I’ve just discovered Leander, and I’m a little bit in love. OK: a lot in love. All the pieces are beautiful: minimalist Scandinavian design in natural woods, light colors and lovely curves. I know I’m a bit behind the curve, so to speak, because they’ve been available stateside for a couple of years, but if you’re also unfamiliar, allow me to introduce you (and your baby) to their line.

The hanging cradle was their first offering and is both pretty and practical. You can suspend it from the ceiling or – better – hang it from the sleek, beech tripod and have the flexibility to move it as needed. It rocks, literally and figuratively. My only reservation – as ever – is that cradles (and all infant beds) have a very limited span of usefulness, so it may be a better use of your baby budget to spend on a crib instead (unless, of course, you plan on having several children, in which case a cradle could be a great investment and space saver.) At $350 though, it’s not completely ridiculous to consider getting one. (You can always re-sell it. Or convert it into the best cat bed ever.)

If you prefer to jump directly to a crib, Leander makes those too, albeit at a considerably higher price point. Their curvy bed converts from a crib to a to a toddler bed to a junior bed. The junior bed transition is a nice feature since most conversion cribs leave three sides of crib bars in place, which might not be welcome reminder of babyhood for older children. It’s also five or so inches shorter than a US standard crib. At $1500, it’s considerably more expensive than most budgets can handle, but if you have generous grandparents who are into design, maybe this will top your wish list.

Their matching changing table – also curvy delicious – has a uniquely small visual profile for this notoriously bulky piece of furniture, and I love that. We chose the Stokke changing table for similar reasons (as well as the fact that it converts to a child’s table) and have been glad not to manage a giant block of a dresser in Astrid’s room. The Leander table also converts to a small desk, but is nearly as expensive (about $1000) as the crib, so again, a big investment.

(I’m still on the hunt for a low profile, high design changing table for a reasonable price. Do post a comment if you’ve found one.)

The Leander high chair is the final piece of the set. We have the Svan, which also converts to an actual chair, and had looked at the Stokke (same deal), but I think the Leander chair has the sleekest profile of all three and, if we weren’t within reach of being out of high chairs entirely, I’d spring for this one.

In amongst the expensive baby clutter in the marketplace, it’s a joy to find such beautiful form and function. You made my day, Leander!

Check out Leander’s store locator for your closest location or websites that carry their line.

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Blackout Curtains

May 15, 2012

I posted about blackout curtains over on Minimalist Mama Expecting, in case any expectant parents were redecorating pre-baby. We didn’t even have a dedicated room for our baby when she arrived, so we came to the cause of darkness kind of late after we realized Astrid wasn’t going to be a power sleeper. Here’s what I advised:

Unless you have those awesome European interlocking blinds that can turn your baby’s boudoir into a room fit for developing film, you might want to consider investing in blackout curtains. They’re not absolutely essential, no, but if you have a baby who has trouble falling or staying asleep, or if your nursery is sunny – which is otherwise lovely but might not be the best for naps and early bed times – blackout drapes are one of the things that will help.

There are two types:

  1. Curtains with a built-in light-blocking backing.
  2. Panels of just the light-blocking material that you can hang behind your existing curtains.

Pottery Barn Kids Gingham Panel with Blackout Lining

The former are easier to manage since they’re all one piece, but the options in design and color are limited. The latter won’t require the cost of re-purchasing curtains you might have already, but they will hang heavier on your curtain hardware (so you might need to keep an eye on how it’s holding up with the added weight), plus you will get a few more gaps that let in light because you’re arranging two layers.

Since I liked our existing curtains, we opted for the panels and here’s my advice: absolutely, 100% get the panels that are the same width as your curtain panels. You want them to hang exactly behind your existing panels. Trust me on this.

I thought I was brilliant saving money by buying the narrow-slice panels that add up to the width of a single panel of our curtains. The site claimed that hotels buy these: the narrow widths allow you to buy however many you need to match any width of curtain panel. After falling for this marketing, my conclusion is that they are jerky liars. I can’t imagine a hotel dealing with the annoyance of these mini panels: they separate when you breath on them and let streaks of sunshine into the room at every seam which ruins the whole point of having them in the first place. This happens all the time. All. The. Time. Gargh!

So just spend the extra money and get the nice Pottery Barn Kids ones which line up with your curtain panels. Seriously.

Blackout Panels, Pottery Barn Kids $39-$59 per panel, depending on width

Blackout Curtains in nursery-friendly designs and colors, Pottery Barn Kids $49 – $229, depending on size, or anywhere else that carries them, e.g. Overstock.com, $40 and up

Skwish Mobile

February 22, 2012

I was in Giggle the other day and came across the Skwish Mobile. I love me some mobiles, so I had a look. Even though I don’t think I would’ve jumped on it before the baby came along, I’m a fan now.

First off, it’s ridiculously hard to sort out how to hang mobiles. You either get one that hangs from the ceiling, in which case you need a very tall stepladder (not a good combo with pregnancy) and a lot of confidence that you’re hanging it at exactly the right height for baby safety (no tangling in strings) and in a location that you will never need to change (see: stepladder + aggravation). This is well nigh impossible. Get OK with the fact that you’ll be up that stepladder again when Junior decides he prefers to hang out at the other end of the crib.

If you decide the kind of mobile that attaches to the side of your crib or playpen is more versatile, good luck finding one that you like and fits onto your crib. In my experience, if you have a Graco crib, the only mobile that fits onto its rail is a Graco mobile. If you have a snazzy crib that you love, there will be no mobile that fits its rail and you will have to resort to some Rube Goldberging of this “one size fits all” arm thing with the mobile you like. Which, naturally, will look like you sorted the whole thing out while you were drinking and will undermine that whole “cool minimalist parents” aesthetic you were going for.

Second issue: babies with poor eyesight (all of them) can’t distinguish the tasteful, muted colors of that Eames-ian mobile you found at that great baby boutique in Chelsea. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get it. Be my guest. I love it too. But little Theodore Pancreas III will not be able to appreciate it for many months. What you want up front are either black and white patterns or, shortly thereafter, primary colors that are easy to distinguish.

In both of these case, Manhattan Toy is there for you again: the Skwish Mobile has a crib-agnostic arm that screws into place on pretty much any crib rail (and can be moved) and the basic, bright colors are ideal for your little new addition to the world.

So I love it. Try it: you might too!

Manhattan Toy Skwish Mobile, $47 at Amazon or $44 at FatBrainToys

Baby Bath Decor

October 26, 2010

To brighten things up for Astrid, I got her a set of these bright Tub Tattoos which you can affix to the near side of the tub so all your guests won’t see them (unless they opt for a quick bath between dinner and dessert!) A. loves the bright colors and I like to think the fishes keep her company down at her level. They come in all kinds of patterns. Oh – and I only put up two, so her school can grow over time. Might help explain the birds and the bees if you decide to have another baby!