Tag n Play Pals by Taggies

taggies plush puppy

Source: Taggies

The little plush puppy you see in the image above, a Tag n Play Pal by Taggies, is unequivocally my son’s favorite toy. He got it for Christmas from his grandparents, and it has since become his comfort object. He will literally take this with him wherever he goes—picture him crawling around the entire house, pulling his dog along with him—it’s pretty much the cutest thing EVER. Kai’s beloved Taggies toy has been named “Woofie” in our house (yeah, we aren’t too creative with names), and we are already waiting for the day when Kai can call him by name.

WHAT IT IS

Baby’s perfect companion at home or on-the-go!
This sweet plush puppy is covered with soft fabric and satin tags for your baby to touch and explore. The chime ball in the body makes this new friend sound as cheerful as it looks and feels!

PRICE $28-38

WHAT I LOVE

This puppy is so velvety soft and cuddly. He’s got the cutest little expression too. We’ll make Woofie bark, lick Kai’s cheek, and pant like a dog. We have him interact with Kai’s toys, play hide-and-seek with him, “read” to/with him, and generally act silly—we’ll put a bib over his eyes and make him run into things until Kai takes it off, for example. We have Kai’s toys on a constant rotation to help him stay interested in playtime, except for two toys: his stacking blocks and Woofie.

my son playing with his taggies toyI also love that it’s washable. That’s kind of a must for any baby, I’d say. And he washes well, without any matting, so don’t worry if your little one gets banana or spit up or a combination of the two on this toy—I speak from experience, people.

It’s worth mentioning that he’s got a hook that’s perfect for attaching him to a stroller, car seat, play mat, or anything that’s convenient. And Woofie’s eyes, mouth, etc. are embroidered and so he’s perfectly safe for any age (birth and up). Even though Kai didn’t have a Taggies toy until he was 9 months old, he still loves him at 11 months! Ryan and I were a bit worried that we missed having him around for the prime stage when Kai was fascinated by tags. And I do think that he would have absolutely loved this toy as early as three months old. So we were really impressed that he’s not too old for it yet. He loves exploring the silky tags sometimes, but regardless he loves playing with him. It’s a stuffed animal, after all—I may have never grown out of some of mine. 😉

ON THE DOWNSIDE

The only thing I can mention here is that this toy has a sweet little jingling bell inside. It’s not loud or annoying in my eyes, but it’s sensitive to any sort of light touch. This means that we won’t be able to put him in Kai’s crib once he hits a year old—it would probably wake him up! So while I think the bell is great for playtime, it doesn’t work for naptime or bedtime. Since it’s designed for birth and up, that isn’t normally a problem. (Babies under a year old should not sleep with a stuffed animal or blankets, pillows, etc. Please take a sec to read about SIDS if you haven’t yet!)

The bell isn’t really an issue, but one real problem is that it appears our sweet little Woofie is becoming a rarity. He’s hard to find online and I’m really worried that Taggies will stop selling him. Check out where to buy below.

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

I LOVE this toy because my son LOVES this toy. It’s safe, soft, engaging, and cuddly. It’s very well made and I bet my son will be loving this toy well beyond a year old!

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon has 2 of these left at the time of this posting. TWO! Yikes. You may wanna hurry if you’ve decided to buy him.

Target sells him as part of a Taggies pack that includes a matching blanket, plush ball, and triangle. That’s why the price range I listed goes a little high, but it may be worth the extra $10 if you’re interested in a few other accessories.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Philosophy Bath & Shower Gels

my lil collection of philosophy body washes

my collection of philosophy body washes

I finally jumped on the Philosophy Shower Gel Bandwagon (yeah, it’s a thing) when I was pregnant with my first child. Even though I didn’t really know how hard motherhood would be, I had a feeling I could use a product that would shorten my time in the shower. I’m glad I managed to snag these three shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath combos in Amazing Grace, Vanilla Cream Topping, and Sugar Plum Fairy.

