So months ago, Mrs. 5C asked her bloggy friends to post about the items they felt were the most important to have on hand in raising babies. I was a slacker and ended up emailing a mini list and then sharing most of my information while reviewing her registry over leftovers from our FABULOUS afternoon tea at The Jefferson. We ate WAY too much and ended up talking about baby stuff until her poor eyes were glazed over and she was half asleep on the couch (so was I!).
So this post is WAY late but I felt it was an important one to share with the rest of the world. I should also note that this is solely my opinion and what got my family through raising two wonderful baby (not-so-baby anymore!) girls and what helped us the most.
1. iPhone: I used this in the middle of the night mostly, while nursing Ellorie. In the first few weeks/months you will be up at night and severely sleep deprived trying to feed your newborn baby. It doesn’t matter if you’re nursing or bottle feeding, you’re sleep deprived either way. So in order to stay awake and not drop the baby (don’t drop the baby!) I used my iPhone to keep me awake. I checked my email, read parenting books about my 2 year old, updated my Facebook status, etc. You get it: stay awake, don’t drop the baby.
2. Swaddles: in the first few weeks I highly recommend the velcro closure swaddles in cotton. They’re light-weight, which is good for any season and over any type of jammies. They are super easy to use and they stay closed with velcro. Houdini baby is NOT getting out and you will get some sleep (not that I said SOME). I am a HUGE advocate of swaddling babies and I will tell anyone who wants to listen. Unswaddled babies make me itchy. There are a ton of studies and books to read that will tell you about how swaddling is wonderful but I will tell you from my experience that newborn babies sleep FAR better when swaddled than not. And in the beginning you will do anything for sleep. Start with swaddling!
3. Bjorn: I really like the Baby Bjorn for the first few months before the baby really weighs enough to hurt your back. It’s super easy to just throw them in and keep on doing whatever it is that you need to be doing. This is also a great carrier for Dads in that it is super simple to put on and take off. This carrier really doesn’t have great back support though, so I moved on to my Beco Carrier or the Ergo Carrier pretty quickly once I could put my babies on my back as they provided way more back support. I did many walks around my house and lots of swaying back and forth during the first few months with a baby in a Bjorn. It’s quite helpful when your arms are so tired and you’re so tired and you just need the baby to sleep so that you can get an hour of sleep. Not sure I would buy one though. We were very lucky to have my awesome sister let us use hers so we never had to buy one. Sarah, you’re welcome to ours as well. Maybe I already gave it to you? If I didn’t, let me know
4. Good snacks for nursing Mom: I nursed both of my babies for at least one year and it is one of the things that I am most proud of. It’s really hard work but it is so worth it. I also feel, though, that if you aren’t able to or don’t want to there is nothing wrong with that. I can’t stand the judgment women place on one another when it comes to nursing or not nursing. I have many friends who nursed and many who chose not to or simply were not able to. I respect them all as mothers regardless of whether they nursed their babies or not. (Ok, done with my rant.) If you are nursing you will need tons of energy in order to make it through each day, especially during the early months. You need to remember to feed yourself, as well as the baby. I know that sounds silly now but you just wait until you’re delirious and can’t function because you’ve had absolutely no sleep. I really loved Luna Bars (chocolate peppermint is awesome) and fruit and cheese. Mini bagels are great too. It’s helpful if you have your hubby in charge of remembering to make sure you eat. Or a friend, whoever really. Just make sure you eat. And don’t forget to drink LOTS of water, at least a glass every time you nurse. For that matter, just keep a water bottle on your night stand and that will help you remember. You will be super thirsty!
