As most of you know, Cory and I welcomed our first child in mid-August, a sweet little girl we call Charlie Gail. If you know me personally, there's no doubt you know how much of a planner I am. I plan (and plan and plan a little more) well in advance for everything. I love having the structure of knowing what to expect and being well prepared for the unexpected. I'm fairly certain Cory appreciates this little quirk about me because at any given time he can ask me for something and I have whatever he needs or something that will suffice in its place. Don't get me wrong I love a spontaneous trip but even those require a little planning when you're making the drive. ;) Since we've had a few weeks to adjust to our new baby I thought it might be helpful for those upcoming Moms-to-be to see first hand the things we found most useful in adjusting to our new normal. Apart from the obvious needs like a Stroller-Carseat Combo, Pack & Play, and bath necessities, these items are things I personally use and wanted to pass them along. These items are in no particular order, take it for what it's worth, these little tips just might be a saving grace at 2 AM.
1. Rocking Recliner - Hear me out about this, we almost purchased the typical glider and ottoman but it occurred to me that at 2AM when I can barely see straight and I have to tend to a sick baby, I'd appreciate even 15 minutes of resting my eyes between bouts of crying. And in week two with our new baby, you better believe I was thankful we splurged on the recliner. You can find our Baby Relax Glider at Walmart Online.
2. Ring Sling - This item is perfect for anyone but especially those stay at home moms that need to continue daily life (and chores, because let's be honest those dishes don't do themselves). On more than one occasion I've had to put a fussy baby in the sling so I could get things done or simply soothe her. Because newborns find comfort in being close to mom, the ring sling was ideal for me, especially since we had a fussy little one. There are many different brand ring slings but I purchased a Tula Ring Sling because a friend recommended it. The fabric is soft and it is so simple to use and easy to pull when adjusting. They also come in different patterns so for us, Cory wasn't a huge fan of the summer (girly) print I purchased but I lucked up and scored a different brand sling for $1 at a consignment sale that is solid blue and more fit for Cory, the only problem is the fabric isn't nearly as soft so adjusting the sling takes much more effort. Tula definitely has my vote here! Even Cory said it was the best $100 I ever spent, trust me on this, you'll thank me later.
3. Sound Machine - This is one of those items that I did not purchase until a week before baby was due and I honestly would not have gotten it had a close friend not told me it's something she uses daily. I truly did not realize how invaluable this was until I realized just how small my lungs were compared to how much babies like white noise. Save yourself alot of shushing and get the sound machine. Heck get two while you're at it, one that stays in the nursery and one that's portable so you can move it from the pack and play to the bassinet and on all those family vacations you plan on taking. I can admit at one point when Charlie was relentless I put her in our Ring Sling and Cory clipped the portable sound machine to the ring. In times of desperation I'm glad to say this trick worked! Also, a little tip someone passed on to me, don't maintain a quiet household all hours of the day because the baby will wake from their nap at the slightest of noise. I keep the TV on or the sound machine going so there is always background noise and so far Charlie will sleep in any environment, even when normal conversations are being had. The Homedics Sound Spa we keep in the nursery and the Homedics On-the-Go we move from room to room.
4. Over the Door Shoe Rack - Odd right? Absolutely, but this isn't for the baby's shoes. If you're limited on nursery space then you'll appreciate this tip. I bought two of the clear shoe racks off amazon, one for the closet and one for the bedroom door. We use these for essential items like medicine, extra sheets and changing pads, pacis and clips, swaddles, you name it! That leaves our drawer space for essential clothing items and our closet for boxes of diapers and wipes. You can find this item, here.
5. Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra - If you plan to nurse and/or pump, this thing is a life saver! I use it multiple times a day and it allows me to be hands free and tend to the baby if need be. It's another Amazon deal you can find here. A few other items I've found useful for nursing have been nursing shirts (which I wish I had invested in during pregnancy, they're so comfy and many of the maternity clothes I purchased were not nursing friendly), nursing sports bras to sleep in, regular nursing bras (another pregnancy item), a nursing gown (super handy for those mid-night feedings), reusable nursing pads, and lastly, this super soft and stretchy nursing shawl. All are definitely useful items but the hands free pumping bra takes the cake!
