Vendor Spotlight: Zero To Two Online Boutique

Hi all! Happy New Year!

Sorry it’s been a bit since I’ve posted last, we just ended a five-week long sprint where we visited my parents, my in-laws and then vacationed in the mountains.  It was a blast, but I am ready to be home for awhile!

Anyways, for my first official 2017 post, I wanted to share a vendor whom I met in one of my entrepreneur groups online.

Her name is Brenda, and she runs Zero To Two, an online boutique for baby shoes and accessories.

Anyways, she was kind enough to send me a pair of her soft sneakers for us to review, so I selected the pair below.

Zero To Two's Leather Lace Shoes

Zero To Two’s Leather Lace Shoes

I mean, how cute are these little leather soft sneakers??

My style is usually the preppier the better, so my poor son will be dressed that way for as long as I have control!  Hopefully he likes that one day too 🙂

Anyways, I received these shoes right before we went to the mountains, so I packed them along.

What I like about these is the same reason that I have been buying Cabooties shoes from my friend Kelly for my children since they were born.

They are soft, flexible and offer a wide toe box, thus giving the toes room to spread naturally.

I feel like so many of the infant shoes out are inflexible and restrict babies’ toes. According to many doctors, the toe box should be spread out and should be able to feel and grip the earth.  Especially when they are learning to walk and are very precarious on their feet!

(I have several thoughts on this from doing my own research on running and walking shoes, so feel free to reach out to me with any questions, but I digress.)

tristan zero to two shoes

Tristan rocking his leather lace sneakers!

So we took these brand new shoes off to the mountains. Even though Tristan is not walking yet, they were perfect.

They matched his outfit, kept him comfortable and were still flexible enough for him to move and crawl around.  Which he is doing all the time now!

I also really like Brenda’s website.  Zero to Two has several styles of adorable moccasins, and a section for hats ‘n’ bows which are super cute as well.

Bonus – everything is reasonably priced and they are super responsive! Pretty awesome!

Now off to buy more baby shoes!  Talk with you guys soon.

 

 

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5 Tips for Eating Out with a Toddler or Baby

eating out in restaurant
Eating out with a toddler and/or baby in tow can be super easy … or super difficult.

It can be a tough event to judge – will your kids eat what the place offers? Make a huge mess?  Have an accident? Or even worse, one of them has the dreaded meltdown – a knock down, drag out tantrum that gets the attention of everyone.

One of my most cringe-worthy moments was having my two year old run around while throwing food in a Mexican restaurant.  Luckily, the staff was super understanding and thought she was adorable… not so adorable though for us!

eating out with my toddler and babyLet’s face it, we’ve all been there – whether it’s in Target (which seems to be a rite of passage for most parents), or wherever when your kids decide to act up.

However, there are things you can do to help your kids understand meal time and for the experience to be enjoyable for everyone.

We’ve done some research and put together our best 5 tips for making eating out with your kids (especially toddlers and babies) an easier experience.

Obviously, it will almost never be perfect, but these might help in the long run 🙂

1) ESTABLISH & ENFORCE THE “SITTING DOWN AT MEALTIME” RULE

This is one that I wish I had known about earlier – my husband and I both thought nothing of letting our daughter run around when she was a young toddler in low-key restaurants.

However, when we ate in other types of places, she began to think that was the norm.  Establishing the fact that you sit down during meal times early on, especially at restaurants is key.

This is understandably tough when they are younger, but we’ve found that booths are fantastic for this. We block the kids in by sitting at the ends, and give them room to move around, but they are essentially penned in.

We also try to grab one by a wall, and give them the side with the wall so they can’t turn around and try to touch the people sitting in the next booth!

2) USE THE RIGHT TOOLS WHEN THEY ARE YOUNGER

One of the toughest ages to navigate when eating out is the 6 -18 months stage. They are too big to sit in the car seat the entire time,  and you want them to start eating table food.

However, we’ve found that with my 9 month old son, he bangs things around, grabs things and generally causes a mess at the table.

