for toddlers who love trucks

My little guy LOVES trucks, and pretty much anything with wheels. Garbage trucks, dump trucks, fire engines, tractor trailers, excavators, bulldozers — you name it. It’s safe to say that his toy shelves are becoming crowded with quite the fleet of vehicles.

Below are some of our favorite truck books and toys that help him uphold his obsession.

Truck Books for Toddlers | Claremont Road

1. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – This is a bedtime favorite in our house. Not only does Graham love it, but I love the detailed and beautiful pastel illustrations, and sweet little details like the crane truck who sleeps with his teddy bear.

2. Trucks Roll! – This is another one that I love for the illustrations. Unlike Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, though, these illustrations are bold and graphic — they’re great for helping little ones identify primary colors. We met our limit with renewing this one at the library… it might be time to buy our own copy!

3. Little Blue Truck – This super cute story also includes a cast of lovable farm animals, so Graham was sold the first time we read it! It’s a sweet book about friendship and helping one another, in addition to — of course — including trucks.

4. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way – A sequel to Little Blue Truck, it follows our truck buddy as he heads into the big city, battling traffic with everything from delivery trucks and double-decker buses to limousines and police cars. Basically, a vehicle-loving kid’s dream.

5. Bulldozer – Graham has memorized many of the simple rhymes in this book, so it’s a fun, interactive story to read together. The cute die-cut shape doesn’t hurt, either.

6. My Truck Is Stuck! – This silly little story is also a bedtime favorite, with a playful cast of dogs, beavers, and — you guessed it — lots and lots of 4-wheeled friends.

Truck Toys for Toddlers | Claremont Road
1. Melissa & Doug Car Carrier – We love the simple wooden Melissa & Doug toys, and this one can keep Graham entertained for hours. A nice bonus is that the cars also fit on his wooden train tracks, and his train cars fit on this carrier. Toddler. Mind. Blown!

2. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Car Loader – Since Graham loved his other car carrier so much, Santa brought him this one for Christmas. The magnetic factor adds a whole new element of endless entertainment.

3. CAT Tough Tracks Loader – The CAT toys are especially fun since they look like the real thing. Graham constantly corrects me if I mistakenly call an excavator a front end loader (the horror!) and he has a blast with this loader.

4. Janod Original DIY Truck – This wooden truck comes with a hammer, screwdriver and wrench for lots of building fun. It also has a leash that attaches to the front so it can be carried around accordingly.

5. Green Toys Recycling Truck – Green Toys are all made from recycled milk containers, so they’re a nice alternative to a lot of the other plastic toys out there. This recycling truck is a favorite of Graham’s and has lots of space for carrying/dumping things. He also has and loves the Green Toys Dump Truck.

6. Bruder MAN Fire Engine – This one is on Graham’s wish list, and no doubt he will love it. It’s an investment for sure, but with lots of moving parts, lights, a siren, and a hose that can really shoot water, what’s not to love?

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

12-24 Month Favorites: Books

There are days when Graham’s toys go untouched because we’re spending lots of time outside or we’re busy going on adventures, but one thing we still do a good amount of every day is reading, no matter what else is going on. I love how much Graham loves his books, and that reading time together usually also means snuggle time (bonus for Mommy). He definitely goes through phases and will be obsessed with a certain book one week and won’t even notice that same book the following week, but for the most part the titles below are all in heavy rotation in our house.

favorite books: 12-24 months | Claremont Road

ILLUSTRATED FAVORITES 

1. Little Blue Truck
A wonderfully illustrated book with lots of fun animal sounds, this is currently the book that Graham demands we read to him when he wakes up in the morning and when he wakes up from his nap.

2. Otis
I love this sweet story of a tractor and calf who become best friends; the illustrations all have soft, muted colors with pops of red and yellow, which is a nice departure from the sometimes blinding colors of children’s books!

3. I Love You Because You’re You
This one makes me teary on the regular, as the illustrations of a fox mother and son go straight to my sappy heart. Graham loves pointing out all the details in this one, like the cookies, the ball, and the broken airplane toy.

4. Flip, Flap, Fly!
A sweet and pretty exploration of different types of animals, this is another adorable mom-and-baby story told through rhyme.

 

ERIC CARLE CLASSICS
These were some of the first books that Graham ever really paid attention to and showed an interest in. They’re simple, charming, and I love Eric Carle’s illustration style — not to mention the fact that they’re great for learning colors, numbers, animals, etc. From Head to Toe is the latest we’ve added to our collection and it’s SO FUN to see Graham act out all of the movements. Perfect for a two-year old!

