Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Top 5 Piece of Baby Gear for the First 3 Months

As our kids grow, it's nice to look back and reflect on what the greatest hits for our kiddos in particular age ranges. This is an ongoing series where we'll talk about what they like best (and sometimes what didn't work out the way we thought it would.)

Natty & Georgia

1. Billions of Plastic Rings

What can't these little bastards do? They're fascinating to stare at and must feel a.m.a.z.i.n.g. when several of them are crammed into your mouth. They'll keep toys attached to a car seat or stroller. And they hurt like a mofo when you step on a big pile of them in the middle of the night. Winner!

We are dirty hippies who cloth diaper. I don't have some complex justification for it and I don't think I'm doing anything better than a parent that uses a disposable (and we use a disposable at night to hold each evening's tidal wave of pee.) It's not totally clear if cloth diapers are better for the environment, though if you're washing them yourself, cloth diapers are absolutely better for your bottom line (ha! bottom!) Cloth diapered babies do experience less diaper rash and I've also heard rumors that cloth diapered babies potty train earlier than their Pampered cohorts, but who knows? Ultimately, my mother-in-law gave us the gift of diaper service, so it made the choice very easy.

I'd also seen my sister cloth diaper her five children, so it was familiar and comfortable to me, but her children have Twitter accounts and facial hair and car payments these days. Lots have changed in the cloth diapering world since then and cloth diaper covers make cloth diapering just as easy as disposables. Obviously, this is just my opinion, but having done both, I'm thrilled with the cloth option, especially when couples with Thirsties covers. They change easily, they don't use pins, we have never had them leak, and they adorable.

We have a total of eight covers. In the early days when she was pooping roughly 700 times a day, we had to do laundry once a day to keep up, but that's diminished, as has the laundry. The sizing on these little things is so smart. She's been wearing them since she was an itty-bitty either pound baby and is still wearing the size ones at fourteen pounds with lots of room to grow.

Georgia doesn't suck her thumb and she rejected all pacifiers, so I'm particularly glad she's bonded with this lovey. And I'm so glad we have spare one hidden away for when she loses one!

This is one of those items that make me realize how stinking clueless about babies I was before Georgia arrived. We were gifted this about a week before Georgia arrived and I didn't take it out of the packaging for about a week after she'd arrived because I didn't see us using it much. I mean, $60 for a blankie, and some hangy toys? Cue exhausted laughter. I'd somehow failed to realize how much time babies spend laying on their backs, staring at stuff. The really nice things about this mat is the blanket has interactive bits all over it (crinkly fabric, fluffy spots and a detachable carrot that Georgia has long conversations with many afternoons) and all of the hanging toys detach and stand up to a lot of chewing, shaking, biting, sucking, throwing and so forth. 

5. The First Years Jet Stroller, City Chic

This is what you gotta do when your kid is so white, she glows. Thank goodness she tolerates hats so far! Anyway, on to the stroller. I love this cheap little ride! $39 gets you a super light stroller (11 pounds!) that folds and unfolds with ease, a comfy seat, a five-point harness, a basket underneath, cupholders for the pusher... and a shade that doesn't do much other than block your view of your kid.

The lack of shade is the consistent downside of umbrella strollers, whatever the price range. You know what fixes that? A hat! Obviously, this isn't the stroller for a two-mile hike on a shadeless beach (and there are extended shades you can buy), but I use this every day for quick walks in my shady neighborhood, trips to the grocery store and mall and other easy outings. It handles surprisingly well and copes with uneven terrain nicely when you consider what it is. Patrick and I took it on a jaunt to Descanso Gardens and powered it over paths of pebbles, woodchips and dirt without any issues.

Cori & Everett

1. The Snuza
Everett was in the NICU for the first week of his life, and just about the only perk to being in the slammer for that time was that just by glancing up at the hospital monitor, I could tell all was OK with his health.   The very first night we brought home this teeny, tiny 5lb baby, I kept peering over his bassinet making sure I could see his chest going up and down, up and down.  By conducting a very scientific poll, I found this is a very common thing to do amongst new moms that I'm related to or friends with.

I knew that there were options out there.  I initially bought the Angelcare Movement Monitor, but it did not work with my co-sleeper.  Instead, I ordered this Snuza monitor.  It's a little contraption you stick on their diapers and it senses the movement of breathing.  If breathing stops, an alarm sounds after 20 seconds.  I didn't think I'd be a bubble wrap parent, and I hope not to be, but the idea that if breathing does stop I will know ASAP gave me peace of mind.  My sleep is much more restful and has been since the night we started using it.

We have used this thing for 5 months and have only had a handful of false alarms.  Everett is a stomach sleeper (I know this is not recommended, but my pediatrician said it was OK for us), so we simply put it on the back of his diaper every night before we go to put him down for the night.  The false alarms were the result of a diaper being too full and the sensor losing contact with the skin.  Otherwise, it's very dependable.

2.  Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets

 These blankets are as good, if not better, than everyone said they'd be.  They are gauzy and large and great for everything from swaddling, to a lightweight blanket, to a sun shield, to play on.... the list goes on.  We used these to swaddle during the first month and will continue to use them for quite some time.  We almost never leave the house without one.

3.  Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

This handy dandy mini co-sleeper is a great option for those of us who want the convenience of cosleeping without actually sharing a bed.  It's really nice to be able to just grab him to nurse without stepping foot out of bed.  The Arms Reach eliminates the need for a changing table for us because there is enough storage underneath to for all of Everett's diapers and wipes.  We just roll out a flannel blanket and change him right on the bed.

This is a *mini* cosleeper and Everett will probably be moved to his crib in the next month or so because he's outgrowing it.  This should be used in lieu of a bassinet with the understanding that other sleeping arrangements will need to be made at 4-6 months.  I believe the regular Arms Reach Co-Sleeper can be used for a longer length of time and I may have chosen that one if I were purchasing it for myself, but this has really been a godsend.

4.  Mustela Line Toiletries AND Method Dyer Sheets (Rice Milk + Mallow)

This is sort of a silly one, but I love the combo of scents here.

Babies don't need any help smelling good, but these two products are easy on his skin as well.  The Mustela line has a shampoo/wash combo, rinseless soap, body oil, bubble bath and my favorite, the wipes.  I like to give Everett a quick clean up with the Mustela wipes before he sees his peeps.  They are wonderful and give Everett a signature scent, if you will (eyeroll).

I know some people don't like to use any dryer sheets at all, but if you are the sort who likes them, these are great.  You certainly only need one and it is another one of those things where even before Everett wears the clothes, people will say "that smells like Everett."

5.   Lawn Countertop Drying Rack
If you are bottle feeding at all, you may want to consider buying the lawn drying rack.  Bottle feeding my expressed milk has been such a big bummer (I promise I'll tell you more about this soon), especially in the beginning, that I wanted to do everything I could to make my life less difficult and the bottle feeding less bummer-ish.  We used Dr. Brown's bottles.  They work wonderfully, but there are a million different parts to them and they are a big pain in the ass to clean.  The rack makes it so much easier to deal with them.

Honorable Mention:  The Boppy

While the Boppy was just alright for breastfeeding (I used My Breast Friend in the hospital and it worked better but was only a single purpose item), Everett loved to BE in the boppy.  He was never a fan of being flat on his back for any length of time, pretty much from day 1, so he slept in the boppy for most of his naps (although I don't advise that).  A friend gave me the tip to put him on his tummy once he had some neck control (like you can see above, but probably pushed a bit more up to the edge) and put his toys in front of him on a surface with a solid surface to work on eye hand coordination and help him want to reach for things.  It's just a great place to put baby for a few minutes if you need a break.

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