Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Playtime

This post is part of a series of posts intended to help my sister with her baby registry. Please see the other posts here and chime in with your advice!

Newborns do a lot of eating and sleeping, but eventually they’re ready for playing. Yay for baby! And yay for mommy! It’s hard to know what a baby will like, but there are some standards that you can try.

  • Infant play gym – We have this one and really like it. It has lights, music, and lots of little toys to play with. You can remove the toys and move them around. Michael likes to play with it, too, and will lay under it when the baby is otherwise engaged. Too cute.

Cruz Playing in Play Gym – 4 months old

  • Jumperoo – My boys both loooove the Jumperoo. They have both jumped until they passed out. Great exercise for high energy boys!

  • Pack & Play – This is our generation’s play pen. We also call it baby prison. With Michael, I used it to give him a safe place to play while I cooked, cleaned, and brought in groceries. I even pulled it outside a couple of times on nice days so that we could be with Garrett while he worked on the yard. It folds up small, so we’ve taken it with us to our parents’ houses and to hotels.

Michael Playing in Pack & Play – 6 months old

  • Mesh ball – Michael and Cruz both loved the mesh balls because they’re easy for little hands to grasp. And they have both tried to fit it in their mouths. And they have both been angry when it didn’t fit into their mouths. <sigh> Cruz plays with his mesh ball when he’s in the pack & play and sometimes in the swing.
  • Musical Table – We have a previous version of this. It’s one of those toys that grows with the child. We got it when Michael was five months old. He was sitting by then, so we took the legs off so that he could play with it. As he started standing more, we put the legs back on so that he would get practice standing and cruising since he would slowly make his way around the table. Michael is 2 1/2 now and still plays with it.

Michael Playing with Musical Table – 7 months old

What items have your babies enjoyed playing with?

(Facebook friends, please remember to comment on the blog and not in Facebook so that everyone can benefit from your advice. Thanks!)

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Leaving the House

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Leaving the House

This post is part of a series of posts intended to help my sister with her baby registry. Please see the other posts here and chime in with your advice!

Going anywhere with little ones can seem like a circus. They need so much stuff. Just this past Sunday I took the diaper bag to church, but forgot Michael’s bag. So Garrett had to run to the drug store to get diapers for him to have in the church nursery.

Besides having to remember all the stuff, it can be emotionally draining to leave the house with the baby. I was terrified to go anywhere alone with Michael when he was a newborn. I hated having him so far away from me in the car seat. I drove super careful since I had precious cargo. And he hated the car seat for the first few months, so he cried a lot. My mother’s heart was weary by the time I got to my destination. If a product can make any of that better, I’m all for it.

  • Diaper Bag – something that you can wipe clean and that has lots of pockets. Keep in mind that no matter how cute or expensive the bag is, it will one day hold a poopy diaper and burp cloths drenched in spit-up and drool. Awesome.
  • Diaper Baggies – I really like this since I can hang it from the diaper bag and don’t have to dig around looking for baggies.
  • Travel system – We have (and like) the Graco car base, infant carrier, and stroller frame. We tend to like Graco products in general.
  • Car seat coverThese are so nice-looking and well-made. They’re great for keeping the sun out of baby’s eyes and for keeping strangers’ hands off of your little one while out and about. She also has a variety of prints. I have a brown and green one and have received so many compliments on it.

Cruz Sleeping Behind Car Seat Cover – 6 weeks old

  • Soft mirror – It can be reassuring to glance back and see baby’s sleeping (or crying) face while driving. They can just be a real pain to set up.
  • Shopping cart cover – Even if you’re not worried about germs on shopping cart handles, it’s nice for your little one to have a nice place to sit. The one I have also has a place to hang a toy, which is nice when your little one cares about that.

What are the must-have items in your diaper bag? What else would you not leave the house without?
(Facebook friends, please remember to comment on the blog and not in Facebook so that everyone can benefit from your advice. Thanks!)

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Diapering/Hygiene

This post is part of a series of posts intended to help my sister with her baby registry. Please see the other posts here and chime in with your advice!

Babies can be cute and sweet and just precious, but there’s a dark side to parenthood. There’s nothing I can say to prepare anyone for the responsibility of keeping a child clean. There are just no words. So I’ll go ahead and jump into the products.

  • Diaper Champ – We have this one and love that we can use regular garbage bags with it. And it helps some in hiding the smell. But I admit, there are times that I walk into the nursery and feel like I’m walking into a wall of poop.
  • Diapers – We use Pampers, which work well for us. I hear that Huggies are better for girls, but don’t know how true that is.
  • Wipes – Again, I like the Pampers brand of wipes. The thicker, the better.
  • Diaper rash cream – Continuing with the theme of “every baby is different”, Michael didn’t have a diaper rash until he was about nine or ten months old, but Cruz was probably only a month old when he had his first diaper rash. It’s so sad when they’re hurting, so have it on hand at all times. We use Desitin.
  • Baby powder – I didn’t use much powder for Michael, but I do for Cruz since he sweats so much. A pediatrician told me to use it on any area of his skin that tends to get sweaty and trap moisture, causing the skin to break down, i.e. diaper area, underarms, baby folds. It has helped a lot.
  • Contoured Changing Pad – We ended up using my old dresser in the nursery, which has worked out great since it’s long and has lots of storage. Throwing a changing pad on top also made it the changing table!

Michael on Changing Pad – 4 months old

  • Baby tub with newborn sling attachment – We have one kind of like this.  Cruz outgrew the sling pretty quickly, but it was nice while it lasted, especially before the umbilical cord stump fell off since you’ve gotta keep that pretty dry. I’m not perfectly happy with it – it seems like it could be a little deeper or contoured a little better for baby’s comfort.
  • Baby wash – Something tear-free. I personally don’t have a favorite. I tend to like a fragrance-free wash for sensitive skin since I have such sensitive skin and am afraid I’ve passed that on to my kids.
  • Baby wash cloths – This definitely isn’t a must-have, but I like working with the smaller size of the baby wash cloth when bathing my little ones.
  • Hooded baby towels – Babies are angry when they’re cold. Hooded towels help baby stay a bit warmer than they would with a regular towel. And they’re just so darn cute.

What am I forgetting? Are there any brands that you especially like?
(Facebook friends, please remember to comment on the blog and not in Facebook so that everyone can benefit from your advice. Thanks!)

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Sleeping

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Sleeping

This post is part of a series of posts intended to help my sister with her baby registry. Please see the other posts here and chime in with your advice!

The first few months, it seems like babies do more napping than sleeping. My firstborn didn’t sleep through the night until he was five months old. And he stopped as soon as he started. It wasn’t until he was about nine or ten months old that he started sleeping through the night regularly, and only because we let him cry it out. Ugh, it was awful.

My baby has slept like a champ since birth. I actually had to set an alarm to wake him up for feedings. He’s four months old and has slept for seven or more hours several times. If he were my first, I would have thought that I was doing something right. But he’s not, so I know better.

* Cradle Swing – we have this swing and absolutely love it. You can plug it into the wall so that you don’t have to deal with batteries. You can fold the legs to move it from room to room. The cradle part is soft and comfy and can swing back and forth or from side to side. It has music, nature noises, and a rotating mirror for baby. Cruz sleeps in it every night and during many of his naps. He sleeps much longer in it than he would just in the bassinet. My only complaint is that they don’t make one big enough for me to sleep in.

Cruz Strapped Into Swing and Watching Rotating Mirror – 6 weeks old

* Bouncy Seat – we have this one. I didn’t have one for Michael and wish I had. It’s great for naptime, feedings, or just for a safe place for baby to be if mommy needs to be hands free. I take it from room to room and have even taken it with us to other people’s houses.

Cruz Happy in Bouncy Seat – 12 weeks old

Cruz Asleep in Bouncer – 14 weeks old

* Pack & Play with bassinet insert – Cruz sleeps in the swing, but Michael slept in the pack & play bassinet in our room for several months. We’ll have to move Cruz to it when he outgrows the swing, which will be sooner than later since he’s a big baby. The pack & play also has a diaper changing station, which is how we change diapers in our room. We’ve  used the pack & play (after removing the bassinet insert) for travel, playtime, and timeouts.

Cruz Asleep in Bassinet – 6 weeks old

* Zippered Footie PJ’s – the button-up pajamas are fine for during the day, but the ones with the zippers are so much easier for night time when you’re changing a diaper half asleep.

