Posted in Parenting, Pre-Parenting

Top Resources for the Child Care & Preschool Search

Finding Child Care or Preschools can be tough!  I didn’t realize how early I needed to start in San Diego (6 months to 1 year waitlists seemed common). After LOTS of online research, I found some buried gems of resources of 1) Relevant National Organizations with objective search information 2) Databases of Childcare Providers 3) Reports to review Licensing/Accreditation issues, and 4) Comprehensive questions to ask before or on tours. The links I keep coming back to evaluating each school are below – including General Links as well as California/San Diego specific links.  

  • 1) This National Organization had a great tips for the Child Care Search process here:
  • 2) Finding Child Care Providers.  I personally found searching Google Maps for “Child care” or “Preschool” to be fairly comprehensive, and recommend starting there for some quick calls to judge waitlist times and the options you have locally within a reasonable driving range.  Calls were faster in general than electronic forms, and helped arrange a few tours at programs that seemed acceptable to get a feel for what local places are like.    
    • Local Referral Services:  This national organization delegates unbiased centers for each zip code here:
    • San Diego YMCA:  “Our database of care providers includes all licensed child care centers and family child care homes, nanny agencies, license-exempt school based programs and summer camp programs.”  (Requires a short registration process.  Unfortunately I didn’t find much more information than what I would do via google search and my own licensing search.  It might be especially valuable, however, if you qualify for reduced fee childcare or are trying to find if any places had higher level National Accreditation as an extra quality measure.)
  • 3) Review Accreditation/Licensing etc to Remove any with Concerning Findings:
  • 4) Ask Detailed Questions and do a Tour:  GREAT COMPREHENSIVE QUESTIONS CHECKLISTS for Child Care (provided by the Government Agency, and grouped by age of care infant->school age):  Printable to take with on a Tour, or to make notes on during a phone conversation. If you feel the multiple pages is too large for a tour, make a folded half page set of notes yourself to make sure to ask (but most places shouldn’t flinch at you being thorough!)

Gosh, there can be a lot to figure out.  Going to a range of places on a tour helped me learn more what I wanted (although having space when you need it might be even more relevant.  Those are the major links I kept coming back to, but this could easily be several more articles. Hopefully this is a good jump start of your search!

Posted in Parenting

7 Must-Do San Diego Summer Fun Things with Active Toddlers & Kids (& 1 to skip)

This summer I have a toddler who wants to run and explore!  Whether your kiddo is younger or older than that, the list I assembled below has tons of summer San Diego FUN for active kids (AND us parents! :))  All work well for a wiggle worm who needs a safe place to roam.

One to Skip- County Fair: I went before 2019 (which had a very sad sickness outbreak in kids possibly linked to the petting zoo).  In general it’s crowded and maybe hard to watch a running little one- but the animals might be a draw. Unless you love the crowds, concerts or fair food yourself, I’d opt instead for a quieter petting zoo to get your animal fix– we liked the one at Ponyland:  It’s near the border and call to check its hours first, as they vary by season.

There are lots more things, but that’s a start!  Get out there and enjoy!

Posted in Parenting

Non-Toxic Teether Recs: No Plastic, No Prob!

When my baby started teething between 3 and 4 months, she was chomping HARD on my fingers and anything she could grab!  With the recent plastic warnings even for BPA free items (and past things I’d heard about China chemical fillers or toxic toy recalls), I knew I wanted safe wood or silicone teethers made in the USA. Even with lots of searching, finding made in the USA was hard.  Here’s what I learned, which will hopefully save your time and worries (this is my unpaid, unbiased review).

  • Top choice: Baby banana. Silicone teether made in the USA, good shape for small hands and doubles as a toothbrush up to age 12 months.  The silicone also got less fuzzy than other silicone, and the shape has the benefit when it falls the brushpart the baby chews on most doesn’t hit the ground.  Plus silicone I don’t mind washing/sanitizing on the dishwasher top rack. (Also, I used it past 12 months myself, but she didn’t have molars yet, so it seemed to still work in my mind.)  If you buy just one teether, I’d pick this one!
  • 2nd silicone choice: Baby Banana Smoothie Soakers (also made in the USA).  My baby suddenly bit (er, teethed) everywhere so I needed multiple supplies.  This 3 pack for about $12 were good, especially as those 4 front teeth came in, although they weren’t her top choice after even if they didn’t have an age limit.  Please note, besides the 2 mentioned above, the other things by this Baby Banana brand are actually made in Taiwan (toddler banana, octopus, dolphin etc and was a lower quality and really sticky, fuzz-magnet silicone-plus my baby didn’t chew them as much… Online that non-USA fact is not obvious and felt like a waste of money)
  • Best all around utility:  Wooden toys by Maple Landmark . I got the shape stacker which my baby chewed on, in addition to playing with other ways.  The USA made products are made in Vermont with hardwood, and the stacker has no paint or sealant, just high quality sanding.  They have a teether I didn’t try, one review said that shape cracked, and for the price point the stacker seemed a better value plus durable and educational to teach triangles, square shapes etc…At the younger age my baby loved chewing on the stacker (especially before/as the front teeth came in) and at nearly 1 year old she still plays with the pieces to stack and will for a long time as blocks.  Maybe not be a custom teether, but a good all around toy and one I’ll think of giving as a baby shower gift since people always admire and ask where I got it. Note the central stacker spike doesn’t rock like the common plastic version, so if your baby is unstable sitting, learning to walk etc, keep that part put away so she doesn’t have to on it-mine feel on the flatter stacking piece alone with her mouth and that was enough ouch!
  • WowieStar Silicone Starfish.  Not as beloved by my babe as baby banana, but better for the 12 month or older or teething after the first 4 front teeth arrive.  This was a surprise find that didn’t come up readily in Amazon searches for USA made, and is a little pricey at $16… It became my last resort when my 10 month old chewed and are every board book around. It does have a custom strap attached option with the teether for $20, in case that interests you it’s cheaper to order them together at the start.  The USA made starfish gathers less fuzz and had more use than the Taiwan made octopus by the Baby Banana brand, but for it’s price point and how much my baby uses it, I’d say it’s just ok.
  • LifeFactory Silicone Ring (often out of stock it seems).   This shape seems good (my daughter tries chewing on similar plastic pme) and it’s USA made silicone from a company that does a US made silicone covered glass bottles for babies and adults (the glass itself might be made in France).  This teether might be out of regular production since the price for 2 teethers on Amazon was $35… But the same $35 price for 2 baby bottles and 2 teethers, in case you’re in the market for bottles too maybe it’s worth a try (and some googling for the latest in stock link at Amazon or Pottery Barn).
  • Cheapest option you already have:  My baby 10 month old loved chewing on a wet washcloth- the roughest, cheapest made in China ones she liked best rather than my dance organic bamboo ones. 😛  I’ve seen hacks if freezing breast milk on the cloths to encourage them to teeth, but that wasn’t necessary in my case. Bonus that wiping teeth with a wash cloth is another way to clean them at this age, so she was staying that process herself!
  • Teether I hated: Manhattan Company Squish Toy.  This screams Montessori and looks great in pictures and in reviews, but the made in China paint and sealant (sealant is even on the natural wood colored one) plus super choking hazard sized elements held together by elastic always makes me nervous.  Plus my baby only showed momentary interest in the $15 plus toy. .. don’t waste your money like I did.
  • Side note: USA made baby toothbrushes.  Once she grows out of baby banana, I was trying to find another both USA made tooth brush.  The USA made finger one here has some reviews saying it was tight, maybe it’s a bit expensive at $10 for what it is, but I wonder if it might be a safe teether back up too.  She preferred imitating us with a toothbrush at about 12 months, so sticking my finger in by her chompers was not a top choice 😛  Regular baby toothbrushes made in the USA are here (3 for $10) which I didn’t try as I found that later, after just getting one at Target by Colgate or another company.  Although with how she’s pulled out bristles by chewing her brush I wonder about safety at there current under 1 year age…at least the silicone banana teethers any piece she broke off seemed smaller and less of a choking risk. 
  • Other teether thoughts:  my baby loved chewing in the silicone cups and straws… Although they aren’t USA made, Silikids (Amazon $8)  made a silicone cup with silicone lid and straw.  It seemed better than the crunch sound she made on our stainless steel cups, but the silicone lid was super thin to tear and the straw was short (although clear so a good one to see if she got any liquid when she was first learning to use it around 6months).  Once your kiddo knows how to use a straw, the best I could find for cleanable straws with a cool silicone squeegee that were also longer so easier for her to use without pulling out of the cup were Softy Straws.  (Reminder- all those straw and cup  products are NOT USA made).

