Remember back when I posted about my New-Mama Must Haves? Now looking back I want to laugh at that list! Those first few weeks were pretty bare when it came to the "essentials." In fact, in that post I actually wrote "Thankfully baby boy seems pretty low maintenance right now." Bahahahahaha
Who knew that in just a few short weeks after writing that, our house would become infiltrated with baby gear that I always said we'd never have any use for.
Now that William is almost six months old (how in the WORLD did that happen, by the way?!?!), and the new-mama rose colored glasses have officially been removed, I can more accurately tell you these have been (and still are!) our lifesavers when it comes to new parenting.
I really wish someone would have compiled one of these lists for me when I was pregnant, so I do hope this is helpful for you (or anyone you know that might be pregnant - lots of great gift ideas on here!).
We'll start in the sleep department, because goodness knows that truly is the most important thing when you're a new parent!
1. On Becoming Babywise - I am forever indebted to my friend Lara for suggesting I read Babywise when I was pregnant. I know there are many different parenting methods out there, but this is the one that has worked the best for us. We love that the authors are Christian and that their entire premise is that a strong and happy marriage is the most important relationship in the family unit. I also love the scheduling aspect of it and attribute that to the reason why William sleeps so well at night and hardly ever cries. Naps are a totally different story, however. Let's move on. ;)
2. Swaddling - Our little Houdini could break out of every. single. swaddle we tried. That is, until we found the "Double Swaddle Method" (you can watch the video here). We did this by buying cheap muslin fabric from JoAnn's (instead of those ridiculously overpriced muslin blankets), and we bought the Halo Sleep Sack/Swaddle for the top layer. The best thing about this was that we swaddled William using this method until he was about 4.5 months old and then we started unswaddling him, but we still use the Sleep Sack (just without the swaddle piece) to keep him warm at night. This way, you're not buying 1,257 swaddles - all you need is the one!
3. Bedtime Routine - William knows when we break out Goodnight Moon that bed time is coming. We established a bedtime routine early on with him, and I really think it helped him learn the difference between daytime/nighttime (along with the scheduling aspect I mentioned in #1). Your bedtime routine doesn't have to be long (and you also want to make sure it's easy so that you can do it anywhere) - ours is a diaper change, into pj's and sleep sack, read Goodnight Moon, bottle and then straight to bed. Easy Peasy.
4. White Noise - we live in a tiny house on a busy road. We also have hardwood floors and hallow walls. Basically, you can hear everything. I wanted William to get used to sleeping with noise, but I also wanted him to sleep, so we have loud white noise in his room during naptime and nighttime. At first, we used a simple boombox set on an AM static station. But, it's not the most portable thing so we invested in a cheap white noise machine from Target. This one is loud enough to do the trick and it's small enough to carry with you on trips. The funny thing is, I can hear it over the baby monitor and it actually helps me sleep now. I love the sound of it at nighttime! :)
5. Baby Swing - this thing has been a lifesaver!! I posted two swings because the portable one is the one we had for the longest time (it was small and perfect for what we needed), but William outgrew it so we got the larger one in the same brand. This is perfect for days when we've been out past William's naptime and he's a bit overtired, or when he had his "sensitive hour" during those newborn months.
Now onto hygiene . . .
1. Huggies Sensitive Wipes - some folks don't really have a preference when it comes to wipes, but we found that any baby wipes containing alcohol (which is a lot of them in case you were wondering), always gave William a really bad diaper rash. These Huggies Sensitive ones have been the best (and cheapest) we've found. We buy them in bulk from BJ's.
2. Cetaphil Lotion - forget spending money on Johnson's baby products, just buy this stuff! When William was having dry skin (thanks to all this chilly northern weather), we asked our Dr. which products he recommended and he said to simply use a Dove Bar and Cetaphil Lotion for baths. We've been doing this for about a month and William has the softest skin along with no more dry patches!
3. Dove Sensitive Skin Bars - (see #2 above). The best part about buying these is that this is the exact same soap Nathan and I use in the shower, so we don't have to buy tons of extra bathing stuff for the baby!
4. Baby Washcloths - I don't really know why, but we use these a lot. From bathing, to wiping William's face off after eating solid foods, to cleaning him off, we go through so many rags! Buy a bunch - you will need them!
5. Solid Food Bibs - you'll need a separate stash of bibs for feeding solids, and these are the ones we just purchased. I just tried them out yesterday and LOVE them! They are adjustable around the neck so you never have to worry about them being too big/small, and they clean up easily. Prior to these, I bought a cheap pack of plastic/cloth bibs from Walmart and I was disappointed. They started stinking really badly no matter how many times I washed them, so I definitely recommend splurging on some quality bibs for feeding solids.
6. Cloth Bibs - we got so many bibs as shower presents and I never thought we'd use them all! Guess what? We use them all. In fact, some days I have to do laundry in order to get a clean one. We didn't really use them for the first 3-ish months, but now that baby boy is drooling like crazy we go through at least 4/day!
7. Homemade Burp Cloths - if you have a friend, relative, neighbor, or anyone you know that sews, commission them to make you some homemade burp cloths. We have some storebought ones and some homemade, and my favorite ones are definitely the homemade ones. They are so sturdy and last so well! Probably because most of the homemade ones are made using cloth diapers.
Last, but not least, the fun stuff!!
1. Heavy Duty Jogging Stroller - you don't really need a jogging stroller if you're not a very active family, but me and my man love to go camping and hiking so I knew we'd need a rugged one. We love this one! Many infant carseats can attach right on, and this thing is great for our rugged gravel trails.
2. Exersaucer - William didn't start using this until he was 4 months old, but it has been a great purchase! He loves playing with the toys and it's a great place to put him if I need to get stuff done around the house.
3. Boppy Pillow - William wasn't a huge fan of tummy time in the beginning, but when I'd prop him on his tummy on the Boppy he liked it! We also used this in the beginning for breastfeeding, so it's a great all-purpose thing to have on hand.
4. Bouncy Seat - This is the exact one we have and it has been wonderful - it has lights, toys and it also vibrates/bounces. William loves to sit here and play in the morning while I make us breakfast.
5. Tummy Time Play Mat - since we have hardwoods, this play mat is a great place to put William for Tummy Time. He loves the music and toys and he also protests less on his tummy when he's on the play mat.
6. Rattles/Rings - There are tons of toys for babies these days, but we find that William really likes the simple ones he can grab best. These tiny teething rings and keys/rattles are perfect for his little baby hands to grasp and he loves shaking them.
You might be looking at this list and seeing a whole bunch of dollar signs and wondering, how in the world am I ever going to afford all this stuff for a baby?!?!? Good news! Half of this stuff we found at yard sales and Craigslist and the other half was either gifted to us or really affordable.
We made a rule in the beginning not to buy things like a swing, bouncy, or exersaucer full price because we weren't even sure if baby boy would like it. So swiping stuff like that at a yard sale for $10-$20 doesn't seem so painful if we don't end up using it. And as it turns out, we have put all of them to great use! So that's my tip!
Also, I know many of you are mama's to kids who are older than mine, so feel free to share your essentials too! I'll need all the tips I can get moving forward! ;)