Monday, January 18, 2016

Daisy's Practical Guide for New Moms

Everytime a friend gets pregnant I find myself emailing her a list of practical suggestions, things I've learned after having three kids, etc. because EVERY SINGLE KID is different, so what can you do to embrace the things that you hope will be consistent, things you will likely need and reuse later, and avoid the fluff and material advertising guile of the baby world out there?!  Below is the list I normally send to my friends, the ones who know me, my disregard for nonsensical expensive baby crap, and the ones who know my experience of becoming a first time mom was SUPER difficult.  I was and still am definitely not a baby person, in fact I can't wait until my babies are over a year old, despite looking back and thinking they grow up so fast! This list is dedicated to Wendy, a dear friend who is pregnant with her first!  I'm so excited for her and all the fun information overload she's about to get by reading this post.  WOO for Wendy!!!

As a preface, to this day, I still think going from none to one was harder than one to two or even two to three.  The learning curve and self-doubt that comes with being a first time mom is undeniable, as evidenced by the list below!  I just remember constantly feeling out of the loop, receiving an overload of advice from everyone, solicited or not, and never knowing how to navigate the internet mom world of conflicting advice.  My only conclusion is, forget the rest because you're what's best!  I've co-slept, not co-slept, and yet my kid has still fallen from the bed a few times (hard to admit.. but it happens). Babies are tough and you'd be surprised at all the stuff they can go through, that said we've also been to the ER four times, sat in the ambulance twice, and had babies in the hospital for operations twice.  Life as a parent ain't ever easy, but it is going to fly by as fast as everyone says and be as rewarding and amazing too!  So yes, this may be a bit overwhelming, but... in no particular order, here's my list.  ENJOY!!

Aden+Anais swaddles 4 pack from Amazon 
Any other swaddle or baby blanket is too bloody small, don't waste your time with the other "receiving" blankets from Target, Babies R Us, or Burlington Coat Factory, the only swaddles large enough, made from muslin, and with cute prints, are these!  Sometimes, they have sales on the less popular prints, you can use it to wrap on your baby in a stroller, carseat, or even if you want a quick cover while nursing if you're shy like myself.  Also, the bamboo blankets are a huge recommendation from my mommy friends.

Fisher Price Booster Seat from Amazon

High chairs take up too much real estate in the home, this can be hidden when baby is not around, and can be wiped off with a baby wipe, with the tray removable and washable, you can even put it in the dishwasher to sanitize!  All my babies started sitting in this from the moment they started eating solids, it gives enough support even for the smallest of babies who isn't quite sitting on their own yet.
Insignia fast table chair from Amazon
We also have this chair, though I only recommend it if your'e a germ-a-phobe and plan to travel a lot.  The perks is that you can just attach this to any table/countertop/etc. with baby, but the downside is the huge gap between the table and the baby, where a LOT of food falls to the ground.  I only pull this out when we have multiple babies dining at our house, because a tray is still better for baby when self-feeding.  All parts can also be removed and washed, and it can be folded and tucked away, which is why it's so compact and easy to travel with.

dishwasher basket for bottle accessories from Amazon
Even though I nursed all my babies for 9-10 months, they all took the bottle from 10 months to about 2 years old (yeah, you're not supposed to, blah blah blah) so washing bottle parts 3-4 times a day is a nightmare.  In the beginning, we use the steamer for washing pump parts or when our premies used the bottle, but the dishwasher sanitizes just as well and we run it about twice a day, so this trusty little sidekick is a must.

bottle steamer from Amazon
Any brand will do for this, ideally you want the steamer brand that pairs with the bottles you pick (see next item), but for purposes of illustrating what I'm talking about, I put the Philips one because that's the one we have!  I don't use Phillips Avent bottles, so you don't have to have the same brand, but it helps with everything fitting nicely.  That said, you can also use the steamer to sanitize your pump parts, I always washed them first with soapy water and then zapped em in the microwave in my steamer for 4 minutes.  It's nice to have around and I always use this when I don't have enough parts/bottles to wait for the dishwasher to run.  For me, that's when I was pumping every 3 hours with my premie babies (#2 and 3), and we were trying to preserve the nipples from the hospital that our babies loved so much before using the other store bought ones.

