Shopping

Shopping for Baby, Part 1

I am a creature of habit. When it comes to shopping, that means I tend to be very brand loyal. Once I find a product that I really like, I stick with it, shopping trip after shopping trip. This is great for the brands that I love, but it means that I rarely try new products or find out if there’s something I like better than what I’ve already got. So when Walmart gave me the opportunity to try a bunch of different baby products, I was only to happy to oblige. After all, having a baby in the house does create some unique buying opportunities, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out.

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The great thing about Walmart is that I can get everything I need for Juliza in one place, from her diapers to her clothes, bath products and food. In spite of that, I had never bought any of these products before.

Huggies Little Movers Diapers

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Price often dictates which diapers I purchase, because they all work pretty much the same, right? Well, they all function the same, but I wouldn’t say they all work the same. Some are definitely better than others. And I have to say, Huggies Little Movers definitely goes on the list of better diapers.

Even when I unfold the diaper to put it on Juliza, I can tell the difference. The material feels sturdier than other brands I’ve tried, and the fit is really great for an active toddler. Juliza rarely keeps still, and we’ve started to see some shift in her diaper throughout the day. Huggies Little Movers are designed to accommodate all this activity.

The waistband and leg openings have great stretch, and in addition to the regular tabs that close the diaper, there are strips on the front that also adhere to keep it closed. Plus, they’ve proven to be very absorbent and keep her skin dry even when her diaper is wet.

They’re on the higher end of the price scale, but the features make them worth the money.

Aveeno Baby Wash & Lotion

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I’m very particular about what I put on Juliza’s skin, in part because she’s my baby and I’m protective, but also because she’s prone to dryness and I have to be vigilant to keep her skin well-moisturized. This means that she only gets baths every other night so we don’t dry out her skin, and I put lotion on her several times a day.

The Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo is very lightly scented and it’s not drying at all. After a bath, when I towel Juliza off, her skin already seems to be absorbing moisture really well when I use this. But the lotion is the real find.

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I like putting lotion on her immediately after a bath when her skin will best absorb moisture. But by morning, I usually have to apply it again, and then once more during the day. The Aveeno Daily Moisture baby lotion kept her skin well moisturized all day long. I only had to apply it one time. That’s it. It really did work better than anything else I’ve tried on her skin.

My only objection is that I’m not a fan of some of the ingredients. Aveeno has natural ingredients, but it’s not all natural. Still, both products score a 2 in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database — low scores that indicate they are pretty safe.

Gerber 2nd Foods

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Juliza already has 10 teeth, with a couple more coming in, so she’s a bit past the stage of eating pureed baby food any more. However, we still give her cereal and oatmeal, and she loves fruit, so we like to mix a little pureed fruit in with those. The Gerber 2nd Foods products include a lot of mixed fruit options. We tried the Apples & Cherries, and Banana Mixed Berries.

Juliza loved the Banana Mixed Berries by itself, which I predicted because she loves bananas. The Apples & Cherries she preferred mixed with her cereal. At just $1.08 for a pack of two, they’re worth keeping on hand for moments when we want to give her a little snack.

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In a few weeks, I’ll share a couple more baby products from Walmart that we’re trying, but I’d love to hear about your shopping habits:

Are you a habitual shopper like me, or do you like to try new things or buy what’s on sale?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

When I was growing up, I was fortunate to have strong women in my life to look up to, including my mother. So when the time came for me to start my own business, it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t because I’d had so many examples of women doing big things. I was empowered by those women, and it is my duty to provide the same example for my daughters. Running my own business is part of it, but really, it’s just about providing an environment in which they believe in themselves enough to do whatever they set their minds to.

So needless to say, I am a huge fan of Walmart‘s global Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative, which aims to improve the lives of women around the world in a variety of ways, not the least of which is their commitment to source $20 billion (that’s BILLION) worth of products from companies owned by women by 2016. To clarify, Walmart defines a woman-owned company as on that is at least 51% owned by women and also run by a woman.

