Category Archives: Cranky Parenting

Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Four:
Clean 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

Changing Pad & Covers – Soon your life will revolve around pee & poop. In the beginning your baby will go through about 10 diapers a day and sometimes more. So, you’ll need a comfy place to change all those diapers. I recommend a changing pad with curved sides like the Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad, because it cradles the baby while being changed and helps to keep them from rolling over (until they’re bigger and want to have changing table wrestling matches with you). You can put it on top of a dresser or other piece of furniture you have (see Changing Tables in the Nice to Have section below).

You definitely want to get a couple changing pad covers because there will be plenty of pee & poop accidents on the changing table, so you want to keep a clean one handy. I also recommend getting some extra Changing Pad liners, like these from Boppy. They lay on top of your changing pad cover and are easy just to drop in your hamper and put another one down without having to change the whole changing pad cover.

Diapers & Wipes – I’m going to skip the cloth vs. disposable discussion for now and just say that we went with disposables with Eleanor and will do the same this time. When Eleanor was a baby we tried both Pampers and Huggies and went with Huggies. Don’t ask me what it is, but I feel like Pampers have a funny scent to them that I just did not like. We really like the Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers with Huggies Natural Care Wipes.

A little tip: skip the “Jumbo” pack of 30 diapers, these will last you about 3 days. Always go for the big box of 100 or more. You’ll save money and trips to the store. We found that Target and Amazon have the best prices for diapers. And although we haven’t tried it out, Amazon has a subscription service with automatic monthly deliveries that give you additional discounts.

Diaper Disposal – If you go with disposable diapers, we like the Diaper Genie for trashing diapers and keeping odor to a minimum. We have the basic version, but the pricier version has the nice extra feature of a foot pedal opening. You’ll also want to keep refills on hand.

Diaper Cream – Diaper rashes will happen. Eleanor didn’t get any in her newborn months, but definitely had a few throughout her diaper wearing career.  For those, we liked Burt’s Bees Diaper Cream,  Boudreaux Butt Paste is another popular choice.

Baby Tub – Until baby’s umbilical stump falls off, you’ll want to stick with sponge baths. But after that, having a baby tub makes bath time easy and comfortable for baby. We made bath time part of our nightly calming down routine for Eleanor. We really like the Fisher Price Coral Reef Tub, because it grows with baby from newborn to toddler. It starts with a sling for your newborn and then you can remove it as baby gets bigger.

Bath Toiletries – You’ll want to get shampoos & lotions that are safe for a baby’s sensitive skin. We’re into harsh-chemical-free baby care, so we love the Burt’s Bees Baby Bee line of products

First Aid – We found that the health & safety kits that we were given contained a lot of things that we just didn’t need and never used. But there are a few important items that you will need and use often: Baby Nail Clippers & Files, a Nasal Aspirator, and a Rectal Thermometer.

NICE TO HAVES

Changing Table – You don’t absolutely need a changing table. You can always just put a changing pad on top of a dresser or other piece of furniture or get a dresser/changing table combo unit that has a hutch for your diapering supplies. But if you have the room for it, I really like having a changing table. They are great for storing diapers, wipes, toiletries, bibs, blankets, and all of the bigger baby stuff.

Hooded Towels – Here’s the thing about these: they are very cute and great to keep baby warm after coming out of the bath, but definitely not a necessity. Any towel will do. If you do get some baby towels, I prefer the ones where just the corner of the towel has the hood in it rather than more adorable ones where the hood is on the side of the towel and has extra eyes and ears and things. These super cute towels are impossible to fold neatly and compactly, which drives me crazy!

Humidifier – For colder and dryer months, a humidifier helps to keep baby from getting congested. We used to have the Graco 4 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier. We really liked it, the tank was nice and big, and because its fan was pretty noisy it doubled as white noise. Its only drawback was that it was pretty big, so it took up a lot of room on Eleanor’s dresser. It broke in our last move and we haven’t replaced it yet. Because we’ve got the new Graco Sound Machine (see Part Two: Get Your Baby to Sleep), we’re considering getting a Crane Drop Shape Cool Humidifier, which has good reviews and a small footprint.

SKIP

Bath Toys – These are always fun, but one of those things you won’t need until baby is older and able to sit up in a tub. I’d wait on buying anything for now and when you do just get a few. They can quickly take over your bathroom.

Wipe Warmer – This is one of those things that I just don’t see the point of. To me, it’s just one more piece of superfluous baby gear that manufacturers try to convince you you’ll need. It will not hurt your baby to have a cold wipe on their bottom. While a warmer might be nice to make your baby more comfortable during a diaper change, I’ve also heard a lot of complaints about them. They’re one more thing you have to find an outlet to plug-in. They often dry out the top few wipes and burn the bottom few, so you end up wasting a lot of wipes. They are a warm wet place for bacteria/mold to grow. All that being said if you really want one, get one, but I just feel that there are better ways to spend your newborn budget.

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

CRANKY BABY ESSENTIALS GUIDE PART THREE: Feed Your Baby

UP NEXT…Part Five: Play With Your Baby

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

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