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I meant to write this about two months ago… and then I realized that I can barely keep up with my life offline and my online life has fizzled more than had hoped it would. But, better late than never? Anyway, having had a newborn three different times, and almost as importantly – three different newborns, has given me some insight on what you really need with that new little bundle of joy. At least in the baby boy ball court – girls might be a completely different story, I don’t know. While it definitely hasn’t made me a pro in the baby realm, I have a much better understanding of what the heck I am doing. I told my mom just today that I wish I had known how easy babies are compared to my rambunctious 4.5 and 2 year olds. They cause me the most grief, by far, each day. Baby N is a piece of cake, so far.
– A swing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the latest and greatest, has three different seating positions, vibrates, sings 200 lullabies and bathes your little one in angel kisses as long as it rocks. We actually have two swings. They are lifesavers. Especially with older kids. You can’t spend all day holding your little one and the swing has been the most reliable in comforting our little guys. Big J slept in his swing at night the first week or so because he wanted that lulling movement and momma and daddy can only survive on so many hours of sleeping in the rocking chair and stumbling around, half awake, bouncing the baby.
– Sleep gowns. Seriously. Like at least two of them. At least. These are super easy and convenient for those middle of the night diaper changes, but they keep baby covered and warm. We used a set of Gerber gowns this time, but the necks were HUGE and Baby N kept slipping out the top. Finally, I just sewed a seam down the back to fit his body better. I think they were sized 0-6 mos though… a smaller, less one-size-fits-all gown may fit better.
– Soft washcloths. Ever before your baby’s cord falls off you’ll want to wash them up. And you’ll use the cloths after the cord falls off too, when baby gets real baths. But don’t get the baby wash cloths, get the good, soft, thick ones that will last longer than a couple months from the regular home department. They clean up the dead skin better than baby cloths. Your best bet is to actually go to a local store and feel all the washcloths. Don’t forget the soap too!
– Absorbent, soft towel. You’ll need something to wrap Junior in after bath time and, chances are, you’ll get peed on at least once. It’s really nice to be able to toss the towel in the washer and not have to clean up the entire room. If baby doesn’t wet the towel, you’ll need it to dry all those nooks and crannies in those super adorable fat rolls. Make sure to firmly, but gently, dry baby’s head and get all the dead skin off to help prevent cradle cap.
– Pee Pee Teepee. Obviously, probably not as helpful for little girls, but these are quite useful for little boys that like to let loose as soon as you open the diaper. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, an extra wipe or piece of paper towel works just as well as the super cute (although slightly spendy) teepees pictured. Big J very rarely peed on me. Little J, pretty much every time I changed him I had to change too. He was a master at getting me, even with the teepee. At Little J’s four month well baby check I warned the nurse about his wizzing habit and she assured me it would “be fine” and then gasped in horror as he peed all over her, the scale and made a nice little puddle on the floor. I tried really hard not to snicker… I’m pretty sure it came out as a snort though.
– Baby wipes. Get extra wipes. Lots of extra wipes. You’ll use them for more than just diaper changes. Cleaning up spit up. Stray pee. Quick wipe downs. Wiping off emergency changing tables. Or make shift changing tables. With two kids in diapers and two messy boys, we’ve gone through wipes faster than I thought was possible. We are also wiping messy faces, sticky hands and soggy cereal off the couch to though. You probably won’t use them quite as quickly. We can hope…
– Footed sleepers. These are nice for daytime wear for the first few months. They keep baby’s feet covered and are easy to put on and take off for those billion diaper changes you’ll be doing. Sleepers with mitten cuffs on them are extra nice.
– Newborn socks. Not for baby’s feet, but for his hands. Newborn nails are gnarly and they grow incredibly fast. I hate cutting newborn nails, I’m always afraid I’ll cut them too short. I always do. Socks stay on their hands better than those mitten things. You’ll probably have to clean toe jam from in between baby’s fingers though, just FYI. But seriously.
– Hats. Two of my three babies are winter babies. We kept hats on them pretty much all the time for the first few weeks and at night for about a month to six weeks. Babies have a harder time regulating their body temperatures and hats help with that. Get some cute ones. It’ll help baby sleep better too. And who doesn’t want that?!
– Blankets. You’ll need two types of blankets. Nice warm, snuggly blankets for things like tummy time on the floor, snuggle time in the rocking chair and the extra blanket for the car seat when you get wacky freezing winter temps at the end of April. Then you’ll need swaddling blankets. My favorite are the waffle knit blankets we got from the hospital with Big J. They were kinda ratty then, and are even worse now, but they are the best for swaddling. I haven’t been able to find the larger size anywhere, but a good stretch
– Diapers. This is pretty obvious. However, not all diapers are equal. In the hospital, they had Pampers, which gave all three of my boys a rash. Luvs seem to be designed more for girls. My boys have peed out of every Luvs diaper we have ever used… and they weren’t all that wet. Huggies is our preferred brand, but we also like the Kirkland brand from Costco. You’ll probably want at least one package of newborn size – and the umbilical cord cut out is super convenient, but definitely not necessary. Kirkland brand sizes start at 1-2, so the real little ones you’ll have to get in smaller packages elsewhere. We did find Huggies size 1 at Costco and got a couple boxes of those.