If you find any other good USA made options please contact us so it can be added-in the meantime best of luck with your teething babe!


Posted in Parenting, Pre-Parenting

Book Recs for Parenting and Pregnancy

When I was pregnant I asked my smart parent friends for any resources–and got some awesome recommendations!  Below are the top recs grouped by topic for the busy current or soon-to-be-parent. These are unpaid, unbiased reviews.

Speed Summary: If you are pregnant and want minimal books, these were the top- Pregnancy: Mayo Clinic Guide plus (optional) Expecting Better New Parent Guide: Either AAP  or Mayo.

If you have time for more, here were other top recs: Scheduling/Sleep: Moms on Call or EASY method (see below).  Soothing: Happiest Baby Video and one more.  Delivery: several links below for ‘natural birth’ info sciency friends appreciated. Post-Kids Relationship:  And Baby Makes Three  Breastfeeding:  In person help (see below) or  Latch.  Potty Training: Lots! (Maybe start with Diaper Free before 3.)   Parenting Theory/Approach: Lots! (Many especially good for Audiobooks now or later.) Below are more detailed recs and other great books by topic.

Personal hint:  If you are busy pre or post baby, listening on Audible ($15/month includes any one book monthly and chance to swap if you don’t like it) or reading on the Kindle Phone App (one handed=easier to juggle with a kiddo) are helpful ways to learn while feeding/stuck under a sleeping baby/driving (Audio only!:P)/doing chores around the house etc.  Many libraries also have these books, or might even have e-lending to get electronically from home as well.)

Now for all those great recommendations!!



Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.  Mayo is more informative and less frightening than What to Expect When You Are Expecting…Mayo has a useful month-by-month format to inform and prepare as well as background sections; this alone would cover all your bases for information/common questions.  Several Apps cover the baby development as well, but perhaps not the medical/safety info. This book is concise, educational yet friendly, and has a nice colorful layout and images. (I read the first edition, but gave the link to the newest one.)

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know For those who love data and geeking out!  Recommended by most sciency friends, an Economist analyzes the scientific literature to debunk/refine many recommendations in pregnancy/childbirth-oddly reassuring, plus an enjoyable read.  (See more about Science of Mom book below for similar sciency detailed birth->feeding tips.)
New Parent Guide:   

I rec to choose just one of AAP or Mayo books–there’s a good additional option of Science of Mom (book or blog) covering birth to ~6months if you want to geek out.

AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics): Caring for Your Baby and Young Child- Birth to Age 5.  The AAP is where most health recommendations come from, so it’s great to hear it from the source.  It covered routine baby care, gear (and safety), illnesses and most things you would need. The first year covers development in 3 month blocks, and then chapters by year beyond that. Although it was useful, it was bigger and clunkier (with old school black and white illustrations) compared to the Mayo Clinic First year, which I actually enjoyed more post birth; however, the AAP book is more comprehensive and longer lasting (so selection between the 2 is probably by preference).  Notable is is a patient-facing website covering AAP advice as well that is searchable, useful and current-but not as curated for a comprehensive read as this book (but perhaps you’d turn to the website more for the latest rather than pull out this book once you actually have kids).

Mayo Clinic Guide for Your Baby’s First YearCovers general baby care, health and safety, illnesses, parenting etc plus detailed month by month information on development, play etc.  I bought this book after not really getting into the AAP book’s month-by-month sections- I enjoyed the Mayo book more for its concise, friendly, informative layout (if you like Mayo Pregnancy, you’d like this similar style).  It might be my top rec, except it only covers 1 year.

The Science of Momby Alice Callahan.This is a book from a blog, which has great scientific content from birth to feeding (but nothing beyond that 6 month feeding window).  (Much of it is still available for free on her blog as well:  It is super informative, well written and enjoyable to read.

Funny, Yet Useful Gift book:  Be Prepared: A practical guide for new dads.  Whimsical, olde timey pictures, and while not comprehensive it does offer concrete, entertaining and practical baby-tending skills for either parent! 



Moms on Call Many people loved this book and highly recommended it for the Baby Schedules alone! Plus the book gives bullet point outlines of practical advice for common medical issues (less comprehensive, but easier to follow than the AAP/Mayo books).  It is written by 2 nurses who answered help lines for parents for several years–the book itself is thin, but goes in detail on the care details (swaddle tips etc.) behind the schedule which make it work. It also has a simple App of just the schedules for about $4, but doesn’t cover the other content/background as well. Their website has more details, plus has a free video on swaddling etc:  Many people swore by these schedules to get their kiddo to sleep through the night!  (It personally didn’t fit me my baby though, but even then some idea of scheduling was still useful; $18-20 for the tiny book was higher than other books per content, but anything to help sleep is priceless!)

