Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby Gear: Cough & cold supplies

There is nothing worse than seeing my precious little baby sick with a cough or cold. But unfortunately it's a part of growing up and building up immunity. My daughter goes to daycare so she is more likely to get coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms, than babies that stay home with a parent because she is exposed to many more people.  But in the end it balances out because eventually the children that didn't go to daycare will still get sick more frequently when they first start kindergarten since their immunity is not as strong as those who started daycare as infants. Either way, children are certified experts at spreading germs to each other, so getting sick is unavoidable. My baby was never sick until the first month she started daycare. She got her first cold when she was 3 and half months old. It was terrifying to say the least, especially when I realized that most medicines for colds are for children over the age of 2. But having the right supplies on hand helped us get through it. This is our list of cough & cold supplies.


Nasal aspirator
Cold/Hot Humidifiers
Saline
Rectal Thermometer
Baby ointment
Fever reducers & pain killers
Medicine dispenser



Nasal aspirator    A nasal aspirator helps remove mucus from a baby's nose, since they are unable to blow their own nose. Most baby health kits include a nose bulb which, if used properly can do a good job, but I always felt that a nose bulb is never 100% clean inside, since you really can't see whats going on in there to verify.

So I was glad when I came across the NoseFrida Snotsucker, and although the name leaves much  to be desired, it gets the job done! It is an innovative Swedish product designed to do just what the name suggests; to suck snot out of a baby's nose.

 
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The tip of the blue piece goes in your baby's nose and you suck on the red mouth piece and all the good stuff comes out! The blue foam filter at the base of the snotsucker ensures that none of the mucus from the baby's nose comes into the tubes or into your mouth.  I bought this before my baby was born, because I thought it was great idea for a product and I knew for sure I would need to blow my baby's nose at some point.  My baby hates this product with a passion,  but I love it because it makes her feel so much better instantly and its important not to leave mucus in a baby's nose as too pressure from congestion can cause ear infections.  It is also super easy to clean and disinfect.




Hot & cold humidifiers:  Humidifiers are tricky, some people swear they make things worse and increase your child's chance of developing asthma, whilst others believe they really help make things better. Her doctor told me that both hot and cold humidifiers can be good depending on how they are used, but steam humidifiers are better because warm air is cleaner. She stated that as long as we cleaned it religiously and always put fresh water in it, we shouldn't have any problems. Before I even got pregnant, we owned a Venta Airwasher which is basically a humidifier and purifier and works great in the winter when the heat is on and the air gets too dry. 

It is an awesome product and really helps me, since I have asthma and struggle to breathe at night. It is a bit expensive, and I wouldn't have bought it at that price of $400 but we received it as a gift so I didn't complain!
 
The first time my baby was sick and congested the doctor recommended that I take her into the shower and run the hot water until steam filled up with room. She assured me the steam would help my baby breathe easier. She was 100% right but I felt like this method wasted a lot of water and wasn't the most effective. The first time I tried it, I sat down on the toilet seat rocking my crying baby and waiting for the steam to build up and after almost 10 minutes I couldn't feel anything, so I stood up to leave and realized that I could only feel the effects of the steam while standing up. Of course it's basic physics; hot air rises and cold air sinks, and I should have known better than to sit down. But by this time I felt like I had wasted so much water just leaving the shower running for so long so I decided it was best to go out and buy a steam humidifier.
My local pharmacy only had one option available which was the Vicks Warm Steam Vaporizer
 
 
 
This is so much better than running a hot shower! With just 1.5 gallons of water, this vaporizer can provide steam for hours! And I don't have to hold her standing up for us to feel the effect of the steam. It really does make a big difference, and helps relieve congestion. I like it so much that I use it when I have a cold too. The one annoying thing about it is the shape of it, it makes it hard to completely empty it, because it has ridges around the rim, so even if you turn it upside down, some water and residue stays inside. I have to shake it around get everything out. Other than that its great and I would buy it again, it only cost me about $20 and I think its even cheaper now. 
 
