survival guide: the first six months

I consider myself somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to baby gear.   We don’t have the space for a gazillion plastic things around the house and frankly I don’t want them.   I mean, people have been having babies for thousands of years and been fine without bumbo’s, boppies and baby Einstein.

However,  that being said.  I acknowledge that there are some items out there that sure make having a baby easier. 

Now that Abby’s seven months (and crawling!), I decided to take a look back and document what worked (and what didn’t) during the first few months.   If anything else it will be good reference for me if and when we do another newborn round.   Besides, I’ve noticed a distinct change in what a newborn needs vs. what an infant needs, and I’m finding myself packing up some of my old standby’s and relying on new distractions and soothing techniques.  

The items I’m reviewing today will be more for the newborn/early infant stage…and I’ll be back with another round for the post 6-month necessities.   Sound good?

First things first:  you’re going to need some sort of cage. 

Er….wait.  That sounds bad…let me rephrase. 

You’re going to need some sort of contraption that essentially “holds” them so you don’t have to all of the time.  I know, I know, I’m terrible for not wanting to hold my baby 24/7.   So maybe I won’t have amazing mom arms, but I’ll be showered, the laundry will be done (maybe) and I’ll most likely get to eat because of this little bouncy chair.  We’ve put Abby in it since Day 1 and she still sits in it in the mornings when I’m getting breakfast ready.  Granted she has very little patience for it anymore, but I’m milking it for every last minute I can use it. 

Fisher Price Bouncer

Around three months was the ideal age for the bouncer.  She had just found her feet and would sit in it for-ev-er just looking at her toes. 

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Now that you have your cage established, work on finding a way to make the baby think you’re holding them….even though you’re still not.

Say hello to your next best friend, the Sleepy Wrap carrier.  This thing was a life saver in the first few months.  After you get over the intimidation of putting the dang thing on (it’s just one long piece of fabric, seriously like 50 yards long), you will never go anywhere without it.  And trust me, it only took 2 or 3 times to get the process down.  It’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks!

The sleepy wrap is great for walks (Abby h.a.t.e.d her carseat when she was little, so the carseat adapter for our stroller was really a waste), shopping (you know, in your spare time) and just getting sh*t done around the house.  You just snuggle them right in and they pretty much fall asleep (am I sensing irony here?).

The funny thing is, when I had Abby in the sleepy wrap and she moved, it felt just like it did when she was in my belly.  It was kiiiiiiinda trippy.  Or maybe I had it on too tight.

Anyhoo….this is another item we’ve used since Day 1 with Abby and still do.  There are several additional positions you can wear it aside from the newborn picture shown below….outward facing, inward facing, on your hip, etc. 

It’s amazing how you take using both hands for granted until you’re carting around a kid.

Sleepy Wrap Classic Wrap Baby Carrier

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Next up, an item that I knew I would love even before Abby arrived…the Aden and Anais bamboo swaddlers.  I got these as a gift (thanks Liz!) and absolutely love them.  They are lightweight, soft and stretchy and are perfect for swaddling or just a cute blanket. 

In all honesty, I only swaddled Abby a handful of times in these….and yet they remain a favorite you say?  Well yes.  It’s so nice to have a lightweight blanket to use on hot days.  I use these ALL of the time in the stroller to protect her from the sun, in the carseat, or as a nursing cover.   These are one of my most favorite things.

You may have seen the Aden and Anais muslin swaddlers, and these are similar except much softer and cuter.  In my opinion.

Aden and Anais Bamboo Swaddle Blankets

aden + anais Swaddle Blanket, 3 Pack

You may be wondering what I DID use to swaddle Abs with, since the aforementioned swaddle blankets didn’t make the cut. 

These my friend, are da bomb:  Summer Infant Swaddle Me.  They have velcro to keep that swaddle nice ‘n tight.  I mean, just look at these little nuggets…they ain’t goin’ nowhere.  And when you’re talking about swaddling, that’s exactly the effect you’re looking for.

I bought the fleece ones since Abby was using them in the middle of winter, but the cotton ones look nice too and come in cuter designs.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe

Summer Infant 2 Pack Cotton Knit Swaddleme

I’m pretty sure all babies get cradle cap…I mean, wouldn’t your skin be a bit dry if you spent 9 months in a swimming pool and then decided to get out?

