Baby must haves from a first time mom


Now that I’ve been a mom for two whole months, I’m full of advice and helpful tips. I’m also taking tips and advice, so don’t hold back!

We thought we were ready to be parents, but in reality, we didn’t know the half of it.

Prior to Michael joining the world, we spent a lot of time researching products, browsing reviews online, and discussing needs with friends. Then he joined us and we figured out what works and what doesn’t for our little man.

First and foremost, you need a camera! We use both a digital SLR and our phones and have thousands of photos of our sweet little man!

Phone apps.

MammaBaby. I’ve had some friends make fun of my obsessive tracking of dirty diapers, sleep, and nursing timing, but when you’re this tired — or at least I was — this app is your brain. Plus its so nice to wake up and look at the sleep timer without trying to do math!

Anything white noise. We downloaded a white noise app to an old phone and it really helps Michael sleep. In fact, I think it helps us sleep too, when he’s in our room.

Pandora. I don’t usually use Pandora, but I’ve found that Michael likes music and the Baby Mozart channel plays some really fun classical versions of rock songs. Have you heard of Rockababy? My favorite is the Michael Jackson favorites.

Facebook and Instagram. You’ll never be so caught up on everyone’s business as when you’re up every couple of hours scrolling through the updates.

Pinterest. You won’t have time or energy for the crafting and party planning that you once did, but someday you will (at least I hope) and I will have a lot of great ideas stockpiled and ready for that time!



We love our Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play. We had a bassinet at the ready for Michael to use to sleep in and he hates it. We’ve tried putting him down in it three times all with negative results. The rock ‘n play keeps him him snug and slightly upright, so his breakfast/lunch/dinner stay down. While we have the vibrating option, we don’t turn it on very often. In fact, it seems to bother him more than anything else. All of the sleep training books we’ve ready have actually said that this is a good thing.

Sleep training books. Plural? Yeah, you read that right. Sleep deprivation is horrible thing and after one night of nursing for six hours and actually sleeping for two hours in an eight hour stretch, you’ll reach out to everyone you know with an infant and buy several recommended books from Amazon in the wee hours of the night. We’re reading On Becoming Baby Wise, 12 hours by 12 weeks, and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, and whatever else folks recommend!

We also learned that a “witching hour” is a real thing and our guy experiences one from 9 p.m. – midnight quite often. He just won’t go to sleep! We try to get him good naps throughout the day and put him down in the 7 p.m. hour. Hopefully he grows out of it sometime soon. I think staying awake with a baby who is nonstop fussy or asleep with his eyes open is more exhausting than waking up a couple of times at night! It was nice to know that we weren’t alone and that this stage too, will pass.

Swaddle Me Velcro swaddles. Michael has mixed feelings about swaddling, he really prefers his hands be out to flail about, but these Swaddle Me outfits came in handy in the first week or so that we swaddled. We also got this Halo outfit that we’ll be using once transition him to his crib. We’ll be using it more as a sleep sack though, so his hands will be out.

Nightlight light bulbs. Or a dim-able lamp works too. We swapped out the light bulbs on a few lamps in Michael’s room and in our room. The low lighting is needed as we rock him to sleep or check on him in the middle of the night.



Brest Friend. A nursing pillow was a must have for the first month and a half of Michael’s life. We tried both the Brest Friend and the Boppy pillow. While the Boppy is great for propping him up (mainly during our many photoshoots), I preferred the Brest Friend for nursing. Plus Brandon gets a kick out of saying “Brest Friend.”

Pumping bra. You can cut slits in a sports bra (thanks, Pinterest!), but I really enjoy my Simple Wishes pumping bra. It allows you to go hands free while pumping, so you can multi-task and do things like chop veggies, or blog or something at the same time!

Steam sterilizer. I used the microwavable bags for awhile and then I bought this Munchkin microwavable steam sterilizer for bottles and pumping supplies. I love it! It’s also important to have a drying rack for your bottles. We have this one, since we use Dr. Brown bottles, but I think they’re all created equal and any one will do!

Premie bottle nipples. In the early days, Mr. M would guzzle from his bottle too agressively and would choke a bit. We switched out the nipples that came with the bottles with the premie-sized version. He’s back to the normal size ones now, but these were great for slowing him down a bit.



Diaper Genie. Whoever invented this thing is a genius! Dirty diapers go in and an easy to handle baggie comes out! It resembles a weapon of some sort, but we haven’t battled with it yet.

Vaseline. We put a bit of Vaseline on M’s “bathing suit area” after diaper changes and it keeps things fresh! Beyond the $1 difference between the two tubs in the baby section at Target, the “baby” version has a pink label and has a baby powder scent.

Shout! This is a must for babies. When the occasional blowout happens (often), a few squirts of Shout! takes the stain right out. We keep a bottle by M’s laundry hamper and will until he’s mobile.

Two changing pad covers. Sometimes little boys pee on you when you’re changing them. Sometimes they pee on their changing pad cover. For this very reason you need two covers. At least.


Other stuff.

