la stella blu

Creative Play Toys February 11 2017, 0 Comments

When I think about my childhood, I remember creating. There are blog posts on blog posts on blog posts about the benefits of children being bored! But an important component to boredom is having something to spark creativity. Bored kids with nothing to do will eventually find something to play with… such as coloring on your walls... I was guilty of that – sorry, Mom! But if you hand a bored child something to encourage open-ended play, then everyone wins.

At La Stella Blu, we consider ourselves champions of imaginative toys, and some of our favorite items (even as adults) are unique toys that will inspire any child to really play and be creative.

Tegu blocks are magnetic heirloom-quality wooden blocks for ages 1-99. We play with them all the time in the store, and it's fascinating how creative our tiniest customers can be! Since they are magnetized, nothing is impossible – from dinosaurs to cars to tall, tall towers and everything in between, kids love Tegu. (As do we, as we’ve featured them in previous blogs recently!) Next time you hear, "I'm BORED," grab Tegu blocks and ask your child to make the best building they've ever seen and tell you why it's great – you'll be amazed at what you learn about your child and their creative processes.

We love Sarah's Silks! Last time we had a large group of kids in the store, they went straight for Sarah's Silks. They put on capes and princess hats, grabbed streamers, and told me the story of the troll that lived in the bridge and how the caped crusader saved the day! These items are Instant ice breakers and great for play dates with new friends. The suggested age of play for Sarah’s Silks starts at 3 years, but very few people will outgrow these fun, brightly colored items. Trust me, all of us have even tried on a crown or princess hat when no one was in the store!



Finally, if you have space, use a large, low plastic storage container or small children's pool and fill it with something fun and different – like water or sand or crumpled paper – and use it as a sensory play station. Incorporate water or sand-safe toys such as Green Toys, which are made from 100% recycled plastic, and let kids dream up a sea or sand adventure! I especially love the Seaplane and Dig and Discover Set. If you don't have the space to dedicate to a sensory play station, almost all of Green Toys make great bath toys, too!

By spending time every day playing with items that encouraged children to use their imaginations, you’re less likely to hear the long whine of “But I’m booooooooored.” We believe creative play is a cornerstone to happy, healthy kids – and happy, sane parents!


Last Minute Stocking Stuffers! December 16 2016, 0 Comments

 

Djeco, Night Light, Little Big Room – $11
These delicate and beautiful night lights are cordless and include a 20 minute sleep timer. Whimsically designed (it doubles as a snow globe!), Djeco’s night lights embody everything we love from this brand’s inspiring arts and crafts! (Available in store only.)

Moulin Roty, La Grande Famille Tiny – $23.50
An adorable tiny critter from the La Grande Famille collection by Moulin Roty is the perfect stocking stuffer for those of us looking for quality stocking stuffers that will be treasured forever. The collection is a family of different characters, all with charming faces and vintage clothing that will capture the heart and imagination of both adults and children!

   

Tegu, Pocket Pouch – $25
We love Tegu blocks almost as much as our kiddos love Tegu blocks! Why? Mostly because the blocks are as entertaining as they are educational, but it doesn’t hurt to know that our little ones won’t be outgrowing Tegu in just a year (or 90 for that matter!). The Pocket Pouch fits wonderfully in a purse or kiddo’s backpack – making it so convenient for on-the-go.

Jack n’ Jill, Toothbrush, Calendula Toothpaste, and Rinse Cup – $4.99, $6.99, $8.99
This toothbrush is biodegradable and compostable! How wonderful is that? Simply break off the head, recycle it, and toss the rest in your compost. Really, any way you dispose of it, the toothbrush will be gone in 90 days or less – unlike other toothbrushes which will remain in landfills for millions years to come. Also… They are adorable. Make a whole set with the toothpaste and rinse cup!

Once Again, Wool Cub Hat – $24.00
Warm and adorable, these handmade, one-of-a-kind hats are constructed from repurposed wool and come in a variety of classic vintage prints. The fit slightly reminds us of a vintage leather football helmet, in the best way, of course!  We can’t get over how cute our little one’s look in these hats! (Available in store only.)

Point 6, Kids Merino Wool Socks – $16.95
A wise person once warned us to never send a child out with cheap cotton socks if you want them to enjoy hiking. Point6 merino wool hiking socks go above and beyond as they are strategically cushioned for extra comfort. Bonus: they hold up amazingly in the wash…no pilling, no shrinking, and they maintain their cushion! (Available in store only.)

 

 

 


Four Types of Gifts for the New Baby in Your Life December 12 2016, 0 Comments

The Pampering Gift

Erbaviva Baby Essentials Gift Box, $50 (Only available in store.)

Why not give this precious new baby the gift of luxury for Christmas? The gift set includes Erbaviva’s top three most beneficial products for baby: Baby Oil, Baby Cream, and Baby Shampoo. All Erbaviva products are created from distinctively pure organic herbs, essential oils, and botanicals that are sourced to the highest standards of organic certification, safety, efficacy, and sustainability.

  • Erbaviva’s Body Cream is made with natural emulsifiers including aloe, shea and cocoa butters, and is scented with organic essential oils lavender and chamomile. This perfectly simple formula is pure and gentle enough for body and face – a must-try for all babies with especially sensitive skin. Many moms swear that this cream solved their little one’s eczema, rosacea, and/or cradle cap!
  • Erbaviva’s Baby Oil is perfect for hydrating the skin after a bath or used during a baby massage. This oil is infused with Vitamin E and rosemary extract in a base of almond, jojoba, and safflower carrier.
  • Erbaviva’s Baby Shampoo is ideal for both newborns and the entire family. The shampoo nourishes the scalp and hair with an ultra-mild blend of organic lavender and chamomile essential oils and Oregon grape extract. This formula is completely free of laurel sulfates and unwanted chemicals, making it all the better!

 

The Practical Gift

(1)  GroVia Magic Stick, $13.95 (2) FridaBaby NoseFrida: The Snotsucker, $15 (3) Zutano Cozie Booties, $21

Get baby (and parents) off to a smooth family start with these few products! Our parent customers tell us these have been the answers to their super common, real, and frustrating parenting struggles.

