Thursday, July 31, 2014

the baby list

as we awaited simon, I spent hours and hours researching products and gear for our little lad-to-be. I remember having over twenty tabs open on my server in order to compare and contrast lists of things to get. even though we were on a budget there were a few things that we "splurged" on (I put this is quotes because our idea of splurging is not spending $1000 on a great baby stroller but more like $300). we were so grateful to be the recipients of the help of friends and family through baby showers, and I thought I'd put this list together of the products that have been great for us so far in the hopes that it helps reduces baby gear headaches and those google searches to, you know, a minimum.

honestly, if you have a baby shower or two then you do not need to worry about acquiring a lot of clothes for the babes for a little while. people LOVE to give you clothes, and you'll usually have a nice stash of 0-9 months clothing options. but, in general, if you want to get clothes (and want to have control over what you get), go crazy. when I found out that we were having a boy, I despaired about the shirts covered in baseball mitts, footballs, and monkeys (what is it about little boy shirts and gads of monkeys??). don't get me wrong, those shirts are great and, heck, some people love monkeys, but I am just not the biggest fan of those motifs. then I found Baby Gap (oh, the sales!) and I stopped despairing. I also wandered through the baby section of Target and felt happy again. and, hello Etsy shops galore! my IG feed is full of mamas that put up the links where they've purchased the cute threads for their babies. also, it's important to know that many times you will not receive a lot of newborn items and, well, you're going to have a newborn for a few weeks that maybe won't quite fit in that the 0-3 month pile OR that won't fit into any newborn clothing (for you chunky babies out there). for a newborn, I like a good onesie since they are constantly in need of a new diaper and putting them  into something too complicated when they are at that stage will be constant snapping and zipping. and, if any of your babies are like simon they will not appreciate your efforts nor like dressing to take over 20 seconds. also, mitted onesies/shirts! these saved si's sweet face from himself and his baby nails (that you're not supposed to cut until they are about 3 weeks old).

since we had some pretty decent space that we could dedicate to crib, we just went for the full monty crib. we love the basic IKEA SNIGLAR crib that can be height adjusted and can, later on, become a toddler bed. I love that it's simple, sturdy, has clean lines and can be painted if we'd like that in the future. for now, though, the light natural wood color goes great with our decor. one thing that we didn't take into account with simon and the crib situation is how much we would allow him to co-sleep with us; co-sleeping brings the trek between our bed and his crib down to a minimum when he is going through night of difficult sleep. of course, we are SUPER careful how we place him in bed when he is snuggled in with us, but I think that with the next baby that we are just going to get a co-sleeper attachment for the bed (and forgo another crib for a while) so the baby can be near yet also have his/her own space. plus, waking up with a sweet sleeping face next to yours is heaven.

swaddle blankets
seriously, anything semi-stretchy and long enough to cover the babes twice over is good. our sister gave us a beautiful aden and anais muslin blanket that fits the bill, but I have even used large scarves or even sarongs to wrap him up (see simon in my blue sarong below that I also wear to the pool). however, simon somehow seemed to always get his arms free and slap himself awake, so at night we would use these swaddlers. holy cow. best newborn invention ever. you feel as though you are putting your baby in a mini straight jacket, but simon would calm down immediately once he was wrapped up tight in one of those swaddlers. he's too big for them now (we only had ones in the newborn - 3 month sizes), so we use the aforementioned options and a baby blanket that I made if he needs to be swaddled.

stroller/car seat
I feel like I could dedicate a whole post to this topic! I spent so much time researching strollers, car seats, travel systems and any variation on those. there were so many factors to consider: portability, weight, look, the ease of moving the car seat from the car to the stroller itself, ease of pushing and turning, etc. I wanted a travel system, I wanted to avoid bulk, and I wanted something that looked as sleek as possible for a baby stroller. with that in mind, there was no other choice to me (after tons of research) than the Britax B-Safe Travel System. it was a little more pricey (around $300, but amazon usually has the best price a little under that) than other strollers but it cost waaaaay less than the bugaboo. the stroller weighs less than 25lbs (which, my friends, is HARD to find in other strollers), it comes with a car seat that has a car seat base (aka: all you need to do is strap down the base and then you can just click the car seat in and out of the car without having to strap it down each time). we chose the tan one, and although I really like the color, any sort of stain or even water/sweat (simon's sweaty head!) will leave water lines on the fabric so it needs to be spot cleaned/washed often. 

