young living

Mamacita Must Haves: Preemie + Purchase Guide

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching I thought I’d give you the best gift I can share– timesaving items. Because at the end of the day, we all hate wasting time and money. So here are some of our baby items that have proved to be worth every penny. I’ve also included some of my favourite just-for-fun items. (For NICU must haves, check out my blog post here.)

October 22 proved to be one of the happiest days of our lives. But having a little NICU graduate greatly influenced the way we shopped for our daughter, Finnley Haven. Because she was born at 29 weeks, everything from our carseat standards, to diaper and bottle regimens were greatly affected. It was tough at first, but after several failed attempts, we found the best items.

So whether you’re a new mommy or have a friend who’s pregnant, I hope my little list helps narrow down your search!

Keep growing and loving on those beautiful babies!! Happy shopping mamacitas!


    – RACHEL

1. Milk Snob Paparazzi Carseat Cover ($34) The Milk Snob™ Paparazzi Carseat Cover was designed with your baby in mind. It is the first Car Seat Cover on the Market that fits perfectly within seconds on almost any infant car seat. It’s 96% Rayon, 4% Spandex material is everything you need to protect your child against harsh sunlight, wind, and pesky strangers who want to touch your new baby.

2. Cozi Planner App ($0!) This app is truly a life saver! We needed something to track all of our family’s events. We added different labels for myself, Johnny, Finnley, and even different reminders for family birthdays/anniversaries, dog appointments, and bills. You can edit it on your desktop, or mobile device– and it will send you alerts! This is a mommy must have!

3. Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier / Thieves Household Cleaner ($6) / ($29) As a neat freak myself and mother of a fragile preemie, I’m basically obsessed with germ killing– but I always hated how rough it made my hands. Then I discovered THIS. This all natural hand sanitizer smells AMAZING, and actually leaves your hands feeling silky smooth! It’s a mother’s dream come true! / While The Thieves Household Cleaner has EVERYTHING you need to clean and disinfect your entire home. Safe enough to use around preemies. This will replace your bathroom cleaner, fabric freshener, glass cleaner, and lysol. Trust me, you want this! Don’t believe me? Try it!

4. 4Moms Mama Roo ($270) When our little preemie came home from the NICU at 37 weeks, it was apparent to us that she loved being held and rocked. While we couldn’t hold her every second of the day– the Mama Roo held her when we couldn’t. With several different rocking settings, it proved to be the BEST investment. We joke that it’s our little girl’s nanny. Seriously, it’s worth every penny. And if you purchase it for your newborn, be sure to get the newborn insert ($60) so that your newborn will be safely tucked in.

5. Fawn Baby Bag ($130) Hands down the BEST baby/diaper bag I own. One big pocket filled with tons of smallers ones. This is where style and class meets space and functionality. It transforms from a messenger bag to backpack (perfect for dads). It’s high quality, waterproof interior and exterior will blow you away. So what are you waiting for? Its PERFECT for everyday wear. So, buy it already!

6. Comfort & Harmony Sleepsack ($16) Compared to the woombie, this zippered sleepsack is PERFECT for newborns. Our little wiggleworm would wake herself up from throwing her little arms around. This sleepsack eliminates the insecurity babies feel when they have too much room. The sleepsack imitates the snug fit inside the womb. As our doctors and nurses always told us while in the NICU “babies love and need boundaries.” Everytime our little two-pounder had anxiety in the NICU, they would tuck her in snug as a bug in a rug– and she loved it! This will help your little one sleep. And for when they get a little older, you can use C&H’s sleepsack with legs ($13) to help developing little leg muscles. (Be sure to follow appropriate age guidelines and instructions.)

7. Milk Snob Baby Wrap Carrier ($72) The Milk Snob Carrier Wrap is the perfect way to carry your child from birth until 25lbs.  Designed with us Texan mommies in mind, they’re light weight, cool to the touch, and superrr fashion forward! Our little girl LOVES being wrapped. And her father and I are so thankful for this little invention. It’s the best way to save our backs and be able to get things done at the same time! Safe enough for preemies– I started wrapping Finnley when she was only 4lbs! (Be sure to visit Milk Snob’s tutorials for instructions.)