  • The GroVia Magic Stick is one product that customers absolutely adore! Honestly, we can not tell you how many times we have heard, “This thing is seriously the best.” Think diaper cream is too lame to be gifted? Consider this: The typical baby will have at least one very painful rash during their diaper days, but for many babies, it’s a constant struggle keeping things comfortable and not so irritated down there. Eliminating the long, frustrating, and vexatious journey that is finding a diaper cream/balm that actually works is kind of one of the best gifts you could ever give a baby (and parent) you adore! What’s more? The ointment is all natural, organic, and petroleum-free, and the convenient stick design ensures a fast, even, and clean application every time.
  • At first glance, the NoseFrida: The Snotsucker by FridaBaby may make you want to LOL (or gag, maybe?). But... the truth is, the notorious Snotsucker has a following that you could describe as cult-like. Those who have used one will attest of the unique sense of gratification they feel once they have successfully sucked every last booger out of their baby’s snotty little nose, knowing no ordinary nasal aspirator would have done the job. Oh, and rest assured knowing the NoseFrida’s filter system actually works – keeping adult mouths germ and booger free.
  • New parents purchasing their first pair of Zutano Cozie Booties usually mention that they had been highly recommended to them by someone they know with a baby. Well, the La Stella Blu mama’s recommend them too! Why? Because they simply don’t fall off. These booties will stay on your baby’s feet until you make the conscience decision to remove them. Don’t think that’s a big deal? Well...it is. It’s a very real and very persistent struggle to keep anything on your little one’s feet!

 

The Made in Montana Gift

(1)  GEO by Dig This Chick Bodysuit, $28 (2) Goodnight Missoula Book, $15.99 (3) Paisley Pear Designs Baby Gown, $28 (All available in store only.)

If you’re really not sure what to buy for the new baby in your life, you can’t go wrong purchasing a gift that is adorable, made sustainably with integrity and love that also supports a few of the many Montana moms who are doing their thing as business owners!

  • Montanans, as well as the many Montana expats and lovers out there, always go for the GEO bodysuit by Dig This Chick. The creator of this line is a mother, fourth generation Montanan, adventurer, small business owner, and popular blogger Nici Holt Cline AKA Dig This Chick. Every piece from her line is thoughtfully made by hand with Fair Trade and GOTS certified non-GMO cotton in a little studio nestled in the mountains of Western Montana.
  • The children’s book Goodnight Missoula captures the wonder and magic of the Missoula Valley through the eye’s of a child. The story explores local Missoula landmarks, like Mount Sentinel, Fort Missoula, Montana Snowbowl, and of course, downtown’s “Crossings” sculpture and many others. Beautifully illustrated by Molly Clevenger and written by mother-daughter authors Linda Giammona-Eggers and Laura Timblo, this book is a perfect gift for future Missoula lovers!
  • Paisley Pear Designs is a small company based out of Helena, Montana that specializes in hand-sewn unique and modern items for babies and clothing for kids. From designing the styles, to fabric and print selection, right down to each and every nitty gritty hand-stitch, Amanda, owner of Paisley Pear Designs and mother, literally does it all herself! And may we say she does it well!

 

The Cute, Trendy, and New to La Stella Blu Gift

 

(1)  Finn + Emma Coverall, $34 (2) Finn + Emma Reversible Hat, $14 (3) Finn + Emma Teething Ears, $22 (4) Oli & Carol Toys, from $12.99 (Only available in store.)

  • When we stumbled upon Finn + Emma we knew we had found a brand that was the sweet spot between stylish and sustainable, classic and contemporary, whimsical and sophisticated, and would fit in perfectly at La Stella Blu. Every piece we selected for the store is beautiful, unique, and high quality – made with only the finest 100% organic cotton, eco-friendly dyes, and all natural wood. Finn + Emma’s Coverall and matching Reversible Hats, and Teething Ears come in five fresh prints.
  • We believe that if your child’s possessions are destined to take over your home, it makes sense to give your little ones beautiful toys! Spanish brand, Oli & Carol are inspired by original vintage designs and modernized with cool soft natural tones. Designed for function, the gum-soothing teether and your little one’s bathtime companion are here! Each toy does it both, avoiding the moisture and germ trapping plug you see on many baby toys ensuring their safety as teethers and functionality as bath toys. These uber adorable toys are made from the rubber of Hevea trees and are 100% pure and natural. Great find? We think so!


Green Gifts for the Whole Family December 12 2016, 0 Comments

It’s already December 12th! We are double checking our family holiday gift lists and discovered there are some top notch green gifts for the whole family. We love finding brands and items that are eco-friendly, health conscious, or organic – better yet, all three! While there is always that something special for each person (as we’re all unique snowflakes), we are certain these family friendly gifts would be warmly welcomed this holiday season!

