Monday, July 30, 2012

Favorites for Infant Days

Eowyn knows how to stuff a bag!
My second time around with infancy and my first time as a mom of multiple children I've either discovered or affirmed my appreciation for certain baby items.  Of course, all you REALLY need is diapers, clothes, a car seat and some place to lay the baby (eventually)... but there are plenty of things that can make my life easier.  I'll list a few of them, and please add your own recommendations in the comments!  It's fun with the second baby because most of the big needs are already out of the way, especially if you cloth diaper, so you can splurge on a few cool items.

-- tote-style diaper bag that can accommodate your toddler's needs as well as yours.  Who needs to try and juggle multiple bags?  We're teaching Eowyn to carry her own things (though her idea of doing that was putting it all in Liam's car seat next to him when we weren't looking yesterday, hah), but there's always a snack, a bib, a spare shirt, etc.  I got my sturdy canvas "Large Utility Tote" from 31, and it has plenty of pockets for easy access!  My only improvement will be making some big zippered bags to separate out my stuff and Eowyn's.  Graco makes a pretty cool similar one, with an internal bag that snaps out.  I like giving it as a gift.

-- swaddle blankets-- especially since reading The Happiest Baby on the Block, I'm a fan of swaddling in the early days, and blankets come undone so easily.  William really likes it-- possibly because he must have been VERY tightly swaddled in the womb those last weeks.... still not sure how he fit all 10 lb-22" of himself in my uterus...  The BEST brand for us has been the Kiddopotamus/Summer Infant Swaddleme, in fleece because all the AC around here means it's cold inside even in the summer!  The velcro's more logically placed than it is in some other brands. I also like this Carter's sweater-knit 100% cotton blanket I received as a gift, because the weave and size are perfect for a tight swaddle.  You can easily find these at consignment sales or new at discount stores like TJ Maxx or Ross.
E rocking the Ergo on the Paris Metro at 5 mos. old

-- Ergo Baby Carrier-- oh the beauty and simplicity.  I still use my moby-like wrap too, but I LOVE the ease and simplicity of just doing two buckles and ocassionaly tightening a strap here or there.  I don't even have to bother with rolling up blankets under him because he came out so big. :)  He loves being held and this keeps my hands free, and is super-helpful in keeping his acid reflux from bothering him after a feeding. It also works for toddlers up to 30 lbs.  GREAT in airplanes or airports!  Don't even bother with a Bjorn or a Snugli, especially past 3 months-- they're way harder on your back and not good for baby's spine.

-- infant probiotics-- we started off with Biogaia Protectis drops, which in one study essentially eliminated colic.  Apparently this strain of probiotic is especially potent against an overgrowth of yeast, which causes lots of gas and digestive pain.  I think this has been key in helping Liam's reflux be waaaaay less severe than Eowyn's.  At the first sign I bought these and saw a difference within the week.  My one complaint is the serving mechanism-- it drops out very s-l-o-w-l-y, and when you're trying to dispense 5 drops into a newborn's mouth that is no bueno.  A dropper would be FAR better!  So either drip it into a bottle of milk or use a syringe or dropper of your own.  This is a must-have for moms who have used any antibiotics in pregnancy & delivery, who have a history of yeast infections or who had yeast infections during pregnancy.  We've now begun trying a powdered form (Udo's Choice Infant's Blend), and the jury's still out on it-- but by all means try SOME form!  (using bottles of pumped milk to give him the powder has convinced me that I am FAR TOO LAZY to ever bottle-feed by choice!)

 -- nursing cover-- super helpful in descreetly nursing in public.  Get one with boning in it (to better see baby), and if you find one, weighted corners (in case you have a flailer). My friend made mine, and lots of WAHMs do, so go support one of them!

-- Snuggin Go Infant Positioner-- if you have a baby with acid reflux, prematurity, torticollis or colic, buy this.  Now.  I have been SO impressed at how much more comfortable Liam is in his carseat now.  Car seats are perfectly HORRIBLE for kids with GERD (acid reflux):  the slump it forces on them puts pressure on their stomachs, with the result being screams every time we so much as placed both our babies in their car seats.  This insert (invented by a NICU nurse and crash-tested for safety) has made a big difference for Liam.  I wish I'd had it for poor Eowyn.

