tips for choosing the right formula

Pediatrician recommended tips for choosing the right formula for your child. I’m honored to be a Similac Strong Moms Ambassador, a sponsored blog partner, this year.

Tips for Choosing the Right Formula | crackersandcarrots.com

Liam was about 4 months old when I knew I had to do something. He was dubbed the ‘spit up king’ and wasn’t getting enough food because of it. I nursed him as much as I could, but I just couldn’t keep up. His pediatrician even recommended supplementing the nursing with formula.

Then, the questions and guilt began to stir. How could I possibly know how to pick the right formula? What kind does he need? How do I afford it? How much formula do I supplement with? How do we travel with formula? Etc.

After a bit of research, we were on our way to supplementing with formula like pros. It became a blessing knowing that Liam was getting a full belly and that I could even go on a date with my husband and know he wouldn’t go hungry!

Thankfully, Similac has gathered some excellent tips to choosing the right formula from the nationally syndicated pediatrician, Dr. Sue Hubbard.

Tips to Choosing the Right Formula

  • Lifestyle – There are many different options when it comes to formula. Typically, you can find it in ready-to-feed, concentrated liquid and powder versions. They all range in convenience and price and your lifestyle will determine which one is better for you and your family. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, the powder version worked best for us and our budget. However, if you’re on-the-go a lot and have the budget, ready-to-feed may work best for you.
  • Ingredients – While the FDA oversees all formula regulations, not all formula is created equal. Generally, “formula contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to support your baby’s health. But some infant formulas, like Similac, have added lutein, which is a nutrient to support your baby’s eye development.” says Dr. Hubbard. Be sure to do research ahead of time to compare your brands of choice before making your purchase.
  • Water – Most US cities have wonderful tap water that doctor’s approve of for use in formula. However, this is all determined by your location. Of course, if you have concerns about your water source, talk to your doctor first and if necessary, you may need to boil the water first, use bottled water or use the ready-to-feed formula. Thankfully, in my city, we had no issues with the tap water and it worked just fine with the powdered formula we fed to Liam.
  • Watch – Most baby’s have an adjustment period with formula from as little as two days or up to two weeks. You’ll need to watch your baby and see how he/she is reacting to the formula to know if that formula is right for your baby. In some cases, your baby may need a special formula (like soy, low-lactose, or hypoallergenic formula). In our case, Liam still had the bad case of spit-ups and still spit up with the formula. However, we did notice that some formula brands upset his tummy more than others. Just be observant and you’ll know what’s best for your baby.
  • Age – Depending on when you begin supplementing with formula can determine what type of formula is best. They make specific formulas for infants, 6-12 months old and even toddlers, all with a specific purpose to complement the introduction of solid foods and more active lifestyles. Choose the one that’s best for your baby’s age and development.

And I just have to thrown in a tip of my own. Once we found a few formulas that worked for Liam, I would be on the constant look-out for coupons and sales for those formulas. Then, I’d stock up when I had both coupons and a sale, to get the formula at it’s lowest price. Every little bit helps!

I wish you all the formula success in the world! I still can’t believe I’ll have a new baby in February! Eeee!

This post was sponsored by Similac and has partnered with bloggers like myself for its Strong Moms Ambassador program. As a part of this program, I have received compensation for my time, but all opinions are my own. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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broccoli & cheese soup #babyfood #firstbites #giveaway

I’m honored to share this baby food recipe in celebration of baby’s #firstbites with OXO.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup #babyfood | crackersandcarrots.com

When my son was little, I was all about making homemade baby food, most of which I posted here on crackers & carrots! It’s such a good feeling knowing the quality of ingredients that you’re feeding your child.

It’s great when they become more accustomed to baby food and enjoy exploring new flavors. This recipe is one that you can make right alongside the great big batch of the standard broccoli and cheese soup that you’re making the rest of your family and your baby can enjoy the flavors with you!

It’s full of vegetables and even introduces a slight cheese flavor, which is okay for children older than 9 months.

OXO helped set me up for a baby food making day with a whole bunch of tools, of which my favorite is the feeding spoon set with soft silicone. So perfect for feeding baby! Also, the Baby Blocks freezer storage containers are very handy…and for a toddler, too! Just stick your favorite snacks in the containers for quick eating on-the-go.

Are you ready for a giveaway?

Broccoli and Cheese Soup #babyfood | crackersandcarrots.com

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

How-To

  1. In a steamer pot over boiling water, steam the potatoes and carrots for 7 minutes.
  2. Add in the broccoli and steam for another 7 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Place all of the steamed vegetables and cheese into your food mill, food processor or blender and purée until it reaches the desired consistency.