  1. Petit Collage puzzles: Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? Petit Collage has an array of puzzles in sizes, images, and age ranges. The adorable modern, brightly colored, and textured graphics are fun for children and adults alike. The cards and package are made from recycled content and printed with vegetable based inks, and Conforms to CPSIA and ASTM standards.
  2. Moby Bamboo Wrap: New parents will adore this wrap for many reasons! It encourages parent/child bonding, is machine washable, made from a blend of viscose fibers from bamboo and natural cotton, and adjusts to grow with babies from 8-30 lbs. While wraps may seem very daunting initially, there are tons of videos, tutorials, and instructions online; and our ladies are always available to answer any questions and assist with learning the techniques. And, like anything new, the more you practice the better you become! 
  3. Chewbeads Mercer Rattle: A bright, stylish rattle for baby to ring in 2017! Made from 100% medical grade silicone, and doesn’t contain BPA, phthalates, cadmium, lead, or metals, parents breathe a sigh of relief when baby puts this in their mouth. It’s easy to grasp, soft on babies gums and emerging teeth, too!
  4. PlanToys My First Dollhouse: PlanToys is extremely conscious of the creation of their toys. The toys are made from natural rubber wood trees that no longer produce latex. All the toys are assembled using a certified E-Zero formaldehyde free glue in place of traditional toxic wood glue. Just these basic, yet outstanding efforts, mean you’ll worry less as everyone plays house in this four room dollhouse with a balcony and sliding doors.
  5. Klean Kanteen: We can’t say enough about how great this brand’s selection is! There are baby bottles, kid bottles with sippy or sport leak-proof caps, and classic and insulated bottles for adults in so many sizes and colors! All of Klean Kanteen’s bottles are made from 18/8 (food grade) stainless steel, while their sippy, sport, loop, and café caps are all made with BPA-free polypropylene #5. AND many of their products are recyclable, too. We seriously believe every family member needs one of these bottles, as we use our own every day, all day!
  6. aden + anais Organic Dream Blanket: Made with four layers of certified GOTS organic cotton muslin that is grown and manufactured in an environmentally responsible way, aden + anais’ Organic Dream Blanket blanket ensures playtime, cuddle time, and bedtime is nothing less than dreamy. The delicate and imaginative designs will make any child happy, and any adult jealous!
  7. Erbaviva Mommy-to-Be Milk Bath: The holiday season can be stressful on anyone, but especially on a mommy-to-be who is busy growing another life! Treat her to something extra special with Erbaviva’s Mommy-to-Be Milk Bath: A sublimely scented blend of organic essential oils of lavender and lemon combined with organic milk powder and bath salts! This gift is especially designed to pamper, ease tired and sore muscles, and soothe dry and itchy skin as the belly grows. A divine bathing moment every mother deserves! (Available in store only.)
  8. Green Toys Submarine: Made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Green Toys has created an outstanding bath time toy! This submarine features a spinning rear propeller and a classic handle with wide-mouth opening combination for plenty of scoop-and-pour fun. Made without BPA, phthalates, PVC or external coatings, and also meets FDA food contact standards, and the whole vessel is also dishwasher safe – a parent’s dream!
  9. Thule Chariot CX stroller: What better way to be green than to be outside, enjoying the fresh air and exploring nature as a family? The Thule Chariot CX single child carrier is the elite performer in comfort, style, and technology for the most active family. It’s design is ideal for jogging parents, has full side window venting for kiddo’s temperature control, and adjustable suspension for a smooth and stable ride for everyone!
  10. Darn Tough Socks: We don’t know about you, but the holidays wouldn’t be complete without a good pair of socks! Darn Tough believes that happy feet = happy campers, and we couldn’t agree more! Made in Vermont and guaranteed for life, these merino wool socks are breathable and fast drying! The best added bonus, you ask? Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, meaning it repels bacteria and odor – perfect for little ones with the stinkiest of feet!

What's In Our Diaper Bag? November 14 2016, 0 Comments

Lassig Diaper Bag: What makes the Lassig Green Label Neckline Bag so amazing, you ask? Well, this bag is completely sustainably sourced and made from 100% recycled polyester. The best part? Lassig did not skimp on functionality or style! This bag includes a removable changing pad, bottle holder, zip pouch, stroller hooks, and a waterproof pocket! The outside is equipped with four large, easy access pockets perfect for an extra change of clothes, diapers, or a few toys. The interior of the bag is full of compartments perfectly sized for baby food jars, bottles, sippy cups, and wet wipes. The bag is large enough for toddler, infant, and mom to all share a bag comfortably. Say goodbye to digging through your cluttered bag like a maniac every time you need something for baby – absolutely everything has a place!

GroVia Diapers: This eco-friendly cloth diapering brand originated in Montana and is a favorite among many of our moms. Beyond their vast selection of incredibly adorable prints and colors, these waterproof shells just don’t leak. If you opt for a separate shell and insert technique (the AI2) you can even reuse the same shell for much of the day, just swapping out the inserts at every change, which means less laundry for you! (GroVia Hybrid Hook/Loop Shell in Onyx Stripe)

GroVia Wet Bag: If you're already using cloth diapers you know exactly why the wet bag is an essential – and if you’re just starting out, you may have not yet thought through what you’ll do with your cloth diapers when you’re out and about... Well, trust us, you will definitely need a wet bag and the GroVia Wet bag is a great, eco-friendly choice. (GroVia Wet Bag in Ballot)

Water Wipes: Finding the right baby wipe for your baby is a struggle. The bum is a sensitive area and every baby tolerates the varying chemicals in most wipes differently. Plus, there isn’t a skincare product on the market that we would feel comfortable using on our own adult skin 70-100 times a week. The solution: use a wipe made from 99.9% water and 0.01% fruit extract.

GroVia Magic Stick: Whether you’re cloth diapering or not, the Magic Stick is a game changer. It keeps your hands clean while applying baby's diaper balm, is easy to use, and goes on smooth, keeping baby's delicate area protected and comfortable. GroVia’s Magic Stick is made of all natural, organic ingredients and petroleum-free formula, making it safe to use with cloth or disposable diapers. Keep your hands clean and baby happy!

Electrik Kidz Bandana Bib: A one-size-fits all, stylish and adorable drool, milk, and food catcher. This bib gets the job done while enhancing your little one’s ensemble like an accessory. The bandana bib is known today as the flagship model of the brand and has become one of the most popular trends in the world of baby fashion. (Electrik Kidz Bandana Bib Basic in Black Stripes)

Chewbeads: Everyone knows that a teething infant will chew on almost anything and everything – Mommy and Daddy’s jewelry often being our infant’s very favorite items to stuff in their little mouths. However, our jewelry breaks and contains unwanted chemicals...that’s where Chewbeads come in! They are made with 100% medical grade silicone and are free of BPA, Phthalates, Lead, Cadmium, and metals. And, you can keep Chewbeads germ free by popping them in the dishwasher. (Chewbeads Necklace in Emerald)

Hevea Pacifier: We love supporting companies like Hevea, a Co2 neutral company that is certified by the FSC, guaranteeing that all of the timber the company consumes is sourced from a responsibly managed forest which helps prevent deforestation and degradation. Hevea uses natural rubber tapped from Malaysia for all of their rubber products, helping to make the products 100% safe and sustainable. The pacifiers come in orthodontic and round shapes and sizes 0-3 and 3-36 months.

