When I was pregnant, I obsessed over thought a lot about what I would need when my baby was born. It was one of the most exciting things for me about my pregnancy, all of the the thinking and planning and dreaming. I devoured any reading material I could get my hands on regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care. The more I read, the more I noticed how many differing opinions there were.
As I tried to figure out what we would need, I found that there were so many resources available. There were lists that had literally hundred of items on them. There were lists that had just clothes and diapers, the basics. There was advice I had received from friends and family, information about what had worked for them and what hadn't. There was the mental list I kept from my own observations and experiences with other people's babies.
Despite this great pool of knowledge, there was still a lot of apprehension. I knew about babies and how different they could be. I knew that a swing could be a lifesaver for one baby and completely useless for another. I knew that some moms never used their Boppy's and that some moms swore by them. I knew these things! There was no way to know exactly what would work for my baby, yet I still wanted to collect all the things I thought my baby would need and be totally prepared for his arrival.
It has now been 3 months, 22 days, 5 hours, and 24 minutes since my son was born. I am still so new to motherhood, and by no means do I even begin to claim to have it all figured out. But in those 3 months, 22 days, 5 hours and 24.5 minutes I have learned a lot about what works for us as a family and what doesn't. I have learned that there are lots of things baby-related that I choose not to bring into our lives and our home. And most importantly, I have learned to trust my judgement as a mama.
Let me just admit that I am a completely different mother than I ever thought I would be (not in a bad way, just in a different way). Nothing can prepare you for having your own child and for the decisions you will make in regards to to parenting that child. And I really do mean nothing. Not being the most obsessive involved auntie in the entire world. Not babysitting at least 20 different babies and children of all ages during your teen years. Not being the most qualified and experienced nanny in the British Isles. Nothing! I hope to sort out my feelings and words enough to be able to write a separate post about this topic, but for now that's all I can really say coherently.
So I guess it comes as no surprise to the veteran mama's out there that many of the things I thought I would need or wanted to need were not actually useful at all (for us at least). The swing? Riggs was not impressed. Why would he want to swing back and forth when he was trying to look at everything? SImply setting him down in his cradle, crib or on the couch worked just fine for him. The pacifiers? After the first six weeks, he decided there was no need for those - especially since his entire hand was so much more fun to try and fit in his mouth. And who knows? Tomorrow he may decide he wants pacifiers again, so I have a little stash of pacifiers in preparation for the unknown.
There were so many things I wanted him to need that he just really didn't need, at all. I found that I was letting my weakness for material things overpower my goal to live more simply and to raise Riggs that way. So I decided to pay attention to what was really getting used and purge nearly everything that wasn't.
I have grown in leaps and bounds as a person since I had Riggs, and feel very confident in what I have decided to keep in our lives and what I have decided to purge. So I thought I'd make a list of what I'd buy/collect if I were to do it all again, partially so that I can help others who may be wondering what they will really need for their baby and partially so that I have a well documented list for myself for future references. Plus I just love making lists of any kind, and I was in the mood for making a really good one.
Whitney's Complete List of Necessary and Nice to Have Baby Items
Pros: I love the glider cradle that I found on Craigslist for Riggs when I was pregnant. It looks so sweet set up in our room and is a nice size for rolling around the house to have a place to put him down. I have used it quite a bit, and Riggs spent the first two months of his life at least starting out his night in the cradle. He has no aversions to the cradle, although we did place a folded blanket underneath the mattress at one end so that he head was elevated for better breathing when he was a newborn.
Cons: It was such a pain (literally) when he was a newborn and nursing every two hours during the night trying to lean over the cradle edge and grab him. It was very hard to try and pluck him out of the cradle while sitting or laying down, because the rails would dig into my ribs. If I had to get out of bed and stand up to get him, he might as well have been in his own crib in his room. By the time I would get up, get him out, sit up to nurse him, re-swaddle him and put him back in his cradle, I was wide awake. It would have been much nicer, I think, to have an Arms Reach Co-sleeper attached to the bed for easier access when he needed to breastfeed. Riggs sleeps with us all night now, but I think I will start the next baby out in a cradle or co-sleeper too because I just wasn't comfortable sleeping with such a young/small baby all night while being so tired from waking up so often and he was/is very good at going to sleep on his own.
