Rory is two. Trace is 6 months (almost 7.) To say I'm up on all things baby...is an understatement. :) My perfume for the last two years have been a wide array of formula scents, I spend more on formula and diapers each month than on my car payment (for an SUV!) and in the last 6 months, the longest I've gone without visiting a pediatrician is three weeks.
I am a mother, hear me roar. :)
Lots of my blog friends are pregnant/trying to conceive/new moms (Hey Meg!) and I thought, in light of my recent 24 month crash course in motherhood, I'd highlight some of my baby must have and have nots.
Rule number one. Of utmost importance. Wal-Mart, Target, Sam's Club brand formulas have the same nutritional values as the brands they list on the can. The same as diapers, it is simply a guessing game until you find the formula your baby tolerates best. Rory did the greatest on Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice Milk Based. Trace on the other hand, has to have weird bottles. Two scoops of Enfamil Nutramigen, two scoops of Parent's Choice Soy. Every baby is different! Try store brands, save money where you can.
Along those same lines...I HIGHLY recommend Playtex Drop In Systems. Drops ins come in a box of 80 for 8 dollars. It makes your life infinitely easier. Buy some bottles, lots of nipples and you're good to go. A quick rinse of the bottle and ring is all you need. Toss all the nipples in the dishwasher and sanitize those suckers. EASY. EASY. EASY.
While we're talking feeding...invest in the following:
Powdered Formula Dispenser. This little puppy costs about 6 bucks AND gives you enough storage for three bottles worth of formula. Hello, genius.
This is the dishwasher basket I was talking about! Nipples up top, rings in the bottom. Easy peasy. Keeps everything right side up and allows for a thorough clean.
Get a good monitor. If a video one makes you feel most comfortable, go for it. I didn't need that, my house is as big as a minute, so I can sneak in any time I want. Monitors are for your comfort, mostly. Babies makes noise when they sleep. Get used to it early! Don't go running at every little noise. You're setting yourself up for issues.
Invest in LOTS of crib sheets. That way you aren't doing laundry every day because someone spit up all over or had a diaper explosion. Trust, there's enough new laundry coming your way.
Get one of these. I INSIST.
Fisher-Price Newborn Rocker/Cradle. It's genius. It's at a great reclined position, which naturally helps babies sleep plus aids digestion. It's a perfect height to rock with one hand while you attempt to cook dinner/blog/pay bills with the other. If it wasn't 50 bucks, I'd get one for EVERY mom I know who was a baby on the way.
A jumperoo is a MUST! This is Trace's...
He plays for long stretches in it. Long enough for me to get dinner in the oven even sometimes! It's also good for his mobility, independent play skills and hand eye coordination. Ideal.
A good playmat is a fantastic investment. Lots of lights, sounds, colors, toys, things to grab. It helps a baby want to have tummy time, which is so important for muscle development and neck strength. I didn't invest in a nice one with Rory, but I did with Trace. I'm SO glad I did! He loves it and he is starting to crawl already, much earlier than Rory.
Another thing I didn't buy with Rory that I wish now I would have. Trace loves this little seat and it is so handy. His is a very manly purple too. ;) I use it all the time, he sits with me all over the house and he sits in it to be fed right now. (Yep, still can't get to the high chair.) This chair helps him through a lot of his tough acid reflux days because it doesn't scrunch his abdomen and it helps him sit upright comfortably. He plays, watches his baby dvds, chews on his books...whatever!
A Diaper Genie! GENIUS.
The Book "On Becoming Babywise." Read it. Mostly the chapters on organizing a baby's sleep schedule. We used the eat-play-sleep method on both Rory and Trace. Rory was sleeping 12 hours a night by 8 weeks old and Trace was by 11. (He took a little longer because of his belly) They still sleep 12 hours a night and nap 2 hours a day. It was a lifesaver and gave me a plan of action in my sleep deprived haze of new motherhood.
A diaper stockpile. For obvious reasons. (From experience...yikes.)
A good, sturdy, washable diaper bag.
Baby laundry detergent/All Free and Clear. Sensitive skin abounds in newborns! Keep that perfume and dye away!
A good baby tub so you are comfortable holding a slippery little newborn.
Sleeping gowns, not jammies that snap or zip. Use the gowns until they are sleeping through the night. Trust me on this one, I've been known to not zip or miss about half the snaps in the middle of the night! :)
A swing. Neither of my kids really cared for our swing plus it takes up tons of room in our hose. I suggest borrowing one for your baby to see if he/she likes it before investing in one. Some babies LOVE them, Ro and T both hated them. Plus they are BIG babies and their chunky booties keep the swing from swinging nicely. :)
(Scary) Crib Bumpers. I'm scared to death of crib bumpers. Sure, lots of crib bedding is adorable and really adds to the nursery but it scares the living daylights out of me. Babies roll when you least expect it. Lower that crib, sleep them on their back and for the love of pete, get those bumpers OUT! (Or at least get the breathable ones...but still.)
Newborn Clothing. Ask your doctor before you buy clothes if he thinks your baby will be under 7 pounds. If the baby is projected at more than that, go right to 0-3 month clothes! Newborn clothes are SO SMALL. 0-3 month clothes will last you much longer. Also remember, lots of people will buy you presents and clothes, so focus your efforts buying clothes into building a long term wardrobe.
Newborn diapers. See above! :)
Honestly, motherhood will change you for the better! You will think you are prepared, but you won't be. You will survive. You will find your own path and you will be great at it! That first smile, laugh and first time you hear the sweetest sound in the world: Mama...there's nothing that can prepare you for how your heart will explode with love. And just wait until you hear the first I Love You, Mommy. That's heaven, baby. Heaven.