 
Saline : This is an absolute life saver. Saline is basically a salt water solution that can be sprayed or dropped into the nose to help loosen and clear mucus. It can also be inhaled in a vapor form with  a nebulizer.  We use saline in all its forms, we have prescription sterile vials of saline that we use in her  nebulizer when she is really badly congested, we also have spray bottles, squeezy bottles and even saline wipes.
 
First we started out with a squeezy bottle saline spray/drops by Little Remedies
 
 
The bottle says it can be used as a spray or as drops depending on whether you hold the bottle upright or turn it upside down, but I had a hard time using this in the beginning. It's really not ideal for a smaller baby because too much of the saline comes out at the time and it all runs out of their nose and doesn't stay in there to do the job. It works better for an older child and now that my baby is nine months old, I'm liking it more and more. I also use it to moisten cotton swabs which I use to clean her nose. But when she was still a tiny baby her pediatrician advised me to ditch the squeezy bottle and find a saline spray that has a real spray nozzle. She told me that a bottle with a nozzle would be much more effective at getting the saline higher up into her nose.
 
I looked everywhere for a spray bottle, and by everywhere I mean all the aisles at my local Walgreen's... it was just tough shopping at multiple places with an infant so I tried to get everything in one place. So anyway I stumbled upon this Sinucleanse Kidsmist saline spray bottle.
 

 The box includes a few vials of saline solution that contain no preservatives. All you have to do is break open a vial and pour it into the bottle. The spray bottle delivers a precise measure of saline in a fine mist into the babies nose. So much better than the squeezy bottle. Eventually though, I got irritated with this contraption because, I felt like it was making me waste the solution. You have to discard anything that you don't use within a week and I never used all of it within a week. Then after each week of use I would have to take it apart , wash it and disinfect it, which just feels like extra work to me. So I kept my eyes open for a better spray bottle. Soon enough I found a Sterile Saline Nasal Mist by Little noses
 
 
Its not as good as the sinucleanse mist and the nozzle is a bit big for a baby's nose but it is convenient and doesn't require washing and disinfecting so I can keep it in her diaper bag for days out when she is ill.
 
We also love Boogie Wipes, which are basically saline wipes designed to be used for cleaning and wiping small stuffy noses. They are gentler and much more effective than using regular dry tissue or  dry cloth. They are especially great when you are outside of the home.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rectal thermometer   This is an absolute must  have. There are several types of baby thermometers such as ear, forehead, oral, and underarm thermometers but for the first few months, the most accurate thermometer is a rectal thermometer. In the beginning I thought I wouldn't want to use rectal thermometer, and I know many other new moms also feel unsure about a rectal thermometer. But ultimately when you have a sick baby you will not want to waste time with a forehead or oral thermometer that gives inaccurate readings.  That's when you  really appreciate having a good quality rectal thermometer that tells you the true temperature of your baby. My husband and I first bought the 3-in-1 exchangeable tip safety first thermometer because I liked the concept of it.
 
 
But when I got home I looked at it closely and it seemed really cheap. I also realized it had a lot of negative reviews online,  so I decided I wouldn't even waste time with it. I took it back to the store and got my money back.
 
I then decided to buy the Vicks baby rectal thermometer, it came highly recommended by Mrs Bee of Hellobee and I like a lot of her product recommendations so I decided to try it. 

 
 It is as awesome as a rectal thermometer can be. It has a very short probe, so you can't hurt your baby using it, and it gives a very fast readout on an easy to read display that lights up. Mine stopped working after a few short months and I wasn't thrilled with their customer service, but they weren't the worst company I've dealt with and they did mail me out a new one, so I won't complain too much.
 
 
Our daughter's pediatrician suggested this non-medicated ointment. It contains aloe vera, eucalyptus, and scents of rosemary and lavender and is not supposed to irritate the skin. Nevertheless the doctor advised us to rub it on the outside of her clothing over her chest area. I know some people slather this on their baby's back, chest and feet. But I didn't want to go overboard, so I only use it on her chest. I did notice later on that it leaves grease stains on her clothing. Her doctor believes it really makes a difference, but I can't tell for sure.
 
Sometimes her colds are accompanied by a fever and the first thing we do is to follow her pediatrician's advise and start taking off her clothes, leaving her in just her diaper.  Then we check her temperature again within 5-10 minutes. If her temperature was till 101 or higher then she would recommend a dose of an over-the-counter fever reducer.  She usually prefers that we start out with a milder option of acetaminophen (aka paracetamol in Europe and Africa). The most common brand of acetaminophen available to us is Tylenol but I avoid baby products by J&J so I opted to go for the Little Fevers version by Little Remedies.
 
 
 
It comes in several different flavors and my baby hates all of them.  She makes the absolute funniest sour faces when I try to give it to her, she hates the natural berry flavor the most.
 
On days when she has a persistently high fever, her doctor would recommend sparing doses of  infant Ibuprofen which is stronger and has a much longer lasting effect than acetaminophen.
For both of these the dosing really all depends on the weight of the baby rather than the age of the baby. So her doctor advised us to disregard the dosage chart on the box and follow her dosing tips which changes as my daughter's weight goes up. I also realized that the children's medication was in a very similar box to the infant version, so my doctor stressed that I make sure I was buying the infant version which is much milder.
 
 
 
Most infant medication includes a dispenser dropper or syringe in the box,  but usually the syringe included is an absolute pain in the neck to use. Some of them don't give you much control over the speed with which the medicine is released into the baby's mouth so you end up squirting too much at one time which increases the chance of the baby choking on it or just spitting the whole dose out.  I went online looking for something that would make my life a little easier because medicine time was becoming a nightmare and I was surprised at all the different options available. They even have Ava the talking elephant dispenser!
 
Ava the talking elephant dispenser
Dispensers by American Red Cross, Kidz Me, Safety 1st, and Munchkin
They all seemed to have mixed reviews but I decided to try the Safety 1st bottle dispenser
 
 
 
 
I liked the idea of it and I read on other reviews that I could replace the cheap nipple that comes with it,  with a Dr Browns nipple. Giving her medicine in this is so much easier than before.  I still measure the dose using the syringe that's included in the box of medicine since that is usually the most accurate and then I empty the syringe into this bottle. Sometimes  I add a little water if the taste is too strong for her.  Just like the reviewers had said, other nipples by brands like Dr Browns and Playtex Ventaire fit perfectly into this dispenser.
 
 
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adventures in solids: Bananas & Blueberries


Let me start by saying that for both bananas and blueberries, I really enjoyed using my Nuk Fresh Foods mash and serve bowl by Anabel Karmel. It is just awesome.
It is basically a cute little bowl with ridges inside and a small mashing tool similar to a potato masher. It is great for quickly mashing any soft foods into a more manageable texture for the baby. The bowl is similar in size to other baby bowls and I can serve her the food right out of the bowl.It is easy to use and even easier to clean and best of all, it is compact enough that I can carry it out with me and mash foods on the go!
 

 
Bananas
 
I originally thought that bananas would be the first fruit I would introduce to my daughter. They are one of the easiest fruits to handle and require barely any preparation as they do no need to be cooked or blended. The reason I waited a while before offering her banana was because I heard bananas were notorious for causing constipation in babies. This confused me a first, because I've lived my whole life thinking that all fruits were high in fiber and thus aided digestion and bowel movement. I also always assumed that softer foods didn't cause constipation. Clearly I didn't pay much attention in my  nutrition class in high school! The more I started reading about foods that cause constipation in babies, I realized that the texture of the food has nothing to do with it, and its much more about the chemical composition of the food. Dairy foods, or foods high in iron and potassium and low in fiber are big culprits for causing constipation in babies.
 
Of course it isn't a big deal for adults because we eat a wider variety of foods that are high in fiber and we drink much more water and fluids than a baby does. I also found out that applesauce can cause constipation in babies, although this wasn't the case for us.
 
So anyway I decided to wait and introduce bananas when she had a better hang of drinking water and when I could mix it in with yogurt. I've offered it to her several different ways; on its own in small slices, mashed and mixed in with yogurt or oatmeal but she isn't really a big fan of banana. I thought she would really love it,  but she doesn't care for it too much. She tolerates it and will eat it if she is hungry but she doesn't get excited and usually stops eating it after a few bites. So far this is her least favorite fruit so I only feed it to her occasionally.
 



Blueberries

I was excited to try blueberries, I liked the fact that, just like banana, I could feed it to her raw and not have to cook it, puree it and store it in cubes in the freezer like other fruits.  According to the EWG, blueberries are on the dirty dozen list for foods most highly contaminated by pesticide residue so its best to only buy them organic. I don't think I remembered this the first time I bought them... But I will be sure to keep that in mind from now on. Once I brought them home I washed them and then put half in a ziploc bag in the freezer for longer storage and put the other half in an airtight container in the fridge. I cut a few of them in half and fed them to her and she seemed to like them, I also used my mashing bowl to smash a few of them and then mix it in with plain yogurt. It tastes so much better than the yoplait blueberry yogurt that my husband and I eat!


All was going well for the first three days when we introduced blueberries but on day three she started crying and shaking and seemed to have a lot of pain in her belly. She seemed to be constipated and straining to poop. I didn't think it was the blueberries at first because why would raw fruit cause constipation? So I kept feeding it to her that day, and she kept on crying and showing signs of discomfort. When she finally was able to poop it was bright blue and really hard and this make me realize that the blueberries definitely weren't working out for her. I stopped feeding them to her immediately and gave her lots of water with a bit of prune concentrate by Baby Move.  I also gave her raw and cooked apple. And within a day she was back to normal, no more crying, no more shaking and no more scary blue poop. So that was the end of our short experience with blueberries. I'll wait a while before trying those again!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The big fat list of pregnancy no-nos: BEAUTY EDITION

Like I mentioned in the food edition post of pregnancy no-nos, there are so many things out there that are considered unsafe for pregnant women, and that now includes beauty products too.  Just like with the food edition, I knew even before I was pregnant, that there were a couple of beauty products to be avoided whilst pregnant but I was honestly  quite surprised by  how many there were. As with all things pregnancy related, there were so many different opinions out there, it was hard sometimes to know who to listen to, but I followed my doctors advise and stayed on the side of caution.



Skin Care: Salicylic Acid


Skin care products containing salicylic acid


Salicylic acid is often used as a topical acne medication, and is commonly found in many facial scrubs, washes, lotions, astringents and moisturizers.  In fact you would be be hard pressed to find an acne fighting product that doesn't contain salicylic acid, I know this because I've tried. Although there are no conclusive studies saying exactly what the risks are of using salicylic acid during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association as well as many other medical experts believe it is best to avoid these products while pregnant, because small amounts of the chemicals in the product are absorbed by the skin and can have adverse effects on the baby.  Some experts believe that its okay to use salicylic acid products that do not linger on skin, such as face washes that are rinsed off,  but not okay to use face creams that remain on the skin all day long.


This wasn't very reassuring to me, especially since pretty much all the products I used on my face contained salicylic acid. I felt a bit uneasy continuing to use all those products on a regular basis.  My doctor took a moderate approach as usual and said I should avoid them if I could, but not to lose sleep over it.  So I started looking for more natural alternatives and paying much more attention to the ingredients of all my products. This led me to discover that even my good old Carmex lip balm contained salicylic acid too!  I use that lip balm constantly so I really didn't want to stop using it, but I worried about how much of if I was ingesting. I decided to just err on the side of caution and switch to something more natural for the rest of the pregnancy. I ended up replacing the products shown above with the ones shown in the photo below


 Yes to Carrots tinted lip balm,  Burt's Bees beeswax lip balm,
 Moisture Rescue face gel by Garnier, Sensitive skin foaming cleanser  by Clean & Clear


Hair care: Dyes, Perms and Relaxers

My doctor specifically told me to avoid any hair dyes during the first trimester and there after to avoid any hair dyes containing ammonia because of the dangerous effect of the fumes. I didn't pay too much attention to this because I never dye my hair anyway, so it wasn't really applicable to me. I know that many beauticians claim that curly perms and hair dyes are safe during pregnancy, but I'm sure you will forgive me if I'm not 100% convinced? Of course the beautician or hair stylist will assure you that its safe, because they want your business! They don't want you to stop dying your hair for nine months!   I know many people do dye their hair with ammonia-free dye and don't suffer any adverse effects, but as always I prefer to err on the side of caution. I don't think its the end of the world if you wear your hair in its natural color for nine months. You can give yourself a natural ombre effect!  But maybe I don't have enough perspective on this since I don't dye my hair.


 However when my doctor spoke to me about the hair dye issue, it brought my attention to the chemically relaxed state that my hair was in. Chemical relaxers contain a mixture of very strong ingredients that ideally should be avoided during pregnancy for two main reasons. Firstly because small amounts of any product that touches the hair and scalp are absorbed by the skin, and secondly because of exposure to the fumes from the product can directly affect the baby too.


 I have noticed that opinions of this vary widely by culture, and location. In some social circles it is an absolute given that women will stop putting chemical relaxers in their hair whilst pregnant, whilst in other areas everyone seems to take a very relaxed approach and don't see anything wrong with it. I guess it all depends on the individual and their comfort level with the ingredients of the product? I like to make informed decisions on the products I use and not just follow the crowd. For me it was an easy decision, I've never really liked hair relaxers anyway, they are a terribly harsh product regardless of the brand or the promise on the box and they really do not provide a single positive thing for my hair or body. So I decided to stop using it for the duration of the pregnancy and reevaluate once the baby was born.


Hair removal creams & procedures
My doctor advised to me avoid permanent and semi-permanent hair removal procedures like laser treatments and electrolysis, since there is no evidence proving that these are safe during pregnancy. I wasn't too worried because I don't use either of those methods for hair removal. She also mentioned that just to be cautious I should avoid or limit the use of hair removal creams like Nair.   On the Nair website they claim that their product can be safely used by pregnant women, but the APA states that there are no studies to verify that the product truly is safe to be used during pregnancy or not.

Anti perspirant & deodorants
These are a necessary evil, and for the most part we really can't do without them. The world wouldn't be much fun if everyone decided not to use anti perspirants  but the majority of them contain medium to high doses of aluminum which can have adverse effects on pregnant or nursing mothers.   Most experts agree that women who are pregnant and or nursing should avoid large quantities of aluminum where possible, but I'll be the first to admit its pretty darn hard to find a good aluminum free anti perspirant that actually works!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A tale of SKIP HOP and their terrible customer service

As I mentioned in my diaper bag post, I considered Skip Hop when I was shopping for a diaper bag, but ultimately decided to just buy a changing kit from them. It usually retails for about $30 which is more than I even spent on my diaper bag, but I decided it was worth it because I found it on sale. The Skip Hop Pronto changing kit features a wide changing pad to place the baby  on when changing them outside of the home, an easy carry strap, a zippered compartment on the front and a mesh storage pouch inside. Best of all it folds down into a compact carry case which means I don't have to lug my entire diaper bag around to change my baby's diaper.  I was pretty excited to get to use it,  well as excited as you can be about changing diapers..







A few days after bringing our baby home from the hospital we had to take her out for the first time because she had a doctors appointment. I was excited to finally get to use my diaper bag and all the accessories. I wasn't sure how the doctor's appointment would go but I thought it would be wise to carry spare diapers and wipes so I happily packed a few wipes into the transparent red wipes case that came as part of the Skip hop changing pad kit.

 
 

At this point I thought it was such a clever idea to make the wipes case transparent, because I could easily see if I  was running low on wipes without opening the case. Once we arrived at the doctor's office they asked me to change her diaper right before we placed her on the scale to get a more accurate weight. I opened the wipes case to grab a couple of wipes and did a double take. Why were there red splotches on the wipes? Was it just the reflection from the case? I pulled out a couple more wipes and I could have sworn they all looked red. Almost like someone had used them to wipe off some red blusher. Once I got home I opened the wipes case again to see if it was just my eyes deceiving me. Sure enough all the wipes in the case were tinted red and some had bright red smudges and splotches.  This really confused me because ordinarily wipes do not pick up color from the plastic containers they are stored in. I might have been a new mom but I certainly wasn't  new to baby wipes. I'd been using them for a long time for lots of other things like removing makeup and cleaning surfaces around the house, and never in all that time had I seen baby wipes pick up color from hard plastic.

It's a little hard to capture it clearly in a photo but the cell phone shots I took give you an idea of what I mean





I thought for sure I must have done something wrong. So I took the wipes out, washed the case and let it dry. Then I put some fresh wipes in there and forgot about the whole thing. Exactly a week later, we had another trip to the pediatrician's office and surprise surprise, the exact same thing happened. This time the wipes were even darker red than the first week. And had red patches all over. I was really worried about what was causing this red coloration on the wipes. Every single wipe in the case had red patches on it. How was that even possible?  When we got home I threw the wipes out, and put new wipes in and checked back on them in about 2 hours and sure enough they were all red again. There was definitely something wrong because plastic shouldn't transfer color like that. As a new mom I was understandably very protective of my baby, I didn't want to use wipes on her that had some unknown coloration, so I decided to stop using the wipes case until I figured it all out.

I decided to call the company for some information and advice, I assumed it was an isolated incident with my case. I called them continuously for months and never once was able to speak to a live person. It always went to a voicemail. That was really shocking to me because all the other baby companies I had dealt with  had an active customer service phone line with live reps available during business hours. But not Skip Hop. No Sir. Not a single soul ever answered the phone and believe me I was persistent.  By August ( which was 4 months later)  I had given up until I stumbled upon similar reviews on the wipes case on other sites. So other people had the exact same problem too?  And none of these people were able to reach the company either? Then I realized that people had also complained about the red spots on the actual changing pad itself also leaching and transferring. So clearly they had an issue with the red dyes they were using in more than one of their products. Which was disturbing since they use a lot of red, thanks to their bright red logo.

I sent them an email and received a generic response the next day asking for my contact number, address and pictures of the product I had a problem with. I immediately responded with all the requested information and a detailed description of the issue.  I got no response. NOTHING.  I sent them another email 5 days later to follow up and still heard nothing.  Now I was starting to get annoyed, I mentioned it to a few friends of mine who also use Skip Hop, and they told me that they had endured the exact same thing and the only way to get any response from them was to attack their social media reputation. So I posted on their facebook page and within half an hour I had a response. They replied to my wall message with a generic statement that I should contact their customer service line or email them. So I responded by saying I have already done that multiple times. They immediately deleted my facebook wall post and then sent me a generic message to my facebook inbox asking for my email address so they could look into it.

And within a few hours I finally got a response from them by email from Lilia




That's it. They sent me a one line email in response to all my questions about the wipes case. I never even asked for a replacement wipes case. I wanted answers for my questions regarding the safety of the product. I wanted to know why it had taken me  FOUR months to get a response from them and why they deleted my facebook wall post? I started doing more research and saw this on their facebook wall. I took a screen shot in case they deleted it too. I do not know the person that posted it so for their privacy I blacked out their last name and profile picture since it was a photo of a baby.


Here I had proof that they were well aware of this problem, had done nothing about it, and when we tried to reach out to them, they ignored us persistently until we posted on their facebook page. And then they give that annoying response asking you to email them, as if we haven't already emailed them a billion times and gotten no response! I found it extremely interesting that they stated in their own words that the red wipes color problem was a "defect on a small batch" of wipes" I bet it really was SMALL batch.  On their website they have stated "We want to make our products perfect and we're fanatical about product safety" But that is clearly a lie. Because if they were really fanatical about safety and they already had received feed back on this product, why wouldn't they notify the customers by issuing a statement. Why would they delete wall posts that gave details about it and why would they not respond to phone calls and emails about their defective product?

If they were aware of the problem, why wouldn't they just respond to our emails about it. Why did they never provide answers about the safety of the color on the wipes? Their only solution seems to be that they will send out another useless wipes case that may or may not be safe for wipes storage.  Why would I want another one? Why would I want to use any of their products, ever?

I asked them to send me a refund instead of a replacement, and of course I never got a response to that email. That was in August 2012. I was so angry with them that I filed a complaint with BBB which I now realize wasn't the right thing to do. I should have reported the incident to the CPSC instead. Skip Hop never responded to that complaint and instead went ahead and mailed me the replacement case that I already told them I didn't want. I didn't even bother opening the package because I could tell what it was from the outside and it had their silly red logo on it. I asked the mail man to return it to sender and I haven't heard from them since.  They don't care about my baby's welfare whilst using their products, so I think its only fair that I keep my baby far far away from any substandard junk that they put on the shelves.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My diaper bag

I guess it should come as no surprise that I put a lot of thought into which diaper bag to buy. I always over think every baby related purchase, because I really want to feel like it was money well spent. I didn't know much about diaper bags at first, I didn't even know they were called diaper bags until I started looking for them online. So needless to say,  I was kind of in the dark about what really mattered when choosing a good diaper bag.  I read a lot of reviews and quickly figured out that everyone seemed to have different needs from their diaper bags depending on their lifestyle and so I had to make my own decision based on what mattered to me.  I realized that until the baby arrived I wouldn't know for sure what type bag I really wanted but I would start out with something simple that had  several inner compartments so I could easily organize everything.  
 
I knew for a fact that I wanted to avoid the old school baby prints and patterns, that I'd seen on diaper bags growing up.  While those prints can be cute and sweet, they just weren't for me.  I wanted something a bit more neutral and simple that could pass for a regular handbag. I started out with a short lived crush on few high end diaper bags by designers like Kate Spade, Coach, and Petunia pickle bottom.
 
Kate Spade
 
 
Petunia Pickle Bottom
Coach signature stripe


I quickly got over those crushes when I realized how expensive they were. My jaw dropped when I realized some of them cost as much as $400!!  Maybe if I was a superstar celebrity with nothing better to do with my money I might have considered it, but since I'm just a regular Jane with an eight to five job I didn't feel that splurging on a diaper bag would be the wisest decision. Besides diaper bags can get so messy!  No matter how neat you try to be, babies are experts are creating a mess and diaper bags are at the front line of it all.  I decided I wouldn't spend a dime over $50 for a diaper bag.
 
I checked a lot of stores and wasn't really in love with anything, I heard good things about Skip Hop bags so my mind was pretty much made up to get one of those but thankfully I changed my mind at the last minute. I am so relieved I didn't buy a Skip Hop bag since I later found out how appalling their customer service is. (Read about it here.)
 
Anyway I ended up choosing the jacquard tote bag by Baby Boom. It cost $24.99 at walmart. It's definitely not Kate Spade, but it was everything I was looking for, a simply neutral bag with multiple compartments.
 



 

 
 
Like most other diaper bags, this bag comes with a changing pad  as shown in the photos above.  I decided not to use the changing pad that came with the bag because it's really narrow and flimsy. I purchased the skip hop changing pad instead because it looked so great, it was much wider and had pockets for storing diaper essentials. This Skip Hop changing pad costs even more than my diaper bag! And I regretted buying it immediately after I started using it.  Like I mentioned earlier I will be blogging about that in a separate post. Suffice it to say, that you shouldn't waste a dime on anything made by Skip Hop. Their products are sub standard and their customer service is, without a doubt, the absolute worst in the industry. I promise you will believe me once you read my upcoming blog post.
 
Skip Hop Pronto diaper changing pad. DO NOT BUY THIS!!!
 
There are much better, safer and cheaper alternatives out there such as The First Years changing pad or the Munchkin travel kit.
 
 

The First years

 
 

 
Aside from the changing pad which is an absolute must have, the main things I carry in my diaper bag are
 
-Diapers
-Baby Wipes
-Diaper cream/ointment
-Boogie wipes & saline spray
-First Aid kit
-Change of clothing, including socks and sweater
-Munchkin Pacifier wipes
-Bibs
-Burp cloths
-Aden & Anais blanket
-Single serve packets of formula
-Planet wise wet bag
-Nursing cover
 
I don't carry any bottles or prepared food in her diaper bag, instead I have separate coolers for that  because I don't want to mix food with her diaper changing gear.
 
 
Overall I am happy with my diaper bag, I use it every single day and its still holding up great after nearly 9 months of use. Now that I have more experience I realize that a bag with a longer messenger shoulder strap would be much more convenient. Some times my arms are full with carrying my baby and several other bags so it would be so much easier if my bag had a longer strap so I could wear it across my chest like a messenger bag and have my hands free. My next diaper bag will definitely have a messenger style shoulder strap as an option!