5. Good nursing bras: These are crazy important. Nursing a baby takes your body through some crazy changes and your boobs will never be as sore and huge as they are when you’re nursing. You need comfortable and supportive nursing bras and nursing tanks. I wore Bravado nursing bras and tanks on the recommendation of my sister-in-law (who has nursed 4 babies) and loved them. I got the ones with no underwire and wore them like crazy for the first year with Maddie and the first 6 months with Ellorie. I switched to regular bras, just in a bigger size with Ellorie because my boobs decided to be saggy and sad looking at 6 months in. I needed a lift! They were crazy huge and perky with Maddie, not sure what happened with Ellorie. Your comfort is KEY. Sleep bras are also the greatest thing on Earth. Get them while you’re pregnant and wear them every night and through all of your nursing. You won’t regret it!
6. Medela nursing pads & Medela lanolin: The first go ’round I used Playtex nursing pads and they were cotton. When I took them off of my crazy sore nipples I literally had to peel them off. It hurt like crazy to peel them off of my already sore and cracked open/bleeding nipples. I didn’t know any better and it was my first time so I listened to everyone else. When I had Ellorie I tried Medela nursing pads and I was amazed. They were not plain cotton and they didn’t stick to my nipples at all. So they protected me without giving me major pain when I took them off, score! And I also discovered Medela Lanolin. It is smooth and creamy and goes on really easily. It isn’t thick at all (like other brands) and it just glides right on. I put it in my new nursing pad and I put it on my nipple after each time I nursed Ellorie. It made the biggest difference in the world. With Maddie my nipples were crazy sore for over 6 weeks and with Ellorie it was less than 2. It also helps to shower every day but really, who gets to do that in the beginning?
7. Pampers Sensitive Thick Care Wipes: I loved these wipes and again, I didn’t discover them until I had Ellorie. I guess you learn a lot once you do it all over again? They were super soft and gentle yet thick enough so I didn’t have to use a million of them and I wasn’t getting my hand super messy. I don’t like their containers though because they have absolutely no seal at the top so they dry out instantly if you accidentally leave them open. And you will leave them open many times since you’ll be delirious and sleep deprived for months on end. I really prefer the Huggies containers but I’m not a fan of their wipes. I ended up buying the containers with wipes in them and using the wipes to clean up messy hands and faces until we were rid of them and then replacing them with Pampers. I thought it was a great idea at the time and it has really served us well. If you accidentally leave the container open (which we do daily and we’re totally not sleep deprived anymore so we really have no excuse) they only ruin half of a wipe instead of the entire container. Someone was really thinking when they created that container. Fist pump to Huggies!
8. Bouncey seat or Papasan: You’ll need one that actually bounces or can be bounced with your foot if you have colicky babies like we did and are sleep deprived like we were and don’t have endless amounts of energy or patience like we didn’t. We realized that we could put our babies (swaddled) in the bouncy seat and sit down on the couch and bounce it with our foot and achieve the same happy outcome as bouncing them all over the house in our arms. When you have been bouncing all over the house for hours or you really just want to sit down and watch the program you DVR’d a month ago this really comes in handy. Again Sarah, I’m pretty sure we have one that you can borrow if we haven’t already given it to you.
9. Heartbeat sound machine & lots of batteries: We got ours out of the Slumber Bear that we registered for. Then we got a second one as a hand-me-down. It is FABULOUS. It makes a sound like Mom’s heartbeat, which the baby is already really used to hearing from being inside the womb. We took the machine out of the Slumber Bear and just sat it in the bouncy seat or in the pack n play with our girls and it really helped them settle down and fall asleep. It uses batteries super fast though so be prepared! Definitely make a last minute run to the battery store before you deliver like we did, it’s well worth it!
10. Graco carseat: This is yet another lesson we learned the hard way. Consumer reports told us that when we were pregnant with Maddie the Chicco Keyfit was the safest way to go. While that could be close to accurate, the Graco Snugride is just as safe and far more convenient than the Chicco Keyfit. For starters, it actually fits in the top of your grocery cart of the supermarket because it has an big slit in the back. Trust me, this IS important and you will find it crazy annoying when you’re having to hold your Chicco carseat in place as you walk around the grocery store or Target. Also, the Graco carseat works with almost every stroller on the market. The Chicco is coming up in the world but the Graco really has them beat. Basically, I was wrong on this one. Get the Graco and your baby will be super safe and you will be super happy.