Electrik Kidz Pacifier Holder: These minimalistic and cool pacifier holders are made from recycled climbing rope! They are nearly impossible for little ones to pull off and fit most pacifiers. (Electrik Kidz Pacifier Holder in Lollipop)

Comotomo Bottle: Our moms love this bottle! Designed to help make a seamless switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, these bottles are designed for an easy latch. Seriously – of 1,380 moms, 41% of their babies reported bottle rejection, and 80% of the babies that had bottle rejection issues took a Comotomo bottle! These bottles are designed with vents that prevent colic and to be safely microwaved, washed in a dishwasher, and boiled. The simple design is easy to clean with your hands (which is nice when you’re out and about!) and made from 100% silicone.

Ween Green Single Snack Cube: This brand prides itself on being “eco-chic” and our moms agree. These no-spill, tempered glass snack cubes and containers are designed for little ones and fit nicely in diaper bags, backpacks, and purses.

KicKee Pants Coverall: These rompers are 95% Viscose from Bamboo and 5% Spandex, making an extremely soft, stretchy, and sustainable design without sacrificing any cuteness! These are a favorite for newborns and toddlers alike and come in an assortment of beautiful colors and patterns. Plus, these lightweight coveralls fit nicely in your diaper bag for an extra change of clothes. (KicKee Pants Solid Coverall in Confetti with Bay)

Bamboobies Nursing Pads: Breastfeeding moms may want to stash an emergency pair of nursing pads in their diaper bag. Made of bamboo velour, the Bamboobies nursing pads are insanely soft. They were designed by a fellow breastfeeding mother tired of leaky breasts and indiscreet nursing pads that showed through her clothing. These heart-shaped nursing pads are fun, comfortable, and 100% discreet.  

More diaper bag essentials: Klean Kanteen sippy bottle, a swaddle (for multi-purpose use at any age), hand sanitizer, GroVia cloth wipes, an extra pair of socks, Sili Squeeze filled with homemade purees, a board book, a chew/teething toy like Sophie la Girafe, and lipstick or gloss (so you still feel like yourself!).


Bundle Up With Our Winter Essentials! November 01 2016, 0 Comments

As the final leaves begin to fall, winter is coming our way! It’s hard to prepare ourselves to get bundled up, let alone with little ones – but don’t let chilly weather and a little snow keep you from exploring outside. Bundle up your snuggle bug in some of our favorite winter gear! The items below will help make the adventures into the elements even more enjoyable.

 

Stroller / Car Seats
For those late fall and winter strolls, bunting bags, foot muffs, and car seat covers help keep baby happily snuggled and warm. The Thule Bunting Bag is insulated with a fleece liner and adjustable hood to protect your child from the cold in the stroller! BOB also makes a Warm Fuzzy stroller liner that is cozy and soft. The Stokke Foot Muffs and Skip Hop Footmuffs cocoon your little one in plush warmth while still allowing movement.

A big part of car seat safety is making sure that babies are snugly buckled in, but bulky winter layers make it harder to fasten baby in the seat appropriately. It is safer to dress babies and toddlers in lighter layers for car rides and once securely fastened, snuggle them in toasty warm with soft swaddles and blankets. Baby’s swaddle or blanket can be used to protect kiddos from the elements to and from the car and can also double as a car seat cover. We love the unique aden + anais and Little Unicorn swaddles for comfort and style!


Outerwear
Head: Protect little ears with two of our favorite Zutano hats! The Newsboy Cap is available in an array of colors for infant to toddler. The warm sherpa fleece will keep heads snug and the little ears are a fun bit of flair. The trendy Shaggy Hat is made with sherpa fleece on the outside and shaggy faux fur on the inside. Even better, the side flaps velcro closure securely keeps the hat in place, which is handy for babies who aren’t too keen on hats and toddlers who are always on the move! For a more lightweight option, the simple cotton knot hats from Paisley Pear Designs or Milkbarn Kids.

Body: For underneath those heavy duty jackets and snow pants, we adore Zutano’s options. The Cozie Overalls are great for layering over lighter shirts, both long and short! These fleece overalls snap from the neckline down to the legs, making dressing and diaper changes easy. For separates, check out Zutano’s Cozie Cuff Pant and Cozie Jacket – each is made from sherpa fleece and makes for a great addition to every kid’s winter collection. Lastly, the Cozie Elf Romper has it all! From hood to feet, the fleece onesie has built-in fold over hand and foot cuffs, eliminating the need for mittens while providing an extra layer for baby's feet. Mix and match your favorites and keep baby warm and colorful this winter!

Hands: 7 A.M. Enfant 212 Classic Mittens will keep all ten fingers warm from age 0-6. Inside has soft micro-fleece, while the outside is water-repellent! The elasticized wrists help keep warmth in and the fold-over hook and loop closures keep mittens secure! The Goumimitts baby mittens are a must-have for newborns, as they keep them babies from scratching their faces, while also keeping hands warm in the winter. The knit and fleece mittens are adjustable, keeping baby snug!

Feet: First, the toes! For babies that refuse to keep socks on, Zutano booties have snaps to keep little piggies warm and toasty. Older kids will love our favorite socks from Point6 and Darn Tough. Both brands make their socks with merino wool and are breathable and fast drying. For the puddles and snow, Bogs Classics boots are comfort rated to withstand sub-zero temps (up to -30ºF), are 100% waterproof with kid-tested easy pull-on handles!


And don’t forget the eyes and skin – bright white snow is just as reflective as summer sunshine and can be just as tough on little eyes. Paxley’s Italian shades are both hip and fun! In store, the Roshambo sunglasses are designed with baby in mind, making the glasses extremely flexible and virtually unbreakable!