EASY Method: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.  The EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You-time for you) Baby schedule is recommended by this ‘super nanny’ author; plus she covers some thoughts on talking to your baby/various personalities but mostly fills up the book  with lots of engaging anecdotes. A quick summary of her ideas of this flexible scheduling might be enough to get you through the busy newborn period- EASY especially seems to fit well the first few months with baby sleep patterns.  Many sources online summarize her simple EASY theory, like here:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. This is the ultimate sleep book/ number one parenting book is  Research based by a pediatric sleep specialist who’s done it for years. Every sleep article out there references him.  I enjoyed the data driven approach and it taught me essential concepts about sleep (and it debunks several things you might need). (My sleep deprived brain had trouble distilling useful things to concretely apply, but maybe it’s a better ‘read before you need it’ book!)



The Happiest Baby on the Block-5S’s to soothe in the first 3 months done by the pediatrician Harvey Karp (Note: I found the online video was super useful, faster and worth my time more than reading another book :P). On Vimeo for free with the core info (free version lacks the 20min extra Q&A that wasn’t worth the official video price tag in my mind)  I did pay $9 for the streaming video directly from their website here though, I felt what I learned was worth supporting them.:

Free video links on other soothing I liked:  Pediatrician Dr Robert Hamilton and the soothing hold:



Expecting Better covered the science of several aspects of delivery (I referred back to it several times before birth; The Science of Mom (blog) covers delivery/baby care soon after.) 

One friend also recommended: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth  mostly anecdotes, but still empowering regarding natural birth/doulas if you are curious about that route (recommended by sciency people who found it opened their mind and after reading they appreciated having a doula and natural birth).  Interesting ideas (maybe worth getting used too), but in limited time there are a few related Ted Talks free online for an abridged/quicker version of some of the ideas. The author Ina May does a Ted Talk here in:  (Whatever you decide, the ‘removing fear’ from the birth process ideas might be helpful to you as they were to me ;P)  This Ted Talk about doula’s was also a neat thought on the birth process too:

An aside- these labor belly dance videos helped with natural pain control for me labor before going to the hospital or once there:


Post-Kids Relationship:  

It can be a big change to  relationship, and many friends admitted it can be rough (plus add in sleep deprivation)!  Getting help or counseling is always a good option if you are having issues (several friends noted counseling doesn’t have to last forever-but it can be a big long lasting positive for better coping and communication)!  Also, post-partum depression is real and has many forms of expression- get help if you need it! or by calling your health care provider right away.  For milder or preventative relationship challenges these were good:

And Baby Makes Three by John M. Gottman PhD.  A research psychologist delves into the science of this big life transition, while also gives some very concrete communication, prioritization and other tools to do yourself or with your partner.  Concisely covers a ton of relevant stuff; has some quick worksheets that might make it worth getting a printed/kindle version to see.

Not really recommended- How Not to Hate Your Husband after Kids by Jancee Dunn.  A writer expresses her own quest against resentment, and covers (some research) on gender roles, chore division, communication etc.  It may help vent (if that title appeals to you), but overall it might get you more fired up rather than providing tools. This article review that summarizes some of her key points.  (Again, read And Baby Makes Three for similar content, but a much more balanced, constructive and actionable information.)



Thanks to Obamacare, Lactation Consultants tend to be provided. Many hospitals have them in house (or also have nurses trained to provide additional breastfeeding support).  In-person help is far more valuable than any book (and some in person classes before delivery through local hospitals might be a reasonable primer).  Here are other resources too:

Latch by Robin Kaplan M Ed IBCLC. A new book by a San Diego based Lactation Consultant.  This was excellent, short, informative- and had good color  illustrations on the various nursing holds, plus advice up through food introduction, pumping schedules at work, etc.  I found it through random searching but really enjoyed it and recommend it highly.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International.  A lactation consultant recommended this, and it is written by the La Leche League grassroots organization that promoted breastfeeding long before lactation consultants were a profession (2010 was the newest edition I found).  I didn’t read it myself, but a skim of the sample text online made think it was informative on lots of things but perhaps more wordy than the Latch book, but feel free to draw your own conclusions  Great website written by a lactation consultant.  Personable, reassuring, and generally fairly accurate to the limit of research in this area.  (This is a top online reference recommended by nost lactation consultants.) It is great to search later when you have questions (but you don’t necessarily need to peruse before.
Potty Training:  

This usually comes up later in life, but some methods start 6 months or much earlier on potty training to work with an infant’s natural bathroom instincts that theoretically might be ignored/suppressed with super effective disposable diapers.  

This could easily be it’s own blog post, but here are recs from a thoughtful friend on this recommending related references:  “potty training is where is see the most decision making in how you want to approach things and it’s a very poorly researched area. It may seem early, but you can actually start from day one with minimal diapers if you wanted to by using Elimination Communication, all laid out in the book Go Diaper Free by Andrea Olson (cheaper than Amazon on her website where book purchase includes digital text, audio version, online video library and a support group), or you can master cloth diapers or the disposable diaper and do normal potty training at 18 months plus using a method like Oh Crap! Potty Training  by Jamie Glowacki (used this with my first child with great success but didn’t know about other methods). With my second I’m using Diaper Free Before 3 and some Go Diaper Free and hope to have him trained well before two. We are making progress. He’s 11 months and pretty regularly goes on the potty now.”


Parenting Theory/Approaches:  

Many of these could be read later (and many might be good for Audiobook), although if you have more time when pregnant and want to get a head start here you go!  

Parenting Game Plan by Katie Marsh.  The idea and layout is good (workbook format of questions about parenting to talk about before/after you have kids with your partner); you may want to add more questions of your own, but this is a good start.

Montessori From the Start a sciency friend said it “has guided a lot of my choices in what we have in the house for the boys and a lot of what we don’t have (i.e. anything with batteries) and how I approach a lot of activities with them. I don’t buy into that one whole hog, but it’s really a good starting point for an educational perspective of those years.”

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting Covers one woman’s experience from birth to mid-childhood raising kids in Paris.  It provides a perspective on other ways to do things, emphasizing parent wellness and kid autonomy possibly more than some recent styles of American parenting.

What’s Going on in There?: How the Brain and the Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot PhD.  A fun read regarding baby brain development. 

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting  A friend noted “less good and I don’t agree with all of it, but I thought this was an important perspective also”

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk Much later (like 2+ years).

