Baby Loves: 4 Months

Daaaaamn has it been 4 months already? Welsey’s still packin’ on the pounds weighing in at 17lbs 3oz and measuring about 24.5″ long. My little chunky monkey is mostly fitting into 9 month clothing.  Seriously kid, stop growing–you’re heavy!

We started him in daycare this past week (my mom stayed with us in October to transition going back to work) and according to the teachers there he’s been a great little guy. He did pick up his first cold and, like a good little sharer, immediately passed it on to me. He’s overall in a good mood, but definitely a little extra clingy and sleepy… and he really hates our snot-sucker but it totally gets the job done!

Around 3 months Wesley actually started showing interest in things.  We’re getting tons of smiles now and he’s responding back when we make burbly noises at him. We are even getting baby giggles out of this guy. Seriously, this is just making my heart melt! He’s actively watching the goings-on in the house, purposefully kicking at his gym, and starting to grab and wave toys around.  It’s like he’s an actual tiny human instead of a little lump! He’s also started to be able to lift his shoulders off the ground in practice for sitting up.  This kid is so frickin’ strong it’s mind-blowing! He just needs to work on his coordination so he can put that strength to good use.

Wesley is still stupidly difficult to burp. I swear he’s actively working against us to try not to burp and then he’ll get fussy over an hour after eating and (eventually) let out a belch that would put a grown man to shame. Still, there are worse difficulties to have with a baby and for the most part Wesley is an awesomely easy and chill little dude. He seems to be in the beginning stages of teething right now and I’ve heard 4 Month Sleep Regression is a thing so we’ll see how this month goes….

Now that this guy has a little interest in the world around him, we definitely starting to see what bits of baby gear of proving to be a hit with him.

His paci-plushies are fantastic! He can grab them with his little pudgy hands and keep the pacifier in his mouth better.  He’ll also suck/chew on the plushy part too.  We’ve got both the fox and dragon shakies (they rattle a bit) and both are hit.

This Winkel ball is amazing! The loops are pretty small so tiny hands can fit around them easily, and the way it’s structured means it’s still grab-able without a lot of hand coordination (baby can worm his fingers between the loops even if his hand isn’t closing around it). It’s also brightly colored and rattles so it definitely grabs his interest.

The Skip Hop baby gym has been a huge hit with him as well.  He’s been actively kicking at the hanging toys for a while and has recently started reaching for them with his hands too.

This wood and silicone teether has just recently been worthy of interest.  Welsey seems like he’s just starting the beginning stages of teething (drooling and chewing, but thankfully no pain yet) so he enjoys having small things to chomp on and the 2 different textures seem to be interesting for him.

Sophie la Girafe may be the most pretentious baby toy out there, but I’ve never heard of kid not liking it and Wesley’s no exception. She has a face he can look at.  She squeaks.  She’s easily grab-able and delightfully chewable.

 

 

I bought some wool dryer balls shortly before Wesley was born.  I had been meaning to switch to them for awhile (dryer sheets are pretty chemical-y and tend to coat towels, making them less absorbent) and having a baby served as a good kick in the right direction.  They seem to work pretty well for most clothes and towels, but I have noticed that larger things, like fleece blankets, still stay pretty static-y when you first pull them out of the dryer.

 

 

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3 Months: Whatcha Need?

Oh my goodness, my little peanut is 3 months old!  At 15lbs 6oz he’s also not so little anymore.  Some moms get weepy as their babies get bigger and bigger but I’m really excited that he’s more alert and able to interact more.  The most exciting thing of all is that Wesley is usually sleeping around 5 hours at night!!!

Our little chunker currently enjoys having his noises repeated, listening to Matt play guitar, watching TV and video games (yeah, yeah, we’re horrible parents), kicking wildly at his baby gym, and fake standing (we support him while he pushes against the ground with his legs). We’re getting cuter baby coos out of him as well as more and more smiles (although he mostly resorts to RBF–Resting Baby Face).  Wesley has also learned how to roll front to back (although he doesn’t do it with any regularity yet) and is getting a little grabbier with both toys and my hair.

He still does not like being hungry and hates having to burp.  He also does not like his crib much which we’ll be trying to deal with before he starts daycare in a month.  I’m officially done with my maternity leave, but my mom’s staying with us until November to ease the transition from starting work to starting Wesley in daycare.