Sunscreen is a year round essential. Thinksport, Thinkbaby, and Erbaviva are all free of parabens, phthalates, PABA and 1 and 4 dioxane and are naturally crafted with zinc oxide. All three effectively protect against UVA and UVB, making them perfect for the whole family! For skincare, we love (yet again) Erbaviva’s lotion and Earth Mama Angel Baby’s lotion. Erbaviva gently moisturizes sensitive skin and is made with aloe, shea and cocoa butters, natural emulsifiers, and organic essential oils. Earth Mama Angel Baby’s lotion is toxic-free and made with organic Calendula for delicate skin; the organic Rooibos soothes eczema, skin allergies, diaper and skin rash.


Preparing for winter can be daunting, but with a little preparation, and help from La Stella Blu, finding exactly what baby needs is simple! We can’t wait to see you throughout the winter when you’re out and about exploring our winter wonderland!


First Friday – August 2016 August 08 2016, 0 Comments

The first week of August was World Breastfeeding Week, and in a way of helping to renormalize nursing in public, we are showcasing local photographer Romy McGahan Daniel's collection of breastfeeding portraits for August's First Friday! 

The 60-piece collection beautifully covered the walls of La Stella Blu, displaying the varying settings of mothers breastfeeding in Missoula and surrounding areas. As a career breastfeeder, Romy works to make nursing in public mainstream again, using her talent to reveal the realness of breastfeeding – something that's natural, tender, and necessary.

"Breastfeeding can be many things: joyous, tedious, difficult, beautiful, painful, transcendent, nourishing, and rewarding. What breastfeeding should not be however, is shameful, secretive, or stigmatized.

"My goal with this photography project is to help renormalize nursing in public. These photos are meant to remind us all that babies need to be fed whenever they are hungry, privately, or in public. After all, that’s what nursing is: feeding a hungry little person. It is a basic need with a simple solution. But nursing in public has been complicated by our culture’s feelings about nudity and sexuality, especially the sexualization of women.

"I see breastfeeding in public as a feminist issue in many ways, by which I mean a human issue. Women bear the brunt of the nursing-in-public 'controversy', at the hands of a culture in which women are commonly objectified by men. Some women have even been taught to spare men the 'temptation' or discomfort of seeing them using their breasts to feed their offspring.

"A woman’s breasts are biologically designed to feed babies, so when our culture hyper-sexualizes women and their breasts to the extent that people no longer remember the primary function of breasts, something needs to change. I think the best way to remind people of what breasts are for is to see them doing what they were made to do. This show features 60 portraits intended to saturate our consciousness with the image of women nursing so that it becomes as normal a sight as an adult eating lunch in a restaurant.

"The more people – especially children – who see women breastfeeding, the more normal it will become again. And then we can all just get back to our lunches, while the woman and the baby at the next table get back to theirs." – Romy

For the remainder of August, (which is also National Breastfeeding Month!), we are happily displaying these proud, brave mamas nursing their babies!


World Breastfeeding Week 2016 August 01 2016, 0 Comments

The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week! The theme for 2016 is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting everyone to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other, and care for the world we share. 

As a breastfeeding friendly store, we at La Stella Blu full-heartedly believe that breastfeeding is a healthy, natural part of motherhood and life, and are excited to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with our community!

We are holding a sale of 20% off breastfeeding items in our store. We are also hosting our local First Friday, showcasing breastfeeding portraits by local photographer Romy McGahan Daniel, in an effort to re-normalize breastfeeding. The photographs will be shown for the entire month of August, as it is also National Breastfeeding Month!

Please help us celebrate the work of mothers around the world in feeding their children and the efforts of World Breastfeeding Week! 

 
"This year's World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Breastfeeding: a key to Sustainable Development. 2016 commemorates the start of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A broad approach using the sustainability theme is thus relevant and inclusive.

"It will enable the breastfeeding movement (and beyond) to connect with a variety of development issues over the next 15 years (2030) for maximum impact. Breastfeeding is linked to the SDGs in several ways.

"The WBW materials will cover the main link areas between breastfeeding and the SDGs along 5 broad themes 1) nutrition/food security, 2) health, well-being and survival, 3) environment and climate change, 4) work productivity, empowerment, social protection,and 5) sustainable partnerships and rule of law." – WBW website

Book-a-Day Gift Ideas - Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives July 15 2016, 0 Comments

For our Friday feature, we've chosen one of our all-time favorite titles. Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola Schaefer explores the wondrous natural world through numbers. Today, we're featuring gifts to encourage imaginative outdoor play. 

Gift Ideas

  1. Plant a garden with your little one to encourage the exploration of all kinds of visiting fauna (and bugs, if your guy or gal is into that). The Green Toys Dig and Discover Set lets your child garden right beside you with a kid-safe shovel and rake hardy enough to withstand actual digging.  
  2. Raising a hipster baby? Paxley Sunglasses have you covered. Keep little ones' eyes safe in style with this uber-cool style from Paxley Sunwear.  
  3. One of our favorite Missoula summertime activities is a walk on the river trail. Native Jeffersons are light, comfortable, and water friendly, just in case the river looks a little too inviting. 
  4. Sunscreen is a must have for every outdoor kid. Dermatologist-recommended Thinksport Sunscreen is water resistant, goes on easy, smells great, and best of all is free of PABA, parabens, and toxic chemicals. We swear by it! 
Thanks so much for following along with our kids' book series this week! We hope the next time you're looking for a classic or new treasured children's title you think of La Stella Blu!

Book-a-Day Gift Ideas - Goodnight Missoula July 14 2016, 0 Comments

Today's book inspiration is local favorite Goodnight Missoula, written by Laura Timblo and Linda Giammona-Eggers and illustrated by Molly Clevenger. The children's book is written through the eye's of a child to capture the wonder and magic of the Missoula Valley, highlighting exactly what we love!

If you're an in-the-know Missoula local, you know all about the twice-annual alternative arts Made Fair – but did you know that La Stella Blu carries many items from popular Made Fair vendors year-round in our store? For new parents who know Missoula, Goodnight Missoula, and handmade items from Montana is where it's at!  

