Mother knows best
Try out our favorite picks for new and expectant moms.

Written by  Nina Hemphill Reeder

Every mother wants the best for her baby. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know what's best for the health of you and your baby? While there's seldom a one-size-fits-all answer, we decided to share the products we deemed fit for us. So if you're a new or expectant mom or are just looking for a stand-out gift for Mother's Day or an upcoming baby shower, we've pulled our favorite products for the health-conscious mom.


Some studies suggest that jarred baby foods are often diluted and/or heavily processed to the point of losing a portion of their nutrient content. However, home-prepared baby foods tend to be significantly higher in vitamins and nutrients and are cheaper (nearly one fifth of the cost of store-bought foods). Additionally, mothers have a greater selection of pesticide-free, organic produce to puree for their babies' meals versus purchasing the premade items.


We found that the Baby Bullet food processor was a quick and convenient way for moms to prepare their own fresh baby food. And you don't have to be a Michelin star chef; in most cases you just steam, add a little water, blend and serve. Plus, the Baby Bullet comes with a cookbook, nutrition guide, easy freezer storage trays and serving cups with lids to mark the date made, which all really help take away most of the headache in storing and sorting the food ($59.97 |

When there is no time to blend, we suggest keeping a reserve of Jack's Harvest frozen organic baby food. It is prepared in small batches and immediately frozen to maintain nutrient content. And it comes in preportioned servings, so you can just thaw and serve. Plus, the adults can share in the fun by using one of the heart-shaped frozen fruit blend servings as ice to perk up an iced tea or cocktail (starting at $_4.99|



The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends nursing your infant exclusively until at least 6 months, and then they suggest continuing nursing to 1 year of age while introducing solid foods. According to the AAP, breastfed babies were found to have fewer incidents of respiratory infection, gastrointestinal infections, diabetes, obesity and food allergies and intolerances. Additionally, mothers are believed to benefit from decreased postpartum blood loss and a quicker return to prepregnancy weight.


While hospital-grade pumps are the most efficient and comfortable, they are expensive and difficult to transport. Likewise, while portable pumps are small and easy to tote, they aren't as effective. We thought the Ameda Purely Yours Ultra was the perfect combination of both. It's small, lightweight, battery or power cord operated and there are minimal parts and pieces, which makes it easy to transport back and forth to work. And with the quiet motor and black faux leather travel bag, it's fairly discreet. Lastly, the speed and suction settings allow for a comfortable and fast, efficient pumping experience ($299 |



Banking your child's cord blood poses no risk or harm to your baby, and if you do so, your baby will have an exact match to his or her stem cells, which can be used in the future to regenerate blood cells or repair tissue damaged by disease. However, the AAP recommends private banking largely for the benefit of full siblings known to have a medical condition that could be treated by the stems cells. A child may not be able to benefit from his or her own stem cells if the cells contain the genetic disease needed to be treated. But siblings and other family members of the child can be candidates for the nearly 80 stem cell–treatable diseases and disorders, including cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma and blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia. Scientists believe these stem cells might one day also provide a treatment for diabetes and cerebral palsy.


Siblings and family members are more likely to find a viable match with a relative's banked stem cells than with other public cord blood banks, and private banking assures that your family's cells will always be available to you. Of the private cord blood banking companies, ViaCord claims to have the most transplants from banked stem cells and the highest transfer survival rate. ViaCord's collection bags are asserted to preserve stem cells better and prevent more cell loss over standard blood bags (starting at $1,000 | Call 1-866-668-4895 to enroll and give the code UPSCALE to receive $250 off at ViaCord.



For babies younger than 6 months, the AAP advises keeping them out of direct exposure to sunlight as much as possible, specifically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. They also advise dressing babies in lightweight and tight-woven clothing such as brimmed hats, long-sleeve shirts and pants. Only as a second resort when shade or protective clothing doesn't suffice do they recommend sunscreen, which they advise only applying to the face and backs of the hands. For babies older than 6 months, sunscreen may be applied all over the body with care around the eyes. They also suggest sunblock with titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide in babies with sensitive skin.


The SnoozeShade was intended to minimize noise and block out bright lights or other visual stimuli so that babies could nap in their car seats or strollers undisturbed. However, the breathable fabric also serves as UPF 50+ protection, blocking out 98 percent of UV rays. And when naptime is over, the SnoozeShade Plus has a "lookout" window, which allows babies to see out while blocking 80 percent of UV rays (starting at $34.99 |



The Department of Health and Human Services recommends pregnant women get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise at least five days a week. And according to the March of Dimes, children born to women who exercised during pregnancy were found by a study to be leaner and score higher in intelligence testing than children of nonexercisers.


You may often find yourself modifying or second guessing exercises in your regular workout during pregnancy. So we found the best workout to put our minds and bumps at ease was a workout geared specifically for pregnant mothers. Sara Haley's Expecting More DVD set gives you six workouts, which target cardio, strength and flexibility. Plus, you may feel more comfortable and less self-conscious exercising in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, pregnant exercisers are more likely to bounce back to their prepregnancy weight quicker ($39.95 |

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