Saturday, August 23, 2008

What did one Rev. Mama say to the other?

So, a friend of mine is pregnant and due in December. She sent out an innocent e-mail to a few mom friends, asking for registry advice. The following post is my response, heavily laden with nostalgia and fondness and lots of hyperlinks. Prepare for more information than you can manage. I got a little carried away.

Why am I posting it here? Because it took me a long time to write.

For expectant mamas everywhere... enjoy! (Caution to those who are a little queasy at the idea of breastfeeding. This post refers to it liberally.)

1. What is the definitive infant nursing pillow? The Boppy - I got more than one cover, 'cause of spit-up issues (it happens!), and it was helpful and a little lovely to have more than one cover around. I know some folks swear by My Brest Friend, but I nursed both boys well past their first birthdays, and never had a need for anything more than the boppy. My Brest Friend also has a strap that attaches it to your waist, so you can walk around and offer concessions to your houseguests who are only there to hold the baby. Either way, this thing gets thrown in the closet around month 5-6.

2. A pack n' play - but my first church was smarter than I was and got one for us. Other indespensable items: an exersaucer, a baby-incline memory foam pillow thing (we just used it in our bed), a sling. I used a Maya Wrap ring sling and started with a New Native Baby Carrier AND an Ergo , which I bought "second hand" (i.e. unused, just returned because customer didn't like color/fit/etc.) for $78. If I had to pick one, I would go with the Ergo, which we still use to this day with both Jackson and Cooper (see posting on Simple Tasks). It's better than a baby bjorn, because it doesn't cause the baby to hang by her crotch, and it's much more comfortable for the parent. In the Ergo, you can wear her on your front, side and back; the only catch is that she can't face outward when on your front. But, this was never an issue.

We are also thrilled with our Phil and Ted's E3 stroller, which we still use with a nearly 4 and 2 year old. The handlebar on it is also tall enough for Matt to push without scrunching over, and he's 6'5". My baby carriers were essential to me that first year - learning how to nurse with the baby in the sling saved my life and kept me sane. Other tips: if you're planning to nurse, learn how to nurse the baby lying down. You'll both get a lot more sleep and be a lot less frustrated those first few months!

3. Things I couldn't live without? Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions and Catherine Newman's Waiting for Birdy. See also: baby carriers, above. A good breast pump was essential. I recommend the Medela Pump in Style, which I have tucked away somewhere with the hopes of using again someday. If you just want to check out the mechanics of what this thing does, let me know. I've pumped in the strangest of places, doing the strangest of things. I got a car adapter so that I could pump while driving. Keep in mind, I drive a 5-speed manual transmission. I've never felt so empowered (and slightly idiotic).
Also, my advice is in favor of an infant carseat, but not a Graco. They're not very comfortable looking for newborns, and a very tall child would outgrow it quickly. I used an Eddie Bauer (Cosco) infant seat for nearly 8 months, and the J.J. Cole Bundle Me was a must during the winter. An 8 month old baby in an infant seat was heavy, but he still fit. The benefit of the infant seat is not having to put a child who can't walk yet on the ground in no recepticle (again: see note on baby carriers!).
With Cooper, I discovered the joy of the Swaddle Me blankets. Purchase in bulk! It was a gift when it came to getting him to sleep (plus, he took a pacifier for about 6 months, and Jackson never did...)
Robeez are indespensible as infant footwear; they will keep them warm, and cannot be kicked off. Pedipeds are great for cruising-age kids.
Babylegs are, most assuredly, the greatest baby gift one can receive.

4. Clothes, blankets, toys - don't bother. People will give you clothes by the truckload - epsecially for a girl! Also, depending on your nursing/breastfeeding needs, you won't need 100 pacifiers or bottles. I bought a bunch of breastmilk storage bags, and those worked well in the playtex inserts bottles (Drop n' Go?). The bottles that came with the pump weren't that great, but were far more handy. Don't stress too much - she'll figure out how to eat quickly. :-) This is all stuff that you should pick out yourself, as she's ready and can inform you of her preferences. I'm new to this conversation, but apparently the Born Free bottles are free of BPAs and won't poison your child when you're not looking.

5. People will give you plenty of clothes, towels, blankets, clothes, toys, clothes. They may even give you diapers! Invest in a good wipes warmer, which can work with regular wipes or cloth wipes and your own solution of baby oil, baby soap and water (believe it or not, the warmer is truly essential!) and a good changing pad with a little wipes box. Also, steer clear of the diaper genie. It's a scam. Get a diaper champ - it truly is superior, and can be used with either cloth or disposable diapers. Also, you don't have to use special bags, just regular garbage bags.