Posted in Parenting

Daily San Diego Library Events for Babies/Kids

The San Diego Public Library is amazing! There are lots of free programs targeting people of all ages, including impressive free, drop-in baby/toddler with parent options at various branches.  The link of all options can be searched by library branch here:

Here is a day-by-day list of highlights for those in the Central San Diego Area (Mission Valley, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach); although it’s not all inclusive and dates can change.  Confirm dates or find more at all branches here

  • Monday:
    • 10-11am Toddler Story Time (La Jolla), weekly.
    • 11-11:45am Toddler Storytime (Mission Valley), weekly.
    • Noon Baby Sign Language (La Jolla), weekly.
  • Tuesday
    • 3-3:45 Baby Story Time (Mission Valley), weekly. (Sign language 1x/month, 3rd week?)
    • 6:30-7:30p PJ Storytime and Craft (Pacific Beach), weekly.
  • Wednesday:
    • 12:30-1:30 Toddler Yoga Session (La Jolla) 1x/month, usually ~3rd/4th week).
  • Thursday:
    • 10:30-11:30am Various Pacific Beach Programs for Babies/Toddlers (includes 1:Toddler Yoga/Storytime, 2: Dance Party/30minMovies, 3: Toddler Yoga, 4: Sign a Story etc on rotating basis/times).
    • 10:30-11:30am Preschool Story Time (La Jolla) weekly, except when Toddler Dance Party is going on (?1x/month, dancing rec for 18+months)
    • 11:30-noon Dance Pants: 0-8years (Mission Valley), 1x/month- first week?
  • Friday:
    • 10-11am Big Science for Little People (La Jolla) 1x/month, often 3rd week?.
    • 10:30-11:15am Baby Signing Storytime (Mission Valley), weekly.
  • Saturday:
    • 10:30-11:30 Wagging Tales-Reading to Therapy Dogs. (Pacific Beach), first week of month.
    • 11-Noon Storytime-includes older ages (La Jolla), varies 1-2x/month?

More useful notes:

  • Nothing needed to show up/participate! (No need to have a library card etc.)
  • Your San Diego library card will let you check out/return books at any location
  • The Friends of the Library cheap used book sales are a great way to stock up on some kids books while you’re there 🙂
  • The library has a wealth of free online offerings for books, magazines and even audiobooks (especially good for parents when getting to the library is tough!).  Learn more here:
Posted in Pre-Parenting

Cord Blood Banks: Intro to Pros/Cons and Comparisons

Whether to do a Free Public Cord Bank or Paid Private Cord Bank for your baby’s umbilical cord blood comes up during prenatal care (and should be decided before delivery to guarantee access to desired collection kits).   Here’s a scientific, unbiased review of what it entails:

Free Public Cord banks usually collect only umbilical cord blood. Paid Private Cord Banks vary by company and offer up to 3 different tissue collection/storage: umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue, and placental banking.  Umbilical cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells that can become any blood cell (red blood cell, white blood cell, etc)-and could help treat blood diseases like leukemia among other things.  The umbilical cord tissue itself also contains mesenchymal cells, which can be isolated and turn into a broader range of cells, which is much more experimental undergoing early testing. (These cell types are slightly different from the “embryonic stem cells” often in the news that can become any cell type- but umbilical collection is less controversial as these limited stem cells are essentially trash if not collected, and do not harm the infant as they are collected after cord clamping from tissue that would otherwise be discarded.) Some private cord banks advertise placental banking– which contains mesenchymal stem cells, doesn’t have standard accreditation for collection methods, and doesn’t add additional advantage since cord tissue mesenchymal cells can be triggered to divide to make additional copies– so at this point appears less relevant.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends free public cord banking for all (rather than private banking).  For anyone who needs stem cell treatments, a public bank is the likely source of those cells (rather than a private bank of your own cells- since your cells likely have the same genetic error that caused your disease).   I will include their citations below, but the AAP also summarizes its stance well here:

  • “Public cord blood banks serve patients worldwide by matching individuals in need. Private banks store the cord blood for the donor family’s potential self use, although there is little evidence supporting this use unless a family shares a known genetic defect.
  • Donation to a public cord blood bank is free. Private cord blood banks charge a placement fee of $1,350 to $2,300 and an annual maintenance fee of $100-$175.
  • Public cord blood banks are highly regulated by oversight accrediting institutions. Private cord blood banks may not meet stringent requirements, which can cause cord blood to be of lesser quality.
  • The rate that cord blood stems cells are utilized from a public bank is 30 times higher compared with private cord blood banks. Yet more cord blood donations from ethnic/minority populations are needed to meet increasing need.”

Official AAP Summary:  

Detailed Nov 2017 Statement by AAP:

Non-Medical Summary of AAP Stance:

However, private stem cell banking might be recommended to you by your doctor if you have a rare genetic condition or atypical/unclear diagnosis (neurologic, autoimmune, or other) in yourself or your family that might change the cost/benefit analysis towards private banking (sometimes you may do a private stem cell bank of one child to help another family member as well).   Furthermore, those with more disposable income may consider private stem cell banking a biologic “safe deposit box” that could be useful to that infant or another family member in the future based on their own cost/benefit analysis.  

I’d reiterate that there are very few negatives to public cord banking– if you’re unsure I recommend you go with a public cord bank. Ask your doctor or hospital in advance if they affiliiate public bank, or find out more information to do a mail in donation here in case they do not:  or more general public donation information:  

Picking a Private Cord Bank:

I had a medical reason my doctor recommended that I consider private stem cell banking, so I researched it further…and even being a doctor myself I struggled to wade through the primarily biased company information that surfaced in most Google searches.  (This is an unpaid, unbiased article: I don’t get any kickbacks for any private stem cell companies, nor does this constitute medical advice.) This article is meant to share what I’ve learned to help inform others: if you’ve found other useful links feel free to share with me in the Contact Us page!

Below I attempted to list reputable sources of stem cell science to inform your own cost/benefit analysis of private cord banking for yourself and your family.  This informative non-profit started by an astrophysicist who lost his child to leukemia is a good place to start:  Distilling that and other websites, I have references for common questions in the process below:

What diseases can be treated by stem cells?

Umbilical cord blood (hematopoetic) stem cell based treatments are mostly for blood cell cancers (leukemia and related diseases).  Treatment is done via allogenic transplant– meaning the patient is NOT the person who donated the cells; the autologous (self-transplant) supported via private cord donation does NOT occur for most diseases.  (Most private stem cell banks advertise that 80 diseases can be treated, but gloss over the fact your infant is not likely to benefit from their own stem cells in that case.)  This nonprofit link has a very detailed, unbiased chart of what is being treated currently and experimentally via stem cells (the “Autologous” Column of the first charts are what is especially relevant for private umbilical cord blood banking; whereas “Allogeneic” categories are typically from a public stem cell bank):

Umbilical TISSUE (mesenchymal) cells are even more experimental than the blood stem cells, and are not used for standard treatments.  Research is investigating their use for a range of diseases along side cord blood referenced at links below.

