Baby Stuff: Must Haves

As our third child, June really shouldn’t need anything. I saved EVERYTHING from Reese and James’s baby days. Clothes, shoes, toys, bassinets, cribs, rockers, literally everything. When I was pregnant I was determined not to buy anything else, baby stuff has a way of slowly taking over your house until you are drowning in it. And baby instagrams, blogs, and advertisers make you think that you need EVERYTHING! I mean how did the pilgrims ever have all those children without an HD video monitor that could connect to Wifi so they could share snapshots with their friends?? Times were trying.

However, after our first sleepless night in the hospital (June had a marathon night where she was awake and fussing from 11 PM until 5 AM), Andrew and I would have paid any amount of money for any magic sleep suit, dock a kid, miracle bed, whatever! We have softened in our old age and one sleepless night had us Amazon Priming it up at 5:30 AM, in search of some baby sleep trick gimmick.

Since being home, there are a few things that have made these first few weeks easier, and a few that I could not have lived without.

Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

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I know I am late to the party on this one, but this thing has been saving us at night. We got a hand me down rock and play from my sister and June has slept in it almost every night since we got home. She sleeps so much better in this than in the co-sleeper that we have. The co-sleeper was initially attractive to me because it kept the baby close to me and was also recommended for moms who had c-sections because you wouldn’t have to get out of the bed to get the baby. I didn’t find it easier though, I still had to completely sit up then kneel and reach into the bassinet to get her and lift her out. It was an awkward motion and after the first night I was in pain from all the moving. I don’t know if it was just our bed, but the sleeper never lined up directly with our bed, so I couldn’t just roll the baby into my bed and feed her, which is what I had imagined. The downside of the rock and play is that I did have to get completely out of bed to get the baby when she woke, but it cradled her, and she wasn’t just lying flat on a firm mattress like in a crib or bassinet. June loves it, and right now, she sleeps for 3 and sometimes even 4 hour stretches in it at night. I wish I had had this for Reese and James!

Swaddle Me Blankets
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I have used these with all of my kids and they are the best, especially in the first few weeks when the babies are itty bitty and still craving that womb-like feeling. Having their hands cuddled inside stopped their startle reflex from constantly waking them, and since you can’t use blankets, I never had to worry about them being cold. Also, the SwaddleMe brand was my favorite because the newborn sizes fit June perfectly and they never creep up around her face and mouth like some of the other brands do.

Reusable Nursing Pads
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I love reusable things. With the first two kids, I used disposable nursing pads, which were fine, but if I ran out of them I was screwed would have to stuff toilet paper in my bra all day long. I also hated how fast I went through them. This time I tried some organic bamboo nursing pads that I found on Amazon and I LOVE them. They are super absorbent and soft, you can wear them longer than the disposable ones and you can use them over and over. They are a little more bulky, so sometimes they can show through a thinner bra and shirt, but for the most part I love these. They are machine washable (I just throw them in with our regular laundry) and even come with a washing bag so they don’t get lost in the black holes that are my washer and dryer.

If You’re Nursing, A Good Pump
normalInsurance will now give you a free breast pump (holler!) but I still use the one that I got when Reese was born, the Medela Freestyle. My insurance didn’t provide a pump when Reese was born, but I was working at the time, pumping three times a day, and needed something that was easy. I bought the Freestyle and I don’t think I could have lasted a year of breastfeeding without it. It’s hands-free so I could continue working while I was pumping and the pump itself is small enough to hold in one hand and walk around with if needed. The battery life is long, so you aren’t tied to a plug the whole time you’re pumping, and the bag and cooler that are provided are small and make transporting everything easy. When I had James I got the free pump that insurance provided but ended up donating it because I just continued to use the Freestyle. This time, after hearing that my pump was 5 years old the nurses at the hospital basically insisted that I get a new one through insurance. The Freestyle isn’t covered completely, so you still have to pay out-of-pocket for a portion of it (I’m not exactly sure how much.) But because of that, I just got one that was free, the Medela Pump in Style. I still prefer the Freestyle though and continue to use it, and after two years of pumping it still works great. If you are working and planning on breastfeeding I would definitely recommend paying more for the Freestyle; the bag, the hands-free option and the small size make everything SO much easier. If you won’t need something every day, I would just use the free one through insurance; the Pump In Style gets the job done it’s just harder to tote around and doesn’t come with a bag to carry all that crap in.

Little Bird Creations

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April from Little Bird Creations sent me this adorable bundle of hand sewn bandana bibs, feeding bibs and a changing pad.

The first thing that surprised me about these bibs was the quality. Because the bibs are pretty affordable, I was expecting a cheapie bib that wouldn’t wash well, couldn’t handle much wear, and was mainly a fashion accessory. Not the case here! The bibs are incredibly soft and that softness held through the wash. They are also thick and handled James’s out of control drooling (teething) all day. No more cold, wet ring around the neck of all of his shirts! And they looked pretty cute too.