11. Snap & Go Stroller: This is another area in which I blindly took advice on and was proven very wrong. DON’T FALL VICTIM TO THE TRAVEL SYSTEM. Don’t do it. Get the cheaper Snap & Go Stroller (I have one you can borrow Sarah) and then get a stroller with bike tires when your baby has outgrown their infant carseat. The travel system is so cheap and so funky and the wheels are crappy plastic. It’s super expensive and really not worth the money. We have two strollers now, the Sit & Stand (basically a 2 kid version of the Snap & Go) and a Bob Duallie (again, 2 kid version of the stroller with bike tires). You can get the Bob stroller new or on Craigslist (sometimes you can get a great deal but you will also be able to sell yours for a pretty penny so it’s a worthwhile investment). I love ours but I know there are others out there that are equally wonderful. The bike tires are really where it’s at.
12. Boppy Pillow: You will need several of them all over your house because you will always end up sitting down to nurse in a room where there isn’t one. I suggest borrowing from friends who aren’t currently using them and then sharing when they have another baby and need yours. They also make great pillows to prop your not-yet-rolling babies up on as well as a great place to put a baby while you’re bottle feeding. Love the Boppy!
13. Cloth diapers as burp cloths: They are super absorbent and thick so most of the time they won’t leak through to your shoulder when your baby pukes up all of the breast milk you just worked so hard to make all over you (fun, right? It will happen…). I love these and I will tell you to buy like 20 of them. I promise you will need them! You can use them as cleaning rags or pass them on to someone else when you’re done. Well worth it! I like the ones that are the same thickness throughout (some are thicker in the middle and super thin on the edges) so I suggest opening the package in the store and making sure that’s what you’re getting.
14. BabyWise: I realize that I’m probably going to get tons of hate mail/comments for including this but I’m going to do it anyways. I should tell you first that I am a huge proponent of using common sense and doing what you think is best for you and for your family. If you think something doesn’t sound right then you should use that common sense and not do it. BabyWise was suggested to me by all of the Moms in Maddie’s preschool class when I was pregnant with Ellorie. They all said that their babies were sleeping through the night super early and it sounded so great. I had never heard of this and we had quite a bit of trouble getting Maddie to sleep in the first few months. I read the book and it seemed pretty simple to me so I decided to try it. It.changed.my.life. No lie, it was the single most helpful advice anyone had ever given me as a parent. So I am passing it on to you in hopes that you will read the book and use the advice the way that I did. Don’t Google BabyWise because you are sure to find that there were older versions that were apparently very controversial. I learned this when I took Ellorie to her 3 month appointment and was really surprised. My doctor told me that people just weren’t using common sense and were getting themselves into trouble. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem and I have had great success with this book.
Eat, play, sleep is their motto. Basically, you start your day at the same time each day and you wake your baby up every 3 hours (if nursing) and feed them. They are awake for a total of 30-45 minutes in the beginning and this will include their feeding and diaper change. Swaddle them back up and lay them down and let them fall back asleep on their own. Voila. That’s it. Really, how could you screw that up? You are basically teaching your baby that during the day we are up and we eat our meals and then how to fall asleep on their own. Ellorie was a normal baby who ate really well and was not at all underweight so this worked really well for us and by the time she was 3 weeks old she was sleeping 10-7 each night. By the time she was 6 weeks old she was sleeping 7-7. I have never had to let her cry it out, not once. She is still to this day a great sleeper. We lay her down and she goes to sleep, every night. It was fabulous and it totally saved me. I did the reverse with Maddie, nursed her and then put her to sleep and she definitely didn’t come close to sleeping as well. I could not recommend this book more highly. I read it a few times and have referenced it over and over.
So those are the things that I found the most useful in raising my babies in the first few months. I hope that you find this list remotely helpful in preparing for and raising your babies