Wednesday, April 20, 2011

baby gear i love: for the first six months

I went back and read this and realize that I could have gotten my point across in about a tenth of the words.  Oh well, that would just be too simple, I guess.
I am pretty sure my interest in stuff/ things is above average.  So, when baby #3 was on his way, I did some major research on baby stuff.  Baby #2 had come six years earlier and so I had given away all my gear  and in replacing it all, I found that stuff had come a long long long way.  And, luckily, so have we.  I'd like to think we are a little smarter.  And if not smarter we at least can say we had a few more years of parenting experience under our belts.  We also weren't living on student loans anymore.  So I was looking at things through different eyes.  

After all my research and then actually trying stuff out, here are a few of my "can't live withouts."

Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddles are worth all the hype.  Pronounced AY-DEN and A-Nay or Ah Na ISe, I had heard about them from hip mommies all over.  The bamboo ones are super super silky and the the cotton ones hold a swaddle like no other.  Both have their place.  It leaves the tiny flannel baby blankets in the dust.  I use them to wipe spit up (they are thin and don't take up much room in the wash), cover the car seat for shade or privacy when sleeping, nursing cover stays home now so ones less thing to clutter the diaper bag (tie two corners together and it will stay on even when baby is doing gymnastics while eating), I can cover the baby when I am carrying him in my front carrier, I can even throw it over my shoulders when I am chilly (the cream bamboo one actually looks like a shawl), oh, and it is a great swaddler.  And while looking for photos of Maximus with his blankets when he was so young (I found a ton, especially from when he was a newborn and always swaddled) my heart ached a little as I miss that newborn baby.  They make a great gift, I know because I love the ones that I received.  I have used them everyday and it reminds of the loved ones that gave them to me.  One of the girls that I gave one to just stopped me and told me that they wash it several times a week because they use it so much.  

And while the swaddling blanket has its place, the swaddler had its place in the middle of the night.  In the fresh from the hospital, middle of the night fog, the last thing I could focus on was getting a great swaddle.  These swaddlers kept baby in a sturdy burrito, no matter how much I fumbledl  I used a couple of them, this one and this one.  Both worked great.  He only fit in them for a few weeks but they were so handy for those crucial foggy days.
With all the plastic scares and what nots I thought that it might be better to get glass bottles.  Some sights even said that freezing milk in plastic containers or bags will leech nutrients from the milk.  And I know that people have been using plastic and been just fine, but with so many weird health issues out there, I just wanted to play it safe.  Most of the glass bottles are expensive.  But Evenflo Classic Glass Bottles are actually really affordable.  The classic shape is really cute and they are cheap enough to buy them to store frozen milk.  The best part?  They fit with all the Medela and Ameda pump and feeding accessories.  So I can pump right into these glass gems and I'm good to go (out to dinner with husband or to book club or whatever while someone else takes a turn to feed baby.  Awesome).  Maximus is six months now and the 4 oz. size is all I have needed so far.  But I have some 8 oz. ones ready for when he needs more. 
The pump that has worked the best for me is the Ameda hand pump that they gave me at the hospital.  It looks kind of funny but the simple design makes it so much easier to use than the Medela and Avent ones that I used before.  No weird handles that stick out and get in the way and a few less pieces to wash or get chewed up in the disposal (am I the only one that does that?).  And since I remember a time when the mention of a breast pump might have embarrassed me, I'll spare y'all the picture.   

Oh while I am on the TMI track, my favorite nursing bra is this one from Target.  I have alway thought that even if I was for some awesome reason I was a kajillionaire, I would still like a good deal.  So, price still holds a lot of weight when I am factoring in awesomeness but this one did its job just as well as the ones that cost 5 times as much.  

So, nature is amazing.  I believe that with all my heart.  But I will have to argue with the part where I get stretched out enough to carry a full human being and then I deliver the baby and then I am supposed to lift my shirt to feed him.  I can handle the sight but I don't want other people to have to handle it.  Enter the nursing tank.  They are amazing for this purpose.  Target helped me out here, too.  I have a one fancy one and two from Target.  The fancy one has clasps that take two hands to do and undo.  Um, baby in one arm means I don't have any extra hands.  Those belly band things are also handy for this purpose too.  You know, just keeping the back warm, hiding the gushy belly, it's all good.

Newborns are a little bit confusing for me.  Okay, a lot a bit.  There are two things that helped me understand him (and if I had a nickel for every time I wish I had this knowledge with my first two I could buy, um, something awesome).  One is the concept from Dunstan Baby Language and one is from Tracy Hogg in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer.  From Dunstan I took just two things, when he is making the "N" sound he is hungry and when he is making the "E" sound he is gassy.  I just checked the videos out at that library.  There are a few short clips online, too.  It has been pretty accurate and very helpful.  From Hogg I learned the pattern eat, activity, sleep, your time or "E.A.S.Y."  That pattern has helped me refrain from just feeding or bouncing the baby when he is sad.  I can usually figure out what he needs just from this pattern.  Invaluable bits of info for me.  