This shampoo worked wonders on Abbys cradle cap and smells sooooooo good.  Again, it was a gift (thanks Cassi!) and one I was a titch skeptical about at first.  But oh my.  How sweet it is.  I would totally splurge on this next time around – even though it is a bit more expensive than what I would normally buy.  Especially since I’m just now running out of the one an only bottle I had – seven months later.  So the little splurge is totally worth it.

Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns

I debated about including this next one (the Beco carrier).  I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite things…but I sure do use it a lot.  And I figured that since it’s one of the things that I find myself continually grabbing for and packing for trips…I had better include it.   

While similar in concept to the sleepy wrap, this carrier can be put on fairly quickly and is a bit more of a traditional carrier.  I looked at all (and I mean all) of the carriers before deciding on the Beco.  What won me over on this one was the fact that the baby can sit forwards, backwards OR on your back…all with the same carrier.  None of the others (the Ergo, bjorn, etc.) can do all three.

I imagine we will use this carrier for several more months, if not even longer.

As an added bonus, the Beco comes in some reallllly cool designs.  I went ahead and got the black one because I thought “oh, the Hubs will be more apt to wear it if it isn’t all trendy and cute.”  Whatever.  He’s worn it once.  So next time I’ll get the cute one like I wanted in the first place.

Beco Baby Carrier  Gemini

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I’m sure you’re wondering where all of the survival stuff for mom is, right?  Well I’m getting to it.  And ladies you are in for a reeeeeaaaal treat, because first up is a lovely nursing bra!

Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

So glamorous.

So necessary.   I tried nursing with a sports bra and trust me,  you don’t want to do it.  It’s almost more annoying that the permanent mono-boob you’ll be sporting. 

Invest in a couple of good nursing bras because you’ll literally be wearing them morning, noon and night.   These Bravado Designs bras are suuuuuper comfortable.  There’s no underwire (which I was slightly nervous about, but read that they’re bad for milk production anyways) and they are actually fairly supportive.   This is important because we all know about nursing mothers and there ta ta’s.   Plus they come in some cute colors.  So you can kind of feel cute in it.   Kind of. 

But bra’s aren’t all I’m recommending for you mom…there’s also this:

Medela Freestyle Breastpump

Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

Again, so glamorous.   (p.s. you may as well forget about anything glamorous for at least the first 6 months to a year after your baby).   Sorry if I’m the one to break that to ya.

All I have to say about this, is that P-U-M-P spells F-R-E-E-D-O-M in my book.  You want it and you’ll need it.  

Buy a pump.  A good one.  This one is sweet because it’s small, portable and runs on batteries.   I can pump anywhere…in the car, at the mall, on the moon.  This is important.  You want other people to be able to feed your baby so you don’t have to be there every 3-4 hours. 

Now. 

Along with good things come bad things.   Here are a few of the duds I’ve come across in this journey.   Maybe you’ve had luck with some of these, and if you have….bravo.   I did not. 

First up, our carseat. 

Gah, I know.  Something as GD important as our carseat makes the crap list.   It’s not that it’s actual crap, per se.   It’s just that I don’t like it.  

Chico Keyfit 30

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

I don’t like how heavy it is (what is it made of?  cement?!).  I don’t like the sunshade (I wish it would tilt forward to shade the sun from the front.  I’m not always walking with her back to the sun for petes sake).   I don’t like that it’s expensive and it seems cheaply made.  And you’re on crack if you think I’m keeping her in there until she’s 30 lbs.

Oh, AND….it’s name is annoying.  Did you know you’re supposed to pronounce it “KEY-KO.”  Lame.  So if you pronounce it like it looks, “CHI-CO” you sound like an idiot.  Thanks.  Not only am I lugging around a 30 lb child in a 20 lb carseat, I also sound like an idiot talking about it.

On the other hand, installation is a cinch and it is rated one of the safest carseats out there.  So at least there’s that.

Next up on the dud list – our sound machine.  God I hate this thing.

First Years Sound Machine

The First Years Sounds For Silence Nursery Sound Machine

First of all, the “six special white noise” options are all pretty much crap.  Unless you think high-pitched screeching sounds are soothing.   Or freaking seagulls chirping during the “ocean” sound.  Really??  Water is soothing.  Seagulls are not. 

