As promised last week, today I’m going to tell you about those items that were absolutely essential during our first few months with Baby P. This was inspired by Mrs. Limestone, as I found her list of Most Useful Baby Items quite, well, useful, so I thought I’d do something similar. Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything we’ve used and enjoyed with Baby P – it only has five items! Rather, it’s more a list of those things that I didn’t think were so important or didn’t even know about, but have turned out to be the things that I mildly panic if I can’t locate. And obviously, every baby is different! But for Baby P, I’m really glad that we have...
1: White noise machines – Sleep Sheep + Homedics noise machine
We have two white noise machines; that’s how essential they are for Baby P’s sleep. We received this battery-operated lamb as a gift, and now it’s our primary “travel” noise machine because I can pop out the noise-making part, which is just slightly larger than a deck of cards, and stick it in my bag to go. (Of course, you can do the same with a white noise app like this one I have, but that drains my phone battery something awful.) The lamb is on a timer to save battery power, but I got tired of resetting the timer every 45 minutes. So, we also got a plain ol’ cheap Homedics white noise machine that can plug into the wall (and without a timer, if desired) for his nursery. No baby-market upsell necessary! Really, any white noise is super helpful for getting Baby P off to naptime.
2: Halo sleep sack and Miracle Blankets
Also essential for Baby P’s sleep: swaddling blankets. Not those little lightweight plain blankets that require folding and tucking – Baby P could Houdini himself out of those long before naptime was over. Rather, we use those specially designed blankets that keep Baby P from smacking himself in the face and waking himself up. At first, we used Halo sleep sacks exclusively because the simple Velcro flaps are crazy easy to deal with... and when you’re dealing with them three times a night, in the dark, while sleep-deprived, easy is essential. Once Baby P grew too long for those (the kid hit two feet before he was two months old!), we transitioned to Miracle Blankets. At first I felt bad putting my kid in essentially a baby straightjacket, but it really is incredible at keeping him asleep. I still use the fleece Halo at night (it’s barely long enough; the cotton ones are long outgrown!) because it’s easier to maneuver, so both are necessary. And yes, I am already dreading weaning him from the swaddle... but oh, it’s been worth it to teach him how to sleep.
3: Bubzi nasal aspirator
Ok, yes, baby snot is gross... but it’s grosser to keep it all in your kid’s head. As a winter baby, Baby P woke up congested every morning for basically the first two months of his life. We got the suction bulb from the hospital, but it wasn’t great at really clearing his sinuses. Plus it was difficult to clean, and the only thing worse than seeing all the baby snot was not knowing how disgusting the inside was. So, I upgraded to this Bubzi nasal aspirator, which is even more unnerving because it’s a mouth aspirator, so you feel like you’re sucking all the air out of your baby while potentially inhaling their snot. But! Neither of those things actually happens! Instead, Baby P can breathe free and clear so much more easily, and I can actually take it apart to clean it well. Disgusting, but necessary!
4: Simethicone gas drops
Another disgusting part of life with a baby: burps and farts. But just like with snot, it’s way worse when they’re stuck inside your baby. Right around Baby P’s third week, I wondered why my charming little infant had been replaced with a purple-faced screaming bundle of despair, and the answer was GAS. Little dude couldn’t burp, so the gas got stuck somewhere within his totally underdeveloped GI tract, and the result was a miserable baby with equally miserable parents. In our desperation, Mr. P ran to the pharmacy for gas drops, and we haven’t looked back. We now use these generic ones and keep bottles scattered around the apartment for every single feeding. I know the research is mixed on whether they truly help condense gas bubbles to make them easier to pass, but hey, I’ll take the placebo effect any day.
5: Snugabunny bouncer
We inherited this bouncer from Baby P’s cousin, and I remember Mr. P’s sister said they bought it after they got home because she realized there wasn’t really anyplace to put the baby down. And oh my goodness, she is right. The bouncer is our go-to place to let Baby P chill for a few minutes while we... well, while we do anything that requires two hands. It’s perfect for a reflux-y baby like Baby P, who needs to stay upright most of the time lest his stomach contents go in reverse. Because of that, we found the bouncer to be a great (supervised!) napping spot for Baby P in the early weeks, and the vibration feature helped soothe his gassy belly (nowadays we use this wedge to prop him up for sleeping). And lately, my mom has found that the bouncer is perfect to hold our squirmy baby while she bottle-feeds him. A definite MVP for sure!