What areas of research suggest future potential treatments?

Self (autologous) and other (allogeneic) umbilical cord blood treatments are undergoing experimental testing for a range of diseases here (lower in the page at Diseases and Disorders that have been in Clinical Trials with Cord Blood or Cord Tissue Cells) :

Umbilical TISSUE (mesenchymal) cells are even more experimental than the blood stem cells, and are not used for standard treatments, and only researched for non-self (allogeneic) transfers thus far (which is different than the autologous transplant most private blood banks would advertise for your newborn):

How do you assess/compare the value of private stem cell banks?

  • Accreditation
  • Availability of cell type storage you desire, and collection options
  • Company viability and long-term durability, storage facility location (free from national disasters, with backup systems etc) and reliability: Better Business Bureau reviews, etc  
  • Number of cell samples stored and number of transplants
  • Pricing (and any hidden fees)
  • Shipping, collection and storage methods
  • Affiliated labs, research, etc
  • Other guarantees

If there is more interest in those topics, I’d be happy to include much more on each of those areas above- please Contact Us if you’d like to hear more.  

I published this article in the meantime to inform/provide a framework for those curious or who might be on a timeline to decide for this topic before delivery!  Many sources say by week 28-34 is recommended to decide/research your wishes.  For private cord banking you need your desired company’s collection kit in hand to bring to the hospital in order to be sure to collect the stem cells (and often have to pay a $100-200 deposit before, which may or may not be refundable if you don’t collect).  If you look into this late like me–many companies will Express mail/Overnight this kit, often if at no cost to you if it is later in pregnancy; however, most hospitals don’t have private cord kits on hand or only limited offerings.  Companies happily staff their phones to answer questions since they want your business- so feel free to call and compare several to find what you want.

This unbiased government website provides more information on the timeline and process of cord collection (particularly for a free public bank):


Posted in Parenting

Parent Fun: Daily Options in San Diego

Whether home on Parental Leave or Full-Time, or you just have a Day Off with the kid(s)–there are lots of things you can do!  Life can be unpredictable, so having some fun drop-in options (with an emphasis on parent happiness!) is great!  San Diego offerings are below (and seeing the type of options here might help you search for ones of interest in your area too)!  This continues to be a work in progress…feel free to Contact Us with more suggestions!

Any day activities!  There are a wealth of options anytime you can do it!  (When my baby gives me free time, I’ll insert more links, but you can google in the meantime!)

Additional Lists of Ideas:

There’s so much out there!  Enjoy!

Posted in Parenting, Pre-Parenting

New AAP Plastic&Chemicals Recs: What to Do?

The AAP recently released a study and new recommendations warning against plastics for children and infants, including not using plastics in the microwave and dishwasher (even BPA-free plastics). They also included other warnings of chemicals in various food packaging and other sources.

As a sleepy new parent with a sleepy 3 month old in my arms, the plastic warning was especially concerning for her baby bottles (and plastic pump parts) and plastic sterilizing kits that used the dishwasher or microwave.  I’d like to delve more into the science, but  below are the actual AAP recommendations and the purchases I made to decrease the risk in the meantime. (These are unpaid, unbiased recs for items I got to keep my own family safe.) Your own research or input is always welcome at the Contact Us section!

AAP recommendations (directly from their source here):

  • Prioritize consumption of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables when possible, and support that effort by developing a list of low-cost sources for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid processed meats, especially maternal consumption during pregnancy.
  • Avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic, if possible.
  • Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher.
  • Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible
  • Look at the recycling code on the bottom of products to find the plastic type, and avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols) unless plastics are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware,” indicating that they are made from corn and do not contain bisphenols.
  • Encourage hand-washing before handling foods and/or drinks, and wash all fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled.

My Purchases and Actions to Decrease Risks:

  • Boil materials to sterilize (?) rather then contaminate be microwave and dishwasher (but I do wonder about plastic contaminating my pots or leaching materials from pot chemicals…or if heating the plastic whatever way is the problem…I didn’t see a quick answer in the AAP report.  Regardless the CDC still recommends sterilizing bottles).  Picking a safe pot type: I use nonstick in general; however, for sterilizing I thought maybe it was safer to follow the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recs that cast-iron or stainless steel may be the safest material (although the $30 Made In China “stainless steel” pot I got from Amazon leached a chemical film on my bottles despite good reviews…paying more or purchasing from a reputable source or store is probably worth it if you’re replacing cookware!) AAP thoughts on non-stick pans:  Chemical PFCs like PFOA/PFOS are warned against by the AAP and can be in nonstick pans, especially before 2015. The chemicals in old nonstick pans and pots meant I replaced them, picking a mostly copper new nonstick pot similar to this from Marshalls…although I do wonder if it might have other variants of PFCs that still can cause harm.  Less scientific sources make claims of the safest cookware here or here, another slightly scientific chemistry-based source says “Overall all cookware made by reputable manufacturers using reputable coating systems is safe. One should only have concerns about low end low cost cookware made by unknown manufacturers.”   It can be tricky to know what is “best” though… Perhaps avoiding nonstick to pick a ‘purer’ boiling pot for sterilizing bottles would be best (like my stainless steel thought) as the AAP specifically says“Because of health and environmental concerns, US production of PFOS was phased out in 2002, and PFOA was phased out in 2015.107 However, these particular compounds are only 2 of more than a dozen members of the parent family. For example, closely related PFNA chiefly replaced PFOA; increasing PFNA concentrations were detected in the 2003–2004 NHANES and have remained stable thereafter.102“…In January 2016, the FDA banned the use of 3 classes of long-chain PFCs as indirect food additives.108 Yet, structurally similar short-chain PFCs, such as PFHxS, may continue to be used.”  In the very least, changing out my plastic bottle parts dishwasher rack for a purely silicone one might help…but I think I’ll avoid the dishwasher all together for sterilizing my plastic bottles and pump parts.  I still use it for the glass bottles and silicone nipples I bought below.  (I’m still in limbo of what seems best for sterilizing plastic parts, however!)
  • Buy glass baby bottles.  Evenflo brand is compatible with Medela pumps (as are Dr. Brown’s, Parent’s Choice at Walmart, and a few others, which I learned from the graphic for this product).  Evenflo glass bottles were relatively inexpensive on Amazon Prime for 4oz or 8oz (6 for ~$16), I purchased them and they’ve seemed durable and were made in Mexico. The nipples were silicone and milk only comes in contact with the silicone rather than the plastic cover and lid they still have.  Dr. Brown’s also sells glass bottles, but apparently only in the wide-neck version now that is not Medela compatible.  I also got a $6 Stainless Steel Parent’s Choice bottle from Walmart (sold in 5oz or 9oz), which still has a plastic lid but silicone nipple–being opaque makes it not as useful for pumping, but it is a non-breakable option for travel.  When I opened it had a heavy plastic/chemical smell (maybe from the packaging-but it made me wonder if such a cheap, Made in China version might have chemical issues and not be as good), but I haven’t noticed the smell as much after using the dishwasher…
  • Glass or Pyrex food storage for myself to avoid contamination of the microwave or dishwasher. After much trial and error I found some slightly more expensive glass&silicone only ‘Ultimate’ sets made by Pyrex (glass made in USA) that worked great and were much cheaper at Target, Williams Sonoma or sources than on Amazon (and less likely for the low-quality/false positive review/bait-and-switch error of other cookware I got from Amazon).  My searching process:  Well many Snap-on lids looked clear like glass and report a silicone seal, they are actually made of PP (polypropylene, #5) plastic–not the high risk#3,6,7 plastics the AAP warns against, but also still has unclear risks. My original compromise was to buy extra silicone lids to try, and not use the plastic lids or at least hand wash it and not microwave or dishwasher it. That opened many options of brands online of glassware storage with plastic lids/  After seeing reviews where even well reviewed ones would break, I originally chose to side with a reputable one like Pyrex; however, there were reports in Amazon of Pyrex breaking too, especially if they are in the cheaper ‘storage’ not the baking category and put in hot environments.  This set from Anchor Hocking is purportedly American made, but the lower quality plastic lids might not be (but in my selection I was less about the lid quality as I would try not to use the plastic lids; however, they arrived chipped and seemed cheaper than Pyrex so I returned them and don’t recommend!). There were also silicone containers that were more expensive but would be plastic free. They reportedly retain taste and smell more than others in reviews, and I’m not sure if low quality ones might have some contamination since silicone isn’t reported by the AAP (and apparently some silicone dyes might have issues). Generally pure silicone is safe for medical use, but I wasn’t sure quality online (it is generally endorsed as safe in not-super-scienc rticles). After much searching and some returns, I was happy with the Ultimate Pyrex Glass&Silicone only sets (available in many sizes and dishwasher safe and plastic free!), plus some extra flexible silicone lids filled the gap replacing old plastic lids I had (bonus those fit over multiple shapes and even foods and were dishwasher safe– replacing Syran wrap too).  
  • Silicone lids for food storage. These reportedly can fit on any container and I did not notice them on the AAP negative list. This could be an alternative to plastic for covering the glassware, and I ordered these to give it a try. They have been good so far and are reportedly dishwasher safe, although they are a Chinese company.
  • Got rid of old Tupperware and cheap baby plates once I knew my replacement worked well. This would help avoid my habit of putting them in the dishwasher or microwave, but others may be happy just keeping them and washing by hand if they are concerned. I wasn’t actually sure if my Tupperware was BPA free on reflection since it was quite old. I also reevaluated whether my current silverware was safe has a left metal marks on my bowls and it was cheap from Marshalls-I may get new stainless steel ones and do the Montessori approach of real glassware instead of plastic for kids &not my bpa-free plastic I got from Ikea once my baby starts on foods.

Lots to think about!  Those were things I ordered after a sleepless night researching and reading the AAP Recommendations.  They have a lot more in the article that is worth looking over the science and safety (I included some more relevant quotes from them below).  Hopefully I can look into more soon!

Summary of Other Chemicals and Risks relevant quotes from the AAP Article:

“The potential for endocrine system disruption is of great concern, especially in early life, when developmental programming of organ systems is susceptible to permanent and lifelong disruption. The international medical and scientific communities have called attention to these issues in several recent landmark reports, including a scientific statement from the Endocrine Society in 2009,42 which was updated in 2015 to reflect rapidly accumulating knowledge3; a joint report from the World Health Organization and United Nations Environment Program in 201343; and a statement from the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2015.44 Chemicals of increasing concern include the following:

  • bisphenols, which are used in the lining of metal cans to prevent corrosion45;

  • phthalates, which are esters of diphthalic acid that are often used in adhesives, lubricants, and plasticizers during the manufacturing process17;

  • nonpersistent pesticides, which have been addressed in a previous policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics and, thus, will not be discussed in this statement46;

  • perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), which are used in grease-proof paper and packaging47; and

  • perchlorate, an antistatic agent used for plastic packaging in contact with dry foods with surfaces that do not contain free fat or oil and also present as a degradation product of bleach used to clean food manufacturing equipment.48

Additional compounds of concern discussed in the accompanying technical report include artificial food colors, nitrates, and nitrites.

Environmentally relevant doses (ie, low nanomolar concentrations that people are likely to encounter in daily life) of bisphenol A (BPA)4 trigger the conversion of cells to adipocytes,9disrupt pancreatic β-cell function in vivo,49 and affect glucose transport in adipocytes.911Phthalates are metabolized to chemicals that influence the expression of master regulators of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors,21with specific effects that produce insulin resistance in nonhuman laboratory studies. Some studies have documented similar metabolic effects in human populations.22 Some phthalates are well known to be antiandrogenic and can affect fetal reproductive development.18,19,50 Authors of recent studies have linked perfluoroalkyl chemicals with reduced immune response to vaccine27,28 and thyroid hormone alterations,29,51,52 among other adverse health end points. Perchlorate is known to disrupt thyroid hormone34 and, along with exposures to other food contaminants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers,5355 may be contributing to the increase in neonatal hypothyroidism that has been documented in the United States.56 Artificial food colors may be associated with exacerbation of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.57 Nitrates and nitrites can interfere with thyroid hormone production40 and, under specific endogenous conditions, may result in the increased production of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds.37,38

Other Resources (often summarizing AAP recs in layman’s terms):

Initial AAP News Release:

Other related articles:

Posted in Pre-Parenting

First Trimester Prenatal Screening: Science and False Positives

Around weeks 9-12 in your first trimester, people commonly screen the fetus for extra chromosomes via 1) the standard first trimester screen for maternal blood markers (HCG, PAPP-A), or 2) the relatively new more sensitive NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Test) fetal DNA sample from maternal blood (cell-free DNA). There is a fabulous review of both options by a scientifically minded chemist mom at

Note: These are all screening tests- meaning most patients will have a negative result (and thus low risk of abnormality); however, false positive rates can be 5% or more—so if you test positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean your baby has the abnormality, but that more testing may be needed.  If you happen to get a positive result, there is more information for you at the end of the article.  

(As always, this article does not constitute medical advice, and you should discuss all questions, risks and benefits to make a decision with your personal medical care provider.)

Standard First Trimester Screen (HCG/PAPP-A):

Basically the HCG/PAPP-A maternal blood test will risk stratify you for Down Syndrome (and to a limited degree, Trisomy 18), and is typically drawn around 9-10 weeks gestation (but up to 13weeks 6days).  This blood test may be part of a “combined test”, including an ultrasound of nuchal translucency (around 10.5 to 13.9 weeks) to assess for increased thickness behind the neck (>3-4mm in some studies) which can be associated with Down Syndrome or other birth defects.  ”The combined test detects approximately 85 percent of Down syndrome (ie, detection rate [DR] = sensitivity = 85 percent) with a false positive rate (FPR) of 5 percent” (–however this rate of detection varies upon pre-test risks like patient age.  Babies with Down Syndrome have high Beta-HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, a common pregnancy marker) and low PAPP-A (Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A).   Babies with Trisomy 18 (an often fatal defect of three copies of chromosome 18) have very low beta-HCG and very low PAPP-A.  Studies of screening efficacy for Trisomy 18 via first trimester screening are more limited as the condition is more rare (1 in 6,000 births, with many spontaneously dying in utero), suggesting somewhere between 60-91% detection in small studies (NEJM 2003, Lambert-Messerlian et al, 2004).

The ACA: Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) currently requires coverage of most prenatal care (often with no copay- but check with your insurance).  In California, I was told the benefit of doing this test alone is that if it is abnormal there is a state fund to cover your amniocentesis or related prenatal care for free (which might save you money in that case based on your specific insurance).  This test also tends to cost less than NIPT–however, HCG/PAPP-A alone is much less accurate.  If your insurance only covers HCG/PAPP-A, you can see if a nuchal translucency ultrasound (the “combined test”) might be part of your coverage to increase sensitivity.  Those who are higher risk (older moms etc.) might consider any extra cost of the NIPT to be worth it (and insurance may also cover the NIPT for higher risk patients).  Again, check with your current insurance as you might not pay much more for the more sensitive NIPT test.

NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Test) of a fetal DNA sample from maternal blood (cell-free DNA):

NIPT (cell free DNA, cfDNA) is much more sensitive and specific than the traditional first trimester blood screen (cfDNA detects 98-99% of Down Syndrome versus just ~85% with the traditional “combined test”).  Furthermore, cfDNA screens for a wider set of conditions: Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13 and Sex Chromosome duplication/deletions.  cfDNA screening works by detecting the small amounts of fetal DNA present in maternal blood, and is typically done via maternal blood draw anytime after weeks 9-10 (with no end date).  Test results come back in about 2 weeks or possibly less depending on your lab.  (Some people enjoy the extra benefit that it tells you fetal sex earlier than ultrasound as well.)

UptoDate Reprint of: Performance of cell-free DNA screening for trisomy 21,18,&13

Disorder Studies Cases DetectionRate (%) False Negative Rate (%) Controls False Positive Rate(%)
Trisomy 21 31 1587 99.4 0.6 146,757 0.1
Trisomy 18 24 444 97.7 2.3 146,496 0.1
Trisomy 13 16 85 90.6 9.4 134,606 0.1
All three* 98.5* 1.5 0.3

DR: detection rate (or sensitivity); FNR: false-negative rate (1-sensitivity); FPR: false-positive rate (or 1-specificity).

* Weighting is by the disorder’s prevalence in the late first trimester of pregnancy (approximately 10:2:1).

Data from the article: Mackie FL, Hemming K, Allen S, et al. The accuracy of cell-free fetal DNA-based non-invasive prenatal testing in singleton pregnancies: a systematic review and bivariate meta-analysis. BJOG 2017; 124:32.

The only downside for this more sensitive NIPT test is that the list price for cfDNA testing is often higher than HCG/PAPP-A–however, do check your specific insurance for coverage and out of pocket costs for this test.  Obamacare requirements might make it covered for you, and especially being 35 or over (AMA: advanced maternal age) might help get this test done for free or little cost.  In my case, my OB/Gyn recommended to the NIPT test alone (without the HCG/PAPP-A test) and added the nuchal translucency ultrasound for more accuracy.  I am 35, but had no co-pays for either test.

If you get an Abnormal cfDNA Screening Test:

Most people will have negative results, thus putting you at low risk for any trisomy or abnormality.  However if you do get a positive result I does not mean your fetus definitely has it. OB/Gyns see positive results rarely, so they may not realize the exact statistics for a positive finding in your case.  If you’re one of the rare people who gets a call with an abnormal results:

  • Ask what brand the cfDNA test was and go to this website for more information of your actual risk:
    • The relevant calculation for you on this website is the PPV: Positive Predictive Value, which tells you the percent chance your positive result is a “true positive”, aka the fetus actually has the chromosomal abnormality. This can be somewhat reassuring especially for chromosome 18 or 13, where a positive results have just a 11 to 35% chance of actually having the abnormality.   Please note that if your results are negative, this chart is not relevant to you, except to show you your background risk for abnormality based on your age.
  • In addition to that, if you do get a positive result screening from either test:
    • Ask for both a nuchal translucency ultrasound and perinatology consult referral, if this has not been ordered already.  The nuchal translucency ultrasound for a chromosomal or other abnormality is typically done around weeks 10.5-13.9 of the pregnancy and helps further stratify risk. Perinatologists are extra fellowship trained Ob/Gyns who interpret ultrasound results and also tend to get involved if there is a chromosomal abnormality.
    • Ask for a referral to a genetic counselor, who should have more specific information on your specific risks and testing options as well.
    • Talk with your provider about whether a CVS: Chorionic Villus Sampling (~10 to 13 weeks) or Amniocentesis (typically after 14 weeks gestation) can confirm the finding as needed.  Often they can begin the referral process for that now to help minimize the delay of insurance processing for what can be time sensitive procedures.  The cell samples from these invasive procedures can be confirmatory for fetal genetic testing via FISH (a rapid fluorescent probe on chromosomes in ~48hrs-72hrs) and full karyotype analysis (which images and counts all fetal chromosomes, typically taking 2 weeks).  Risks of miscarriage or other complications of these invasive procedures should be discussed by your Ob/Gyn.
    • Based on the results of the follow up testing, your provider can further counsel on the likelihood of the screening test being a true positive and further treatment options.