8. Munchkin Changing Pad Covers – 3Pack ($14) Tired of constantly changing your baby’s changing pad cover? So Was I! These are perfect for extra protection either on the go or on for fast clean up on your changing pad (on top of your changing pad cover). These are lifesavers!

9. Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($7) While in the NICU, the doctors taught us their best kept secret for fighting diaper rash. After every diaper change, put a small amount of Aquaphor on your babe’s diaper area. Our little girl has never had a diaper rash! The tubes are great for on the go, and we have a tub ($14) of Aquaphor on our changing table for faster application. Get the full instructions on my blog post here.

10. Audreys Bear Custom Baby Name Blankets ($39) Get 10% Off orders over $40 with promo code: “FINNLEY10”! Hands down my favorite baby gift. Create a one of a kind, personalized baby blanket for a crazy awesome price! While Finnley was in the NICU, we used them to personalize her little space– and over 200 washes later, they’re still as soft and cozy as ever! Read more about these blankets on my post here.

11. Gerber Slow Flow Bottles – 3pk ($5) A preemie MUST HAVE! These bottles helped Finnley come home. Like most babies born three months early, our little girl had trouble drinking from a bottle. She easily got overwhelmed and would choke and would have to return to a feeding tube. These bottles are what we used for the first two months after she came home. They’re truly “slow flow” and the BEST for preemies! After trying dozens of expensive ones, these were the only ones that worked and we couldn’t believe how cheap they were!

12. Dr. Browns Bottle Warmer ($33) This bottle warmer is a lifesaver! Forget putting bottles in a warm cup and waiting up to 15 minutes! The preset timer makes it easy for those 3AM bottle feedings when you just can’t muster up memory to enter in the numbers– just press the play button and your bottle will be safely warmed up in a matter of seconds!

13. Baby Jogger City Mini GT ($350) This stroller is an absolute God-send. It’s easily folded with one hand, in one swift move, and folds small enough to fit into my husband’s sports car. It’s perfect for those with an active lifestyle– because of this stroller we’ve been able to take our baby girl with us on hikes! Seriously, THE BEST INVENTION EVER! (Be sure to look at the Adapter Guide to see which part you’ll need to attach your carseat to the stroller.)

14. L.A. Baby Commercial Grade Changing Pad ($36) The safest changing pad you’ll find. If you’re like me and are terrified of your baby rolling off your changing table, then look no further! This changing pad has tall sides, a seatbelt so secure your child, and it capabilities to permanently attach it to your changing table surface. (Despite it’s safety, it’s important to remember that you should never leave your child unattended.)

15. Feed Baby App ($4) I had trouble keeping track of pumping, breastfeeding, and bottle feeding. It’s perfect for NICU moms or just moms in general. Forget writing everything down on paper you’re just going to lose. It even creates reports to easily track how much your baby is consuming. It’s a mommy must have!

16. Ryan and Rose Cutie Clips ($15) Before our little girl was able to use a Wubbanub, we were always losing pacifiers. So you can imagine how our lives were forever changed when we discovered Ryan and Rose’s Cutie Clips! With dozens of stylish designs, these adorable paci clips will change your life! And you can even personalize the clip with your little one’s engraved initials. They make the very best gifts!

17. Dr Browns Bottles – 4pk ($16) Our little girl greatly struggled during feeds. We dreaded feeding her for fear of her choking or spitting up. As soon as we were able to switch her off the Gerber Slow Flow Bottles, her physical therapist recommend Dr Browns Bottles. And WOW. Their patented technology is proven to reduce colic by preventing air from escaping the bottle. These are AMAZING, and completely changed our lives!

18. DM Charm Co. Custom Bar Necklace ($30) It’s quickly become my favorite accessory. Read more about the necklaces in my blog, here. And now through May 31st, get 15% percent off your order with promo code: “FINNLEY15.” I just love how you can personalize your pieces with whatever you like — your anniversary, a loved one’s birthday, names, or initials. And they make gifts that much more personal.