Note: Good for babies 9 months and above, only after the baby has tried all of the foods individually to avoid allergies.

Note: If you’re making this for your older toddler, I would add double the cheese and also add in some pepper or other seasonings to increase flavor.

This post was sponsored by OXO. I received samples for this post. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pancakes

I’m excited to help celebrate the classic book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, with these pancakes.
Hungry Caterpillar Pancakes | crackersandcarrots.com

One of my son’s favorite books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is coming up on its 45th anniversary! Such a simple, fun and educational book for the early learners. Liam actually received the finger puppet version of the book when he was a little baby and it provided hours of entertainment. Now that he’s older, we read the original book almost every day.

Through the book, we’re learning colors, foods, days of the week and about metamorphosis! Genius.

To celebrate, I’ve made these fun caterpillar pancakes! Liam loved them and thought it was hilarious that he was eating such a fun meal. The pancakes are made with different vegetables to create the colors, so they’re dye free and the little ones are getting added nutrition.

Since the pancakes do take a while to make, I’d suggest making them ahead of time and either refrigerating or freezing for a quick meal later.

Hungry Caterpillar Pancakes | crackersandcarrots.com

In continued celebration of the anniversary, the Very Hungry Snack Contest begins today! Simply create a snack inspired by an Eric Carle book and tag it with #VHC45 to enter. You can enter on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram from July 13, 2014- July 31, 2014. The winner will be shared on August 1, 2014 on Facebook and will win a Eric Carle prize pack, as seen below.

Good Luck!

vhc snack contest

Hungry Caterpillar Pancakes | crackersandcarrots.com

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pancakes

 adapted from Chocolate & Carrots

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup beets, peeled, steamed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • chocolate chips, for decoration

How-To

  1. Preheat a griddle to low-medium heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs and 1 cup milk.
  4. Add the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Divide the batter into 5 bowls, one of which reserve just 1/4 cup (this will remain plain batter for the caterpillar’s eyes) and divide the rest of the batter evenly among the remaining 4 bowls (this will be for one red and three shades of green).
  5. Meanwhile, in a blender (like a Blendtec) or food processor, purée the beets and one of the bowls of batter. This red batter will be for the caterpillar’s head.
  6. Also in a blender (or food processor), purée the remaining batter from the three bowls and 1/3 cup spinach. Blend until the spinach is combined. Pour 1/3 of the green batter back into one of the green bowls. With the remaining 2/3 green batter still in the blender, blend in another 1/3 cup spinach. Pour 1/2 of the remaining green batter in another green bowl. Finally, blend the last bit of batter with the remaining 1/3 cup spinach and pour into the last green bowl. Now you should have three different shades of green batter.
  7. Measure out 1/8 cup sized scoops of batter onto the greased griddle for all of the green batter and red batter (shaping the green batter as oval as possible and the red as round as possible), cooking until light brown on each side and cooked through.
  8. Finally, use the last few drops of green batter for the eyes. Likewise, use the reserved plain white batter to make the eyes.
  9. Put the pancakes together and use chocolate chips as the nose, antennae and feet.

Servings: 3-4

This post was sponsored by Eric Carle. I received compensation for this post and all opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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reusable pouches #giveaway

Resqueeze - reusable pouch #review | crackersandcarrots.com

I can’t tell you how many applesauce pouches we have gone through with our toddler. He loves them and I love how independent it makes him, especially when we’re out and about. However, those disposable pouches can get expensive. That’s where ReSqueeze solves the problem! Let’s talk pros and cons about ReSqueeze:

Pros

  • You can fill with whatever you’d like, saving money and insuring the best nutrition for your child.
  • Dishwasher friendly.
  • There’s a no-leak zipper bottom. It works great, but takes a lot of muscle to get it shut all the way.
  • Made with BPA free plastic.

Cons

  • Sometimes it’s challenging to get food out of the inside right next to where the top nozzle is located. But a little elbow grease and possibly even soaking can do the trick.
  • You have to use a cooler when traveling outside of the house.
  • You have to help squeeze the rest of the food out of the pouch for the little ones who don’t understand that concept.
  • I had one in the dishwasher and it burned it up (I blame the dishwasher). I’ll be hand washing from now on.
  • When I put one flavor in the pouch that my son didn’t like, he doesn’t want to try it any more. As soon as he sees the pouch he turns away. I’m hoping this will change after a short time. It may be helpful to have multiple colors of pouches, possibly?

These are actually the second reusable pouches I’ve had experience using. The first was The Little Green Pouch. The only real difference I saw was that the Little Green Pouch’s spout was on the side, whereas ReSqueeze is on the top.