So instead of plates, I’ve found that silicone placemats work much better, in addition to a catch-all bib like the set below.  You can easily lift these up, dump in the trash, and catch most of the mess instead of using plates.

These also clean up super easily – once you’re at home, rinse them with water and set aside to try.

3) KNOW YOUR VENUE AND KNOW YOUR KIDS’ SCHEDULES 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents out with young toddlers during nap time, and the kids are fussy and cranky and the parents become cranky as well.

Lesson? If they are used to napping during the 12-2 pm hours, try to have lunch out early.  Do they go to bed at 7 or 7:30? Aim to have dinner out by 6 pm at the latest.

Some kids can handle those extra hours every so often. For instance, my son was out way past his bedtime at dinner a few weeks ago and was perfect, but he is a social creature. My daughter would never have made it at the same age.

Know your kids and what limits they have, which helps set reasonable expectations for everyone.

The other lesson is do your homework on your venue. Does Yelp list it as a “Good for Kids” place if you’ve never been?  Don’t go otherwise.  There’s also a “Kids Eat Free” app in iTunes so you can save some $$ while you’re at it!

Are you hitting up a bar for lunch when College GameDay is on and people are drinking and screaming? Probably not a good idea.  Learn as much as you can about places, and find your favorites where you know what to expect.

4) ALWAYS PACK A BAG OF TRICKS (FOOD & TOYS)

The #1 rule for when you go anywhere with toddlers or babies – always, always, always bring food. I’ve found that when my daughter starts acting up, she’s usually tired or hungry.

Giving your kids finger foods while waiting for your food does wonders, as it keeps them busy and gives them energy for when your food finally arrives. Plus, if you feed them before your food arrives, you have a better chance of actually getting a chance to eat your own.

Also include some small, quiet games in your bag – quiet toys like a pack of letter cards, table-top toys for a baby, or a small coloring book and crayons.  These are perfect for when your child is done eating and you can finish your meal.

As a last resort, I also keep some educational shows downloaded on my phone. That way, you don’t have to use wi-fi, and my toddler can quietly watch something for 10-15 minutes without bothering anyone.

5) LASTLY, CLEAN UP YOUR MESS AND TIP WELL

Obviously, there are those times where you have a wonderful meal, but then there’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up.

One of the things that my husband and I try to do is to clean up the table as best as we can. We sweep food off the table onto a dirty dish, pick the biggest pieces off the floor, and make sure we leave the table looking as best we can.

The other good thing about cleaning up is that it helps instill good practices in your kids – so they know that it’s never appropriate to leave a mess for someone else to clean up.

Finally – tip well. Leave at least 20%, maybe more, if you can, especially if your waiter or waitress did everything well, and you know that there will still be more clean-up required when you leave.

 

Hope these help and happy eating!  Be sure to visit our Feeding section of our site for the top rated high chairs, baby bottles, sippy cups and breast pumps!


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Happy New Year & Thank you!

our family Christmas 2016

Hi all.  Happy (almost) New Year!

Thank goodness!  2016 was tough.

We lost many celebrities and musicians, saw one of the deadliest attacks in a Florida night club, watched many cities try to balance racial tensions with police,  and were a deeply divided nation after the November election.  Whew.

However, on a brighter note, I know many folks that had a good year, despite the difficulties. Many of us have enjoyed new jobs, new houses, new additions to the family – and we’ve enjoyed an economy that seems to be cautiously moving forward.

On a personal note, my husband and I added to our family, and my son has brought me more joy than I have thought possible. He is now 8 months old, and is actively involved in his environment.

8 month old baby

During my maternity leave, my husband and I launched this website, and just three months later, our sister website, www.topbabytoysfor.com,  What can we say? We love all things baby, and we want only the best.

We are so excited for what this website has become.  We’d like to thank all of our readers, followers, partners for making it such a great thing.  It’s been an amazing creative outlet, and one that I hope will truly help people.

Our mission has always been to help people save time by providing a quick hit pro/con review summary on the best baby products out there.

Because of the research I’ve done with this site, I’ve been able to take a bigger part in picking our baby products and toys for my son, and share that information with friends, family, and expecting new parents.

