My very strong opinions about bath toys

All you need to know about baby bath toys

In my nine years of experience living with a kid-friendly bathroom and tub, I’ve developed some very strong opinions about what’s good and bad in bath toys. Allow me to share four lessons with you.

  • Your squirty toys are nasty, mildewy, and gross. I’m sure there’s some recipe for regularly cleaning with bleach and then making them baby-safe again, but c’mon! I say: buy ‘em cheap and replace them often.
  • That fishing toy is fun and will break within a week. We have bits of various fishing toys that still get play, but man I wish the whole rod ‘n reel still worked.
  • You gotta drain. The boon frog is a popular solution because it scoops up sudsy toys and hangs them from the shower wall allowing full drainage. People love it. We use a plasticky holey basket for the same effect without the wall sticking.
  • Hard plastic toys are your friend. We have a Tomy dolphin musical toy that is going strong without incident for NINE YEARS. Whut?! My conclusion is that the less porous material invites less bacteria.

All you need to know about baby bath toys

Here are my top picks for bath toys that will last. Hope you like ‘em. [Read more…]

High five to Just KayBee’s year of {Rookie Moms} challenges

The newish mama known as KayBee decided to tackle our rookie moms challenges with her second baby, Peanut, and we’re super excited to share her stories with you. Anytime we see you guys toting your baby along somewhere you might not have gone, we are so happy.

Here are a few highlights from their adventures:

The post in which KayBee declares her intentions then visits the first coffee shop with baby (last May, awww).

Just KayBee took her baby to Starbucks for her rookiemoms challenge

Summertime journey to Trader Joe’s with baby and the pure joy of taking a water baby in the swimming pool.

Just KayBee took her baby to the swimming pool for her rookiemoms challenge

The thing she did instead of an Inside-Out Party and some cutie patootie pumpkin pictures.

Just KayBee took her baby to pose with pumpkins for her rookiemoms challenge

And, just like that, he’s ready for his first birthday party. Sniff. We hope it was everything she wanted, smash cake and all.

Just KayBee had a smash cake for her rookiemoms challenge

As I know better than anyone, trying to make special Mommy-baby bonding time can be trickier the second time around. How many memories do I have of wearing/nursing one baby while chasing/wrestling the older child? How well did I actually follow through on my great ideas even though blogging it is my JOB? Respectively, more and less than I care to count…

We want to give you the highest of fives, KayBee! We’re proud of you.

See more from Just KayBee and her rookie moms challenges over here! And please share your own baby-in-tow adventures with us too, we’re always happy to share the love. Just tweet, instagram, or facebook at us so we can find you.

[All photos by; all rights reserved]

Activity #38: Take a sensory tour around the block

Stop and touch all the flowers with your baby #rookiemoms challenge
Whitney ran into my friend Jeanine outside her house. Jeanine was helping her 9-month old daughter, Pepper, touch some furry lavender sticking out from Whitney’s garden, and didn’t realize whose house it was. The girls had been going on a sensory tour of the neighborhood.

Try it yourself to keep the neighborhood walks interesting (for you!):

  1. Stop and smell the flowers.
  2. Lean in so your baby can touch a fuzzy leaf.
  3. Look at the bright colors and shadows.
  4. Step on crunchy leaves and sticks, rustle paper or candy wrappers (err, I mean Luna Bar).
  5. Are you eating or drinking something your baby can share? A green smoothie?

This is your 38th challenge. This baby tour of your block is great preparation for walking with a toddler.

Did you complete this challenge? Use any of these methods to tell us about it:

  • Comment below.
  • Share a picture with us on Facebook.
  • Name your destination on Twitter or Instagram and use hashtag #rookiemoms.
  • Or, post a link in the comments to your own blog post about this challenge.

Want to save this idea for later? Dude, you should so pin this!

Baby too old for this idea? Pick a different fun thing to do with a toddler. Baby too young? Go have a latte!

[Photo credit: Lovely Olivia, all rights reserved]

The gift I want to give every new mom: FOOD!

Favorite recipes for new moms: spaghetti and meatballs from Katie Workman's Mom 100 Cookbook

Is there anything more wonderful than a freshly cooked meal delivered to your door when you’re hungry? I treasured each and every meal brought to me by loving friends when I was home bonding with a newborn.