6. Breastpump - In addition to item #5, if you're able to get a pump with a rechargeable battery, I highly recommend it. I purchased the Spectra S1 simply because I wanted the luxury of not being plugged into an outlet. I also lucked up and scored a Medela Pump In Style Advance at Dirt Cheap for $20 as a back up but it requires being near an outlet and being a stay at home mom with a lengthy to-do list doesn't allow me to sit still very long so I carry my S1 from room to room when I'm pumping and I'm still able to get things done. Also to note, the spectra pumps are hospital grade, they are much more quiet than Medela, they come with a nightlight built in for those mid-night pump sessions and the suction is stronger than Medela so the amount of pump time required is significantly less. Sounds like a winner to me! If you're in the Montgomery area just know there were no suppliers for this pump near us so if you want this pump I'd recommend calling the BabyTalk Store in Northport, they had the pump shipped to me for free and I received it in three days!
7. Backpack Diaper Bag - We actually have three diaper bags: a dad bag with the bare minimum, a mom bag that's big enough to pack the nursery in, and a backpack that's right in the middle. And which one do I use the most? The backpack! Let me tell you, when I'm trying to get out of the car and my hands are loaded with a baby carrier, a purse and a diaper bag there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to lock my car or open the door of an establishment. So what did I do? I started using a tiny crossbody purse and our backpack. The less stuff in my hands the better!
8. LeFun Video Monitor - I did quite a bit of research on monitors before I purchased the LeFun Nanny Cam. Monitors can so expensive and I could not justify spending tons of money on something that will be used for a season so I'm very thankful a friend recommended this one to us. It has all the bells and whistles without the inflated price. Cory and I have a password protected app on our phones that allows us to view the nursery and control the monitor while we are away from home, with two way audio and night vision, this one was perfect for us! Also to note, multiple cameras can be added in different rooms if you have more than one child to watch.
9. Baby Brezza Formula Maker - This is one of those purchases that wasn't high on the list for us since I planned to nurse but our first night home we ended up having to supplement and we've done so ever since. It gives me a chance to pump and put some away in the freezer and take advantage of all the samples we were given too. We actually found this at Dirt Cheap so it was an inexpensive purchase that has come in handy quite a bit. You can find it here.
10. Ubbi Diaper Pail - I did SO much reading on diaper pails, honestly I think I read every review on products that we personally purchased to make sure it was worth it or not and even doing that saved us quite a bit, but when it came to diaper pails I wanted something that wouldn't be an added monthly expense - such case with refill bags. We paid a little more up front as this is almost double the price of a diaper genie however this pail uses regular garbage bags and since I coupon for household essentials, I bought a stockpile of cheaply made garbage bags, seriously, nothing fancy and that means no monthly expense for us! So now you're probably wondering the big mystery question, what about the dreaded stench? The Ubbi is a steel pail as compared to the diaper genie which is plastic, and when reading reviews it was noted that the stench of dirty diapers seeps into the plastic of the diaper genie and will not come out which is all the more reason to have the (pricey) scented refill bags. On the other hand, the Ubbi it is made of steel and the odor is contained inside the pail itself instead of the actual walls of the pail. The next thing I purchased to help make trash day less atrocious was the mini Arm & Hammer Nursery Fresheners and I leave one inside the pail. Also, if you watch Amazon, the price of the Ubbi comes down every so often so we lucked up and got it for $55 instead of $70, considering how much it saves us in the long run I'd say that's not bad at all!
11. Diaper Cream Brush - So this may seem like a useless purchase but as many diapers as we change daily, I can gladly say this is a $10 purchase I'd get my friends simply so they don't have to get covered in icky cream. We love this thing! Babybum Spatula for the win!
12. Bath Time Knee & Elbow Pads - For the last 2 years I have given my little puppy weekly baths in our tub and every time I'd be folding towels so my knees wouldn't ache afterwards. That is until I found these Knee & Elbow Pads for the tub. Now that we have Charlie and we're doing baths more often I'm glad I have these, they help tremendously!
13. Dimming Light Switch - Here's another odd item that may not have crossed your mind. We purchased a dimming switch for $20 at Lowes and had it installed in 15 minutes, super simple and incredibly useful! Yes you could just get a lamp but having the dimming switch comes in handy for those 2AM diaper changes when you don't want baby to be fully woken up, and even setting the tone for a bedtime routine (sleep training if you will). We've even found that Charlie will focus on the dimmed light overhead during her bedtime feeding so I think in some way she finds it soothing. Again, simple and useful!
