Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five Favorite Baby Essentials

I guess you could call us minimalists when it comes to raising babies. Our list of baby items that we didn't have could possibly outnumber what we actually use. We don't have any kind of agenda to prove. It really just kind of happened! Pretty much, if we weren't gifted something for Ryan or didn't buy it with gift cards, we just did without.

Items we haven't used:

- a crib (we use a gifted co-sleeper, than a hand-me-down pack and play given to Chris by his mother seven years ago so he would have one when the family visited, and then a floor bed).
- a baby monitor ... not even a good old fashioned one with no video and no breathing sensor
- a baby bouncer
- a baby swing
- a bottle warmer (Chris just said, "I think a bottle warmer is called, 'Hot water.'")
- a wipes warmer
- baby gates
- baby water
- baby laundry detergent (I do just use a scent-free detergent for all of our laundry)
- swaddle blankets (our kids just aren't really swaddlers)
- pacifiers (not from lack of trying!)
- any kind of nursing pillow
- baby food
- an infant stroller. (I still just use the hand-me-down umbrella stroller my mother-in-law gave us to cart Ryan around and wear Conor in a carrier. I definitely have my eye out on Craigslist for a double jogging stroller thought. Ha, no, not for jogging ... for trekking the snow packed sidewalks on the way to campus. I think all of the cars must have been laughing at me that last time we walked to campus. Ryan exclaimed, "You did it!" every time I managed to drag the stroller over the Himalayas of sidewalk snow).
- a special diaper trash can
- sleep sacks
- a changing table
- a changing pad
- cupboard/drawer latches (Someone did find my blog the other day by searching, "Parents who let their kids get into everything," so ...)
- car mirror

Since lovely pregnant ladies (and Meg, you need a blog!)  have recently mentioned getting ready for their respective babies and, I thought I would post my five favorite baby essentials ... so, here we go.

1. Breasts (or a good bottle). Have to feed the wee one somehow! Breastfeeding was haaaaaaaaaard for me for the first three months of Ryan's life. I'm sure it was a walk in the park compared to many other experiences that women who struggle to nurse have had, but it was hard. Once it was a smooth sail, it was amazing. Easy food and comfort on the go! Luckily, it has mostly been a breeze for Conor although we have had our fair share of hiccups, er, massive spit-ups.

This time around I will be using bottles more, and I am so thankful for my readers! Conor was super fussy and gassy every time he took a bottle.Thanks to my very helpful Facebook plea asking for bottle recommendations, my childhood crush's big sister, Danielle, sent me a huge box full of so many different kinds of bottles! Seriously so sweet. I love my blog readers, and Conor loved the Dr. Brown's bottle when I took Ryan to the mall the other day.

Oh! If you do nurse and foresee pumping a lot, a double electric breast pump is worth its weight in gold. I found a new-in-box Medela Freestyle on eBay, and I love it even though I am absolutely not pumping's biggest fan. That baby helped me pump enough for our trip and got me through twelve days of being away from Ryan efficiently and without my hand feeling like it was going to fall off. 

2. A baby carrier. Baby carrying is a hand saver and a life saver. I have really liked the Baby K'tan because there is no tying. I purchased an X-Small, and I'm 5'6". They have very helpful videos on YouTube for the confused mother who just needs access to both hands ha. Once Ryan was older, I purchased a Baby Ergo, and that thing has come in handy so much! When Chris' mom watched Ryan, she mentioned that it was the most comfortable baby carrier she had ever used. I even purchased one for her when Ciaran was born. Tip: buy them off of eBay where they are much cheaper than Amazon and regular retailers. 
Even Uncle Brad liked the Ergo

3. White noise. We had no clue about this until we were frantically googling how to help a baby sleep more than twenty minutes at a time. The one we have is not the strongest, but it works and now the music settings serve as a distraction for Ryan when I'm nursing Conor. There are also lots of white noise apps that are great and f-r-e-e. We went on many a road trip with my iPhone plugged into the car blaring "Extreme Rain Pouring," to keep Ryan's car-hating cries at bay. 

4. A place to sleep. Lots of different ways to go with this one! We were gifted the Arm's Reach co-sleeper, and it has been a good place for our babies to start the night. They always end up with me in bed, but I have found that if I can get at least 30 minutes sleep in bed without a baby, my attitude during the night is much improved. 