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

7. The Very Quiet Cricket

8. The Very Busy Spider

9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

10. From Head to Toe

favorite books: 12-24 months | Claremont Road

BABY LIT® FAVORITES
I could not love these books more — literary classics turned into primers for learning colors, numbers and the like — and we need to continue building our collection. They’re simple stories that leave lots of room for the imagination (such as the 5 marriage proposals page in Pride & Prejudice that we add hilarious commentary to for Graham), and the illustrations are undeniably adorable. You can even buy prints of the illustrations from illustrator Allison Oliver’s site.

11. Pride & Prejudice

12. Moby Dick

13. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 

BEDTIME STORIES
We (and as a result, Graham) are creatures of habit, so we typically rotate the same few books during his bedtime routine. It has created a nice, predictable routine… which I’m sure will change now that I’ve said that. The below books are mostly short and sweet, and are perfect for prepping the little guy for sleepy-time. Big Dog… Little Dog is a sentimental favorite, as Nick and I both loved it as kids. Funny enough, we’re missing the staple Good Night, Moon from this line-up — we will have to get a copy of that to add to our library, stat.

14. The Going-To-Bed Book

15. Time for Bed

16. Big Dog… Little Dog

17. Good Night, Gorilla

 

I’d love to know what you’re reading to your little ones… what should we add to Graham’s bookshelf this year?

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Graham’s favorite toys: 6-12 months

As Graham is swiftly approaching 18 months old, it’s high time I share some of his favorite toys from the past year! First up: his favorites from 6-12 months. It was such a fun time seeing him become more interested in his toys and learning/growing along the way. In my pre-baby world, I would have said we don’t need toys that make sounds or play music, and we’d love to have all wooden toys. Well, when it comes to making your kid happy, sometimes those ideas go out the window!

baby's favorite toys: 6-12 months | Claremont Road

1. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups
This was a gift from a good friend of ours and it was a HUGE hit — the cups stack together, they connect to form different sized balls, and they make a fun sound if you tap them together. They also come with a little yellow rattle ball that Graham was obsessed with. He could play with it alone, or put it inside one of the balls to shake around. At 17+ months, he still likes to play with this toy every so often. It’s also a fantastic gift at a reasonable price if ever you’re in need of something for a little one over 6 months — I bought it for a few other kids we know and heard the same rave reviews from their parents, as well.

2. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
This toy saved me on many a car ride — and still does when we’re nearing a meltdown. The music is classical so it doesn’t bother me, there are two volume levels, and it was one of the first toys that Graham would really grip onto and not let go of. Once he figured out how to push the big button to turn the music on himself, he was even more in love. The beads are a nice help for teething little ones, and this is easy to throw into my purse or diaper bag if we’re on the go. Best feature: it has an “off” switch. It’s amazing how many kids toys that make noise can’t be turned off.

3. P’kolino Fishing Hole Size Sorter
I loved watching Graham’s little brain work as he tried to figure out how to get the fish in the holes with this toy. It was a great way to see his hand–eye coordination improving over time as it became easier and easier for him to figure out, and he still pulls this toy out to play with on a daily basis.

4. Playground Ball
Any old rubber ball will do, and Graham loves rolling his little dodgeball around through the house. So far, all of our lamps are still in one piece.

5. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table
My best friend lent this to us and we only just returned it to her last month. It was one of the first toys that Graham really interacted with for long periods of time, and also one of the first things he pulled himself up on to stand. Sure, the music and sounds got a bit annoying. But as the parent of a pretty clingy little guy, I was thrilled when this toy would buy me a solid 10 minutes to do something around the house, so I didn’t care that much about the noise! He played with it daily until he was 15 or 16 months.

6. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy
To be fair, Graham got this on his first birthday, but he took to it immediately and began walking on his own after just a few weeks; I think had he gotten this push toy a month earlier, it would have helped him to walk even sooner. I sort of loved hearing the cute click-clack sound rolling through the house, and seeing him so very pleased with himself when he made it to his destination.

7. Battat Electronic Keychain
He loved to carry his little keychain around, chew on the keys, and make noise with all the different buttons. This was another lifesaver on the occasional fussy car ride, and an easy toy to throw in the diaper bag.

8. Remote Controls (not pictured)
Don’t even try to trick your kid with a “play” remote control. Babies are smart and they want the REAL thing. Even when we took batteries out of old or unused remotes and gave them to him to play with, he still wanted the real thing (particularly the Verizon remote that lit up). When in doubt, household items for the win!

