Baby Clothes – Rewards Programs

Occasionally, Gymboree and Carter’s run rewards programs, when you buy a certain $ amount of merchandise you can get $ in store rewards.

Gymboree has a rewards program called Gymbucks. I never use this program. When you buy $50 of clothing, you get a $25 rewards called Gymbucks, stapled to your receipt, that you can redeem during their Gymbuck redemption weeks (you can’t use it right away!). The catch is that you have to spend $50 to get your $25. So essentially it’s getting 50% off a future purchase of $50…but you already spent $50 to get that reward. And that’s a lot to be spending on kids’ clothing.

Plus, from my reading online, Gymboree does not accept coupons with Gymbucks. Correct me if I’m wrong here. But that makes it really hard to use this program.

If you have a lot of kids or a family photo or family gathering that requires some nice clothes that are not on the sale rack at Gymboree, than you might consider this program, but make sure you know when you can use your rewards. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother. I always buy from the sale rack with coupons and that’s enough for me.

When they ask me if I want to spend $10 more to get Gymbucks, I shake my head.

Do sign up for Gymboree rewards program in general, even if you don’t plan to earn Gymbucks. The program signs you up for email newsletters that sometimes will send you coupons in your email. Like any rewards program, it’s associated with a phone number you give to the associate at every purchase. Being a member allows you to sometimes receive extra promotions during a sale (friends and family events). When you spend $250 you get $5 of rewards–I’ve never reached that mark, so I can’t comment on it.

Carter’s also runs a rewards program during holidays. You get $10 when you spend $50, but from the fine print, you can spend your $10 on $10. So just spend $10.01 and you can use it. Like the Gymbucks, the rewards do expire so make sure to read the fine print. I haven’t used this program, but I am more inclined to use this one in the future.

Carter’s Bodysuits Review

You will need:

  • short-sleeved bodysuits–buy onesies, onesies and more onesies (10-12 in each size)

Side snap shirts and sleeper gowns with elastic are best for the first few weeks of baby’s life as these are most umbilical-cord friendly.

After the cord falls off, use short-sleeved bodysuits (a.k.a onesies) with expandable lap shoulders for the first few months. Onesies are the most versatile piece of baby clothing and they are relatively cheap compared to other types of clothing.  Onesies are tried and true: t-shirt ride up–onesies don’t (unless the snaps come undone!).

There are several kinds of neck openings: expandable lap shoulders, side snap, double side snaps, polo shirt/front snap and back snap.

Our newborn hated clothes pulled over the head, so for the first two months, we put on clothes bottom up (sticking his bum through the neck). Remember, Baby’s head was huge, so I feel like clothes would have gotten stretched out either direction. Snaps were really difficult to deal with–it was already a huge task getting him dressed! Think about it: you are constantly changing diapers and clothes–all day! and all night! Make your life easier by getting those loose necklines.

sidesnap

Pink stripes! Cute? Yes. But a bit difficult to dress a newborn in one of these narrower openings–especially big headed babies. Get these in larger sizes to wear when baby’s a little older and is used to getting dressed.

Instead look for the shoulders that expand. You can slip them over baby’s head much easier or dress him from the bottom up. (Recently a friend sent me a YouTube video of a baby being dressed from the bottom up. People (even grandmas and moms with years of experience) were raving it was a revelation. NOT! I learned this from Week One with a huge headed infant!)

expandableshoulder
Expandable lap shoulders

Remember, bodysuits can be used as pajama tops in the summertime too.

carters1Here’s an example of Carter’s pack of short-sleeve bodysuits on sale this Labor Day weekend sale. I bought these in size 9M, 12M and 18M because as you know, I love to stockpile. I know these are kind of plain and not as cute as other bodysuits but they are a fabulous deal.

From my research the Target Carter’s Just One You or Precious Firsts bodysuits (sizes NB-12M) come in a pack of 4 for $8.99. Or you can get a pack of 3 (usually with more decoration) for the same price. Now if you can score a sale, that price will be a little better. The onesies in those packs are about $2.25 or $2.99 a piece.

The Carter’s website has these 7-pack bodysuits, priced at $32 MSRP. I called my local store and they didn’t carry packs of 7. The associate had never heard of a 7-pack. I have never seen 7-packs before, usually only 3-pack or 5-pack. Here are the designs (cute choices for baby girls!):

carters2 carters0 carters3 carters4

If you wait for a 50% sale, you can score 7 onesies (available in sizes NB to 24M) for $16 plus tax and S/H. Already a better deal than than usual prices around 40% off.

I found a code online for 25% off a $40+ purchase and you can get free shipping without a code if you buy $50 or more. So that is one of the reasons I stocked up and bought some other things. I don’t want to ever pay shipping. I am fairly confident these will be good; if not, I’ll just return them to the local store with receipt. Carter’s has an excellent return policy.