WHAT IT IS

Award-winning shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath all-in-one product featuring delightful scents

WHAT I LOVE

My favorite things about these bath gels are the luxurious feel and the SCENTS. Philosophy is known for creating heavenly scented body/face care products, and I give them extra kudos on their food scents. I am a food-scent junkie. I love a vanilla/dessert-scented anything (candles, lotion, lip gloss…) so these are perfect for me. Another reason they fit the bill is their triple-duty to work as a shower gel, shampoo, and bubble bath. When I need a quick shower (which is pretty much ALL THE TIME) these are my go-to products to keep it simple and smelling lovely.

Vanilla Cream Topping: This one is my favorite scent out of the three I own. It’s not overwhelming, but it will fill your bathroom with a sugary, vanilla aroma for a little while. The gel itself feels luxuriously creamy and lathers well. It’s cute that it features a real recipe for creating your own vanilla cream topping to pour over your favorite desserts. In one word: YUM.

Sugar Plum Fairy: This is a glittering, purpley-pink, highly scented gel. It’s a hard-to-describe berry scent that’s a little spicy and tart, with a hint of wine. This one is not creamy and leaves a stronger scent behind than the others. The first time I used it, I discovered that it made my robe smell wonderful! The glitter gets washed away when you rinse, of course.

Amazing Grace: I think for people who love the scent already, you’ll probably like this. It’s an ok scent, but it comes across as oddly generic and soapy/perfumey to me. It’s a pretty pearlescent soft pink color and has a creamy feel. I have this in a size that’s perfect for travel, so I use it the most then.

I tend to shampoo with these when I’m in a hurry, or if I’m shampooing twice—once with my regular shampoo, and once with one of these (they will really help refresh the effectiveness of your usual shampoo). I use them the most often for a shower gel, and I love how they suds up well but don’t dry out my skin.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

None of the scents last on your body for very long. Some people might think that’s a negative thing, but I actually like that it fades so I can throw on my favorite perfume without any fragrance clashes. I like that they work for shampoo, but I recommend using a conditioner afterwards for sure. Most reviews say they make a good bubble bath, but not great, as the suds don’t last as long as they’d like.

I’ve also seen some reviews from people who didn’t like the scents for a variety of reasons (too “fake”, too strong, not strong enough), and you already know I’m not a big fan of the Amazing Grace scent for these, so my advice is to hit a Sephora in person if you can to test them out. If you’re looking for a safe bet, the Cinnamon Buns fragrance is the best seller with the most rave reviews of them all. (I gotta try this! My hubby is a huge cinnamon roll addict and it sounds like it’ll make our bathroom smell like Cinnabon. Sign me up!)

RATING

★★★★★ 4/5

These shower gels make me feel a little pampered despite my less-than-glamorous rushed shower time, and I love them for that! They come in delicious scents (just pick the one that’s right for you) and do a great job—but are lacking just a bit in being a super-perfect shampoo, bubble bath, and shower gel at the same time. That is a formula that I think would be pretty difficult to create!

WHERE TO BUY

Get these from Philosophy’s website, Amazon, or Sephora.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Sophie the Giraffe Teether by Vulli

Sophie the GiraffeI can’t be a self-respecting mama and product reviewer until I’ve blogged about Sophie the Giraffe. It seems everybody with a little one either already owns one (or more) or is really curious about this toy. When I showed up to a mom’s group at church with one, I got all sorts of questions.