we have an ERGObaby. I've never used a wrap and I think they look awesome (like this one), but we heard about the ergo carrier and have been pretty pleased with it. the only difficulty I've had with the ergo is that it is tricky to clasp the part that goes across the top of your back in the back if you are front carrying. my arms are neither long nor flexible but usually I can get help from phil or strangers (always a tad awkward though - "hi, ma'am, could you perchance clasp the back of this baby holder.").

we registered for this swing because we wanted something small and affordable even if we had to oversee the look of the seat itself. like I mentioned before, jungle animals (monkeys and the like) are nearly impossible to avoid when it comes to boys, but the magical sleep that came from putting simon in this when he was a newborn was worth every single purple elephant on it. also, we have this fun over the door jumper and simon loves it (even if I am not coo-coo over the huge kangaroo face staring at me each time I set it up).

first aid/nose
we purchased this little first aid/grooming kit and have been happy with it. I've heard about the amazing  nosefrieda, and it sounds awesome (and gross). we've just stuck to the bulb sucker (and have been thorough about cleaning it), and although simon thinks we are murdering him each and every time we use it on him, it gets the job done pretty well. also, if your baby has a stuffy nose we learned a little trick that's slightly TMI but has worked for us: to loosen the nose matter (aka: snot) before sucking, put a few drops of breast milk up the baby's nose a few seconds before sucking. I know, yum. 

bath time is kinda scary at first. like, "IS THE WATER TOO HOT/BABY IS GOING TO DROWN/HE'S CRYING AND THIS EVIL WATER MUST BE HURTING HIM," but it's fine. really. and, honestly, baby doesn't need a bath every day. some people do it because it creates good nighttime habits and calms baby before sleeping. but, need? how dirty is a baby under the age of 6 months. are you letting them roll around in dirt and filth? probably not. phil and I may be terrible/lazy parents, but for the first 2 months of his life, simon got a bath once or twice a week tops. when we did bathe him, we used this sponge frog thing (monkeys and frogs. unavoidable.) because the more expensive items seemed a bit ridiculous. at bath time (usually at night), we would draw the water (warm/lukewarm) about an inch to 2 inches high with some baby bath soap, put frogman in there, get about three washcloths wet with the warm water, put simon on the frog, cover his body with 2 of the wet washcloths (since simon's body was far from being submerged), take a small cup and pour the warm water across the washcloths so he felt constantly warm, and one of use would use the third washcloth to clean him. then we'd wrap him in a towel, lotion him down (which he loved. not.), brush his hair (the few translucent strands he had), and get him diapered and clothed.

now that he's older and can hold up his head by himself, phil will shower with simon at night. he seems to like this option and it is much less of a process than taking a bath used to be. 
^^ duh, they're wearing their swimming trunks in this photo... you guys!
breast pump
breastfeeding went totally fine for the first month of simon's life. my milk came in two days after birth (and hello! it sure came in!), but it was my final semester of classes (just two) and I had to go to school for a few hours a few days a week. after a few weeks my extra supply of frozen milk was dwindling. this was a little scary because I really did need to go to class and work a few hours but simon also, you know, needed to eat. we were able, however, to get a medela double electric breastpump. holy hannah, that pump was a game changer! luckily, simon would take his food any way it came, so he would nurse when I was home but would also take a bottle when phil was caring for him. after a few months (and a difficult change over that I felt very very sensitive about and put a LOT of thought into), it just became easier for simon to be bottle-fed the milk I expressed. this way, I could pump at specific times of the day (which has kept my supply WAY up), have phil feed him if need be, and also be able to leave him with his grandparents when we take the occasional date. it allowed me more flexibility with school, studying (especially that one week I lived in the library and would pump in the bathrooms on campus. so classy, but you do what you have to), and when I was teaching during the spring term. so, since we have a baby that is still fed breast milk but from a bottle, the breast pump has been and is still EXTREMELY vital to us. I am sure in the future with our future babies, I will not be busy with school or working away from home so exclusive nursing will be what I do, but this option has been perfect for us at this time in our lives.

and, you know what has been amazing with this pump? my supply increased tenfold using it. nearly every day (except when simon has gone through growth spurts and needed all the milk I made), I put between 5-10 extra ounces into freezer storage. and, I have almost never needed to use what I put into the freezer. at one point about two months ago (when I had accrued
 tons of milk in the freezer), I looked around to see what I could do with all that storage and applied to become a milk donor. since then, I have been able to donate about 100 bags of milk that simon has never needed to use that will go to NICU babies. kinda cool, huh? 