Wesley has yet to show any interest in the cats, but Mort’s been acting like an older sibling with a new baby.  He’s figured out places where we pay extra attention to Wesley and will hang out there (look at me! I’m a baby too!).  He’ll play with the baby gym, lay on both our changing pads, play with Wesley’s toys, and, after watching us try and get Wesley used to his crib, has started jumping in there (although only when it’s unoccupied). Just last night I had to pull him out of the rock-n-play so I could get Wesley to bed. Schmutz on the other hand, fully recognizes when I have my hands full of baby and chooses those moments to misbehave and just stare me down if I scold her.

Whatcha Need

Hold on to your hats, this is a long one….

At 3 months in, we’ve had some time to evaluate our stash of baby gear so I have some suggestions for people looking to put together their baby registries.  Keep in mind that different life styles will mean different types of gear–there’s no one magic list for everyone.  Our biggest criteria was multi-functional pieces.  I (of course) also wanted things that looked good–why do so many baby things have to look like a clown exploded on them?

Before I get started on the long list, I do want to point out that there’s very little you really need for a baby, but there are a bunch of things that will make your life much easier If you’re looking for extreme minimalism you really just need a safe place for the baby to sleep, a safe way to transport the baby, a way to feed the baby, and things to dress the baby in. I will be the first to admit that I am not a minimalist, but I also did not want to be completely overrun with baby gear (plus they grow out of stuff SO fast).

PRINTABLE CHECKLIST

I’ve included links to the products for examples only.  I am not affiliated with the companies selling the products.

Gear

  • Travel System (or infant car seat + stroller)
  • Crib
  • Rocker/Glider (or comfy chair of your choice)
  • Bouncer/Swing/Rocker
  • Baby Carrier
  • High Chair (not essential immediately)

We opted for a travel system (car seat + base + stroller that all click together) and chose the Graco Comfy Cruiser.  It’s at a great price point, fairly compact, and the stroller has a nice sized basket.  I really like the Chicco Bravo Trio too, especially since you could break down the stroller so it would just be a car seat carrier.  For us that one bonus feature didn’t justify the price difference though. Now, you could just get a convertible car seat that will last much longer, but being able to pop a sleeping infant from car to stroller without unstrapping them is REALLY nice.

My mom questioned if we really wanted a 30″ car seat vs a 35″ but here’s my logic: 1) Matt and I both have small cars 2) Neither of us is especially tall so we weren’t anticipating a super long baby 3) By the time Wesley outgrows the 30″ car seat he’ll probably be too heavy for us to really use the car seat as a carrier too so we’ll just switch to a convertible car seat and pop him in and out of the stroller.

What to consider in a travel system:

  • 30 vs 35″ car seat (is your family especially tall in general? Will it fit in your car(s)?)
  • How easy is it to adjust the car seat harness? (you’ll be doing a lot of adjusting–this is the one area the Comfy Cruiser fell a bit short for us, but it’s not that much of hassle)
  • Stroller/wheel style (are you jogger? do you like off-roading it? purely city use?)
  • Ease of folding/compact-ness (where will you be storing it when not in use, will it fit in your car(s)?)
  • Weight
  • Height (comfy for both parents?)
  • Stroller storage space
  • Parent tray/cup holders
  • Baby tray (do you want it to be fully removable?)

Matt and I both had different opinions when it came to baby carriers so we ended up getting 2–a Baby Bjorn Carrier One and a Baby K’tan.  Men and women tend to naturally carry weight differently so this isn’t too surprising.  The Bjorn was a little pricey, but we really liked that this model could go from infant to small toddler without any extra pieces needed.  I liked the K’tan because it seemed less complicated than a Moby or Boba wrap and more versatile than a sling. It’s also much more compact than the Bjorn so I can fit it in my diaper bag.

Some of the best baby shopping advice I got was from my sister-in-law–don’t buy all the fancy gear. Pick a swing OR bouncer OR rocker… or skip it all until you know what sort of motion your kid likes.  We got a Rock-n-Play which is seriously the only baby item that the internet agrees on.  It’s worked out great for us so far! I also ended up borrowing a swing from a friend for him to try out, but his rocker is still his favorite.

Not (exactly) on the checklist is some sort of bassinet type thing.  It’s highly recommended that babies share your room for a stupid long time, so you may need a sleeping space that fits in your room.  I don’t think it’s worth buying a fancy bassinet, but you could see if you can borrow one from a friend or find one cheap/free on Craig’s List.  You could also use a pack-n-play (some even come with an infant bassinet attachment), a rock-n-play, or a box.  Yes, a box.  The Twin Cities did a free baby box program this year so we have our very own European-style baby box. Wesley ended up preferring the rock-n-play though.