Patricia Wallwork, CEO of Milo's Tea Company

Patricia Wallwork, CEO of Milo’s Tea Company

Well, March is Women’s History Month, and Walmart is featuring six of those items manufactured by woman-owned companies:

  • Milo’s Sweet Tea
  • Budget Saver Popsicles
  • CLR Remover
  • Smart & Sexy Bra
  • Carter’s Infant Shoes
  • Hefty Trashcan

Though I recognized almost all the brands, I had no idea that these companies were run by women. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. But these are just 6 of more than 10,000 items that can be found both in Walmart stores and online that come from companies owned by women. This page will help you find them, along with the Women Owned badge like the one shown below.

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But why does any of this matter? Well, aside from the fact that it’s just a great idea to let girls see women being successful, there is the fact that women are responsible for more than 80% of consumer decisions globally, and it’s great to be able to support other women with our dollars. Plus initiatives like this one can, and very likely will, help those companies grow by leaps and bounds.

That sounds like money well spent to me.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links may have been used.

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If there’s one thing I wish I had done, it’s stock up on diapers before we brought baby Juliza home from the hospital. Of course, she was born unexpectedly three weeks early, and we initially planned to do cloth diapering (let’s just say that didn’t work out), but still. I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress by having diapers in a variety of sizes on hand instead of buying them one or two packs at a time.

If you have a baby, or one on the way, now is a great time to do just that during Walmart‘s Stock up and Save event featuring brands like Huggies, Pull-ups and Goodnites. During this promotion, diaper packs will include free FROZEN wipes, and you can print digital coupons from Walmart.com for all the products.

You can get:

  • HUGGIES Diapers for $34.47
  • Pull-Ups for $24.94
  • HUGGIES wipes for $11.97
  • Goodnites Youth Pants for $24.94

The available coupons are pretty nice too:

  • $2 off any 1 pack of Huggies Diapers
  • $2 off any 1 pack of Huggies Wipes
  • $2 off any 1 pack of Pull-Ups training pants
  • $3.50 off any 2 packs of Pull-Ups training pants
  • $2 off any GoodNites product, including bedmats, underwear and Tru-Fit

Juliza has been wearing the same diaper size for a while, so we’re going to stock up on her current size as well as the next size up.

What about you? Do you stock up on diapers? Would you take advantage of these deals?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I wish I could say my Christmas shopping was complete, but alas, it is not. I still have a few people to shop for, and I still have to get a few more items for our stockings. If you’ve procrastinated this year, like me, not to worry. You can still shop your conscience. Just head to your nearest Whole Foods Market and pick up a gift that will woo the recipient and make you feel great about wooing the Earth. Even if you did buy it just days before Christmas.

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So what kind of great green gifts can you really get at Whole Foods? Well, whether you’re shopping for a fashionista, a beauty maven, your husband or the kids, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of my favorites:

Threads 4 Thought Fleece Leggings, $30

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I love Threads 4 Thought because they’re committed to using sustainable materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, the latter of which turns plastic bottles that otherwise would’ve gone into the waste stream into fashion. Cute fashion, at that. These fleece leggings are the perfect complement to a winter outfit and a great way to make all those summer dresses work during the colder months. Also, Threads 4 Thought gives portion of their proceeds to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Yellow 108 Infinity Scarf, $24.00

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I have one niece who is a scarf fanatic, and I know she’d love these. Yellow 108 is a Los Angeles-based company that makes sustainable accessories and hats made of salvaged materials from eco textile factories. These infinity scarves are made of 100% salvaged cotton, and the nature of the materials means that every run is “limited edition”.