My only advice is to pick one YOU like.  This means style, number of parts, etc., because all the mumbo jumbo about this reduces reflux or colic is all a bunch of marketing crap.  There is no nipple that accurately mimics the breast, there is no nipple that any baby is more likely to like and there is absolutely no magic bottle that will make your baby's colic go away (that's why they all say reduce on the labels).  There is just the nipple you give it, whether it's yours or an artificial one.  Trust me, I've bought all the bottles available at one point in an effort to get my son to take a bottle, but he would not!  He refused until the nipple he was drinking from dried out and he had to eventually switch over to an expensive pre-made formula (the only one he would take).
Any bottle you pick will be good, but stick to one system so you can mix and match parts easily
My recommendation is the Playtex Ventaire, but that's also because I use it and like it.  There are five parts to take apart and wash, but it's easily put together, and I'm used to it.  I've heard great things about the Tommy Tippy brand, the Avent bottles, and of course the Dr. Brown's, but again, it's all a preference so go to the baby store and take a lookie.  To me, they are all the same.

Cute grass drying rack from Amazon
The reality is your life will become ALL ABOUT BABY.  Your rooms will be taken over by baby stuff, toys, leftover diapers, wipes, etc., and your kitchen will also shortly be overcome by baby bottles and pump parts (if you are pumping).  I wish I had gotten this drying rack sooner, it is so cute and great for the kitchen countertop and minimizes all your baby junk to one corner.  When my babies are out of baby bottle stage, I use this rack for drying their sippy cup or thermos parts.

Here's my advice on a diaper trash.  DON'T get one.  Whether you live in an apartment or house, get used to taking the diaper trash out frequently.  Oddly, your babies' poops will be about 3 times a day in the beginning if you're as lucky as me, but they are small and normally don't even smell that bad.  This is the only time the diaper trash will conceal the smell.  Once they start eating solids, the smell is so putrid, it doesn't matter how often you change or sanitize your diaper pail, poop is sitting in there, it's going to stink.  Getting rid of our diaper pail was the best decision we ever made.  We threw it away when our second born was about a month old.  I enjoy the walk to the trash outside of the house everytime a child poops, even now with two little ones in diapers.  Pee diapers can go in any trash, except for the morning one, which is normally a lot heavier and can be stinkier.  Do yourself a favor and ditch the diaper trash, just take the diapers out.  Better yet, go with cloth diapers and flush the poop down the toilet as soon as it's out.

If there's one thing about being a mom that I love, it's that I got to learn about diaper bags because boy, do I love diaper bags.  Real diaper bags, of course, ones made intentionally for use with a baby, have so many friggin pockets in them, they are just fantastic!  My only recommendation is to get one you like, one that is soft but has an exterior that is easily wiped down (Storsak, Petunia Pickle Bottom, etc.) and one that comes with an amazing amount of pockets, zippers, etc.  Premium name brand diaper bags like Storksak come with a lot of accessories also, like diaper changing pads, clips to attach to your stroller, etc. but any bag with pockets will do.  You can always buy a changing pad (one that can be wiped down).  You will need all those pockets if you want to be prepared.  This is what I carry in my normal diaper bag: thermos for each child, band-aids, neosporin, dishwashing liquid, diaper cream, baby powder, diapers, wipes, snacks, pen, wallet, chapstick, sunblock, lipstick, hand sanitizer, phone, checkbook.  Obviously, I could go with less, but I'd rather be over prepared than under prepared.  If we're going out of town, I also always carry a thermometer and Baby Tylenol.  I've pretty much been using the same two or three diaper bags for the last five years.  It does get a little dull, but to change it up, I sometimes wear a side body bag with my phone and wallet only, and leave the diaper bag on the stroller when it's parked during outings.

9. BABY POWDER - please, for the sake of your baby's wet tush, get some baby powder.  Also, stash some in your bag for beach days cuz it helps remove sand easily!

10. BABY WASH - I'm not an organic crunchy gal, so I'm not going to suggest any all natural soaps, but the only thing that matters for me is that it's tear-free, so Johnson and Johnson is the natural brand I go with, there's all sorts of different scents that are fun to load up on.  A head-to-toe wash is also great, two in one for the win!

11. DIAPER RASH CREAM - As for diaper cream, I like Desitin.  Any cream will do though, just make sure you do not apply unless your baby's bum is DRY (enter baby powder).

12. BABY SUNBLOCK - Your baby isn't technically allowed to have sunblock on until about 3 months, that said, if you're going to be out and about in the sun, be safe and follow Daisy philosophy that a little bit of sunblock won't hurt.

13. BABY HATS - Just going out for a bit in the sun?  Your baby's skin is VERY SENSITIVE, so please... put on a hat!  Follow the Asian moms and PUT ON A HAT!

14. BABY WRAP/CARRIER - We have a Bjorn, but for us, it's between the Ergo and the Bjorn.  The Ergo is praised by EVERY mom I know as super comfy and easy on the shoulders.  The only downside is the baby can only front face you or lie on your back facing you (UPDATE: the Ergo 360 now lets baby face out, where have you been Ergo?  My shoulders need you for my fourth!).  The Bjorn is not bad, but my shoulders definitely feel my 30 pound babies after a while of wearing them.  You can face the baby in or out but only in front of you (and not on your back).  These are the structured carriers that you should get.  There are also soft ones like the Moby or the Solly Baby but for me personally, they took too long to put on and I didn't like wearing my babies to do stuff, but I have friends who swear by them, so it's all a preferential thing.  Either way, we're so lucky to have these options now because you can do so much while wearing your baby!