Although a high chair won’t be necessary for a bit, we still registered for one, but also chose one that could be reclined quite a bit for smaller babies (Safety First Dine and Recline).  This way we could have a nearby, eye-level spot for Wesley at dinner if he’s awake and interested in the goings on. This particular high chair also works as a booster for kids who are ready to sit at the table properly so we should get some good use out of it. The one downside is that this particular high chair does not fold down.  We have enough space in our dining room that this isn’t a problem for us, but it may be a deal-breaker for some people. There are also booster seats (with trays) that attach to regular chairs, and seats that hook onto the table itself.

Optional Items

  • Pack-n-Play–if you travel or want a baby “docking station” on a second floor, different room, or plan to travel
  • Play Mat/Baby Gym–you can also just use a blanket/carpet and some toys (We picked out this baby gym because it was bright and cheery, but didn’t look like a clown exploded on it. I also really liked this Jonathan Adler one #designSnobMom).
  • Second car seat base–if you frequently use multiple cars

Arguably Useless

  • Changing table–you can turn pretty much any surface into a changing table, heck downstairs we just change diapers on the floor! If you’re buying furniture think about multi-functional pieces–you can put a changing pad on a dresser or deep, short shelves and save yourself some space.

Sleeping

  • Swaddles/Sleepsacks (2-3)
  • Crib sheets (3)
  • Mattress Protectors (2)
  • Receiving blankets (4)
  • Muslin blankets (4)

I registered for a few different types of swaddle/sleepsacks since I didn’t know what would work for us and Wesley.  Don’t go too crazy with the advance stock-piling though because some babies hate being swaddled. Personally I’d suggest starting off with 2-3 different ones in newborn/small sizes.  So far my favorite has been the Halo sleepsacks–they have a lightweight muslin option that has been great for summer and they’re pretty flexible so you can do a full burrito, hands out, or arms out swaddle depending on what your baby likes. Now that he’s bigger and it’s colder we have one fleece sleepsack and one 100% cotton one (plus and extra cotton one o keep at daycare) I’ve also heard people highly recommend the Miracle Blanket and Woombie.

You probably will want to somewhat stock up on blankets since you can use them for everything!  Keeping baby warm, spill guard, sun shade, nursing cover…the possibilities are endless! I’d start out with at least 3-4 muslin blankets and 3-4 flannel receiving blankets (both seem to frequently come in packages of 4).  I’d probably only register for 4 of each because people may (very likely) gift you even more.

Optional Items

  • White Noise Machine–baby might not care or be fine with just a fan
  • Nightlight–useful for late night changings/feedings

Feeding

  • Bottles
  • Bibs
  • Bottle brush
  • Burp cloths (10+)
  • Milk storage (if pumping)
  • Baby spoons
  • Small bowls

Bottles are another thing you may not want to stock pile right away because babies can be picky. I’d suggest 2-4 different types of bottles (and only 1-2 of each type depending on how they’re packaged).  Think of it as creating a sampler pack until you know what your baby actually likes (this is another good time to try and borrow from friends to do a test run before stockpiling your own.) .  We’ve had good luck with the Comotomo bottles (which is good because I totally did not follow my own advice here). We’re combo feeding breast milk and formula and we really only use 2-3 bottles at home with another bottle stashed in each diaper bag. We hand wash them between uses and I’ll toss them into the dishwasher if we’re already set to run it.  If you’re only breast feeding or only bottle feeding (or your daycare wants you to provide a certain amount) you may need more or less. FYI: If you’ll be putting your baby in childcare, many places won’t take glass bottles.

If you’re breastfeeding and pumping you may want to think about milk storage options too.  I really liked the Tomee Tippee storage bags because they can connect to most pumps with some inexpensive adapters, and are nice and compact for storage.  Tomee Tippee also has a bottle line that’s compatible with them if you don’t want to be pouring them into a separate bottle… but personally I’d stick that in the “Arguably Useless” category.

A word on burp cloths: you can probably never have too many! I keep one stashed everywhere we might be feeding so we never have to go hunting. They make some cute patterned ones, but I like the basic, cloth diaper option. If you’re crafty you can cute them up on your own too. I didn’t bother because “spit-up” is really just a euphemism for baby puke.

If you’re looking towards the future you may also want to consider some baby spoons and small bowls.  Most babies start solids between 4-6 months and the time will go fast! How many you need will depend on how willing you are to hand wash or how often you run your dishwasher.

