July 23, 2010
When I was registering for a baby, I was definitely sweating the small stuff. I was looking for someone to tell me how many pacifiers I needed to buy and which brand and how many spit rags and so on. I got lots of good advice, but now I have my own trial and error wisdom to pass on to others. Since I knew several pregnant ladies who were coming up right behind me, I started emailing them with tips that I thought would be helpful. I thought I'd consolidate all that info here.
I know, remember when I said that everyone recommended under-the-belly maternity pants to me and I hated them? I know this advice might not work for everyone, but I consider it a starting place. Sometimes when you're looking at a wall of bibs in the store, you just want some sort of recommendation of where to begin so you don't waste money reinventing the wheel. I came to find that I personally like terrycloth bibs the best, so it was frustrating for me to later have a friend see me putting a bib on my baby and say, "Oh yeah, those are the only way to go." I wish she'd shared her knowledge with me before I spent lots of money buying other types of bibs.
So here are my tips:
** I LOVE my Itzbeen. I like being fastidious, and it's been great. Also, you will lose your mind when the baby is first born. I couldn't remember when she last ate to save my life. I also constantly forgot to take my own meds. So keeping track on "the clicker" (as we call it here) was priceless. This actually warrants its own post.
** I love the Swaddle Me blanket that R1 got us. We went out and bought a second because we used it so often, and when she outgrew those, we bought the bigger size. It's great, and she still likes to be wrapped in it. In fact, we're now having trouble weaning her from being swaddled.
** And here's a tip: All the shampoo and the thermometer and stuff...go ahead and open it all ahead of time. We gave our daughter her first bath and she's sitting in the water and I'm struggling to open the damned seals on all the liquids. Shoulda done that ahead of time. Also, with the pacifiers, get some and open them and boil them ahead of time. There's nothing more annoying than sanitizing a pacifier while baby screams. The Avent and Mam brands are our kid's favorite. Everyone talks about Nuk, so that's what I had, and she doesn't like the shape. Your baby may or may not like the shape of whichever one you buy, but I'd spend the money to boil a couple and get them ready ahead of time.
** Burp cloths. A lot of them. And different styles. In the beginning when my milk supply was ridiculously too much, we made a huge mess every time. Whenever I sat down to nurse, I made sure my baby had a bib on. And I ALWAYS had two burp cloths nearby: a thick absorbent one (like a cloth diaper) for over my shoulder and a thin one to wipe her mouth and my breast, as milk gets everywhere. I recommend ones like these because they don't have an edge to them. They can wipe right at her lips and mouth without being awkward. So I'd get several of these; I keep them all around the house so I don't have to go looking for them. One thick one and one thin one in every room I might possibly feed in. Once I got my milk supply under control, we dribble and spray a lot less. But I still have spit cloths everywhere, because she went through a vomiting phase and now she just spits up and burps like every baby.
** Also receiving blankets. I have used both the Boppy and the Brest Friend to nurse and I put a blanket over the pillow and under her to catch errant milk...or vomit. So blankets are everywhere and they can double as burp cloths in a pinch.
** So yeah, we had a major vomiting issue. I hear it's not uncommon. A crucial thing is waterproof pads, like these. We have these everywhere too. I had a crib-size one under my fitted sheet to protect my mattress (I put this there at the end of my pregnancy in case my water broke in bed.) I nursed in bed at night when our girl was still in our room and she barfed several times in my bed. But even if it's not barf, I leak and she leaks. In fact, I have the big one under my bedsheet and then a smaller bassinet-sized one that I lay on top of the sheet when we nurse. I have many of that size and use them everywhere: lay one down to change her diaper (because the first time I didn't, she peed on my comforter), one in the bassinet, one in the Pack and Play, one on the sofa where I nurse (because there's been barfing there too). And then I have the little tiny ones too that I use to protect her sleeping wedge from barf. So yeah, waterproofing is essential. In fact, I gave up and went straight to a full-sized fitted rubber sheet that I put over the sofa after she barfed on it the third time... And I eventually bought an inexpensive waterproof mattress pad for my bed after her diaper leaked on my husband's side where the crib-size pad didn't reach.
** I use waterproof pads, which are essential, but they need to be laundered. I have them all over the house, and unless you want to buy so many of them that you can replace them frequently without doing laundry every day...here's another tip. I bought disposable waterproof pads too, like the "chucks" that you get in the hospital. They are the Assurance brand and can be found in the store near the Depends section. The pads are big, like 2 ft x 3 ft, so I cut them down into four equal rectangles. Then I put one of them under baby's bottom while changing her diaper. Thus her whole body is lying on a cloth waterproof pad, but her behind is on a disposable pad too. That way if you get an explosive poop or if your baby manages to pee while you are switching from the yucky diaper to the clean one -- which amazingly happens quite frequently -- then you can just throw away the disposable pad instead of having to wash the whole cloth pad. And if baby doesn't mess on the disposable pad, I keep it and re-use it for the next time. I've only used one box of Assurance pads so far in her entire life, so I consider it money well spent to avoid extra laundry and to avoid having to buy a boatload of cloth pads.
