If you aren’t in the business of babies, just skip this post. This is as much for me next time around as it is for anyone else (we are out of the stage where I cannot comprehend how ANYONE would have more than one child and into the stage where I want about 49023 babies because I think they’re so wonderful #hormones).
I’m sure there are more comprehensive lists out there, but three months into this whole baby thing, here are some of the things that have saved our sanity (or at least made losing it a bit more comfortable). Items are listed by a rank determined by the number of tears they saved me:
- Halo Sleep Sack: We got one of these in a care package from the hospital (bless them for giving each new mom one of these) and it took us a couple of days to use it but once we did Linc slept SO MUCH BETTER. Basically its a little sleeping bag but the huge benefit is the swaddle “arms” that Velcro to the sides so you can get a tight swaddle without any of the fuss. Personally, I am horrible at swaddling a baby tightly in the beloved swaddling blankets and when you’re half asleep, the last thing you want to do is be worrying about folding and tucking corners of a blanket. Also, with the zipper coming from the bottom, it makes for easy night diaper changes. Our only complaint about the sleep sack is that Lincoln got very hot in the fleece sack (they do have these cotton ones I just found). We would have him sleep in nothing but a onesie and he was often sweating. We didn’t get the Ollie Swaddle until right as we stopped swaddling Linc at night but I WISH we’d had it from the beginning. It also uses Velcro to swaddle, doesn’t have the full sleep bag and is the best baby swaddle I’ve seen. I use it now at three months when Linc just needs to be calmed down during the day. If I were going to recommend one product to new moms, it would be this (the quality is fantastic, I love the fabric, it’s easy to use, easy for night diaper changes, and can be used in all seasons).
- Madela Softshells: I struggled with breastfeeding from the beginning and its been just in the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to stop wearing these Medela SoftShells full time (Linc did quite a bit of damage in those first five weeks). Basically these act as a protective shell so you can wear clothes and still have nothing be touching your nipples (maybe if I’d had these the first week we would have avoided those rather revealing meals seated at the table with Ben and my mother…). Even if you have a baby with a great latch, I hear you are very sore for a few days and these would be wonderful. There are little inserts to absorb milk so you don’t spill or, if you leave them out, you can collect the milk that leaks (or you can forget and end up getting yourself rather wet when you bend over). I had a lot of people recommend the soothing gel pads but, honestly, I was so tender that those hurt too.
- A white noise app: You can get a full white noise machine and I’m sure this would be great too, but we have an ipad we don’t use much and I bought the Sound Sleeper App. I’d been using the free version on my phone (which gives you 30 minutes of noise) but when Linc was seven weeks or so I bought the full app (which allows for continuous noise) and the first night we played noise all night long was the first time he slept through the night (eight hours or so). The app has many different noises and Linc loves the rain and well as the “hush.” Confession: I often found myself holding my baby in my bed during the day trying to get him to sleep those first few weeks (at night he’s always been in a bassinet in another room). Loud “shhh”ing in his ear always calmed him down but sometimes I would find myself too exhausted for even that. On those occasions I’d pull out my phone, hold my baby, and let the app do the hushing (worked like a charm).
- Nose Frida: I thought the concept of these was disgusting until Lincoln got a cold a few weeks ago and I opened ours. It is much easier/more effective than the bulb syringe we have and I am so grateful for this product. Plus, with the filters, you don’t actually risk sucking any snot into your mouth 😉
- Freezer meals: We were so lucky to have my mom with us for so long after the baby followed by Ben’s parents but during the few days between and the few weeks after his parents left, having healthy meals that just needed to be heated up were great. They were easy for Ben to do after work, and on the days I managed to prepare them, I felt like a domestic champion with about three minutes of effort. Some friends brought freezer meals (and both our moms left the freezer full of them when they left) and they were some of the very best gifts.
- Sleepers: While he was sleeping in the Halo Sleep Sack, it was too hot for these, but with the Ollie Swaddle, and now that he sleeps without a swaddle, these are all he wears to bed (okay, and all day long). I received the wise recommendation from a friend to go with zippers over snaps anytime you had the option. I love these sleepers because they make diaper changes so much faster (and getting dressed in general is easier). I usually have a short or long sleeved onesie on under these. Honestly, unless we’re going to church, taking pictures, or meeting friends, he’s wearing these 95% of the time. Right now he’s sound asleep in this one.
- Mamaroo: So many moms rave about this and now, at three months, I LOVE ours. Even from the beginning it was great for him to lay down in while he was awake (and we let him sleep in it during the first few weeks a couple of times), but Lincoln needs much stronger movement to be calmed down. If he’s calm, setting him in here is wonderful, but I think if we’d had some kind of a swing in the beginning it would have been great. Now though, I love strapping him into the Mamaroo while I clean the kitchen and talk to him. Or, even if I’m playing with him, its often nice to have him sitting up in it and me sitting on the floor next to him.
- Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray: If we’re listing things that saved me tears, this needs to be on the list. The hospital sent me home with this spray and of all my post-birth items (other than the strong motrin prescription), this was the most helpful. Its essentially a numbing spray and if your hospital doesn’t provide this, I would pick some up (or just order it off amazon before hand for $8 because you’ll probably want a second bottle anyway).
- A Play Gym: This was another gift and something that we have used daily since Linc was about a week old. He was interested in looking at the all the colors early on and was reaching and hitting the hanging toys at two weeks. In the early days it only provided a few minutes of entertainment but now he’ll lay happily under it for up to half an hour by himself (like right now, he’s laying under it in the office while I talk to him about what I’m doing). Ours has a little star at the top that you can turn on and it will light up and play music and that is easily his favorite part. I know there are so many baby toys and its easy for them to take over your space, but this one has been really great for us (we have a different theme but this one is the same style by the same brand).
- Nursing tanks: When you are feeding your baby every few hours, these are a necessity (unless you don’t have those softshells yet and you can’t bear any fabric touching you at all…). I used this one and loved it. I sized up from my prepregnancy size because I knew I’d be wearing it home from the hospital with my no-longer-baby belly. I also used Lansinoh nursing pads along with the Target generic brand. Both were great.
- Burt’s Bees Baby: We use Burt’s Bees baby products for everything from baby shampoo to diaper rash cream and I love them. I love the way they smell and how gentle they are on Linc’s skin. The oil was great when he had a mid case of cradle cap and I use the lotion after every bath (for the first week or two we didn’t use any products on his skin though).
- Pacifiers: We didn’t use these at all the first few weeks and then used them sparingly until I quit breastfeeding at five weeks. I add them here because we had many different brands of pacifiers and the only ones Linc would really take were the MAM brand (you can order them online here or I’ve seen them in store in Target, but not online). Most of the time, I just slid my little finger in his mouth and he would quiet right down, but for the times other people were holding him, the little pacifier did wonders. We won’t try and count how many hours of the 12 hour drive to NH I had my finger in his mouth.. I guess I really should add “little finger” to this list instead of pacifiers. Now, Linc just thinks pacifiers are a fun game of “put it in and spit it out” 🙂
- Saranoni Blankets: So these I actually just got this weekend but they’re INCREDIBLE (disclosure: I was sent some for an upcoming post but I’m under no obligation to include them here, they’re just that good). I had a similar one (from Brookestone that has been discontinued) that is incredibly soft and I loved wrapping Lincoln in from the beginning. I used it to shoot his newborn pictures (and a lot of other pictures) but couldn’t find any other similar blankets until these Saranoni blankets. Lincoln loves the bamboni and I love how soft they are against his skin (and I can’t wait to photograph him on them…because beautiful blankets = great for beautiful pictures).
- Aden and Anais Swaddling Cloths: I heard a lot of hype about these before the baby and was thrilled when I received some as a gift. But, Linc is a master at getting out of a swaddle and we didn’t use these much in the beginning. Now though, he LOVES them and will giggle and smile when I put one up against his cheek. He’ll hold one all day long and I always have one in my diaper bag.
- Chicco Keyfit Car Seat: We started off with an Eddie Bauer car seat from Target and didn’t realize what we were missing until we were gifted the Keyfit. It is so much easier to clip in and out of the car (so much smoother!). It is also lighter so its saved my arms. I’d also recommend getting a stroller that works with your carseat so that if you go out in the beginning and the baby is asleep in the car seat, you can just move the seat to the stroller and let the baby sleep.
- Husband & Co Baby Wrap: I didn’t start really using our baby wrap regularly till Lincoln was two months old and I’m sad about it (although realistically I was too sore/in too much pain to have a baby up against my chest for the first six weeks anyway). Once I started wearing Lincoln often (and learned how tight I should actually wrap him – in the beginning I had him too loose), it has been so helpful! He’ll take much better naps in the baby wrap and I can get so much done while he sleeps (other than sleep myself). Even if he’s awake, I can clean the house, or sit at the computer on an exercise ball (the bouncing movement is something he loves) and get some work done. I’ve tried this Husband & Co wrap along with a sling wrap and I much prefer the first (although it could just be because I’m not entirely sure how the sling wrap is supposed to work). When I’m going to the grocery store or church I’ll tie on the wrap before I leave the house and wear it under my coat. That way, when we get where we’re going, all I have to do is slip him in. I’m planning on traveling like this when we fly to NH next week too.