Bottom line: I am happy with how the cradle has worked for us, but if I think I might go the Arms Reach Co-sleeper route next time. If you have experience with the co-sleeper, please email me or leave a comment with your feedback, I would love to hear from other moms who have used one.
You might think that this is not one of our necessary items since I already said that Riggs sleeps with us at night. However, I use his crib for at least one nap a day and for playtimes throughout the day when I'm working on chores or other tasks. It is great to have a very safe place to be able to set him down and not worry about him falling, like off the couch, for example. And I do plan on having him sleep in there at night time when he gets older.
Bottom line: I would definitely try and have a crib set up in either your room or the babies room before they are born. It has been a great tool for us!
Pros: This is my favorite diaper that I have found so far. I love nearly everything about it! It has soft organic cotton next to your babies skin and a waterproof outer that comes in beautiful colors. This diaper has never leaked (I have only had them for two months) and is remarkably trim for having so much absorbency. It is the diaper I always use first when I am going out and about and I have been selling my pocket diapers in order to buy more of these.
Cons: They are relatively expensive at $24.95 each and they do take longer to dry in the dryer. I have never tried line-drying them outdoors since it has been winter, but once the temps warm up I plan on giving it a try.
Pros: These are my favorite prefolds. They are so soft (they are made out of an organic cotton/hemp blend) and absorbent that I rarely have them leak. They have a little bit of stretch too so they are easy to fit on your baby with some Snappi's.
Cons: I'm not the biggest fan of using prefolds when I'm out and about because they tend to leak more (in my experience) when the baby is in the carseat and such. I love using them around the house though and they are so economical that I probably always will.
c. Rebourne Wool Diaper Covers
Pros: I love wool diaper covers for so many reasons. Wool is a wonderful material to use for babies and diapering in particular as described on Rebourne's Etsy shop: "How can wool be a diaper cover? Wool can absorb a ton of moisture (30% of its weight) and not feel wet to the touch. It is naturally antimicrobial. Urine is neutralized by the natural oil in the wool, so it doesn't retain any odors like plastic! You don't need to wash it after each wear: simply hang to dry or use again." I love these covers in particular because the shop owner, Marni, uses old sweaters that she repurposes for the outer part of the cover and they are all so cute! I also love the shape of these covers, with the elastic and the snaps - they fit so well!
Cons: They are expensive, at about $27-$30 each, and they are not as "easy" to wash when they need it as the PUL covers are. They require hand washing rather than machine washing, but I haven't found this to be any kind of problem for me.
General Information: I love using cloth diapers. They are so. much. cheaper and Riggs has very sensitive skin so they are much better for him in that way. Although I have had more leaks with cloth than disposable (it's actually more of a wicking issue), I have had many more blowouts when using disposable diapers than when using cloth. I find that they are just as easy as using disposables, except that you have an extra load of laundry to do every other day. This works great for me since I stay at home and don't work. I assume it's a little more of a hassle for moms who work part or full time and have someone other than dad watching their baby.
Like any other baby products, there is a learning curve with cloth diapering. There is no way to know which diapers you will like best for your baby until they are born. Because of this I would recommend starting out with a few different types and getting them used, if possible, before building up a huge stash.
I started out with Rumparooz, some Oh Katy!s and a few Bum Genius 4.0s and I did really like how they fit and their ease of use. Unfortunately stay dry diapers don't really work for Riggs because of his skin sensitivities, which the polyester seems to irritate. So since then it had been a trial and error period while trying to figure what does work for us.
There are a few random diapers we have that we also like:
Imse Vimse Organic Flannellette Contour Diapers - we have about 6 of these and we really like them. I like that they have no closure system like a prefold but they have the contoured shape which helps them to fit better and keep messes in.