-- Milkies Milk-Saver-- this ingenius little gizmo catches the milk that lets down on one side as you nurse on the other side.  For me, that's a lot of milk.  The design makes it easy to attach storage bags that can go straight into the freezer!  Waste not, want not.  :)

Liam at 3 days old, swaddled and happy
-- Sticky Bellies Monthly Milestone Stickers -- this is just fun, totally non-essential:  a set of 12 stickers, one for each month of your baby's first year.  Stick it on a plain onesie or t-shirt and voila!  You have a perfect new "outfit" for taking your baby's picture.  If you like chronicling and/or photography, this is super!  Available in Boy, Girl & Neutral patterns.  You can get them at Hobby Lobby too (use those "40% off one item" coupons for a great deal!).

--Serendipity Mattress Cover-- the package info reads:  "Our product was developed based on a 15-yr study in New Zealand that found that covering mattresses with a Toxic Gas Barrier is 100% effective in preventing SIDS. Of the 210,000 covered mattresses with this specially designed barrier film, not a single SIDS/SUID death was reported."  As the risk of SIDS increases with each child that sleeps on a mattress, I viewed this as a must-have for our second baby (even though we were super-careful with our mattress first time around-- no fluid of any kind has ever touched it).

-- bouncy seat-- one of the few baby paraphernalia the stores tell you you "need" that you actually should buy.  It's especially useful at the dinner table, one of the few places I really can't hold a baby (either I don't eat or he becomes a dropped-food mat).  I have a very no-frills version that quite suffices. Vibration options are nice, but really, I usually just use my foot to keep up a steady bounce.

-- infant car seat cover-- not so useful yet in the SC July heat, but as I mess with blankets and light jackets while inside I remember how much easier this is!  Hint:  get this used at a consignment sale.

-- the books The Happiest Baby on the BlockSecrets of the Baby Whisperer and Real Food for Mother and Baby--  if I were to give a new mom or dad a starter library, this would be it.  Of course, they all need to be taken with grains of salt, but read together they all kind of balance each other out.  Happiest Baby provides great insight into soothing babies and remembering that the first 3 months are special-- you treat infants differently than older babies, and it's ok.  While you can't spoil a newborn, you can train older babies into bad habits, which is where the second book comes in.  Baby Whisperer is all about establishing a flexible routine (EASY- Eat, Activity, Sleep, Yourself) that helps you "read" your baby's needs at any given time.  If you liked aspects of Babywise but found it easy to take too far or misapply, this book finds a great balance, despite my disagreement with her view of formula feeding (that desire to keep one's looks is a valid reason to choose it, or that there might be medical benefit to it).  Real Food is just great when it comes to any question about how to raise a healthy eater, and it's right on as far as explaining why cereal isn't such a great first food, why fats are essential, and how feeding a baby can be very very low-stress.  It also has wonderful charts for eating in pregnancy-- "if you eat anything, eat this" type minimalist stuff.  Get this one before you get pregnant or ASAP thereafter!!

Two things I would love to try (baby #3?) are the folding Puj Tub, and an organic cradle mattress pad.  Anybody know of a foolproof car mirror for rear-facing car seats?  We got an Eddie Bauer one that works fairly well, but it was quite difficult to install in a way that actually let us see Liam's face... not the best design at all.

Two closing tips for new parents:

1. Go gender-neutral whenever possible.  Let your nursery decor, high chair, car seat, even onesies, diaper covers & pants do double duty.  (It's easy to "girlify" green and yellow, and even blue, with bows and eyelet accents.)  Think outside the pink-or-blue nursery boxes.  Pictures of our nautical-themed nursery to follow later (both kids will share it).

2. Invest in quality furniture the first time.  Wooden high chairs, sturdy cribs & cradles and a dresser-changing pad will pay for themselves by weathering multiple children.  Same goes for toys-- better fewer sturdy non-toxic wooden ones than scads of cheaper plastic ones.  (I have my favorite clothing brands for the same reasons.)


Jamie Franklin said...

I totally agree with a nursing cover with boning in it, an ergo, and. Bouncy seat are all lifesavers! Will have to read those books whenever we have another! :)

Wakenda said...

I would add a MeiTai carrier as an Ergo alternative for those looking for something slightly less expensive or more easily adjusted for different baby wearers. It's an Asian style carrier that allows for front, back, and even hip/toddler carry. Greg and I love ours as it allows both of us to carry Roo on outings without having to adjust straps for height and body type differences, and Roo just loves it.

Eowyn's Heir said...

ooh, thanks gals! i've never tried a mei tai but they look so comfy!