Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baby Essentials

Mandi over at CatholicNewlywed is doing a series of posts on how to have a baby on a budget. Her most recent post in the series talked about what you really need, and she invited other bloggers to make a list of baby items they consider to be essential. As soon as I saw that I knew I wanted to do my own post about what I consider to be baby essentials.

There are very few things that you absolutely need for baby. I have created two lists. The first list includes items that I think every mom should have because they are what I would consider true essentials. The second list includes items that I think every mom should have, but only because I love them so much - not because they are essentials.

Baby items that I find necessary and use on a daily basis
burp cloths - We use our burp cloths all the time. I use them when I'm nursing to control milk spillage. We keep them handy when Joseph is playing in case he spits up or drools or whatever. And now I use them sometimes when I'm feeding him solids. The best part about burp cloths is that they're so versatile. Joseph even enjoys simply chewing on them.

swaddle blankets
- Ok, so we don't use the swaddle blankets on a daily basis anymore but we used them all the time during the first 3 or 4 months after Joseph was born. 
He slept so well when he was swaddled. I don't know what we would have done without them. 
I particularly like the swaddle blankets made by Aden + Anais. They're a little pricey, but well worth the splurge. (You can also buy this particular brand at Target for a little less.) They're really nice because they "breathe" so baby doesn't get too hot. I also love them because they're stretchy and large enough that they're easy to swaddle with.

jammies that zip or snap up - I specify that the jammies should zip or snap because then you don't have to pull the clothes over baby's head which can sometimes be a challenge. My husband particularly likes the jammies that zip up - he thinks they're much easier. And I would agree - the zip up jammies are much easier especially in the middle of the night when you're half asleep and just want to get baby back in bed. Dealing with the snaps can be a little frustrating.

onsies - When Joseph was first born we sometimes went through 3 or 4 onsies a day. But you need to take into consideration the season you're in. Joseph was born in the summer, so he wore a lot of the short sleeved onsies. Now that it's winter he wears his jammies a lot more.

a diaper bag - A good diaper bag is essential if you plan on going anywhere with your baby. I recommend one with lots of pockets so you can organize all your baby paraphernalia.

Baby items that I find useful and use frequently
baby carrier(s) (moby wrap, baby bjorn, ergo, etc.) - I actually have 3 baby carriers (the three I listed as examples). I got my Moby from a friend who couldn't figure out how to use it. I bought the Bjorn at a baby sale for $20. And I got the Ergo as a baby gift. So, all in all I spent $20 for three baby carriers (not too shabby!). Perhaps I went a little overboard, but I have used all three.
Joseph in his Moby
I used the Moby when Joseph was first born. I really liked it because of the way it snuggled him right next to my skin and wrapped around his body like a blanket.
Once he got a little bigger I used the Bjorn. I only used the Bjorn because I didn't have the infant insert for the Ergo and you aren't supposed to use the Ergo (without the infant insert) until baby reaches 14 lbs (I could be wrong about the weight, but it's close). Now I use my Ergo any time I want to carry Joseph around.
Chillin' in the Ergo
I think baby carriers are really helpful when your baby wants you to be holding them, but you need to get stuff done. I frequently do chores around the house with Joseph chillin' in the Ergo. He enjoys going around the house with me and seeing everything I'm doing. I also occasionally use it at mass. Joseph always wants to be held during mass and he can get heavy, so it's nice to have the Ergo to put him in.
I also use it when I go for walks or am out running errands. There are so many uses for a baby carrier. I would highly recommend getting one if you're about to have a baby - especially if you plan on staying home (as you will have even more opportunities to use it).

reusable travel wipes case - You can, of course, just buy the travel size wipes over an over again, but that can get expensive. I bought travel size wipes that came in a plastic case and now I just refill it with wipes whenever it's running low.

quiet toys for going out to quiet places (i.e. mass) - One of my favorite rattles to take to mass is this pair of elephants that Joseph loves to chew on.
I like it because the rattle is a low pitch, so it can't be heard as well from far away and it takes a little more effort to get it to rattle. Joseph also likes his Dino blankie (half stuffed animal, half blanket) and enjoys books. All of these I would recommend to someone looking for quiet toys.
Note: I searched high and low to find the elephant rattle online so I could give you a link to it, but I couldn't find it anywhere. This picture will have to do. 

nursing cover (if you plan on nursing) - I love my nursing cover. It allows me to nurse Joseph wherever I am while remaining modest. It also means I can basically go wherever I need to go and not have to work it around Joseph's eating habits (this was much more of an issue early on when he nursed more frequently).

breast pump + bottles - Being able to pump milk and have your child accept a bottle is so important if you ever want to be able to go out for a few hours without your baby. Yes, you can hand express milk. But I find the pump really helpful and, now that Joseph is eating solids, I use it even more often (because you have to mix your breast milk with the rice cereal/oatmeal). It has also allowed Will and I to go out for a couple date nights and for me to teach CCD while leaving Joseph with a babysitter for a couple hours.
One note about bottles: be open minded about what bottle your baby takes. S/he may not like the bottle that is recommended by your friend/pediatrician/lactation consultant. And s/he may not do well with the wide nipple even though that is the nipple that is recommended for breast feeding babies. We started Joseph on one bottle and he took it ok the first couple times we gave it to him, but then we realized he was having a really hard time getting the milk out, so I tried giving him the bottles that came with the breast pump and he liked them much better.


Mandi @ Catholic Newlywed said...

Thanks for writing this and linking up. I love reading about other mamas' necessities!

I have a breast pump but haven't even taken it out of the package yet - but I have heard that if you plan to every use a bottle, you should introduce one in the first 8 weeks of life or so. Any thoughts on this? I know I'll have to pump at least a few times and Lucia's already 6 weeks...

Betsy said...

Mandi - There are a few tips I found helpful for introducing the bottle. First, make sure you aren't the one giving her the bottle. And It's even better if you aren't even in the room so she doesn't smell your milk. You should introduce the bottle when she's awake and in good spirits (the morning is usually best) and you only want to start with about an ounce then finish the feeding by nursing her. The more you can do to create positive associations with the bottle the more successful you'll be. We gave Joseph his first bottle around 3 weeks then tried to make sure we gave him at least one bottle a week from then on out so he wouldn't forget how to take a bottle. It requires a different suck so babies need to stay "in practice" otherwise they may forget and stop taking a bottle altogether (this happened with one of my friends).
I would say try giving Lucia a bottle as soon as you're able since she's already 6 weeks. It was recommended to us to introduce the bottle between 3 and 4 weeks - we were told that this is when babies will adapt most easily to a new suck (if they're breastfeeding).
I hope this helps! Good luck!