Just an aside, but if you've considered cloth diapering, has been the best site for ordering in bulk. I have about 30 diapers in 3 different sizes if you're interested in seeing them and figuring out what they're all about. I used them only after Cooper was born and I had, for a short time, 2 people in diapers. I just couldn't spend that much on paper. The guilt (and cost) was too much! I used Swaddlebees, and loved them. They were cheaper and much more effective than FuzziBunz and BumGenius. They're super easy to clean, and not nearly as difficult to care for as you might think. It was, actually, my favorite chore around the house. I loved folding and sorting them. Ah, babyhood! Also, is a great site for anything.

6. There are several things that you'll register for that you won't need for 6 months or so:

Any sort of feeding stuff. Highchairs, bibs, spoons, bowls, cups, etc. - All of this can wait until 5 months or so. Also, don't get a Bumbo seat unless you inherit it from a friend. It was a bit of a disappointment, but some folks swear by them. Cooper back-arched his way out of it at 2 months. For feeding chairs, we bought a Phil and Ted's Me Too, and it was wonderful! Cooper was a big climber, and this was the only chair we could keep him in. With Jackson, we skipped a "regular" high chair altogether and used this one that strapped to a chair.
Depending on your thoughts on co-sleeping (I was all for it), a co-sleeper would be ideal, a bassinet is helpful, and a crib mainly stored laundry that needed to be folded and/or put away for the first few months.
As for bedding - you don't have to decide today! You can find something great today, and change it when she's 6 months old! The only thing I noticed was that prints with lots of patterns seemed to distract Jackson enormously when he was falling asleep. He would try to scratch at the little baseballs and footballs on his bedding. Poor baby. I thought Target just added some great girl bedding (I had to go down that aisle to buy Cooper some underwear, I swear!)
Get a great baby monitor - if I could have afforded a video monitor, I would have done it! We also used a little play mat thing all the time. Most folks swear by their baby swing, but it was not that critical for us. Things that vibrated and made noise seemed unnecessary, though Cooper loved his baby papasan chair, which also comes as a swing.
For bathing, I swear by California Baby, which you can now get at Target. It's so gentle and smells like a baby should. Methodbaby products are also wonderful. I was careful with laundry detergent, and only used Method's baby detergent. Dreft can be very irritating for babies.

All of this having been said, what works for me or you may not work for you, and vice versa. So, what one mom swears by may not be as helpful to you. Your baby will tell you what she needs and prefers, and in the meantime - talk to lots of mamas, and know that we will support you as much as we can on our end.

Blessings and joy,


Katie O. said...

Wow-babies need a lot of stuff. I had no idea. That's one more thing to add to the column for not having kids, although yours seem lovely.

BDR said...

There is NOT something called my "Brest Friend!" NO NO NO

Anonymous said...

There is NOT something called my "Brest Friend!" NO NO NO

OMG! PUMPING in the car - I will never ride in that car again! OMG

BDR said... I need to go take a shower!

Mandy said...

Alright, BDR, you can't say you weren't duly warned! You knew what you were getting into when you started reading this post. I suppose now we're *really* friends. Or not. Maybe I've lost you forever. Sigh...

(And thanks, Katie. I *do* have lovely little ones!)

Heather said...

As a mom of 2 and ready to pop literally with #3 I thought I would add...drop the swaddlers...if you do have a small child they are a pain and don't fit right but I am a HUGE fan of swaddling. I just ordered this and can't wait to try it. I have heard incredible things about it. Also if you decide to pump int he car just be aware the car plug make the pump go work much strong than the regulat plug. I learned that the hard way LOL.

heather said...

Oh and one more thing...the playtex liners are also BPA free. Playtex has a storgage system and adaptor that you can pump right into the liner, freeze and then put it right into one of the bottles. I loved it! Plus I have to admit only having to wash and steralize the bottle nipples was a lifesaver.

Mandy said...

The Results are In!

As a follow up, here's what my friend who sent out the initial e-mail received from those of us who responded:

--just about EVERYONE loves and recommends the Exersaucer!
--many of you swear by swings
--many of you think that the Boppy is AT LEAST good as a pillow, if not for breast feeding
--most of you haven't used or didn't register for pacifiers and bottles
--Diaper Champ is more popular the Diaper Genie
--many of you encouraged me to get plain white burp cloths
--slings are kinda popular among you
--Baby Bijorn is not as popular
--Now I know that hospitals give you all kinds of helpful things, including healthcare supplies and the little hand covers
--made-to-swaddle blankets are, for most of you, the way to go
--many of you suggested the Ultimate Crib Sheet
--I shouldn't register for blankets, toys, or clothes. We'll get plenty.
--every mom should choose her own breast pump (Sorry, BDR!)
--thinking about baby stuff is so much fun!!