I digress. onward we go to...

some babies are picky with bottles and nipples and have to try many to find the one. luckily, this babe isn't picky. we were gifted a medela hand pump (that came with bottles and nipples) right at the beginning, so if I couldn't nurse him, simon would just take the medela nipples. now that I pump exclusively, this is still the only nipple he takes (since we have never needed to branch out). we have, however, changed the flow size once he was big enough to handle a more medium-high flow so that he can get what he wants a little faster. 

my mom, who works in labor and delivery, found a bunch of NUK pacifiers in some baby magazines at the hospital she works in and gave those to me when simon was born. they are green and blue (and are in nearly all the pictures we have of simon), and like the nipples, he took to this pacifier quickly and without contest. since we have about 5 of them, if one gets lost than it's no big deal. one time, however, we thought we'd go out to eat spontaneously and we left his binkie at home. disaster. we had to make a pit stop for one (at burlington coat factory. who knew?), so my advice is to carry a binkie (if you're baby needs one/likes to have one) in the glove compartment in the car or tucked away in the stroller. 

this part is fun. 

at the beginning, it was great to have a boppy or a big pillow to prop simon up to eat. word to the wise and still pregnant: buff your arms up now while you can! also, when I was breastfeeding I didn't like when milk would spray on me (because, ladies, when a baby is eating off you and then suddenly unlatches and moves her head, you will spray/continue to give forth milk. nice image, I know) so I would tuck a burp cloth into the top of my unclasped bra and let it hang over my clothes/bra in order to protect them and have a quick fix/a cork on the milk hydrant if the flow didn't stop. with bottle-feeding, the boppy or pillow works great in order to prop them up near you (especially if you still want a close connection to your baby as they feed) and I would just take a cloth and wrap it around baby's neck so that anything that dribbled wouldn't go far.

white noise
"shhing" works well for a fussy baby especially if you get louder then softer then louder then softer (like a heartbeat). also, go here. use frequently. you're welcome.

we don't have many toys for si - a few woods trains and this mini cloth clown from IKEA, a set of plastic rings, a teething ring toy, and some colorful cups that we let him play with and that's just about it. I figure that when we see the need for more toys, we'll get them. as for now, he seems content. at the very beginning, we colored circles of white paper with black and white faces and designs in black (newborns are attracted to contrasting colors like black and white) that we would put in front of his face to help him look from the left to the right.

books for baby
we have lots of dr. seuss books, baby beluga (and we sing along with raffi on youtube), other sing-alongs, animal picture books, board books, and color and number books. I've heard that reading really anything to your baby helps with picking up on language rhythm and cultivates the understanding that reading is important. when studying for the MA exam, I would read my french books aloud to him. I know he doesn't understand Rousseau or Zola (and neither did I totally either, so...), but I felt like it kept his attention and let us bond.

books for us
secrets of the baby whisperer was important for understanding what type of baby simon was and how to inculcate good sleeping and eating habits. the happiest baby on the block was interesting but contained a lot of stuff that I had already gleaned from friend, family and google. I haven't read bringing up bébé, but I've heard good reviews on it and have it on my wishlist. 

diaper bag
it seems like there is this huge market for diaper bags, but I found a simple dark blue messenger bag that fits the bill. I put a carabiner on one of the straps so that it could transform into a backpack if needed. I wanted a bag that phil wouldn't feel awkward carrying around. we don't carry too much in there - extra diapers, wipes, change of shirt and pants/shorts, extra binkie, a bottle or two, a cover (when I breastfed), and a small cloth for spills and spit. also, I found a small fold out changing pad that fits in there nicely. 

I like keeping a google doc that I'll type in often, a journal that I write in daily, and this blog to keep up on the milestones and funny things that simon has done.

for you
at the beginning when/if you are your baby's constant milk buffet, you'll enjoy having snacks near where you feed or in the diaper bag with you on the go. also, water. you'll want to consume TONS of water, and I would recommend to keep taking your prenatal vitamins since they will continue to be a benefit to your body. also, think about nursing pads if you are breastfeeding. your body is getting used to producing food for the babes and you may be leaky. yeah, it's real cute, but, it goes away after a few weeks.

also, you NEED you time. whatever you liked doing before the baby came, find time to do it. go on a walk, read, get dessert with a friend, or take a run (after the doctor clears you for that, of course). I feel like fresh air cures a lot of new mother maladies. if you have post-partum depression, find someone who can help you. hospitals and clinics have incredible resources and there is no shame in experiencing the baby blues. my experiences in motherhood may be limited, but I feel like a better mother and wife when I feel like me; when I find time to take care of myself, the time that I subsequently spend with simon and phil is filled with a happier and mentally healthier me.