Optional Items

  • Nursing pillow–you can use a regular pillow for extra support, or just hold the baby (I do love my Boppy though)
  • Nursing cover–you may not care/only use bottles when you’re out or you can use a muslin blanket
  • Baby food storage–if you’re making your own baby food you can just freeze it in an ice cube tray and defrost as needed (I’ll still probably be picking up some of these Oxo Blocks for on-the-go usage though)
  • Bottle drying rack–we just use our regular drying rack
  • Bottle warmer–we used an electric kettle and glass measuring cup to make a water bath (never use the microwave). If you want a bottle warmer, just make sure it fits your chosen bottles.
  • Sectioned formula dispenser–if you’re using formula, you can portion out a few bottles worth for your diaper bag so you don’t have to measure on the go.

Arguably Useless

  • Formula mixer–powdered formula dissolves SO easily, just dump it in the bottle with water and shake.
  • Baby food maker–if you want to make your own baby food there’s no need to pay a premium for a baby-specific food processor.  If you already have a food processor or blender you’re good to go, other just pick up any mini food processor.*
  • Fancy sterilizer–unless your baby has some crazy immune system issues, a good soap-and-water scrubbing should clean everything just fine.  You can also periodically toss things in a pot of boiling water (double check that the material can take it, but most baby things can)

Bathing

  • Baby bathtub
  • Hooded towels (2)
  • Washcloths
  • Baby shampoo + wash

A baby bathtub is probably the only thing that’s isn’t really straight forward in this category.  I wanted a tub that would fit in my sink/on the counter so baby would be at a comfy (for me!) height during bath time.  I liked how compact the Puj tub (or the Puj Flyte)was, but it seemed too big for our bathroom sink and too small for our kitchen sink.  The Angelcare bath support jumped out at me too, but it was also the wrong size for our sinks.  We ended up going with the Boon Soak bath tub.  I thought it would fit in our kitchen sink, but I was wrong because our sink is set up oddly.  Luckily, because it’s a tub and not just a support it works just fine on our counter too.

Optional Items

You may want to wait to pick these up until you find you need them.

  • Soft brush–if your baby has a lot of hair
  • Cradle cap brush/comb–if your baby develops cradle cap (flaky dead skin gunk on the scalp). Wesley had a very minor case of it and we cleaned it up just with olive oil and gentle massaging with a washcloth, but some babies get it way worse.  Google it if you want to be kind of grossed out (don’t worry, it’s not dangerous at all, just icky-looking).

Diapering

  • Diaper Pail
  • Changing pad
  • Changing pad covers (2-3)
  • Diaper bag

Obviously you’ll need diapers/wipes/diaper cream too.  Don’t get too many newborn sized diapers though–your kid will either outgrow them quickly or be born a monster (8+ lbs) and never fit them.  For reference, Wesley was 7lbs 12oz when he was born and we switched to size 1 diapers around 3 weeks.

Because we have a 2 story house, we have changing stations on both floors.  Wesley’s nursery has a full changing pad + cover, and downstairs we have a basket stocked with diapers/wipes/cream and a simple folding changing mat. Quite frankly you can change your baby on pretty much anything, but it’s useful to have something easily washable/wipe-able underneath in case they decide join in the moment.

A diaper pail isn’t exactly necessary, but something to contain dirty diapers is definitely very useful.  I’m a fan of the Ubbi pail, largely because it doesn’t require specific bags.  It’s also mostly steel so less likely to absorb odors than a plastic pail.  Price-wise it’s not much different than a steel trash can, but seals better.

Diaper bags will be another pretty personal choice.  Are you a travel minimalist? Do you like being prepared for every possible situation?  I went with the Skip Hop Duo bag because it seemed like a nice mid-size option and was very well reviewed.  One of my friends swears by the Ju Ju Be bags.  I got Matt a Diaper Dude Sport (unfortunately I think this style is discontinued and there are limited color options available currently) bag for Father’s Day because every bag I liked he thought was too purse-like. I like our 2 diaper bag system because I always know that mine is properly stocked, it’s hardly necessary to have separate bags though.

Here are some cute-but-neutral ones:

1 // 2 // 3 // 4

 

Arguably useless

  • Wipe warmer–I know some people who love their wipe warmers, but Wesley’s never complained.
  • Wipe container–Even though it is arguably useless, I still really like my Oxo weighted wipe dispenser.  It just makes all the diapering supplies in the nursery look a little more stream-lined. If you order Amazon brand wipes they also come with a simple dispenser.
  • Covers for your changing pad covers–this is why you have the first cover, just pull it off and wash it.  It’s fine.