19. Grass Drying Rack ($15) Quite possibly theeeee cutest drying rack you’ll ever see, it’s perfect and stylish so you can leave it by the sink. Don’t leave your drying bottles and pump accessories on the counter– keep them clean and sanitized on this adorable drying rack! You can even add “twigs” ($5) for smaller pump parts, pacis and other little items.

20. Milk Snob Nursing Kimono ($85) This one of a kind kimono is everything the stylish, fashion-forward breastfeeding mama needs. It’s buttons quickly transform it from a kimono to nursing cover– I know it’s hard to believe, but trust me– whether you’re a pumping mom, or breastfeeding mom, this is a must have!

21. Dr. Brown’s Electric Steam Sterilizer / Microwavable Steam Sterilizer  ($50) / ($20)  Preemies require a lot of TLC– including extra protection from germs. The easy one-button electric steamer safely steam sterilizes six bottles in 12 minutes for your convenience. If you’re wanting to save some budget wise, you can get the microwavable sterilizer– just put your bottles in this special container, add water, and microwave it to ensure your clean bottles are sanitized for your baby’s protection. (Doctors recommend that your baby’s bottles be sterilized until they reach 1 year of age.)

22. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Carseat ($300) European items are known for safety because Europe demands more strenuous testing than the US, this is especially true when it comes to car seats. This carseat is perfect for little preemies, because it’s safety rated for babies as small as 4lbs, but will convert into a seat large enough for a 35lb infant. It’s fashion-forward, sleek, and extra safe design is just gorgeous, and it was everything we needed for peace of mind while on the road with our little girl.

23. Zipper Onesies – 2pk ($12) Trustttt me, 2-piece sets are adorable, but at 3AM, you won’t care what that baby is wearing– and keeping socks on are a nightmare. These zipper onesies (or any zipper onesies for that matter) are lifechanging. It’s our new prerequisite when Finnley’s at home, because of convenience. She hates being changed, so these easy on and off onesies were a lifesafer! They help prevent messes too!

24. Sweet N’ Swag Moccs ($20) That’s right, just twenty dollars for your little one’s moccs. And better yet, these moccosins have transitional sizes so they can be worn longer. They have an elastic opening which allows the shoes to stay comfortably on your child’s foot. Each shoe is lined with cotton to keep the foot dry & warm. They also have flexible soft sole inserts which make these both great crib shoes as well as walking shoes for any age… So what are you waiting for? The prints are adorable and their pricing is affordable. Look no further for baby moccs!

25. Wubanub Pacifier & Friend ($13) Distributed in NICUs and hospitals worldwide, these one of a kind pacifiers help keep the paci in your baby’s mouth, and also give them a cuddly friend to hang out with. Perfect for babies who hate losing their pacis (aka: all paci lovers.) These adorable little friends are a must have!

26. Contours Bassinet ($137) This one of a kind bassinet transforms from a sturdy bassinet to a moses basket for safe co-sleeping. Handles on the removable Moses basket allows you to easily carry baby anywhere in the house. When your baby grows out of the bassinet stage, it transforms into a changing table. It has a hanging deluxe storage organizer and diaper stacker keeps baby’s items hand. The quilted and padded interior with mesh side windows provides good air flow. It’s the best!

27. Sleepy Snail SoundSpa Light & Noise Machine ($40) NICU grads are known to need noise, and newborns love listening to sounds when the sleep. This is the BEST noise machine. It can be safely harnessed to your crib, or stand it up right on a nearby surface. It has 5 noises and 5 songs to choose from (our favourite is the rainfall setting.) You can set the timer, or let it go all night. The motion picture projector puts on an adorable animal lightshow on your ceiling, or use the engaging light display to captivate and calm your little one.

28. AngelCare Monitor System ($230) Protect your NICU grad from sleep apnea and safely monitor your baby’s breathing with this incredible monitor system. It safely monitors your baby’s movements with the sensor that’s safely placed under the mattress. Keep an eye on your baby’s crib thanks to the live video feed transmitted from the nursery unit to the parents unit. The camera angle is adjustable and the night vision will help you feel at ease. We highly recommend it!

