Note: It was tough to put these in order! I must say that they were all very valuable individually, and could be in the #1 spot on anyone’s new parent’s list.
1. Halo Sleep Sack
There are more than a couple different types if swaddlers on the market, and most if not all of them are superb and do their job. What made the Halo Sleep Sack stand out for me was the user-friendly ease of wrapping Isaac. Simply place baby in the sack, zip it up, and pull the wings tightly over each other to make baby snug as a bug in a rug. With other swaddlers, you need to completely undo the wrap to change a diaper, but with the Halo, you simply unzip the bottom portion. You can get these sacks with velcro or without, and either one works wonders. Tip: they’re great for cooler temps, but I wouldn’t advise it for summer months unless your house is cool enough.
2. The Happiest Baby on the Block
This book was gifted to us by a friend of ours with a couple of kids himself. He swore by it, and instructed us to read it BEFORE baby comes so we wouldn’t have to read it in a sleep-deprived state. Thank goodness we did. Not only does it tell you how to calm your baby, Dr. Karp explains WHY swaddling, shushing, swinging, etc. is essential for newborn babies. Levi is especially good at using the techniques to calm Isaac. You can also buy a DVD of ‘Happiest Baby’ that goes over the key points of the book. The DVD would probably be best after baby comes – after all, who has time to read a book with a screaming baby who can’t be tamed?
The most useful chair I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in. A good friend of mine snagged ours at Goodwill for about $25 on sale, otherwise you can buy it new for about $300. Eek! Thanks, Kim. We use this chair several times a day for feedings, rocking a fussy Isaac, and snuggles all around. Warning! It’s super easy to fall asleep in at 4 am when you’re trying to give a bottle. Rocking yourself to sleep is probably not the goal here.
4. Lactation Cookies
After picking up a couple of packaged MilkMakers cookies and realizing how yummy but how expensive they are, I decided to make my own. There are so many different recipes out there but they mostly include oatmeal, flax seed, brewer’s yeast, nuts of some kind, and dark chocolate chips. All of these are “galactagogues” that increase milk supply in breastfeeding women. I tinkered with what I already had in my pantry, then went out and got some flax and brewer’s yeast. My recipe + instructions to come soon! Oh, and Levi likes them too, but they don’t really do anything milky for him.
5. Cloth Wipes
If you are already cloth diapering, cloth wipes are a no-brainer. I can’t imagine spending hundreds of dollars (BabyCenter.com estimates $20 per month) on pieces of wet tissue that you use for 5 seconds then throw away! I made mine by cutting up 7″x7” pieces of flannel then hemming the sides to make them washer/dryer-proof. When baby came and I hadn’t finished this project, I just took a couple of heavy duty receiving blankets from the hospital and cut them up to make squares to use until I make more flannel ones. Easy enough, and certainly cheap enough!
6. Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper
A side-car style crib, the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper is perfect for parents who like the idea of co-sleeping or bed sharing, but are terrified at the thought of the dangers that come with it. There are specific guidelines to follow to safely bed share and it certainly can be done, but Levi and I agreed that having Isaac in his own space would be best for our family. Especially with our tiny full-size bed and my tendency to take up over half of it with my limbs.
7. Soothies Pacifier
During my pregnancy, I heard over and over again how pacifiers should not be used in the first couple of months or even at all for a baby. It can create nipple confusion for a breastfed baby, and train the baby to use different muscles to suck. It may also inhibit the baby from learning how to self-soothe. We didn’t have a choice as they were used during his hospital stay to help him learn to suck in his early days. So far it’s been pretty easy to relax him by popping one of these into his mouth, and it’s especially good when he’s waiting for a bottle. Until he spits it out with an “ISH, what is this??” attitude.
8. Portable Bed
We often use this Summer Infant Portable Bed inside of the co-sleeper to give Isaac a more “confined” feeling, which is important for babies fresh out of the womb. But what makes it so awesome is that you can move it anywhere around the home! Plus, it’s endlessly safer than plopping baby down on the couch and praying that they don’t learn how to roll over when you’re not looking. When I’m not wearing Isaac for any reason, he’s likely to be found laying in here or in his rocker.
9. White Noise App
It’s hard to believe that we went the first few weeks without this invaluable app. I was a little skeptical even after hearing other parents rave about the power of vacuum cleaner noises, but it really does work. Lay baby down, swaddled in the Halo Sleep Sack, sucking on a Soothie, with your phone next to their ear and even the fussiest of babies will surrender to the noise. You can choose from Doppler ultrasound, car ride, hair dryer, white noise, pink noise, etc. And it’s free! Be prepared for an angry face from your little one when you go to check your texts, though.
10. Baby Carrier
There are SO many different baby wearing companies out there – Ergo, Balboa, K’tan, Infantino, etc. the list goes on and on. There are cotton wraps, ring slings, structured carriers, you name it. During my pregnancy, I made a Moby Wrap-style carrier that was great for when Isaac was a floppy little newborn that we only carried around the apartment, and it’s super cute too. But when Levi went back to work and I regularly started walking Isaac and our corgi, Luca, around the neighborhood, I knew I would need something sturdier. I bought an Infantino Mei Tai Carrier from Target because it was the cheapest option and it turned out to be an awesome purchase. I’m looking forward to trying out ring slings once Isaac is able to hold his head up in a few months!