Our Favorite Item for Newborn Babies

katie thriving

There is no doubt in my mind that Katie is thriving. She’ll be four months old on Friday and is growing like a weed. While we owe her happiness in great part to the support system we’ve had, we also attribute it to the fact that thankfully, our baby is a strong sleeper. But, she wouldn’t have slept nearly as soundly those first few months without one of our nursery essentials – a swaddle. In fact, we are so in love with swaddling that we are giving swaddle giftsets to all of our friends who are expecting babies!nursery

During the first three months of a babies life, they are actually in their fourth trimester of life. In fact, according to Harvey Karp, the author behind the book The Happiest Baby on The Block, all babies are born three months early. Swaddling, or tightly wrapping the baby in a muslin or cloth blanket, makes the baby feel secure and snug like they did in the womb. It decreases their startle reflex since their arms can’t wriggle around. In addition, it has been found that babies who are swaddled during sleep and fussy periods experience less anxiety and colic symptoms.

Until a few weeks ago, when Katie started rolling, we swaddled her for her naps and nightime sleep. In the beginning, we used the large, muslin square cloths but as she grew older, swaddles that provided assistance through zippers and velcro helped us keep her strong limbs swaddled.

That’s why SwaddleMe products are perfect for infants as depending on the style, they feature zippers or velcro to ensure the baby feels secure. They just introduced five new additions to their SwaddleMe line of safe sleep products for infants and man do I wish we’d had these a few months ago.

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While we used their SwaddleMe Original, their new innovative swaddles would have been so helpful especially as Katie entered month two and three, when she was starting to grow more mobile and we were trying to have her sleep in places other than her bassinet, such as the swing or car seat.

swaddle me kicksie and footsie

Their new SwaddleMe Kicksie is a legs-free swaddle which is perfect for warmer weather, such as the summer months and allows the baby to feel cozy in a 3-point harness such a swing. The snap bottom also makes diaper changing quick and hassle free, which is greatly appreciated during those middle of the night diaper sessions.   They also just launched the SwaddleMe Footsiea legs-free swaddle that features pajama-like footies which make it great for cooler weather or even homes with strong air conditioner.

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Like the Kicksie, the Footsie can also be used in a 3 point harness. This would have been SO helpful last month when when we flew down to Savannah, keeping her warm on the plane, or once she started discovering her feet and kicking them during her naps.

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In addition to these new swaddles, SwaddleMe has launched three new gift sets, which are perfect for every mom-to-be. In fact, I’ve already ordered a few of these since I have FIVE friends who are expecting babies this Spring. The Essentials Gift Set includes muslin blankets, bandana bibs, burp cloths and a SwaddleMe® Original Swaddle. The adorable Baby Bath Gift Set includes muslin and terry bath towels, washcloths and a cute hooded wrap. My favorite set, The Little Lovey Gift Set, includes not only the Original Swaddle and muslin blankets but also an adorable natural shape pacifier with a lovey attached!

This post is sponsored by Mom Trends, Meredith Corporation and Swaddle Me but as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you to MomTrends for the professional photographs.

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A Night in Italy with Bertolli

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces.

Last week the team at Bertolli® invited a number of bloggers and influencers to join them at the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel rooftop to celebrate the launch of their new Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces. Thanks to the delicious drinks, food, and details – I felt like I was transported back to Italy for the evening.

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The evening began with mingling over cocktails and passed hors d’oeurves before the sun set and we transitioned to a delicious seated dinner.

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While we mingled, I was able to learn more about the star of the evening, the Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces.

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After living in Europe and tasting authentic, homemade sauce when visiting Italy I appreciate that these sauces are filled with hearty, thick-cut vegetables that you can see. Inspired by Tuscan cooking, the abundance of vegetables in the sauce means that you don’t have to worry about adding your own or “doctoring the sauce.” In addition, Bertolli Rustic Cut Pasta Sauces do not contain artificial flavors, artificial colors, added sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup.

Once we sat down for dinner, we were able to enjoy the sauces as they were highlighted in each of the family style entrees including branzino, chicken cacciatore and cavatelli.

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While Katie’s four-month sleep regression and teething means I haven’t had time to create a recipe with these new sauces yet, I’m so looking forward to using Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces in many ways beyond pasta. In fact, Bo and I both agree that the hearty sauce would be the perfect ingredient in bruschetta, braise, ratatouille, lasagna or casserole. The team at Bertolli shared a few recipes with us during the event to get our creative juices going and this one caught my eye.

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Grilled Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Makes: 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

· 2 Tbs olive oil

· 1 1/2 cups (10 oz) uncooked orzo pasta

· 1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable broth

· 1 jar (23 oz) BERTOLLI Rustic Cut Spicy Marinara with Traditional Vegetables Sauce, divided

· 6 oz crumbled Feta cheese

· 1/2 cup (2 oz) coarsely chopped smoked almonds

· 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

· 6 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers, top 1/2 inch removed, seeded

Directions

1. Preheat grill to high heat

2. Heat 1 Tbs oil in medium skillet over medium high heat

3. Add pasta; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until light golden brown

4. Stir in broth and 1 cup sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook 4 minutes or until pasta is very al dente, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in cheese, almonds and half the mint.