Clothing

  • Onsies (6-10/size)
  • Sleepers (3-5/size)
  • Leggings/pants (2-5/size)
  • Hats
  • Socks

I don’t have great advice for how many clothes you should have since it will depend on how messy your kid is and how often you tend to do laundry. Onsies and zip-up sleepers will probably make up the bulk of your baby wardrobe since they’re easy and comfy for sleepy babies.  We lucked out and got a TON of hand-me-down clothes.  If you’re starting from scratch, my best guess would be to start off with 6-10 onsies and 3-5 sleepers in each size, and maybe 2-5 leggings/soft pants for cooler months.  If you’re gifted a ton of brand new clothes, don’t remove tags and wash everything all at once in case you need to exchange things for different sizes.

The zip-up style sleepers are especially nice because they’re really easy to deal with for diaper changes. Some people also really like the baby gowns because there are no snaps/zips, just elastic at the bottom. Neither Matt nor I was a fan though–the elastic was kind of a pain to pull up over wiggly baby legs for diaper changes and it just looked like Wesley was wearing a potato sack.

Baby socks are notoriously bad at staying on, but I will say that the Trumpette brand work pretty well (I just wish they sold some more neutral colored sets too).  The only downside is that Matt has started calling them “Little Trump socks.” I’m pretty sure he only continues to do it because I glare at him every time. We’ve had some other socks stay on really well too, but since they were hand-me-downs I don’t have a brand to share.

Health and Safety

  • Baby Monitor
  • Humidifier
  • Thermometer
  • Baby nail clippers
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Baby-proofing supplies (outlet covers, corner guards, furniture restraints)
  • Car sun-shades

We considered using Nest for a video monitor, but haven’t actually bothered getting any sort of monitor yet.  If you do opt for a video monitor, just be warned you may catch a glimpse of a demon baby in the middle of the night. Once we move Wesley into his own room at night we may get a simple audio monitor, but honestly if you keep your baby close-ish (we keep him parked on the same floor, but don’t move him from room to room if he’s napping) to you during the day and their nursery is close to your bedroom (and you’re not a super heavy sleeper) you may not need a baby monitor at all.

I wanted the fancy infrared thermometer but both the baby care class we attended and our pediatrician both strongly recommended taking a baby’s temperature rectally for the most accurate reading.  Sorry kid. There are some fancy nail clippers out there too, but we stuck with the basic again. I did however opt for the fancy Frida Baby Snot Sucker nasal aspirator. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but cold and flu season is now upon us…

Other Stuff

  • Pacifiers
  • Pacifer holders/toy clips
  • A few toys
  • Teethers
  • Mobile

Babies can be picky about pacifiers too since there are a couple different styles.  You may also opt to just not use pacifiers. I originally got a Wubbanub since everyone seemed to love them, and they honestly work pretty well.  The only down side is that the pacifier they come with is permanently attached and Wesley ended up preferring a different style (thanks for being difficult kid, that zebra was frickin’ adorable!).

I ordered a Nookum Paci-Plushie later on and it will work with the “button” style pacifiers (MAM brand) that he likes. The Dr Brown’s Lovies are even more flexible (you can pick up an attachment to work with the button styles), but they don’t have as cute of options (yes, my priorities may be a bit skewed). We also have a few “universal” toy/paci holders that clip on to his shirt, but the lovies are nice because he can hold them in place and if he spits out the paci it doesn’t fall far so sometimes he can even find it again on his own.

We didn’t go nuts with toys/teethers since it’s a while before a baby will really care.  We picked out a couple brightly colored rattle-y toys, something to hang from his carseat, Sophie la Girafe, and I simply couldn’t resist this Batman teether (he also has a Batman onsies, hat, and shoes… and may even fit into all of them at the same time). Just remember when picking out toys that babies’ eyesight is really bad for while so focus on bright and high-contrast toys.

 

Ooof…. are you still with me? I know that was a long one. If you have any questions I’ll be happy to field them and if you have any favorite items feel free to chime in in the comments!

 

*I used to work in a kitchen at a nursing home; I am a goddamed pro at pureeing food. A cutesy face on a blender will not make it work any differently.

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2 Months: Gender Equality

Look who’s 2 months!  He actually turned 2 months a week ago, but I wanted to get the stats from his doctor visit.

