Category Archives: Cranky Living

Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Three:
Feed Your Baby

Posted by: Maggie

As we prepare for baby number two, we’ve pulled out all our baby gear and reviewed all the registry recommendation lists to make sure we have everything we will need. In the process, we’ve reminded ourselves of what was the most useful to us and what we thought we’d need, but didn’t really use. So, I’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge with all the parents-to-be out there. I’ve split it into several categories of baby items and within each I’m sharing the “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and items that you can “Skip.” I hope you find this useful in prepping for your new baby!

MUST HAVES

Nursing Pillow – I have a Boppy and I used it all the time with Eleanor. I always found it a little physically awkward to cradle her while nursing. It was so much easier and more comfortable to have her lying on a pillow with my hands free. The Boppy also doubles as a lounger once baby is a little bigger which is a little extra benefit.

Burp Cloths – You’ll need a bunch of these. They are great for capturing spit-up when burping baby, laying under baby’s chin to catch dribbling while nursing, cleaning up other little spills, and sticking in your bra when you’re leaking on one side while nursing on the other (it happens all the time!).

Nursing Lanolin – This stuff is fantastic for healing, soothing, and protecting sore nipples when you start breastfeeding and it won’t hurt baby at all so it doesn’t need to be washed off before feeding.

Nursing Pads – In the beginning, you’re going to leak. A lot. And later when you’re away from baby or your pump for too long you’ll also leak. Disposable breast pads are convenient while out and about, but hating to be wasteful, I always just stuck with reusable, machine-washable cotton ones. They are cheaper and more absorbent. I loved the Philips Avent brand nursing pads, they were the very best fitting ones that I could find, the only ones that stayed in place and didn’t look lumpy in my bra.

Bottles – There are so many different bottles on the market, and like with Pacifiers some babies can be picky about what type of bottle they’ll take. I recommend getting a couple different types to see what your baby prefers. We were lucky with Eleanor, we only bought one type and Eleanor was fine with it. We like the Playtex BPA Free VentAir Bottles. Most bottles come with, or have available for purchase separately, different nipples you can use depending on how old your baby is. In the beginning you’ll want to want to use a slow flow nipple, which is supposed to be similar to the rate of milk flow from the breast.

Bottle Drying Rack – Most bottles can’t go in the dishwasher so you’ll be hand-washing your bottles and will need a place to dry them. As mentioned in my New Baby Favorites post, we just got the Boon Grass Drying Rack. So far we love it. It’s super cute and functional.

Bottle brushes – A must if you are using a standard or angled baby bottle. Bottles are tough to clean without them.

Books on Breast Feeding – I loved The Nursing Mother’s Companion and Nursing Mother, Working Mother for preparing for nursing, troubleshooting problems that arose, and getting me prepared to be working while continuing to nurse. I also found that meeting with a lactation consultant during the baby’s first few weeks was a lifesaver, as we had some difficulties getting Eleanor to nurse at first. There is a lactation clinic at our hospital and we found it so helpful.

NICE TO HAVE

Nipple Shields – These were recommended by the lactation consultants that we saw. Eleanor was having trouble latching at first and these gave her something more pointy and solid to latch onto. Once she got used to latching with these on I was able to take them off and nurse without them. They were also helpful when I had any cracking or soreness. I could put them on as protection so that I could heal while Eleanor continued to nurse.

Nursing Covers – These can be great for when you’re out and about and don’t want to show off your goods to everyone in sight. I had one, but almost never used it. I actually preferred to pump and bring a bottle when we went out. Not that I was shy about nursing in public, but because I found it awkward and inconvenient to have to nurse without my boppy in a chair that wasn’t all that comfortable.

Breast Pump – Partly because of the cost and partly because people feel weird about it, you will not be gifted with a breast pump. But I urge you to get one, and to get the most expensive one you can afford. The stronger the pump, the easier pumping will be. I have the Madela Pump in Style Advanced. I found it easy to use and to take with me to work to pump, and I was always happy with it’s performance. You can save money by purchasing a used one or getting a hand-me-down from a friend. Just be sure to buy all new pump parts and tubing to keep things sanitary.