Chavez for Charity Bracelets, $11.99

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What girl (or boy) wouldn’t love some gorgeous, stackable bracelets on Christmas morning? Plus, in this case, for each green bracelet purchased, Chavez for Charity will donate 25% of the profits to the Whole Plant Foundation, whose mission is to alleviate poverty through microlending programs in communities throughout the world. And you can only get them at Whole Foods Market this holiday season.

Pacifica Wanderlust Trio Roll-On Perfume Set, $18.99

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Though I always give cologne as a gift, I’ve never been a big perfume person myself, in part because it’s too hard to tell what’s in them these days. Well, these perfume roll-ons from Pacifica would be right up my alley. They’re 100% vegan and free of phthalates, nitro-musks and benzene, made with natural grain alcohol and essential oils. The scents included in the set: Indian Coconut Nectar, Tuscan Blood Orange and Island Vanilla. Don’t they sound amazing?

Mineral Fusion Sheer Moisture Lip Tints, $19.99

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I may not be into perfume very much, but one thing I have been loving of late is lipstick. This three-pack contains Mineral Fusion’s most popular lip tint crayons, and you can only get them at Whole Foods. The colors included are Flicker (sheer berry), Smolder (bright cherry red) and Glisten (nude caramel shimmer). And unlike your favorite matte lipstick, these tints will hydrate your lips with cocoa butter and botanical oils, and they even taste sweet because of their natural vanilla-mint fragrance.

Every Man Jack Body Kit Sandalwood Pail, $17.99

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Let me just say, my husband LOVES Every Man Jack. The fragrances are musky and manly, and they last all day. This all-in-one grooming kit comes with a hydrating body wash, aluminum-free deodorant, soothing face lotion and bonus SPF lip balm in a refreshing Sandalwood fragrance. Neatly packed in a unique, reusable pail, the items in this set use naturally derived ingredients from coconut, jojoba oil and aloe to soothe, hydrate and protect skin. No parabens, no phthalates, no dyes, no sodium lauryl sulfate, and never tested on animals. All products meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Premium Body Care™ standards.

PBS KIDS x Whole Foods Market Produce Pick Up Shape Sorter, $22.99

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PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market have joined forces on a line of eco-friendly toys this year. Whole Foods Market will donate a portion of their proceeds to support the Whole Kids Foundation, and 100% of PBS proceeds will support its mission of educating all children. The Produce Pick-Up Shape Sorter is a great toy for kids who are learning their shapes and colors. It’s made with FSC-certified pinewood, printed with vegetable inks and packaged in recycled materials, plus it comes with 13 pieces, including a detachable crate to store the produce pieces. Made for kids ages 3 and up.

What about you? Are you still shopping for a few gifts? Do you consider buying green when you’re in a hurry?

Disclosure: I was provided with compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. As usual, all opinions are my own and completely authentic.

If there’s one gift that I know I can ALWAYS give my husband that he will never, ever complain about, it’s cologne. The man likes to smell good, and I have to say, I have greatly benefitted from this particular characteristic over the years. Honestly, he goes through a bottle of cologne pretty quickly, so as much as he loves the pricey department store stuff, it just doesn’t last long enough to justify the price most of the time.

This is why I’m a fan of the Walmart Fragrance Center. You can get great, well-known brands and celebrity fragrances for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere. Walmart sent me this Stetson set as an example.

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The price is just $8.98 for a bottle of cologne and a tube lotion. My husband likes musky, manly fragrances like this, and you couldn’t beat the price with a bat. But just in case you’re not convinced, it gets better. Visit the Fragrance Center at Walmart.com and take a fun quiz to help you discover your “shopping style.” For your effort, you’ll be rewarded with a coupon for $4 off any fragrance item $14.88 or higher.

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Even if you’re not into classic fragrances like Stetson or Nautica, you should still be able to find something that appeals to you at Walmart and on the Holiday Fragrance Gift Center at Walmart.com. You can grab the scents made by your favorite celebrities, from Beyonce to Celine Dion and Katy Perry, all at a price that won’t make your pockets cry.