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The bibs are customizable so you can choose the fabric, the pattern, and the type of closure that you want. Yay for snap closures that James can’t rip off himself and throw on the grocery store floor! The pattern choices are my favorite part. All the patterns  at Little Bird are adorable, but I love that there are a lot of gender neutral options. Take it from someone who didn’t find out the sex of either of her babies, gender neutral stuff is hard to find.

The changing pad was another great surprise, because it was better than the thin, crappy one that came with my diaper bag. I had actually ruined that one when I tried to wash it (yes, they gave me a changing pad that was not washable.) It has enough padding so baby is comfortable when you lay him down on those public restroom changing tables, its washable (!) and it is pretty friggin’ cute. Also, it can be rolled up so it doesn’t take up my whole bag.

I can’t say enough about how much I liked my Little Bird creations. Anything from the shop would make a great gift, and you wouldn’t have to feel ridiculous about how much you were spending on a baby’s bib.

Also there is this, which I just saw and now feel that I need for Reese. Girlfriend would lose her mind for a mermaid tail.

Here is Jamesie killin’ it in some of our samples

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*I was not compensated for this review but did receive free products from Little Bird Creations.

 

GooseWaddle Blanket Review

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Before Mr. James was born I received an email from a rep at GooseWaddle asking me to write a product review of their baby blankets.  As much as I like reading reviews on other blogs, it wasn’t something I originally wanted to do in this space; but the allure of free stuff has won me over.

GooseWaddle sent me a gift set that included a full-sized baby blanket, a baby blankie (we call these “lovies”, those little squares of fabric lined with satin that babies looooove) and a bonus bespectacled toy goose (hilarious.)

I wasn’t expecting to be super impressed by a baby blanket, but we LOVE this one. The blanket is incredibly soft and fluffy and James spent many of his first days wrapped up in it with just his diaper on.  Even after washing it has remained like new. It’s warm and thick so it was ideal for the March weather when we were bringing James home from the hospital, and even now we use it for tummy time and playtime on the floor.  I can’t say I ‘d mind being swaddled in this blanket myself.

The entire gift set goes for $105 and the blanket alone is $65 and comes in a choice of blue, pink or white. When I placed my order James hadn’t been born yet so I went with a neutral white and somehow it is still white.

These blankets aren’t cheap and I probably wouldn’t spend this kind of money on a blanket for myself, but that is what makes it a nice gift for new parents. It comes adorably packaged, and for every blanket purchased GooseSwaddle donates a blanket to a child in need. That makes us happy.

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GooseWaddle provided me with a  complimentary gift set but the views expressed here are my own and I was not paid for this post. I promise I wouldn’t take the time to write a post about something I thought was crappy.

Our Fav New Toy

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Growing up, one of our most beloved toys was the play kitchen in our basement. It had a mini fridge and a sink with a red checkered “backsplash” complete with a picture of a window and outdoor scenery. It was the focal point for many games of “house” and “restaurant” and it’s still the first thing that comes to mind when I picture our childhood playroom in the basement of my parents’ house.  So when my parents asked if they could get Reese a play kitchen for her first birthday, we were all excited.

We chose the Melissa & Doug Cook’s Corner  play kitchen. The kitchen is wooden, which I wanted, and is one of the smaller sets I found, which is also good for us because we don’t have a ton of room. It was delivered to us back in October but I didn’t get around to assembling it until a few weeks ago.  I am taking full advantage of procrastination while I still can.

The assembly was a biatch but somehow I put the whole thing together myself (almost.) After incorrectly attaching them (twice), I sought help from Andrew in putting the hinges on the oven and refrigerator doors.

So far, Reese is having a ball opening the doors and putting rando stuff inside  the “oven” and “refrigerator” (her shoes and socks, blocks, her bowl etc.) Turning the oven and stove knobs, setting the timer (then forgetting it is on and crying when it goes off) are also exciting new activities.

Like most sane people, I think she still prefers the real fridge to the toy fridge (she loves taking the condiments out of the bottom shelf on the refrigerator door) but I know as she gets older she’ll get more into it.

In the pictures above the kitchen is shown in our living room, but it now sits in the corner of our kitchen so Reese can “cook” in the proper setting. I am not one to comment on other people’s ideas of cooking, but I do know that it shouldn’t involve roasting your sippy cup or boiling your socks, so I think we still have some work to do.

Bum Genius Cloth Diaper Review

Sadly, I am not really a “green” person. I love paper towels and use them much too often, I didn’t start recycling until I first lived with Andrew and he made me, I prefer AC to windows and I almost always prefer driving to walking.

Don’t judge.

Despite the fact that my daily life would probably make most environmentally conscious folks cringe, I am a huge fan of cloth diapers. My motivation for cloth diapering was more economical than environmental, but it is still a nice little bonus to know that we are not contributing to the billions of pounds of diaper trash that sit in landfills each year.

