(This blog post contains affiliate links. More information below.*)
Hey y’all! I’m excited to start this new series on the blog! Anyone who knows me knows that I have always dreamed of being a mom…even since I was a little girl! Now that I am a mama, I’ve figured out quickly that reality is VERY different from my expectations, ha!! I’ve started this series to hopefully help any other mamas out there who are also navigating this crazy (and wonderful!) new role!
My first little one is almost 11 weeks old, and over the last couple of months, we’ve figured out the things we COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT! Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but most of these things have been a HUGE help, and we REALLY would not want to do without them unless we absolutely had to! Here are my top 12:
1. Owlet Sock*
This one was our most expensive purchase, and I honestly got it at the very last minute (just a few days before Jack was born)! For anyone who hasn’t heard of this, the Owlet sock is a device that monitors your baby’s heart rate and oxygen level while he or she sleeps. It will alert you if the levels are not normal (e.g. heart rate drops too low). As a first time mama and a person who is prone to anxiety, I decided we needed some kind of monitoring device for peace of mind. Y’all…this thing has been amazing, AND I can actually get some sleep!!! Instead of waking up and checking on Jack every time he makes a little noise (especially during the first week!), I knew the owlet would alert me if something was wrong, and since day one I have been able to get some much needed rest! It’s amazing! Also, there is an app for the iPhone that allows you to actually see your baby’s heart rate and oxygen level! Very cool! There are some other monitors— the Angelcare Monitor and the Snuza, but we decided to splurge on the Owlet, because it is very easily portable, and I liked how it wouldn’t fall off of Jack’s foot in the middle of the night. The first two or three nights we had a little trouble with the owlet (yellow alerts which means it can’t get a good reading), which I think can be chalked up to two things: a) the owlet works best with a 7+ pound baby, and when we got home, Jack was only 6lbs 11oz. and b) we didn’t have the sock on the correct way! ha! The Owlet 'chat' feature is awesome, and we had the sock corrected within minutes after chatting with a rep…at 9pm, no less!!
2. Rock N’ Play*
This is one of my other favorite purchases! Jack slept in this for the first 3 or 4 nights we were home from the hospital. After that, we moved him over to a Pack N’ Play that we have set up in our room. It was nice to have him in the Rock N’ Play at first, though, because I had him right next to me, and every time I rolled over at night I could reach down and check on him! (I know I just said the Owlet monitor gave us peace of mind…and it really did…but this new mama still worried just a little bit the first few nights!) Now we have the Rock N’ Play downstairs, and Jack will nap in it sometimes! It’s also just a good, SAFE place to be able to put him down! Robert had to go back to work 3 days after Jack arrived, and while my mom came over to help a good bit during the first week and a half, I was still alone with a newborn for several hours during the day. So, having a safe place to put him down while I ran to the restroom, showered, or made a sandwich was awesome! Just a little tip— there is a Rock N’ Play that plugs into the wall that ROCKS ITSELF, and there’s another one that you have to rock on your own. The plug in Rock N’ Play is not much more expensive than the other one, and it’s TOTALLY worth it!
3. Boppy Lounger & Boppy*
Okay, so while these aren’t MUST haves, they really are awesome! The Boppy Lounger has been a great spot to be able to put Jack down while I’m sitting on the floor or the bed. The only down side to this is that you cannot put it on a raised surface, because it could easily slide off if you have an active baby (like we do!). We also never let him sleep in this without supervision, because it would be easy for him to accidentally roll a little bit and suffocate. But, it’s great! The original Boppy has been amazing, too! We took it to the hospital with us, and it saved my arms, shoulders, and back while I was trying to nurse! It has been great for giving Jack bottles at home, too! We’ve also used it for grandparents and other visitors to help them hold Jack! If you’re not used to holding a baby, they can get heavy VERY quickly! The Boppy allows visitors to hold Jack and enjoy him without fatiguing their arms too quickly! :)
4. Dr. Brown’s Bottles*
Breastfeeding was a huge struggle for us for several different reasons, but that is a story for another day. Ultimately we ended up switching to bottle feeding Jack, and the Dr. Brown’s bottles have been amazing! Jack had some trouble with reflux and spitting up, and these make it a lot better! We also liked the #1 nipple on these bottles…it was slower than other ‘slow flow’ nipples made by other brands, and it allowed him to get enough milk without it overwhelming him in the first couple of weeks.
