Happy Friday the 13th! I have so much on my mind, but I don't really want to write about it, so today's post will be all about the baby products we haven't been able to live without and those that are a waste of time and money. Everyone and their mom writes a post like this, it seems (if they have children), and I want to add in my two cents. Remember: what works for one baby might not work for another; this is just what has worked for us up until this point.
Products we love:
1) The Miracle Blanket is the most excellent swaddling blanket. We started using this in the hospital when Charlie was born and finally stopped a month or so ago because Charlie kept busting out of it every night. I wish we would have bought a couple more of these. Instead, we only had one that we washed over and over and over. It's got a hole or two in it now.
Now that he's done being swaddled, we use a Halo sleep sack at night, which I also recommend.
2) Many people swear by having a bouncy/vibrating chair around the house, and we're hooked as well. We would have been screwed without this, as Charlie slept in it the first six weeks (for nighttime and naps) and has slept in it sporadically since then. We still use it. We even went out and bought a bigger version to use exclusively once Charlie's too heavy for the smaller one.
(Cat not included with purchase of chair. However, we will consider selling the baby to the highest bidder.)
3) The Happiest Baby on the Block is both a book and a video, and I recommend getting/viewing/reading both. We would have been lost without these soothing techniques, seriously. The video is great because it shows you how to do what's recommended in the book, so there's less guessing about whether you're doing it right. What I love so much about the book/video is that it explains why babies are so fussy the first six weeks or so. And then after I was done reading it, I realized that people who try to put their newborn baby on a schedule are living in a dreamland.
4) I love, love, love the Ergo baby carrier for wearing Charlie. We bought this when he was a couple of weeks old. He liked it for awhile, because he would curl up in it and go to sleep, but because he got big so fast, he didn't like it very much for a couple of months there. Right around the four month mark I started putting him in it again, and now he likes it. It beats the hell out of the Baby Bjorn and is pretty easy on your back. I use it pretty much every day for getting things done around the house and running errands.
5) Aden & Anais blankets are really great, big, muslin blankets that can be used in a lot of different ways. Charlie loves his, especially because he lives for chewing on blankets. We have about eight of them now.
6) I'm not convinced that parents need to go out and buy an activity gym/playmat, because you can just as easily put a blanket with some toys on the floor. The big selling point about this is that it has toys that dangle from above. Charlie really loves his, and we use it every day. The standing part with the dangling toys is pretty portable, so I can use it with Charlie's crib and pack 'n' play if need be.
7) Although I didn't realize it when we bought it, the Micralite Fastfold was our starter stroller. It's a great lightweight stroller that we used when Charlie was still in his infant car seat. I think it's a great stroller, but when it became clear that Charlie was going to be out of his infant car seat soon, I started looking around for other options. Namely, I wanted something that had the option to have Charlie facing us. Enter the Maxi-Cosi Foray. We've only been using this for a month or so, but we love it. It looks good, is easily maneuverable, has a nice little storage basket, and is relatively lightweight. The downsides? When it folds up, the seat folds up separately from the rest of the stroller. And it's a little difficult to get off our porch (which has stairs), but what stroller is easy to get up stairs?
I will say this, though, that it's probably a good idea to buy something like a stroller frame to use with your infant car seat at first while you figure out what your stroller needs and desires are. I kind of wish we had done this instead of throwing down the money for the Micralite (even though we got it on sale). Still, we plan to hang onto the Micralite and use it for future babies, so there's that.
8) I received the Itzbeen baby timer as a gift, and to be honest, I had my doubts about it at first. But still, I held onto it. And after Charlie was born and it was too difficult to continue logging his feedings and pooping and peeing, we busted it out and never looked back. I consider it pretty much essential for new parents, especially for those first six weeks, because it's so important to know how often you're feeding the baby, how long it's been since he pooped, etc. We haven't used it in several months, but it saved us when we were out of our minds due to sleep deprivation when Charlie was a newborn.
9) This musical mirror for car rides was another thing that I wasn't sure about, but it really has helped calm Charlie down sometimes when he's been having a meltdown in the car. I say get one.
10) Ahhhh, white noise. The sound of rain has been playing pretty constantly on our stereo since Charlie was born. Some people go out and buy a white noise machine, but we just downloaded a few tracks from iTunes, made a CD, and put the CD on repeat. Charlie sleeps to this every night, which means we do, too. It's a great way to mask all the stuff that's going on outside the bedroom, like the cats and their 3 AM parties. Plus, white noise is relaxing and soothing for babies.
11) I really didn't think we were going to need a glider, but I am so glad we broke down and bought one. I practically lived in this thing the first six weeks. I used it for pumping, feeding, and hanging out with Charlie. We still use it for all of Charlie's night feedings. It's also good for photos.
Products that have us on the fence:
1) For a lot of people, a swing is a must have. We received one at our shower (which I will discuss later). For some reason we didn't really start trying to use it until Charlie was about six weeks old. When it worked, and it rarely did, Charlie slept well in it. We did end up buying another one that had a plug-in option. It's a good swing for babies that are a little older and not so floppy, because it doesn't recline much. Charlie would fall asleep in it but it never kept him asleep for long.
2) The Boppy pillow is an essential for a lot of moms, but we really haven't used it all that much. Granted, Charlie isn't nursing, but even when he was, the Boppy didn't help much. So its primary use has been for back support in the glider (when I was pumping) and to help support Charlie when he's practicing sitting up. Charlie did end up sleeping on it his first night home from the hospital, but that really isn't recommended. I may break it out again and try to use it to feed him because he is so heavy these days.
3) By the time Charlie was able to kind of sit up in the Bumbo, it wasn't much longer after that that his thighs got a little too chunky for it. I think this would probably work out for a baby who isn't so hefty, but as it stands, we haven't been able to use ours much. We've used it mostly for photos, and I did take it to a restaurant once.
4) The Moby is a stretchy wrap so you can wear your baby and get things done around the house. It's excellent especially for newborns since they like to be all curled up and close. We never really got into using the Moby. I was really reluctant to use it because of my C-section recovery. Next time, C-section or no, I want to use the Moby. I think it would have made things a lot easier for me, plus it probably would have helped me not feel so alienated from Charlie during those first few weeks. When I started doing more babywearing when Charlie was around three months old, I did take the Moby out again and was able to get Charlie in it, but due to his hugeness and its stretchiness, I really doubt we're going to get much use out of it.
5) I bought the Belle baby carrier a couple of months ago when I started to become addicted to babywearing. It's a very simple carrier, and Charlie really liked it, but it honestly probably isn't much better for the wearer or wearee than the Baby Bjorn. It did start to hurt my back after only wearing it for a short time. I have this carrier in the trunk of my car in case I don't have the Ergo with me, but there are definitely better carriers out there. Like the Ergo. Buy it now!
Products we think are a waste of time:
1) You really can have too many washcloths. We have a ton of baby washcloths, and we don't use them all. I'll probably end up using some of them for cloth wipes or something.
2) God, I hate the Graco Lovin' Hug swing. Great design, but the motor never really worked that well so the swing went very, very slow even on the highest setting. Thankfully, we had the product warranty through Babies 'R' Us, so we were able to get our money refunded - but only if we cut off part of the swing to make it completely unusable and sent it to them. So now we have a swing in our garage that will never be able to be used by anybody. Lame. And wasteful.
Still, enjoy the picture of Charlie in it, because he's sooooo cute.
So that's all I can think of right now. Obviously there are other things that we use, but these are the special things. Whatever that means. Hope this helps someone out there.