As a first time mom, I was bombarded with “must have items”, and since I’d never been a parent before, I really had no clue. So we bought lots of stuff! And we bought the WRONG stuff!! So, we didn’t use half of it. Maybe even three quarters didn’t get used – or it got used once. What a waste of time and money!
These are my MUST have items. This list does not include furniture. In fact, everything on it is portable, and 80% of it will fit right in your diaper bag. It also doesn’t include things like diapers, clothing, wipes, etc. These are the: it’s 3 am, and my baby won’t sleep, and if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m going to cry items. Also know as, the “My mom is a saint, and she’s going to take my baby so I can get three hours of sleep” list.
We didn’t have a Sophie with my first baby. There was NO way this frugal Mama was going to pay $20 or $30 for a teether. It just wasn’t going to happen. Instead, we went through about 15 different teethers, all costing between $3-6 each (so at least $45), and she hated them all. They were too heavy, they didn’t fit in her mouth, they were hard for her to grasp. With my second child, we started with a Sophie. I’d had about 15 friends recommend this silly little giraffe to me, and when my baby started popping teeth out 4 at a time at 4 months old, I knew he needed something (that wasn’t me!) to chew on. He LOVED Sophie. I loved Sophie. My daughter loved Sophie! Here’s why:
- She’s Light… Weighing in at about 3 ounces Sophie is among the lightest teether on the market!
- She’s got LOTS of places to chew. I thought the favorite would be the legs, but my son really liked chewing on her nose and ears when he was getting his front teeth. As he got more in the back, the legs because popular. The giraffe hiney was also a favorite spot
- She’s SUPER easy to clean. Run her under warm water with a little dish soap and she’s clean (just be sure to cover the squeaker hole, so it doesn’t get water in it). You can also just wipe her down with a alcohol wipe if you are wanting to sanitize.
Okay, I know when I say womb bear, you’re like… Huh? So, it’s this bear. And when turned on (with it’s LOVELY volume control knob) it plays the same sound your baby hears in the womb. And it automatically turns off after 40 minutes. It has a strap at the back of his neck that attaches to your crib (or changing table as your baby starts to roll over) so he won’t get accidentally moved and become a choking hazard. This is another item we didn’t have with my first, but did with my second. This bear helps get your little one to sleep faster, and helps drown out other noises so they stay asleep longer! I would suggest investing in a set of rechargeable batteries. Ours took three AA Batteries, and when our little guy was doing 2-3 naps a day, they would only last about a week. So, buy at least 6 rechargeable batteries (let’s be honest, you’re going to find more places to use them!), and have one set charged, while the other is in use.
So the Rock and Play sleeper. They didn’t make these when my first baby came along, and I wasn’t really sure until I saw one in action. They. Are. Awesome. A magnificent hybrid of baby bassinet, baby bouncer, and almost a swing all in one compact little machine. It folds up to easily slide under a bed, or fit in the trunk of a car to make for easy travel. It’s easy to carry with one hand and folds up quickly with a simple press of the two buttons. It only weighs about 8 lbs, so it’s super easy for recovering mom’s to take with them as they go about their day.
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be VentAire. However if you are blessed enough (and I do consider it a blessing… the extra time cuddling, the bonding you get when you finally get them to sleep, the pure joy when they finally grow out of it… It stunk going through it, but looking back I sure did love those snuggles) to experience colic with your babies (like we did with both of ours) these. are. amazing. We tried a TON of bottles. And really, these were the best. They have a couple more pieces to them than most bottles, and it really does make all the difference. The base of the bottle comes off, and it has several holes in it to let air escape. To keep the milk in, it’s got an ingenious little gasket at the bottom that only lets air out, not formula or breast milk. They also have a nipple that helps promote switching from breast to bottle. The angle of the bottle helps support breast feeding as well (you can hold the baby the same way you do while nursing). When you combine this bottle with a couple of other tricks (have your baby sleep in a more upright position like the Rock and Play sleeper puts them in, make sure your baby is upright for about 20 minutes after being feed (see the newborn lounger below) or you can have snuggle/play time) you can really help your colicky baby!
Lavender is amazing. There are literally hundreds of uses for it. But when your baby won’t sleep, there simply isn’t anything that matches it. Two or three drops in a warm bath will calm that sweet baby right down. If that doesn’t get them all the way ready for bed, you can put a drop in some fractionated (fancy word for the liquid form) coconut oil, and rub it on their feet, or diffuse it in the room before you take them to bed (I would just turn the diffuser on while you are bathing your baby, and turn it off when you are done). Besides helping get your baby to sleep, there are tons of wonderful things lavender does! It’s great for helping heal minor cuts, burns, and scrapes. It helps ease muscle tension in mama (great for after a long day of cuddling/carrying your munchkin!) . You can even use it along the outer jawline to help with teething pain! Please, please be careful with where you buy essential oils. We highly recommend DoTerra. They have a proven safety record, and we trust their quality and pureness level. Especially when using oils around or on your baby, you want to be 100% sure. And we are with DoTerra.
