I‘m happy to report that we’re two months into this whole “taking care of a baby” thing and that all parties involved are happy and rested most days. Praise be! We owe our success mostly to an easy baby but we’ve also developed a good routine and collection of tools that have helped us with this transition to a family of three. (Well, five if you include the furbabies.)
Every parent has a list of items that make their lives easier. As a mom, you develop strong opinions about random things like pajamas (zippered please!) and diaper rash cream (Aquaphor has been our favorite). I’ll spare you the entire list of items we use on a daily basis because it is LONG but here are some items that we just couldn’t live without.
I’m going to start off this list with my favorite item – the Boppy nursing pillow. This thing has been a lifesaver and I literally use it multiple times a day every single day. Emmeline lays comfortably and nurses with ease which leaves my hands free to do other things like read a book, scroll Facebook, or feed myself. I took the Boppy with me to the hospital, which was the best idea, and I pack it when we travel. I bought my BFF one for her baby shower because I love mine so much. They come in a lot of fun prints and patterns (this cover is my favorite) and you can even order custom covers on Etsy.
2. Wipe Warmer
There’s a split vote on wipe warmers in the mamasphere but we love the Munchkin wipe warmer. Emmeline seems to tolerate diaper changes better when she’s not being cleaned with cold wipes. I wish I had a convenient plug in my bathroom because I’d get one for myself. Who doesn’t want to wipe with a warm cloth? (And speaking of wipes, I really like the Amazon Elements Sensitive wipes because they’re gentle on baby’s bum, super moist, and quilted.)
Having a portable changing station has come in handy so many times. I keep one in the car stocked with diapers, wipes, and disposable diaper bags so I can easily change Emmeline’s diaper in the back of my Xterra. This means I don’t have to change her in public restrooms, which may or may not even have a changing station. (I learned that the hard way.)
Emmeline is exclusively breastfed (EBF) but gets a bottle on occasion. The Dr. Browns Options bottles have worked great for her. The Options bottles feature a unique venting system which gives her very little to no gas. (I swear she’s less gassy when she’s bottle fed than breastfed!) We also have the wide neck Options bottles which are supposed to be better for EBF babies because they mimic a breast. I prefer the narrow bottles because they’re easier to hold and Emmeline doesn’t seem to care either way. (Bonus: the narrow bottles fit on most breast pumps.)
I am obsessed with my silicone breast pump. I have a nice fancy Medela electric breast pump that my insurance covered but it’s been collecting dust since I got the silicone breast pump. There are so many parts to keep track of and clean with an electric pump. The silicone pump is one piece that can be easily washed and even thrown in the dishwasher. It doesn’t require electricity and is mostly handsfree. I use the silicone pump on the opposite side when I’m nursing Emmeline and I usually collect anywhere from 1-3 ounces of milk each feeding. I also use it when I feel engorged and it seems to extract milk just as well as an electric pump. Plus, it’s only $15! (Pro tip: “Splurge” on the $15 pump. I also have a $5 silicone pump and it doesn’t seem to work as well.)
Emmeline is not super attached to her pacifier but it helps at times when she’s restless and cranky. We tried a couple different kinds before she really took to the MAM Newborn pacifiers. They’re a little bit smaller than a regular pacifier and are supposedly shaped like mom’s nipples… but I’ve never compared the two, ha!
I was terrified to take Emmeline out on my own at first. Lugging around the carseat was a pain and she didn’t always enjoy being in her stroller. When I started looking into baby wearing, Tula carriers were highly recommended. They make expensive collectible carriers (moms go crazy over the Tulas!) but they also make more affordable carriers. I purchased the Tula free-to-grow carrier because it can be used for babies as small as 7 pounds (the standard carriers start at 15 pounds) up to 45 pounds. Emmeline loves her Tula and usually falls asleep within a few minutes of being carried. The Tula is perfect for running errands, hiking, or carrying her when she just needs snuggles. (We also have a Moby wrap which is too complicated for running errands but more comfortable for wearing around the house.)
I let Adam do the research on the baby monitor and we went with the Flir FXC Camera. This 4MP camera isn’t marketed as a baby monitor but it has worked perfectly for us. The camera features night vision, two way communication, cloud or micro SD storage, and customizable monitoring zones. You monitor the camera from an app on your smartphone or tablet. You can set the app to ping your phone when there’s movement in the room.
The only downside to using this camera as a monitor is that the app needs to be open in order to see or hear activity. If you have a large house, you may want to supplement with an inexpensive sound monitor or else you’ll have to leave the app running which can drain your battery and data if not connected to wifi. Our house is small so I can hear Emmeline from any room but I can pull up the camera feed to check on her. And since you can pull up the camera feed from anywhere, the camera doubles as a puppy cam to check on the dogs when we’re not home.
I am hesitant to recommend the DockATot because it’s an expensive luxury item that doesn’t work for everyone. We were super fortunate to be gifted one from a family member. We have the Deluxe; the newer version is the Deluxe+. As far as I can tell the only difference between the Deluxe and Deluxe+ is the loops on the cover. (And yes, the Deluxe+ cover does fit the Deluxe. We have a Deluxe+ cover because we also have the DockATot Toy Arch which uses the loops.)
Emmeline has slept in her DockATot since she was about two weeks old and she sleeps great. We also love that it’s convenient for traveling. However, she’s always slept pretty well so I don’t know if it’s necessarily the DockATot or if she’s just a good sleeper. My advice would be to buy one second hand or know that if it doesn’t work out, you can sell it quite easily. But we will most likely be buying the DockATot Grand when she outgrows the Deluxe.
10. Bath Sling
We don’t have the space in our bathroom to store a baby bathtub. We tried using an inexpensive bath sponge but Emmeline hated it and cried through the entire bath because she was cold. As it turns out, you can’t put much water in the tub when a newborn is laying flat. So, we needed to find a solution that didn’t take up much space but would hold her up so I could add more water to the tub. The bath sling was a perfect solution because it’s small in size and inexpensive at only $10. And now Emmeline loves bath time.
I’m sure as Emmeline grows our list of essentials will change. Some runner up items that are worth mentioning are the Vera Bradley backpack we use as a diaper bag, our glider that I sit in to nurse Emmeline numerous times a day, and the Boppy Newborn Lounger that we just recently added to our arsenal but wish we would have purchased months ago. What are some items that helped make your life with a newborn easier?
Affiliate links have been used in this post. That just means if you purchase the items, I’ll get a little bit of change thrown into my tip jar.