As anybody who reads WINOW knows, I like stuff. I like to write about stuff. In part, this is because stuff is easy for me to get my mind around. Thinking and writing about it doesn't require a great intellectual or emotional investment. And let me tell you, on Day 15 of parenting, I'm all about not emotionally or intellectually taxing myself. So, I thought I'd do a post about the stuff we've been using in this whole transition to newborn parenthood over the past couple of weeks: what works, what doesn't, and the things I wish I'd thought to obtain earlier, or obtain more of.

Things that work
As I mentioned before the baby was born, Mark and I didn't go into this with the idea that we were going to be minimalists. We didn't go completely overboard (I don't think), but we did accumulate quite a bit of baby stuff before Buzzy showed up. And the truth is that so far, most of it has been of at least some use. However, there are a few things that are all-stars, so I'm going to call those out specifically.

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Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper: Buzzy is currently spending his nights in an Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper next to my side of the bed, and it's working out great. It allows him to be close enough to me for me to hear/see him, and for him to hear/see me, but keeps him out of my actual bed space. I doubt we'll use it long-term--I want to put him in his crib as soon as seems reasonable--but for these early weeks, it's perfect. Thanks again to my friend A for passing it on to us!

Summer SwaddleMe Swaddlers: So, new babies like to be swaddled, right? Yes, but my little boy likes to bust out of a swaddle more than anything, and thus far, nobody has been able to swaddle him in a blanket such that he can't break free. During the day, this doesn't much matter, but at night, it frustrates him and us. Enter the genius SwaddleMes, which look like little baby straight jackets, but definitely help him sleep less restlessly. Plus even with my regular lack of hand-eye coordination multiplied by sleep deprivation, I can manage to get him into them. Awesome.

Gilligan & O'Malley Nursing Sleep Bras: These Gilligan & O'Malley nursing bras are supposed to be for sleep, I guess, but I'm wearing them all the time and they are working out great. Reasonably supportive, reasonably cute, comfortable, easy to clip on and off, and best of all, cheap! As in, less than half the price of most of the nursing bras I see around. They won't work for big-busted women, as my moderately-busted self is in the largest size (2X), but if you aren't big of chest, I'd definitely consider these.

(For bed, I'm actually wearing the less structured Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra from Motherhood Maternity, and those are working out great, too.)

Small Wonders onesies: I have a ton of 0-3 month clothes, 90% of which are hand-me-downs from my friend E and her twins. Some are higher end brands, some are not. The best ones, so far? The Small Wonders onesies from K-Mart. They are cute as heck, well-made, soft, and fit Buzzy perfectly, which makes me think they must run a little bit long. Since mine are all hand-me-downs, they've been pre-vetted for cute logos and bright colors, but I'm definitely going to check out my local K-Mart and see if the ones that are in-store now are as impressive.

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aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets: I know I just said we were having trouble adequately swaddling with a blanket, and we are, but I love these aden + anais blankets so much I had to mention them anyway. They're just cutest, softest, most versatile thing. They work great as swaddles for naps, they work to shade the car seat, they work as lightweight receiving blankets--they just work. For a summer baby especially I would totally recommend these as a shower gift. They're spendy--like $50 for 4 of them, I think--so they are something that a lot of new parents probably aren't going to buy for themselves, but they're wonderful.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Lotion: I'm sure it surprises exactly nobody that I have several types of baby bath products on hand to try out--that's kind of my thing. However, none of them have even been opened besides the Earth Mama Angel Baby Body Wash & Shampoo and the Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotion. Why? Because they are awesome. They smell fantastic--orange and vanilla, but pretty subtle--and seem to work great, as well. I doubt I'll even attempt to use anything else anytime soon.

Munchkin disposable changing pad covers: An item I really had no idea would be useful, but has proved invaluable--these paper covers go over the fabric changing pad cover and when the baby excretes on them (several times a night, some nights...), you just throw them away. This is saving us having to wash the changing pad cover over and over again. Yeah, I know, disposable=bad, blah blah blah. I'll go back to worrying about the environment just as soon as my kid stops shitting ten times a night.

Baskets: I am a collector of baskets--I thrift them all the time, in all shapes and sizes, and I've always found it useful to have a lot of them around in which to carry and stow things. Never so much as right now. By my count, I currently have about a dozen baskets employed in baby-related tasks. It makes dealing with all of this new accoutrement a lot more palatable if I can feel like it's at least somewhat contained.

iPhone and iPad: I was told that I would love these devices, to which I was already viciously addicted, even more after the baby was born, and that was no lie. I am more dependent on them every day. My phone come everywhere with me, and I'm using a free app, Baby Feeding Log, to track nursing sessions (which side, when, for how long). My iPad now lives next to the glider in Buzzy's nursery, where it keeps me awake while I nurse and rock at night. I'm even considering making the jump into reading electronic books using it--never thought that would happen.

Things that don't work
Anytime you try to prepare for something like having a new baby, you're bound to make a few missteps. We're no different. A few of the things we bought beforehand, even those recommended as must haves, haven't worked out so far.

