Top 5 Baby Must Haves for 0-3 Months

Top 5 Baby Must Haves for 0-3 Months

We found that the top 5 things a newborn needs are somewhere to sleep, something to keep them safe in the car, clothes and diapers, a feeding system and a way to keep track of everything.  I’ve worked in Early Childhood for 11 years, but that didn’t mean that I was an expert on what to expect when we finally came home with our first baby.  Half of me felt like instinct would kick in and I would know exactly what to do, and the other half of me had a bewildered sense of disbelief that they were sending us home with this itty bitty little human.

Throughout my pregnancy we received advice on what we would need from all kinds of resources.  Friends, family, co-workers, strangers…emails, websites, blogs, phone apps.  It was hard to know where to turn and what advice to take with a grain of salt.  When it was time to register for items we spent a lot of time researching brands and reading reviews.  As we did our research we found to be a huge help for us.  This is not sponsored by any means, but it was a resource that did the research for us, made recommendations, collected reviews and compared prices.  If you are looking for a step up or something comparable they also make those recommendations.  Each product was clearly well researched and gave us a basis for what products should be on our radar.

Once our baby was here we learned pretty quickly that what works for one baby and family is not what will work for everyone.  Through trial and error I have established my list of what I would consider “Must Haves” and what I would consider items that are “Nice to Have”.  As well as a list of items that we found to be a waste of money and space!  This is what worked for our first few months, but is not what will work for everyone!  This post does contain affiliate links to many of our favorite products.

Our Top 5 Must Haves:

Somewhere to Sleep –

We had a crib set up in the nursery, but I knew that for the first few months I wanted our baby in the same room as us.  I wasn’t leaning towards co-sleeping so we had a small bassinet.  However, what ended up working the best for us was the pack ‘n’ play.  We didn’t use a fancy newborn insert or anything, just as is.

Something to keep them safe in the car –

A necessary item if you plan on traveling anywhere with your baby.  We went will well known Chicco.  We did the whole shebang and went for the full travel system.  The base was easy to install in our car, it came with a newborn insert and the carseat itself snapped easily into the stroller.  We’ve gotten plenty of use out of it, and I’ve been happy with our choice.

Clothes and Diapers –

If you have a 9+ lb. baby like me, you won’t use newborn sized diapers or clothes.  It made me sad to pack away a number of cute outfits that were never touched.  The only Newborn diapers we had came from a diaper cake at our shower, which we later ended up donating.  It’s good to have a few on hand, if you have a small baby you’ll be glad that you do.  If people are looking to buy you items, suggest bigger sizes.  Once the baby is out of newborn and infant size you’ll be glad you have a stash of bigger clothes and diapers.

We chose to go with disposable diapers, and use Amazon Subscribe and Save.  It’s nice to get the discount each month and not have to worry about running out.  Each month a delivery arrives, if we don’t need it right away we can cancel until the next month, or adjust to the next size as needed.  Otherwise it takes the guess work out and avoids late night runs to the store.

A feeding system –

Since our little guy spent two weeks in the NICU we did a combination of nursing and bottle feeding.  The hospital used Dr. Brown’s bottles, so I stuck with that for a while.  The pump I used was Medela, so I switched over to Medela bottles out of convenience.  Eventually we ended up using a combination of both, usually whatever was clean!  Not a necessity, but I found it immensely helpful to have a drying rack like the one below.  Bottle parts can get scattered, knowing that they were clean and sanitary in their own space helped.

If you’re pumping I can’t recommend a hands free pump enough.  Especially as I returned to work, knowing that I didn’t have to sit completely useless but was able to have hands free made a huge difference.  If you’re nursing I do recommend investing in a few staple pieces of clothing that are comfortable, flexible and hold up well in the wash.  Breast feeding does not come naturally, despite what some people tell you!  It’s a learned skill, for you and baby, being patient and continuing to try is the only thing that made it successful for us.

A way to keep track of everything –

Before our baby arrived a friend recommended to me the BabyConnect App.  I used it from day 1 and continue to now, 8 months later.  You can track more things than I ever imagined you would want data on.  The main things I used were meals, diapers, sleep, and pumping.  The summary will tell you where they compare to this time the day before as well as the 7 day average.  You can see in bar graph form daily totals of each type of data you are tracking.  You can add photos, milestones, weight and height, when you give medication.  Anything you can think of!

In our sleep deprived state those first few weeks it was helpful to have a system for recalling when a diaper was, when a last feed was, how long (or short!) sleep cycles were, etc.  It was overwhelming looking for an app to use, this time the advice of a friend was well received.  It was not a free app, but I don’t remember it being terribly expensive.

I’ll be back another day with some of the items that weren’t necessities, but I was glad we had on hand!


The Top 3 Ways I Welcome the New Year

The Top 3 Ways I Welcome the New Year

With every New Year comes a rush of energy and thought processes. Resolutions are often times geared towards health, fitness, organization, doing more, giving more, changing habits. Something about the turn over of the calendar year sparks energy around wanting to better ourselves. While I am not a big believer in setting New Years Resolutions, I do think that this is a great time to ride that energy wave and set some goals. There’s nothing like a fresh start, and the first of the year is a natural time to start new.

The top 3 ways I like to welcome the New Year are to Clean up and Downsize, Set up a Calendar, and Set Attainable Goals for January.

Clean Up and Downsize:

Once the holidays are over, my first step is to clean up. Our family celebrates Christmas, which comes with a host of decorations, wrapping supplies and inevitably new gifts scattered all around. Come New Years Day we are ready to pack everything up for next year. Putting away our wrapping supplies, taking down the decorations and removing the tree from our living room can already create a sense of relief. As much as I enjoy Christmas, having an open space back in our living room already gives me the visual sense that we magically have more room! A quick clean of the house always gives me a sense of starting fresh. Just having to vacuum up the pesky pine needles means I know have a freshly cleaned floor…bonus! There’s nothing like a clean floor, or a freshly organized kitchen that makes me want to keep it that way.

My next step is to try and downsize. With all of the new gifts coming in it’s a great time to eliminate and downsize on some of our unused items. If you have children, when you bring in new toys take a few minutes to remove toys that are no longer being played with. This is a perfect opportunity to choose toys for donations and gift to children who didn’t have such a fruitful holiday. As your children get older, encourage them to participate in this. You will be helping them develop a sense of pride and giving. Being aware of what we are blessed to have and how we can provide to those less fortunate are life lessons that will certainly stay with your children. And, it clears up some space in your house!

Set up a Calendar:

I don’t make fancy layouts, but do enjoy using a bullet journal for my list making. Each day I use a new page with my daily to-do list, and then I keep a number of running lists. Some examples might be recipe ideas, grocery lists, on going to-do’s, etc. I try and keep my daily to-do lists realistic, and the running to-do list a list of everything I would like to complete. Being able to check things off my lists is hugely motivating for me, but seeing a list that I barely made a dent in can seriously keep me up at night. If I have completed my daily list, and end up with spare time, I just check my running to-do list and see what else I have time to accomplish. My productivity tends to sky rocket when I feel like I’m really making progress.

Our family has always struggled to sync our calendars, so this year we are going old school and giving a paper calendar in the Kitchen a try. I use my phone to organize my personal calendar and work calendar, but I’m not always able to keep up with my husbands schedule. This year we are hopeful that having something hanging in the kitchen will be the visual reminder we need. It should certainly cut down on our arguments around whether we remembered to tell each other about a schedule change! You have to find a system that works best for your family, and really work to implement it!

Set attainable goals for January:

Look at the year and set a long range goal, then break that down to small chunks. If I don’t have a long range goal, setting goals just for the month is my go to. I then take that goal and break it down even smaller so that I know it is something attainable. When I sat down to think about what I wanted to achieve in January my list was long! Some examples were:

  • Drink more water
  • Use a meal plan
  • Bring lunch to work
  • Track our spending
  • Read 1 book

That’s a lot! Then I worried that I was setting my sites too high and would be setting myself up for failure. So I took each of those goals and I broke them down into more achievable chunks.

  • Drink more water – 8 oz. in the morning, 8 oz. in the afternoon
  •  Use a meal plan – Block off time on Sundays, plan 5 meals
  •  Bring lunch to work – pack lunch in the evenings so that I’m ready to just grab it in the morning.
  • Track our Spending – enter our weekly spends each Saturday rather than at the end of the month.
  • Read 1 book – read for 20 minutes 2x a week

I’m also giving myself the flexibility to know that goals change and adjust and it’s just for one month. By February I will know how well, or not, my goals went and will have a better idea of what comes next.

How do you greet the New Year? Do you set resolutions? If so, are you able to keep them for the full year?

Cheers to a successful 2018!

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

Simply Living has been on extended hiatus once again!  Here is a wrap up of 2016!

We began 2016 embarking on a Debt Snowball as we worked to pay down our existing debt while searching for the perfect home.  Dave Ramsey provided most of our foundation.  We listed our debts from smallest to biggest and delighted in watching the snowball grow.

We had 8 steady months of paying down our debt.  We were able to eliminate 2 student loans, 2 credit cards and a car loan.  A total of $18,412!  That sure felt like an accomplishment.