Boba wrap. This thing. We were pretty intimidated by it: 18 feet of elastic fabric that you’re to wrap your baby in for hands-free wearing? Without him falling out!? Yeah, right. We watched several YouTube videos and finally got the hang of it, and Michael loves it. We put him in it, walk around, and he usually calms down and more often than not, falls asleep! The latest trick that helps combat that witching hour: wrap and strap up the kid and vacuum! Who would’ve thought?! He loves it and it knocks him right out!

Jack (the cat) and Michael both love the Boba wrap!

Jack (the cat) and Michael both love the Boba wrap!

Beco Gemini carrier. This carrier is great. It requires no “infant insert” like the Ergo carriers and allows the kid to face in or out and ride on my front, back or side. It turns out we were using it wrong initially (thanks, Megan!) and it’s great for walks inside or outside of the house. It’s still a little tricky to unlatch when you’re solo, but I’m getting the hang of it. It also is very comfortable for Brandon to wear.

Michael's Beco carrier

Michael’s Beco carrier

Blankets. We love, love, love the four-pack of Aden + Anais Classic Swaddle Blankets my good friend Traci gifted us. We use them as blankets, as a car seat cover, nursing cover, as a burp cloth, the list goes on. They’re really great and versatile.

Baby monitor. We opted for this model from Infant Optics and we really like it! We like that it’s a closed system and the imaging on the screen is very clear. However, when it’s on and near our computers, our wifi gets spotty. It also randomly loses signal and makes a loud beep, which of course could wake the baby you’re spying on. So that’s annoying. But overall, we’re fans!

Pacifier. This thing is a plug for our occasionally crying son. We have four and have them everywhere. He’s also recently discovered his thumb, which is great for self-soothing.

Diaper bag. You need one if you want to go anywhere! The Skip Hop bags are great. Lots of pockets and reasonably priced.

Car seat. Obviously, it’s a must. (At least if you want to leave the hospital!) We opted for the Maxi Cosi based on friends’ recommendations. We’ve been very pleased with it.

Stroller. I love our stroller for “momming it up.” We have the City GT Mini and I love it. It has a narrow profile, so I can visit most stores freely (Fireworks: widen those aisles and I’ll go crazy inside! Until then, I can only window shop!) and is lightweight and very easy to handle by myself. We have the attachment to place the car seat in the stroller, but the one downside is that you can’t use the stroller’s rain canopy and the car seat at the same time, a bummer for moms on maternity leave during the rainy season in Seattle. Make sure you get the “GT” and not just the City Mini, for the all-terrain tires! We also have the parent console (a must!) and hooks, which are great for shopping or holding his diaper bag.

"Momming it up" in the University Village with most of the gear I've listed here!

“Momming it up” in the University Village with most of the gear I’ve listed here!

Exercise ball. You know that ball you use to do crunches on? It’s also great for bouncing your screaming child to sleep! Have one of these on-hand, especially for the early days. And then when you’re abs re-emerge, you can resume crunches! Or not.

We have so many other items that we have yet to try out– I’ll try and keep this list updated as I find more items that are new baby “must have’s”!

For now, here is Michael at his one-month photo shoot:


And his two-month:


Our bumble bee-themed gender reveal party

A couple of years ago I received a special order in my small business, Little Britches Bakery, for a bumble bee- themed diaper cake, for a “What will it BEE” gender reveal party. Ever since then I’ve been thinking about starting a bumble bee line for Little Britches and Mo/Michael’s big reveal was the perfect opportunity!

As usual, I started with some inspiration on Pinterest and a board.

Then I set about making the diaper cakes, and shifted the color scheme to yellow and white rather than yellow and black. I also added some burlap into the mix, which was very complimentary.

The full spread: What a party!!

The full spread: What a party!!

I always hang some sort of a banner (here, here) and this party was no exception. I wanted something light and airy, so I opted for tissue paper tassel garland. These are pretty easy to make and the bang you get for the cost and energy is definitely worth it!

My tissue paper and washi tape banner

My tissue paper and washi tape banner

I use 8 pieces of tissue for each garland and followed the instructions here for the most part. I did not bust out my glue gun and instead created a loop and secured the tissue paper with a black glittery washi tape. This was one of the first times I’ve used washi tape and as a result, I didn’t know that it wasn’t very sticky. I added a dot of of super glue to the edge of the tape and now the washi tape is there forever. Once the tassels were created, I alternated white and yellow when stringing them on the burlap yarn.

Because of the afternoon timing of the party, we opted for a light menu focused on desserts , with several of gluten-free options for our gluten-free guests. We enjoyed: a variety of cheeses, crackers, cured meats, a veggie platter, polenta bites, bee sugar cookies with royal frosting, meringue bee hives, spring Oreos (with yellow filling!), chocolate cupcakes with yellow frosting and chocolate bees, and lemonade.

It turned out to be quite the spread:

The food spread

The food spread

Even more food!

Even more food!  Did you spot the bees buzzing the lavender bush?

What will Mo bee? A "he" or a "she"?

What will Mo bee? A “he” or a “she”?

