Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Five:
Play With 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

I want to preface this by saying that nothing in this category is truly a “Must Have.” Babies have been getting along for millions of years without these things to entertain them, so the musts I list here are really just our favorite things to have for baby.

Tummy Time Mat – For the first few weeks baby will pretty much just eat and sleep, but in time they will have longer and longer periods of wakefulness and you’ll want to entertain them and help their little brains and muscles develop. Pediatricians recommend that babies spend at least 30 minutes a day on their tummies to get them to start to use their arm, leg, and neck muscles. We used a Boppy Tummy Play Pad for tummy time. The mini Boppy helps them feel more comfortable and supported while they get used to being on their tummies and the attachable toys give them something to play with.

Activity Gym – When Eleanor wasn’t in tummy time and we wanted her entertained for 15-20 minutes we used the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym. Eleanor loved it! There are a variety of different toys that hang from it and are attached to the mat, it also plays music and rainforest sounds and has little slowly changing colored lights in the top that baby can watch while lying on their back. This usually kept her entertained discovering sights, sounds and practicing grabbing and manipulating objects.

Rattles – It’s great to have something for baby to play with to distract them while getting dressed or having their diaper changed.  We like small soft rattles with handles like this Panda Rattle. When Eleanor was bigger and stronger she loved this multi-colored ball thing with soft plastic tubes and a rattle center.

NICE TO HAVES

Papasan Seat – Some babies are soothed by these vibrating chairs. We have the Fisher Price Baby Papasan Infant Seat. Eleanor never really cared for it, but it was great to have a place to buckle her in while I took a shower or cooked dinner. I’d just bring her in the bathroom or kitchen with me, put her on the floor in the chair and then talk to her while I went about my business. She wasn’t really interested in the music or vibration from the chair, but as long as I talked to her she was entertained.

Stuffed Animals – Stuffed animals can be great after a couple of months to give baby something soft to grab onto. Eleanor had a little stuffed bunny and some other little blanket loveys that she loved to hold onto.

SKIP

Playards – Unless you’ll be traveling, baby will be playing upstairs, or once they are crawling if there dangers in your home, I don’t think a Playard is necessary. Chances are you won’t be leaving baby unattended, so there’s no good reason they can’t just be left on the ground instead of being penned up. This is another piece of superfluous baby gear I don’t think you should waste your money on.

Exersaucers, Jumpers, and Baby Seats – I hesitated in writing this because I know that this is a bit of a controversial subject. A lot of parents love their exersaucers, jumpers and baby seats (like the Bumbo Seat) for keeping their babies happy and entertained, and they balk at those that claim they are bad for baby.

I agree that with moderate use these aren’t going to harm a baby. However, Pediatricians do not recommend their use. While being used in moderation (no more than 20 minutes a day) they won’t impede a baby’s physical development, they do not encourage proper development because they force a baby to sit, stand, and walk before they are developmentally able or ready to. If you don’t put a baby in one of these toys and instead give them plenty of time on the floor, especially on their tummies, they will use all their time developing the muscles they need to lift their heads, roll over, sit independently, crawl, pull-up to standing and eventually walk.

So, although they probably don’t hurt a baby, they certainly don’t help the baby at all, and only serve as a minor way to distract baby for a few minutes a day. And to me that makes them a complete waste of money and space.

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

CRANKY BABY ESSENTIALS GUIDE PART FOUR: Clean Your Baby

UP NEXT…Part Six: Out and About With Your Baby

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