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

New Baby Favorites

Posted by: Maggie

Well, I’m still pregnant (and pretty annoyed about it) and also technically on Maternity leave, so I thought I’d do some Cranky posts while I have a bit of time waiting.

Since this is baby number two we didn’t have very many things we needed to buy to prep for baby’s arrival. We’ve kept most of the baby essentials from Eleanor, so we didn’t register or buy very much. But there are a few new things that I’m excited about that I thought I’d share.

1. Ikea Stuva Dressers, $110. Eleanor and the baby will be sharing a room once he’s sleeping through the night. As it is, there is no extra room for a crib, so we needed to get rid of Eleanor’s dresser to make some space.  We decided to clear out her closet and get two new smaller dressers, one for Eleanor and one for baby. These Ikea children’s dressers are the perfect size and they are nice and low so that Eleanor doesn’t have a problem reaching inside to find her own clothes. They also come with different color drawer fronts (birch, pink, blue, and green) if you’re so inclined. I like the simple white front, so they’ll work if most any space if we ever pull them out of the closet or change the decor. p.s. I’ll be doing some new house tours in the coming months so you can see how our little place has changed to accommodate baby.

2. Target, Room Essentials, Y Weave Small Storage Baskets, $6 each. Our changing table is now set-up in our bathroom, because, again there is no space in Eleanor’s room. And because I have client meetings in our home most weekends I need to keep the bathroom looking clean and tidy, so I bought a few of these small plastic storage baskets to keep the things on the changing table looking neat and organized. I use one for extra changing table covers, another for washcloths and baby toiletries, and another for diapers.

3. Cake by Petunia Pickle Bottom, Cosmopolitan Carryall in Buttercream, $349. This was a very generous gift from my good friend and photo client, Kristy! I seriously am in love with this incredible gift. It is the most beautiful diaper bag with so many pockets for all your baby stuff. It also works as a fabulous purse and it’s padded enough to double as a camera bag. I ADORE it! Kristy was able to snag it in this beautiful Buttercream yellow at a sample sale, it’s no longer available in that color, but the other shades are just as beautiful.

4. Arm’s Reach, The Mini Co-Sleeper in Natural, $154. While the baby will eventually share a room with Eleanor, until he’s sleeping through the night he’ll be in the bedroom with us. We didn’t use a bassinet with Eleanor, she went straight into the crib in her room, so we needed to get something for the new baby that was small enough to fit in our little bedroom. This co-sleeper is a hand-me-down from my sister, who got it as a hand-me-down from a friend of hers. It is the perfect size! While we can’t actually use it as a co-sleeper (there’s not much room on the sides of our big King-sized bed), there is space on the wall opposite our bed next to the dresser that is almost the exact size of this co-sleeper. It’s perfect!

5. Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack, $18. I love this cute and super functional drying rack. If you’ve ever washed bottles, you know there are a bunch of little parts that just won’t work on a traditional drying rack. The blades of “grass” keep everything up and allow the water to drain down into the tray, which separates from the grass for easy cleaning. We had a different bottle drying rack when Eleanor was a baby and I hated it! This one is so much better and so much cuter!

6. Aden & Anais, Muslin Swaddle Blankets, $50. These were a gift from my sister. I love them and can’t wait to get to use them. I’ve had my eye on these to use for my newborn clients for a while, I love the plain white ones for photos and the patterned ones are cute for everything else. They are super soft and nicely textured and have a little stretch in the them for swaddling.  They are also a nice big size so they can be used in a variety of ways, like as a nursing or stroller cover, a tummy time blanket, or a changing table cover.

And those are all my new favorite things! But as you know there are soooooo many other thing you need for baby, so I’m working on something for you new moms out there!  I’ll have a complete guide to all the baby essentials up soon! I’ll be working on it this weekend and if baby doesn’t arrive before then I’ll get it up on Monday (my due date) for you all!

Have a fabulous Easter/Passover weekend! Send your good wishes our way for a quick delivery that happens soon please, cause I am sooooo over this waiting!