29. Honest Company Diapers & Wipes Bundle ($88) Our little preemie’s sensitive skin made purchasing diapers and wipes tricky– that is, until we discovered the Honest Company. For just under $80 a month, you’ll get all the diapers and wipes you need– delivered to your doorstep! The diapers come in adorable prints and are eco-friendly, ultra absorbent & free of lotions, fragrances & latex. Also included are 4 packages of Honest Wipes — plant-based, soothing, super thick, ultra versatile. After using Honest’s products you won’t want to use anything else for your little babe.

30. Noodle & Boo Essential Care Kit (Shampoo / Body Wash / Lotion) ($35) If you’re obsessed with that baby smell like I am, then you’ll be a big fan of Noodle & Boo. Featuring provitamin B5 and vitamin E, the soap-free formula hydrates and strengthens to promote healthy, silky-soft skin and strands. It’s just the best smelling stuff ever!

31. Koala Baby Duck Bath Cozy ($15) Because Finnley was born in the winter, we hated giving her baths. I was always afraid that she’d get cold. That is until I received this oversized (and adorable) ducky washcloth. It’s perfect to place over your baby’s body while giving a bath to keep baby warm. It’s a win + win!

32. 4 Moms Infant Bathtub ($50) This is quite possibly the best baby tub ever invented. It’s side drains allow dirty water to flow out while clean water flows in. And it features a built-in digital thermometer with a color-coded temperature display. It fits most single and double sinks and will change your life! It also includes a rinse cup that conveniently fits into the integrated rinse cup holder.

33. Optodrum App ($5) NICU grads are known to sometimes struggle with eyesight. This app came highly recommended by one of Finnley’s doctors. It’s an easy tool to use at home to promote healthy eye development. It features several stimulating patterns that will keep the baby’s eyes busy and growing.

34. Little Unicorn Brookside Tote ($75) I’m obsessed with Little Unicorn’s diaper bags. They’re brilliantly designed with the fashion-forward mama in mind (and fairly priced!) It’s great for more formal events and functions. Boasting a combination of clean style and straightforward function. It has 8 pockets, wipeable vegan leather, a handy key hook, equipped with IPad pocket, a cushioned changing pad and matching stroller straps.

35. The Crafted Co. Headwraps & Bowties ($10-$16) Hands down, the cutest, most comfortable and affordable bowties/headwraps. I loveee these headwraps for my little girl because they’re adjustable, meaning– they will grow with her. Finnley wore the headwraps as soon as she came home at 37 weeks, and six months later she’s still wearing them. LOVE!

36. Day One Journal App ($3) A journal-styled application. I loved using this to keep track of Finnley’s progress, what I was feeling, and photos of the day. It’s a wonderful place to store all of your memories. Once you create a profile, you can log into it on your desktop, or any device.

37. Groovebook App ($3/monthly) Tired of going to the store to print off photos? Then this is for you! Perfect for busy moms, this app prints up to 100 of your phone photos and creates a beautiful 4.5″ x 6.5″ photobook and mails it to you monthly. The photos can stay in the adorable little booklet but are also perforated for easy removal. I love adding my favorite photos of the month and having them printed– and now I have a library of adorable little photobooks.

NICU Mama Must Haves

As a preemie mama, I know the many ups and downs of the NICU. Our daughter was born three months premature, and we were in the NICU for a total of 60 days. If you're a NICU parent, or have a girlfriend who has a little one in the NICU, I hope my list of practical NICU favourites (in no particular order) helps you.As a preemie mama, I know the many ups and downs of the NICU. So much of it feels like two steps forward; one step back. Our daughter was born three months premature, and we were in the NICU for a total of 60 days. I’m so thankful for the experience because it introduced me to a different kind of faith, and a whole community of momma’s I never would have known otherwise. Below are the items I wish I could’ve found sooner– they’re truly game changers! If you have a preemie, or have a girlfriend who has a little one in the hospital; I hope my list of practical NICU favourites (in no particular order) helps!