UPDATE: We STILL love these bottles! Jack is almost a year old now and we're still using them! We love this type, because the green parts come out for when baby doesn't need them anymore! We took the green part out when Jack was 8 or 9 months old, because his reflux was a lot better. Also, we love that Dr. Brown bottles have different nipple sizes. We started with #1 and now we're at #4.
Jack wore these almost exclusively for the first month!! He had to have a procedure done on his mouth, and the doctor told us that it was very important that we make sure his sharp little nails didn’t scratch/reopen wounds. So, we found onesies and gowns with built in mittens, and they worked perfectly! We still have little mittens to put on him from time to time, but he is a 'Houdini baby' and was able to get them off in about 3 seconds flat! He could still sometimes get a few fingers out of the built in mittens, but it was much more of a challenge! ;) Bonus: these onesies are super affordable!
6. Nail File*
Speaking of sharp little nails…I was (still am) terrified to try to trim Jack’s nails! One of my good friends (shout out to Lindsay!!) told me about a battery powered nail file that is so soft and sensitive that works great for baby nails, and it has been amazing!! There are different file attachments, and you use the softest one for babies. I’ve held the file up to my fingers while running, and it doesn’t leave even the slightest scratch. So, I feel perfectly safe using it on Jack!
7. Baby Bathtub*
I’ve heard of people not using these…and more power to them! But for us, the baby bathtub was a BACK SAVER! The first few times we gave Jack a bath, we had the baby tub in the big tub, and every night after his bath my back was killing me!! Now we put his tub onto our kitchen counter and fill it with the hose nozzle on the sink. Of course, we never, ever leave him unattended a) because he sometimes slips down into it and could get a mouth full of water if we aren’t watching him carefully and b) he is an active little guy and could probably move the tub if he put his mind to it! ;) But being able to stand up and bathe him has helped my back SO much, and now bath time is much more enjoyable for all of us! ;) The one I linked above has a newborn 'sling' that was awesome for the first several weeks! Now that Jack has outgrown the sling, we still use the reclined 'newborn' side and once he's sitting up better, we'll switch him to the 'infant/toddler' side. The tub is made with 3 different sides/positions, so it grows with your baby!
8. Halo Swaddles*
These are AWESOME!! I cannot say enough good things about these swaddles! They give Jack the extra layer he needs without being too warm, and they calm his startle reflex so that he sleeps really well! Y’all…we had a 7 week old who slept in 4 hour stretches (I only let naps go 2-2.5 hours at that age)…and sometimes would sleep 6-7 hours at night!!! By week 8 or 9 Jack was consistently sleeping through the night! It’s amazing, and I attribute a lot of that to the swaddles and also to some of the Moms On Call methods…more on that next!
**If you don't read any of the others...read this one!! This book has been GOLD for us!**
So, I know there are lots of different opinions about sleep schedules, crying it out, etc. We have done a lot of research, and one of my clients recommended this book to us (thank you, Julie!!). While we don’t follow it exactly, we’ve taken bits and pieces from the book, and I think this is one of the reasons Jack is sleeping as well as he is! We do a ‘bedtime routine’ every night that includes a bath, and after just a week of the routine, Jack started catching on that bath time meant it was time to relax, have a bottle, and go to sleep! At 7 weeks he was sleeping through the night (10:30/11pm until 5/6am) at least half the time, and on the nights he didn't, he still slept for a good 3-4 hour chunk of time before waking up! By about 8.5 weeks he was sleeping through the night consistently (8:30/9pm until 7/7:30am)!!!! We aren’t following the schedule exactly or anything, because (in my opinion) it’s hard to get a baby this young on a very strict schedule! I also don’t really let him cry it out for TOO long, because I feel like he’s still little! Another thing we aren’t doing (that the book suggests) is having him in his own room…mostly because I just can’t handle that yet, and I like to be able to get to him in 5 seconds, ha! He’s in our room (across the room from us) in a Pack N’ Play, and that has been working great. I do imagine that in a month or two when we move him to his room that he’ll sleep even BETTER, because he won’t be disturbed by us at all. This awesome sleep schedule could change, we know, but right now we’re THANKFUL and enjoying our sleep and a happy, healthy, growing baby! :)
UPDATE: The link above goes to the Moms On Call website where you can buy the physical book. I recently found out that you can buy a Kindle version on Amazon, and you can find that link below!