Gift Ideas

  1. If you've ever stopped to compliment a Missoula mom on baby's unique and adorable onsie/swaddle/headband/bib/pacifier clip in the perfect Missoula print, chances are it was a Paisley Pear Designs original. We carry a full range of Paisley Pear Designs items, including these perfect knot hats for coming home in. (Only available in store.)
  2. We carry natural wood teethers from Montana Solar Creations. Wood teething toys are baby favorites, as any parent with a gnawed wooden crib will attest! These fun shapes let baby explore a favorite chewing texture safely. (Only available in store.)
  3. Did you know that GroVia is a Montana brand? Started in Bozeman, GroVia is revolutionizing the natural parenting industry. GroVia diapers have every functional capability you could dream up (snaps, AIO, inserts) and come in fun prints and colors – perfect for the hot days of summer when clothes are optional, but diapers are necessary.
  4. Dig this Chick is another local Montana favorite. We carry one pieces, T-shirts, and bibs with the ubiquitous Montana-state outline in bright, cheerful prints. We love these as gifts for proud Montana natives and for anyone who has made the (regrettable) decision to move out of state. (Only available in store.)

Book-a-Day Gift Ideas - Le Petit Baby Book July 13 2016, 0 Comments

 

Pregnancy brain is real, y'all... New parents will be so happy they kept notes from pregnancy through baby's first year with a journal like the Le Petit Baby Book. This hardcover keepsake album captures the special memories from pregnancy and helps sleep deprived parents keep track of major milestones. Today, we've selected items for pregnant mom-to-be! (All of the items below are currently only available in store.)

Gift Ideas

  1. The Cake Nursing Bra provides soft, comfortable, and cute support for rapidly changing breasts. Designed for maternity and nursing, these bras will support mom through baby's first year. 
  2. Moms-to-be will love the safe teas from Earth Mama Angel Baby. The tea sampler has a tea to help with morning sickness and heartburn, as well as a healthy tea for the third trimester and a comforting tea for moms who are anxiously awaiting baby's arrival. 
  3. Heading into the third trimester, Mom will be ready to get off of her feet. If you can't be there for a foot rub, the next best thing is the relaxing milk bath from Erbaviva. This relaxing blend soothes, pampers, and moisturizes.
  4. Speaking of sore feet, we have cute compression socks from Vim&Vigr! Vim&Vigr compression socks are heaven sent for swollen feet and don't require moms-to-be to sacrifice any style.

    Book-a-Day Gift Ideas - Lenny & Lucy July 12 2016, 0 Comments

    Today we've chosen to highlight Lenny & Lucy, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Lenny & Lucy tells the sweet story of thoughtful Peter, his very good dog, Harold, and their move to a new house.

    Sometimes when families grow they need more room, which may mean that an older sibling is struggling with the idea of a new brother or sister, and a move all at the same time. That's a lot of change! To help with the transition, we've selected items that will be useful in the old house, the new house, and along the way.

    Gift Ideas

    1. The MIO Car + 2 People and MIO Trailer can help parents get a nervous child excited about moving. Load the trailer full of the People's things and explain to your child that even though the house is new, their favorite toys will be there when they arrive. (Currently only available in store.)
    2. New to La Stella Blu this week are the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpacks - great for road trips and back-to-school. Pack the bag full of treats, activities, and games to make traveling fun. (Currently only available in store.)
    3. The EcoLunchbox Oval Box and No-Leak Cup also transition from travel to back-to-school. No one wants a hangry little one, after all, so stock up on great containers!
    4. The tegu Pocket Pouch Prisms are great for trips - the blocks are magnetic, helping little hands with imaginative play on bumpy planes, trains, or automobiles. They even come with a handy felt carrying case to keep all the pieces in one place.

    Book-a-Day Gift Ideas - Les Misérables July 11 2016, 0 Comments

     

    This week, we are starting a series highlighting some of the great children's titles we carry at La Stella Blu. 

    One of the most popular new shower ideas is to ask guests to recommend or bring their favorite children's book. We have taken this idea one step further and have put together book-inspired gifts that any baby (and parent) would be delighted to receive. 

    Today's inspiration is the board book Les Misérables, one of the BabyLit series that we carry in store. Each BabyLit title is especially fun because the books put an age-appropriate educational spin of teaching colors, numbers, or language through the framework of classic literature. Les Misérables is a French language primer.

    Gift Ideas

    1. Cranky babies will love to cuddle bébé from French toy maker Moulin Roty. Her short cropped hair is Fantine-inspired. (Only available in store.) 
    2. Every parent of a teething toddler knows that it is in fact, Les Misérables. But baby will love to chew on Sophie La Girafe, a French staple, as it's perfect for soothing baby's sore gums. Even better, Sophie is made of 100% rubber and food-grade paint! 
    3. With teething usually comes diaper rash... LuSa Organics travel-sized Booty Balm has a calming lavender scent, and can easily be stashed in a purse or diaper bag. The balm is safe for both cloth or disposable diapers! (Only available in store.)
    4. Finally, baby will look très chic in a Breton-inspired striped footie from aden + anais. Lightweight muslin is cozy, yet breathable, so baby can lounge in PJs all day. (Only available in store.)  

        Stay tuned for upcoming posts each day this week, where we will showcase more great titles and inspired gifts to go along!


        What Car Seat Do You Recommend? July 06 2016, 0 Comments

        One of the most frequent questions we are asked by new parents and parents-to-be is: What car seat do you recommend?

        As you might expect, the answer is different for every family. The short response is that the safest and best car seat for you is the one that best fits your baby and your car. We recommend, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Car Seat Safety Guidelines, that your child remains rear-facing until age 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat.

         


        Safety

        The good news is that a car seat that fits appropriately, is installed correctly, is within the expiration date and that has not been damaged or recalled can reduce your child’s risk of being injured by as much as 71 percent according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

        However, according to Safe Kids, 73 percent of car seats are not being used correctly.

        One of the most common mistakes made with car seats is not appropriately adjusting the car seat. All car seats have weight and height guidelines to consider, as well as adjustable harnesses that must be individually fitted to your child.

        Fitting the car seat is generally easier to accomplish with the seat out of the vehicle, before installing the car seat according to the instructions provided in the manual.