So with the 25% coupon, I paid $12 for 7 onesies, about $1.71 a piece, then adding tax but free S/H. That’s an awesome deal for some bodysuits that are a little nicer than plain white ones.

I wish I had known about these 7-packs before. I’m glad I scored a lot of Gymboree clothes in 0-3M and 3-6M, but I paid about $2-3/onesie, which is not bad, but these are a great quality and price.

Boppy Luxe Pillow Review

boppyluxeUPDATE: This item has been discontinued! Bummer! Try Boppy Heirloom pillows available at Babies R Us. They do not have the pockets, but will have more structure with the piping.

Nursing pillows are kind of a luxury; if you have a c-section though like I did, they are a must-have. The pillow really helps to keep pressure off your incision. Our mothers did not have these pillows–they wish they did.

Some moms like My Brest Friend – this type velcros around you and I kind of wish I had one just to know the difference between the two. I can’t say how they compare. I know the Boppy does slide around. But I like that it’s super easy to “put on” for night feedings.

I bought a Boppy on sale at Kids.Woot! for about $30 shipped. And it’s not just any Boppy. It is a Boppy Luxe Pillow  (“My Little Lamb,” yellow/white with lambs).

I took my pillow to the hospital and all the nurses commented on how they had never seen a Boppy like it and that it was better than the regular Boppy slipcover. And it is better!

  1. It is made of minky fabric which is really soft and more plush than the regular polyester-blend slipcover, which is kind of harsh. It does get warm though.
  2. It has three side pockets in the slipcover that are a great place to put your cell phone, chapstick or treat 🙂
  3. It has piping around the pillow that gives it structure. The regular Boppy cover just flops.

Baby is in love with this pillow. Right now he semi-crawls and finds this pillow to stroke it on the sides and on the lamb applique. It’s adorable to watch.

My version is discontinued (pictured above) but there is a newer version. For some reason, the old version is listed on Amazon for $119. (Yeah, not happening.)

The newer version is $40 (as of this post) at Walmart.com and I hope it’s of the same quality. It has two lambs instead of one:

littlelambboppypillow

Go to a baby stuff store and look at the Boppy and My Brest Friend. Consider your body type and which you would prefer.

If you choose Boppy, I recommend getting one with PIPING for added structure; some of the Luxe models have this feature others do not, so do your research (check out Boppy Luxe Hoot Owl, Ladybug, Elephant Garden OR Boppy Heirloom Fox or Gray Whale pictured below). I think it’s worth the extra price. Remember, piping!

boppyfox boppyheirloom

Moneysaver Tip: Sites like Zulily and Kids.Woot and Sellout.Woot are good sources for discounted baby products but the selection varies from week to week. Just be careful–they get very addicting. 95% of the goods are really unnecessary/overpriced–it’s all about the hunt for the real deal!

Breastfeeding Must-Haves

This post is for expecting moms planning to breastfeed.

The information in this post is one of the main reasons for the existence of this blog. (a must read!)

I know this is probably TMI for dads, but for the moms, I really want to share some things to have if you plan to breastfeed.

Keep reading for my story and some recommended products to have on hand:

Continue reading

Formula Samples

Moneysaver Tip: Sign up for free formula samples, coupons and formula checks. I think every expecting mom should sign up for free formula samples. (Websites are below; some OB-GYN offices also can help you sign up. )

Why?

Even if you plan to breastfeed (which is the best way to feed your baby for the first year) and you may never use the coupons/checks, formula samples will come in handy in these ways:

  • Some mothers just have a truly hard time breastfeeding. I’m not making up excuses for those who just give up, but some really have a hard time. Formula has come a long way and is a good alternative. Do all you can to breastfeed but know that there are other options for you if you cannot. The most important thing is to feed the baby.
  • Formula should be a part of your food storage supply. (I am a huge believer in food storage.) Let’s plan for the worst case scenario: let’s say you were hospitalized and could not feed your baby. Formula samples will help Dad or Grandma or Aunt to feed baby while you cannot. Formula is expensive and even one free can of formula will give them time to look for a sale when the existing supply runs out. *I got a full-size canister of Similac Advance that retails for $24.
  • Formula can be donated to women and children’s shelters. This is a great way to help out babies in need in your community. I have saved the Similac brand for Baby (because we supplemented with Similac at the hospital) in case of an emergency and donated the other brands to a domestic violence shelter for women and kids.