Overall, I think they’re a great way to save money and make customizable on-the-go food for your child. If anything, it’s worth the $15 investment for 4 pouches. However, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll have a chance to win one of two 4-packs of ReSqueeze. Good luck!

Resqueeze - reusable pouch #review | crackersandcarrots.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by ReSqueeze. I received a complimentary product to reviewAll opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
Posted in baby, baby food, toddler | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

birthday t-shirt #giveaway

Apericots birthday shirt #childrensclothing #review | crackersandcarrots.com

I’d call it perfect timing when two weeks before Liam’s birthday, a children’s clothing company, called Apericots, contacts me to see if I’d do a review of one of their products. I quickly asked if they would consider doing a custom t-shirt just for Liam’s car themed birthday party and they said YES!

I sent them a car graphic that was our inspiration for the party and they printed it out flawlessly. I ordered the car to be placed on an organic size 2T t-shirt, knowing Liam was wearing 18 months – 2T clothing.

Apericots birthday shirt #childrensclothing #review | crackersandcarrots.com

The shirt fit great and it only shrunk a little bit during its first washing.

Apericots has a whole assortment of children’s t-shirts and onesies with things like Star Wars sayings, pooping jokes, monthly numbers (for infant photo shoots) and just fun and simple graphics. They also carry tote bags, home decor pillows and adult t-shrits. I had fun browsing all that they had to offer!

Get 5% off your purchase by using the Apericots coupon code: APERICOTS5OFFNOW

Happy Shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apericots birthday shirt #childrensclothing #review | crackersandcarrots.com

 

This post is sponsored by Apericots. I received a complimentary product to review. The coupon code is also a referral code where a small percentage of profits from purchases made through these links help support my website. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
Posted in baby, toddler | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

2nd birthday party

Liam is 2 years old.

He’s growing into a young little dude every day, learning new things and words. It amazes me (and scares me) about what all he picks up. To celebrate, we had our family over for an evening of food and fun. It was a super stormy day, so we had to move our party inside, hence the lack of sunshine. Let’s celebrate with a recap of Liam’s birthday party in photos!

P.S. There are details of how I pulled this party tablescape together. Keep scrolling down to see!

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Menu

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed Party Accessories

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

I also had another giant chalkboard poster printed out ($6) for the party, but it totally slipped my mind to take a photo, so here’s what I printed:

Chalkboard Poster Board

This is not a sponsored post. This post contains Amazon affiliate links where a small percentage of purchases go towards supporting this website. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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car theme birthday printables

To help accessorize my toddler’s birthday party, I made some cute car themed bunting flags and signs to display around the party. The printables are so simple to make and it’ll really make your party pop!

Car Themed 2nd Birthday Party | crackersandcarrots.com

For the bunting flags:

H A P P Y    B I R T H D A Y

  • Click on the links above to download each individual flag (or click here to go the folder to print them all at once).
  • Print on a white card stock paper and cut them out.
  • To hang your flag, punch a hole on the two top corners of the flags and string twine between them to hang.
  • (Option) Blank flag : In a photo editing software, add any letting to the flag that you’d like. The letters here are in the font, Ultra.

For the signs:

Fuel Up       Gift Stop

  • Click on the ‘Fuel Up’ and ‘Gift Stop’ links above.
  • Print out on card stock and cut out.
  • To display them, prop them against your displays, put them on popsicle sticks and place in a jar filled with candy or print and fold like a place setting card.

Car Theme Party Printables

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Liam turns two

Liam Turns Two | crackersandcarrots.com

I can’t believe my son is two. Where has the time gone?

Liam Turns Two | crackersandcarrots.com

He keeps me busy, but he’s the best little boy I could have ever asked for. I’m a lucky momma.

Happy Birthday Liam!

Liam Turns Two | crackersandcarrots.com

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bibs #review

My friend and fellow mom here in Charleston, Yana, has started a baby boutique, hand-making and selling exceptionally cute and durable bibs and children’s purses. Yana left a career in science and her sister-in-law, Jennifer, has moved to being a part-time nurse to both focus on Hemming Birds and also to have more family-centered lives.

Hemming Birds Bib Photo Shoot | crackersandcarrots.com

Let me tell you a little bit about Hemming Birds.

Their goal is to make high quality products that are keepsake items – the type of gift that is not only fun to use, but also that lasts for many years.  However, their stuff isn’t the type of thing that you will have to put on a shelf away from your kids. . . everything is machine washable so that your kids can use them, as much as they want. Yes!