* Velcro Swaddle Blankets – I will never be able to swaddle the way hospital nurses do even if I live a hundred lifetimes. These velcro blankets made that task a breeze for me.

Michael in Swaddle Blanket – About a week old

How about you? What made naps/nights easier for you?
(Facebook friends, please remember to comment on the blog and not in Facebook so that everyone can benefit from your advice. Thanks!)

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Feeding

Baby Products That Make My Life Easier: Feeding

This post is part of a series of posts intended to help my sister with her baby registry. Please see the other posts here and chime in with your advice!

Many of us have the best of intentions when it comes to nursing our babies, but it just doesn’t happen for all of us. I’ve never been able to make enough milk, requiring me to supplement with formula. With Cruz, I did try Fenugreek to increase my milk supply, and it seemed to help some. But please talk to your doctor before trying any supplements. Also, it seems like most hospitals these days have lactation consultants that you can talk to after you have the baby, so I highly recommend that to a first-time mother, or even a second- or third- time mother. The lactation consultant I talked to after having Cruz warned me not to take Fenugreek until after my milk came in or I could run into some issues. That was very helpful advice!

Anyway, all of that to explain why you’ll see both nursing and non-nursing products on my list of recommendations.

  • Formula – Formula is pretty pricey, so we buy Walmart’s Parents Choice formula. Which is still pretty pricey, actually. If I were a smart woman, I’d invest money in a baby formula company.
  • Manual Br**st Pump – I rented nice electric pumps from the hospital for a couple of months for both pregnancies and even bought an expensive hands-free pump last time around. The hospital pumps worked well. The hands-free pump died quickly. Both were a huge hassle with the cord and tubes and many pieces that needed to be sterilized. Ugh. I just couldn’t ever get disciplined enough to use it regularly. But if you’re nursing at all, there are times that you need a pump, and a manual pump is an economic alternative. Even if you have a nice electric pump, the manual pump is nice to have for when you just need to pump a little milk quickly.
  • Bottles with latex n*pples – I like the Playtex bottles with the drop-ins since they require much less cleaning. My older son didn’t seem to care what npple we used, but my younger son is much pickier about those things and prefers the latex ones.
  • Nursing bras/shirts/PJ’s – It’s all about access. I didn’t put dresses on the list, but you’ll most definitely need a dress with easy access if you want to go out with the baby.
  • N*pple shields – These really help at the beginning when nursing HURTS. I like these.
  • Nursing pads for your bra – DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THESE. Did you see that episode of The Office where Kevin (I think) kept crying in front of Pam trying to get her to leak? Yeah, it happens. Just don’t let it be obvious to the rest of the world.
  • Nursing cover – Because everybody doesn’t need to see your bizness.
  • Burp cloths – Because burps aren’t the only things that come up.
  • Receiving Blankets – These are great to keep baby warm, as a burp cloth, or as a barrier between baby and any surface that you want to keep free of spit-up (and blow outs).
  • Boppy – Love, love, love. I used it for nursing, to prop up the baby next to me, and even to help him sit up.

Cruz Sleeping in Boppy (8 days old)

  • High chair with 5-point harness and wheels – the 5-point harness is helpful when baby starts eating solids and isn’t always steady in a sitting position. And it keeps them in place when they fall asleep while you’re trying to give them sustenance in the form of pureed produce. A seat that reclines is also helpful in that situation. Wheels are awesome for flexibility. And they enable my 2-year-old to drag his chair to me when he’s demanding to be fed, so bonus. I also highly recommend a chair with a removable insert in the tray. It makes clean-up so much easier and gives your little one a nice surface for playtime. I can’t remember the brand of our chair and am too lazy to get up and look, but here’s one that has the features I like.

Michael Decorating Cookies – 2 years old

Michael Playing with a Collander and Pipe Cleaners – 2 years old

Michael Playing in High Chair – 2 years old

  • Baby spoons – I like baby spoons with a long handle. It seems to make feeding time a tiny bit easier.

What am I forgetting? Do you have advice for feeding products?

(Facebook friends, please remember to comment on the blog and not in Facebook so that everyone can benefit from your advice. Thanks!)

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