14. Bottle Warmer - This first item may be more useful for parents that travel quite a bit but after reading many reviews on the electric car bottle warmer taking up to thirty minutes to warm a bottle, I'd say this is a much better purchase. The Tomee Tippee Travel Bottle Warmer works in a couple of minutes, significantly less time than those you plug into a lighter. It's simple to use also. Simply boil your water beforehand and pour into the thermos, when ready to warm a bottle pour the hot water into the white canister lid and add the bottle. If you're looking for an inexpensive countertop bottle warmer, we purchased The First Years Quickserve Warmer and have found it to be an everyday item as well. It warms bottles in 1-2 minutes, just add water!
15. Bottle Drying Rack - This item was another that was recommended to me by a friend so I'm passing it along. If you have limited counter space the Munchkin High Capacity Drying Rack will probably be your best bet! At any given time I have every inch of this covered in bottles, nipples , pacis and pump parts. It's not a decor piece by any means but its easy to disassemble and store away when needed.
16. 4-in-1 Total Clean High Chair - This item we haven't started using yet but I can tell you a little about it and why we chose this particular one. First it's on wheels which makes it easy to move around the table and kitchen. Second, it's easy to disassemble and the parts fit in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Third, it's a 4-in-1, meaning it's a full size high chair with recline for tiny ones, a removable spacesaver high chair to fit a dining room chair, a toddler booster seat and the base itself is a seat that rolls right up to the table for bigger kids. Needless to say we will get years of use out of this item! This Fisher Price 4-in-1 Total Clean High Chair can be found at Target.
17. Mixie Formula Bottle - I came across this nifty item when researching bottles and have to say I'm impressed. It eliminates the need for a formula container taking up space in the diaper bag. The Mixie Formula Mixing Bottle can be found on amazon. I only purchased a set of two as these are strictly diaper bag bottles used for outings. As for daily bottles, I purchased Mam bottles in case we ran into colic but I also got Evenflo Vented Bottles and I started using them first as there was a significant price difference and also fewer parts to clean! Charlie took to the Evenflo bottles right from the start so I give them a thumbs up! I found the Evenflo Vented Bottles online at Toys'R'Us but they are also on Amazon!
18. Rock & Play - We love this one! Its cocoon like shape makes a snuggly little place for the baby to sit, play or nap and it's easy to fold and put away or take along when traveling. We purchased ours from Target but I think they compare in price on Amazon.
19. Mommy Hook - If you remember those cheapo keychain clips we got as kids from Chuck E. Cheese, imagine that in jumbo size but heavy duty. I scored one of these at a consignment sale and thought what the heck I'll use it for my purse and the diaper bag can stay in the bottom basket... but I use this for so much more than my purse! When I'm in Target I actually wear the backpack diaper bag and use the basket to put, better yet - organize - the items I'll be buying. When I get to checkout and the clerk hands me my bags quickly, I simply hook the bag handles on the Mommy Hook and out the door we go. I've used it to hold the diaper bag when I need to set it down for a second, I use it for my purse, I use it ALL THE TIME. They're so inexpensive too! You'll appreciate this item!
20. Legendairy Milk - This is for the breastfeeding moms out there who need a little help increasing or maintaining their supply. So I originally tried fenugreek (which does have mixed reviews) and while it did increase my supply, it gave Charlie crazy tummy troubles. Moms beware, it can increase supply for some but it can also decrease supply for some, not to mention it can give the baby gas so if you do use it, start with a low dose and watch the baby for fussiness. We actually didn't have trouble with it until I increased my dose so it may still be a useful item just not for us. Moving right along! I researched and tried many different things to help increase my supply so I'll mention the top few things I've had success with: lactation cookies (with flax seed, brewers yeast and oats), oatmeal (add coconut milk for an extra boost), Dr. Pepper (odd right?) and Legendairy Milk products (no I'm not being paid to promote them, these are miracle working organic herbal supplements!). So far I have tried liquid gold and pump princess and right now my favorite is pump princess although I did have an increase with liquid gold as well. Since every woman is different you basically have to try them and see which herbs work best for you. Also to note, if you're not wanting to spend too much on supplements and you need something besides oatmeal, I add ground flaxseed and brewers yeast to brownies, because let's be honest - mom needs a treat too - and these are super inexpensive at Costco & Amazon.
I hope you found this information useful! Take it for what it's worth. :) We're still new and figuring this parenthood thing out but I will happily answer any questions, share recipes and tips, or suggest different support groups so you can enjoy your journey into motherhood just as I have!
Until next time,