I cannot believe that we are almost through the newborn stage!
Tera is just barely squeezing into her newborn clothes, and she is starting to take off in all the developmental areas! She is starting to follow objects across the room with her eyes, focus on faces, and smile and coo at us all (including the cats!).
Since I have now officially survived at least part of the newborn stage, I thought I would compile a list of the things that have helped me through so far. This is not an exclusive list, as I didn’t include some of the more obvious things like clothes, a carseat, diapers, etc. And every baby is different, so something on my list might never work for you and your child, and you might have essentials that I never put on my list!
Here are the things that have helped to get us all through the last month or so (in no particular order)…
I looked and looked at garage sales for a bassinet. I knew I wanted one that was detachable, so I could put it down on the floor, but I also wanted it to be able to rock. I wasn’t able to find a cheap one at a garage sale, so I finally gave in and purchased one for $55 at Once Upon a Child. I was hoping I wouldn’t regret that purchase…and I haven’t! Tera has used this every single day, multiple times a day. I love the fact that it so easily transportable, so I can lay Tera down in whatever room I am in to keep an eye on her. She sleeps in this at night right next to my bed, and I have her in it in the living room almost all day. I can put it up on its stand to keep the pets away, and to make it rock, or I can put it down on the floor just as easily. This is probably my most used piece of baby equipment!
Up on the stand.
Down on the floor.
*The bassinet came with music, a night light thing and a book-reading function, but I have yet to use that. We are trying to stay away from all the electronic crap-stuff, and just let her be a baby. I suppose the night light or the music could come in handy, so I’m not totally opposed to using it, but I’d rather try to get by without it.
2. Gripe Water
The verdict is still out on whether or not this actually works miracles. Some days, it seems to cure all the problems, and some days it doesn’t seem to do diddly-squat. Gripe water is water with ginger and fennel seed that is supposed to calm gas, colic, upset tummy and hiccups. Tera actually loves the taste, so it’s not a hassle to squirt some of this into her mouth. Like I said…it seems to work miracles when she is fussy some nights…and other nights it doesn’t seem to help at all. One thing I can say, though, is that this stuff does NOT cure Tera’s hiccups. But that’s fine. I’d rather have it cure her upset tummy then the hiccups!
Bought at Target.
3. Burp Clothes
Before having a baby, I though burp clothes were just for when you burp the baby (hhmmm, I wonder why I thought that?). After having a baby, I have a burp cloth (or two!) in every single room. They have been used for milk leakage, for burping the baby, for laying her on to change her diaper, for putting over her if there is a little breeze, for laying on the bed when we lay her down just in case she spits up, for mopping up the gripe water that I spilled (and couldn’t see because I was bawling that I spilled the gripe water- lol). Trust me…these things are wonderful. And you cannot have enough.
We made it to day 6 without using a pacifier. We even turned one down in the hospital when they wanted to give Tera one with her Hep B shot (and we patted ourselves on the back for not accepting- yay, us! We can parent without a pacifier. Ha! Hahahaha).
But by day 6 when she was starting to have regular fussing time, and Theo would be using his knuckle to soothe her, or I would have to nurse her for several hours straight- we decided that we would try the pacifier. We haven’t looked back.
I have had some people tell me that some babies are picky about the type of pacifier, and that they had to try a few different kinds. We don’t use them all the time, but when she is getting hungry and I need to keep her happy for just a couple minutes, we pop one in. Or when I have just fed her and she starts crying again.
*Check back with me in a couple months when we are trying to wean her off of it- then, I might have a different game plan for the next kid. But for now, we love the good ‘ol pacifier.
Another tip: Pacifiers are like bobby pins. They just disappear. I keep one in the diaper bag, one in the carseat, one in her bassinet, and then there is one that always ends up being a floater. Trust me. You should have a bunch on hand.
5. A moving seat.
Swing. Bouncing seat. Rocking bassinet. Whatever it is. Something that I can nudge with my foot to keep Tera happy. Tera loves her bouncy seat, but I have also put her in the swing or rocked her in the bassinet.
I’ve used this to put her to sleep, to play with her, to tide her over until the next feeding time, to keep her distracted/comforted while I’m making dinner, etc. The bouncy seat and the swing are especially nice because they allow her to sit up. Sometimes Tera does not want to be laying down, but will do perfectly fine on her own if I just have her in a sitting up position.
I honestly don’t think a baby needs every toy/seat/swing under the sun. I got the bouncer at a garage sale, and the swing was given to me, so I just happen to have both on hand. Tera doesn’t seem to hate one or love the other, but I have heard of some kids that are like that.
6. A nursing spot.
Since I have to use a nursing shield, this is essential for me. I have a little clear, plastic shield that I have to use every time I nurse Tera. This is fine, but it just means that I need to know exactly where it is when Tera starts to fuss. From day 1, I picked a chair and an end table and I nurse Tera in that chair almost every time. Since I have this designated spot, it helps me to retreat and relax when I’m nursing, instead of trying to get something done. It’s also nice when guests are over and I don’t want to hassle with breastfeeding around strangers.
On the end table I have a book, my nursing shield, a burp cloth (or two!), my iPhone and my water bottle. I often try to grab a snack or keep a jar of peanuts on the table as well.
This chair rocks and spins, and it is in a quiet corner of my bedroom. I have the table right next to me in arm’s reach. I have found that when I am relaxed, it is so much easier for Tera to nurse!
7. A support group
I cannot emphasize how important this one is, especially in the first few days. Physically, my body was not ready to handle the chores, cooking and taking care of a baby. It is SO helpful to have parents, in-laws, church family and friends who will bring by meals, throw in a load of laundry, vacuum the floors, etc. Even to just hold the baby while I took a shower or grabbed a nap, or did all the chores.
A support group doesn’t have to be someone who helps you get the chores done, though. They can be people who will talk to you about all the post-partum recovery, who will listen to you while you cry over green poop, who will tell you how they survived the first few months of motherhood, and pray for you when you are at your wit’s end.
8. A carrier
One thing that does not make sense to me is why people haul newborns around in a carseat. Ok, duh…they have to be in a carseat in the car. But to haul the carseat into the store, put it inside the cart and then have 2 inches of space for the groceries? Or haul the carseat around church. I’m already carrying eight pounds of baby around, why would I carry 5 more pounds of carseat?
Sooooo…the solution is a carrier. In it’s simplest form, you just strap the contraption onto yourself and stick the baby in it. Ta-da! Hands free, baby carrying. There are SO many benefits to this. The baby usually loves it since they are snuggled close to Mom (or Dad!). The whole family can be hands-free, and you don’t have to lug a giant carseat around. There are so many different kinds of carriers out there, and you have to find the one that will work best for you. I have only tried two different ones (so far), and I already have pros and cons for each. It’s pretty much just whatever works for you, based on where and when you are using it, how big the baby is, how much practice you have using it, etc.
What about you? What are some of the essentials that you needed for your newborn?