So, with this impending bundle of joy on the way, I figured it is high-time I finally posted my list of favorite things. I began compiling the list in my head soon after Grayson was born... these are the things that are 'must-haves' in my mind. Without them, life would still be lived, albeit not quite as smoothly and a little more sleep deprived. Many of my friends are also expecting or adopting their first children now, so I figured this might help them out a little too! So, in no particular order....
1. Angelcare Baby Movement and Sound Monitor I take it back. If I could buy only ONE item for my baby, THIS would be it. I know a lot of people love the new technology with the little TV video monitors, but I personally don't want to sit up all night watching to see if my baby is breathing. This monitor has a pad that goes under the crib mattress and detects any small movement in the crib (such as breaths). If it detects nothing for 20 seconds, it sounds an alarm like a fire alarm! (Believe-you-me, it's enough to almost make you wet your bed!!!) SIDS is one my biggest fears--and rightfully so. About 2,500 babies die of SIDS in the U.S. alone each year. This monitor may or may not save your child's life, but it does allow me to sleep at night knowing that I'm doing all that I can to prevent it. Additionally, this monitor has a sound sensor, a room temperature sensor and a nightlight. I LOVE IT. (fyi--we are buying another one for the new baby and letting Grayson keep sleeping with his... that's how much I trust it with my child's life!)
2. Dr. Harvey Karp & The Happiest Baby on the Block Series I credit this man with giving Brandon and I a most precious gift--being able to soothe our son effectively and quickly! We received the DVD for free from our insurance company and after watching it, I immediately went out and bought the book. We both read it and learned the invaluable 5 S's that Dr. Karp teaches so eloquently... Swaddle, Side, Suck, Shush, & Swing. We learned these with such vigor that our nurses in the hospital thought we had several other children--Grayson was the quietest, calmest baby on the floor! I don't tell you this to brag, but rather to let you know that even first time parents can calm your baby within minutes of that first cry! Grayson didn't have any special temperament--he still cried--but we were able to calm him using Dr. Karp's methods. And once we discovered my next favorite, our lives got even easier! And, we are getting ready to pick up "Happiest Toddler on the Block" and see what wonders it has in store for Grayson's new toddler behavior! ;o)
3. The Miracle Blanket Yes, when you put your baby in it, it looks a little like a straight jacket, but it was the only thing that helped Grayson nap by himself and sleep through the night! We tried soooo many things and absolutely nothing worked... every day I ended up holding him through his naps. That won't be an option for baby #2, so hopefully our blanket works miracles again! There are lots of different swaddling blankets out there, and we just used simple receiving blankets for a long time. I've heard wonderful things about the Halo Sleepsacks too, but our boy was such a little Houdini, that by 6 months, he could basically get out of anything!!! We let him try sleeping without being swaddled for about a week, and after none of us getting any rest, we bought this blanket. Thank you my sweet, Lord Jesus! It worked! We swaddled him with this blanket until he was too long for it (around 10 months) and by then he adjusted to sleeping without it just fine.
4. A Good Camera Yes, I am a photographer, so I am a big fan of photos! Take them all the time--you don't want to forget anything! Babies grow and change soooo quickly! I'm a big Nikon fan, but I'd be happy to help anyone with questions about any type/brand of camera. I personally shoot with a Nikon dSLR, but I know of many point-and-shoots that are really reliable and easy to use. Buying a dSLR will not automatically provide you with great photos of your baby... it takes a LOT of time and patience to learn how to use it first.
5. A Good Video Camera We have a Flip video camcorder and it fits in my purse/pocket. It's so handy and we use it all of the time. Kids do the funniest things and I like to be ready! Since Daddy is away for work during the day, I like to capture Grayson's special moments on video so he can watch them when he gets home. I love sharing the joy!
6. Amazon Mom What Mama doesn't love a fantastic deal?! Amazon's "Mom" program offers 30% off AND free shipping on diapers, and lots of discounts on other babycare needs. We use disposable diapers for church, and this is the cheapest I've found them.
