January 28, 2015

my favorite newborn essentials

FILED IN: Personal

At the time of making this list, I have a 9-week old little boy. These are some of the items that I can’t imagine living without during these first 2 months. As he grows, my list of essentials will change, but for a newborn, these are my must-haves. I’d love to hear what you have on your list.

1. Aden & Anais swaddle blankets – Before having a baby, I thought these blankets were overrated. There were so many cheaper options for blankets after all. But the thing I love about these blankets is that they are huge (do you know how long babies become when they are trying to kick out of a blanket?) and thin. They are the perfect weight and size for cuddling up with your little one and are absolutely worth the money. We haven’t actually used them for swaddling (see item 4), but we use them for just about everything else. They last forever and stay intact. I can’t tell you how many spit ups, poops, and pees happened in these blankets and yet they look like new.

2. WubbaNub pacifier – You can get the actual pacifier in a two pack for $3. So it initially seems silly to pay for this pacifier which only has the addition of a little stuffed animal on it. But the thing is, those other pacifiers get lost. They pop out and disappear. It’s hard to lose a pacifier that has a stuffed animal attached to it. The other bonus is that the weight, however slight, of the animal helps hold the pacifier in place when babies are tiny and accidentally spit them out really easily. And do you know how cute it is to see your little baby holding onto a little giraffe (or whatever animal you choose) with his big eyes looking up at you as he munches away on his pacifier? It’s adorable.

3. Medela Breast Pump – I was under some crazy illusion prior to giving birth that nursing would be a piece of cake. What could go wrong with nature, I naively said. Turns out, lots of things can. Thankfully, I had the foresight to get a breast pump since our insurance covered it 100%. Now I pump and give him breast milk in a bottle about half the time and nurse him the other half. And this mama feels such relief over how much easier our system is than trying to exclusively breast feed. To note: breastfeeding supplies are now tax deductible so even if your insurance doesn’t cover a pump, you’ll be able to write it off.

4. Sleep sack – We knew we’d be getting one of these from the hospital, but I would highly recommend getting at least one additional sack so you can swap out for laundry. The sleep sacks are amazing, especially for little babies. You can read more about the moro reflex here, but basically, if a baby is sleeping on his/her back, he/she should be swaddled to get solid, deep sleep. Henry hates having his arms tucked in so I finally figured out that I need to put him in the sleep sack, but leave it unswaddled until he’s almost asleep. Then I tuck his arms in, velcro him shut, and put him to bed. There were still several mornings or post-naps when we find his arms out though, our little Henry Houdini. (I have tried several different methods including leaving his arms out of the swaddle, using this swaddle, and leaving him completely unswaddled. He sleeps the best in the sleep sack despite his resistance. (As he grows, we’ll be transitioning out of this swaddle so I’ll have to figure out what will work best at that time.)

5. Rock ‘n Play – This came highly recommended and we love it!!! We discovered right away that because newborns are so curled up, Henry would just roll to the side in his little swaddle instead of staying on his back. We put him in here for all his sleeping and it kept him in that snuggled state. When we had so many problems with him having gas, we went back to this (after having gone to the crib) just so it would keep his legs slightly bent up and keep him comfortable. I don’t like a lot of huge baby equipment so the other thing that is great about this is that it’s really lightweight and folds in half for easy portability and storage. This is also great for babies struggling with colic/acid reflux problems.

6. Infant Gas Relief drops – Babies are gassy. Some more than others. And ours would cry and cry in pain. These drops became our life saver. Not only did he love the flavor, but it would help relax him and he would soon start farting and pooping and feeling better. The first 6 weeks were the worst for us, and thankfully, babies do grow out of this as their digestive systems mature.

7. Flatfold cloth diapers (for burp clothes) – I didn’t like any of the regular burp cloths we had. They were all too thick and small. But these? These were huge and could catch spit up! We use them in a diamond direction so a corner is over our shoulder/back and the widest part across our chest/shoulder. Keep in mind, these are thin cloths though so if you’re trying soak up milk (babies are messy when eating!) or major spit up, it will soak through. (We use these thick burp cloths for feedings when he drips milk everywhere, then switch for burping.)

8. Bottle drying rack – I love this one by Boon because you can stack things however you want. Between bottles and breast pump parts, this drying rack has seen it all. There is a larger version available as well (the “lawn”) and if you have the counter space, go for the larger size; you’ll use it.