Handmade chocolate bees on cupcakes

Handmade chocolate bees on cupcakes

Beyond the diaper cakes, the beehive cookies were the focal point of the party. They were by far the best tasting items at the party. I normally try to make — or semi home-make — all of the items at my parties but I outsourced these cookies to my friend and former colleague Robin. She only makes cookies as a hobby right now, but she could easily be in business full-time! Her skill and creativity are both exceptional! Just typing about these cookies makes me want one right now… Just delicious.

The best cookies ever! Bzzzzzzzzz....

The best cookies ever! Bzzzzzzzzz….

I scoured the internet for old wives tales related to gender prediction — ok, it wasn’t just for the party. For the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy, every time I experienced a new symptom, it was off to the internet to try and gain some insight as to whether Baby Mo was a he or a she. I created this poster, and underlined the symptoms I’d been experiencing.

Old wives tales: truth or fiction?

Old wives tales: truth or fiction?

We had our guests guess Mo’s gender and they went along with the old wives tales and guessed girl. They were also wrong!

All signs were pointing towards Mo being a GIRL! (And yes, they were wrong!) Our little one will likely look like little Brandon, pictured here: 

Guess the gender!

Guess the gender!

The actual reveal took place in the form of this beehive cake. The results of the baby’s anatomy scan were given to our local bakery and they used blue or pink frosting in the middle. We had a great time cutting the cake and finding BLUE frosting! See the full party here!  We didn’t peek, this was the reveal to us as well!

What will it bee gender reveal cake

What will it bee gender reveal cake

If this Bee Gender Reveal party looks like something you would like to replicate, you can order most of my supplies and decorations on my Etsy shop.

Bumble bee diaper cakes

Bumble bee diaper cakes

As always, please ask any questions you might have! I’m happy to answer everything from suppliers to technique questions and beyond!

We're excited to meet our "HE" joining our family in September!

We’re excited to meet our “HE” joining our family in September!


Drum roll please: Baby Szerwo is a …

It's a boy!

It’s a boy!


It was a fun weekend on Megan’s Island: we found out Baby Mo’s sex! We had some of our closest friends and family over for a bumble bee-themed reveal.

What will Mo bee?

What will Mo bee?

We had our 20-week ultrasound earlier this week and we had the tech write down the baby’s sex and seal it in an envelope. Brandon then took the envelope directly to the bakery, so neither of us were tempted to open it.

Here we are with the envelope. No peeking!

Here we are with the envelope. No peeking!

It’s been a long couple of days since the ultrasound, but it was worth the wait.

Our local QFC was in the know and baked a bumble bee chocolate cake, with the inside frosting the color the color of the baby’s sex.

The cake knows! Soon we would know too!

The cake knows! Soon we would know too!

We gathered everyone, cut the cake, and saw the BLUE frosting! 

Such excitement! BLUE frosting!

Such excitement! BLUE frosting!

BLUE frosting! It's a BOY!

BLUE frosting! It’s a BOY!

I’ll start working on a party-specific post now, so good bye for now from baby Michael!

Hello from Michael!

Hello from Michael!

The perfect gift for Mother’s Day

Little Britches Bakery

Little Britches Bakery

Consider this a shameless plug for an excellent gift for a new Mom or Mom-to-be on the market today: Little Britches Bakery. In addition to being a government communicator and a super blogger, I have a small business where I make gifts for new parents and parents-to-be.

Little Britches Bakery isn’t a real bakery. Instead, we (the royal “we”) make inedible gifts that look like baked goods. They’re too sweet to eat though. (Great slogan, right?) I have a “menu” of standard and custom diaper cakes and onesie cupcakes. I’ve even been written up in the Mercer Island Reporter after Price George was born.

Here's my Little Britches Bakery show set up

Here’s my Little Britches Bakery show set up

My diaper cakes are made of size three Huggies diapers. I have some generic-themed designs (floral, sports, rubber duck, etc) and can customize cakes completely. They make great centerpieces at baby showers!  Here are some good examples of the variety of cakes that I can and have made.

Little Britches Bakery Diaper Cakes... made by me!

Little Britches Bakery Diaper Cakes… made by me!

My onesie cupcakes are made out of 3-6 month sized baby onesies and washcloths. I make them to order and can make them gender-specific or gender-neutral and have split packs for twins!

Little Britches Bakery onesie cupcakes... Made on Megan's Island

Little Britches Bakery onesie cupcakes… Made on Megan’s Island

Visit my Etsy shop to order a gift for the new mom (or dad!) in your life. There is still time to order and receive your product by Mother’s Day! And if you’re not currently shopping for a new parent, please follow Little Britches Bakery on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! (Also? I have 15 pregnant friends right now! You’ve got to be shopping for someone…)

I bring my Little Britches cupcakes with me everywhere… like to the Martha Stewart Show in NYC!

A visit to Martha!

A visit to Martha!

And to meet the Young House Love bloggers. (One of my most favorite blogs!)

Little Britches Bakery meets Young House Love

Little Britches Bakery meets Young House Love