Now that I have three children (under my belt? out from my belt area?), I still believe that food is the kindest gift of all. Sadly, I’m often too busy with my own family’s demands to be that hero on the porch around dinnertime, but when I am, here are a few of my go-to meals:

  1. Easiest of all: There are meal delivery services that deliver amazing restaurant-quality meals later the same day. In the Bay Area, I heart Munchery big time, try them if they’re near you. For about $50, you’ve just sent the happy little family several good dinners.
  2. Very easy: Rotisserie chicken, a pre-made side dish, and brownie bites from Whole Foods. Still tasty for her and fast for you! Got kids of your own? Grab a second helping of everything. Done and done.
  3. Pretty easy: Make a favorite chili or hearty soup. Freeze it in large, flat slabs in freezer-safe Ziplock bags. Bring to the rookie family with a loaf of crusty bread and generous salad. Top off with a sweet potato pie for dessert (superfood!).
  4. Medium level of difficulty: I like to make homemade spaghetti with meatballs because it is hearty and filling. My current favorite recipe comes from Katie Workman (from The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket, which is fantastic!). I spent about 15 minutes prepping the meatballs and another making the sauce. So tasty and freezes well (use that handy flat slab trick mentioned above). Double the batch for you and the new mama. Pair with a bottle of red wine if she’s drinking and a dessert of your choice.

I can almost taste the delicious roast chicken, tangy brisket, and fresh baked cookies when I think about those early days with my baby. I may never have food as delicious as when I was a new mother, under-slept and ravenous from nursing round the clock!Favorite recipes for new moms: turkey chili from Katie Workman's Mom 100 Cookbook

What do you like to bring new mommies, and would you like to drop off a second helping at my place?

I have a well-worn copy of The Mom 100 Cookbook and heartily recommend it to anyone who needs to eat and prepare 3 meals a day.

[Photo credit TODD COLEMAN/THE MOM 100 COOKBOOK, all rights reserved by The Mom 100]

Observing the lasts of parenting is trickier than the firsts

The last time he snuggled me awakeMy youngest child is now three years old. He is full of curiosity and asks me to define words like God, football, and bet. Today, he told me not to skip my morning run because “you won’t move your body for all of the day or night.” And while he still clings to his diapers, he is so clearly not this baby anymore. Sigh…

I see the horizon of parenting getting easier. When we fly on an airplane, Sawyer is content to watch a video and I don’t need to bust out my bag of toddler airplane tricks anymore. I’m nostalgic in advance, wanting to simultaneously rush through and savor each of our mutual milestones. But as we continue along this bumpy journey together, I realize that it is much harder to commemorate the LAST time doing something than it is the FIRST.

How obvious is it the very first time you attempt breastfeeding compared to the maybe-last-but-you’re-not-totally-sure-if-he’ll-go-for-it time? The first time in a not-exactly-our-plan co-sleeping arrangement vs. the last time your toddler sneaks into your bed?

Sawyer’s adorable mispronunciations become fewer each day. When will he finally stop saying “nak-pin” instead of napkin? Will I even notice?

What other lasts should I be writing in my trusty (imaginary) baby book?

The photo above is the last time Sawyer snuggled me awake and let me take a picture. That was Mother’s Day. I hope it’s not the last last!


Happy 9 Year Blogiversary!

About the Rookie Moms

Hi there, allow me a moment to reflect. We’ve been friends since 1997 and moms since 2004. Upon discovering that babies don’t suggest, “Hey mom, let’s go out and get you some new jeans and a latte,” we decided to take matters into our own hands and make a list of all the fun places we could go with a baby in tow. We started this here website 9 years ago to share our brainstorm with others. We have been dedicated to encouraging moms to have more fun with parenting ever since.

In honor of our special navel-gazing day to celebrate nine years of navel-gazing, we invite you to leave a comment. Say hi. Tell us who you are, what you like, what you hate (as long as you have manners, we can take it).

Slings and carriers: Baby Halloween Costumes

For wee babies experiencing their first Halloween, I think the baby carrier costume is the most practical (that is, if you leave the house). Your baby is cozy and snug against you and you have your hands free.

Here are a few adorable sling costumes to try:

Turn a sling into a Halloween costume: spiderSpider: add white or silver (or glow-in-the-dark) web to black sling in less than 30 minutes. Instructions at

Watermelon: Have an hour and a red or green sling? You can try this watermelon costume. More sling costume ideas like race car, peacock and pumpkin pie from Mammas Milk.

