Confession time: Becoming a mom was so difficult for me. I’m a take charge, logical approach, just let me handle it, fixer type person in the professional world. That means precisely squat to your new baby. I’d even argue that kind of attitude actively works against you. Because all they care about is being fed, dry, warm and cuddly every single moment of the day and night. There will be times when you are so exhausted that everything you learned from “What to Expect” and your birthing classes is buried so deep under breast milk, spit up, baby poop, and drool that you have forgotten what those words even mean. All you want is to take a shower, drink some coffee and sleep for 30 glorious minutes without any crying or worrying that your baby stopped breathing because he isn’t crying. That’s why after fifteen solid months as a new mom, I wanted to tell you about all the Mommy Must Haves: First Year Essentials I Couldn’t Live Without. None of them were baby shower gifts. All of them were absolute life savers. Which is why this little guy smiles all the time!
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Priority Number 1: All the Sleep
I can not stress strongly enough the need for both you and your new baby to sleep. It is vital, but also frequently missing from the life of a new mom. There is just not a lot you can do about the fact that your little one needs to eat every two hours for the first month, then every three hours for the next several months. So when you put them down for a nap or “for the night” (aka four hours in the beginning), you want to make sure they drift off to dreamland quickly and safely. The four things that made the dream of sleep a reality in my life are the Miracle Blanket Swaddle, the Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper, the Summer Infant Touchscreen Color Video Baby Monitor, and finally the Zippadee-Zip Wearable Blanket (once he could roll over).
The Miracle Blanket was absolutely necessary for swaddling my baby. He was (and continues to be) a tiny Houdini. I tell myself he will be a great problem solver one day. But before that, he could escape the tightest of swaddles, managing to either unwrap and almost smother himself or smack himself in the head. Both woke him up. Which is why this swaddle really is a miracle. The little flaps kept his arms snug at his sides and kept him from waking up. Ah….bliss. As with every baby, the time came when he was able to roll over, and so I had to graduate him form the Miracle Blanket. I talk about what I switched to and how the transition went in this post.
Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper was essential for those first few months when he woke up every few hours to breastfeed. It sits right next to the bed so you can easily reach or see your baby, but also silently swivels away from the bed so you can easily get up without waking your baby. 🙂
Summer Infant Touchscreen Color Video Baby Monitor allowed me to silently stalk my baby’s every move and sound without disturbing him. Once he moved to his own room and crib, I was panic-stricken by not being able to hover over him while he snoozed away in that cozy Miracle Blanket. But the video monitor allowed me to still analyze every breath, sigh and squirm. I could zoom in and make sure his chest was rising and falling and even see the room’s temperature on the screen. Now that he is up walking (or rather running) back and forth in his crib, I can push the talk button and tell him to settle down. It’s hilarious watching him look around his room while he wonders how I saw him and where that voice came from.
Priority Number 2: All the Schedules
Remember how I regimented I said I was at the beginning? Well, I had to let a lot of that go, but I still managed to keep some too. I am a firm believer that my sanity and my baby were both better served by getting us both on a schedule after the first two weeks. I dealt with some post partum depression, which is nothing to be ashamed of; but having a schedule for feeding, sleeping and play time really helped anchor me in a sea of unknowns. And that anchor was the Kindle version of the Moms On Call book.
They have hour by hour schedules for everything from 2 weeks old to six months, and so much more! Knowing that any weird question I had about a baby was addressed somewhere in the text, and that I could search for terms in the kindle version to find my answer at a moment’s notice was priceless. It’s written by two pediatric nurses with eight children between them, so they talk about everything from belly buttons to bath time to bottles. No judgments and advice for breastfed and bottle fed babies. I didn’t have to call the pediatrician or my own mom ten times a day (unless I wanted to) and I felt confident enough to try things myself. The only advice in this book that didn’t work for us was their swaddle method (see Priority Number 1 again).
Priority Number 3: All the Bibs
Whether your baby is 6 weeks old and starts drooling or 6 months old and starting the first solids, you need all the bibs unless you want to change their clothes ten times a day. I did not.
When my little one started drooling three months before any teeth actually broke the surface, I invested in some cloth bandana bibs. I like these better than the regular round bibs for several reasons: 1. They are adorable; 2. The pointed ends don’t flip up into baby’s face when they move their sweet little arms like the rounded ones; 3. The fleece backing guarantees baby’s chest won’t be sopping wet and develop a rash; 4. The adjustable snaps allow them to wear them well into toddlerhood (16 months and still two more sizes left to go for us) and don’t scratch their little necks like velcro.
However, these cute little cloth numbers will do nothing for you come meal time. You are going to want to go full waterproof and look for one with a scoop at the bottom to catch all the fall out. We love and use the Summer Infant Silicone Rinse and Roll Bibs. They catch everything and keep him clean and dry. And I love that I can just drop them in the dishwasher at the end of the day and it comes out looking brand new and sanitized. And while we are talking about feeding baby and silicone, go ahead and pick up an ez pz silicone placemat and bowl. They suction directly to the table and your kid can’t pick it up and throw their dishes. We just recently found these, but I wish I had them ten months ago!
Priority Number 4:All the Play
Busy babies are happy babies. And busy babies are napping babies! But girl, sometimes you’re going to need to go to the bathroom when it’s not nap time (or fold laundry, or eat a sandwich, or cry over a commercial…trust me, I get it). Before they can roll over and are mobile, that isn’t that hard. Just put them in the pack ‘n’ play for a second and take care of business (pssssttt: I cannot recommend one with a changing station highly enough because we are still using it). But, what happens when they can roll over or crawl, or even walk? You want to keep them not just safe, but busy.
First, get a swing. Just do it. Your baby will want to be held constantly. And as someone who carried her baby a lot in a ring sling, there will still be times when you can’t carry them. I got the Graco Duet Connect Swing, which has a bouncy seat that detaches from the swing. I could strap him into the seat alone and set it up in the bathroom while I washed my hair. He also napped in the swing until about three months old. It was life saver until he could hold his head up all the way.
At that point, he preferred the independence of an exersaucer like the Fisher Price Jumperoo. He could seriously play and jump up and down in that thing for at least 45 minutes before getting bored (or actually tired from the jumping). That’s a really long time in baby world! Plus he was all kinds of ready for a nap at the end of that forty-five minutes.
Once he was pulling up and learning to walk though, the jumperoo lost it’s appeal and we switched to a walker. I chose this Baby Einstein walker because it was cheap, broke down easily, and very narrow (so he wouldn’t get stuck everywhere). It also kept him from climbing every piece of furniture we have.
Well that’s all the Mommy Must Haves that kept me from losing my mind the first year. What did I miss? Anything else you couldn’t live without?