9. BabyConnect app – Reality is that when you have a child, your life suddenly revolves around the clock and you simultaneously lose track of time. So when you need to know when the last time was s/he ate or pooped or slept, you end up having no idea. This app not only keeps track of everything, but also has the capability to keep track of milestones (rolling over, smiling, sleeping all night, sitting up, walking, etc.), health & medicine, photos, and so much more. There are a lot of baby app options available, but the selling point of this one is that there can be more than one user. Both parents can enter and record from their own phones. You can also add other care providers like a nanny or babysitter. It costs $4.99, but both Kevin and I have said many times that it was well worth the money. Also related: at doctor visits, you will be asked how many poops your child has, how often s/he eats in 24 hours, etc. The app has an easy graph that shows you all of this data instantly so you’re never left sitting there racking your brain trying to remember how many diapers you’ve changed.

10. Noise Machine – You can get any noise machine you want; there’s nothing magical about this one. There are several reasons to have white noise for nap/bedtime. Here are mine: 1) babies are used to tons of noise in utero (the whoosh-whooshing of your heart beat for one) and the white noise helps them feel at home, 2) getting a child used to sleeping through noise is immensely helpful when you’re out and about and can’t tip-toe around, 3) we’ve been using white noise for naps and nights since we brought Henry home. I try to make a very clear transition in that I turn it off when I get him up and turn it on when I’m getting him ready for bed. I never use it when it’s not time to sleep. What has happened now is that when I turn it on, it has become a signal to Henry that it’s time to go to sleep. Any of these routines you can use to aid in sleeping are invaluable!, 4) lastly, having Henry so accustomed to sleeping in white noise will [hopefully] make travels much easier. Ideally (we haven’t tried this one out yet, but have heard success from others), he’ll be able to sleep anywhere if he has the sense of “home” with the noise.

11. Changing pad liners – Because your baby will projectile poop onto your beautiful changing pad cover and stain it even though you will try every stain remover imaginable. Not that I know that from experience… (Also, you may want to have some carpet cleaner on hand. Trust me. Somehow, [sh]it happens.)

12. Onesies (these were my favorites) – We had a winter baby, but even though it was negative temperatures outside, our little guy did not like to be hot. Sleepers were great for running errands and being out of the house. But if we were home, he lived in onesies. They are the easiest articles of clothing for changing diapers (especially after the night feedings when we wanted to keep him as uninterrupted and asleep as possible) and, since we lived and breathed by our SleepSacks, he was always swaddled up for sleeping/napping. In fact, if I had him in a sleeper inside the SleepSack, he’d wake up screaming because he’d be too hot. (I wasn’t kidding when I said he didn’t like to be hot, my little warm-blooded boy.) So we onesied it up a lot and put socks on his feet. (My favorite socks were these adorable baby knee socks; they never fell off!)

13. Young Living Lavender Essential Oil – I had long been skeptical about the essential oil whispers. But then I had a baby and was desperate to keep him healthy during the winter. Lavender has been my favorite essential oil for him as it has helped with a lot of things, including keeping him healthy amid our flu-infected house and calming him during his horrible gas bits. I mix 1 drop of lavender EO with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and follow this massage routine before naps/bedtime. It has helped with his gas as well as his sleeping. I also rub this on the bottoms of his feet every night. Here is a list of EO’s that are safe for babies as well as how to use them.

14. Mustela No Rinse Cleanser – I would love to give little Henry a bath every night because he loves it so. But I also don’t want to dry out his sensitive skin and give him dermatological problems so we use this amazing cleanser on the no-bath days for a quick refresh. It smells so good and is really gentle. We also used this the first week he was home before his umbilical cord fell off since we couldn’t give him a bath yet.

15. Lily Jade diaper bag – Admittedly, I don’t have a Lily Jade…yet. (This is the one I’m eyeing; the backpack feature alone is worth the money!) The thing I love about these bags though is that they are huge and super organized. Bonus: they are really cute, high-quality bags that don’t scream look-at-me-I’m-a-mom. Because these bags are a little pricey, I got really clever and purchased the insert (“baby bag”) and put it into an existing purse I already had that I loved. So now I have an awesome bag that I had pre-baby that is really organized on the inside for everything I need for little Henry. If you can swing it, I’d highly recommend purchasing one of these diaper bags. You’ll never believe how much stuff you need to carry around and the backpack-wearing options of some of these are amazing. (Read: hands free! You’ve got enough things to carry with your arms.)

Let me know in the comments what you can’t do without!

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