15. BATH TUB - If you have a big sink, this isn't really necessary, but having a tub to bathe baby in every 3-5 days after the umbilical cord has fallen off (so as to not dry them, my kids all had pretty bad eczema) will come in handy.  This one comes with two options on the ends of a newborn (laying down at an angle) or a toddler (they can sit upright), so we always used it until baby was about 10 months, and then we transitioned to a bath tub.
baby bath tub

We love having a bath spout cover because we've personally been injured on it, so who knows what could happen to a baby who might stand up or bump into it whilst sitting, etc.  Plus, it's super cute! 

There are so many new monitors out there now with video imaging, but in my humble opinion, if you have the cash to spring for a video monitor, save your money and get a normal monitor for sound only, and then put the rest of the money into an Owlet Baby monitor that will beep if your kid stops breathing, retail value currently $250 (and it literally JUST came out end of 2015 otherwise I'd already have it!).  After all, that's the real fear right?  There's no need to keep obsessing over what the baby's doing in the crib, get a regular monitor for sound and an Owlet Baby monitor for peace of mind and comfort.
Owlet Baby monitor
18. NURSING COVER - I'll be the first to admit, nursing is a natural thing and I hate using a cover in public when I'm trying to get baby to latch, but nurse in front of my extended family, own dad, father-in-law, brother, and brother-in-laws?  Kinda weird... so I like having a nursing cover so I can be covered when I'm with extended family.  Out in the public, I could care less and yes, if i'm in your store, I'm the mom who will sit anywhere I can find, dressing room or display, and nurse.  A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do! When I want to be covered, this is the way to go.  Full coverage and it can be dual purposed as a carseat cover or a blanket for baby, a scarf, or a shopping rack seat cover.
Covered Goods nursing cover

19. CARSEAT COVER - So depending on when your baby is born and where you live, you might want a casual carseat cover or something with a little more warmth and coverage.  Like I mentioned above, the Covered Goods nursing cover can be a carseat cover as well...

20. NOSE FRIDA - Every hospital will send you off with a basic blue aspirator bulb syringe, you can google how to make your own at home saline solution (1 cup of water boiled with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, boil for 15 minutes, cool to room temperature), you put a few drops in baby's nose and then use the aspirator to suck out any extra boogers or stuffy noses.  The Nose Frida is a more effective aspirator that uses your suction to get it out, it's a lot more powerful than the basic blue.
the basic blue aspirator
Nose Frida on Amazon

21. EAR THERMOMETER - Must have, especially since babies hate putting thermometers in their armpits and you'll hate putting it in their bums.  This is a nice compromise because you can use the forehead and then later, when they're a bit older and willing to sit still, the ear.  A little pricier than most thermometers but definitely a better option than a basic thermometer.  Anytime temperature is over 100.3, you'll want some Tylenol around.
ear and forehead thermometer on Amazon

22. BABY TYLENOL - Just have some on hand, I like to stock up at Costco.

23. SIPPY CUPS/THERMOS - Something odd to load up on when preparing for a new baby, but if you put it on the registry, it's nice to have and not have to grab later when your kids are having sippy cups.  My suggestion is a thermos because it keeps stuff cool for 10 hours, and then a sippy cup of a brand that's consistent so you can mix and match parts.  This is our favorite Thermos, Dagny just got one for Christmas, and it comes with a little handle now (the boys don't have that on their Spiderman and Lightening McQueen ones).

24. SNACK PACKS - Lately, my older kids just take off the entire lid which makes my babies want to do the same, but if used correctly, these are amazing!  There's just enough give so your itty bitty hands can reach in for the snack, but not a large enough opening that they can spill all those snacks out.
best snack packs!
25. CLOTHES - Here's what I've learned from clothes.  Do not buy newborn clothes until your baby is born.  You just never know if they might end up being a premie or a chunk, newborn clothes fit babies about 8-10 pounds and then DONE.  It's really only important to have maybe 5 outfits for newborn size, maybe a few more if your baby blows out or spits up, and depending on how often you're going to get out, 5 cute outfits with the rest being bleh stuff or comfy cozy PJs for at home (I didn't get out much in the beginning).  They grow out of it fast, and while it's fun to have a lot of fun clothes, it's more important to have stuff you like!  You'll need more after newborn.  When baby is small, I prefer zippers, they're easier to use in the middle of the night when you're emotional, sleep deprived and deliriously wondering why you decided to have kids.  There are also jammies with no legs just a zipper, these are great but don't transfer easily into a carseat so keep that in mind and limit the amount you get.  It's fun to dress up your babies, but if you're going to get fun cute little outing outfits, limit it to 1-2 cuz these suckers grow fast at the baby age.  We go to Church normally with baby around 1 or 2 months, but I avoid super cute baby Sunday best clothes until about 6-9 months and even then, they will wear it about 2 times and then grow out, so you only honestly need about 2 nice outfits.