        When adjusting the harness, many parents are hesitant to strap baby in snuggly, or try to fit the car seat when the child is wearing bulky outer layers. It’s critical to remember that while the seat should be comfortable for baby, a child who is not strapped in tight enough may be ejected from his or her seat during an accident. Straps should be snug. During winter months, take baby’s lovey or your child’s favorite blanket in lieu of heavy outer layers, or purchase a one-piece that is car seat compatible.

        Once you’ve ensured that the car seat fits your child correctly, most car seats can be installed according the directions provided in the manual using either the seat belt or the vehicle’s LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system. 

        According to the AAP’s Healthy Children website, “vehicles with the LATCH system have lower anchors located in the back seat, where the seat cushions meet. Tether anchors are located behind the seat, either on the panel behind the seat (in sedans) or back of the seat, ceiling, or floor (in most minivans, SUVs, and hatchbacks). All car seats have attachments that fasten to these anchors. Nearly all passenger vehicles and all car seats made on or after September 1, 2002, are equipped to use LATCH.”  

         



        Keep in mind that all car seats have an expiration date. At this point, if the seat you are installing does not have LATCH capability, that seat is expired. Most car seats have components that may become brittle or weak as they age, reducing the capability for the seat to protect your child in an impact. If you have questions about the seat’s expiration date, or you can’t find an expiration date, you can always contact the manufacturer.

         

        Daunted by the idea of installing and fitting your car seat correctly? 

        You’re not alone. Thankfully, there are many resources to help parents who have questions about car seat installation. Many manufacturers have video manuals on their websites, as well as help lines for parents with questions. You can also contact a car seat technician to check that the seat is fitted and installed correctly. 

        Parents in Missoula or the surrounding communities can make an appointment to have the seat installed or checked during the monthly Child Safety Seat Check weekend with the Missoula Rural Fire Department by calling (406) 549-6172.

         

        Car Seats at La Stella Blu

        Here at La Stella Blu, we are passionate about car seat safety. All of the seats that we sell have been tested rigorously, come with innovative safety features and industry-leading impact ratings. You can also find car seats that are not only safe, but eco-friendly and stylish. With those primary considerations, you also want to think about use, stroller compatibility, design, and price.   

        Britax

        One of our top-selling brands, Britax has been an industry leader in child safety for over 70 years as the top-selling European car seat brand. Fun fact: the Britax infant seat, compatible with the popular BOB stroller line, was the car seat of choice for both infant Prince George and Princess Charlotte. La Stella Blu carries the Britax B-Safe Elite infant (bucket) seat, as well as rear-to-front facing convertible models and boosters featuring Britax's proprietary SafeCell energy absorption and movement limitation technology.

        Clek

        We also carry a selection of award-winning rear-to-front facing Clek car seats. Clek boasts a world-class manufacturing process and premium material selection with an environmental focus. Clek features GREENGUARD Select Certified Crypton Fabrics that are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants while still meeting the federally-required automotive fire-safety standards. Clek also has a recycling program for their car seats designed to reduce environmental impact. The Clek seats that we carry, the Foonf and Fllo, have anti-rebound bars and are excellent for extended rear-facing.


        Diono

        For parents with multiple kids, Diono leads the way in narrower seats to facilitate three-across. Diono has worked to solve the real worries and hassles that parents face every day. The Rainer model, carried here in store, is a true convertible seat with multiple series of removable pads to comfortably fit baby from birth to toddlerhood. It's rated from 5 to 120 lbs!


        First Friday - July 2016 July 01 2016, 0 Comments

        July's First Friday at La Stella Blu showcased maternity and family photographs by First Embrace Photography. Photographer, Jenna Nordspecializes in rich, intimate details in life while looking for raw, genuine emotion in her subjects, and the collections exhibited display just that.

        The two collections presented in our store for the month of July are modern family storytelling through photography. The photographs show the intimate, special moments within pregnancy, postpartum, and the new family unit.

        The opening night of the show was a success with not only Jenna being present throughout the night, but also the family focused in the main collection. The family brought along their newest addition and was able to enjoy their portraits in a warm, welcoming space.

        Stop in during the month of July to catch a glimpse inside the candid moments of pregnancy and family life, which are genuine, funny, busy and, at times, trying.


        First Friday - May 2016 May 13 2016, 0 Comments

        Our May First Friday art exhibit featured artwork by the 8th Grade students at Sussex SchoolWith the help of art teacher, Jen Bardsley, students researched famous Art History paintings and created re-productions of the artworks. Before the First Friday event, students also gave formal presentations, meaning they are experts on their creations! 

        The night was lively, as Jen spent time at the store, welcoming students and families, helping to show off each art piece! What is extra exciting about this event? The artwork is for sale! The small pieces are $20 and the large pieces are $30. The money raised goes towards Sussex School's 8th Grade Field trip in May. Each student needs to raise around $700, so La Stella Blu and the Missoula Community are helping them reach their goals via art and First Friday!

        Student, Estella Campana, with her artwork
        Student, Estelle Campana, with her artwork

        Stop in to see the incredible skills of these students and purchase a painting that speaks to you! The artwork will be displayed for the remainder of the month.

        Celebrate Earth Day! April 23 2016, 0 Comments

        Mother Earth provides so much for us, so we strive to find and use as many products that have little impact on the environment. To celebrate Earth Day this weekend, we wanted to share some great eco-friendly, safe family products!

        1. Made from bamboo & rice husks, this biodegradable cup by Jack N' Jill is earth friendly and cute. With a friendly character, it is perfect for hygienically storing products in the bathroom, rinsing after brushing, and even when someone is in need of that midnight drink of water!

        2. Small and lightweight, the 12oz Klean Kanteen Sport Bottle is the natural progression for kids who are ready for a more grown-up delivery system. The size is great when space is limited, like for a lunchbox or backpack. Even better, Klean Kanteen's products are made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, and free of BPA, phthalates, and other toxins!

        3. Play time is an important part of any child's day! Plan Toys, including the Fire Truck, are made from sustainable rubber wood and coated with a non-toxic finish, all colors are made from vegetable dye, making them safe and fun. 