I’m excited to share that our plans for next year include growing our top rated baby product categories! We will be adding:

  • Sippy Cups
  • Cloth Diapers
  • Diaper Pails
  • Baby Wipes
  • and more!

We’ll also be updating each of our existing category pages to reflect the newest, most popular and of course, top rated models. Be sure to check back around March timeframe as we will have updated most of our pages and links.

Thank you again for all of your support and readership. Here’s to a wonderful 2017!

Love,

The Top Rated Baby Products Team

 

Do you have a suggestion for another category or page? Send it to us!  topratedbabyproducts@gmail.com

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5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Pregnant Wife

pregnant woman with heart on belly
Dudes, we’ve all been there. Okay, so maybe not all of us.

But it is a tough gig to be living your normal life, tending to a glowing (and growing) pregnant wife, and getting ready for a baby.  God bless you guys.

You guys take the brunt of all our hormones, happy tears, sad tears, aches and pains, and the roller coaster we call pregnancy. And we love you so much for it.

Which is why I’m here to help make your life easier – and share some Christmas gift idea insights that hopefully the pregnant lady of the house will love.

I’ve got a pretty stellar top 5 list below – check ’em out and hopefully it’ll at least give you some good ideas!

PS – If any pregnant ladies happen to read this, feel free to shoot this to your hubby, or better yet, shop for yourself! You deserve it – you’re growing a life! 


Electric Heat Massager

So – I own this exact model, and let me tell you – it’s AMAZING.   We happened to buy this mainly because my hubby got tired of constantly rubbing my lower back while I was preggers, so it was as much a gift for him as it was for me.

What I like about this massager is that it comes with heat, and you can position it anywhere you want on your back.  Much easier than trying to arrange your back on an actual massage chair, and cheaper too. Love!


Cute, Comfy, Amazingly Soft Pajamas 

pregnancy pajamas

I had a couple of times where I was feeling nauseous and super sorry for myself, and when I tried to go shopping for retail therapy, it was even harder because I couldn’t buy normal clothes.  And sometimes the maternity sections … leave a lot to be desired.

So I always looked forward to picking out a nice new pair of stretchy pajamas, especially since I spent most of my time in them anyways.  Every pregnant woman wants to feel pretty, and a brand new pair of PJ’s will go a long way.


A Gorgeous, Classic, Sparkly Necklace

The reason behind this idea? While we know that it’s logical to gain weight during pregnancy, the fact is that many of us struggle with dressing our bodies and still feeling good.  Accessories also go a long way in helping dress up those same five maternity shirts.

A gorgeous necklace helps to show off her beautiful neckline, catches the light, and will make her feel special.

Bonus if you can figure out a way to work in family symbols like 3 stones for 3 children, birthstones, etc! 


A “Just for Fun” Pregnancy Shirt

So this is actually something I never had, and I so wish that I did. I think part of me just didn’t want to spend the money at the time, but I’ve always wanted a shirt that called attention to the fact I was pregnant. There are so many cute ones out there now!

Long sleeves, short sleeves, classy ones, not so classy ones…  many of us would get a kick out of these!  Again, it’s all about what her style is.  


A Gorgeous Glider

This one hits home with me. You know why? I have some of the best memories rocking in the glider in the nursery even BEFORE my daughter and son were born. I was imagining what they would be like, enjoying the quiet of the room, and the calming motion of rocking.

Afterwards, I loved to rock them to sleep, inhaling their baby scent and trying to enjoy every second before they grew.  Gliders = happy memories. Enough said.


There ya have it!  One note though – gifts are nice, but sitting down with her, listening to her, and rubbing her feet or back – those are the things she will remember the most in the long run.

Good luck to you guys!  

PS – are you a new parent?  Check out our new parents pages! 

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8 Unique Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Toddlers

toddler at christmas
Happy Holidays to you and yours!

It’s that wonderful time of year.  We’re in the middle of decorating our house, stringing up lights outside, and you guessed it – hanging up our stockings on the mantle.