Links:

Similac StrongMoms®

Enfamil Family Beginnings®

Gerber Generation Kit

Newborn Layette

Moneysaver Tip: Try to find free/cheap newborn-size clothing. Do not spend a lot of money on newborn clothing. Most babies grow very quickly out of newborn size (size N/NB.) We borrowed all our N-sized clothing from SimpleGuy’s big sis, who’s had three babies. The only thing we bought in size N was Baby’s going-home-from-the-hospital outfit.

Clothing you really need for the first month (or two, or three depending on how fast your baby grows):

Newborn Stage—remember newborns sleep a lot; get sleepwear for your newborn and not much else. Limit “cute” oufits in N and 0-3 month sizes. With feedings around the clock, recovering from delivery, and your internal clock completely messed up, It’s hard to go out that first month or so, so only get a few outfits for visitors and special occasions. (I recommend getting cute, “show-off” outfits in size 3-6M–that’s when you really will use them!)

  • 1 going home outfit for the hospital
  • 1 backup going home outfit for the hospital (in case of emergency blowouts or spit-up)
  • 4 pack of side snap t-shirts (recommend Carter’s or Gerber brand (cheaper), 0-3M)gerber sidesnap
  • 3-5 pairs of pants (N or 0-3M): 3 will work for a summer baby; 5 for a winter babypantsbaby
  • 4 sleeping gowns (a long shirt/dress with an elastic on the bottom for easy diaper changes) – yes, even for boys (perhaps in blue?) (recommend Carter’s brand, 0-3M)sleepgown
  • about 3-5 creepers or sleep & plays (recommend Carter’s brand, size NB)

sleep&play

  • a few pairs of socks – use these as mittens too – babies scratch their faces like crazy! (I recommend Gymboree brand – have elasticized cuff; reinforced toe, 0-3 size, the ones with cuffs are best for newborns)

gymboreesocks

1st month (or 2) stage

  • about 7 creepers or sleep & plays (recommend Carter’s brand, 0-3)
  • 8-12 bodysuits (recommend Carter’s brand or Just One You Carter’s brand, 0-3M) – I do not recommend Gerber onesies — many reviews say they are small and shrink a lot in the wash.

onesiespack

  • 1-3 cute outfits (remember, do yourself a favor — get clothes that have easy access, easy removal, easy to layer, easy to mix/match)

cartersgirljumpsuit

  • a few pairs of socks – use these as mittens too – babies scratch their faces like crazy! (recommend Gymboree brand – have elasticized cuff; reinforced toe, 0-3M)
gymboreesocks
Socks like these are best for newborns
gymboreesocks2
These are best when baby gets a little bigger

Other Stuff to Have:

  • swaddling blankets and a thick blanket if it’s cold outside
  • 1-2 beanie hats and a light sweater or lightweight jacket
  • 1-2 hooded towels (but regular towels work fine! we use a soft beach towel)
  • baby washcloths (we have a pack of 12)
  • cloth diapers to use as burp cloths – you can also make your own using flannel fabric, sewn two pieces together (I use both kinds)

(For recommended clothing 0-24M, check this post out.)

Tips for Choosing a Going Home Outfit

Going home from the hospital is nerve-wrecking because you suddenly realize you won’t have those nurses to help you with your baby. It’s just youon your own—time to panic! The transition to life with a newborn is crazy, crazy, crazy.

On your going-home day, do yourself a favor and take some family photos with your new little one, before you look too frazzled and sleep-deprived.

I debated over and over and over again on what going-home outfit to put Baby in. I wanted it cute and comfortable. Here are some important guidelines:

  1. avoid putting baby in clothes that rub against the umbilical cord
  2. get a similar backup in case baby spits up or soils his/her adorable outfit
  3. make sure the outfit has legs because baby will be strapped into the car seat to go home (unless you live next door to a hospital or birthing center)
  4. dress baby warmly with a hat and socks and blanket; newborns need layers
  5. if you can, buy this outfit towards the end of your pregnancy (34 wks or later) because your OB can guess the size of your baby a little better.  Just don’t postpone too long.  Size N (5-9 lbs) works for most babies; if you know your baby is big, you might want to consider bringing a 0-3M outfit as a backup or a backup size P outfit if your baby is on the small side.

This is how I put together my going-home outfit for Baby:

  • I decided the inner layer of baby’s clothing would be a simple white side-snap shirt (Gerber brand, 0-3M size, 4-pack available at Wal-Mart/Target). It is a looser-fit shirt; this style of shirt does not rub against the umbilical cord the way a onesie would–which is why it is recommended for your newborn’s layette. As a backup, I brought an extra one of these shirts to the hospital.
  • I went to Gymboree and shopped the sale rack. There were other way cute, more expensive options there, but I knew in the end this outfit would be worn just a few times. (It’s still Newborn size!) I found this really cute monkey jacket for Baby on sale:

babynewoutfit2

Isn’t it super cute? Every new mom wants an adorable outfit for her new baby. This jacket fit the bill. I like that it’s simple with classic colors. It served as an outer layer that easily zips up without fuss, that I only put on Baby right as we started to take photos so it wouldn’t get dirty.

