People are great. I love people. In the last six weeks, we’ve had neighbors show up at our door with homemade soup and an extra pan of brownies. Relatives come by to entertain our toddler and switch the laundry into the dryer. Co-workers have sent surprise packages with gifts for the whole family.
Yup, people are really really great. I could – and probably will, at some point – write a whole blog post about how important it is to have a supportive group of folks around you during those vulnerable first few weeks with a newborn. But you know what else is pretty great sometimes? Stuff. Stuff can give you an extra pair of hands when all you really want is to make yourself a sandwich. Stuff can help your babies sleep (magic!). Stuff can help keep you from losing your mind during an endless nursing session. Stuff may not be warm and fuzzy, but it sure is handy.
But! Tricky little things that they are, not all babies love the same stuff. Owen loved the Woombie. Eloise screeched to high heaven until we switched her out of it and swaddled her old-school style. Owen loved the swing; Eloise could take it or leave it. A few items, however, have proven their worth through two babies and officially made the cut for the Chalk Family Newborn Survival Gear list. If we have a third baby (ummm…. far in the future), these will be stocked up and ready to go. With that said, your baby may hate every item on the list. Sorry. They’re tricky like that.
1) Mei Tai: I had a Moby with Owen, and really wanted to love it. I did not. The miles of fabric and general fiddliness didn’t work for us. The Mei Tai, however, I do love. It’s easy, comfortable, and has the cozy factor of a wrap without all the fussing. I wear Eloise for walks, around the house, and whenever she starts to fuss. Thumbs up.
2) Burt’s Bees Baby Wash: Because it is gentle, natural, and makes your baby smell delicious. The end.
3) Pajamas: For the first five weeks or so of Eloise’s life, I only dressed her in little footie pjs. She’s a winter baby, we didn’t leave the house much, and, well, it meant one less layer of fussy snaps to deal with during the countless diaper changes each day. Also, if you’re lucky? They have little cats or bears on the butt. And who doesn’t love a baby with a fuzzy animal behind?
4) Fisher Price Infant Seat: I actually registered for this when I was pregnant with Owen. I had zero understanding of why I or the baby might prefer an infant seat versus a bouncer seat versus a swing. But we were in the Babies R Us, and well, darn – it was fuzzy and sweet and played little lullabies, and I am a sap. So, we registered for it, and have used it now for both Owen and Eloise. Eloise still does not enjoy bouncy seats (yes, we have one of those too), but this is just sort of cozy and it vibrates and is magic for living-room naps. It has a fairly limited lifespan, but is a really nice item for the sleepy newborn days.
5) Co-sleeper: This was purchased about two weeks after Owen was born, after tiring of the borrowed bassinet we had been using. It is probably my number one newborn item. We like to keep the little ones in our room for the first few months (umm, at two years old, Owen may or may not still end up in our room most nights, but that is a topic for another day). The co-sleeper lets me have the baby nearby without actually being in the bed with us. I can pry one eye open and see how she’s doing, reach my hand out and soothe her, find a lost pacifier, etc., all without having to even sit up. I know that makes me sound incredibly lazy, but any extra energy that can be saved during the first few weeks should be.
6) White noise machine: We got so addicted to having this play while Owen was an infant that we ended up purchasing one for our own room once we moved him into his crib. Having white noise play really does help babies (ours, at least) sleep better. Anything that can help that cause is worth it.
7) iPhone: Umm, ok, so this one may not technically be for baby. I am not organized enough to do so, but I hear that lots of people love the baby tracking apps so they can monitor nap/feeding/diaper schedules. I, on the other hand, enjoy playing Candy Crush and checking Facebook and HB during the middle of the night nursing sessions. It keeps me awake and entertained, which means I am happier and less likely to harbor dark thoughts towards a snoozing Mr. Chalk. Happy mama = happy family. Bonus, it means I always have a camera on hand.
8) Lanolin: Again, this one is for mom more than baby, but trust me. If you are breastfeeding, you want this within reach. I don’t care what the lactation consultants tell you; the first few weeks of nursing can hurt like the dickens. It may mean the latch isn’t right, but it also could just mean that, you know, your body hasn’t adjusted to nursing yet. Lanolin helps.
9) Nosefrida: Let’s be honest. You were grossed out too when you first heard about this, right? I mean… really? You want me to suck the snot from my baby’s nose with my MOUTH?? As one friend described it, it “just seems like some horrible joke to play on a new mom.” It took me a looong time, and several frustrated bouts with the bulb syringe and a stuffed-up infant, to consider that – just maybe – the 1,000+ 5-star reviews on Amazon had some merit. Turns out they totally do. This thing is awesome. Grossly, disgustingly awesome. Luckily, the snot stays about a foot’s worth of tubing away from your mouth, but it is SO SATISFYING to use. Way better than the throw-away bulb they give you in the hospital. Mr. Chalk is the master snot-sucker in our house; pair this with some baby saline spray and he is unstoppable.
10) Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets: These are so popular for a reason. They’re big enough to actually use as a swaddle blanket (cough cough, regular useless-sized receiving blankets that I never knew what to do with), soft, adorable, and incredibly multi-purpose. We double-swaddle Eloise with these every night, but have also used them as impromptu changing mats, play blankets, nursing covers, light summer stroller blankets, and burp cloths. They are somewhat annoyingly expensive, but so so worth it.
What about you? What items helped you get through the first month?