Saturday, November 25, 2006

Baby-Tested, Mother-Approved

Diapers in the breeze

It is that season of life for us where many of our friends are having babies. It is amazing to see all these new individuals coming into the world, and to see our friends growing into new roles as parents. Having a baby does come with an overwhelming number of decisions, though, many of which involve baby gear. I’ve been asked a couple of times about what we registered for, what we actually used, what we liked, etc. so I thought I would collect all that info here. These are just our experiences, and although I certainly hope they would work as well for others as they did for us, your mileage may vary. I am not affiliated with any of the following companies or products, but I wouldn’t mind becoming a spokesmama for some of them. Maybe there is a lucrative endorsement deal in this somewhere for me!

Pregnancy Piercings- I am part of the huge percentage of women my age with a navel ring, and it started to get uncomfortable at about the 25-week mark. I replaced my normal surgical steel ring with this flexible barbell about then and kept it in until I was about 4 weeks postpartum. It didn’t bother my skin (which is pretty finicky) and I am sure my piercing would have closed up if I had left it empty.

Belli Elasticity Belly Oil- Yes, I know this is kind of expensive, but I really do think it works. I used it on my belly and I have zero stretch marks there, even though I got huge. I did get some on (ahem) other areas that I did not anoint with this precious stuff. Not scientific proof, perhaps, but convincing to me!

Arms Reach Mini Co-Sleeper- The AAP recommends that your baby sleep in your room with you to reduce the risk of SIDS, as do parents who like to get more sleep. No, seriously, having Grace in our room for the first months of her life drastically increased the amount of sleep we all got and this little bedside bassinet helped. I could nurse her in the middle of the night without actually getting out of bed, then pop her back into the bassinet. You can’t get much better than that! Also, the “Mini” version of this thing fits in our small, 1920’s-era bedroom and can use king-size pillowcases as the sheets. (The official sheets kind of suck, FYI.)

Bundle Me- This is like a tiny sleeping bag that you put in the car seat or stroller to keep your baby warm. I’d never seen one in Texas but lots of babies have them here, and they are genius for cold weather babies, especially newborns. You use it instead of outerwear, perhaps with just a hat. I remember trying to wrangle floppy, no-head-control Grace into a bunting and then into the carseat-- sheesh... This is a much better idea, and taking Grace out into the world got much easier after I acquired one.

Boppy- Yes, it has a silly name. This pillow is a great idea, though, and it does make nursing so much more comfortable and convenient. With Grace at 10 months old, I still use ours multiple times a day.

Fuzzi Bunz- I didn’t really consider cloth diapering as a possibility until during my pregnancy Rob made some comments about the environmental issues surrounding diapers. I had the image in my head of complicated folding and pins and those yucky plastic pants. When I looked into the current status of the cloth diapering world, though, I was pleasantly surprised to see there are a ton of options out there, some of which seemed quite doable to me. We chose to try out Fuzzi Bunz, and we really like them. We started using them when Grace was about 4 weeks old (we waited that long just because having a newborn was overwhelming and we didn’t feel ready to add another new thing into the mix until then) and at 10 months Grace is currently in the medium size. Our initial motivation was the environmental impact, but it turns out to save quite a chunk of change to cloth diaper as well. Also, I really can tell a difference in the state of Grace’s skin. And being perfectly frank, it does not add that much work to our everyday lives-- just one load of laundry every other day. It is awfully nice to have Grace’s behind soft and fabric-y instead of crunchy and plastic-y.

Baby slings- These are my number-one, can’t-live-without baby item. I don’t think any other physical item has made my life as a new mama easier than the baby slings I have. When Grace was tiny, there were days when she wanted to be held ALL FRACKING DAY, and one of these allowed me to do this and still be active, do stuff around the house, go for walks, etc. I use them to go grocery shopping, to walk the dog, to vacuum, to walk Grace to sleep for a nap, etc. You can’t use them to cook because things like stoves and knives are not safe for babies, but other than that, there is not much you can’t do. I think most babies like being in the slings because they are close to mom or dad, just part of your everyday life, able to see what is going on, and sort of swaddled. There was a learning curve in using one, but after about the first 10 times I put her in it, I felt comfortable with it. It only got easier when she gained head control. I wouldn’t recommend the brands that they carry in the baby stores because they all have weird padding and straps and things. A simple unpadded ring sling is probably the best kind to start out with. I made mine using these directions, but if you don’t sew there are a ton of places to buy them online, including the best-known and reasonably priced Maya Wrap. I also really like pouch slings and have a Hotslings one that is ubercute. Hooray for babywearing!