Baby stuff we actually use

25 Mar

Today is Daphne’s 9-month birthday — so she has officially been on the outside as long as she was on the inside. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed when I was pregnant, wondering what stuff we would actually need and what would be a total waste of money. Putting together a baby registry was a truly bizarre experience, as I tried to anticipate the future needs of a baby I hadn’t met yet. We were lucky to receive many gifts and hand-me-downs and we able to purchase a few things second-hand. Babies don’t need much when they are first born, and there is really no need to break the bank buying things they may only use for a month or so. Caitlyn and I had to shell out thousands of dollars for fertility treatments, so we certainly didn’t want to go into debt outfitting the baby with things she would not need. So here is a list of things that we actually find useful. I would have found this very reassuring when I was first encountering the Baby Industrial Complex and wondering which items were utterly ridiculous and which ones would turn out to be lifesavers.

1. Buckwheat nursing pillow. I bought one of these pillows when I was pregnant, in an effort to support my growing belly and take the pressure off the nerves in my legs. I slept with it for months. After Daphne was born, it proved to be the only way to get her to nurse comfortably. I schlepped that thing everywhere with me for four months. It also made an excellent bolster to prevent her from rolling off the bed or off of a couch. When she got older, we placed it behind her to help her sit up without toppling. And now Caitlyn has officially claimed it as her favourite sleeping pillow. Money well spent.

2. Baby carrier. When Daphne was first born, we were in the midst of a heat wave. So none of us had much patience to practice with a stretchy wrap. It was too darn hot and just the thought of all of that fabric sent me into full body sweats. For a couple of months, Daphne seemed to like a Mei Tai with her legs froggied underneath her. When she got a little older and wanted to let her legs dangle, a hand-me-down Beco Gemini was the magic elixir for getting her to sleep on the go. We still love that carrier, especially the feature that allows you to cross the straps in the back to shift the weight off your shoulders. We also recently purchased a Manduca — a carrier which is infinitely adjustable and more appropriate for bigger babies. That thing is magic. I was able to give Daphne a 45 nap on my chest in the midst of complete chaos at a charity bowlathon this weekend. When she is frantic and unable to settle due to teething, I pop her in there and either pace the halls or go for a walk. It’s my foolproof way of getting her to sleep. And though I adore our stroller, a baby carrier is much more practical in the midst of snowy Ottawa in the winter. Non plowed sidewalks are a nightmare for any wheeled vehicle. Baby wearing makes it a lot easier to get out the door, in even the worst conditions.

In Ottawa, there are two great stores with “try before you buy” programs. Your city may also have a local baby wearing group, where you can ask questions and try different carriers. You need to find the right fit for your body and your baby.

3. Sleep sac. Our baby never liked to be swaddled, but we swear by sleep sacs. Using one for nap time and bedtime prevents her from kicking off her blankets and getting her feet jammed between the bars of her crib. She is still able to flip over onto her side or tummy to sleep, but the sac helps curb the worst of the overnight crawling practice sessions.

4. Humidifier. Our house has electric baseboard heat, so it can be deadly dry in the winter. Running a humidifier in the baby’s room has significantly helped her sleep, especially as she’s been fighting the same cold for at least two months.

5. Snot sucker. If you had told me nine months ago that I would be sucking my baby’s snot out with my mouth at least three times a day, I would have thought you were nuts. But babies always have colds and don’t know how to blow their noses yet. When they can’t breathe, they don’t eat properly and they can’t sleep (makes sense!). This “nasal aspirator” was probably the most useful baby shower gift we received. Gross, I know. But necessary.

6. White noise machine. I was skeptical about white noise when Caitlyn first introduced it as a sleeping aide in our house. I thought, “who would want to sleep to the sound of a humming generator?” But we live near a busy intersection and I soon began to rely on the white noise machine to block out street sounds, especially in the summer when we leave our windows open. Now we have it in the baby’s room, so we don’t have to worry as much about waking her when we are unloading the dishwasher or speaking in a normal tone of voice while she is sleeping. We take the machine with us wherever we travel and it helps us all sleep better.

7. Fleece snowsuit. When you live in a cold climate, you master the art of layering. While we did receive a beautiful down snowsuit for Daphne from my aunt, this fleece suit got ten times more use. The primary reason is because you are not supposed to put babies in puffy coats while in car seats. This prevents the restraint system from working properly. So you are better to put the baby in a fleece suit with a blanket on top, or throw a little jacket over top when you step out of the car. A fleece snowsuit works for three seasons and is relatively affordable. They are easy to find in the off season at consignment shops and through online buy/sell ads.

8. Second hand baby containment devices. Don’t buy a new swing, bouncy chair or Jumperoo. Seriously. Put a note on Facebook and one will appear. Instantly. Babies use these things for only a few weeks at a time before they get bored. And once a family is done with one of these monstrosities/tripping hazards, they want it out the door. Immediately. We have cycled through a handful of these second (or third or fourth) hand devices. We bought an exersaucer (aka the Circle of Neglect) from someone down the street on Kijiji. These things are lifesavers if they can buy you five minutes to go pee, scramble an egg or take a shower. But they are large, unwieldy, ugly and expensive. There are enough of them floating around the universe and there is no need to encourage companies to manufacture more of them. Hook yourself up with the underground baby hand-me-down network and pay it forward when you are finished with that vibrating baby chair.

And in celebration of Daphne’s In/Out Day, here is a family portrait from this weekend’s bowlathon. Thanks to everyone who contributed! Our team raised over $5,000 and the event brought in over $40,000 for Camp Ten Oaks.

The family that bowls together, stays together

The family that bowls together, stays together

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