Babywearing costume inspiration from Mammas Milk Slings: watermelon and cow

Other carrier costumes:

Popcorn. Kate from This Place Is Now A Home made a white and red striped popcorn container out of felt and simply wrapped it around the Baby Bjorn she wore. But not before attaching real popcorn to her son’s cap. Is this not the cutest family costume?

Baby costume popcorn

The Hangover: We love what Karen, Ross and baby Laz did as the characters from the Hangover. Dad plays Zach Galifianakis with sunglassed infant in the BabyBjorn and Mom as Ed Helms character. Million laughs.

Hangover as great Halloween costume for a baby and family

Total Recall (Kuato & George): Nothing gets Daddy to carry the baby for Halloween like a costume inspired by a classic Schwarzenegger movie’s mutant death scene, right? (Wait, was that sexist?) [Read more…]

Activity #35: Buy some new jeans

Rookie moms challenge to buy some new jeans

Put away the maternity pants and take yourself out to Old Navy to get some interim jeans to make you feel normal. Go with a girlfriend you trust. Don’t look at the size, just find something flattering and comfortable.

Maternity Leave challenge: Buy new jeans - ones that fit your current body.

DO NOT THINK ABOUT OR TALK ABOUT THE WEIGHT YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE IN THE FUTURE. Buy jeans to wear this week. When the day comes, you can put these in storage for the next time around, give them to a friend who is a few months behind you, or wear them when you do that chalkboard paint project you’ve been talking about.

This is really two challenges folded into one: Implied in the new jeans is a shopping trip, and we don’t take that challenge lightly. That’s why we recommend bringing a friend with you. You’ll need to have your baby in a stroller in order to try on clothing. But, I mean, if you do try on jeans while wearing your baby in a front carrier, please do send me a video, because I would like to see that.

Advice for hitting a shopping destination with your baby.

Feed and change baby upon arrival, rather than before leaving the house, so that he or she is content while you shop.

If awake and happy, position stroller so baby can watch you try on clothes. If sleeping, stick a portable white noise gadget — your phone or this thing — in the stroller and cover with a blanket to maximize length of sleep in florescent-lighted dressing room environment.

Older babies may enjoy getting out of stroller and sitting directly in front of dressing room mirror to check themselves out. Let your big sitting-up baby play with your old pants while you try on new ones.

Related rant: Is that #3 in there?!

This is our 35th-ish (I’ve lost count!) weekly challenge for rookie moms. Not relevant to you right now? Choose a different challenge.

photo: Bethan on flickr.

A three-year-old’s guide to Disneyland

Preschooler and toddler tips for Disneyland & California Adventure

Disneyland is a magical place. Happiest place on earth, right? For a three-year old it can be all kinds of wonderful — and overwhelming. We just returned from a fun family trip to Anaheim with our preschooler and his two big brothers. I offer you a few tips from my own experience and a few friends who guided my travels.

Favorite rides and attractions for a small person

Just being pushed through the park is a terrific sensory experience. Sawyer saw giant characters — most of which he did not recognize — being friendly and inviting. If you ask him, he’ll tell you he loved every minute of it. Here are a few of his favorite attractions:


Preschoolers guide to Disneyland & California Adventure

  • The monorail runs from near the Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney right into the park at Tomorrowland and riding it was a big hit. If you ask nicely, you might even be able to ride up front. Strollers must be collapsed.
  • Once you’re in Tomorrowland, drive small cars around Autopia, check out Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and fly the Astro Orbiter (just like the Dumbo ride with a different skin).
  • In Toon Town, Sawyer loved running around all over. It’s a great place to explore and climb on the giant play structures. Our kids and adults loved poking around Mickey’s House, though we bailed on waiting in the line to actually meet him. Gadget’s Go Coaster was just on the edge of Sawyer’s comfort zone.
  • It’s a small world, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant were big hits for us in Fantasyland.
  • The Disney railroad makes 4 stops along the perimeter of the park. It can serve as a fun ride or transportation to get back to the main gate. We took the train when our big brothers were on a roller coaster. Stroller ramps are at all stations except the main gate.

California Adventure

[Read more…]

Activity #34: Host a Margarita Mommies Group

This week’s challenge is a summery activity for babies that can sit up on their own; this is your 34th challenge.

