Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Newborn Essentials

Recently, a newly pregnant reader asked me to share what essentials she and her husband should register for. 

So here's my recommendations with regard to registering.  Please realize that I'm only mentioning the things that we use now.  For instance, you'll notice that a crib appears no where on this list.  Although we have a crib, we won't be using it for the first 6 - 12 months of Liam's life (so as to prevent SIDS), so I haven't included it on the list.

So the list is:

1.  Do NOT register for ANY clothes.  People will get you tons because it is the most fun thing to buy.  Even basic things, such as onesies to wear as an undergarment, you will get a ton of.  We have more clothes than Liam could ever wear.  He had so much newborn stuff that we had him wearing a new outfit every single day and he only got to wear half his newborn stuff before he outgrow that size.  Baby clothes are expensive and I wish people wouldn't have spent so much money on clothes for him.  But we are grateful to be surrounded by such generous people who love him so much!

2. Register for a co-sleeper.  It's a little bed with sturdy but low sides that allows you to have the child in the bed beside you (yet it prevents the possibility of accidental smothering).  We rarely had Liam in the bed with us, but I'm still glad we have it because it's easy to move throughout the house, too, so you can put the child to sleep wherever you are.  Co-sleepers make it easy to breastfeed during the night and then quickly return the child to a safe location for sleep.  I also would use the co-sleeper when I'd take a nap on the couch with Liam.  We also have a pretty Moses basket that can function as a co-sleeper.  Target.com has some beautiful ones!  Here's the one we got:

3. Definitely get a bassinet.  To prevent SIDS, the child should sleep in the same room as the parents for the first 6 - 12 months of life.  Our bassinet is right beside our bed.  It's on wheels, so sometimes I wheel it into the living room when we're there.  It's an absolute must-have!

4. Get a SMALL Fisher Price swing that also vibrates, plays music, and can function as a chair.  We bought another brand but had to return it because it barely moved on its own, and we learned that newborns benefit the most when you put the swing on its highest or fastest mode (which seems counter-intuitive).  Don't bother with the huge swings that are located in the "swing" aisle of Babies R Us.  Those are expensive and will take up half your living room.  Rather, look near the toy or clothing section where you'll find tiny swings that take up very little space.  Fisher Price makes the model we have, and it's fantastic.  The swing should not be used all the time (because you don't want to foster a dependence on that type of over-stimulation), but it will come in handy when you simply HAVE to put the baby down and yet the child is fussing.  It often will entertain the child and eventually lull him to sleep.

5. If your swing can't lock into a still position and sit up like a chair, then buy an infant chair.  This is a little chair that reclines slightly so that your child can sit beside you on the couch.  The angle of the chair will hold your baby's head in place.  A simple lap belt will keep him in place.  Ours vibrates, too, but we rarely use that function.  Liam loves to sit up in his chair and just take in the world around him!  His chair seat is flatter than his swing seat, and we like this difference because it allows him to stretch his legs and arms out more.  This then means that he exercises on his own more!

6. Register for a tub.  There's many different kinds out there.  We love that ours has a little reclining seat for an infant that sits in the tub.  This allows Liam's little rear end to be submerged in water but it keeps his upper half above water.

7. Get a travel system, which is a combo of a car seat, car seat base, and a stroller.  Get one that can collapse closed with the use of just ONE hand, and make sure it's lightweight.  After doing tons of research, I felt that the Brittax B-Safe Car Seat and Brittax B-Agile Stroller were the best, and together they cost $400.  YouTube.com is a great place to see demonstrations of how strollers function and collapse.  Baby Gizmo's reviews on YouTube are the absolute best!

8.  Register for a Diaper Genie.  Although we might switch to cloth diapering in the future to save money, for now we're using the many diapers we received as gifts, and the Diaper Genie is a great trash can.  It traps things closed so that there's no odor.  (However, the great thing about breast-fed babies is that their diapers and their spit-up does not smell!)

9. Buy and watch The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD.  It will teach you "The Five S's" which are sure-fire ways to soothe a crying baby.  They are: swaddling, shushing very loudly, holding the child on its side or stomach, swinging, and allowing the child to suck at the breast.