If friends are going to gift larger clothes, try to load up with some 6-9 months, 9-12 months, and around 12 months, the baby sizing is all over the place.  12-18 months?  That's a big gap, but it's a great time to have your kids walking around in too large clothing (Chinese style) until it fits and avoid having to continually stock up on items.  Carter's runs small, Gap is pretty true to size but kind of short, Gymboree and Janie and Jack run big, that said most of my kids have been on the smaller side of the scale (Bubba definitely outgrows stuff faster than Jordan did).

26. SWING - Here's my advice on swings, if you can, BORROW one.  It's so short term, you will use it for about 6 months, maybe a tad bit longer, and they are a lifesaver in the beginning, but for the price and for the real estate they take up, it's not necessarily worth it.  Plus, each baby is different and some won't even want to fall asleep in a swing!  Of three babies, only one fell asleep in the swing consistently enough for it to be worth it.  We borrowed my sis-in-law's for the first baby and I think it's a bit of a win-win because you can offload your unused swing to someone who needs it if you have one, or borrow one and give it back when done.  I'm willing to lend out my swing whenever, so if anyone nearby wants to borrow it, HOLLER!!!  There are so many swings now, ones that actually swing, ones that move right and left, front and back, turn, etc. - anything will do to be honest.  Personally, the sleeker new ones that only go left and right and front and back without swings might look better at home, but not sure if they feel the same.  Not like your baby will know though so just pick one and cross your fingers that baby likes it.

27. CARSEAT/STROLLER SYSTEM - This is a tough one.  I really like our Chico Keyfit 30, that said, we had to buy one that would fit a premie so our premies could pass the carseat test.  We were surprised to learn that most carseats are too big for a four pound baby, and only a few on the market actually will be allowed to take the carseat test (a test every NICU does, they put the baby in the carseat, and monitor them for two hours to make sure they don't de-stat).  That said, we never bought a stroller to fit our carseat.  Depending on your budget and preference, there are so many out there.  Here's my advice: visit your closest Buy Buy Baby (if you don't have one nearby, you might have to make multiple trips to baby stores, Burlington Baby Depot, Target, Walmart, etc.) and test them all out.  When I say test them out, I mean bring along with you three different weights -  a 10, 20, and 30 pound weight (yes, bring them all.. sounds ridiculous, but it'll help!) and PUT them in the stroller, stroll it around, and then, take it out, and try to collapse it and put it away... how's it feel?  Bring a friend with you, a husband, a mom, whatever - get a second opinion.  That's what you'll be doing a lot with your stroller, so figure it out - don't just look at it and push it around without anything in it!  Reviews are important but at the end of the day, it's what YOU want and what YOU'RE comfortable with.  I would say if you know you're going to have more children later on, think of a system that you can add to, or be prepared to sell and buy another one when you get number two.  We do have an Urbo stroller from Mamas & Papas that we absolutely love which was gifted to us from friends in China, it's stayed with us despite having more kids now.  It's also great to have some tiny crappy umbrella strollers for those times when you don't need to put extra clothes and diapers in your under carriage.  Let's face it, you'll probably end up with 3-4 strollers if you're as insane as me.  But it is fun to splurge on baby stuff every now and then.  And if you're going to splurge, let it be on something you can use everyday!

28. PACK N PLAY - There are some pretty dope pack n plays these days.  I keep seeing this nifty one that's low on the ground, like a tent, pop up in my Facebook feed.  If I were a new mom, I might get a cool new one, but any one will do.  These are great for traveling, you can't check it as a free item (like you can with strollers and carseats), but they are a necessity for traveling with baby so they can sleep in it.  Although, if I'm truthful, I'd admit that with baby #3, we just find a corner, stack some footrests (if available) or big pillows around her, and clear the floor near her.  She has managed great, but that's probably not a first time parent's preference, plus it was only for a few nights.  We'll definitely be glad we have a pack'n'play when we go to Washington D.C. for two months and then Orlando for one.  Here's a great site to get more input on pack'n'plays!

And there you go, that's my list, hence the title "Daisy's Practical Guide for New Moms" cuz I'm all about practicality.  Good luck!

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