Monday, September 5, 2016

Baby Essentials: What We Couldn't Live Without

Just like every other blog written by a mother with a child, I'm going to post a list of things that I think are essential for those bringing up a baby.


But seriously, what is it about making lists like that and sharing them with everyone? There's something that simply compels me to tell you the things that are UH-mazing when it comes to sweet, little babes. And rather than imagine me with a bullhorn shouting them at you, instead imagine us sitting together in some comfy armchairs sharing a cup of coffee as I whisper these precious, magical, secret items in your ear. Ok, that sentence ended up a lot creepier than I meant it to be, but hopefully you know what I meant. 

I previously have posted a list of five items I consider essentials for newborns, so if that's where you're at, you might find that post a bit more helpful.

I promise this list is sweet, and oh, so short. No more than five items belong on it. Now, we happen to own a lot more than five items to take care of Junior, but I only count five items as essential when it comes to taking care of him. 

Let's get started, shall we? 

You know, when contemplating what to put on this list, it took me practically no time at all. Why? Well, as mentioned in my previous post, we just moved from Minnesota to Kansas. It has been wonderful so far (it's actually coming home for me), but the finer points of our move have been a bit stupid and awful stressful and disorganized. Super long story short, Levi left Junior and me in Minnesota for two weeks to start his new job. Then I came to Kansas to live in an empty house with a baby for two more weeks.

Our things still haven't arrived, by the way.

When you move halfway down the country with a 9-month old in a sedan you have to really evaluate what the word "essential" means. He will need a place to sleep. Things to eat. Something to catch the poo and pee that comes out of him. You know, the important stuff. His toys and other such items? Not as important (although they do come in handy when you're living in a house with nothing to keep him interested).

When I use the word "essential" in this post, I'm going to assume every parent has at least a few categories taken care of. Their babies have places to sleep, things to wear, ways to travel in a car, ways to play, and ways to catch poo. What I am going to list as "essential" will be items on top of those things. Items that will never, ever be separated from my child because they are flippin' amazing.

And, remember, it's just five items.

1. Zipadee-Zip

Now, based on the way I'm about to talk about this product, you would think I was being paid to do so. I promise to you from the bottom of my heart, I am not. I am simply a satisfied customer who must do everything in her power to recommend this product to any and all parents.

The Zipadee-Zip (known in our home as The Zippy) works as a swaddle transition sleeper. This is not for newborn babies. This is for babies who are ready to transition out of a swaddle because they have started rolling or constantly break free.

Junior absolutely dreaded being swaddled, but he wouldn't sleep more than half an hour without it. Once he was in and I got him relaxed he settled in to it. But then he began to discover his strength and his flexibility, and suddenly fingers and then hands and then whole arms began to pop free of the swaddle each night. Unfortunately, he still wasn't ready for so much freedom, and he kept waking himself up. On the recommendation of a friend, I looked into the Zipadee-Zip. As you can see, it's in a sort of sack shape, giving a baby lots of space to wiggle around and roll over. The arms are sort of stunted, however, and the shape also prevents a baby's arms from going straight up over his head. This effectively neutralizes the startle reflex, meaning he can sleep with his arms free, but when he startles his arms won't fly all over the place.

Junior has been in a Zippy for six months now, and it worked on him from the moment he first wore it. He naps in it and sleeps in it. When he sleeps in a new or strange location (like this big, creaky, old house in KS we now live in) it helps him immensely to have something familiar wrapped around him.

BONUS: Those little, pointed hands are just the cutest things ever. He looks like a starfish! He also loves to have fabric over his face while he sleeps, but since he's still too young to have loose blankets the Zippy allows him to put his hands over his nose, breathe in that sort of sour baby breath smell, and happily slip into sleep.

2. White Noise/Sound Machine

If this seems like a repeat, you'd be right. Junior still sleeps best with some white noise. In the summer in Minnesota it was the sound of the AC unit in his room (our house didn't have central air). Now that we're back in Kansas and the house has central air -- praise Jesus -- our trusty HoMedics Sound Spa is back in action. In this big, empty house it works quite well to run interference for all the creaks and the bangs we make as we try to eat dinner or clean up after Junior goes to bed. 