I spent a lot of time researching baby carriers.  I ended up with this Ergo and it has been great.  It hurts my back a lot less than a Baby Bjorn and it is supposedly better for the baby's hips.  It has a little head cover that is attached and stores in the front pocket. I used a couple of different slings when he was too small for the Ergo.   And maybe because it was designed by a mom in Maui, but this one is supposedly less hot than others. I will forever have fond memories that include this thing because this is usually what I use at the beach.  The first time Karl tried it on with Maximus, baby cried.  Now Karl won't wear it.  He would rather use the hiking backpack  or just carry him in the car seat or his arms.

It's easy to get enticed by all the shiny, plasticky, loud toys out there.  But it turns out that babies don't need all that.  I got this Swish at Gap Kids on black friday for like a billion percent off.  Baby was able to hold it  and play with it (with his hands AND feet) early on.  Okay, so maybe I could live without this one, but as far as baby toys go, this one is a winner. 

Baby gear takes up a lot of space.  It is so easy for a house to get overrun with baby gear.  A couple of things that I am sure that I could do without but have loved having are the Bumbo and an exersaucer.  I don't know that I would really buy a Bumbo, but someone actually gave us one when we got to the island.  I have loved having it.  It was especially great before Maximus could sit up.  He would sit for a little while and play with his left foot.  Yes, always his left foot.  And now, when I don't get in the shower when he is asleep, I strip him down and stick him in the bumbo.  He sits in the shower with me, out of the stream of water.  I wash up, then when I am all squeaky clean, I pick him up and wash him.  Then, I stick him back in the Bumbo so I can dry off.  For now, it totally works.  

Another thing that is helpful but I was willing to go without if  I couldn't borrow one or find a used one is an exersaucer type thing.  I think that every group of friends or family just needs one of these.  The kids only use it for a little while and they take up SO much room.  They come in handy when no one can hold the baby and he is bored of just laying there.  

Oh, and the thing that has helped me the most with this baby (besides a super helpful 8 year old daughter, but I can't really count that as gear, now can i?) is my iphone.  In the middle of the night, while unsuccessfully trying to remember which side I started nursing on the last time, I thought, "There has to be an app for this."  When they said, "There is an app for that," they meant it.  I checked and sure enough, there were several.  The one I chose was called Milk Monitor for there are fancier ones that keep track of dr. appointments, diapers, etc..  I just needed something simple.   Another thing the phone has helped me with is sitting still.  I actually don't do it well.  And nursing requires that.  I had tried watching TV (disturbs the rest of the family, baby only takes 5 minutes and that isn't enough time to watch a whole show, too much work to walk over to the TV), reading (books are cumbersome when trying to hold a baby),  just being still and enjoying the peace (I am just incapable, I start thinking of all the things I need to get done and I start feeling antsy), and none of those held me still very well.  But the iphone is the perfect size to hold in my hand and multitask while holding very still.  I can blog, FB, tweet, make grocery lists, look on Craigslist, shop... oh and it is so handy to have the camera and video features at my fingertips all the time.  I love technology.  

I will remember more stuff later but all of these have been floating in my head. Since I spent so much time researching these things, I am hoping I can save someone a little bit of time.  I could also do a few post on things I have wasted my money on, but this one took me six months to finally write.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this little guy.  And I am pretty sure all the gear that has helped me enjoy him.  


Courtney said...

I. Love. That. Last. Picture. There is something so familiar about his face- yet something so new too. I formulated my baby gear list in my head lots of times, but never posted. So glad you did.

Christina said...

Thanks so much, Score. I move the photo to the top because all the words looked a little boring.

Abbigail said...

Very nice! We all do a lot of baby stuff researching. Nice you put it all in one place. I too like the swaddles although butch grew out of them too quickly. The ergo is great, a big fan. Haven't used since I broke my foot. I was wearing it when I broke it and didn't see where I was walking. Be careful out there. ;)
Baby butch has been EASY and I haven't picked up one parenting book this time. Love him. If all kids were like him I could have a bundle.
I too used glass botttles, then I dropped a few on my tile and shards went everywhere. I replaced with plastic and they are a lot lighter. I like the born free brand. Seems like you can't go wrong with bottles now.
I want to hear about diapers. I know you were back and forth on that one.
Hugs to you guys.

pamela said...

i love this post. i love when others do the research for me. every time i have a child, there is all this new cool stuff that i wish i'd had with the previous.

Nicole said...

I found this post extremely helpful. I'm think I might have to get some of those swaddlers, among the others. Thanks!

Amy said...

I love, love, love the ergo (used it with my last two). That's funny about Karl preferring the backpack. Brian is the same! He would wear the backpack anywhere but won't touch the ergo. My sister-in-law used hers to carry her daughter on her hip until she was five. I don't use it that long, but, I love it when they are little. My baby is almost 2 - how can that be? That Maximus is so sweet!


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