Friday, October 21, 2016

The Essentials: What You Really Need in Baby's First Month

In my previous post, I shared my "new mama must-haves," highlighting some of the products that have helped us get through this first month of little Oliver's life. But the truth is, none of these are truly necessities—if you don't buy a swing or a Wubbanub, for instance, you're going to survive. They're just nice to have.

I've always loved the idea of Finland's government-sponsored maternity packages, which have been distributed to new parents since the 1930s. They include clothing, blankets, toys, and other necessities—baby can even sleep in the box! With that in mind, I thought I'd write a follow-up with the items that have been truly necessary for us—and those that aren't.

Things We Used 
  • Blankets — These are strewn all over our house. These include large muslin swaddles, small felt blankets, and big fuzzy blankets. We throw them down for tummy time, wrap him up when he's fussy, and cover his car seat when he's sleeping. 
  • Burp cloths — For nursing sessions and the occasional spit-up, you'll want these close at hand—which is why we also have these hanging out all over the house. We just bought a 10-pack of plain cloth diapers, which are super absorbent.
  • Pacifiers — I realize some parents choose not to use pacifiers, but they really do soothe him when nothing else will. Also, I like the idea of controlling the situation as opposed to letting baby control things via thumb/finger sucking. (I've seen way too many kids carry on that habit way too long). That said, the cheapies are just as good as the expensive blogger-favorite Natursutten.
  • Breast pump (manual and electric) — I've really appreciated being able to pump and allow Todd to take on feeding duties, especially at night. It gives him a chance to bond with Oli, too. The electric pump gets things done quickly, but the manual is key if you're out and about and need to relieve pressure (as I learned the hard way). 
Things We Didn't Use
  • Cute clothes — When you're changing baby's diaper 10+ times per day, you don't want to be messing with excessive layers, buttons or snaps—or even pants. That's why Oli has basically lived in onesies. I do look forward to putting him in separates soon, though.
  • Cloth diapers — Besides the fact that his Bumgenius diapers are way too big for him (even at 10 pounds), we've decided to wait until he's stopped peeing and pooping so much to start cloth diapering.
  • Dr. Brown's bottle — Now, some parents/babies might love these bottles, but the point is, Oliver didn't, so I'm glad I didn't get one of the packs with multiple bottles that we registered for. Instead, I bought a few different styles to try out and we found one that he really likes.
  • Wipe warmer — He really doesn't seem to care if his wipes are warm.
  • Bottle warmer — Place it in warm water for a few minutes and you're done.

Monday, October 17, 2016

My First-Month Mama Must-Haves

When I was still pregnant, I heard so many horror stories about the first few weeks of motherhood. A broken body in recovery. Sleepless nights. A constant barrage of dirty diapers and painful breastfeeding. And while I've experienced all of these things at one point or another, these first weeks have been some of the sweetest of my life. Oliver is a pretty laid-back babe, but I think it's helped so much that we were prepared with lots of gear to get us through the early days. Here are my 10 new mom MVPs:

New Mama Must-Haves

1. Fisher-Price Cradle 'n' Swing. There are certain times of day when putting Oliver in the swing is the only thing that will calm him down. It allows us to get a bit of work done, too. That said, it's kind of massive, so if you have a smaller house you'll need something more compact.
2. Wubbanub. Newborns are soothed by sucking, and unless you want to use your boobs as a pacifier, you may want to consider giving him an alternative if he gets fussy between feedings. The Wubbanub, a ridiculously named and admittedly overpriced pacifier accessory, helps keep the thing in baby's mouth so you don't constantly have to rush in and replace it when it falls out. It's key for when he's in the swing or car seat (but we don't use it when he's sleeping).
3. Boba wrap. Oliver loves taking walks in the wrap—he usually falls asleep immediately. Also, it's good exercise to walk around with a 10-pound infant strapped to your belly.
4. Bluetooth speaker. Breastfeeding takes up a lot of time, so I set up a little corner with a speaker where I can play music, podcasts etc. It's helped me look forward to "boobie time."
5. Nursing tanks. Whether worn alone or under a shirt, they just make the whole breastfeeding process much more comfortable. I like the ones from H&M.
6. Water bottle. Because breastfeeding makes you ridiculously thirsty.
7. Miracle Blanket. This makes it so easy to swaddle him, which helps him sleep soundly. He starts yawning the moment I start wrapping him, and he's often out by the time I'm done.
8. Not pictured: Sleep Sheep. But any white noise device will do. This is also a really effective way to signal that it's time to sleep.
9. Baby Tracker app. This has been so useful, especially in the early days, for keeping track of feedings and dirty diapers. Without it, I'd be lost because I have no memory for those kinds of things.
10. Cherish the First Six Weeks. I mentioned this book before, but it's been even more helpful now that Oliver's here. It answers so many questions you'll have in the early days and helps you create a non-stressful sleep schedule from day one, which has been crucial for us.

Every parent—and baby—is different, so I'd love to hear: What's on your list?