6. Brush outsides of peppers with remaining oil. Grill 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and lightly marked on all sides, turning frequently; cool slightly.

7. Place each pepper in center of 12×12 inch square of heavy-duty foil.

8. Bring sides of foil up and shape foil around each pepper, leaving the top open. Shape foil into a stable base to secure peppers firmly and keep them upright while grilling. Fill each pepper with 1 Tbs sauce and about 3.4 cup orzo mixture.

9. Grill peppers 8 to 10 minutes or until filling is heated through. Carefully remove from foil. Sprinkle with reserved mint and serve with warmed remaining sauce.

In addition, this month, Bertolli is also launching the Bravo Rewards program. This incentive program will reward shoppers who buy two or more jars of any Bertolli Pasta Sauce by sending them a ceramic spoon rest. All you have to do is post a photo of your receipt on bertolli.com/bravo!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces however, as always, all opinions are my own.

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Rock’N’Roll Brooklyn 5 Miler

ashley and zoe rnr brooklyn 5 miler

Yesterday was my first race since giving birth to Katie on June 20th it was so much fun! My goal going into yesterday’s Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn 5 Miler was to run a smart race that would allow me to have fun and finish feeling strong and healthy. Since starting receiving the all-clear to return to working out from my OB-GYN at my 8 week postpartum appointment, my goal has been to ease back into working out in a smart, healthy fashion. For the past few weeks I have been running an average of two days per week, following a walk/run program during which I increase the running by one minute each run.

Based on this approach, I wanted to run the first 16 minutes of yesteday’s race and then switch to intervals, alternating walking and running. If I wasn’t feeling great, I could do 1:1 intervals, but if I was feeling stronger then I’d increase the intervals to either 3 minutes or 4 minutes of running.

rnr brooklyn gear

The race began at 7AM near Grand Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Museum, which meant that I hopped on a Citibike at 6:20 which placed me in the starting area by 6:45.

grand army plazaI had just enough time to make my way through security, use the bathroom and make my way into the corral before the 7AM start. Even before the race started, there were a few things that I really liked about the race setup this year.

  • I appreciated that the 5 mile and half marathon races started at the same time. This allowed people to mingle with their friends running the other distances, as long as you were in the same corral, and enjoy the support and energy of the larger, half marathon race.  There were only 959 people who ran the 5 Miler so the course felt pretty sparse once we split from the 8,500 half marathon runners.
  • I loved that RNR provided water, bananas and portapotties within the starting corrals. This is something I haven’t seen at many race starts and it seemed to be appreciated by everyone. While there were, of course, some lines for the portapotties, they moved very quickly.
  • While the race still started a few minutes late, it started far faster than years past.

Since Zoe and I have become experts at meeting before race starts, we easily spotted each other and discussed our race plan before we heard the annoucer start the race.

zoe

Since she is dealing with a nagging injury, she happily stuck with me during the race. It’s amazing to think that last year, we ran the half marathon together and, halfway during the race, due to increase heart rate, I told her I was pregnant! A lot can change in a year!

Rock'n'Roll Brooklyn 5 Miler Course

Within minutes after the first runners crossed the starting line, Zoe and I were giving each other a high five and starting our run. We both wore headphones for the first 16 minutes while we were running, briefly pointing out sights along the route during these first miles.  When we hit 16 minutes, just short of two miles, we switched to intervals, but since we were both feeling good, we decided to start with longer running intervals – 4 minutes run and 2 minutes walking.

Mile 1 Pace – 10:00

Mile 2 Pace – 10:41

For the first two and a half miles we enjoyed the slight downhill as well as the comraderie of the half marathon runners before we veered off and headed into Prospect Park.  The final 2.5 miles included the rolling hills of Prospect Park as well as the 3/10 mile climb during mile 4.

Mile 3 Pace – 11:38

Mile 4 Pace – 11:48

Mile 5 Pace – 10:33

As you can tell, our running pace increased during that last mile when we knew the finish line was close and we had the benefit of some gradual downhills.

We finished the race in 54:05 or an average pace of 10:49

rnr brooklyn finish

Overall, it was a great return to racing and made me even more excited to wake up for those early morning runs. I’m looking forward to the NYRR Jingle Jog on December 2nd which will hopefully be the first race Katie is at the finish line. We didn’t even try bringing her to yesterday’s race since she’s been pretty fussy this week due to the four month sleep regression. 

In case you’re wondering, here are my recaps from the past two Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Races:

Thank you to Brooks and Rock’n’Roll for the complimentary bib as part of my Brooks #RunHappy Ambassador partnership.

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