Monday, October 8, 2012

SmartMomma "Parenthood made simple"

Last week I posted a blog about what I consider to be baby registry must-haves, so I thought it was only appropriate to highlight a local baby store this week.  SmartMomma is known by many in the Raleigh area as a super cute baby store where you can find really unique gifts.  But, it is so much more than that.  Yes, they do carry incredible merchandise but they also offer one-on-one registry design- at no cost!  If you are looking for help with your baby registry you can set up a registry consult with Raleigh Baby Planner so we can do a lifestyle assessment to decide what gear you need and don't need.  Then you can head over to SmartMomma where the gear experts will help you decide among the different brands, colors, and styles to create a registry unique to your needs.  They also offer a huge variety of classes for every stage of pregnancy and parenthood.  In fact Raleigh Baby Planner teaches two workshops a month at SmartMomma- writing a birth plan and developing a postpartum plan.  Check out the interview below from SmartMomma owner Heather Burns to learn more about the store and what they have to offer.

What inspired you to open Smart Momma and how did you come up with the name? 
"I was one of those moms that researched everything when I got pregnant with my first child.  I was also the one in the office that loved to buy the baby gifts for everyone.  I love the excitement of pregnancy and the birth of something (or someone) new.  I wanted to help new moms find the best and most useful products for them, and help them cut through all the clutter out there.  I came up with the name, because I wanted to help a new mom become a SmartMomma.  A SmartMomma is educated about pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and that is also why we do so many classes, in addition to selling smart products."

 What services do you provide for you customers- what makes you different from the average baby superstore? 
"As I mentioned, we have tons of classes for pregnancy, baby, and toddler.  We also work personally with the new parent, guiding them and asking them questions about their own lifestyle to help them choose the best product for them.  We frequently demo strollers, car seats, and baby carriers, and offer that personal shopping experience without the high price tag.  We also make it simple for the parent, by only carrying those products we truly believe are good quality AND useful."

Tell us a little about your registry services. 
"Our registry is completely online OR can be done in the store.  We encourage you and your partner to make an appointment with us, so that you have our undivided attention.  We will walk the aisles with you to help you select what is best for your lifestyle.  What we don’t do is leave you guessing on what to add to your registry.  If you would rather do it on your own, you are also welcome to do that, but what people really love about our store is the personal service they get when they register.  We offer free shipping over $50, free in-store pickup if you order online.  Also, we have a rewards program where for every $500 you spend with us, you get a $40 store credit reward.  This applies to registry purchases from your friends & family too!"

What are your top-five ‘must-haves’ for a registry?
"Infant Car seat, baby sling or carrier, stroller, diaper bag, and a high quality mattress"

What are you seeing as the latest trends in baby gear and products? 
"In car seats, it’s all about safety.  There are some exciting innovative products coming out that feature crumple technology and high quality memory foam seating.  In strollers, its all about easy folding, the opportunity to add double seating, and stability.  As for furniture, it seems that simple is making a comeback.  Also seeing a lot of gray for decorating nurseries."

 What advice can you give working Moms like yourself- juggling family and career? 
"When you come home, be present for your kids.  As soon as I get home, I find myself wanting to get on my tablet or smartphone, and I have to make myself stop and enjoy my children.  Time goes so fast, and I can’t believe my first baby is nine.  I didn’t believe it would happen so fast when I had my first child, but they don’t stay babies for very long.  I now have my third (and last) baby.  She is 9 months old and I am trying to cherish every moment with her as a baby, because I know it is fleeting."


Fun Facts

Favorite Food/Restaurant- Sushi and Pizza
Favorite Way to Relax- Snuggling on the couch with my kids
Favorite Vacation Spot- Without kids: Jamaica,  With Kids:  Holden Beach
Favorite Song or Band- Coldplay & Katie Perry right now
Favorite Book- The Hunger Games
Heather, thank you so much for sharing with us!  Smart Momma lives up to their motto- "Parenthood made simple."  They are a one stop shop where you can find great education about pregnancy, babies, and parenting; you can design your dream nursery; or you can set up a customized baby registry.  And on top of all that they have a great staff who are wonderful to work with.  To learn more about the store's merchandise or class offerings visit Smart Momma's website.
Smart Momma
8601-A Glenwood Ave.  Raleigh, NC 27617
Stay tuned for the next blog post- Registry Must-not-haves!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"What baby products do I really need?"

Wow, I can't believe it has been over a month since my last blog post!  And I said I would never have one of those blogs that goes weeks and months without a post :)  September is always a crazy month in our house with both kiddos birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and beach trips- who has time for work!

I guess it is time to get back into the groove but I figured I'd start off with something fun- registry advice!  Registrying for a baby can be a lot of fun but many couples find it incredibly overwhelming and frustrating.  If you haven't been to a baby superstore lately, check one out.  It is a wonder anyone can decide what they need or want.  In fact when you go to set up a registry they warn you not to even attempt to complete it in one day!  It really is insane how many baby products are on the market and even more crazy how fast they are changing- who could possibly keep up!  Well, I don't claim to be a product expert by any means, but I can make some suggestions about what products you may need and more importantly what ones you don't need.  Of course everyone's lifestyle is different, but there are a few products that I believe are absolute musts for any new parent.  We all know there are obvious things you will need like a car seat, crib, or stroller but below is a list of the top five must- haves that are beyond the basics.

Swaddle blanket
This is hands down one of the best baby products you can buy!  The swaddle blanket is essential for soothing a fussy baby and helping babies sleep longer.  Yes, I said sleep longer!  Swaddling a baby helps them feel secure and prevents them from startling themselves awake.  In fact, swaddling is considered the cornerstone of the five S's from Dr. Harvey Karp's best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block.  There are so many swaddle blankets on the market, but my personal favorite is the SwaddleMe by Summer Infant which I lovingly refer to as the swaddle blanket for dummies- it really is that easy!

Breastfeeding Pillow 
So we all know that breastfeeding is best, but it is not always easy and does not always come naturally.  Having a great pillow to help you position your baby and support you while you and your baby are learning to breastfeed is so important.  And trust me, not all breastfeeding pillows are created equal!  Why can't you just use pillows?  I promise that if you use My Brest Friend just once you will never ask that question again.  This pillow stays where you need it to be so you can perfectly position your baby (or babies!) and provides back support so you can be as comfortable as possible.  Yes, it has a funny name and it costs a little more than other pillows, but I promise it is so worth it!

Baby Carrier
Even if you don't plan on adopting a baby wearing lifestyle or following attachment parenting, an infant carrier can be indispensable.  Babies love to be held but most parents don't have the luxury of being able to sit on the couch and hold their little one for hours every day.  Having a carrier allows you to hold your baby while getting housework done, running errands, or going on walks.  More importantly carriers help soothe babies, increase their sleep, facilitate breastfeeding, and increase the infant-parent bond.  There are a ton of carriers on the market and they are all very different.  Some smaller baby stores will allow you to try the different carriers and slings with your baby so you can see which one works the best for you.  There are also classes to learn how to safely 'wear' your baby.

Fragrance Free Skin Products
Baby skin is very sensitive but unfortunately many of the skin products for babies are loaded with fragrances that can irritate them.  These products smell so nice and some of them even claim they will help a baby fall asleep (don't know how true that is!), but all those smell-good chemicals are not good for newborn skin.  The truth is newborns don't need frequent bathing, they don't need soap, and they don't really need lotion.  But, if and when you do use soap and lotion you should look for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products.  Again, the market is loaded with great baby skin products so register for a few different brands and see which ones you love the most.

Rectal Thermometer
Ok, so my last recommendation is less than glamorous!  But a rectal thermometer is essential for at least the first year of your baby's life.  When it comes to taking your baby's temperature you have to go old school.  Nevermind all the new high-tech gadgets on the market for temperature taking.  They will never be as accurate or reliable as a good old fashioned rectal thermometer.  Now many parents are scared of taking a rectal temperature- they don't want to hurt their baby!  But rest assured that the rectal thermometers on the market these days have safety features to make sure they can't be inserted too far.
Obviously there are many other great products that can help new parents but these are some that are I find useful and essential.  As a baby planner I can help expectant parents navigate the world of baby gear to help you develop a registry that is perfect for your family and lifestyle.  Check in next week and I will feature a local baby store that specializes in personalized registry design.  Later in the month I will have my top five list of the must-have-nots!  What are your favorite baby products?