Hi, friends! No post yesterday as The Bear and I spent the afternoon with two new mom friends and their adorable, sweet daughters, who are 6, 8 and 10 months. Most of The Bear’s baby friends are boys, so watching her latch on to the “big girls” was too adorable. Can we say “big sis crush?” So fun! Mommy has always been a “girl’s girl” too.
Anyway, as I settled down last night to
fold laundry and drink a cup of herbal tea eat chocolate chip cookies and watch The Real Housewives of NYC, I realized it was almost nine and it was still pretty dusky out. “Summer!” My inner child screamed with glee! Nothing like that feeling of eternal sunshine, warm nights, popsicles and sun-crisped shoulders.
In honor of the start of summer (even though it’s felt like summer here for the past four months), I’d like to share with you a list of my favorite summer essentials… I can’t believe how many of these things I had no idea about until I had The Bear and met other mamas who clued me in… now I seriously don’t know how I would live without some of them! Others… just guilty pleasures. Enjoy and stay cool out there!
MOMMY TEST DRIVE’S TOP TEN SUMMER MUST-HAVES
10) Baby Banz strap-on sunglasses. I got these as a gift and shrugged them off, thinking there was no way The Bear would let me put a pair of sunglasses on her. How wrong I was: she adores them! They’re especially great for swimming in salt water, when excited splashing can lead to stinging eyes. Sunglasses are also essential for protecting your little’s eyes from sunburn (yes, eyes can get sunburned!) and long term damage, like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Both of these run in my family of blue-eyed ladies, so we’re not taking any chances!
9) Itzy Ritzy Wet Happened? reusable wet bags. Ohmygosh, this product is one of my absolute favorites. They come in adorable patterns and are totally leak-free and machine washable. You can fill them with smushy, juicy fruit or a wet bathing suit and the liquid stays put inside the bag, which zips shut. The bags come in various sizes with clever names and are also great for snacks, messy diapers, hair products… you name it.
8) Sun Smarties slip-free water socks. More often than I’d like to admit, The Bear has taken a spill from playing in bare feet on the wet concrete of our back patio. I searched for a solution that wouldn’t mean ruining her pricy Stride Rites with water and found Sun Smarties, a non-skid water sock with UV protection. These miniature foot wetsuits save your little’s soles from hot pavement, slippery surfaces and the sun. For $8, how can you go wrong?
7) Stockmar block beeswax crayons. For those days when it’s either raining or too stinkin’ hot to go outside, I love the idea of some good, old-fashioned coloring. If you have a 15-month-old like I do, you might find yourself retrieving these colorful cubes from your kid’s mouth from time to time, but they’re safe and natural and I love the watercolor effect they leave on paper.
6) Instagram. Not really a summer product in the traditional sense, but it’s definitely a necessity in our house. Perfect for snapping quick summer memories on the go to share with friends and family when you don’t have your fancy camera handy and want to look arty and hip.
5) St. Amour’s Teethers. The box is a little startling (The Bear always laughs at the wide-eyed baby on the packaging), but the product inside is amaze-balls. These French teething biscuits are dairy, egg, yeast, salt, cholesterol, fat and preservative free, and they’re perfect for long car rides or summer shopping excursions because they’re easy for your little to hold, last a long time and don’t make a huge mess.
4) Rockin’ the Uke, by Cathy and Marcy. Grammy-winning folksters Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer are some of my favorite kids’ musicians, mostly because the majority of their music really isn’t kids’ music, per se, but has a melodic, sing-a-long quality that makes long car trips feel a little more zen…. in a bluegrassy kind of way 🙂 My hands-down favorite is Rockin’ the Uke, their all-ukulele album, which I purchased after The Bear and I took a Hawaiian music class in the middle of winter at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Cathy and Marcy’s catchy uke tunes will immediately transport you from summer gridlock nightmare to Hawaiian luau paradise. It’s a car-trip necessity and the whole family (even B) knows all the words.
3) iplay bathing suits with built-in swim diaper. I love these! Not only are they approved for public swimming pools, they come in super adorable patterns and with a matching wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off tiny faces. iplay suits do such a great job of keeping “the business” in, that I didn’t even smell the surprise that was waiting for me when we got home from the pool last week 😉 The Bear especially loves her pink flamingos one:
2) Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35+. Episencial makes some of my favorite baby care products, ever. Their sunscreen is no exception. I love that it’s gentle, feels good on my little’s skin and made EWG’s list of safest suncreens on the market. It’s free from all the yucky no-no’s, and does a great job of keeping The Bear—and me—burn-free in the valley inferno we live in. Plus, I don’t feel like she needs to be scrubbed down with Borax every time we use it because even though it’s water-resistant, it washes off easily with soap and warm water and doesn’t leave an icky layer of stickiness on her skin.
1) Li’l Squirt Baby Pool from One Step Ahead. The Bear has spent many a hot afternoon cooling off on the patio in this fun, affordable summer must-have. Not technically a pool, not quite a splash pad, the Li’l Squirt attaches to your garden hose and fills with only a few inches of water, making it perfect for younger toddlers experiencing water for the first time outside the tub. The sprinkles can be adjusted high or low (as you can see, The Bear likes her sprinkles very high) with just a twist of the hose spigot. Great way to beat the heat and keep it safe.
PS. In case you’re curious, The Bear’s adorable “I Love Chicago” onesie in the photo below is from an awesome company called Rudy Ludy. Check out their super cute designs and support my good mama friend Claire!
Happy first weekend of summer, friends! Stay cool, safe and happy.
Kisses and hugs,