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So, who do you plan to surprise with the gift of fragrance this year? Are you looking for a specific scent?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Maybe I really have aged since Ja’Naya was a baby, but baby Juliza exhausts me daily. She started walking at just 10 months old, and I fully admit that keeping up with her is an ongoing challenge. It’s not just the fact that her sleep habits are still a bit irregular. She’s 10 months old and already walking, and therefore, getting into everything. Also, she’s not terribly interested in toys. She just wants to move, move, move! So when Walmart challenged me to share gift ideas for babies, I knew I wanted to present some ideas to help parents channel the energy of their active toddlers. Because whew!

My strategy this year has been to give her gifts that let her walk, climb and generally be active, in hopes that they’ll keep her attention and wear her out a bit:

1. Little Tikes First Slide

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This is reccomeded for kids from 18 months to 3 years old, but trust me when I say Juliza is ready. She can already climb to the second floor of our home, and she’s been doing it since she was 9 months old. The Little Tikes First Slide ($34.97) can be used outdoors or in. For now, it will take its place in our living room, much of which has already been cleared for Juliza’s benefit. She’ll be able to climb and slide to her heart’s content, and we’re hoping it will help with her balance and coordination. When warmer weather comes, we’ll likely use it in the kiddie pool we got this past summer. And hope that we don’t have a mishaps that lands us on America’s Funniest Videos.

There are a lot of other options for toddler-sized playground equipment as well.

2. Little Tikes Lil’ Shopper

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Juliza is already an excellent walker, especially given her age, but she still has her moments of being off balance and hitting the floor butt (or hands or occasionally, face) first. When Ja’Naya was a baby, she actually learned to walk in part due to a doll-sized stroller that she loved pushing around. We thought JuJu could use some similar support in her quest to stay upright, so we invested in The Little Tikes Lil’ Shopper cart ($14). She can wheel it around as she walks circles through the first floor, and hopefully, she’ll learn to pick up everything she’s left in the trail of destruction fun behind her.

3. Learning Toys

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Now that Juliza is pretty fully mobile, we’ve begun teaching her words and gestures. We’d like for any other toys we add to stimulate her mind, since her body is working overtime these days. When my mom and sister asked if we had specific gifts we wanted them to get for the baby, I pointed her to the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy ($12) and the VTech Touch and Learn Musical Bee ($15), but there are a variety of other baby learning toys they could choose from. These two particular choices offer baby an opportunity to learn, from numbers to shapes, colors and body parts, and they’re cuddly and cute. Here’s hoping that they’ll eventually be made of organic cotton and fill.

What about you? What gifts are on your list for your active toddler?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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OK. I’ll admit it. I’m one of THOSE moms. I don’t believe in filling my family’s Christmas stockings with random stuff just so it’s full. In the past, when my husband and I have done that, the stockings have remained full, with the kids ignoring the small gifts and trinkets we added as the last-minute. But those last-minute stocking stuffers don’t have to go ignored. We’ve since shifted our strategy to giving two types of gifts in our stockings: Small and meaningful, or useful and needed.

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When Walmart challenged me to share some last-minute gift ideas, I chose to focused on the latter: stocking stuffers that anyone can use.

Personal care products

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My family and I use very specific types of personal care products: ones that are organic if possible, but all natural at the very least. But we always seem to run out at inconvenient times. This year, I focused on those items that I know we’ll wind up needing sooner or later: Shea Moisture soap, lotion from Gud by Burt’s Bees, and an EcoTools bath sponge for my daughter, who has been begging for one for the past several years.

Walmart also carries other natural and organic brands, including Yes To, alba botanica and more. These brands do tend to cost a bit more than their traditional counterparts, which makes them an even better gift idea. Noone will complain about saving $7-10 on lotion they needed anyway.