This little chunker is now 13lbs 2oz and 23″ tall.  He jumped up from the 40% to the 70% for weight in the last month so he may not be a monster baby yet, but he’s working on it!

We’re just starting to get “real” smiles out of Wesley which I gotta admit is pretty damn cool. He’s more and more alert, making eye contact, and usually sleeping about 5 hours at night. Basically he’s a pretty darn good baby–he even survived his 2 month vaccinations like a champ!

And now for your monthly rant:

I’m not a crazed feminist by any means. Quite frankly I believe there are differences between the sexes, but “different” doesn’t mean “superior.”  For either gender.  I recognize there are common preferences that may be used for targeted marketing (ex. a lot of little girls do like pink), but I am sick to death of overly stereotypical advertising. This means that nothing brings out my feminist side quite like looking at baby gear.

Men Are Not Idiots

At least, they’re no more likely to be idiots than women.  A lot of baby commercials portray men as completely incompetent. I even have seen onsies with the head/arm/leg holes labeled and “Dad, you’ve got this” printed in the center.  This sort of thing makes me feel downright twitchy.  It’s not cool to assume women can’t use power tools, or code, or be athletic, and it just as not cool to assume that men handle babies (or cook, or sew, etc). In fact, dads can be pretty badass.

There’s More to Life Than Gray

Whenever I would look at baby clothes and sort them by “gender neutral” everything would be gray.  Gray with sheep. Seriously? There are lots of gender neutral color and pattern options, how did it get limited to gray?  And apparently sheep are the only “neutral” animal?  If you’re trying to find gender neutral options, your best bet it to search under “boy” because that usually seems to mean “not pink or floral”

Which brings me to….

Gender is Not a Color

I was searching Amazon for pacifiers the other day and rather than list the colors as “blue/green” and “pink/purple” they would be listed as “boy colors” and “girl colors.”  There was even a set that had a fox on a blue background and a raccoon on a tan background that was labeled as “boy colors.” Is it that hard to label things by color or pattern and leave gender out of it? Maybe your little girl likes cars.  Maybe your little boy likes pink. These things don’t have to be gender specific. I have to give a shoutout to Primary because a while back I saw an advertisement of theirs that said pink wasn’t just for girls and showed a bunch of adorable little boys rockin’ some pink.

That all being said, I don’t think children need all gender neutral clothes and gear.  We definitely dress Wesley in a slightly more “boyish” style and if we had had a girl I would have fully embraced pink and ruffles.  I still wanted a gender neutral base wardrobe and accessories/gear though so if we have a second kid we’ll have plenty of things to reuse.

 

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1 Month: Makin’ Milk

1Month

Our little peanut is 1 month old! Wesley is now 9lbs 12oz and 21″ long. He’s keeping his eyes open longer and starting to focus on faces.  He’s discovered his fingers and I’ve already caught him sucking his thumb. Unfortunately, he’s also learned how to wail, but luckily he tends to calm down as soon as he’s cuddled.

Most people include likes and dislikes with monthly updates, but at this point he likes food, napping on mommy or daddy, and farting.  He dislikes having to wait for food and being poopy. There’s not much excitement in being 1 month old…

If you’ve been reading at all about having a baby, you’ve probably also read that breastfeeding is Hard. I’m here to tell you it’s not hard, it’s stupidly frustrating and seemingly impossible at times! If anyone tells you that their baby had a perfect latch from day one and was always full and happy, you have my permission to punch her in the boob.*

Breastfeeding has been hands-down the hardest and most stressful part of having an infant around.  It didn’t help matters that Wesley was an early baby either.  Even though he was technically fully developed, it’s apparently pretty common for early babies to respond more like premies when it comes to feeding.  Pretty much he would go to latch and immediately fall asleep without actually eating anything.  It’s even more frustrating in the first few days before your milk comes in and we ended up having to supplement with donor breast milk while we were in the hospital.

Even once we got back home and my milk came in, it never seemed  like there was enough to keep Wesley satisfied. It’s been a rough journey, but if you’re struggling too know that you are not alone! Talk to your mom friends, find a lactation consultant, and/or find a breastfeeding support group. Here are some things that helped me, but be sure to check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant since I am obviously not a doctor.**

Drink Drink Drink

Water that is.  Hydrating the heck out of yourself is one of the best ways to ramp up milk production.  Having a partner who will constantly refill your water cup throughout the day is incredibly helpful since it’s easy to get distracted and forget on your own (guilty).

