In October we welcomed our first baby into the world, an adorable little guy named Shea with a full head of dark hair and huge eyes who immediately stole our hearts. In these first weeks and months we’ve been spending every day learning his personality and trying to develop some semblance of a routine and a “new normal.” Through the sleepless nights, endless dirty diapers, and surprising amounts of spit-up, these are the items that we have found the most useful so far. They’re in no particular order; each one is great and has been a lifesaver at some point so far in our parenthood journey.
This pacifier with the adorable stuffed animal attached has been so great for several reasons: first, our little Shea has a hard time keeping a pacifier in his mouth, and the animal serves as a sort of anchor to keep the pacifier in. I lay the stuffed animal on Shea’s chest and tuck it under a blanket, and it stays pretty well. Also, once Shea is a little older he’ll be able to hold the animal himself and get the pacifier back into his mouth if it falls out. Last but not least, the animal makes this pacifier easy to find in a pile of baby blankets and other random items, which is great for tired parents holding a crying baby who just…needs…his…BINKIE!
Downside: The pacifier part doesn’t detach from the stuffed animal, so we can’t wash them separately. We happened to get two of these as gifts, so we can just switch them out if one gets spit up or something on it. So far I’ve just spot cleaned the animal but I imagine it could be thrown in the washing machine if it got really dirty.
Like I said above, Shea has a hard time keeping his pacifier in his mouth, so this is a great way to keep it attached to him so it doesn’t fall on the dirty floor.
We actually don’t use these as diapers, but we use them a TON for everything else. They’re awesome as burp cloths and puke wipes, and we also use one to cover Shea’s ‘area’ during diaper changes so it catches pee if he starts to go!
4. Gripe Water
This is made with ginger and fennel, and is great for giving a baby with an upset tummy, gas or colic. We’ve used it with Shea when he seems especially fussy and uncomfortable with gas, and it seems to help. And he loves the taste! I’ve taken it too, and it really is yummy and doesn’t taste like medicine at all.
I’m not a fan of baby products that contain a bunch of chemicals and fragrances. These are unscented, and wet enough to get Shea’s booty nice an clean during diaper changes.
This lanolin-free formula contains natural plant and herb extracts, and doesn’t have to be washed off before nursing. I’ve used it to soothe sore nipples, lube up my breast pump, and even as a stand in for chap stick and lotion in a pinch.
7. Good ol’ Vaseline
Basic, cheap, and useful. I put a little shmear of this on Shea’s booty during each diaper change to act as a moisture barrier for the next wet diaper. It has kept his butt rash-free so far!
I used this during pregnancy to rub all over my belly, hips and breasts. It smells divine, and is great as a massage oil. After my c-section, I’ve rubbed it on my incision scar to keep it moisturized and soothed.
9. Saline Spray
Living in the dry climate of UT, Shea’s little nose and sinuses get pretty dry and boogered up. We spritz a little of this in each of Shea’s nostrils before using the Snot Sucker, and it works great to loosen boogers and snot.
Gross, yet extremely satisfying. Tip – wait til baby is in a calm, relaxed state to use this. It’s no fun trying to suck the snot out of a screaming, flailing baby’s tiny nostrils.
11. Probiotic Drops
Shea was in the NICU for a week and was pumped full of antibiotics because he had an infection. As recommended by our midwife, we’ve been giving him infant probiotic drops to help his gut get back to normal. We just put a few drops into a bottle of breastmilk, mix it up, and he gulps it right down.
A friend recommended this, and said it was a lifesaver for her little guy. And it’s been a lifesaver for us, too! Infants don’t always like sleeping on a completely flat surface, so this is a great solution. We have it right next to our bed, and after I’m done nursing Shea and he’s drifting off to sleep, I put him in here, turn on the vibrate switch, and he’s out like a light.
Downside: It doesn’t actually rock on it’s own, it just vibrates. If I want to rock it, I have to use my hand or foot to do it manually. However, it looks like you can buy a little bit more expensive model that rocks on it’s own, here.
When we first started putting Shea in the Rock-n-Play sleeper, he would wake up right when we put him down. We realized it was because it was cold, and he had been in our warm arms. So, we got one of these plug in heaters from Walgreens, and we pop it in there a few minutes before he’s going to go in. We then take it out, and put him down on the nice warm surface. Works like a charm! Bonus: use it for your sore back now that you’re constantly hunched over holding and nursing a baby!
These are just great for swaddling a squirmy little baby. We call them the baby straight jacket, because they really keep his upper body nice and snug. His legs can still move freely in the looser bottom area. Swaddling a baby can really help them calm down and feel soothed, since they’re used to being crammed in your uterus.
Downside: You need to undo the whole swaddle when you need to change a diaper in the middle of the night, and there is a big piece of Velcro right in the middle that you need to undo. “Rrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiippppp”…. And now, baby is wide awake! We have loved the Swaddlesure, which offers a great solution: the bottom can be opened without having to undo the top, so baby’s upper body can remain tightly swaddled while you change his diaper!
15. Promptly journal
This journal goes from birth to age 18, and gives you writing prompts so you aren’t just staring at a blank page wondering what to write. It makes it easy to sit down for 5 minutes and jot down your thoughts. It makes a great baby shower gift!
So, there you have it! Those are the 15 most useful items I've found so far in our son's 7 weeks of life. Enjoy!