        4. This stylish, modern Bambu Mini Bowl can be used by both adults and kids!  Each Bambu bowl is hand coiled and shaped, then treated with a natural, food safe lacquer derived from the cashew nut tree, and finished with a durable food safe PU lacquer. 

        5. Did you know that the average child uses around 7,000 disposable diapers before reaching potty-training? Not only are cloth diapers better on the environment, you'll also save money using them! The GroVia O.N.E. Diaper has it all: no need to choose between Hook & Loop or Snap closures – the O.N.E. has both! The removable Hook & Loop closure is perfect for those who love a “no-hassle” fit but want to transition to a snap closure later on.

        6. Instead of using a synthetic surfactant or soaping agent, Buckaroo Organics' detergent contains 100% USDA Certified Organic Soapberries, also known as soapnuts. The soapberry not only cleans, but also possesses natural fabric softening capabilities. This detergent does not contain any of the harmful chemicals that pollutes water or causes skin irritation – perfect for the earth and family!

        7. This kid-friendly fun shaped plate by Innobaby makes mealtime fun even for the pickiest eaters. Plus divided compartments prevent food from sliding and mixing. Made from food grade stainless steel, this is the perfect nontoxic, worry-free mealtime solution.

        8. As children start putting everything into their mouths, let's make sure it's safe from the beginning. Hevea's Panda Teether is just that! It's made of 100% natural rubber featuring a hygienic, one-piece design that prevents bacteria accumulating in cracks and joints. The panda is adorable and the perfect texture and shape to relieve teething pain.

        First Friday - April 2016 April 13 2016, 0 Comments

        For the First Friday art exhibit of April, we showcased outstanding artistic creations by Missoula International School students, from various grades. The school's art teacher, Loryn, created an inspiring montage of the art, which can still be seen throughout the store!

         

        The opening night of the artwork was seen by many students, parents, and teachers, as well as the rest of the Missoula community. We love displaying the artwork for the remainder of the month, so people can stop by at any time to enjoy the hard work that each student put into creating their masterpiece. 


        W is for Winter Water Factory March 18 2016, 0 Comments

        Winter is on it's way out the door – hopefully. The frost and light snow remains in the morning, but the sun melts it away by afternoon and gives us our much needed Vitamin D. If you're looking for clothing to keep your child warm, but also make the move toward spring, check out the inspiring organic clothing collection by Winter Water Factory. Winter Water Factory is a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in screen printed textiles and amazing kids' clothing. The patterns are fresh, bold, and beautiful – and even better, they are printed on soft 100% certified organic cotton and made in the USA! Find tons of the patterns in dresses, sleeping gowns and rompers today. Available now La Stella Blu store in Missoula, MT!


        First Friday - March 2016 March 07 2016, 0 Comments

        For our March First Friday, we exhibited Stuffie Portraits – artwork done by the students at Missoula Community School. Each child had drawn an individual portrait of a special or favorite stuffed animal! A photo accompanies each drawing, showing the great resemblance and skill of the students' work. 

        This exhibit was created with the help of guest artist Laura Sawaya. While working with Laura, the students explored color, shape, and creative thinking. The students' hard work definitely paid off as their artwork shows just how hard they all worked to capture the stuffed animal's look and feel.

        "It only took minutes after I entered La Stella Blu before a child ran to me and rushed me over to show their artwork hanging. Such a proud moment!" -Missoula Community School

        We had a great time welcoming all of the students, teachers, and families to our store, and can't thank them enough for joining us in celebrating the students of Missoula Community School. It's fantastic to have a community that comes together to celebrate children's creativity and imagination!

        The artwork will be up for a bit longer, so stop in to see it before it's gone!


        First Cloth Diapering 101 Class of 2016 February 25 2016, 0 Comments

        We loved holding our first Cloth Diapering 101 Class of 2016 this week! 

        Our very own Pam and Jen hosted the class, along with guest speaker, Leah, a local mom and experienced cloth diaper user. Between the three ladies, the class covered the basics of getting started with cloth diapers, what products you actually need, laundering, and potty training. For something that can seem so overwhelming to start as a new parent, Pam and Jen broke it down to feel like a walk in the park!

        In celebration of our educational classes we were able to offer savings storewide and raffle off gift bags with great prizes for those just starting out in their cloth diapering journey or those who have already begun. Congratulations to the winners!

         

        A big thank you to all the parents, parents-to-be, and their beautiful babies who were able to attend our Cloth Diapering 101 Class. We feel like it was a success for those in the community, and we sure hope you enjoyed it too!

        We're looking forward to many more events like this!


        Sleeping 101 Class Success! February 01 2016, 0 Comments

        Our first informative class of the year was a success! 

        This past Saturday, two of Missoula’s child sleep experts, Jenni Fuller and Melissa Eastlick, came to La Stella Blu to hold our first Sleeping 101 class for new parents. They shared helpful tips on how to establish a healthy and safe sleep routine for little ones and their parents. Melissa and Jenni also shared information on what good sleep looks like, from infancy all the way to early childhood.  

        There was a great turn out of parents, parents-to-be, and adorable babies! Before and after the event there were refreshments and Melissa and Jenni were kind enough to raffle off a free slumber consultation!

        We are looking forward to many more events that bring together new parents and the outstanding community of Missoula's family professionals!

        Thanks again to Jenni Fuller and Melissa Eastlick for sharing your expertise, and to all the new moms and dads who came out Saturday!

        Our next informative class will be Cloth Diapering 101 held on February 24th at 10am. If you are interested in attending, please contact the store at (406) 317-1074 or email pam@lastellablu.com, as space is limited. 


        SAFETY RECALL: Britax B-Safe 35 Handle January 21 2016, 0 Comments

         

        For more information, including how to locate the DOM label and file a claim, please review the website created by Britax specifically for this recall: www.bsafe35recall.com.

         


        New Baby Checklist January 20 2016, 0 Comments

        Baby on the way? See our New Baby Checklist for a shopping guide for your little one! Best of all most of these items can be found right at La Stella Blu!


        New Baby Checklist