1. Audrey’s Bear, Customized Name Blankets. NICU’s can seem so stark, cold and impersonal. For under $40, you can have your little one’s name printed on an adorable blanket. It really helped us feel a little bit more at home. When Finnley was first born, I used the blanket as an incubator and pad cover. When she was finally old enough to be swaddled, the blankey’s were the perfect combination of stretchy, snuggly and secure. She’s home now, we get complimented on them often, and they’re still our favourite blankets! *Mention that you saw this post on and use promo code “NICU10”, to receive 10% off of your order! 

2. Wild Weka Designs, Luggage Tags.  If you’re pumping, most NICUs require you to scan into the parent portal with an ID the hospital gives you to check-in your breastmilk. To speed up the process, I put my parent ID in the luggage tag and attached to my bottle bag so it was always handy. These adorable luggage tags are made from recycled clothing, and are about $7. *Use promo code “RACHELAZNICU10”, to receive 10% off of your order! 

3. Young Living, Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier.  I’m obsessed with hand sanitizer, but I’ve always hated how the alcohol dries out my hands. So I have good news for all you clean-hand-loving-people: this is an all natural, oil based product that actually leaves your hands silky smooth and smelling like cinnamon. True story!  Try it!

4. Lohan Store, Organic, Washable, Cotton Nursing Breast Pads.  I hated wearing special padded bras. With these cute little inserts, you can still wear any of your pre-baby sports bras. Super comfy, nice and airy, 100% organic, super absorbent, and machine washable. win+ win+ win+

5. Pump Log App, by Stefanik. Hands down, the BEST app for pumping mamas. It’s the easiest way for mothers to keep track of milk production. Simply log the amount of milk produced with an optional note. No unneeded features or options clutter the interface. Simple and straightforward.

6. Pack It, Personal Cooler. This little cooler came in handy for transporting breastmilk. Often I’d have to run errends before seeing Finn in the NICU, so it was good peace of mind to know that the milk wouldn’t get too warm. I love these little coolers because they come with a removable, freezable gel lining.

7. Milk Snob, Nursing Kimono. I hated pumping bedside in the NICU because of how often Doctors came in to our little room. I felt uneasy and exposed wearing a “tent” styled nursing cover, or front-opened robe. Forget all that while you pump or breastfeed. This was created for nursing/pumping mamas. Stylish, and comfy, you can wear it over any shirt. Wear it open when not pumping/breastfeeding, or close it by buttoning the front across and on your shoulder.  Best. Invention. Ever.

8. Kiss My Face, Hand Creme. NICU’s call for hand washing– ALOT of hand washing. After washing my hands over thirty times a day, my hands were left painfully cracked and dry. This naturally moisturizing and nourishing hand cream features two of natures best oils: sunflower oil and jojoba oil. It’s phthalate and paraben free with no artificial fragrances, no gluten, no animal testing and no animal ingredients.

9. Day One App. A journal-styled application. I loved using this to keep track of Finnley’s progress, what I was feeling, and photos of the day. It’s a wonderful place to store all of your memories. Once you create a profile, you can log into it on your desktop, or any device.

10. Simple Wishes, Hand Free Pumping Bra. If you’re a pumping mama and don’t have this, your life is about to change forever. It easily secures your pump in place so that you’re free to relax. It has removable straps, and is adjustable in size– using high quality Velcro to sustain a perfect fit over time as a nursing mother’s size changes. Straps and 1” Zip In Center Panel included to help achieve the perfect fit! It’s machine washable. It’s an absolute MUST.

11. Thirty-One Bags, Backpack. So easy to grab and go, this bag offers great hands-free convenience. Put the pockets to work to house all your essentials: pump parts, snacks, everything you need, and boom! You’re set for the day! Plus it makes a great dad-bag after your baby is released to go home! Bonous– there’s an option to embroider so you can add your baby’s initials or last name. So cute!

Fighting Fibromyalgia

"Didn't they just create that diagnosis a few years ago?"  "How did you find out you had Fibro?"  "Do you believe the theory that it may be related to trauma?"  "Do you believe that God still heals today, are you praying for your healing?"  "What do you do, what helps?"  I've gotten these questions a few times over the last couple years. There are so many questions regarding fibro, so I wanted to share a bit of my story: Fighting Fibromyalgia - RACHELAZ.COM

“Didn’t they just create that diagnosis a few years ago?”

“How did you find out you had Fibro?”

“Do you believe the theory that it may be related to trauma?”

“Do you believe that God still heals today, are you praying for your healing?”

“What do you do, what helps?”

I’ve gotten these questions a few times over the last couple years. There are so many questions regarding fibro, so I wanted to share a bit of my story:

I’ve seen a handful of specialists, gone to therapy, been misdiagnosed, been put on steroids (which made me feel craycray, gain weight, zapped my hair and made my eyelashes fall out), tried all kinds of medicines/remedies/vitamins, and out-of-pocketed thousands of dollars.

Fighting fibromyalgia has humbled me. It’s reminded me that I am not in control.  

It’s given me admiration for those with much greater health problems than I.

I’ve witnessed warriors fight disease, cancer, and tragedy– with incredible perspective, peace and trust in God. Some are healed, while others go home to be with the Lord for their healing– and it’s not for a lack of faith.

YES, I believe God can still heal on this side of eternity, I believe He IS GOOD. We live in a broken world. But whether I’m sick, or in perfect health– I know His heart and choose to trust Him. In my weakness He is strong. He is good. If dependence on Christ is the goal, then weakness is an advantage. So despite my hatred for fibro, I can be thankful and rejoice in it when I’m alongside Him.

I’m writing this because for a while I felt crazy and alone in this struggle. Inexplicable fatigue and chronic, widespread pain that made me so angry I thought I couldn’t function. I know it pails in comparison to other health struggles, so please hear me when I say that I’m not writing for sympathy or pity. But in hope that my story could maybe encourage someone.

I was diagnosed by three separate doctors: My regular physician, a rheumatology specialist, and my chiropractor. I would suggest against a self diagnosis. And trust me, you’ll feel a lot less crazy if you can get straight answers. I would also suggest against making any decisions on the same day you’re diagnosed. Do some research for yourself before taking prescriptions.

Tomorrow if The Lord willed it I could be healed and may never need this stuff again– but while I’m fighting, here’s what’s personally, practically helped me (and here’s a hint– it’s all available over the counter!):

1. First and foremost– Prayer. It sounds cliche, and religious, I know. So shoot me. 9 out of 10 times, I just need to refocus my eyes on Christ–an attitude adjustment usually follows. My go-to verse has been 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 

2. An Alkaline Diet. aka: boatloads of fruits/veggies. Cutting out carbs and sugars.

3. Young Living’s Essential Oils: Pan Away, Deep Relief, Peace & Calming, Joy, Stress Away, and Lavender. [Please consult with your YL Contact about how to use the oils or contact me if you don’t have one.] Yes, I became one of those crazy people who uses oils– but I’m sure when ibuprofen first came out nobody believed a little pill would actually help. and this stuff is natural! so boom! I’ll get off my soapbox now.

4. Extra sleep. by extra, I mean 8-10 full hours of real sleep. no tv, no radio, just sleep.

5. Wearing Wrist Braces at work whilst typing/working out/carrying anything heavy. Definitely not the cutest, but if you buy black ones and pair them with a black blazer they’re actually not too obvious.

6. Firing my “Specialist” and finding a good, holistic doctor. I found out the hard way that too many docs were just putting me on different medicines then adding even more medicines just to fight side affects. *Please consult your doctor before quitting any medication.

7. Acupuncture. just do it. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but it’s not some creepy self torture thing– it’s real and it works.

8. Regular Adjustments at a good Chiropractor. I say “good” because I’m finding that not all are. Ask around and get a few personal recommendations. My favourite is Dr. Jaillet (Carrollton Kinesiology & Chiropractic Health Center.) It will change your life!

If you have fibro– pray for yourself, don’t wallow in self pity. Trust His heart. Allow Christ to carry you on your rough days. Look to pillars in the faith with greater health challenges than you. Don’t let it define you. If you need rest–rest! But sometimes you need to pull back those curtains and let the sun shine in. Encourage someone. Stay in the Word. And don’t battle alone.

He is good, He is trustworthy, His grace is sufficient, He is enough. Refuse to lose the battle, there is hope.