Wipes warmer: So far, the wipes warmer is the only thing on which my parenting guru, E, steered me wrong, and I suspect that comes down to my having a summer baby and a very warm house, and the non-warmed wipes not being cold enough to be shocking. The thing is big and awkward and not worth the space it takes up for little marginal utility, so it got unplugged and stowed a few days ago.

Receiving blankets: Again, probably this comes down to having a summer kid, but I haven't used a single one of the pile of flannel receiving blankets I have (mostly the Tiddlewinks ones). It's too warm, and they are too weirdly small to swaddle with anyway.

Baby hats, mittens, and socks: Once again, probably down to the weather, but I have an entire basket of these baby accessories upstairs that has not been disturbed. Buzzy wore a hat his first day in the hospital, when his head was still pretty misshapen from birth, but hasn't had one on since then, with the exception of his sun hat. Mittens and socks he has literally never yet worn.

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Boppy: I don't hate the Boppy--I found it very useful for the first week or so. However, I then was gifted a hand-me-down My Brest Friend pillow, and I now know how well the Boppy wasn't working. Horrible name aside the the My Brest Friend is SO much easier to nurse with. It's a lot more solid and supportive for wiggly Buzzy, and it's larger and more comfortable for me. Plus, it can fasten around my waist, so that when we're done, I can pick Buzzy up and put him in his bed or the changing table or the Pack N Play without having to have one hand free to remove the pillow.

Things I wish we had/had earlier/had more of
There are, of course, a few things we couldn't or didn't predict wanting or needing. Some of these, we've already gone out for or ordered. Others we're doing without, for whatever reason. Some are even things we have, but could use more of. For me, this is the most interesting category of stuff, because I really had no idea at all what would fall into it before we started this adventure.

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aden + anais Sleeping Bags: I thrifted one of these aden + anais sleeping bags before Buzzy was born, and put it in on him the other night when our room was especially warm and even the cotton swaddle sacks seemed to be too much. It worked great. It was so lightweight and comfortable for him, and the zipper (zipping up from the bottom--genius!) made middle-of-the-night diaper changes tons easier. I wish I had a half dozen of these. Unfortunately, they are stupid expensive (though cheaper elsewhere than on the aden + anais site, I think). Still, I sucked it up and ordered two more from Amazon, since I think they're going to be our best bet for the rest of the summer.

Hampers: This is a no-brainer now that I think about it, but I never thought about it before we needed them--babies are a constant source of laundry, and having a place to stow that laundry before you do it is key. We started out with no hamper in Buzzy's room and no hamper downstairs where he/we spend the bulk of our time. That didn't work at all. A trip to Target fixed things, though--I got two inexpensive canvas hampers from the dorm accessories section at Target--one for Buzzy's room, one for next to his Pack N Play downstairs. Problem solved!

Second glider: This is a big one, and it's going to seem excessive, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway. We have a glider, generously handed down to us from a colleague of Mark's, in Buzzy's room, and it works great for getting him back to sleep after he eats/is changed in the middle of the night. However, it's not convenient to use it during the day when we're all downstairs. It would be SO nice to have another one downstairs. I have a wooden rocking chair downstairs, but it's built for someone much smaller than I am and not at all comfortable to sit in, so I mostly don't use it.

Swing: People were of very mixed opinions as to whether or not a baby swing is a necessity, a nice-to-have, or a complete waste of money and space. So, we didn't buy one. I am now wishing we had, since rocking seems to be among Buzzy's favorite things, and it would be great to be able to put him down and rock him electronically on occasion. We may end up buying one yet.

Breast pump: It made good sense, before Buzzy was born, to wait to buy or rent a pump until after I'd established that breastfeeding/pumping was in the cards. But man, it would have been nice to have access to a pump right away, especially in the few days of bad engorgement between when my milk came in and when Buzzy ramped up his eating to match. If I had it to do again, I'd rent a pump just before delivery and have it on stand-by. As it is, I'm going to visit my friendly neighborhood lactation consultant this coming week, and I'll rent a pump then. Then we'll see how it goes for a month or so and I'll decide whether it would be more economical to buy my own. Since the general, best-case-scenario plan is to BF and pump for a year (something I can't even fathom right now, honestly), it probably will be best to buy one if everything works out.

Diapers: Of course, we had diapers. Small packages of several varieties and sizes, as was recommended to me. What I didn't realize was that we would need a much, much greater quantity. Newborns go through diapers like woah. I haven't been keeping track, but would bet Buzzy gets changed 15-18 times/day (and not infrequently each change requires two diapers, because he pees or poops mid-change). So those little 32 packs of diapers I had on hand? Lasted for about two days each. Because his butt is still pretty skinny, even though he's about 9 lbs now (maybe more, we'll see at the pediatrician tomorrow), Buzzy is probably going to be in newborn sized diapers for a bit longer, and I finally just bought a bigger box of them yesterday. Were I to do it again, I'd start out with a couple of big boxes--the variety matters far less than the fear of running out of diapers when you have a tiny pooping machine on your hands. (For the curious, we are, so far, a Pampers family.)

