Several new moms have put out APBs asking all "experienced" moms & care-givers to give them tips about the top 10 "must-haves" for baby care, through the first year. Here's ours, in order of age used:
1. Wearable blankets-- we had hoped to get use out of our swaddlers, and we did at first (when she slept on her side), but with a tummy-sleeper swaddling just isn't possible. So, what do you do with a baby who tosses and turns in a drafty old house? Put her in warm PJs, then zip up a warm "sleep sack" or wearable blanket on top. Ta-da! Toasty baby.
2. Natural pain-relievers: homeopathic teething tablets & Tummy Soothers (Disney brand)-- the former is used almost daily at this stage in Eowyn's life, the latter was given thrice daily for the first 5 months of her life.
3. Ergo carrier-- as a friend commented yesterday, I am their biggest fan, always recommending it to someone. :) I didn't even bother with the newborn insert, I just stuck her in there all balled up, sometimes in a blanket. This kept her toasty, too. (You can also sit her on a rolled-up blanket or towel as an infant). In church, I've put E in the Ergo forward-facing (cross-legged), which isn't really officially recommended, but which kept us all happy... I've also used it in the side and back positions. It's got the versatility and long-term comfort of a Moby or Maya-wrap, but simpler to get on and off. Keeps babies in the upright position instead of reclining like in a sling. You can't do without this if you have a colicky or refluxy baby!
4. Paci straps-- great if you have a paci-sucker. This keeps it attached to baby during nursery stays, trips shopping, in the car, in the crib... wonderful especially when your child falls in love with gravity and chucks everything out of the crib. There are tons out there, but my friend Bethany makes them here.
5. Small "blankies" (blanditos in our family)-- the small size makes them great for diaper bags and traveling, but what is essential is the combo of silky and soft fabrics. I now make taggy-style blankets with both these elements as my "standard" baby gift.
6. Freezable teething rings-- the old standby also doubles as a great ice-pack for bumps and bruises. I'm going to put a bonus plug in for the boo-boo bunnies & bears which have plastic ice cubes in them made of the same material as the freezable teething rings.
7. Sophie la giraffe (by Vulli)-- wow, how did we survive without it? Received as a gift at 5 mos, and pretty much constantly sucked on, chewed on, and squeezed until 10 mos. Totally worth the price. Her legs, horns, head, and body all are perfectly sized for reaching any sore gum. And it squeaks easily which makes babies happy. Just don't give it to an older child or you will go bonkers.
8. Big bibs-- I mean bibs the size of tea towels, that cover more than 6 square inches on the chest... crucial for saving clothes if your child is refluxy or a messy eater! My favorite is Aden & Anais' "burpy bibs." They have a snap so you can make them bibs, or they are perfectly-contoured for over-the-shoulder burping! If you're more DIY, they are pretty easy to make. My grandma actually made Eowyn several bibs out of towels, and another friend gave me some she'd gotten that were hand-towels with a t-shirt neck in the middle of them.
9. Mesh feeders- I was kinda weirded out by these when an experienced mom gave them to me, but wow... I understand now! Once your baby starts teething, these are a great way to introduce solids (steamed veggies are great), provide a natural teething toy, or give teething relief (put anything frozen, like blueberries or banana, or even just ice). I often give one to E in her high chair as I'm making dinner, and she sucks on it happily without getting too messy. (I also emply my friends Mr.s Frozen Peas in this quiet-dinner-prep-endeavor.)
10. Raw coconut oil- the only diaper rash cream you'll ever need. Make a cloth wipe solution for cleaning messy diapers with it and water...cook with it (in place of butter)... use it for chapstick, in natural deodorant, on chapped cheeks... and it has a really light, pleasant smell...
And a bonus that doesn't apply to everybody:
11. For cloth diaper-ers: a diaper sprayer!! Yes, I do survive when we're traveling using faucets, etc., but that is so much grosser than just using this in the toilet!