Which leads me to my “oh, sh*t” moment this week when I realized that we need to fill these!  My 8 month old son isn’t old enough to know what’s going on, but my 3-year-old daughter is beginning to understand what’s up.

That said, I needed stocking stuffer ideas STAT for toddlers.  And unique ones at that! 

So I perused several lists online and selected my favorites below.  My criteria for excellent, unique and different stocking stuffers were as follows:

  • Needs to be useful and/or last longer than five seconds
  • Ideally doesn’t come with tons of little pieces that get spread across the house and lost instantly
  • Ideally doesn’t really add to the clutter of the house….. but who are we kidding, we live with toddlers. There is ALWAYS clutter. 

Hope these ideas give you some good inspiration this holiday season.  Share your other ideas with me in the comments below!


8 Unique Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Toddlers*

*Note that the gifts below do not always FIT into Christmas stockings, but are good gifts nonetheless… Santa always laid out our stockings with presents arranged around them anyways! 


Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine

I LOVE this one. For instance, what toddler doesn’t love bubbles? Not to mention, this machine blows 500 per minute. Creates entertainment for hours, and you don’t have to lift a finger.  This is the gift that keeps on giving.

Tip: If you want to keep this in the stocking, place a bubble wand in their stocking, and when they take it out, show them the bubble maker! 


Magic Milk Milk Magic Flavoring Straws

These are super cool and a fun treat for kids. Each straw has a different flavor, and you can buy different ones such as banana, chocolate, cotton candy, etc.  There is some sugar added in each straw, but far less than adding syrup or powder to milk.  A fun and portable treat!


Crayola Color Bath Tablets

So I have a love/hate relationship with anything “color” wise in the bathtub. Some products I’ve tried are great; others are a mess and don’t seem to do much.

These color tablets are rated 4.5 stars on Amazon, and toddlers seem to love them. They don’t stain your child, washcloths or anything but the water. Great fun and easy clean up!


Pull Back Racer Cars (set of 12)

Pull back cars have been around for who knows how long – but children love them!  These are friction powered – pull back and watch them race off.  This particular model above comes with a set of 12. Great for putting in several little stockings or gift bags.

Tip – Pull six out and save the other six for a moment where you need something new (like on a plane or long car ride)


Munchkin Traveling Flash Cards

These are superb – my daughter has a set like these from our day care, and she is constantly pulling them out.  She loves pointing out which letter is which and making the sound that the letter makes.

This is a perfect one to have on deck in the car as well, for your littles in their car seats or in your diaper bag while you’re shopping.


VTech Spin and Learn Color Flashlight

I love, love, love Vtech – they make some of the best toys around. This Vtech Spin & Learn flashlight is pretty awesome, top rated on Amazon, and easily fits into a stocking.

The best part? After 45 seconds of inactivity, the toy automatically turns off. Which means you don’t have to worry about batteries running out after someone leaves it on!


Olive Kids Trains, Planes and Trucks Backpack

So again, I get that this one may not fit into a stocking, unless you have really big ones or you fold it down tightly.  However, this is always a fun one that you can sit next to the stocking, or put some Christmas gifts into the backpack!

Toddlers LOVE their backpacks, especially ones with older brothers and sisters. An all around good gift. Plus this one comes in different patterns, and you can probably also get it monogrammed. Win!


Paw Patrol Kids Toothbrush, Toothpaste & Rinse Cup

If your toddler is like mine, brushing teeth can be challenging. Some days she wants to, other days she wants nothing to do with it. I’m a huge fan of this Paw Patrol bundle – the toothbrush, toothpaste and fun cup all come together.

The bundle also comes in other fun characters – Curious George, Star Wars, Frozen and more on Amazon.


There ya have it!  Even if you don’t like any of these ideas, they hopefully inspired other thoughts.

Still stuck on Christmas gift shopping? Check out our Best Christmas gifts for Toddlers and Best Christmas gifts for Babies posts, in addition to our top rated toy pages for ages 6 months to 3 years.    

Our sister website www.topbabytoysfor.com also has great learning & development toys for ages 0 – 2!

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