Pump Pump Pump!

Breast milk production is a supply and demand situation so you can try and trick your body into making more.  I tend to pump after Wesley nurses because he can’t seem to get everything on his own.  Matt and I also split the night shift  so I make sure to pump right before I go to bed so Matt has a bottle ready for the next feeding (letting me sleep through one!). You may also have a little one that just cannot seem to latch and it may be easier to pump and bottle feed.  You do you mama!

Herbal Supplements

The lactation consultant in the hospital recommended Go-Lacta (Malungay).  My endless internet quest for boosting milk supply mostly turned up recommendations for Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. Our pediatrician recommended all of the above. Lots of people also recommended Mother’s Milk tea, but the flavors (anise) aren’t my thing so I prefer taking capsule supplements.

Cookies!

Yes, cookies!  Or whatever baked goods you desire.  There are tons of recipes out there for lactation cookies/breads/smoothies.  What they all have in common in Brewers Yeast and Flax Meal so if you’re baking savvy you can probably modify an existing favorite recipe.  Other food recommendations for boosting milk production include oatmeal, red Gatorade (?), and Starbucks “Pink Drink” (???).

This is the recipe I used for oatmeal cookies.  You can totally switch around the “mix ins” for your own personal taste too.  Not a fan of coconut?  Skip it.  Feel like nuts?  Add ’em! You could also swap out the chocolate chips for a dried fruit (raisins/craisins/blue berries).

Don’t be afraid to supplement

Even doing all of the above we still have to supplement with formula.  We decided the most important thing was to make sure our little guy was getting enough food.  Anytime we supplement with formula I also make sure to pump and we give him any pumped milk the same day since there is a risk with supplementing that your milk supply will go down.

Our pediatrician (who is also a lactation consultant) is 100% on board with what we’re doing.  Every bit of breast milk your baby gets is great and moms need to take care of themselves too (rather than wear themselves down stressing about about milk production). If you see magic promises of freezers full of breast milk on Pinterest, take them with a grain of salt.  These things can help, but they may not be a magic instant fix.

Just remember, the most important thing is feeding your baby, so even if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you at all, it’s ok, you are not a failure!  As long as your baby is getting the necessary calories and checking out fine with the pediatrician, you’re doing great!

 

*Ok, not really, moms need to support other moms.  If you’re one of the stupidly luckily mamas who had zero issues with breastfeeding, yay for you!  Just be aware that your fellow mamas may be struggling  and may also be close to (or well past) tears.

**Matt really likes to tell people “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” And while he does indeed have a doctorate, no one in their right mind trusts lawyers 🙂

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New Mom Hacks

Hey look, it’s Wesley’s due date today!  Little dude is about 2 1/2 weeks old!  He was back to his birth weight within a week and was over 8lbs as of Tuesday.  His newborn clothes are already getting snug!  Kiddo also survived his first bath… actually he fell asleep in the bath so my mom is convinced he didn’t actually pick up any genes from our side of the family.

WesWeek1

I’ve been busy recovering so not much has been happening on the home improvement front (although I just starting working on the final nursery project!).  Plenty has been happening on the postpartum and baby front though, so if that’s not your jam go ahead an skip the rest of the post.

The following aren’t all exactly “hacks,” but just some suggestions for new moms that I think would be helpful.

Stock Up

We didn’t get  a chance to do this since the kiddo surprised us early.  I ended up sending Matt out on a Target run the day we got back from the hospital.  If you can I would make sure you have plenty of the following items:

  • Toliet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates
  • Easy meals/freezer meals
  • Dish soap/dishwasher detergent/hand soap/laundry detergent (free and clear or baby specific)
  • Batteries, if you have any baby gear that uses them

Also make sure you have:

  • Nursing bras
  • Hands-free pumping bra
  • Full coverage undies (fear no granny panty! especially if there’s a chance you may have a c-section because lower-cut waistbands may hit your stitches)
  • Pain relief options for sore breasts–I immediately ordered nipple cream. Lansinoh Soothies, and the Lansinoh TheraPearls before anything got uncomfortable.
  • Nipple pads (personally I prefer the reusable bamboo ones)
  • Maxi pads (if you don’t buy these ahead of time suddenly you’re sending your husband off on his own to the feminine hygiene aisle and that’s just kind of cruel)
  • Stool softener (check with your health care provider about what is safe to take postpartum, especially if you’re breastfeeding.  They’ll probably automatically give you something in the hospital, but you’ll want more once you get home… it’s one of those awesome post-delivery occurrences that people don’t tend to warn you about)
Baskets for All the Things

1. Bathroom baskets

Life after giving birth is…. messy to say the least and pretty uncomfortable for a while. Bathroom trips especially become An Event.  Make it easier on yourself and stock a postpartum basket in any bathroom you use frequently.  These are what I’ve found useful:

  • Pain relief spray (like Dermoplast)
  • Witch hazel pads (like Tucks)
  • Peri bottle
  • Super overnight maxi pads/regular maxi pads/panty liners depending on how far recovered you are.  Some women really like adult diapers for the worst of it too.