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

six months of parenthood: the survival guide

Not to sound cliché, but it’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re a new parent. It’s also amazing how quickly your needs for baby crap gear changes as your little one grows and changes every five minutes! We still use a good number of the items that I raved about in my last Parenthood Survival Guide post, but there are also a lot of new items that got added to our list of must-haves as Graham has continued to grow from newborn to infant. I thought I’d share them with you all here, and I’m sure I’ll have a whole new list compiled in the next few months, as well!

Below are the items that we found invaluable throughout Graham’s first six months of life. Is there anything you’d change on this list if you’ve already been there, done that?

1. Miracle Blanket
I registered for this because several mom friends had recommended it, but I really wasn’t convinced that it was totally necessary. And then my kid started breaking out of his Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets and we realized that the Miracle Blanket is actually the most amazing thing ever. It bought us our first 7-hour chunk of sleep when Graham was 7 weeks old, and continued to grace us with many amazing 10+ hour nights after that. We used it right up until he was able to roll over.

2. Footed Pants
Baby socks tend to disappear off of baby’s feet, particularly when said feet are still super, super tiny. Footed pants pretty much saved my sanity and took socks out of the equation entirely. Once Graham discovered his feet and wanted to play with them all the time (barefoot, of course), the footed pants had to go, but they were totally awesome for the first several months of his life.

3. Trumpette socks
If your little one has outfits that are too adorable to pass up and you simply must deal with tiny baby socks to go along with them, Trumpettes are, hands down, the best. I always thought they were ridiculously overpriced for as small as they are (and I mean, come on — they’re socks!), but then I learned that they’re seriously the only brand that stays on. Until, of course, your little one learns how to pull them off. But even Trumpettes take a little longer for him to figure out!

4. Puj Tub
Graham was a tiny little guy at birth and is still on the smaller side, so we were able to make use of the Puj Tub until he was close to 5 months. This awesome tub folds up to fit in larger sinks (we used our kitchen sink), and is a major space-saver when not in use. Super useful if you live in a small space, or an older home with very little storage space.

5. Angel Dear Robot Blankie
Graham still doesn’t sleep with his “lovey,” but having it nearby when we’re rocking him to sleep often helps to comfort him. Before we started giving it to him, I slept with it so it would smell like me, which is supposed to add an extra bit of comfort.

6. Boppy Pillow
I know I talked a big game before about how the My Brest Friend is so superior to the Boppy — and as a breastfeeding pillow, I still think it is. But the Boppy definitely has its place in our house, and that is as a support pillow as Graham was learning to sit up on his own. We also have this Organic Cotton Slipcover that is super soft (a hand-me down from my niece, Ginger) and we still use it every single day when he sits and plays, since the occasional tumble still happens.

7. Vulli Vanilla Flavored Ring Teether
These are the perfect size for little hands to grab onto — they were one of the first small things that Graham really grasped onto. I also think the vanilla flavor had something to do with how much he loved these. They still come along with us on most car rides, and the texture of the lamb in particular seems to feel good on his gums. He rubs so hard that we can hear it squeaking on his gums!

8. Fisher-Price Cradle n Swing
The swing was short-lived, but 100% worth it for the time that it worked. At the beginning, it was where we would sit Graham while we attempted to eat dinner together for a few minutes. There was also that one week when it resulted in a few three hour naps in the afternoon. Man, that was an awesome week ;)

9. Fisher-Price Rainforest Bouncer
Certainly any bouncer will do, but this is the one that was given to us, and it was another short-lived but invaluable device when we needed 10 minutes to eat dinner in peace or throw in a load of laundry (and, when the swing wasn’t cutting it for whatever reason). Babies can be picky and sometimes Graham preferred to bounce rather than swing. Hey — whatever works, kid! He usually preferred this over his Rainforest Gym or just lying on a plain blanket and playing with toys, because it allowed him to sit up a bit and see everything that was going on. He also loved batting at the little birdies.

10. Emery Board
One of the best pieces of advice we received from a nurse at the hospital was to use an emery board to file baby’s nails instead of using those terrifying nail clippers to clip them. Their nails are so soft that filing is super simple; we use the emery boards that came in our American Red Cross Grooming Kit, but any small emery board would do. At the beginning Nick would file Graham’s nails while I fed him (so he was distracted), but now that he’s a little more active, the best method is usually wearing him facing out in the Bjorn and filing them then. He is so excited by everything he’s seeing by being in the carrier that he doesn’t even realize you’re filing his nails :)

11. Cotton Bibs
If you’ve got yourself a drooler, you’ll go through many, many bibs each day. SO much better than changing his outfit every few hours (and thus having much more laundry to do), and inexpensive if you buy these large packs at Babies R Us.