5. Love ... and patience ... and prayers. The rest will fall into place as it's meant to be.

So what are your essential baby items? Anyone unintentional minimalists like we are? 

Linking up with Hallie for Five Favorites. 

25 comments :

  1. LOVE our Ergo. It's on my must have list for a baby :-) We co sleep so the crib we have hasn't been used for anything but to put things Noah shouldn't touch lol

    A boob (easy enough for the most part, although we had issues the first couple months too).

    We don't have locks on our cabinets either. He would figure them out and we're not allowed to put them on our apartment. I would say we've just moved everything out of reach, but he can climb onto most things now, which is frightening lol

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    1. Ryan is a climber, too. Solidarity, Mama!

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  2. Katrina, how did you read my mind with this amazing post? I will be pinning this for EXTENSIVE reference! I've been stressing over what I actually need and what is just a nice extra, and this list was pretty much amazing.

    A few questions, though—what did you use in place of a changing pad? Also, do you think it's possible to get by without any kind of bassinet or baby bed at all, and just co-sleep exclusively? I'm trying to decide if that will save my sanity or be the worst idea ever... might have to wait til I actually try it out!

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    1. We had a crib and moved them into it once they were sleeping through the night or mostly sleeping through the night. I also think it depends on the "sleep personality" of the baby and the mother. I had some who could have co-slept until they were toddlers because they didn't move around a lot and we all slept well together. Others were in the crib much earlier, because it wasn't working out for anyone and no one was sleeping well. If you are hesitant to spend the money on a crib, I would buy a pack and play to have for travel anyway and use that if you need it. You will quickly know when your baby is several months old if co-sleeping can be long term or short term, and then you can make the leap to a crib if you need it.

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    2. Ditto Kris! Sleep personalities are key! You'll find out soon enough when baby comes what will work and what won't. I just wanted to add that if you end up getting nothing in the sleep department before baby comes, there's always the car seat for them to sleep in if you're desperate.

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    3. Yay, Tess! I'm glad you liked it! I just change them on the floor (sometimes with a blanket, sometimes not) or just change them on the bed.

      And I agree with Kris and Ellen! Sleep personalities are key, and you are probably right that you need to wait til you actually try it out! They also sell sweet little Moses baskets that you can place in your bed. My parents were going to buy us a crib as their baby present to us, but I wanted them to wait until we had the baby ... and then I kept telling them to wait and wait and wait until we realized Ryan didn't even need a crib anymore so they bought the convertible car seat for him :)

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  3. I would have to add a boppy pillow to that list. My chest is small, and without the pillow, I have to hold the baby up to feed, which gets very tiring. Plus, once they start learning how to sit, it's a great place to land!

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    1. I normally sit on a chair with a comfy armrest! Boppy pillows are nice though. When I was a full-time nanny, we used it for tummy time and bottle feeding.

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  4. I'm going to go with a sling, which is like having a carrier, but it worked better for me than a regular carrier. We had a crib, which I did love as they got older, so I would add that. All of mine slept in the same one. My one "frivolous" must have that was really my favorite thing was my glider rocker. I nursed all my babies in it and now my SIL has it for her babies.

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  5. This is awesome, lady! Thanks!! I was a little overwhelmed registering for baby showers and thinking about space management in our tiny space but it's reassuring to read how people have made it work. We were looking at the baby bjorn carrier - do you have opinions on that one vs. the ergo? We just ordered our pack n' play and are using that as a bassinett/in room sleeper - it kind of makes me want to skip the crib all together...

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    1. Yay, I'm glad you liked it! The family I nannied for had a Baby Bjorn, but it was uncomfortable on me. I have also heard that they aren't great for babies' backs because they just hang rather than have them sit with support, but I am no baby carrying expert. If you want your little girl to be able to face out, I know that Beco baby carriers have a supportive facing out option. Looks like there are some on eBay!

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  6. Love that you listed what you didn't use! My do not use list is nearly identical. We never used a diaper pail I found too. I think less is more with caring for a baby. I think the more gear, the more complicated it becomes. Seriously, did they use/need all these devices for the last tens of thousands if years? Nope.

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    1. Exactly! Simple has been best for us.