I got a bottle of Dermoplast, a container of witch hazel pads, and a peri bottle from the hospital so if you’re a 1 bathroom house you probably won’t need to go out an get them.  I did end up buying duplicates so I could have everything I needed in our second bathroom too.

I meant to pick up an inexpensive sitz bath but you can also just fill the tub with a few inches of water for the same results. My midwife recommended soaking both for pain relief and for helping the stitches dissolve.  Personally I think it would be easier to be at chair height rather than haul myself in and out of the tub… but I also have a big deep claw foot so that’s a lot of hauling.*

2. Breastfeeding/Pumping baskets

If you’re breastfeeding you may also want a strategically placed feeding basket stashed on each level. If you’re pumping you may just want a way to corral all the parts.

  • Burp cloths
  • Nipple cream
  • Nipple pads
  • Nipple** shield (if using)
  • First aid tape (if you’re using a nipple shield and have a flail-y baby, tape is a game changer)

3. Changing baskets

This is another one that probably only matters if you have a large or multi-floor house.  We have a changing station setup on each floor–a permanent one in the nursery and a small basket downstairs with a changing pad, diapers, wipes, and diaper cream.

Padsicles

I saw these all over Pinterest and have long since decided that I have no pride, so why the hell not?  Basically you just saturate a pad with aloe and witch hazel and pop it in the freezer.  Bam!  Soothing ice pack for your lady bits (because this is NOT a time when you want to be relying on the frozen peas… unless you really hate peas).

Nursing Undershirt

If you’re breastfeeding you’re going to want some nice, accessible shirts, and if you at all self-conscious or shy you’re going to want to stay as covered as possible.  I saw this hack on the Pinterest and think it’s brilliant!  If you don’t want to  buy a ton of nursing specific tops you can pair these with some looser fitting shirts and just pull them up without baring your postpartum belly.  I also LOVE this drapey shirt from amazon.  It covers the bra straps and provides similar coverage to a nursing scarf.

Breast Pump Bag

I my breast pump was fully covered by insurance, but it didn’t come with a bag.  No biggie, I can find a bag designed to fit it, right?  Well, sure if I want to shell out $100 for one. Um, no.  After some browsing I started looking at large lunch bags.  I found one with dimensions to fit my pump + some extra space and picked up a mini cooler pouch too.  This way I can stash my milk in the fridge at work but keep everything together as I tote it back and forth. An extra pocket on the lunch bag also works great for storing the small stuff.  If you use a separate cooler pouch you don’t really need an insulated lunch bag, they just happen to be a good size, nicely structured, and cheap.

Some women seem to stock their pumping bags with everything under the sun. I have my pump, nipple pads, milk storage bags, and a hands free pumping bra.  I figure I can stash other useful items, like a cardigan and snacks, in my desk rather than needing a huge bag to haul everything in. Heck, my purse is already big enough so I can (and have!) fit Harry Potter book 7 in it with all my other crap.

FYI: I have the Spectra S2 pump and after much searching I found this cooler (XL) and this mini pouch (XS) are just about perfect for it (although I do use storage bags instead of the bottles that came with the pump).

Layered Crib Sheets

Wesley is still sharing our room so we haven’t seen this in action yet, but it seems like a really good idea.  When you make up the crib, put on a sheet, then a mattress protector, then another sheet, another mattress protector, and finally another sheet.  If something unfortunate seeps out of your baby (especially in the middle of the night!) you just have to strip off the top 2 layers and you’re good to go! (our crib mattress already had a water proof layer which is why we started with a sheet instead of a mattress protector).

Related: make sure you have multiple covers for your changing pad.  It’s probably not worth layering them, it’s just a good idea to have backups as babies tend to explode from both ends.

 

*True story: damn near got stuck in the bathtub while I was pregnant.

**I think I just set some sort of record for how many times I’ve used the word “nipple” in a post

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