10. Burp Cloths (aka cloth diapers)*
When I was pregnant, several people told me that cloth diapers worked GREAT as burp cloths, and they were right! We got a pack of cloth diapers, and it has been awesome. They’re cheap and easy to just throw in the wash quickly! They also soak up more than a lot of the other (super cute!) burp cloths I’ve tried!
11. Soothies Pacis*
Jack has loved these pacis, and we’ve been using them since day one! I know some people say not to use a paci for the first month, but we did, and he’s been just fine (even while he was breastfeeding, too)! I like these because I can stick my finger into them while he’s trying to take the paci, and it helps him to get a better suction/soothe more quickly :)
12. Car Seat (Infant Carrier) Cover*
Okay, I started with one of our 'MUST HAVES' and I’m ending with another 'must have’ in our book! We LOVE our car seat cover…mostly because it prevents people from touching our little guy when we would rather they keep their hands off! ;) Honestly, everyone we’ve met has been really respectful, but the cover is just one extra barrier for germs and reminder for people to either not touch or to wash their hands before touching Jack! We have had to take Jack to a few places that were ‘germy’ when he was just a week or two old, and this cover gave me so much peace of mind! I was able to enjoy what we were doing instead of worrying about someone accidentally coughing on him, touching his hands without thinking, etc. It also keeps the wind from getting to him on breezy days, which is great! One thing I will mention is that it gets quite toasty in his little 'bubble' after a few minutes if it’s sunny or warm outside. So, if you use one of these, just be mindful of overheating! We took Jack on a walk a few days ago, and after a few minutes I could tell he was getting too warm, so we took off the cover and used a muslin blanket instead so he could get more airflow.
Other Honorable Mentions!
Swaddle Blankets— we’ve loved muslin swaddle blankets for all sorts of things. They work great as giant burp cloths in a pinch (ha!), they are light enough to keep him warm without overheating, and they’re thin so that they don’t take up much room in the diaper bag!
- Sound Machine— this is one of the Moms On Call tricks…Jack sleeps so much better with his sound machine one. Right now we have one in our room for nighttime and another in his nursery for naps. I’m actually thinking about getting him a portable one, too, as we starting to be a little bit more ‘on the go’ now that I’m fully recovered!
- Huggies Natural Care wipes— we’ve tried a few different kinds of wipes, and these worked best for us! They don’t irritate Jack’s skin, and for some reason the texture of them just helps to clean up messes quicker and easier! Jack is a one (major) blowout a day baby, so quick, effective clean up is a huge deal for us. Pampers wipes just didn’t cut it.
- Diaper Bag— Everyone has different ideas about diaper bags, so that’s why this one isn’t a 'must have’ but I LOVE my diaper bag! let me preface this by saying I am a big bag lady…as in my purse is always huge and full of #allthethings …and this diaper bag is no different, haha! It has SO many pockets and sections, though, that make organization pretty easy! I have my ‘purse’ section (wallet, keys, planner, etc.), diaper section, bottle section, etc. It’s awesome!! Also, it’s made of a material that is super easy to wipe down…which is essential, in my opinion, for something that is going to be around a baby all the time ;)
- Black & White Baby Book— since about 1 week old Jack has LOVED look at his black & white book! Newborns are only able to see black & white (or things with a lot of contrast) at first, so this book was something that engaged his mind and something that he could really enjoy from a VERY young age! And he is only beginning to love it even more as he’s getting older! :) (Disclaimer: the book I linked isn't the one that Jack has, because I couldn't find it, but this one looks good, too! ;)) --P.S. Speaking of what your baby can see...check out the BabySee app! It's really neat!
- Bottle brush and drying rack-- at first I wasn't sure how much I would use these things, but once Jack started being exclusively bottle fed, I realized that these two things were a life saver! The drying rack just stays on our counter, and is awesome for drying all of the bottle parts that come with the Dr. Browns bottles!
*Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. My goal is to help my blog readers, not spam them! I value your trust and want you to know that I would never endorse a product or resource that I do not love or fully believe in! I always have my readers’ best interests at heart! Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you come on back soon!