Nearly a year has passed since we became parents and I wanted to share what helped us survive this amazing journey!
1. Swaddle. SWADDLE. Swaddle your baby! Okay, I swaddled mine and I swear by it. The happiest babies I know are or were swaddled. The best sleeping babies I know were or are swaddled. We swaddled Jude until he was almost 6 months old and could roll over. He liked it. He LOVED it. It kept his little flailing baby arms close to his tiny body and made him feel secure and warm. If he fussed or whined, we swaddled him up and he calmed RIGHT down. No joke. Ask David. We don't lie. Swaddle your baby. Some friends have told me that their baby doesn't like being swaddled. Even if my next baby seems to not like it, I'm going to keep doing it, or at least trying it for a while. They could just be not used to it. Jude was swaddled in the hospital from day one and it made him sleep so much better than when he wasn't. I recommend Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddle blankets. I had the regular muslin with Jude, but I'm planning on getting the bamboo ones also next time around because they are a billion times softer. I also used SwaddleMe for Jude when he got a little bigger for night time. I've heard great things about the Miracle Blanket as well. I liked the muslin ones the best because they are thin and I didn't have to worry about it getting on his face if he happened to come unswaddled (also why I used the velcro ones at night). I am not a paranoid mom, but have heard too many stories about suffocation, so Jude hasn't slept at night with a blanket (he stopped being swaddled around 6 months) until like last week, and he's 2 weeks away from turning 1. This is one warning I've read about online and stuck to it.
2. Mam Pacifiers. I gave Jude a pacifier starting around week 2 after I was sure he was a nursing champ. For two months after that I tried to help him keep that dang green round green pacifier in his mouth and he couldn't really for more than 30 seconds. A friend recommended I try the Mam brand, and I did happen to have some that were given to me as a gift. BINGO! I had tried gumdrop, NUK, Tommee Tippee and a few others, and Mam was the only one he could keep in. He still uses them for sleeping. Pacifiers are a controversial choice, but he loved it and I love it, and I hope getting rid of them won't be too hard. Everything else with this kid has been pretty easy so here's to hoping! And yes, I'd still give it to him all over again if I had the choice. It has made my life wonderful for a year so far, and a few days of whining hell after taking it away are going to be worth that time of bliss :) If it seems like your baby doesn't like their pacifier and you want them to take one, try MAM. They sell them at Target, WalMart, and Baby's R Us. *Note. There are 3 different sizes: Newborn, 0-6 months and 6+ months. I started with the 0-6 and switched to the 6+ once he was six months.
3. White Noise Machine. We have this one and use the ocean or rain setting. The benefits? We don't have to tip toe around the house once Jude is in bed. It's a constant noise that he likes and helps him sleep or fall back asleep. And it's small enough that we take it with us when we stay somewhere else. I think it's a reassuring sound, so even when we stay with family or in a hotel, it's a constant, and he sleeps just as well as at home.
4. Security Camera in lieu of a Baby Monitor. I was not ready to spend $200+ on a baby video monitor. Someone...maybe David?...had the brilliant idea of getting a regular security monitor instead. Turns out they're about $70 online. Instead of a bulky video screen to view your sleeping baby, you simply download an app. We each have access to our sleeping boy wherever we are...at the movies on a date or in the next room. We also downloaded the app on our ipad for babysitters to check in on him. It has the functionality to listen in on the room (which you can keep open all night if you want, just make sure your phone's plugged in). You can talk to your baby, move the camera around to get a better view or look around the room, zoom in on the baby...it's amazing. And if I want to get another one for our next baby...I'll still be under the price of a normal baby video monitor. (We also plan on using them as security cameras once their function as a baby monitor is done).
Now onto my non-essentials but loved items:
5. Dreft Laundry Detergent. I thought special baby laundry detergent was going to be a waste of money. However, when Jude was a few months old and had a bit of 'baby acne', my doctor commented on it and said that it might just be irritation from his face being against his clothes or my clothes. It wasn't a huge deal, but I decided to start washing his clothes and mine and David's shirts in Dreft and his little face cleared up within a few days. It made me happy and the detergent smells like yummy clean babies. I've only had to buy 2 bottles, so it's not a huge expense.
6. ZIPPER pajamas. Because who has time for all those stupid snaps?!
7. Natural, scent free dish soap. PLEASE buy some. You'll be washing bottles, pacifiers, toys, sippy cups and utensils. They don't need to smell like lemon. I like the Seventh Generation brand because it's pretty inexpensive.