12. JJ Cole Car Seat Cover
If you live in a cold climate or your baby will be little in the winter months, this is a great alternative to a blanket that you have to tuck in every time you put baby in the car seat. We kept this attached to our car seat all winter and just zipped it up every time we were ready to go, or unzipped and removed the blanket part entirely if it was a warmer day (without having to remove the whole cover). We also have a BundleMe but we opted to use that on the stroller, since the back layer negates the safety standards of car seats. Not worth the risk in my opinion, so the car seat cover was a great way to keep baby warm AND safe!

13. Hygeia Enjoye Breast Pump
If you’re breastfeeding and ever plan to be away from your baby, a good breast pump is a necessity. I tried both the Medela Pump in Style and the Medela Symphony (hospital grade pump that we rented from the hospital). Of the two I really liked the Symphony for how quiet it was and how much more milk it allowed me to get, but it was pricey to rent each month so we decided to purchase a pump. On the recommendation of my friend Emily, I decided to purchase the Hygeia Enjoye. If it weren’t for her I never would have even heard of this company, but after using it for the last several months I find it really superior to the Medela pumps. The best thing about it, in my opinion (and as someone who hasn’t had the easiest time with breastfeeding) is the fact that you can control both the strength AND the speed of the pump — something that is not possible with the Medela models. Both Medelas have a two-minute faster letdown cycle and then a slower cycle where you can control the strength but NOT the speed. With my Hygeia Enjoye, I am able to control both, which has yielded more milk overall, which is obviously the ultimate goal! For that reason, it was well worth the money (not to mention that it is a hospital grade pump so it is safe to borrow or lend to someone as long as they use their own tubing, etc.). I was also able to use my Medela breastshields with the Hygeia pump, which was really nice. My only teeny tiny complaint is that it’s very loud, but that’s a small price to pay for the liquid gold I’m able to pump with it.

14. Hands Free Pumping Bra (not pictured for obvious reasons… the photos are ridiculous)
I think that all breast pumps should come standard with a hands-free pumping bra, because sitting there and holding the parts for twenty minutes while you pump just makes pumping even more of a bummer. (It’s necessary and you’re doing wonderful things for your baby, but let’s face it: pumping sucks.) There are lots of hands-free pumping bras out there; I got the Medela brand because I was desperate and it was the first one I could get my hands on at our local Babies R Us, but I have also heard good things about the Simple Wishes brand.

15. Amazon Prime membership (not pictured)
I’ve long been an Amazon.com superfan (which you have probably noticed with all the links). Yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate (see below) but it’s really just because I think Amazon is simply the bees knees. Having the ability to order a case of diapers and have them show up on my doorstep the next day with no shipping fee? Kind of amazing when you’re a new parent and you just don’t have the energy to put on real clothes to run to Target. (For the record, you get guaranteed free second-day shipping with an Amazon Prime membership on eligible items, but more often then not, stuff arrives to us within one day.) Not to mention that I’ve price shopped, and I still get better deals on most items by buying on Amazon.

For the items that helped us survive the first month of parenthood, be sure to check out my last post in this series!

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

one month of parenthood: the survival guide

I spent a lot of time researching and comparing baby products while I was pregnant to make sure we had every little thing we thought we needed before Graham’s arrival. While we made some very good choices, there were also some items that we either overlooked or just had no idea how great they would end up being. For us, these are some of the items that have made the first month of parenthood a bit easier on us.

1. Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets
We use these to swaddle Graham every single day and night — they’re a nice weight so we don’t worry about him getting overheated as we’re still dealing with mild fall temperatures, and they’re super soft. When we take him out and about in his car seat or stroller, we always drape one of these blankets over him to keep him snug and warm. We have five of these which seems to be a good number, since two or three are inevitably always in the wash after a spit-up or unfortunate poop incident!

2. Arm & Hammer diaper pail
This thing is amazing. Once we put a dirty diaper in the pail, it’s never to be smelled again. And that’s a good thing because I have a feeling that these diapers will only get smellier and smellier as time goes on…

3. Lansinoh Lanolin
A must-have if you’re breastfeeding. It’s pretty much a non-stop job so you need a little relief once in a while!

4. Pack ‘n Play with Newborn Napper Station
Our home is two floors (bedrooms and bathroom upstairs) so we keep this in our dining room to use as a downstairs changing station during the day. It has saved us many annoying trips up and down the stairs, and there is a little side pocket that holds diapers, wipes, and burp cloths so we’re not always running up to the nursery to grab what we need. We haven’t had a need for the newborn napper yet (see #9 below), but this Pack n Play will surely see lots more action as a portable crib when we go to visit Nick’s parents and take overnight trips to my family’s shore house next summer.