Bummis Organic Cotton Prefolds - I got these at a children's consignment store here in Anchorage for a great deal and they had never been used. These are nice diapers as well and a bit more economical than the BabyKicks prefolds, and we do use them quite a bit. They just don't seem to be quite as absorbent and for some reason I just find myself reaching for the BabyKicks first. \
Flip! Diaper Cover - These are manufactured by the same company that makes Bum Genius, they come in the same colors, and they fit the same way. Perfect! While I love wool covers, I do like to have a few PUL covers around too. I also love these Flip! covers because up to this point I have been using disposables when we travel or when Riggs has a bad diaper rash that calls for Boudreaux's Butt Paste Maximum Strength. With the Flip! system, I can buy a pack of disposable inserts instead, which is much more convenient and much better for the environment.
Pros: The Boppy pillow has definitely been a must-have for me. I use it for every feeding out in the living room and wish I had it with me nearly every time I feed him anywhere else. It is also great to have a around for propping him up on, both on his stomach and back.
Cons: I still have to use my arm or another blanket under his head while he's eating or else I find myself hunching over a bit. This is probably just me (and other long-bodied people) since I am not the average height or build. It is the only negative I can think of and it really is a small one!
5. Swaddle Wraps
I have all pros and no cons for this item and consider them to be a must-have. We simply love them! They are so much easier than swaddling them yourself, especially once they can flail their arms around. Although, if you do want a good blanket for swaddling, I would go with the Aden and Anais muslin blankets. How cute is this:
|Riggs at about one week old|
We have a few different SwaddleMe wraps and still (at four months old) use them during some naps and at night. However, some babies don't like to be swaddled, so I would recommend getting just one to test them out on your baby and see if they like it. Riggs will sometimes fuss when trying to go to sleep and flail his arms around, and just softly holding his arms down at his side will cause him to instantly fall asleep. It is a lot easier to just use the SwaddleMe to begin with and he always goes to sleep so quickly and peacefully that way. Although now that he is stronger and bigger, we usually find him in the morning like this:
6. Baby Carrier
One of the most important must-have items (in my opinion) is a baby carrier. I am a huge proponent of babywearing and love to wear my little Rigglet. I have two favorite carriers that I have described below.
ERGO Baby Carrier - This is my favorite baby carrier. I love nearly everything about it! I love it so much that I have two of them - one that lives in the car so that I always have it when I'm out and about and one I always keep at home. I have the one pictured above, the Navy organic carrier, and the classic black one with a green hood that I purchased used from my sister. My favorite things about the Ergo are how comfortable it is for both the carrier and the baby, the hood for when baby is sleeping, and the two pockets (one with a zipper - this is imperative for me so that I don't lose my car keys or cell phone when bending over or moving about). Steve also has worn Riggs in the Ergo and loved it as well:
Moby Wrap - This was a great carrier to have around when Riggs was a newborn. It might seem confusing at first to use, because it is a very long strip of fabric you have to fold up and wrap around yourself, but I found it very easy to figure out and it just got easier and easier with practice. I don't use it at all anymore but think it is definitely a must have for when your baby can't hold their head up.
Okay, I'm not going to make a list of all the clothes I like for Riggs. I just needed to add this on here because, in Alaska at least, clothing is a must-have item for babies. I will say that I was really surprised by what have become my favorite articles of clothing to put on Riggs.
I think as a general rule it is important to chose clothing made out of natural fibers, such as cotton, silk or wool. This is much better for their sensitive skin and much more comfortable too. What I have found myself using most are short and long-sleeved onesies, soft cotton and wool pants that are not too baggy, footed sleepers and soft, cotton sleep sacks. I also nearly always have a hat on Riggs. He doesn't have much hair, so I like to keep his little head warm at all times. He does wear a hat at bedtime too, but it is always off by morning.
If you are still reading, I am very impressed, this has been a very long post! I will be posting the Nice to Have portion of my list at some point soon, but for now, happy Friday, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend!