Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby Stuff Reviewed

My friends made up similar lists and they were so helpful when I was buying stuff. Of course this is completely subjective. Some things worked for me purely for seasonal reasons, or Mac's preference (voiced loudly and clearly). And many things I wouldn't say I needed, but just used more than I thought.

Surprisingly Worth It
- He loved it. Sometimes when he was screaming, all it took was a soak in the tub to calm him down. I was sad to put it away.
- Mac was born in the summer and regular swaddling blankets were just too heavy. These worked a treat. Light, breathable and extremely wrap-able, he loved them. Also, you don't have to worry about the baby getting smothered, they're easy to pack in the diaper bag, and not bad for cleaning up messes.We're currently trying to convince him to use them as his blankies because we have so many.
- They fit the Medela pump I have, so all of the other brands of bottles I'd so carefully selected just ended up in the give-away bag.
- Our house is freezing cold in the winter, especially in our drafty upstairs bedrooms. This is a blanket he can't kick off. Also, he doesn't know he can roll when he's wearing it so he's safer on our bed. Don't waste your money on the smaller sizes - you can just swaddle them at younger ages. The 6-18 month GroBag is obviously more worthy of the investment.
Receiving Blankets
- Easy to grab, can hang over any surface within arm's reach, quick to wash and dry, useful for any mess.
- Not a great website, but you get the idea. You put banana or avocado or other cooked veg into the mesh bag that screws onto the rattle-inspired handle and the baby sucks and chews on it. It prevents them from getting any lumps. Frozen banana is particularly good for teething.
- This isn't the one I have but presumably anything will work. These little LED lights are good to have on the bedside table for the middle-of-the-night stumble to the crib, or feeding, or blanket readjustment, or diaper change. Not bright enough to wake the kid up completely, portable so you can find whatever it is that just rolled under the bed, and not a bad little reading light, too. Also, good toy / distraction for 4AM.
- Yet another cheap piece of plastic crap for the counter. But there's nothing like it for heating a bottle or a jar of baby food really quickly and with no hassle. I can do it with one hand, too. Not always consistent with temperature, so food still needs a check. But better than the microwave (hot spots) or the stove (effort and dishes).
Thick Socks
- He can't walk and Robeez are hard to wrestle onto him at this stage, so I just use socks around the house. I can never have enough socks for him.
- Bought it to use in the bed but never did. It's way too hard and cumbersome. It's like sleeping up against a wall. So one day we put it on the change table and it stayed there. It's lined with vinyl for easy clean-ups and the hard sides mean that even at six months and rolling, he can't go anywhere easily. I still don't leave him alone in it, but at least I can turn away to grab a change of clothes.
- They gotta sit back there and if you're driving alone, you want to be able to see if that sound is they're making or not making actually requires you to pull over. We bought a small el-cheapo one from the drug store, only even in our tiny car I couldn't see him in it. These big ones are worth the expense.
Cloth Diapers
- Even though I don't use them, they're handy to have around. I often line the crib with them for extra absorbancy in case of explosion, or I put them under him during 'naked time'. Also handy to grab in a pinch for less, er, manageable spills.
- I couldn't find the actual brand I have - I think they're locally made - but you get the idea from this. In winter when you're stepping out, these keep the feet warm and they're big enough to get on relatively quickly and easily (compared to Robeez, which are probably better for walking stage). The ties at the ankles are the most helpful feature as Mac is constantly kicking off his socks. The ties keep everything on.
- This hasn't changed since I was a kid. Toss a little big people food in there, grind it up, insert in baby's mouth, watch for fun reactions.
- So far the most helpful and applicable book, especially for early days. Short, easy, well organized, quick read, good for the sleep deprived. The theory still applies, too. Mac is still on a 90 / 180-minute sleep cycle. I can predict his naps to the minute, sometimes.
First Aid / CPR
- I had to take this for my Nursing program, but it's been surprisingly helpful in giving me confidence. We've already come close to needing it a few times.
- I used to think they were something only hippy-granola-natural-birth moms would use. Wrong. And if I do this again, I would hire them again. I don't care how prepared I was; it didn't matter in the moment. My labour was so long and my doulas were invaluable. Not only did they give Trevor a chance for rest, but they helped us with the tough decisions.
- There's nothing worse than being horribly sleep deprived, recovering from birth / c-section, and having problems with breast feeding. It's pretty much a whole world of suck (pun intended). A good lactation consultant comforted me, refocused me and helped me figure things out. If I'd had regular problems, she'd have helped fix it lickety-split. I didn't have regular problems, but still worth the money.
Yeah, cameras with the bells and whistles take better pictures. But he's doing that cute thing RIGHT NOW and only for the next few seconds! Don't have to find the camera bag, don't have to fiddle with lenses, just grab the bloody thing and click away. Few minutes later and it's on Facebook for Grandmas and Grandpas. Throw it in your purse / jacket pocket for future photo opportunities.