They design their own patterns and hand-select designer fabrics. Then, they make everything themselves and use only the best materials and techniques; bags are fully lined and they top-stitch everything (both for extra support and also because it looks much more professional). They are both big fans of the “buying local,” “made in the USA,” and “shop small” movements. . . and they want to be a part of it! Everything is made by Yana and Jennifer in Charleston, and they do what they can to source materials from the US.

Hemming Birds Bib Photo Shoot | crackersandcarrots.com

Right now they are launching the Hemming Birds brand with two styles of bags (which are targeted at little girls between the ages of 1-5+) and bibs (sized to fit infants (4-6 months through toddlers). My toddler (2 years old!) wears the bibs and I loves them! It’s got a really soft backing that is gentle on their necks, which I love. Plus, the you can snap it on or off with one hand.

To help launch the brand, they’ve begun a KickStarter campaign.

If you haven’t heard of KickStarter, it’s a fun and effective way to fund projects and get companies off the ground. To make their business successful, Hemming Birds need to buy materials in bulk and make products in parallel.  They also need to begin building our customer base and get their brand out on the streets. KickStarter will help them do both of these things.

Hemming Birds Bib Photo Shoot | crackersandcarrots.com

The Details:

“Creators” (that’s Hemming Birds!) submit their projects and goals to KickStarter for approval.  After review, the project goes online to be supported by “backers” (that’s you!)  The backers can basically pre-order items in exchange for a monetary pledge.  If the project reaches its goal, the creators receive the pledged money and in return the backers receive their rewards (i.e. bibs and purses!). 

Their video explains it all:

The Hemming Birds KickStarter campaign is currently at 46% funds raised with 17 days left to help back them! They have to reach 100% or us backers don’t get our rewards and the Hemming Birds start from scratch.

If you back the Hemming-Birds KickStarter fund, you’ll be prompted after the campaign is fully funded to enter an exclusive giveaway of two specially designed bibs just for Chocolate & Carrots readers!

Hemming Birds Bib Photo Shoot | crackersandcarrots.com

And I got the inside scoop that as Hemming Birds moves into the fall and holiday seasons, they will be expanding their brand to include more children’s accessories (necklaces, bags for boys, bags for bigger girls, and aprons). I can’t wait for the cuteness! 

Here’s how you can follow Hemming Birds Boutique as they grow:

FacebookTwitterInstagramBlogStore  

This is not a sponsored post. I paid to support Hemming Birds via KickStarter and genuinely love the products and people behind them!
Posted in baby, preparing for baby, toddler | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

booster seats #review

Bumbo Booster Seat Review | crackersandcarrots.comAs our toddler is becoming more independent, we say goodbye to the high chair and bring on a booster seat. With so many booster seats out there, it’s hard to choose which one is right for you. For a while now, we’ve been taking this portable high chair with us to restaurants and grandparent’s houses. But, it also dubs as a booster seat if you simply take off the tray and slide it up to the table. Works great!

Then, I reminisced about my own childhood and how I grew up having a dual height booster seat when I spotted it at a children’s consignment shop. I have yet to use it with Liam because of the lack of buckles. I can’t tell you the number of times he attempts to leap onto the floor, mid-bite.

With that said, it seems as though the Bumbo booster seat is a good combination of both of our other booster seats. Now, let’s see how it did in our everyday lives.

Bumbo Booster Seat Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Pros:

  • The seat is soft and comfortable. Can I have a dining room chair like that?
  • It’s light and easy to bring with you.
  • The majority of the seat is easy to clean.

Cons:

  • The straps both for the chair and toddler, take some time to adjust. Be prepared to wait at least 1 minute while you adjust the straps for a new chair.
  • Food gets stuck around the base of all three straps, making it challenging to clean.
  • There’s no high back to the booster seat and in our kitchen chairs, we have to place a pillow behind Liam’s back so that he doesn’t have to constantly sit up without support. It takes a LONG time for a toddler to eat, ya know!
  • Managing the buckles is not a one-handed task. You have to use a lot of force to open them. And not many things in a parent’s world can be two-handed. We have a lot on our plates. ;-)

Bumbo Booster Seat Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Overall, it’s a good value considering it’s $35 on Amazon. We took it on our last road trip and it was quite handy and easily fit next to all of our luggage. And to top it off, I’m pretty sure Liam’s bum is quite comfy in it.

Bumbo Booster Seat Review | crackersandcarrots.com

What booster seat have you had the most success with?

If you have the Bumbo Booster Seat, how do you like it?

Bumbo Booster Seat Review | crackersandcarrots.com

This post is sponsored by Bumbo. I received a complimentary product to review. There are also referral links to Amazon within this post. A small percentage of profits from purchases made through these links help support my website. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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