WHAT IT IS

Vulli’s Sophie the Giraffe has been amusing babies for 50 years. Made of 100% natural rubber and food paint, the BPA- and phthalate-free Sophie is soothing and safe for your teething baby. Sophie’s unique design, pattern and texture stimulate all of your baby’s senses during playtime. She makes a happy sound when squeezed, stimulating hearing and helping your baby understand the link between cause and effect. Height: 7” (18 cm)

PRICE $20-26

WHAT I LOVE

playing with Sophie the Giraffe

my baby & Sophie

When Kai first showed signs of teething, my husband and I ran out to Babies R Us and bought this toy! We’d seen an entire display dedicated to it there, and we wanted to do ANYTHING we could to help our son with his teething pain. My favorite part? Natural rubber and FOOD paint! I was just especially aware of anything that went near his little mouth in that first year, as concern over milk and food are at an all-time high. (Is he drinking enough? How many feedings did he have today?) So this toy really relieved any mama worries I had. If you’ve seen a used Sophie before, you may be less than impressed at first: her spots have faded and sometimes completely disappeared. Maybe her squeaker isn’t working too. So, what’s all the fuss about? It really does soothe a teething baby!

Kai was drawn to play with Sophie before he was teething in earnest. He just loved holding it at first. But then as teething hit, he seemed much more intentional about chewing on it for pain relief. That’s what makes this more than a toy! Just yesterday he was purposefully placing it in his mouth right where he has two teeth coming in. I love how many different textures he can explore on it—from her nubby horns to her soft little hooves, no matter where his bite lands, it’s going to be comforting for him.

When he’s not in a mouthy mood, Kai loves trying to get Sophie to squeak by shaking her like a rattle! My husband showed him that if you hold her by the neck, she’ll flop in such a way that her squeaker will respond. Charming, no? 😉

We take Sophie with us almost wherever we go. I love having the reassurance that if he needs to chew on something, she’s there.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

What a Used Sophie the Giraffe Looks Like

our well-loved Sophie after 6 months of use

I don’t really have anything to offer in criticism of this toy. But let me address some of the possible concerns you may have. Her paint does fade. It’s just the sign of a well-loved teething toy, and you can rest easy that the food paint hasn’t harmed your baby. Her squeaker can sometimes go silent after washing, which is a side-effect of a water-logged toy. The instructions say to “wipe clean”, but that wasn’t really enough for me to get any dirt off (it can get sticky!). I found that just hand-washing her quickly and then drying her well, shaking and squeezing a few times, will cure any squeaking issues. You don’t want your baby accidentally squeezing any water out during play, so this was key.

As far as the price, I totally get why some people balk at the cost! In fact, WE did too, but just went for it because we thought it would help Kai with teething. My take is that it is WORTH the money. She’s made in France, she’s all-natural, and the design is perfect. We have gotten tons of mileage out of this toy for both playtime and teething relief. And we have tried a copycat, but it was made in China and reeked to high heaven. I was horrified with the smell…Sophie does have a faint rubber smell but nothing very noticeable. My advice is to spring for her and keep your receipt (though I bet you won’t need it!)

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

I’m a fan! Sophie provides comfort during teething and entertainment even on the rare day where teething isn’t an issue.

WHERE TO BUY

You can purchase Sophie the Giraffe from a multitude of online retailers. Here’s a start: Nordstrom, Babies R Us, and Amazon.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Pajama Jeans

I’m reviewing Pajama Jeans, and I’m not ashamed. They are the first As Seen On TV product I’ve owned. I think the idea is genius—how many of us have a love/hate relationship with sweats? Don’t we all wish we could look a little more put together while in our PJs? My husband is less-than-thrilled about the sweats I am sometimes known to roam the house in, so I decided to ask for Pajama Jeans for Christmas. I have the small size bootcut style in black.

WHAT IT IS

Pajama Jeans are comfy sweats/p.j. style pants designed with a denim look to fool everyone into thinking you’re wearing jeans. They feature high contrast stitching and full functional pockets, a (hidden) drawstring, and are available in sizes X-Small to 3X. Inseams on all sizes are 31″.

Price: $30.00 (or so)

WHAT I LOVE

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Pajama Jeans have real front and back pockets with rivets—pink on the small front pocket, and brass-colored on the big front and rear pockets. Yes, the pockets are real, and that has been a life-saver for carrying my cell phone. They feature a pretty pink ribbon drawstring on the inside of the waist (so nobody sees this but you). They are definitely comfy and are pretty warm. These pants made me feel better about those days where I’m a little too busy for looking polished and want to be comfy. I can say they are the cutest sweats I’ve owned.

Here’s where and when I’ve worn them:

  • Outside on a walk around my neighborhood
  • As pajama bottoms (of course)
  • Around the house during the day while taking care of my son
  • As exercise/yoga pants
  • At a neighbor’s house for an emergency sleep-over after our furnace broke…

And let me just say, they really do come to the rescue when you are spending the night outside of the house! The night our furnace died, we had to pack up with our baby as quickly as possible, and I knew exactly what I wanted NEEDED to wear. I had no problem with our neighbors seeing me in these—in fact, I bet they were surprised that I looked so together the next day. I’ve never worn them to a store or running errands, but that’s just my preference. I don’t think it would look bad to wear them out and about, particularly if they fit you well. I think they would be perfect if you’re expecting some extended down-time, like after a surgery, or if you’ll be in the house a lot with a baby (that is NOT down-time, just to be clear!). They are great for cozy snow days and long travel days too.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

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awkward selfies: me in my Pajama Jeans

The fit is the only thing that is keeping me from raving about Pajama Jeans…and even still, I’m really happy with them. It’s just that on me, the fit is a bit baggier than my average pair of jeans and I don’t feel they really qualify as a jeans substitute because of that. But they are cute sweats and will make me feel more dressed than if I slapped on some actual pajama bottoms. And I’m sure that if they were slimmer, they might not be as comfy, so it’s a fine line to walk, and I think Pajama Jeans balance comfort and style well.

I’ve heard that the fit can be a bit finicky, and I can attest to that. My advice is that if you try them, get them from a store with a good return policy, and maybe buy two different sizes just in case. If you’re on the shorter end of the spectrum, be prepared for possible hemming (keep reading).

Length: You’ll notice that the inseam on ALL of the sizes is 31″. Since I’m 5’3″, when I first put them on, there was a puddle of extra fabric around my feet. I didn’t mind springing for a quick tailoring job to have them hemmed since I didn’t buy them myself—and I don’t have a sewing machine or I might attempt these projects on my own. The professional hemming job cost me $12.

Width: On me, the pants are a little bit wider through the thigh than I’d prefer—it’s not BAD by any means, but I’d prefer the leg to be slimmer in the small size. If they were, I’d probably be thrilled with them. They do sell a skinny style, so I’d be curious if that looks a little better on me.

Fabric: The fabric has become just a bit worn-looking, but that’s possibly because I don’t turn them inside out in the wash or hang them to dry. The nice thing is that the wear looks consistent with blue jean fabric and doesn’t give them away, so to speak. I think the color still looks good, but if you want to keep yours in excellent condition, I’d recommend being a bit gentler than I am about washing.

RATING

★★★★★ 4/5

I’m giving these four stars—one star is off for the length and fit complaints I’ve read about online. I’m a sucker for a cute pair of lounge pants, and these go the extra mile by making me look more put together than I really am!

WHERE TO BUY

You can purchase Pajama Jeans online from the Pajama Jeans websiteAmazon, or Target (among many choices). They are in lots of stores these days too!

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

The World of Eric Carle: Nesting Blocks by Kids Preferred

eric-carle-stacking-nesting-blocks

Ok, parents. These nesting blocks are the bomb. They are on my list of essentials, even though they are a toy—because babies need stimulation and play in order to learn! But you already knew that. What you may not already know is that these blocks just may give you a cart-attack. They are THAT amazing.

You have probably heard of or already own some of Eric Carle’s top-selling children’s books. We have The Hungry Caterpillar box set, and we get LOTS of use out of it (but that’s a review for another day). These blocks feature Eric Carle’s signature illustration style and characters.

WHAT IT IS

Eric Carle Stacking/Nesting Blocks are a set of 10 paperboard blocks that are open on one side. They can be nested together or stacked (like in the pic above). Each block represents a different animal, color, number, and group of letters. They are illustrated with all the characters from the author’s books so toddlers will recognize their favorite characters too. They are recommended for ages 6 months+.

PRICE: $17-20

WHAT I LOVE

image

my son nesting the blocks

We received these blocks as a Christmas gift for my son, Kai, when he was 9 months old. He’s now almost 11 months, and they are still a go-to for playtime. We usually keep them nested once he’s done playing, and the next time he encounters them, he loves pulling them apart. (His daddy taught him to take them apart at about 9.5 months.) But they do more than that—he also loves to put things inside the boxes, like a small ball or other toy. Kai can re-nest them if we help him pair a smaller box with one that’s a couple of sizes larger so it’s easier for him. He will sometimes put the small boxes inside large toys, like a bowl or his barn. And if we stack them for him, he loves trying to grab one of the boxes as well as knocking them down. We’ve used them to build a “city” and to create a valley for his train to drive through. We’ve created obstacles for other toys to encounter with them by creating stair-steps for his giraffe to climb up, or putting one of them on his stuffed animal’s foot like a shoe or on the head like a hat—he’ll usually smile and pull it off for them. Even though he’s a little young, we use the toys for repetition and teaching him colors, shapes, animals, and numbers.

Are you with me? Off the top of my head, I just listed TEN uses for this toy!

  1. pulling them apart
  2. putting things inside
  3. re-nesting them
  4. placing small boxes inside other toys
  5. knocking down a stack or taking one from the stack
  6. building a city
  7. creating a bridge or valley for vehicles to drive through
  8. stair-steps for other toys to climb
  9. creating shoes and hats for other toys
  10. teaching colors, numbers, etc.

That’s just what he can do with them right now. Eventually he’ll get the hang of stacking them himself, and he’ll probably take on the creative role with them as he gets older. Sometimes the simplest toys really are best! Playing with them was intuitive for him and I think the fact that they are simple makes them a creativity magnet.

They also come in a perfect-sized box with a handle for easy travel. We’ll be taking them with us on our vacation coming up in a month since they are so easy to take along and will help him stay entertained.

And I’ve heard that these blocks keep a toddler’s interest and we’ll get LOTS more use out of them, from months to years from now!

ON THE DOWNSIDE

I bet you’re wondering one thing: Will they hold up to baby drool/biting?

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On the left: the joys of teething! On the right: the damaged block holding up pretty well.

My short answer is yes. But here’s the longer answer…Kai went through a phase where he would only want to use these to bite. He’d grab one and start grating it with his lower teeth. On one of them, he started scraping away the coating in one small spot—luckily I was right there to make sure it didn’t come loose and end up in his mouth (see pic). We put the blocks away for about a week, and would occasionally test it out to see if that was still what he wanted to do with them. Every time he started scraping them with his teeth, we’d just put them away. After a week, he was done. It doesn’t even occur to him to try it any more, to the point where I almost forgot to mention it here. Drool wipes off easily.

They are paperboard, so they are susceptible to some damage. But I prefer that they are lightweight instead of plastic or wood because my baby can throw! My husband actually sat on one of the blocks one day, but to our amazement, the block was just dented (see pic). We still get a lot of use out of our one deformed block, and actually, it’s one that our son gravitates towards because it’s different.

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

These blocks are just the perfect toy. They are educational, stimulating, and creativity-inspiring, and have provided countless hours of fun for my little boy. They are my first cart-attack MUST-HAVE product and my first review because if I had to pick only one toy that we’d get our son, this one would be it. My advice to those of you waiting to put these in your cart: stop it! 🙂 Toss it in and your baby will THANK you…you know, once they can actually speak.

WHERE TO BUY

You can get these online from Amazon and Diapers.com.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.