7. Mortimer the Moose Yes, this looks about as ridiculous as it sounds, but Grayson LOVES Mortimer! Even to this day, he still plays with him. When he was a baby, he would play with it for minutes on end. (which is about as long as a newborn's attention span goes!!) Every baby is different, but I've never known a baby who didn't LOVE squeekers and rattles, and Mortimer is not short on either! He's also a great teething toy. A dear friend bought Morty for Grayson right after we conceived, and I'm sure she had no idea that he was going to be Gray's favorite, but we're so happy she cared! What a fantastic gift!
8. Medela Pump-in-Style I can't believe it took me this long to remember this Godsend!!! I wanted to nurse Grayson for the health benefits to both of us, but also because most estimates say that I could save our family between $1500 and $2000 by doing so, not counting the cost of bottles and the like. Since we had decided that I would stay home with him, that was essentially like me making $2000 that year. I really looked forward to nursing and hoped that we'd catch on quickly and that the process would go smoothly. (Doesn't everyone hope that?!) Thankfully for us, the ride was mostly smooth. This pump tremendously helped. I know lots of books that say if you're going to stay at home with your child, you don't need this. They are wrong. I personally wasn't super comfortable nursing in public--this pump allowed us to go out to eat with our newborn and feed him without having to show my 'bee-boos' to everyone. I was also able to increase my supply and allow my dear husband the wonder of feeding his son. What Mother doesn't want her husband to bond with their baby?! Sure, you can buy cheaper pumps, but this pump is well worth the money. I'll be using ours this time around as well. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, you can (and should) buy one used. The mechanics are the expensive part of the pump--find one on Craigslist and either sterilize the accessories (the horns, tubing, etc) with a bottle sterilizer OR go buy new accessories at BRUs or the like. They'll only run you about $40. I just looked on eBay (where I bought mine brand new for $150!) and you can get a used one for about $75. Factor in the cost of new accessories and you're still saving about $135 off of the $250 sticker price!!
[Just a side-note: I was able to nurse Grayson for the first whole year, which is recommended by the AAP and he didn't have even one ear infection or major illness and is a really healthy toddler. I can't say this is solely due to nursing him, but I'm sure it helped and it made me feel like a rockstar! Additionally, I even got the ever-feared mastitis one time when he was about 7 months old--I felt like death for 2 days, but I survived and continued to nurse. If you are determined to do it, most any Mom can. Ask questions & accept help from a lactation consultant if you need it--they are amazing!!]
9. Itzbeen Baby Care Timer I registered for this because I had heard wonderful things about it. I'm so glad that we actually received it! In those first few sleep-deprived months, I barely knew what day it was, much less what time it was! I seriously couldn't even do simple math! This little gem helped me keep track of diaper changes, naps, feeds, the works! We mostly fed on demand and let Gray sleep when he wanted to right at first, but when we started trying to get him on a better schedule, this little timer helped tremendously. It's easy to use and it clips to your pants so you can't lose it. It was my brain for the first few months!
10. Mustela Stelatopia Baby Products When Grayson was born, he, like 20% of other babies, developed eczema. Fortunately, his was pretty mild, but it still needed treatment. He would get red, raised rashes on his forehead (we called them his 'horns'! haha) and his skin in general was very sensitive. We had to use All Free & Clear on all of our laundry because anything else would make his skin break out (even Dreft!!!). When others would hold him up next to their clothing, he would break out... it was heartbreaking to watch him suffer when all they wanted to do was hold him. We tried LOTS of different creams and soaps and nothing helped. Finally, we were referred to the Mustela Stelatopia products by another Mama. Praise Jesus! The Milky Bath Oil and the Moisturizing Cream cleared him right up!! We also used the Cream Cleanser and the Hydra-Stick. He has since grown out of the sensitivities by the grace of God, but now his skin is getting dry from the winter, so we've started using it again. It really helps. I use the Hydra-Stick on his cheeks, chin and lips to keep them from chapping (the kid produces LOTS of drool!).