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  7. Katrina, I loved this post. I found your blog through a mutual friend (Meg) and you are just the cutest. This is exactly my philosophy on baby essentials...less is more! I've actually found that the more children that I have the more baby stuff I haul off to the goodwill. Some things to add, I love the Maya Wrap for newbies. If you do have a baby who likes to be swaddled, you can't beat the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. Also, I began my stay at home mom life with a changing table. I don't think I've ever actually changed a diaper on it. The floor seems to work just fine...nothing but the best for my little cherubs.

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  8. Okay, I might just have to try our carriers again this time around. I've always felt like the baby was going to fall back, and it wasn't comfortable. Clearly I need someone to show me what to do :)

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  9. I LOVE this list, and you. You inspire me to let go and not worry so much about getting all this baby stuff and just make do with what is possible in the moment :) xo

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  10. This is impressive! We are not quite as minimalist, but I totally agree that so much baby gear is just plain unnecessary. No wipe/bottle warmers, diaper genie, bumbo seat, etc for us. We do love our bouncy seat though, because you can't beat eating dinner with two hands, ha ha!

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  11. I honestly was thinking about doing a very similar post as I packed up more of our baby stuff for storage. My son is almost 8 months old and the amount of items that we got that have been packed away already is crazy. We were gifted many of the things but still that amount of money spent on things we used for such a short time or really not much at all makes me a little sick. Many of the items on your not used list are the same as ours.

    We tried the wrap but I couldn't handle it. Too much fabric and too hot for me. We also have a Bjorn. My husband loves it but it hurts my back after about 10 minutes. I really want to try the Ergo, I haven't heard one bad thing about it. But I'm afraid to commit to the price tag. I just don't know if it's too late to START wearing a baby at 8 months :(

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    1. Yeah, the Bjorn always hurt my back! Go for the Ergo! They are always on eBay. And it is not too late at all. I think I started when Ryan was maybe seven months? I STILL wear him occassionally, and he is two and a very solid boy.

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  12. I have hear so many good things about the Ergo and I was wishing for one the other day when I was babysitting, holding the infant and trying to clean! I love that you are a minimalist!

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  13. Katrina, this was lovely. I will definitely be saving this so when the time comes and babies begin to make there way into our lives, I can remember less is MORE!! Thank you for being so honest, its wonderful to here what is really practical verses what we think we need!

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  14. Katrina, loved the post. Yes! Yes! Yes! For the last 5 of our children a port-a-crib has been their baby bed. When we go on a trip, the kids are to pack a bag that must be able to fit under their seat in the car. Also, I used to over-estimate the amount of food we would need on a trip. Most often, we could've gotten by with half the amount...or even less! And my life has become so busy, when we need something (clothing and other needs that are kind of necessary but that can be put off) I piddle and wait...refuse to go buy it at the store and it seems like 90% of the time, the item will come my way through a friend who is getting rid of things, etc. (I credit the good God, who knows our needs before we even ask.)

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  15. How do you keep your kids out of fun/dangerous things (turning on gas stove, getting into the toilet, eating various bad things...)? Even with baby gates and childlocks I feel like we're always on the edge of imminent disaster.
    How do you do it? I really really want to know your secret!

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    1. Ha, good question! I wish I had a go-to solution, but if you saw Ryan's pen artwork on Conor's face the other day and that I caught Ryan eating sugar in the pantry the other day, you wouldn't be asking for my advice.

      I'm pretty consistent about letting Ryan know that certain things like the gas stove (why can't they make one where the knobs are on top??) and knives are off limits. Eventually he loses interest. Also, if I let him help with other parts of cooking like putting things into the pot, he forgets about the dangerous parts. With stairs, I taught him how to go down backwards when he was a baby, and then we just practiced a lot once he could go down walking. Stairs still freak me out though, but I found that if I wasn't there distracting him, he didn't even miss a step.

      Ryan does learn boundaries from experimenting though. "He'll learn," is a favorite phrase around here. We don't have a fireplace guard, but Ryan never touches the fireplace glass because the fireplace expert who installed it said that with all of his kids and grandkids, he let them touch the glass soon after the fire was turned on. It isn't hot enough yet to burn, but it does leave an impression in his mind. After touching that one time, he never touched it again, and his first word was actually, "Hot!"

      Okay ... off to go see what he is up to now!

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