Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bringing Home Baby: A Nice to Have Newborn List

Now that you have a handle on the things you "need" to bring home a new baby, what about those things that make a new parent's life easier? Here are some of my favorite products when Turtle was a newborn.

1) A Swing or Bouncy Seat

Finding a safe place where you can put the baby down while you use the bathroom/brush your teeth/fix something to eat is essential. We bought a swing similar to the one above used and loved it. Granted it didn't help to sooth Turtle if she was upset but it was a safe place to put her if I needed to fix a bottle or something. Most people can put the baby on a blanket on the floor but we have a puppy we don't trust around her so the floor was off limits for us. If space is an issue then they make small travel swings that I've heard lots of good things about. Boucey seats are another wonderful thing. But like so many things you never know what you baby will like. Some babies love a swing and hate a bouncer. Some love the bouncer and hate the swing. Some love both or hate both. If you can borrow one until you figure out what your baby likes then go for it! If not, then check out consignment stores and craigslist.com.

2) A stretchy wrap like a Moby (there are lots of brands)

I debated on whether to put this in the Essentials list or the Nice to Have List because it really can make your life easier, especially depending on what kind of carseat you get. Since we choose to forgo the infant type carrier carseat we needed a way to carry Turtle when we were out. This was awesome and I used it all.the.time! It looks intimidating to wrap but once you get the hang of it, it's super easy. I would wrap it before I left the house and then just wear it while I drove. During Turtle's colicky phase, she practically lived in this thing. If all else failed I could head to the mall, pop her in this thing and walk around while she slept. We also used it when we went out to eat. It allowed her to sleep on me and for me to still have my hands free. I'm not sure what I would have done without it! There are lots of positives to "babywearing" and although I'm not an activist about it, I do feel that wearing you baby can help them transition to the outside world. And no you're not going to spoil them. It's impossible to spoil a baby in the first few months of life.

3) Bottle Drying Rack

Although not essential, if you are doing any significant bottle feeding (either pumped breastmilk or formula), a drying rack can help so much! I was just using a hand towel for the first few weeks, but wow! That drying rack made it so much easier. We have a small, super cheep one but it works. I'd like to have a more expensive one but since I only have experience with ours I can't say if it's worth the extra money or not.

4) A Good Bottle Brush

In the same vein as the drying rack, you'd be amazed at how exciting a good bottle brush can be! We have the Dr Brown's bottle brush and love it but there are lots of different ones. What I love the most about it (and something I'd recommend in any brush) is the suction cup holder thingy. I love knowing that it's not sitting on the counter and can dry completely between cleanings.

5) Sleepy Sheep

This thing is like baby crack to some babies and saved our sanity on more than one occasion. Basically it's a stuffed lamb with a white noise pack in its back. It plays things like a mother's heartbeat, the ocean, the rain, whales, etc. White noise can be very comforting to a newborn because they are used to hearing the sound of the mother's heartbeat, blood rushing through veins, etc.

6) Happiest Baby on the Block DVD

This is another one of those things that I debated which list it should go on. We actually didn't get it, but man I wish we had! Basically he teaches parents how to make the outside world feel as much like the womb as possible to help sooth their babies and help them transition. The only thing I don't like is that he present the techniques (which are all AWESOME!) in a way that makes them sound like a sure fire formula for a calm baby and our experience has been that sometimes babies just cry for no apparent reason. So, don't think of these techniques as a miracle formula but more as a tool box of techniques you can pull from when your little one is upset.

7) A Diaper Bag

You can absolutely use any bag you have on hand, that's why this isn't on the Essentials list. Throw a puppy pad in your old college back pack and you are ready to go. But I have absolutely loved the diaper bag I have. It is a Vera Bradley and was a huge splurge that I got as a birthday gift and what I love the most about it is the plastic lining on the inside which helps me not fear leaks and all the pockets, including two on the side just perfect for a bottle and a thing of water.

Although there are wonderful manly options for dads out there now, Jay decided to use one of his own bag . For Christmas I got him the Diaper Dude Changing Station which folds out to a changing pad and holds diapers and wipes.

He can slip this down in any bag he already owns and it suddenly becomes a diaper bag, a discrete diaper bag that is. ;-) The main thing you want to think about when purchasing a diaper bag is the weight of the actual bag. Some of the messenger styles bags are really cool looking but they weigh a lot by themselves.  Add diapers, wipes, bottles, milk, water, a change of clothes, etc, etc, and you have a bag too heavy to carry for any length of time.

8) Baby Wash Clothes and Towels

I know the baby stores don't want you to know this, but it is in fact NOT illegal to use full size adult wash clothes and towls for babies. Hehe. But I will say that I love, love, love baby wash clothes. We have just a cheap pack of Gerber washclothes from Walmart and love them. They are small and thin which I think makes washing a wiggly baby easier. The hooded baby towels are soo cute and we have one we love but most of the ones out there are thin and cheap (and yet expensive). So, don't feel like you need to stock up. People will most likely buy you some anyway because they are just too stinking cute to pass up.

9) Baby Bath Tub

Until the cord stump falls off you'll want to give the baby sponge baths and all you really need to do that is a fluffy towel folded up beside the sink. I'm a little "eh" about the whole baby bath tub thing because we have never really liked ours. Turtle has always been a wiggle worm and and we've spent most of our time with one person holding her up while the other soaps her up and then sprays her down. I've heard good things about these foam mats that sit in the bathtub and might have gone that direction if I had it to do over again. Right now we have a dish pan in our kitchen sink that we use as a bathtub. It's not big enough for her to slip around too much and seems to be working pretty well.

10) Microwaveable Serilizing Packs

These things are awesome!! You stick your pump parts, paci's, toys, etc in the bag with 2 oz of water and pop it in the microwave for 30ish seconds and ta-da! All sanitized! Love, love love!

11) Breast Pump

This is a difficult topic for me because we had to abandon breastfeeding at 2 1/2 weeks due to low supply and my mental state. I was so thankful to have a pump that a friend had sent me though. It was a lifesaver a few times and gave me another option when I was having problems. They are SUPER expensive though so I'm hesitent to say you should have one on hand. It depends a lot of how you feel about breastfeeding and such. Know that it might be covered by a Flex Spending Account so that can help cover the cost. You can also rent them from the hospital until you decide if breastfeeding is going to work for you. This is one of those items you don't want to buy off Craigslist though. The manufacturers will tell you not to use a used one at all, but I was comfortable using one from a close friends. It's up to you really.

I think those are my major Nice to Have Items for the newborn stage. What were your favorites? I'll probably update as people remind me of things.

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