Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mommy Tip Monday: What to Buy for Baby

Linus, using his play mat and a Boppy during tummy time. 
This is a list my friend Katelyn posted on Facebook.  As soon as I read it I thought "That should be on a blog - how about mine?" It's personal, factual and fairly concise.  Hopefully if you have a first baby on the way (or know someone who does) it will be helpful.  Katelyn's sweetie has some special needs, which she refers to in her explanations.  But I find that her thoughts here apply to lots of babies.

Maybe I will start having regular "Mommy Tip Monday" posts.  We'll see.  In honor of Katelyn, who has taught me lots about feminism, I should probably call it "Parenting Tip Monday."  Dads can do most of this stuff too (unless we're talking pregnancy or breastfeeding).  But it's not as catchy, so I'll stick with this for now.

I've been noticing an increase in my friend's posting of baby things on Pinterest. I've also read some lists lately of things 'you don't need for a baby' and 'baby must-haves.' I wanted to share some experiences with baby stuff - what we use, what we like, etc.
  • Cloth diapers! They are awesome. We use prefolds with covers. Best Bottoms are our favorite brand of covers. Prefer the snaps to the Velcro. The Gerber prefolds big box stores carry have fallen to bits, but I guess we've been using them longer than normal; a typical baby probably would have outgrown them by now. Osocozy's (another brand of prefolds) are fraying a little, but he'll outgrow the size 1 soon (hopefully). We dry pail- wet bag in a trashcan from Target. We do a mix of cloth wipes and regular. I cut up some of Sean's old shirts and keep them in a used wipes container. We tried using an airpot to have warm water for them, but it didn't work very well. Cold wipes for Cutie Pie. Favorite video explaining folding prefolds:
  • Swing - I didn't want to worry about buying and having batteries for a swing so I opted for one with an ac adapter. It was great for the... five or so weeks we used it. Then we found out Cutie Pie couldn't breathe in it when he was asleep. The best part about the swing was its ability to put him to sleep so it lost most of its usefulness. It's a great thing to have though (you know, if your baby can breathe...). Safe place to put baby while you're showering or whatever.
  • Whale tub - People say you don't need a special baby tub and I guess you don't. Toss your baby in a sink, hold them in your tub, you could probably wash them in a clean five gallon bucket if you really wanted to, but I love the whale tub. Trying to hold a wet, naked baby with hypotonia in the tub is pretty difficult. With the whale tub, he can't fall to the side or slide down. We give him a bedtime bath every night and just leave the whale in the tub or leaning against the wall in the hallway outside the bathroom. If having a whale hanging around your bathroom would drive you nuts, this isn't for you, but if having baby stuff all over would drive you nuts... babies may not be for you.
  • Play mat/gym - One of the great things about play mats is that they are just about the only toy a newborn has a use for. Cutie Pie loves his and would flail around happily before he was able to grab the toys. At 14 months, he still uses it daily, but I don't know how long a typical baby would have a use for it. (Rachel's note:  Since the toys all come off they are useful even after baby starts to be mobile.  Also the rings can be used to attach to other sites like strollers or high chairs to keep toys in reach.)
  • Boppy - I've heard these are great for breastfeeding, but I never used it for that so I can't comment. However, it's great for propped up tummy time, supported sitting, and keeping a rolly baby on his tummy.
  • Baby food - We make our own. It's quite simple: cook, puree, eat/freeze. We use a food processor to puree. A baby bullet or specialty appliance isn't necessary at all. Once the food is pureed, we freeze it in ice cube trays then pop the food cubes out and into freezer bags. Cutie Pie on his very best day will sometimes eat 2 cubes at a time. I don't know how much a typical baby would be eating/how much freezer space they would require. We like to make a bunch of food at one time and so far it was been really easy.
  • Newborn clothes - I would not waste money buying too many newborn outfits. Cutie Pie wore almost exclusively pajamas. We didn't manage to get him in all the newborn outfits we were gifted and he grew incredibly slowly. Some babies are even born too big for the newborn size anyway.
  • High chair - We have a standard high chair. I like having it for meals and sticking him in when I'm in the kitchen. If you have no space (we have a dining room), I've seen some neat chair attachments that would probably work well. 
  • Bassinet - Cutie Pie sleeps in our room in a pack n' play. We considered using a family heirloom bassinet, but it was rickety and wooden and I was afraid he would hurt himself/it would collapse. Since the packn'play works well and I would want one anyway, I see no need for a bassinet. We use the pack'nplay as a bed when we travel and if your baby is mobile I'm sure it would make a nice safe play to cage them. 
  • Breast pump - I exclusively pump. I started with an Ameda, but burned out two motors. I have an awesome Medela hand pump for traveling and now rent a hospital grade Ameda pump. I wish we would have bought it for how much it is costing to rent. At one point I was pumping seven times a day, but am now down to five. Your health insurance will cover a pump, get one (check with insurance on how to do it, you may need a script).
  • Bottle feeding supplies - We bought Dr. Brown's, Medelas, and Evenflos. Cutie Pie could only eat with an orthodontic Nuk nipple so the Dr. Brown and Medela bottles were of no use to us. We found plastic bottles took forever to warm up and switched to glass Evenflos. Sean's mom gave us a bottle warmer, but it didn't seem to work at all. We microwaved water in a mug and set the bottle in it. Now he prefers cold milk so we just pour and go. For outings we have a small cooler from the hospital. It came with an ice pak. When we were heating his bottles, we used a hot water thermos from Tommee Tippee ( Cutie Pie was born right as bottle manufacturers were switching to all-in-one systems that weren't interchangeable. The first bottles we bought, for the most part, had interchangeable parts (bottles, rings, nipples), but now Nuk products only match with other Nuks, Evenflos with Evenflos, etc. I would recommend buying one to see if your baby likes it before stockpiling. For washing, we use a bottle brush and dry in regular dish drainer, no bottle drying racks or systems.
  • Blankets - Swaddling is pretty easy after a little practice. I've never used any special swaddling devices, I can't see them being worth it. But, please, PLEASE, read about safe sleep and reducing the risk of SIDS. Really, do all the reading you can about baby safety in all areas, car seats, sleep, putting poison away, covering outlets, etc.
  • Stroller - Having a car seat stroller combo is great. Pop the car seat into the stroller and go. This has been especially great during polar vortexes. I don't have to worry about carrying him to the car in the wind and snow, he's covered in the car seat. For a typical baby, though, they probably would not fit in an infant car seat after the first year.

Most of the things we have, we didn't buy. Our awesome friends and family gave us tons of stuff as shower presents! They also continue to give Cutie Pie all kinds of presents. Hopefully, this is helpful to someone. Have questions or rationale for why you bought or didn't buy something? Let me know!

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