in one at their post-Christmas sale. And, as I say, once you’re post-swaddle, that large size will work well in the crib for your toddler.

In my experience, the clothing runs a little narrow, so order on the large side. The baby styles largest size is 6-9 months. Of course, their toddler clothes are adorable too, but the bigger they get, the harder it is to find adorable footie pajamas, so now’s the time!

Tea Collection infant clothing (onesies, pajamas, sweaters, tops) in boy and girl colors, $19-$45 at TeaCollection.com or Diapers.com

Baby Clothes: Kissy Kissy

November 10, 2011

OK, so after an “Essentials” post, let’s bounce to the far extreme and talk about overpriced but adorable baby clothes – hooray!

I discovered Kissy Kissy (yes, terrible name) at Granny Made, a store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that specializes in taking all your money for unbelievably, heart-wrenchingly cute clothes for the very small people that are about to move in with you. Don’t go in there unless you have a pocketful of spending money or some hard core self-control. I love you Granny Made, but I’m just saying.

Kissy Kissy clothing is mostly for the 6-months-and-under crowd and is made out of such unreal-y soft pima cotton that you might want to buy a whole lot of the pajama suits and make a spendy Slanket out of them for yourself. It’s hard to tell from the online catalogs exactly how adorable this clothing is. Trust me: it’s adorable. I, the Minimalist Mama, spent $85 on a Kissy Kissy little white cardigan with pink edging that has a tiny, perfect hummingbird embroidered on the left panel. Eighty. Five. Dollars. Astrid still has it, which amortizes out to about $6/month, which actually isn’t that bad really, right?

It’s hard to find a strong selection of all their designs and sizes in any one place: I haven’t been able to locate one site or store that stocks both the basics (playsuits, pajamas) and the more dressy cardigans and jackets except at Granny Made’s physical store, but Diapers.com has a surprisingly wide selection of the former. (Kissy Kissy’s own web site doesn’t sell their clothes and is annoyingly unhelpful.) Some baby boutiques carry a selection as do Nieman Marcus and Nordstrom, although they veer towards the more saccharine designs – like cupcakes and hearts – which are not my bag. Bloomingdales’ choices are more classic. In San Francisco, Day One carries a collection of their slightly less pricey, more practical pieces. And in New York, Granny Made carries my favorites, the little cardigan sweaters.

In my experience, the brand runs small, specifically a little short, so if you’re buying for an unknown-sized baby, go large.

I don’t believe in spending a ton of money on baby clothes, especially infant ones that they’ll be out of in 20 minutes, but seriously, people: look at these frogs! How do you not want to dress her in duckies every day??

OK, I’ll stop now.