Non-sucky lanolin-free nipple cream: This may be a pie-in-the-sky one, but I would give some non-essential part of my anatomy for a lanolin-free nipple cream that is actually effective. So far, I've tried Motherlove and Simplisse, and both are just short of worthless. There are a few more kinds out there to try, and I'm sure I'll work my way through them before too long, since little Mr. Buzz eats (no, I am not joking) about 16 times a day.

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Changing station/diaper depot/organizer: This is something I never could have understood the need for until I tried to change a squirming, screaming baby in the middle of the night. All of our changing supplies (diapers, creams, wipes, etc.) are neatly arranged in baskets on the shelf under our changing table. Which made perfect sense to me before--I mean, it looks lovely! Now I realize that it's nearly impossible to reach everything while keeping the requisite one hand on the squirming baby. Live and learn.

Carrier: Right now, we have three carriers, all of which were gifts: a Moby, a handmade ring sling, and a handmade wrap carrier. Mark likes the Moby, but it's a bit complicated for me to try to use on my own. Same thing with the handmade wrap, which works pretty much the same way. The ring sling is the best option for me for around the house, since I can get it off and on on my own, but it doesn't feel as secure as I'd like. So, I'd like something that is sturdier and simple enough for me to use on my own. I'm thinking maybe something like the Belle?

Honestly, these lists just barely scratch the surface, and I'm sure I'll think of more things to add to them as soon as I hit publish, but I really want to get an actual blog entry up today, and that's been pretty difficult to do of late (this one has been under construction for several days), so I'm gonna go ahead and publish now. Yawn.

9 Comments

The nipples will improve, I promise. I had the saddest, scabbiest nipples for the first little while, but then they just adjusted, or something, and now are fine.

I had the same experience with the pump--I didn't buy one right away because I wanted to see how it went, and then realized that I totally needed it because I would get so engorged that the baby seriously couldn't latch on. We figured it out, but even a cheapie pump would have helped.

So glad to see that you are settling in. I loved my swing with both kids and #2 worshipped the thing.

I am curious to know why you are using a sleep sack if the weather is so warm? As far as I know they are just to replace blankets, so if it's warm you don't have to bother at all.

Oh, and Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a lanolin-free nipple ointment I believe. If you love their other stuff, you should probably check it out.

We should trade rocking chairs. Mine's meant for someone much taller. The Earth Mama Angel Baby soap was always my favorite too. It smells so good. I still use the Baby bottom balm for minor cuts and things, and the Mama bottom balm is really, really awesome as well.

At some point you can start using the flannel receiving blankets over the changing pad instead of paper throw-away things. You can fold them at least once over the poopy bit before washing, and they are much smaller than the pad cover.

I figured out something useful last night with the SwaddleMes - my son can wiggle his arms out of even those, but last night I put it on him backwards. I needed to buckle him into something, so I left the middle velcro undone to leave it sort of split up the back - did up the top part backwards, buckled him in, pulled the bottom over his feet, and it was perfect - he was buckled, his feet were warm, he couldn't wiggle his hands, out, and he was very comfortable. I may just always do it backwards from now on.

We loved our Arms Reach co-sleeper and used it for a lot longer than we had anticipated. It was just too convenient. I think we moved the baby into her crib at about four months. Transitioning wasn't a big deal at all, but she's always been a good sleeper. I think it bothered my husband and I when she moved to her crib more than it bothered her.

We just discovered those lightweight Aiden + Anais sleeping bags, and they are perfect for summer. I love them.

If you end up purchasing a pump, I highly recommend the Medela Freestyle, especially if you're planning to pump long-term. It's pricey, but it's fully hands-free (though a bit fiddly). I know that plenty of people manage to rig a hands-free solution for other pumps, but I didn't want to spend time fashioning a pumping bustier out of an old sports bra. And most of my pumping is at work, and who wants to undress from the waist up, then put on a different bra just to pump?

My other recommendation for nursing mothers: Bamboobies. Best nursing pads ever. I wish I had known about them at the beginning, when I was dealing with engorgement/leaking.

Yeah, those clothes from Kmart are surprisingly good. Bea has a few and I was pleasantly surprised that they fit her tiny long torsoed self, and are $2/8 regular price, and often cheaper on sale. They are folded here, not on hangers, and have their own section right with the smallest nicest hanging baby stuff in our kmart.

Our kmart also, shockingly, has the best baby stuff selection around. Tons of bottles/nipples/pacifiers to try.

I found my wipes warmer to be super useful, but that's because I had E in the middle of a cold winter and she hated having her diapers changed, so it made things bearable for her. It broke recently and we haven't missed it.

Have you considered a Snugli for carrying the baby? We have both that and a Moby. My husband loves the Moby but like you, I find it a bit fiddly to deal with. E has almost grown out of her Snugli so I would happily send it to you, only it's pale pink, which may not be your idea of a fab color scheme.

I'm so bummed my breast pump broke and I couldn't send it to you, because a really good double electric pump is brilliant. Definitely more economical than renting if you plan to breastfeed for a long time.

Oh, and congratulations on your little cutie! He is perfectly adorable. You must be over the moon with love. Being a new mother is exhausting, but wonderful.

someone you know gets a kmart discount.

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