** In lieu of a baby book, one idea that my mom did on her third kid was just get a blank calendar and then write the milestones in. Like just write in the box for the day "first smile", "slept through night", etc. That way you can go back and see the timeline, but it doesn't take as much effort as an elaborate baby book. I do this and write lots of notes, because you will easily forget when your kid slept through the night, etc. I write down her sleep habits most days because after three bad days, it can easily feel like weeks since she's slept well and I have to go back and look longingly at when it was that I last got four consecutive hours of precious sleep...
** CVS drugstore makes a generic version of clear Desitin that I like. At my Walmart all I could find was the white stuff in a generic version, which works fine but it gets everywhere. The clear stuff is better, especially during the summer when they are wearing shorts. It's also less thick and pasty. Anyway, it's a little money saver if you normally buy generics. It's $6.49 vs $7.99 for Desitin. And I've already used three bottles of the stuff in two months (though I am a fanatic about preventing diaper rash; the doctor even complimented me at her appointment that she has no signs whatsoever of any rash. But I change her diaper constantly and put ointment on every time...probably a little overkill, but oh well.)
** Charmin Sensitive with Aloe is the only way to go at the end of pregnancy and beyond. When you're wiping as frequently as you have to at the end, and especially if you have an episiotomy, that is the only toilet paper for your sore lady bits!
** Don't buy too much of one size diaper. I took advantage of a good sale and got 360 size 1 diapers, and I didn't make it through them before she grew out of them. Just be mindful that bulk isn't always economical...and I change her diapers pretty frequently.
** For what it's worth, I like this nursing bra. It has lots of support for being so inexpensive. And don't buy too many bras while you're pregnant. My ribcage got enormous while pregnant and I went from a 36 to a 42! But I shrunk back to normal once the baby came out. I have also dropped a cup size since the end of pregnancy. I just took nursing tank tops to the hospital and wore those so that I could learn to nurse without lifting a shirt. I thought that worked really well.
** I got tired of sitting cross-legged on the floor with the baby and having a sore back, so I recently bought one of these Back Jack chairs. I am hoping I like it for sitting on the floor playing with her. So far I think it will help with my back pain.
** And finally, my bib tip. At this age, I have discovered that I prefer terrycloth bibs. My gal is a drooler, and she goes through at least four bibs a day. She soaks them! The plastic-backed ones or the "waterproof" ones that Carters makes are OK for keeping her clothes dry underneath, but they don't soak up much slobber and they are pretty stiff. Cotton ones that generally come with outfits are acceptable, but they don't soak much either. The terrycloth ones soak up a good deal of slobber, and they are soft enough to wipe her face with too while she's dribbling. But the waterproof ones are the way to go for longer car rides, when she's just sitting in one positon, drooling and soaking her front.
If there's one baby accessory I can't live without, it's my Itzbeen. So much do I love this item that I will do an unpaid awesome review of it. And I've gotten two other moms to buy them as well.
I have heard this product referred to as anal or controlling, but I think that's a misunderstanding of how I use the timer.
I love this paragraph at ThinkGeek:
It is sometime in the middle of the night; you and your new wee one are awake. Once again, it’s feeding time! But you can't keep your eyes open without toothpicks, and the only thing which will keep you awake is watching The Lord of the Rings (extended version, cast commentary on, naturally). Even as Aragorn is defending the Hobbits from the Ring Wraiths, you are fighting a battle of your own called deprived sleep infant stage. Eventually, your significant other will have the next set of duties and will ask what time the last feeding was. Unfortunately, "Right about the time Aragorn set that one dude on fire" will not work as an answer. Enter the ItzBeen Baby Care Timer.
After I had the baby, I couldn't think straight. At all. I was in so much pain and in such a daze of sleeplessness that I couldn't tell you my baby's name, much less when she last ate. But all I had to do was click the button each time and we were tracking. No need for guessing. No need to use my brain.
The obvious reason I love this timer is that it prevents me from having to think, or do math against the clock. I don't have to remember when she ate or when we started the feeding or which side to nurse on next or when I changed that gross diaper or how long she's been napping, or all of these things in tandem. I just click click click all day long.
The less obvious reason I love this timer is because it really helps me troubleshoot. If baby is crying, I can see she just ate two hours ago, so it's not likely she's hungry yet. So I can try something different. Or I see that it's been an hour and a half since she woke from her nap, and I'm pretty sure the crying is because she's getting sleepy again. It has really helped me take note of her quirks and patterns. I love it most for that reason.
And we have had the funny conversation in our house where my husband is holding the crying baby and asks me what's wrong with her. I look at the Itzbeen and say, "According to my calculations...nothing. Nothing should be wrong with her." Heh. In that case, she's probably just bored.
I love this item. Seriously. The only thing I would love more is if it could be made into a wristwatch so that I would always have it on me. I get my exercise trekking back and forth across the house to fetch my Itzbeen.
Oh, and the company is great too. My original Itzbeen went on the fritz when baby was 3 1/2 months old. Some of the digital numbers weren't showing all their lines. I shot an email to the address on Itzbeen.com to ask about a warranty, and they quickly mailed me a brand new one as a replacement. So I recommend this product even more because of their fantastic customer service!
And right now I can see that my daughter is 58 minutes into her morning nap, so I probably don't have time to start watching LOTR, as I now have a funny hankerin' to do.
UPDATE: Amy pointed out something in the comments that I ought to have mentioned. The Itzbeen is only around $20, so it's an affordable gadget. It's been worth every penny for me!
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