  • I found a 2-pack of matching pants. I brought both pairs of pants to the hospital, again, in case of diaper leaks or spit-up. You will need to strap baby into a car seat to leave the hospital so make sure there are legs in the outfit, at least for the car ride home.
  • I went to another Gymboree location (luckily we have FOUR in our area) to look for these cap style hats and I found ’em on sale too! When looking for hats for your newborn, go for beanie hats that have some depth and plenty of stretchyou can fold them up if they are too long, you’ll get more use out of them, and they will stay in place; these cap type from Gymboree kept falling off Baby’s head. But they were cute (aww!):
    babynewoutift
    So cute but these kept falling off!

    towtruckhat
    I recommend deeper beanies like these.
  • Remember to bundle Baby up! Bring an adorable fuzzy blanket to wrap her up! Also don’t forget 2 pairs of socks to use as socks and as mittens—newborns have the craziest fingernails ever! Protect the face from scratches so he/she will look great for your photos!
gymboreesocks
Gymboree socks with reinforced cuffs are best for newborns!

So, keep it cute but also newborn-friendly. Check out Gymboree’s Brand New Baby line. Shop Gymboree’s sale rack, as sometimes you can find some great items in 0-3 month sizes.

Make it simple to mix ‘n match in case you need to do a last-minute clothing change.

Moneysaver Tip: Baby clothes go on deep sale in December, January and February @ Gymboree (Big Red Balloon –  around late Dec or early Jan), Target (Baby Sale – around Jan 24) and many other places.

For suggestions for your newborn’s first clothing, see this post, “Newborn Layette.”

Baby Clothes – One Piece Sleepers

sleep&play

Sleepers are still a great clothing option for young babies but there are some pros and cons to snaps vs. zippers: (Carter’s line calls this type of clothing “Sleep & Play”)

Pros:

They are especially great for cooler weather or when you want baby to wear one piece of clothing (instead of a shirt, pants, and socks).  They are also great because they do not go over baby’s head; they fasten in the front.

zipupplayI really like to use the zip-up versions when going to the pediatrician’s office. The nurse asks you to undress baby down to a diaper when they weigh him/her. So this makes undressing there really easy and simple. Just unzip!

Sleepers with zippers are faster and easier to put on, but the whole thing will be unzipped for those quick diaper changes (with only baby’s arms still dressed).

Sleepers with snaps are like rompers: you only unsnap the bottom three snaps for diaper changes.

Cons:

They have footies and are always long-sleeved (has anyone seen these in a short-sleeved version?) which is great for cold winters but once baby’s feet fill up the footies, you should go to the next size.

(Update: Carter’s makes a footless version of the Sleep & Play, available in the Spring/Summer; also search for Carter’s jumpsuits)

footless snapup

Again, my recommendation is to use cotton knit sleepers, not fleece. If you have really cold winters, you can try the other fabrics, but I’d rather just layer with a sleep sack or flannel blanket. Don’t overdress your baby for sleep.

So you have to ask yourself which type of sleeper you’d be willing to deal with at 4 AM.

Baby Diaper Count

Here is my data on how many diapers Baby used for the first six months year and a half of life.

I can’t say this is how many diapers you will use with your baby, but it gives you a good idea of what to plan for. This is for a baby born 8 lbs, 12 oz (lost 10% of birthweight at the hospital but gained it all back the week after) so a good-sized baby. If you have a premature baby or low birthweight baby, you’ll probably be in Sizes N and 1 a bit longer.

Size N (Newborn) 180 = 5 jumbo packs (we received two at the hospital),  lasted about weeks, (10/day)

  • For Baby, this was the perfect amount of newborn diapers

Size 1 798 = 79.8 days (10/day)

Size 2 932 = 103 days (about 9/day)

  • This was slightly more than we should have bought, but it worked out. Just monitored those diapers like crazy.

Size 3 2591 = 345 days (about 7.5/day)

  • at six months old, Baby was already in Size 3 for about a week

Current (APRIL 2014): Baby started wearing size 4 a month ago (about 6-7/day). At eighteen months old, he is 26 lbs so could have stayed in Size 3 for a bit longer but we ran out of Pampers Cruisers. Once again, Pampers Cruisers were the best fit towards the end but they are so pricey–it’s hard to find good deals for Cruisers and Swaddlers. I decided to move him up to Huggies size 4 (on sale at Sam’s Club) rather than pay too much for Cruisers just to stay in size 3 a month longer.