With Baby N we used two 96 count packs of Huggies newborn with the umbilical cord cut out, two Costco boxes of Huggies size 1, and we’re on our second box of Costco Kirkland brand size 1-2. Baby N will be 2 months tomorrow and was 6 lbs, 7 oz when he was born. I have changed nearly 300 of his diapers in the last two months… Hopefully, that kind give you an idea of how may you’ll need in each size. Stock up and buy on sale or with coupons. Diapers get expensive fast, and there’s nothing worse than running out of diapers at 2am… We found Target’s Up&Up brand to be the cheapest per diaper, but it’s 10 miles away, as opposed to Costco and it’s 2.5 miles. And with a coupon, Costco is comparable.
– Pacifiers. If you decide to use a pacifier, you will want to have at least three. We keep one in Baby N’s bed for night time, one in the diaper bag, one that he uses during the day and, since they come in two packs, we have the last one tucked away for an emergency… nothing is worse than an inconsolable baby and a lost binky at 3am. We use the soothie pacifiers this time and the 0-3 month ones are much softer than the ones designed for older babies.
– Car seat cover. This serves two purposes. First, it keeps the elements off of baby’s delicate and sensitive skin and keeps baby more comfortable. No one likes the wind whistling in their ears or the sunshine in their eyes. The little canopy just doesn’t always do the trick. And secondly, there’s no more polite a way to tell groddy, germy strangers to leave your baby the heck alone than to keep them covered up. I actually just finished a new car seat cover last week (we upgraded car seats and the old cover didn’t fit anymore). I went all out on this one with a two-way zipper opening and a cuddly lining in case I ever need an emergency blanket, but our old one was pretty basic. It was similar to this tutorial at I am Sharing the Wealth and, even thought it’s a few years old, it’s still pretty good.
– Baby ESP App. Or something similar. I have used Baby ESP with all three of my boys and highly recommend it. It’s absolutely a lifesaver the first few months. When you’re still in “zombie mom” mode and the baby is crying at 3 am in the middle of your REM cycle, it can be hard to shake the exhaustion off and know what baby needs. With a quick glance at your phone (or tablet), you know that you changed the little one 45 minutes ago, so he’s probably not hungry. Another quick glance tells you it’s been about 4 hours since the last diaper change. Worth checking on. If that’s in the clear too, you can begin to move down the list of other annoyances that may have woken baby. It also tracks baths, bottles, stats and measurements, sleep, medication, which side you nursed on last and more. You can set an alarm for meds so you don’t miss any doses. You can track growth stats from doctor’s visits. And you can set up multiple profiles, one for each of your kids and mom too (where you can track pumping sessions)! When Little J had his tonsils out 10 days after Baby N was born, this app is about the only thing that kept me sane and made sure everyone was properly medicated on time, wearing clean diapers and had eaten. When you’re on auto-pilot, life is hectic and you’re sleep deprived, it’s absolutely worth five dollars to let your phone keep track of all the messy, yet important, details. Available on both Android and iDevices.
NOT ACTUAL NECESSITIES:
These things aren’t things you REALLY need, but they sure are nice to have. It’s taken us three babies to know that the bouncy chair, high chair, walker/play gym, Johnny Jump-Up and a slew of other baby paraphernalia won’t make their debut when Junior comes home from the hospital. They will sit around the house, unused, until baby gains some head and neck control, is awake for more than 20 minutes at a time and you get tired of snuggling that cute little snuggle bug. Okay, that last part doesn’t actually happen. More accurately, they get tired of snuggling you.
– Nursing pillow. This thing is a life saver. I don’t always use it when I’m nursing, sometimes it’s more work to juggle that and a floppy baby than I think it’s worth. However, it makes hands-free (or at least hands-a-little-more-free) nursing a lot easier. But my favorite way to use it is for nap time. It is fantastic for letting baby nap in it. I wrap it around baby, up against the couch cushion and he is as snug as a bug. Sleeps awesome in his little cocoon. I use the Mombo pillow and love it. I don’t know how I made it through my other two without it.
– Bassinet or Moses Basket. Our last two babies have spent the first three or four months of life sleeping in a bassinet. I love our particular bassinet because it has a tall stand with a storage basket underneath (perfect for extra diapers, wipes, and burp rags for middle of the night wakings) but it also detaches and you can carry the basket around. Baby N spent most of his first week in the bassinet while Daddy juggled the two older boys and their antics and Momma tried to get back on her feet. Our bassinet also has sounds, a night light and vibrates. We don’t use the sounds or light (the sounds turn off too soon and the light is too bright), but the vibrate is a really nice feature to help lull baby to into that deep sleep.
– Floor Mat. It can be hard to know what to do with a newborn. They don’t play and don’t need toys. They just lay around all day. But they aren’t just little bumps on a log either. The more stimulation and interaction they get, the more their brains develop. A floor mat can provide another play place for baby. Hang interesting toys for baby to look at and help develop his eye muscles too.