Breast Milk Freezer Bags – If you are going to be working out of the home, or plan to be away from the baby often, Freezer bags for storing your milk are a must. Milk can only be kept fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days, but can be kept frozen for 3-6 months. So if you need to pump a lot of milk, you don’t want to have your fridge and freezer full of bottles of milk. Instead you can store it in bags to take up much less space.

Bottle Warmers – A lot of babies can be very particular about the temperature of milk they drink. Eleanor would just spit right out milk that was not as warm as the milk that comes out of mama. So a warmer was a must to warm up a bottle for her in just a few minutes, although you can definitely do the same thing by running a bottle under hot water for several minutes. We liked the First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer. Despite it’s super cheap price tag it was easy to use and worked really well for as long as we needed it.

SKIP

Bottle Sterilizer – I’m sure these make cleaning bottles faster and easier, but hot water will kill germs just as well, so I don’t see the point of spending a lot of money on a bottle sterilizer.

Bibs – You can hold off on these until baby is eating solids (around 6 months). Sure, they work for catching milk dribble, but it’s so much easier just to put a burp cloth under baby’s chin.

High Chair – This is another item you can wait on. Baby won’t need it until they can sit up independently and are eating solids. You have so much else to buy right now, this is one thing that can wait.

In case you missed it…

CRANKY BABY ESSENTIALS GUIDE PART ONE: Dress Your Baby

CRANKY BABY ESSENTIALS GUIDE PART TWO: Get Your Baby to Sleep

UP NEXT…Part Four: Clean Your Baby

Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Two:
Get Your Baby to Sleep

Posted by: Maggie

As we prepare for baby number two, we’ve pulled out all our baby gear and reviewed all the registry recommendation lists to make sure we have everything we will need. In the process, we’ve reminded ourselves of what was the most useful to us and what we thought we’d need, but didn’t really use. So, I’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge with all the parents-to-be out there. I’ve split it into several categories of baby items and within each I’m sharing the “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and items that you can “Skip.” I hope you find this useful in prepping for your new baby!

MUST HAVES

Crib – Choosing a crib is about three things: style, cost, and safety. Style and cost are your personal choice, there are a lot of stylish cribs out there at a variety of price points. As for safety, I recommend reading Consumer Reports Crib Buying Guide.

If you don’t think you’ll want/need to use the crib for baby number two, you might want to buy a convertible crib. Convertible cribs come in a couple of styles converting from a standard crib to a toddler bed, and some will also convert into a full-size bed with a headboard and footboard. By purchasing a convertible crib, you can save yourself money in the long run by having a crib that can do it all

Crib Mattress – There are a lot of options when it comes to buying your crib mattress. It’s most important to get a firm mattress at a price you can afford. We like this firm mattress option from Sealy for around $100.

Crib Sheets – The baby’s crib only needs a fitted sheet. Bumpers and blankets can cause a baby to suffocate, so are unsafe and unnecessary for baby (see the Skip section below). Keep a couple extra sheets on hand for diaper leaks and other messes and a waterproof mattress pad under your sheet to protect your crib mattress.

Swaddle Blankets – Newborns sleep much better being swaddled. It reminds them of being tight and cozy like they were in the womb AND it keeps them from waking themselves up with their reflexively flailing arms. As I mentioned in my New Baby Favorites post, I’ve got some new Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets, which look like they’ll be great for swaddling. However, when Eleanor was a baby we just could not swaddle her tight enough with swaddling blankets to keep her incredibly strong little arms from breaking free. The best solution we found was the Snug and Tug. We tried a variety of other Velcro swaddling blankets, but found this to be the absolute best one. It was so much quicker and easier than folding a blanket ourselves and kept her wrapped up nice and tight so she couldn’t break free. As soon as we found this one, Eleanor started sleeping soooo much better, it made such a difference.

Pacifiers – This depends on your baby. Babies have a need to suck and some babies will happily take a pacifier to fill that need. Some babies will take any pacifier, some will only take one particular type of pacifier, and some won’t take a pacifier at all. Eleanor would only take the Philips Avent Soothie and then only used it for a few months. It’s best to buy a few different types and try them each out to see what your baby will like.

Books on Soothing & Sleep Training – Hands down the most helpful book (& DVD) we bought was Happiest Baby on the Block. Dr. Karp shows you exactly what to do to soothe your baby. Watching the techniques on the DVD is like magic. He starts with a screaming baby and calms them in seconds. It’s amazing! You MUST get this book!

Sleep training your baby really depends on your own parenting style and how you think your baby should learn to sleep. Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child is one of the most popular books as it goes through all the methods and leaves it up to you. Although, I found it disorganized and difficult to read, it was really helpful, and when we started sleep training (around 6 weeks) we used a method from that book.

NICE TO HAVES

Bassinet – If you plan to keep baby in your own bedroom in the first few weeks or months you’ll want a bassinet for that. There are a lot of different bassinets out there. The most popular option seems to be the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Bassinet. We had one with Eleanor, but found that it was just too big, and we only used it a few nights. When we starting looking for something for the new baby it was hard to find anything that fit our needs: smaller than a Pack ‘n Play, safe, and had good reviews. We finally ended up with the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper, which met all our criteria, AND as I mentioned in my New Baby Favorites post  we were able to get it as a hand-me-down!

Glider/Rocker – We were gifted with a very nice Pottery Barn Rocker/Glider when Eleanor was a newborn. I used it all the time to rock and nurse her to sleep and we still use it to sit in for bedtime story reading. That being said, it’s definitely a luxury rather than a necessity. To nurse you just need a comfortable place to sit with your feet up. Your bed or living room couch will work just fine. That being said, a nice chair is a lovely addition to a nursery.

Sound Machine – Babies are used to a lot of whooshing noise in the womb from mom’s blood flowing and her heart beating. Something that replicates that sound while drowning out other household sounds is very helpful to get a baby to sleep (especially when trying to get them to nap during the day). When Eleanor was a baby we just used a humidifier in her room that had a noisy fan. This time around, we’ve purchased the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine. We haven’t tried it on baby yet, but it sounds good to us and it had good reviews. Other options are sleep sheep/teddy bears that play heart beat sounds and white noise. But I haven’t read many good reviews of those and most seem to shut off after a certain amount of time, when what you’ll really want is to have something that plays all night to keep baby asleep.

Baby Carriers & Slings – When Eleanor was a baby we had the classic Baby Bjorn, but Eleanor didn’t really care for it, so we didn’t use it very often. This time around, since I have Eleanor to take care of, I think I’ll have a lot more times when I’ll need to hold baby and have my hands free at the same time. So, I plan to try out a sling. We haven’t purchased one yet, but I’ve read good things about both the Boba Wrap and the Moby Wrap.

Rockers & Swings – We have a Graco Swing that Eleanor loved. It would put her to sleep in no time. She took a lot of naps in it when we couldn’t get her to nap in her crib, at least until she was nine months old, maybe longer. The only problem with it is that takes up a lot of space. My sister has given us her Mamaroo Bouncer, which my nephew used for a few months. It’s nice because it takes up less space than the tradition swing, but it didn’t seem to rock quickly enough for sleeping in once Jack got bigger and I’ve heard similar reviews from other moms, who only found it useful for the first two months or so.

SKIP

Crib Bumpers and Blankets – Most crib bedding sets come with a fitted sheet, crib skirt, bumper, and blanket. But these sets are really just for decorative purposes. As I mentioned above, a baby can suffocate on blankets and bumpers so experts recommend only having a fitted sheet in a crib. I have seen some breathable bumpers out there, but I really don’t see the point.

Baby Monitor – Here’s the way I see it, unless you have a big home and your baby’s room is far from your bedroom, you will hear the baby crying when it needs you. We live in a fairly small apartment and did when Eleanor was a baby. Her room was next to ours separated by a bathroom. We had absolutely no need for a monitor. And I really doubt that anyone does. In all honesty, you do not need to hear every little sound your baby makes and doing so will keep you from sleeping and relaxing while baby is asleep. But if you’re a worrier and are going to want to check on the baby if you can’t hear or see him, then go ahead and get yourself a monitor. There are all sorts of fancy ones on the market. I’ve heard good things about the Motorola Video Monitor.