10.  Get a C-shaped Boppy pillow.  It will help support your arms when breastfeeding and can also be used as a sit-up chair when your child is still small!

11. At your local grocery store, pick up Traditional Medicinal's Mother's Milk Tea.  Our pediatrician loved the ingredients and agreed that its contents helps to increase milk production.

12. Buy lots of oatmeal!  Eating it is said to help with milk supply.

13. Stock up on bottled water.  After reading our town's water quality report (which stated that everything was good), I noticed in the fine print at the very end of the document that drinking the water is not recommended for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or children below age 3 (due to nitrate levels).  Since you have to drink a TON of water when breastfeeding, it just made sense to purchase lots of bottles and keep them on hand.  It's good practice to drink one bottle of water after each breast feeding.

14.  Get a baby carrier.  This backpack-like contraption will allow you to have close contact with your child while also freeing your hands.  Make sure you can wear the baby both in the front and on your back and that they can flip around to either view you or the outside world.  The Swedish brand BabyBjorn is the best, in my opinion, for it's easy to slip on and adjust and makes your back feel GREAT.  The weight of baby virtually disappears!  Plus, it's very easy to get baby in and out of.  But, since they retail for over $100, scout out a used one at a consignment shop.  You won't be disappointed!

Other than that, you'll need:
  • blankets for swaddling
  • burp cloths
  • little cotton mittens to cover the hands so the child doesn't scratch himself accidentally
  • changing pad for home
  • portable changing pad for on the go
  • wipes (Pampers is better than Huggies)
  • diapers (Pampers is again better than Huggies)
  • an udder cover privacy cloth for breastfeeding in public
  • a portable Diaper Genie bag-disposal device for your diaper bag
  • baby washcloths
  • baby towels
  • removable padding to support a newborn's head and neck when in the car seat
  • sheets for the bassinet
  • sheets for the co-sleeper
  • diaper rash cream
Other points of interest:

Do NOT use nail clippers.  Those are dangerous on small little hands.  Rather, FILE your child's nails down.  It's much easier and won't hurt them!

Consider getting things on consignment.  Kids grow so fast that people get rid of stuff quickly.  We've found wonderful things at yard sales and second hand shops.  If you do a little online research, you'll probably find HUGE consignment sales that happen at expo centers in your area.  We have several that happen in our area every 6 months or so.

Be sure to enroll in natural childbirth classes.  Although our hospital offered an afternoon childbirth class for free, we wanted to learn from a different source that did not have the bias of a hospital and its usual interventions.  So, we spent $250 on a 12-week course in the Bradley Method of Natural, Husband-Coached Childbirth.  Classes were held once-a-week for two hours in a local woman's home, and we attended with three other couples.  It was fantastic, very in-depth, and gave me just what I needed to have courage.

Take a breastfeeding class.  We attended the one given by our hospital.  Get the phone number of a lactation consultant because you're bound to have questions later.  At 9 PM EST on Sunday nights, log onto the La Leche League website to chat with lactation consultants and get the help you need!

If you're going to breastfeed, in my opinion, do NOT use pacifiers or bottles -- not even for a second.  These can cause nipple confusion.  In addition, using a pacifier can exhaust a child's jaw, giving him less energy in the jaw for breastfeeding.  Having less energy means that he will nurse less aggressively, and this means that your body's milk production will begin to decrease.  As milk production decreases, your chances of returned fertility increase.  To delay a subsequent pregnancy and the return of her fertility cycle, a woman should make sure the child's mouth touches only her boobs and never a pacifier or bottle.

In my opinion, do NOT use baby lotion or baby powder.  I don't like the chemicals in the lotion, and I feel that skin covered in lotion can feel chilly even hours after it's been applied.  Baby powder is very bad for the child's lungs.

When I got pregnant, for safety we got rid of all cleaning chemicals.  Now I clean everything (toilet, sink, tub, laminate floors, hardwood floors, and windows) with a half-and-half mix of vinegar and water, and then I rinse with water.  I would encourage you to do the same and to continue this practice after baby is born.  Vinegar naturally destroys bacteria!

That's all I can think of for now.  I hope this helps, dear readers!  :)  Please feel free to leave in the comments section anything else that I may have forgotten!