Just like Mrs. Limestone, I’ve also learned that some items just weren’t as useful as I’d expected or hoped. Again, that’s not to say that these aren’t great for other babies, that others really do use them daily as I’d expected we would! But as it turns out, Baby P could probably do without...
1: Baby bathtub
Baby P gets a bath just about every night, you guys. His skin is beautiful for it – no eczema, no baby acne, no diaper rash at all! And he takes this bath every night... with me. Meaning, in the grownup bathtub, as I also take a bath. We started it because a lactation nurse suggested completely submerging his belly in warm water to ease his gas pains, but nowadays Mr. P and I have a whole teamworked routine for maximum mom-and-baby bathing efficiency. It is way way easier than filling up the fancy baby bathtub we have, and to answer what you’re wondering, he has only pooped in the tub once (and even then... I mean, it wasn’t much. It’s way more unpleasant when he barfs in my hair). I guess if you’re nervous about bathing with a baby, a special baby bathtub would be worth it (a bathtub was actually one of Mrs. Limestone's most loved items!). And who knows, maybe we’ll use it more when he’s bigger. But for now, I’ve found our little joint bathtime to be one of the more enjoyable parts of our day.
2: Moby wrap
Maybe I have too many twee hipster mom role models, but I thought for sure I’d be a baby-wearing mom. And the Moby wrap I got from my sister-in-law would make that happen! In reality... I wore Baby P out only once, when he was ten days old, and neither one of us were really huge fans. Somehow it was too tight while simultaneously feeling not secure at all. Baby P didn’t love being squished against my body, plus the view of my chest was apparently way too boring. As for me, it just put strain on my back in a weird place – not as low as when I was pregnant, not as high as tossing him up over my shoulder (where he can look around). I would like us both to get used to some carrier for traveling and nice weather, but when I’ve baby-worn around the house, I’ve opted for the more user-friendly (and less granola-mom) Infantino Flip instead. To each his/her own.
3: Snugabunny swing
A swing just seems like the quintessential get-baby-to-sleep item, right?! And we inherited a cadillac of swings from Baby P’s cousin, the same Snuggabunny kind that matched the bouncer above. I was so sure that Baby P would love this swing that I rearranged our living room to put it right in the middle of the chairs, where he could hang out with us (before dropping off to sleep because, of course, swings are the best for getting babies to sleep)! And then... Baby P hated the swing. I mean, the kid doesn’t cry much, but he cried within a minute every time we tried the swing. And I really wanted him to like it, partly because it’s so dang nice but also because I didn’t want to rearrange my living room again. So I tried it when he was happy, when he was sad, when he was alert, when he was sleepy. I tried it with the mobile spinning, I tried it rocking back-and-forth instead of side-to-side. I tried it when he got older because “you never know”. Nope. Okay then! We passed it on to another cousin, who apparently loves it. Go figure.
4:Baby towels that aren’t from IKEA
Yet another thing we inherited from Baby P’s cousin was a big stack of hooded baby towels. You might think they’d come in handy for his many baths, but you guys. They are super cute, but we might as well use them as burp cloths, or perhaps to clean up very small puddles, for how absorbent they are. Plus, even though Baby P is not a remarkably large baby, they were too small to wrap him up within the first few weeks. The only baby bath towel worth having is made by IKEA, as theirs are way bigger and thicker and actually, you know, dry him off. But even then, a special towel isn’t really necessary for the little guy. Resist the urge to buy baby towels! Just like your baby can take a bath in a big bathtub, they can use grownup towels, too.
5: Convertible carseat
I really really hesitated to put this on the list, as we received this very nice carseat as a gift from Baby P’s grandparents after I put it on our registry. We needed a second carseat for our second car, and I thought one that could be used for years would be an ideal item to have, given how much I prefer reducing the amount of baby stuff we accumulate. But in practice... it is just too hard to take a floppy little infant anywhere without his carrier. I once tried to gather everything to leave our house and realized I couldn’t carry everything even just down the stairs with him in my arms. So, we ended up buying a second carseat base for that carrier for our second car. I’m sure this carseat will be useful, an MVP item eventually, when Baby P is a bit bigger! But for now, it’s waiting its turn in our basement... just as a bigger-kid carseat would anyway. Dang. Lesson learned!
Whew! That’s a lot of opinions about baby stuff, which is amusing considering I was totally hands-off doing any sort of research on baby stuff all throughout pregnancy. How quickly things change, right?
And I don’t just have opinions about baby stuff. While I was writing this list, I realized that half the items I’d called MVP were actually not for the baby, but for me. Turns out new moms need special gear, too! I’ll fill you in on those next time!