In case you missed it…

CRANKY BABY ESSENTIALS GUIDE PART ONE: Dress Your Baby

UP NEXT…Part Three: Feed Your Baby

Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part One:
Dress Your Baby

Posted by: Maggie

As we prepare for baby number two, we’ve pulled out all our baby gear and reviewed all the registry recommendation lists to make sure we have everything we will need. In the process, we’ve reminded ourselves of what was the most useful to us and what we thought we’d need, but didn’t really use. So, I’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge with all the parents-to-be out there. I’ve split it into several categories of baby items and within each I’m sharing the “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and items that you can “Skip.” I hope you find this useful in prepping for your new baby!

When you start shopping for baby, one thing you will not be able to resist buying is baby clothes. Adorable, tiny, baby clothes. However, I urge you just to buy a few favorite special items, like a going home outfit and an outfit for any holidays that happen to occur within a month of your baby’s due date. For those feel free to splurge on Baby Gap or Mini Boden. For the rest, stick with inexpensive basics because they will grow out of them so quickly and wait until after your shower(s) to buy any clothes yourself. Like you, your friends and family can’t resist the adorable, tiny clothes either and will buy you tons and tons of clothes in addition to and often instead of your practical registry items.

Since newborns grow out of clothing so quickly, people tend to give 3-6 month or 6-12 month size items, so most of what you’ll get will be bigger and you’ll want to buy some Newborn size yourself. Keep in mind that they will probably only be wearing those for the first few weeks, and some babies are never that small, so go with the inexpensive multi-packs.

MUST HAVES

Onesies – We liked the Gerber Brand of plain white onesies in either short sleeve or long depending on the time of year and whether your home is on the cooler or warmer side.

Pajamas & Sleep Gowns – I highly recommend the zip-up kind of PJs, as opposed to the snaps kind, you do not want to be unsnapping and resnapping a bunch of snaps to change a diaper in the middle of the night. Sleep Gowns are also another fantastic option, that make middle of the night diaper changes easier.

Hamper & Laundry – Keep a hamper by your changing table and make sure it’s portable, because you’ll be doing laundry pretty often. We have a cheap fold-up one from Ikea, but I’ve seen a bunch of cute, pop-up ones at Target.

You’ll also want to get some baby laundry detergent if you don’t already use a “free & clear” or “sensitive skin” style detergent.

NICE TO HAVES

Booties & Socks – Cute socks are great for keeping those toes warm, but socks don’t stay on well unless they fit perfectly and as long as the baby doesn’t wiggle it’s way out of them. Booties are a better option for keeping baby’s feet warm. But honestly we mostly just went sockless and kept a blanket on Eleanor’s tiny cold feet while out and about for the first few months.

Hats – For colder weather and going out and about hats are great to keep baby warm. But like socks, hats don’t stay on baby’s heads very well. The best one we had was a finely knit one they gave us at the hospital.

SKIP

Baby Mittens – The thing is, baby’s come out with teeny tiny razor sharp nails that grow super fast. They will scratch up their face with them. So, a lot of people recommend putting mittens on to prevent that. However, babies are new and learning and exploring through their senses, so it’s not a good thing to cover up their hands unless you are swaddling them to sleep. Instead of mittens I recommend cutting or filing their nails as often as needed and even letting them get scratched sometimes. Believe me, they heal incredibly quickly and don’t really seem to notice the tiny scratches.

Shoes – Don’t put your baby in shoes. Feel free to get some and use them as nursery décor, but your baby doesn’t need them until they are officially walking (around 12 months old). It’s bad to bind up your baby’s growing feet, because it doesn’t let them use the muscles they’ll need when they are learning to stand and walk.

UP NEXT…Part Two: Get Your Baby to Sleep

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