Screening tests have reached new advances in recent years, particularly with the NIPT cell-free DNA screens.  Sometimes screening can be stressful, but hopefully this helps calm and inform during this process.

Posted in Pre-Parenting

Free Baby Registry Gift Boxes from Amazon and Target

Both Target and Amazon offer free gift boxes when you create a Baby Registry there.  I have yet to find other registries that still do free boxes…and while there are more important reasons to pick a Registry location (ease, it having items you want, relevant discounts)– Free stuff is always fun!  

Below is more info on what you can get (and the relatively low effort ways to qualify).  You can still qualify for the free items even if your registry is still set to private. (This is an unpaid, unbiased review.)

Target Free Baby Registry Gift Bag ($50-60 value with coupons):

Getting a free gift box from Target is pretty easy.  After you sign up for the Baby Registry online, it recommends that you go to the store Customer Service to pick up your welcome bag.  The store I went to was really mellow and didn’t even ask for my name or registry info, and just handed me the nice small bag which they say has about a $50 to $60 value of samples and coupons.  (You can similarly get the bag by doing the registry there in store.) The samples will vary by store, but for me the bag included: 1 Avent baby bottle (4oz, with newborn nipple), 2 different pacifiers,  6 diapers of various brands (size 1), 6 wipes, 2 milk storage bags, 2 disposable breast pads, and some various other small samples of toiletries & lotions.  There are also many useful coupons for the Target store including a buy one get one free Starbucks drink, 10% off certain nursing bras or maternity apparel, and coupons for the samples and other brands. (Detailed list of items at the end of the article for the curious.)

Overall this Target gift bag was very low effort, and had some useful things.  Several coupons are samples could be useful in the during pregnancy too (coupons for maternity clothes, bras, lotions etc) so feel free to get this whenever.  It also doesn’t take up much space, has many items that you might want bringing baby home, and helps you try a few different disposable diapers before buying a larger supply.

20171107_170108Target Baby Registry Free Gift Items & Coupons.20171107_165431


Amazon Baby Registry Welcome Box ($35 list value of items):

Getting the Amazon Gift Box takes a few more steps than the Target one, but for me it contained a few bigger items that made it worth it.  Valued at $35, it contained:  1 nice muslin baby swaddle blanket, a onesie (size 3 to 6 months), a Fisher Price teething toy, 4 disposable diapers (various brands), 2 sets of disposable nursing pads, and a few sample baby wipes, toiletries and lotions.  Coupons were more limited, but did include a: $30 coupon for Lolli Living or Living Textile item.  (You’ll see various reviews online that Welcome Box contents can really vary-some people were unlucky and got basically an empty box with a vitamin water- but it seems like the majority of recent reviews reflected a box like mine. Although I wouldn’t recommend paying for it if you didn’t get it for free :P) 


To qualify for the Amazon Baby Registry Welcome Box, you must:

  1. Be an Amazon Prime Member (Prime Student counts for this).
  2. Sign up for the Baby Registry and complete the “Baby Registry Profile” by either selecting items from each category or, more quickly, just checking the box of each category that suggests it’s complete (you can easily add more items later).
  3. Order $10 worth of stuff from the registry (they do not restrict the Registry to baby-only items, and you can be the one who buys it).  

Once you’ve done all that and your $10 of items ships, your top “Welcome Box” menu section will show all requirements as checked and tell you how to add it to your cart for free (no shipping or other charges).  (Please note, your box will be obviously marked on the outside “Baby Registry”, so if you want it a secret be selective of where you ship it.)

If you have any problems with getting the box, Amazon FAQ has more information here:  

This website has some screenshots of the older Amazon version that at least give you some idea:  

Or for more inspiration, rather than info– here is an article with pictures of the range of items people have gotten in 2017: 

Full List of Free Baby Items November 2017 (for the especially curious).

Target Gift Bag (in a small reusable bag to hold it all):

  • 1 Avent baby bottle (4oz, with newborn nipple: level 1 of flow, BPA free)
  • 2 different pacifiers: MAM newborn pacifier (BPA free), & 0-6 month NUK orthodontic pacifier (BPA free)
  • Disposable Diapers (5 total): Pampers cloth diaper holder with 1 diaper (size 1) and 6 sensitive wipes; 2 Honest Company diapers (size 1), 2 Babyganics diapers (size 1)
  • Lansinoh brand: 2 disposable nursing pads and 2 breast milk storage bags
  • Lotion and Toiltries Samples:  
    • Dove baby body wash sampler (1.8 oz)
    • Aveeno Baby daily moisture lotion (1 oz)
    • Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Oil sample packet (for stretch marks)
    • Aquaphor healing ointment skin protectant packet
  • Coupons (valid only at Target):
    • Buy-one-get-one Free Starbucks beverage (only in Target store)
    • 10% off nursing bra: Gilligan and O’Malley, Basics by Bravado designs, or Medela brands
    • 10% off maternity apparel purchase from Isabel Maternity by Ingrid and Isabel, excludes clearance items
    • $5 off one boppy total pillow (maternity pillow only)
    • 20% off Cloud Island baby item (Target’s common brand for nursery items, blankets, etc.)
    • $25 off any Honest Co. product when you spend $50 or more: includes Honest diapers, wipes, diaper cream, infant formula, backpack, lotions or shampoos
    • $10 off when you spend $35 on Honest Co. beauty products including makeup, face gel and cleanser
    • $5 off purchase of any Babyganics Ultraabsorbent diaper box (priced at $24.99 or higher)
    • $5 off your purchase of Step diapers
    • $1.50 off Pampers swaddler diapers (excludes travel size)
    • $1.50 off any one Aquaphor baby ointment
    • $1 off any one Dove baby product (excludes travel sizes)
    • $1 off Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Skin Therapy Oil

Amazon Baby Registry Welcome Box:

  • 1 muslin baby swaddle blanket
  • Onesie (size 3 to 6 months)
  • Fisher Price teething toy
  • 2 Huggies disposable diapers (size 1)
  • Small Seventh Generation pack including: 2 sensitive skin diapers, 2 Free and Clear Laundry Detergent packs, 2 sensitive skin wet wipes, one Coconut care lotion (0.5 oz) and related Coupons.
  • 10 WaterWipes brand baby wipes
  • Baby Dove Body Wash sample (1.8 Oz)
  • Tiny samples of various facial moisturizers and cleansers, 1 additional baby wipe.  
  • Coupon:  $30 coupon for Lolli Living or Living Textiles items (purchase of $50 or more)

Good luck, and enjoy the free goodies!