As we paid down our existing debt, what we were able to afford for a house continued to grow.  In September we were excited to finally have an offer accepted, and we closed on our first home in November!  This did mean that we had to pause our debt snowball, but I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish in our short 8 months.

During 2016 my husband and I both started new jobs and we completed our first Whole30.  Two really big personal achievements!  We celebrated with a week long cruise around the Caribbean in August.

We ended 2016 in our new home surrounded by stripped wallpaper, new floors and too many paint cans to count.

This year we are extremely excited that our family will be expanding and we will be able to welcome our first child, a son!  We have numerous house projects under way, some big, some small and some very unexpected.  All significantly more expensive than we had planned.  Things are moving and life is happening quickly!

We are back to scrubbing our budget, particularly with a new house, new baby on the way, and a maternity leave around the corner, we are having to be creative in finding ways to make our finances balance.  While we might not be able to put everything into a debt snowball right now, we have learned many ways to be frugal and stretch our paychecks while preventing taking on additional debt.  I’m confident that these skills will help us through the tightest times.

Stick around to see what 2017 has in store for us!

School Lunchbox Ideas

School Lunchbox Ideas

Now that the school year is off to a start perhaps you are looking for new lunch ideas for your child.  Do you have a picky eater? Trying to branch out from sandwiches and mix up their lunch box repertoire? After working in Early Education for many years I have come up with many healthy and nut free options, since most schools are now nut free.  Here are just a few (please remember that based on the age of your child you will need to cut/slice food to appropriate size):

Lunch Box Ideas

Main Options:

  • Grilled Cheese
  • Rice Cakes and Sun Butter
  • Deli Meat Rollup
  • Pasta (Tortellini, mac and cheese, spaghetti, etc.)
  • mini waffles or pancakes
  • muffins
  • Pita with hummus
  • Sweet and Sour Kielbasa
  • Quesadilla


  • Yogurt
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Steamed veggies
  • Cheese Stick
  • Cottage Cheese
  • 3 bean salad
  • Tabouli
  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Avocado slices

Why not pack your own lunch at the same time!  You’ll definitely feel like you are eating healthier and saving more money than ordering lunch every day.  Leftovers from dinner the night before are also great lunch ideas!

What was in your lunch box today?

Here are some of our favorite lunch boxes – amazon links:

Our Favorite Smoothies

When looking for a quick grab and go breakfast or a protein packed snack a smoothie is something we often forget, but is super simple and takes little to no time!

My number one favorite smoothie is the green monster, you can see my exact recipe here.   It contains frozen peaches, frozen pinapple, a banana, spinach and orange juice.

Simply Living Green Monster Smoothie
The makings of a Green Monster smoothie

At this point I have made it so many times I don’t use measurements, but just eyeball it.  It’s a great way to get some leafy greens in, without even tasting it.  It may look green, but it tastes just like banana and pineapple.  This would be a great way to get your kids to eat some spinach!

Simply Living Green Monster Smoothie
The delicious Green Monster

My second favorite smoothie is the one we made during our Whole30 here.  This one contains banana, almond butter and coconut milk.  That’s it!  

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter Banana Smoothie

Again, I don’t really use measurements, just more of an eyeball.  If I don’t like the consistency I just add a little extra coconut milk to loosen it up, or more banana to thicken it.  Since typically the 3 ingredients are room temperature, you can add a little ice if you would like to make it nice and frosty.  Packed with protein and good nutrients, but not a good idea around children with nut allergies!

My last go to smoothie is a triple berry smoothie. I like to use raspberry, blueberry and strawberry.  Pop them in a blender with a banana, a handful of hidden spinach, a scoop of vanilla yogurt and a splash of almond milk.  So delicious and beautifully colored!   

If you’re looking for an extra protein punch you can also always add in a scoop of your favorite protein powder.  I love that there are so many ways to get in fruits and veggies, and it’s nice to mix up the liquid.  A little OJ when you need extra vitamin C, or perhaps Coconut Milk or Almond milk of you are looking for a lower fat dairy free option.  The options are limitless!

Another tip is to stock up on fruit when it is on sale and freeze, then it’s ready to go!  We make baggies ahead of time of the fruits we need, then when we are ready to make a smoothie we empty a packet into the blender, add some leafy greens, our liquid of choice and you are ready to blend.

 These days we use our nutribullet. which was a wedding gift.  I think it’s great for making single servings when you are literally on the go.  If you use a single serving cup, you can just take off the blade and attach a lid and you take the whole thing with you.  They also have larger attachments if we are planning to share.  We also find that it is way easier to clean than trying to stick your hand inside a large blender without getting cut on the blade.  We highly recommend it!

What are your favorite recipes?