These ten-month olds (Theo, Del, Julian and Paxton) are having so much fun slurping on plastic toys and touching one another’s toes that they don’t realize their moms are having fun too.Put a few inches of water in a baby pool and a whole bunch of babies. And stir.
Ingredients for a successful Margarita Mommies Group:

  1. Shady backyard on a nice, warm day
  2. Kiddie Pool with a couple inches of water
  3. Mom-sized lawn chairs with toes dipping in the water
  4. Plastic pitcher of margaritas with plastic cups — or lemonade for moms who are pregnant or need to drive home.
  5. Splashing babies (diapers optional) — keep them in the shade or slather heavily with sunscreen before the party starts!
  6. Daddies available to pick up mommy and baby afterward

This was suggested by my hairdresser as an awesome way to enjoy the warm days. If its getting too chilly for swim diapers and cocktails, this activity can be modified to be an indoor playdate, of course, with a wide open living room floor with a few toys on a blanket. (See also Start your own Breakfast Club)

52 maternity leave challenges with baby

Did you complete this challenge? Share your story and pictures.

  • Comment below with details.
  • Share a picture with us on Facebook.
  • Tweet or Instagram in our general direction @rookiemoms #rookiemoms

Do you hate this challenge? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before. Go on, tell us why you hate it in our comments. Then pick another activity from our challenge list.

My Star Wars Halloween costume dream come true

BuyCostumes offered me the chance to review any costume of my choice. I want to thank them for helping me realize a dream.

I immediately wanted to become Princess Leia! I figured that as the mom of three young boys this costume would come in handy over and over again (I can be my own birthday party entertainment, a hit at the annual preschool party, and the princess of my minivan). Options included Sexy Leia and Slave Leia but Whitney helped me decide that Standard Princess Leia was the most appropriate for my life.

As soon as the box arrived, I ripped it open and started playing with the costume. Once the cinnamon-bun wig was in place I set up my phone for R2D2-style selfies, “Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” Whitney offered to take a few of me and my sidekick the next morning, which was almost soon enough.

Playing around with my Princess Leia costume - big thumbs up

I picked Sawyer up from preschool and told him about the big surprise waiting at home. Since he’s never seen any of the Star Wars movies, his cultural touchstone is the Weird Al song, Yoda (thanks big brothers!). He sings it here for your reference.

Do these characters even know each other?
The very next thing on my three-year old’s mind was the relationship between our characters. When I admitted that they’d never met in any of the movies, he was not pleased. Hopefully, there’s an as-yet-to-be-released part of the canon in which Yoda oversees young Leia’s safe upbringing. Since I don’t write or read fan-fiction, I agreed that our characters could be the best of friends. [Read more…]

9 Children’s books that will make you cry

Parents, I’m talking to YOU here. Your children will love the sweet stories and pictures but you will be choking back the tears before you finish reading
these bedtime books. Even though I hadn’t heard of some of these before our beautiful and wise Facebook community shared them, I was crying putting together this post. Bedtime stories that will bring you to tears

Whitney may have laughed at me for crying, but I dare her to read these books with dry eyes:

  • Corduroy. The book that started this idea for me. I heard our badass morning DJ talking about choking back tears while reading this to his own baby daughter. It’s all in the looks.
  • On the Night You Were Born. Our reader’s top pick and I’ve never even heard of it. What is wrong with me? I cried just thinking about that. Seriously, anything by Nancy Tillman has our readers sniffing through storytime.
    Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. Another top reader choice, just the amazon landing page had me welling up with emotion.
  • You Are My I Love You. I received this book as a baby shower gift and it takes stamina to finish without fogging up my glasses, especially with a squirmy infant in my lap.
  • Love You Forever. My own mother must have read this one to me, because I have the refrain in my brain and I know we don’t have a copy.
  • The Giving Tree. I think this one gets harder to read as my own children get older. How dare they?
  • The Little House. The story of a little country house that gets engulfed by the city chokes me up on the last pages… just when I think I’ve made it through.
  • Hachiko. If it makes Sunny cry, then I want to read it. The story of a loyal dog.
  • If I Could Keep You Little is another well-loved parent favorite that I have to check out.

I started to type up poignant excerpts from each but I don’t want to get in any copyright trouble with these sensitive authors, so go have a click on the links above.

Did I miss your favorite crying-at-bedtime book?