Things I'm Glad We Borrowed Rather Than Bought
- I wanted one of those posh, expensive, pretty wraps. Luckily I was able to borrow one from a friend because it turned out I didn't use it as much as I'd imagined I would. A hand-me-down padded ring sling worked proved better for winter, much easier to get him in and out of (even over my winter coat and him in his snowsuit and so on), and the padding was easier on my shoulder as he got bigger. He also preferred being less confined, though I think if I'd have fought him more he'd have gotten used to the wrap eventually.
- Swings can be pricey and he hated it, so I'm glad I got to borrow it instead of committing to the money (and the loss of space). Bouncy chairs are handy for the infant stage; keeps 'em in one place and you can perch them where they can see you. Plus they still care about dangly things and you can even make your own to hang off of the bar. We now use a rocker and he likes to sit in the bathroom with me when I'm in the tub. Handy for keeping him in sight but confined. He prefers kitchen tools to dangly toys, which seem kind of wasted at this age.
- I never would have bought this. But now that we've borrowed it, I'm kind of sold on it. It collapses for easy storage and travel, and it sets up anywhere. Sure the doorway ones take up less space (this one is a space hog when set up. Not for petit houses), but with our unfinished doorways, it kind of works.
Baby Clothes
- I make an effort to dress him when we go out, but around the house it's onsies, sleepers or his birthday suit. Honestly, I've made do with no more than two pairs of pants or a couple of shirts / sweaters at any given stage. He wears an outfit a couple of times and then suddenly it's too tight around the diaper area or wrists and into the give-away bag it goes. So I'm grateful that I've never really had to buy clothes for him - we got a ton of hand-me-downs. I've long since passed them on, but if we do this again, people are always selling bags and bags of barely worn clothes for cheap on Used Regina.

I Swore I Wouldn't...
- Well, you try not sleeping for six months. Yeah. A little screaming doesn't seem so bad.
Baby Drugs
- ibuprofen, acetaminophen; sometimes there's just nothing else you can do. As a friend said, if your teeth were jamming their way up through your gums, wouldn't you take something? Note: The syringe is waaaaaay better than the useless dropper for measuring. I got a syringe with one brand and just use it for the others.
Disposable Diapers
- Look, I tried cloth and he'd get this horrible rash every time, even if he just wore it for an hour or so. We tried different soap, extra rinses, stripping (using something like OxyClean to get the detergent and stuff out), and we tried every cream available, including prescription. Nothing worked. So I tried expensive organic unbleached cotton disposables, multiple brands, and ended up spending a lot of money, doing a lot of laundry and changing multiple diapers at night, which would wake him up, etc., etc.. Unfortunately, nothing holds like your standard name brand, "12-hour dryness protection" disposable. I still hate the cost, their environmental impact and the chemical load on his skin, so I compromise by keeping him naked most of the day. It's the best I can do.
Wet Wipes
- I usually just take him to the sink to hose him off. But at night, when I'm upstairs, these mean I don't have to run downstairs. Also good for any quick cleanups that require a little dampness.
- I really didn't want the extra furniture. I thought I would use a playpen, but when I started pricing everything out and checking on safety ratings 'n such, the crib just made more sense, especially bought used (but still to code of course).
- For me, obviously. The medication does pass through breast milk and that worried me to no end, but two different doctors put it to me the same way: if the benefits of being on meds outweigh the harm your depression is doing to your relationship with your baby, then it's time to consider it. I'm glad I did.

Didn't Need / Use
- A million onesies. They only fit for a few months and you find you have the same four or five in rotation anyway.
- Big fancy diaper bag. I worried about this when he was born - oh-my-god-I-don't-have-one - but found my ugly old backpack far more functional in the end anyway.
- The raspberry teether. Some people swear by this, but he just isn't into it. Still, it's inexpensive so no harm in experimenting.
- I always thought these were such a great idea, but I never had 'em and never would have used them if I did. Oh well, he peed on himself. Grab a receiving blanket. He rarely peed upwards anyway. I think he nailed Trev's mouth, like, once.
- While I'm sure some books are better than others, I found that the Internet is waaaay faster and better, more comprehensive and of course, regularly updated. You're participating in more of a conversation, too. There are certain sites that I keep going back to. (Oh, this one too)

Didn't Use But Would Probably Recommend
- I thought these were overkill worthy of some serious eye-rolling (sorry C. and B.). We just have a regular audio monitor (hand me down! Seriously, we are so lucky) and while it works, I sometimes still have to run upstairs to see what he's doing. Is he really waking up or just transitioning (if I can get him just as he's waking up, sometimes I can get him back down)? Is he chewing or choking? I can't hear him at all, is he still breathing (and yes, I have wondered this many times)? And what the hell is the cat doing up there? Problem: it takes a whole lot of noise on our horrible, squeaky, 60+ year-old fir floors to check on him and I wake him up more often than not. It's too late to bother investing in a video monitor. We're probably just going to screw the floorboards down. Still, I would get one next time.

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