The other day my friend Pam asked me, now that I’m a mother, what gift I would give at a baby shower. We have a couple of friends that are preggers, so the question has been weighing on my mind, and I decided to compile a list of the items I’ve found essential for the first 6 weeks.
This is the answer I gave Pam for what gift I would give. Forest always sleeps swaddled, otherwise, his uncontrollable flailing arms would invariably wake him up. Also, as a hyper-alert newborn, keeping him swaddled helps to wind him down and keep him calm in preparation for naptime or nighttime sleep. We’ve tried just swaddling him with swaddle cloths, but our technique was awful, probably because he’s such a squirmy lad, and he would break his arms out in no time.
|I can admit it. I am the worst swaddler ever.|
The Halo sleep sacks take the guesswork out of swaddling and make keeping him snug and secure much easier. Plus, the fleece ones keep him warm and toasty in our drafty granite house.
2) Infacol, Gripe Water, and Infant Tylenol.
We give Forest Infacol Gas Drops before every meal. Luckily, my friend Talia and my Aunt Kim (both in the medical field) gave me a supply of these at my gender reveal party so I had them ready to go when tummy issues started to be a problem for our little guy. Things have gone much smoother since we started giving him these drops to combat those nasty gas bubbles. My friend Kristin also dropped off a bottle of gripe water shortly after Forest was born. These give gas that extra kick in the pants when Infacol doesn’t cut it. They are also great for zapping hiccups. As for Tylenol, this is just good to have on hand. We’ve had to use it in dire situations once or twice late at night, and it’s not something you want to have to run to the store for in those last-resort moments.
When I was shopping for baby boy at Target on a home visit, a lady with a young boy came up to me and told me I HAD TO buy this cradle.
She said her son slept in it for the first few weeks and because it was set on a slight incline, it was great for easing his colic. I’m so glad I took her advice and snagged one. I’m a bit ashamed to say that my 6 week old is still not sleeping in his crib. We got the rock n’ play for him to sleep in for the first week and then to use for the occasional nap. However, we discovered that he slept much more soundly in his rocker than his crib, and was even able to resettle himself and fall back asleep in his cradle, whereas if he woke up at 1:30 AM in his crib, he would need for me to come in and console him before he would go back to sleep.
So, for now, he’s still sleeping in his cradle. Sleep trumps all, y’all. Maybe it’s creating bad habits, but Forest is a bad sleeper as it is. For now, it’s survival mode and we will cross whatever sleep training bridges as they come. This has also been a great buy (...gift, actually. Thanks Mom!) because it’s very portable so I can move it into different rooms as a I need to throughout the day.
My friend Jill recommended this to us, and I’m so glad she did. This was a life saver in settling Forest down during our hospital stay.
When he has trouble napping, I can usually turn this on for 10 minutes and he will either drift off or else be easier to settle afterward. He has already started reaching for it, and once he’s a bit older, he’ll be able to turn it on himself which will be a great self-soothing tool.
5) Breast Pump
I use the Medela In Style electric pump and my friend Eileen let me borrow her Medela Harmony hand pump for those late night engorgement occasions.
Either way, pumping has been invaluable. Jonathan gives Forest his bedtime bottle of expressed milk which gives me time to drink a cuppa tea and relax without being on breastfeeding duty. It also allows me to occasionally pop out for a spell, whether that be to play mahjong or go to book club.
I’m still not totally back in the social swing of things, but it’s nice to come up for air every once in a while, and the breast pump gives me the freedom to do this. A supportive husband helps as well…
This was another borrow from my friend Eileen, and thank heavens for it! When the bugger just won’t nap, this usually keeps him settled for 45 minutes or so while I eat breakfast, take a shower, do housework, write blog posts, etc. About 50% of the time he’ll even drift off to sleep which is an added bonus. I’ll be sad when he outgrows this life saver!
We have a bouncy/vibrating seat in the same line. He doesn’t usually sleep in it, but it will keep him entertained for a spell and keep the crying at bay.
7) White noise. We could not survive without white noise. It helps to lull him to sleep and also helps to block out any noise that we or the dogs might make throughout the house during naptimes. We have several different apparatuses to keep a constant hum around Forest during sleepy time. Mainly we use an app called ‘Baby Sleep’ which features sound effects such as a hair dryer, vacuum, and dryer. We plug in an old ipod into some speakers and keep it in his room. We also have a sound machine. And these portable Cloud B sleep animals are great for the stroller and car seat.
Right now we have the Sleep Sheep and Gentle Giraffe. This Nighty Night Owl even has a sensor in it that automatically turns it on in the night if the baby wakes up. Santa might be bringing it for Forest’s stocking this year...
This diaper rash ointment clears any irritation right up, and usually keeps severe rashes at bay. It’s a staple at our changing station. Plus, it always makes me smile and think of Louisiana.
When we first started giving Forest a bottle, we just gave him the standard Medela one that came with the pump. I had no idea that there was such variety in bottles and nipples as far as flow and air control. Forest had a few colic episodes directly after taking a bottle which had us really discouraged. I reached out to the AWA Mom and Tots group here in Aberdeen and they suggested a few bottles that are specifically designed to reduce colic and nipples designed with newborns in mind. We bought one of each, but stopped experimenting after using the Tommee Tippee because it worked so well that we didn't want to take a risk in switching it up. Don't fix it if it's not broken and what not.
Another loaner from Eileen, this has made breast feeding so much more comfortable. And it's not exclusively for breast feeding. Jonathan uses it every time he bottle feeds as well.
It's just nice to have a little shelf to keep Forest steady while we feed him.
Speaking of breast-feeding, I couldn't have made it this long without Lansinoh Lanolin nipple cream. In fact, my first parenting panic attack came when I discovered I had left my tube in the NICU after Forest had been discharged to the recovery ward and therefore had to feed him without applying this soothing ointment first. I asked the midwives to bring me some and instead they brought me hemorrhoid cream???? They are lucky I read the bottle before simply applying it. That could have been very bad for baby boy. I still can't believe they don't keep nipple cream on hand. Their advice was to hand express milk and rub it on myself. Um, ain't nobody got time for that.
Anyways, I'm sure you've heard, breastfeeding can be very painful in the initial weeks as your nipples get used to taking a pounding. Our little guy has a tongue tie which makes things even more complicated. 7 weeks in and I'm still cringing every time he latches on. I cannot even imagine having to feed him without this stuff. If you are an expectant momma planning to breast feed, I suggest you stock your nursing station with a few tubes of this.
12) AA Batteries. Just because a lot of the aforementioned items require them, so it's good to have a good stock pile, lest your go-to musical seahorse lose it's juice just when you need it the most.
There are a ton of other things that we use on an occasional basis, but these are our go-to daily items that have helped us keep our heads above water with this whole parenting a newborn business. I’ll try to do a similar blog post every 6 weeks or so to try to keep track of what items are essential for each stage. Of course, every baby is super different, so what (sorta) works with Forest, may be a total waste on someone else’s kid. But still, I appreciated it when other momma’s gave me tips about their bag of tricks, so I’m paying it forward by passing mine along. Are there any things you would add to the list? Anything I should stock my house with for the next few weeks/months?