It may seem like such a crutch, but you come over to this house and try to take a nap up in the big, echoey room while another person walks around downstairs and tell me how easy it is. 

I was incredibly disappointed wearing Junior in a stretchy wrap didn't work well when he was a newborn. Like I said in the Newborn Essentials post, he just couldn't relax when he was pressed so close to me. That's just the sort of baby he ended up being. My presence stimulated him unless he was actively breastfeeding. To this day, I can count the number of legitimate naps he's taken on or near me on one hand. It still makes me sad sometimes. 

Fast forward to Junior as a 4-month old. He's bigger, he has good head and neck control, he wants to see the world. Enter the Boba 4G carrier. It's a game changer, people. Seriously. He feels held, but not restricted by my arms. He can twist and move his hands around safely. I can bend my head down and breathe in that sweet baby smell and kiss his fuzzy bald head. I get both hands free to eat, drink, clean, pee (yes, I've done it), etc. 

Now that Junior prefers to see the world from my chest or back, we are firm babywearers in this household. I definitely have more than one baby carrier, and I have even fallen down the woven wrap rabbit hole, but this is my go-to carrier. It's very well-made, and it takes less than ten seconds to snap it around my waist, scoop Junior up into it, and close the snap behind my back. So. Fast. So. Easy. 

There are a ton of different brands out there, and lots of women are particularly passionate about one or another. I just happen to have chosen Boba before Junior was born. I enjoy other brands now, but this one will always be special to me because it was the brand that began my babywearing journey. 

That's right. These blankets are on the list again. I cannot stress enough just how useful muslin blankets are. Wiping up spit up/puke (and, by the way, you need these bigger blankets once the spit up turns into food spit up--gross), providing comfort and snuggles, covering up the shameful exposure of a breast while feeding (insert massive eye roll), providing a layer between baby and dirt/cement/grass/general nastiness, etc. These bad boys do it all. Heck, in a pinch they could even provide clothing for those moments when the baby has blown out a diaper in every change of clothes you brought with you. 

And I'll say it again: there is a reason these aden + anais blankets are said to be the best. I have other muslin blankets from other companies. The other blankets run from budget brands to luxury brands. These aden + anais blankets are still the best by far. The material feels softer and stretchier, they're slightly bigger, and yet they roll up much more tightly. I know $50 is steep for a set of four blankets, but trust me, you'll use them for everything and you won't regret having them. 

Ok, I know you must think I'm a rep for Sleeping Baby, but I swear I'm not. I don't even do affiliate links on this blog! I just link items so it's helpful for you, dear reader. 

Honestly, I bought this necklace when I purchased a second Zipadee-Zip (we have four -- don't judge) and they were running a special on these teethers if you bought one at the same time. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a jewelry person. I own a total of five necklaces, and they all look remarkably similar (long gold chains with a single pendant on them -- original, no?). I didn't want to be one of those moms who buys a gaudy necklace just for her baby to chew on. But Junior was entering that phase where everything was going in his mouth and I thought I'd give it a try. 

Best. Purchase. Ever. 

Strapped to me in the Boba, this necklace provides him with something to chew on when he gets restless, something to pull on when he gets agitated (much to the delight of my neck and back), something to play with when he's excited, and something to use as a safety object when he gets nervous around strangers. 

You can buy these sort of necklaces just about anywhere these days. I just happened to get mine from Sleeping Baby, and it has been worth every penny. 


That's it. I promised you five items and you have received five items. Boom. 

Eventually I'm sure I'll get around to sharing particular brands or items that I have enjoyed using with Junior, but all of those other things either fall into the category of "absolute necessities that every parent will buy from one brand or another" or "total luxuries that no baby really needs but you have anyway and wonder how this child has accumulated so. much. stuff."

And, look! I promised you a new post soon, and here it is. Let's see if I can keep it up. 

Until next time, keep it real, y'all. 

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