5. Soft Gear My Deluxe Changing Mat
I was originally planning to get one of the elusive BabySmart Cooshee-Changers, but they were completely sold out when we were registering/preparing for baby so we had to find something else. This SoftGear version is a great substitute, and about half the price of the Cooshee-Changer. I like being able to just wipe it down when it gets dirty, without needing a separate cover. It is a little small so I’m not sure it will last Graham into toddler-hood, but for now, it’s an awesome addition.

6. Soothie Pacifier
We don’t use a pacifier often, but when desperate times call for desperate measures, these are the only pacifiers that Graham will take. They’re the same ones that were used at the hospital and sometimes they’re all that will do the trick when he’s not a happy camper.

7. Baby Connect app
Nick and I both have this app on our iPhones so we can keep track of every feeding, diaper change, pumping session, etc. We got it a few days in when we kept losing track of the paper chart the hospital gave us to fill in, because let’s face it, our phones are always within arm’s reach. It syncs for multiple users so whoever changes him can log it on their own phone, and there are charts and graphs to get at-a-glance views of diapers and feedings over the course of a week. Particularly in the first few weeks when we needed to be diligent about tracking wet diapers to make sure Graham was hydrated enough, this app was invaluable. Best $4.99 we’ve ever spent.

8. Household Essentials Hanging Cotton Canvas Laundry Hamper Bag
There are some really cute hampers out there for baby’s rooms, but some of them look like they’d be a pain to actually get the clothes out and transported to the laundry. We bought one of these to hang on the closet door in the nursery, and I liked it so much that I just bought a second one that now hangs in our dining room, on the door to the basement where the washer & dryer are (since we do a lot of changing on the first floor during the day). They’re super simple to just drag down the basement when it’s laundry time, and they hardly take up any space.

9. Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
We have two of these handed down from our niece, Ginger. We keep one next to our bed and it’s where Graham currently sleeps every night, as we haven’t yet transitioned him to his crib. We keep the other downstairs in our living room, so if he conks out during the day while we’re hanging out, I can put him in here to nap while I get some other things done around the house. It’s an awesome little item that collapses if we need to take it with us somewhere, and it’s a great, inexpensive alternative to a bassinet.

10. Pampers Swaddlers
These came as the most highly recommended disposable diapers, and so far, no complaints. Our little peanut is still in the newborn size; he goes through roughly 10 to 12 diapers a day! Oy.

11. Gerber Birdseye Prefold Cloth Diapers
We have a ton of these that we use as burp cloths; they are heavy duty and we pretty much keep a few in each room at all times (because you never know when you’ll need one). If you buy these, don’t be fooled by how rough they are in the package. Once you wash them, they become super soft!

12. Gerber Newborn Long-Sleeve Onesies
Graham is still a petite little guy, and these were literally the only onesies that fit him in the first few weeks. Every baby clothing brand is a little different (Carter’s newborn onesies are quite a bit longer, and some newborn clothes are downright giant compared to the size of our actual newborn!), so he lived in these at first. Now that he’s a whole month old (teehee), he is growing and more of his clothes fit, but we’ll definitely always have a few of these in each size for everyday wear.

13. The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD
Nick is the master of the Five S’s, and when Graham is fed and just generally being cranky and tired, these methods totally work to get our little fella to sleep.

14. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
Perhaps the worst name ever for a product (aside from the pun, couldn’t they have just spelled “breast” properly?), but it turns out that this is a great nursing pillow. I actually refused to buy one at first based solely on the dumb name, but after using the Boppy for a week and getting frustrated that it would always slide away from me while Graham was lying on it, thus making nursing quite difficult, I broke down and bought it. The clip prevents it from moving and I can also sit it up a little higher on my torso so I’m not as likely to slouch while nursing. Now if only they could do something about that name…

15. helping hands (not pictured)
Accept help when people offer it! Over the last four weeks we haven’t had to think very much about what to eat for dinner, because generous friends and family members have brought meals over. My mom took our laundry home a few times and cleaned and folded everything at her house so it was clean and ready to put away when she returned it. Nick’s parents have taken a few day-trips to visit and have watched Graham while I have showered or napped, and helped with dishes and grocery shoppimg. It is amazing to have some help, especially in the first few weeks when everything is so overwhelming, so if it’s offered, take it!

If you’ve been there or you’re there now, what items helped you survive? What new things do you think we will need as Graham continues to grow and change?

Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.