Have you seen the Happiest Baby on the Block movie yet? I got it free when I toured a local hospital. The lesson they teach in the movie is AMAZING. He goes through the 5 S’s… Swaddle, Side, Shush, Sway, and Suck. The swaddle is amazing… You wrap your baby up until your sweet bundle of joy imitates a burrito instead of a baby. There’s a knack for getting the swaddling blankets to stay tucked, and I could never get it done. Enter Swaddles. They do everything a swaddling blanket does, but they do it with Velcro! That means you can get it really secure, and not worry about it loosening up while your babe is sleeping. We tried a few of them, and LOVE the Summer Infant Swaddle Me brand. We found them easiest to use (some were so complicated we never could figure them out)! You simply put the baby on the open swaddle, lining their neck up with the top of the swaddle. Then tuck their feet in the pouch, and bring up the middle piece, and open up the Velcro tab. Then tug the side without tabs over your baby’s arm, and tuck it around their back. The Velcro tab in the middle will catch the back of the flap and hold on. Then you take the side with the 2 tabs on it, and wrap it around the other way, and they catch on the special fabric on the other “sleeve”. It takes about 25 seconds :). The three pack is for sure the way to go (you save about $3 each), and unless they spit up on them they can be used for 2-3 days in a row before they stretch out enough that they need to be washed. We got 3 of the 3 packs, and left one in the diaper bag (they are specially designed to work WITH your carseat to buckle baby in! That’s what the hole in the tush area is for!) and gave one to each Grandma.
I get tons of compliments on my son’s necklace. A few weird looks, but most say it makes him look like a surfer. I LOVE that it gives me a chance to talk about what it is, and why I love it. Yep, it’s totally cute, and he looks awesome in it, but it’s called a Baltic Amber Teething necklace, and it helps relieve pain, swelling and soreness associated with breaking in new teeth (or anything else! They make them in adult sizes too!) There is a little controversy with these… some people say they are a lot of whooey. I can only tell you what I know. With my first child (and no necklace), every tooth brought an ear infection. Every tooth brought insane drooling. Every tooth brought lack of appetite, and general discomfort. She was so sad when she got a tooth (actually teeth, because my kids both spring forth 4 teeth in a week… every time!) With my son, there was never an ear infection, no noticeable drooling, his appetite didn’t change, and he didn’t act cranky or out of sorts. He might have noticed he was getting a new tooth, but he didn’t care. It didn’t phase him at all. Now, I know every child is different, and they might simply react differently to teething, but to me, it was totally worth it. We actually replaced his necklace 4 times. Not because of it malfunctioning (they are actually really safe if you buy them from the right source), but because my daughter loved it, and took it off him all the time (you know… helping!). Once at the park, and then she dropped it, once at the zoo, once in the back yard (our lawnmower found it) and once somewhere in the great beyond. But we could tell a difference when he wasn’t wearing it, so we got a new one! Some people take it off at night. We kept my son’s crib clear of toys and blankets, so choking was never an issue. If you decide to take it off at night, I suggest wrapping it around their ankle 2-3 times, and putting their jammies over it. They won’t be able to choke on it, and it’ll still provide some help, although for it to be the most effective, it needs to be close to where the pain is.
Both of my babies had acid reflux. With my daughter, my doc gave her a prescription, we added some natural stuff like liquid aloe vera, and lived with it. It meant 2 bottles a day (because the prescription had to be given diluted), and it was miserable. So, when we faced it again with my son, we knew we didn’t want to do that. So, we talked to our doctor to see what he thought. Now, admittedly, we do have the most awesome doctor in the whole world. He sees 4 generations of my family, and believes in natural cures over prescription ones. But when we said we wanted to try to combat it without medications, he was okay with it (with close monitoring, of course!) So, he recommended a special bottle (you read about it above) and something he called baby propping. That means for 20 minutes after feeding the baby needed to be sitting up. Okay. We can do that. Except we couldn’t. My milk supply was fading fast because I had some seriously complications from my emergency c-section, and had several surgeries, and it just couldn’t keep up. So with trying to get my supply back (a normal feeding session included nursing him, feeding him a bottle, and pumping) and then I had to hold him for 20 minutes. It was about a 90 to 120 minute process, and it happened every three hours. So I was getting about an hour of sleep before it started all over. So my doc recommend this pillow. It props him up at the correct angle, and until he started rolling over he was safe to sleep in it! (When that started, we upgraded to the Rock and Play!) He could sleep in the pillow (be sure to check with your doc, he had very specific safety instructions for us), and I could get a few extra minutes of sleep. It was also GREAT for putting him down on the floor in. I brought it with me everywhere, and even though the place where I was at might not have had clean floors, his lounger was clean! It even doubled as a changing table a few times!
There are so many reasons why I love my Carseat Canopy. But here are my two biggest: It kept the creepy strangers from touching my baby. I don’t know what it is about people thinking that they can just walk to to a baby they don’t know and start squishing cheeks, but seriously. It’s horrible. I don’t know anything about them, what they’ve touched, if they washed their hands after using the restroom, anything! And two: It kept my baby out of the elements. In the winter, it helped bring from warm house to warm car with minimal issues (did you know your baby isn’t supposed to wear a coat in their carseat? It stops the carseat from being as effective as it should). In the spring it kept him from getting wet, and in the summer it provided some much needed shade! You can read more about why we love them, and how to get it for FREE (you do have to pay shipping), right here!
Much like the Sophie Teether, as a first time mom, I scoffed at the idea of spending between $10-$20 on a pacifier. Oh man, if I had only known!! It’s a pacifier, attached to a plush animal of your choosing (there are 15 choices on the market right now, and they add more, and have stock in older ones all the time). Babies have a hard time finding their pacifier. With a stuffed animal attached to the end of it, it’s a LOT easier. They have an easier time grabbing it when it falls out, and learn how to put it back much quicker than with a regular pacifier. Plus, and this is the big one, it’s SO MUCH easier to find!!! It hasn’t disappeared into the recess of the car floor, or hidden itself behind the crib. There’s a good sized animal attached to it, and that makes it SUPER easy to find! The added weight of the stuffed animal is comforting to them!
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