11. Boppy I think most people know what a Boppy Pillow is now, but just in case, there's a link to a cute one I found. This pillow saved my arms while I was nursing Grayson. He would even nap in it occasionally sitting next to me on the couch. Later, I used it for tummy time and when he was learning to sit up, I used it to prop him up. Now I use it as a photography prop to pose babies! :o) Soon, it will revert back to its original position.
12. Vibrating Bouncy Seat We didn't have this particular one (we actually had 2 different ones, one that was too big for him when he was born and another newborn one that a friend gave us). Grayson HATED the swing with a passion. He would scream and cry EVERY time you put him in it. So, we didn't use that much. ;o) But, he loved his bouncy seats and would sit in them happily while I ate or cleaned. LIFESAVER.
13. Fan We got a little blue fan for Grayson's room pretty similar to this one from WalMart for about $15. It has 2 speeds, oscillates and most importantly, it makes a nice, gentle whirring sound that puts him to sleep and helps him stay asleep! Many SIDS experts also recommend a fan for baby's rooms to help circulate the air... look at that! 2 birds with 1 stone!
14. A Good Rocking Chair/Glider Our Shermag glider probably has my butt imprinted in the cushion, I've spent so much time there!!! What a wonderful blessing to give a new Mama--a comfortable, cozy rocker!! As previously mentioned, Grayson refused to nap without being held as a newborn. So, I set up my 'command station' before I sat down in the glider with him. I had a little table complete with snacks, water, my phone, the remote and the laptop right next to our glider (which was moved to the living room). I would lay Grayson on the Boppy in my lap and he and I could both snooze in that wonderful glider. I don't think I will ever be able to get rid of it! Grayson still loves to be rocked in that glider. It's sturdy and dependable to rock him to sleep!
15. Last, but certainly not least, Cloth diapers. No, I'm not talking about safety pins and plastic pants. I buy ours from these fine retailers: Diaper Junction, The Nappy Shoppe, The Green Nursery/Barefoot (they own a store in Bloomington!), and Cottonbabies. I've also bought lots of our diapers gently used on diaperswappers.com Check out the cuteness and the convenience of them, and your curiosity will be piqued... I promise!
Going back to me staying at home, using cloth diapers, on average, saves a family over $2000 when diapering one child. Since we will be using Grayson's diapers on this next baby as well, my 'stay-at-home-salary' will go up even more this time around! Close your gaping mouth--no it's not as gross as everyone makes it out to be and, no, I don't love playing with poo! There are many, many benefits to cloth diapering in addition to the cost... it's better for your baby's bottom (because there are SOOO many chemicals in disposables, including VOC's... we don't paint our baby rooms with it, yet we put them on their bottoms?!?!), and it's better for the environment. Don't get me wrong, I'm not really too much of a 'tree-hugger', but I like to do what I can for the environment that my baby will grow up in. The biggest factor for us was the cost savings... but just slightly behind for me was the cute bum Grayson has when he wears them! Check out the cute colors and prints one of our favorite brands offers!! We even have a cow-print one!
Yes, my husband was a little harder to convince. But, once Grayson had a blowout (in a disposable) ALL OVER THE CARSEAT when Daddy was on duty, he became a pretty quick believer! We have NEVER had a blowout in a cloth diaper. Yes, he has out-peed a few when he needed to be a size up, or we were having hard-water issues, but never poop. And, the only time he's ever had diaper rash was either from a disposable or from him eating peaches (he seems to be allergic to one type). Now, Brandon actually prefers to put a cloth diaper on Grayson!!! Take that nay-sayers!!!
Well, I think I'm spent. And, Grayson's up from his nap, so it's lunch time! Feel free to tell me what you think of my suggestions and add any that you love!! I'm sure I'm forgetting something!