Wednesday, March 10, 2010

5 Things

Someone recently asked a question on a board for mother's that I am a part of wanting to know what were the top five baby items to get. She is a first time mom expecting in a few months and had just returned from a nightmare registry experience at Babies-R-Us. She was hoping to keep her life as minimalistic as possible and with regards to all the baby shrapnel that you could sign up for, she wanted to know what you need to sign up for.

Now, the best response I saw was from a woman who responded (as she put it) unhelpfully by saying:

"The (unhelpful) answer is "it depends." If you have a mellow baby, minimalist is great. If you have a highly fussy baby, you will do anything and everything in your power to try and soothe that baby. I had one of each, and the amount of gear I needed for my mellow baby was almost nothing, and the amount of gear I needed for my fussy baby was substantial... ...just remember later on if you are struggling that the time when they are newborns is finite, and if you need more "stuff" and "plastic" than you ever thought you would want to tolerate, most of it is gone by the time the baby is a year, and if it helps you get through that year, don't be hard on yourself. For example, I thought a wipe warmer was foolish until I had an infant that screamed bloody murder at every diaper change -- but have only used it a handful of times with my second. Just remember, every baby is different and be kind to yourself if and when your needs or desires change when the baby arrives.

This woman is genius and I certainly hope that all new mothers can take her advice to the bank: to not beat yourself up over things not being the way you thought they would be.

So...with THAT are my top 5 (omitting the obvious like diapers, bottles/breastfeeding shrapnel, car seats and co-sleepers/bassinets/cribs because no matter what you choose, you will need them)

#1 - a Moby Wrap or some other type of sling.

Even if you don't intend to be a strict baby-wearer, I recommend having something to carry your baby in while he or she is on you for a thousand reasons not the least of which is you can go to the grocery store and have two hands to do your shopping without having to take up the entire shopping cart with your car seat. Other benefits: people won't get all up in your baby's grill if he/she is snuggled up on your chest...also, if your baby REALLY likes it, you will find it a great way to get them to nap when they are so over stimulated they don't know what to do with themselves. If I had a nickle for every mom I have met who is a generation or more older than me who has commented on how they wish something like a Moby Wrap had been around when they had kids, I would definitely have at least over a dollar :)

#2 - An exercise ball big enough for you to sit on comfortably for hours bouncing your baby

A lot of women get the exercise ball for when they are laboring, and we had every intention of using one but I was in labor so fast and so strongly and so drugged up with Ambien, that they wouldn't let me use it. However, after Little G was born, the ball was a lifesaver for us. I would have had no idea that the ball was useful for anything other than abdominal torture until I went to my first mommy/baby class when Little G was only six weeks old. After the instructor assured us that All Babies Cry (ABC) and to not be self conscious over it, she pointed out the many balls in the room and suggested that if we wanted to soothe a fussy baby to sit on the ball while holding them. I will admit I thought it was a good idea but that it probably would only work for some babies. Uhn uh. No way. I was sooooooooo wrong. Over the course of the next six weeks every baby had his or her moment in class and every one of them got the ball treatment and every one of them settled down. At the peak of Little G's fussy period, around 6-12 weeks old, I used the exercise ball for at least two hours every day waiting for my husband to get home and relieve me. Trust me...the ball is magic!

#3 - Some type of exercise mat with a way to dangle things from above. Now, most people would say that although the exercise mat is a good thing to have, it isn't necessary and I would agree. There are plenty of other ways to stimulate your baby. But my baby was particularly fond of reaching for things and eventually batting at things hanging over his head and could be entertained for very long periods of time (which for a newborn is something like 15 minutes) with the exercise mat dangly item of the day. Now, I would suggest also finding something with a more exciting mat option, maybe with peek-a-boo windows to better entertain during tummy time, but we did survive without it. In any case, unless you want to be the person dangling things over your baby's head for 15 minutes at a time for months at end...get yourself a mat.

#4 - Prefolded cloth diapers

I know what you are thinking...I said I was leaving basic staples like diapers out of this list...but hear me out. You will most likely receive a good amount of burp cloths at your shower or in the first few weeks of your baby's life. Put them aside to use as dust rags and go get yourself some prefolded cloth diapers to use instead. For the most part, those cute burp cloths with the fun little animals on them and cute sayings are worthless. Spit up will just roll right off of them onto whatever you are wearing and that's IF your baby actually hits the target. A lot of those burp cloths are teeny tiny and although your baby might not have head control at first, eventually it will be their skill de jour and you will have to figure out how to aim their head while you are burping them so that they can only spit up on the tiny swath of burp cloth allotted by whoever the devil decided it would be a cost savings to make burp cloths so darn tiny. The prefold diapers, however, are not only large enough to cover your entire shoulder eliminating the dance between parent and child as they swing their head around willy nilly while you try to burp them...but they also are incredibly absorbent...they're diapers after even if it is a large spit up, it won't roll right off the cloth.

#5 - Muslin Swaddling Cloths specifically the ones from Aiden + Anais.
Now, not every baby likes to be swaddled, but if your baby DOES take to it, there is nothing better to swaddle your baby in than these muslin wraps and here is why. They. Are. Huge. So big, that my gigantic 8 month old son who is the size of some small one year olds, still uses his! Other good features are that they are muslin, so in the summer, they are nice and cool, and in the winter, they are just another layer of warmth. Also, they are breathable, so in the chance that your baby breaks the swaddle and wraps it around their head, at least they can breath through the fabric (and no, I am not an expert on this, so don't quote me on it and get me in trouble if someone's kid decides to stuff it down their throat and something bad happens). You will find out quickly that having a larger swaddle blanket makes breaking out of it much harder and therefore, if your baby is a swaddler, you will get that much more sleep. And when you are done using them as swaddle blankets, they are awesome as regular blankets.

So there you top five. I thought long and hard about these rather than just tossing the first five I could think of up there so I hope it is helpful to someone.


  1. This is hilarious to me because we literally have ONE of these- and that was because it was a gift! My MIL got us the cloth diapers (she actually made them) and we love them, nothing soaks up vomit better. Piper hates the swaddle (dang it), and hates the wrap, will NOT reach for things (only with her feet, which is weird) and prefers to lay on her tummy and look around. The balance ball pisses off Woofie, who has broken two of them already. Dang. Then again, if I had to choose my top fives... well. Dang again.

  2. Yes, yes, yes to the advice that every baby differs!!! For example, our kid hated the bouncy chair, tolerated play mats for 10 min at MOST, and only liked her swing for a couple of weeks and even then for a few minutes at a time. But meanwhile other parents swear by those items. It really does depend on the baby's preference.

    Our top 5 would definitely include swaddles (we just used flannel receiving blankets, but I coveted the A&A), sling (we had the peanut shell type, a longer ring sling, AND a front carrier, and each had its benefits), and diapers-as-burp-cloths (though I much prefer the unfolded gauze type).

  3. Oh, musliN, I thought you said musliM and I got all confused. ;)

  4. My kids loved the sling and would promptly settle down if fussy when they were placed in it and more often than not fell quickly to sleep leaving me hands free to tend to our other kids or get a few things done (again, perhaps new moms shouldn’t be focused on chores but someone had to make dinner in my house).

  5. Love this post! Glad to see one of gifts made it on the list *wink, wink* Come to think of it, our top fives are only one item off - not bad. Must be a good list.

    (I traded yoga ball in for recliner and a physical therapist, but that was more for me)