As I was sitting in the OB’s office today waiting to take my glucose test, my brain jumped into hyper-drive about what “essential” items I needed to start gathering to be ready for this baby girl. That gave me the idea to compile a list of things that I simply couldn’t do without when Parker was a newborn. Please feel free to jump in and add your “must-haves” to this list because, let’s face it, it’s been almost 5 years since the last time around and some points about having a newborn are a bit fuzzy. In fact, the only thing I recall in incredible detail is the chronic sleep deprivation and the absolute joy I felt the first time I got 5 straight hours of sleep. Lord help me.
While I know that this is technically a list for things I love during the infant stage, I wanted to give a plug for the single item that I have relied on most during both of my pregnancies: the BellaBand.
The BellaBand is a lifesaver at every step of this crazy pregnancy process. I have three of these and I wear one almost daily. I used it during the first trimester for those days when I just needed to unbutton my jeans to ease that bloated feeling and these days, I use it to cover up the fact that my jeans are completely unzipped. For me, maternity jeans are super uncomfortable when I’m sitting down, so it’s easier for me to just wear my regular jeans as long as I can. If I do need to buy a new pair, I just buy regular jeans one size up (I’ll need them for those first few postpartum months anyways). Speaking of which, let me not forget to mention that the BellaBand is a lifesaver for the first month after giving birth when zipping your regular jeans is as much a reality as Martians landing on your roof.
My Favorite Nursing Things
While I can completely appreciate that formula feeding works best for some families, I am personally committed to nursing my babies for at least the first 12 months (Parker self-weaned at 14 months). Don’t get me wrong, it flat out hurt the first 4 weeks, but that was primarily due to the fact that I was still figuring out what the heck I was doing. These following items were lifesavers in the nursing department.
1. My Brestfriend Nursing Pillow: (Nice name, huh?) Weirdo name aside, suffice it to say that I used this pillow 10-12 times a a day for hours at a time. I also had a Boppy, but I abandoned it within the first week because it wasn’t nearly as supportive of the baby and I felt like I was having to lean down to nurse him. With this one, it actually straps around your waist so that you can regulate the height of the pillow, which made all of the difference in finding a comfortable nursing position. Parker was a marathon nurser, so I would sometimes be stuck on the recliner for an hour at a time and being uncomfortable was not an option. This pillow got so much use that it was pretty beat up and I tossed it when my nursing days were over, but this is in the top spot of things I need to buy before baby girl gets here.
2. Soothies: As I mentioned before, nursing was a painful process for me for the first handful of weeks. I would refrigerate these gel pads ahead of time and they would provide an incredible amount of relief between nursing sessions.
3. LilyPadz: When I didn’t need to use the Soothies anymore, these were my go-to nursing pads. They are made of silicone, are invisible underneath clothes and they stopped milk leakage every time. (By the way, I realized that all of my male readers have fled the building screaming by now, so let’s just carry on with the ladies, shall we?) I loved that you could wash them and reuse them over and over again. I never once had a leaking incident (thankfully) and I also didn’t need to worry about having a spare set of nursing pads with me.
4. Breast Pump: While I had the Medela Pump In Style, I’m sure there have been a bunch of new models that have come out in the last 5 years. While I had never intended to spend much time pumping, it was nice to be able to build up a small stash of milk so that I could leave the house for more than 2 hours at a time. Also, if a breast feeding issue cropped up and you needed some time “off” from nursing the baby, pumping would allow you to keep up your supply and you’d have time to heal. Don’t get me wrong, I was not a fan of pumping, but I did like the increased flexibility that it afforded me.
5. Nursing Tanks: With Parker, I had 3 nursing tank tops that I wore underneath my shirts or as stand alone items that made nursing much easier and much more discreet. This go around, I’ve already bought two tanks by Undercover Mama to use as a nursing tank alternative. These new shirts are super stretchy and actually attach to your nursing bra. Additionally, they are nice and long (which was my main gripe with my nursing tanks – they were too short). I’ll let you know how I feel about these at the end of spring, but I’ve taken them for a test drive and thus far, they work as advertised.
Other Infant Items
1. Baby Carrier: I had a Moby Wrap that I fully plan on taking advantage of again this time around. Parker was one of those babies that loved being held as much as possible. In fact, if you were holding him, he was happy as a clam and wouldn’t make a peep. A baby carrier allows you to have your hands free while getting stuff done around the house. Plus, it made grocery shopping much easier and I didn’t have to lug around his heavy car seat. This time around, I’m hoping to add a ring sling or two to my arsenal and I think that I’m going to attempt to make one myself (or maybe buy one and make a second).
2. Video Monitor: It is immensely helpful to be able to see what your baby is doing in the next room instead of just hearing them. Sometimes, babies make random squawking noises, but they don’t necessarily need anything from you at that moment. I’ve heard that the ones made by Summer are fantastic (I think ours was Graco), so I think that’s what we’re going with this time around. They are a bit pricey, but when it’s 4am and you’ve already been up 3 times, you would pay any amount of money to know that you didn’t absolutely need to drag your happy self out of bed yet again. While I co-slept with Parker from months 2-14, but I used the monitor big time for naps and when he moved to his own bed.
3. Swaddling Blankets: I know that each baby has different preferences, but the only way that Parker would sleep was if he was swaddled super tight. We had about 5 swaddling blankets on hand that we used until he was 6 months old (which was when he could unswaddle himself).
4. Mylicon Gas Drops. Parker had some tummy discomfort the first couple of weeks and our pediatrician recommended that we give him a couple drops of Mylicon before every feeding. Worked like a charm!
5. Zippered Sleepers: Parker lived in these for the first month or so. They kept him warm while allowing him to kick his legs and stretch out. I haven’t bought very many clothes for baby girl yet, but everything I have bought thus far has been mainly for 6-9 months. Parker came home from the hospital wearing 3 month clothes and based on the current size of my belly, it looks like baby girl will also be ahead of the curve with regard to clothing size. While I would love to buy some adorable infant clothes, I know that they’d probably be wasted on an infant who just wants to be swaddled and comfortable.
What’s interesting are the things that we had that Parker didn’t care for: baby swing, pacifiers, most toys… Of course, each baby is different and there’s a good chance that baby girl will generate a whole list of her own must haves for those first few months. In the coming weeks (as I jog my memory by unpacking and washing our infant stuff), I’ll make a list of things that we loved for the 6-12 month age.
For all the other mothers out there, please chime in and tell me what stuff you couldn’t live without. I’d love to hear about products that didn’t make it on my radar the last time around.