Hats, gloves and scarves

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Let’s be honest. Most kids don’t do a very good job of keeping track of their hats and gloves during the winter. My daughter has a habit of mixing and matching her gloves every day, so we can never find more than one of any pair at a time. Plus, she’s outgrown many of her gloves from the last several years. I snagged this awesome red, gold and green hat for my husband, in the colors of the Ethiopian flag, for less than $8, and I plan to go back for a couple hat and glove sets for Ja’Naya and baby Juliza for just $5.

Gift Cards

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There’s not a single person on this planet who will complain about getting gift cards in their stocking. Or at least not a single reasonable person. Walmart gift cards are always welcome in my house for everything from groceries and household items to toys for the kids or a new outfit or boots for mama. They’re practical, but the recipient will feel special because they get to choose their own gift. I’ll also be heading to Walmart to complete the rest of my gift list affordably. Check out all the gift ideas you can still order online and pick up in store.

What about you? How do you approach stocking stuffers and last-minute gifts?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I admit that I’m not up to date on the latest characters that kids are into these days. We don’t have cable any more, and my oldest daughter is more into crafting and gymnastics than TV. And the baby? Well. She’s still a baby. But if there’s one character I have loved ever since Ja’Naya was a toddler, it’s Dora the Explorer. First, there’s the obvious: I love multicultural characters on kids TV because it’s a great example of the diversity of real life. But also, I’ve always loved the idea that my kids could learn even a little Spanish from watching Dora.

In spite of the fact that my mother is Puerto Rican, I do not speak Spanish. Sad, but true. I speak a little and understand a little more, but I am far from bilingual. The bilingual nature of Dora and her friends and family means that kids will start to learn another language in their play, and that makes me happy.

So when I was asked to try the new Dora and Friends toy line, available at Walmart and Walmart.com, I couldn’t wait to let my girls dig in. Want to see it for yourself? Check out this video review of the toys.

Talking Dora & Smartphone

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Realistically, it’s really difficult to keep electronics out of kids’ hands these days. Even baby Juliza tries to snatch our phones whenever she spots an opportunity, and Ja’Naya even takes her phone to school to use with the “Bring Your Own Device” program. So I think it’s really cool that Dora has made some modern upgrades — and her infamous Map is now “Map App.”

The Talking Dora doll, priced at $29, talks when you push the buttons on her dress, and she actually has conversations with her friends via the phone. Dora can ask a question and the phone responds, or vice versa.

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Even Ja’Naya, who is sort of past the age for whom this toy is intended, couldn’t help playing with the phone all day. It was cool so listen to the conversations back and forth, and realistically, it’s easy to imagine playing with doll and phone separately. Because the baby loved the phone, but the doll didn’t seem quite as interesting to her.

Still, this is a great option for a kid who loves Dora, or who loves interactive toys.

Arco Iris Cafe and Playa Verde Cabana

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I’ve always been a fan of imaginative play sets that don’t necessarily DO anything, but challenge kids to play creatively. The Arco Iris Cafe, $15, and Playa Verde Cabana, $12.50, are great examples. They’re simply locations where the tiny Dora & Friends dolls can have adventures.

The two-story cafe does light up with a little music, and it comes with two chairs and a table for the dolls to use. The Playa Verde Cabana features a cute little beach shop, a lifeguard tower, beach chair and hammock. Both sets come with a tiny Dora doll, but you can purchase Dora’s friends separately. Which leads me to another cool feature of these toys.

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Each Dora doll comes with a charm bracelet and interchangeable charms based on each character’s interests. Kids can exchange the charms or switch them out, and the charms also interact with the smartphone. This is the part that will keep kids coming back for more, I think.

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While we’ll definitely have to keep the tiny charms out of baby Juliza’s reach because they’re small enough to swallow and therefore not recommended for kids under the age of 3, she’ll have a great time with Dora and her special phone, and Ja’Naya will get endless hours of play out of the smaller play sets. Plus I know she’s eager to find out which of her friends has charms so she can trade.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.