AND there are six “Mozart” melodies available, which are basically keyboard-eske melodies that will make moms want to poke their eyes out. 

I don’t recommend it. 

What you need is a sound machine that has good noises, that you can plug in, and that doesn’t have a timer.  You want that sucker to go all night long (that’s what she said).  hee hee.   Sorry. 

If you have a sound machine that you like (and fits the above noted criteria), please let me know.  We are currently getting by with the “heartbeat” sound because it’s the only halfway decent one on there.

Lastly (and I’ll probably get some flack for this one) the baby swing.

Fisher Price Cradle ‘n Swing

Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing

It’s not that I didn’t like it, or like the idea of it….it’s just that Abby never liked it.   She would scream bloody murder in it most of the time.   But I kept trying…Lordy I kept trying.  I probably got her to nap it in three times. 

And then I have friends who swear by this thing….it literally saved their lives

I guess I’m just saying….it wasn’t our gig.   And I kept thinking “oh yeah…I’ve got this swing in my back pocket man.  Whenever I think all hope is lost I’ll just pull my ‘ol swing card and peace will be restored.”   Except it never quite worked like that for us.    It usually made a bad situation worse.   So the swingo was a no-go for us.

So there you have it.   Our list of must-haves for those first terrifying precious months.    I acknowledge that every baby is different; and what worked for me may not work for you.   Here are my biggest pieces of advice: 

  • Don’t go crazy buying stuff the minute you see your two pink lines.  Hold off on buying every baby contraption out there…because you never know what’s going to work for you. 
  • It’s ok to buy stuff AFTER the baby arrives.  You’ll have a better idea of what might work for your munchkin.
  • Borrow what you can.  Many moms are ecstatic to have someone get more use out of their expensive baby items.   And bonus:  if it doesn’t work for you, you didn’t spend any money on it.     
  • Buy used.  I’ve seen soooooo many lightly-used baby items (in great shape) for sale at second-hand stores for kids.  I know this is a tough hurdle  to jump sometimes (you want everything that touches your baby to be sparkly new), but you can save a ton of money if you’re willing to get past it.

In the end?  I strongly believe that less is more when it comes to baby gadgets and the best comfort you can give your baby is her momma.  

Gotta work on those mom arms anyway, right?

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7 comments

  1. Homedics Sound Spa. It does have a timer but decent sounds. I’ve had ours since college. Target or WalMart for like $20. The ocean is just waves, it signals my girls that it’s sleep time. Maybe check Amazon for a non-timer version.

  2. Agree with all…er, most. Luckily for us, both of our babies have loved the swing and both loved to nap in it. Even better, we borrowed it from a friend – our babies seemed to have been staggered apart in age just enough. This was also great for sharing clothes – baby and maternity!
    I hate infant car seats, period.
    The one thing you didn’t mention but was a must for me – video monitor. We have a tiny 1200 s.f. house; however, this momma would be in that nursery every 20 minutes if I didn’t have the ability to see the rise and fall of my baby’s chest. It saved me a lot of crazy-mom-peeking-into-the-nursery trips; which in turn probably saved my husband a lot of sleep too.
    Sound machine? We used the womb bear. Lucy slept to hers until she was a year old and we wore out the battery, now she has a fan in her room. Knox has a fan too and didn’t seem to need the womb bear but we did buy another. On hotel trips and at the lake (when we’re all in the same room) – we use the Relax Melodies iphone app – loved the ocean and can combine sounds as well.
    By the way, I enjoy your blog. Glad your new little family is doing great!

    1. Thanks Lexi! And YES…I WISH we had a video monitor. It’s a royal pain to run upstairs and check on her so much. A video monitor would give me some peace of mind I think: is she dangling by the crib rails again, or just rolling around? haha.

      I also have a fan in her room, and I’m hoping to just switch to using that…but sometimes I think it makes the room to chilly. So who knows. I’m still evaluating some sound machine options. I’ll have to look into the womb bear because we had the sleep sheep at first and I loved it. It was just the darn timer. 45 minutes is not long enough!

      Glad your little family is doing well too!

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