Originally, I was skeptical about this business. I pictured the saggy looking cloth diapers I remember my little sister wearing, which consisted of giant pins (for real) and a rag, and I wasn’t feeling it.  After doing some research and seeing my sister cloth diaper her little one, I found that for me, the pros (saving $, better for baby’s skin, never having to worry about not having diapers etc.) outweighed the cons (more work on our part, and literally, more poop on our hands.)

A few months before Reese was due I added bumGenius 4.0 One-Size Cloth Diapers to my shower gift registry. I was attracted to these diapers because they were one-size-fits-all so I could use them from birth until she was potty trained, thanks to the adjustable snaps. I’ll have to see how well they hold up but I hope to use them for future children as well.

Here they are.

And these are the inserts that come with them, a newborn insert and a regular sized insert. These get stuffed into the pocket at the back of the diap. At night we use both inserts, but during the day the regular sized insert works fine.

These bad boys aren’t cheap at $17 a pop (diapers.com) but when I decided that I was going to do this, I was committed.  I made up my mind made up that we would not be using disposables at home if we could help it.

I received about 10 diapers as gifts and bought seven more on my own. The website recommends having 24 diapers for one baby, but that is crazy expensive and in my opinion, definitely not necessary. With 17 diapers, we have to wash them about every other day in order to assure that she always has a clean diap.

Reese has been wearing these diapers for about a year now and overall we are very happy with them and with the cloth diapering process in general. However, there are definitely some things to think about before making the investment.

Things to Consider

I must confess that I get a LOT of help with the diaper laundering and I know it would be much more difficult to do on my own, so that is something for moms to consider. My mother-in-law washes, folds and puts away the diapers every other day while she is home with Reese so we just have to take care of them Fri-Sunday. The washing process includes a pre-rinse, a wash and then dry in the dryer. I will say that the directions recommend that the covers be line dried but I only do this when time permits, which is pretty much never. Directions also recommend two rinse cycles, one before the wash and one after. I have found that one rinse cycle in the beginning is fine.

When we travel I usually use disposable diapers. It is easier to be able to throw away a dirty diap than to carry it around in your bag all day.

Snaps > velcro. The velcro takes a beating in the wash.

Cloth diapers are extra bulky and they make Reese look like she has a mayjah booty. I think it’s cute but it’s something to consider when buying baby clothes; sometimes she busts out of the pajamas that button from foot to crotch if they aren’t one size bigger.

This part is kind of gross.

We have a diaper sprayer that attaches to the side of our toilet. We use this to spray off the poop diapers after we dump the poop in the toilet. I know this sounds crazy, but it helps with keeping the diapers clean. I have noticed a few times when the diapers weren’t sprayed that the poop stains didn’t come out as well.

Isn’t it beautiful?

$$$. Word is that most people spend $1500-$2000 on diapers for one child before he/she is potty trained. Thus far we have spent (even though some were gifts, I’ll just assume we bought all of our diapers) $289 on diapers. I’m not going to lie and say I actually went back and checked our electric and water bills to see how much they increased since we started cloth diapering, but I will tell you that I pay those bills and I haven’t noticed a major change.

In short, we’re giving them two thumbs up.

Fenugreek Review

In just about three months my little Reesie pants will hit a major milestone. She will turn one year old!

With the first birthday will come a change that has been on my mind for a while now.

Weaning.

After almost 10 months of nursing, Reese is slowly starting to nurse less and eat solids more. Can you blame her? She knows whats good.  

Because she is nursing so little lately, my milk supply has slowly been decreasing. She still needs some milk while I am at work Monday-Thursday (I work from home on Fridays) and some days I don’t pump enough for her to have the following day.

I wanted to continue exclusively breastfeeding until her first birthday, so after some research I decided to try the Fenugreek supplements. Supposably (just kidding) Supposedly, the Fenugreek seed  increases milk supply, so I picked up a bottle of Fenugreek capsules at Whole Foods (100 pills for $8.99.)

Here’s the verdict.

Effectiveness: It works.I saw an increase in supply in about 3 days; although it was not as much as I had expected. I have been getting about 1 oz more per pumping session. I’m satisfied with this. At this point, Reese is not drinking that much milk so every little bit counts.

Dosage: I took 2 pills (610 mg each) three times a day with meals. Doesn’t that seem like a ton?? It’s the suggested dosage on the bottle.  KellyMom says that studies showed no difference in a mother’s milk supply unless at least 3500 mg of Fenugreek a day is taken, so I guess this is a good amount. FYI bottle says these are not safe to take if prego.

Side Effects: I haven’t experienced any side effects except for smelling like maple syrup (surprisingly, not necessarily in a good way.) Reese’s diaper even smelled like maple syrup when I took it off of her the other morning. Ha!

Overall I would recommend it if you need a boost. Although I didn’t see a huge difference , there definitely was some increase, and it helped catch me up on my supply a little bit.

Next up: The dreaded weaning from the pacifier.  We’re a little nervous about this one.