Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Must-Have Items for Moms or "Baby Shower Registries are supposed to be fun, right?"

It's the day you've been waiting for: baby registry day. A store clerk hands you the scanner wand, a folder of miscellaneous papers about child rearing, coupons for already overpriced items and a list of recommended things the store says you should add to your registry. All the good moms add these items; you're a good mom aren't you? So you take your wand and your enormous prego belly and with a false showing of confidence you pretend to know what you're doing. You scan the shelves trying to remember what your sister/mother/best-friend-who's-a-mom told you as you scout out what you think could possibly maybe be something like what you heard was good that one time. Half way through the first aisle you're totally overwhelmed, and underfed. As you reach into your purse for a granola bar to power yourself through to aisle #2 you can't quiet the questions swimming through your head: Why is a butt thermometer 50 dollars? How many gadgets do I need to accessorize my stroller? Do I have space for a play mat, play walker, exersaucer, bouncy chair and automated swing in my home? And who is this Bjorn guy and what makes him so great?

I can't promise that I have all the answers. No one person can pretend to have all the answers to our mom-related questions. But I have a list of items that I wish I would've had when I was registering. And if not when I was registering, I just wish I would've had them in general as I was starting out in my infant-care quest. And so, I bestow it to you. Hopefully this will help. 

Now, Items 1-15 in no particular order:

Why didn't anyone tell me I needed these? So your baby is going to have razor sharp dagger nails that can mar his face something fierce. And when he mars, he screams and nobody likes that. 'Course, people tell you to get the little mittens to go over their hands, but they don't tell you about the clippers that actually solve the problem. You don't need anything fancy pants. We just picked up these from Walmart (after our first marring episode).

2. baby blankets, specifically stroller blankets 
So, so many baby blankets. You can never have enough. You'll need to cover the car seat and the stroller on windy and chilly days. And you'll need one to leave the hospital with. Why so many? Because they'll almost inevitably find their way to the floor of the supermarket, and there's gross stuff down there that you don't want snuggling into your baby. Especially when the kids reach about 4 months old and they're really kicky little things - their sole mission is to dirty all the clean things by kicking them onto the floor. My absolute favorite is this Chamois Stroller Blanket from Pottery Barn Kids. I didn't register for it, but someone bought it for me and I can't get enough of it. It's soft, weighty enough so that it won't blow off your car seat when you're walking through the parking lot, and it's long enough to completely cover the stroller and/or carseat from end to end. 

3. sleep sacks, two to three
Magical magician of baby night outfit engineers. This thing is magic. You don't have to worry about putting a blanket into the crib. This thing keeps the kids cozy sans all the blankety danger. And, they zip from the top down. So in the middle of the night when you're changing diapers, you don't need to unzip the whole thing. We grabbed this fleece one by HALO called a HALO Fleece SleepSack.

4. Mirror for the car or as they're called, "Auto mirror" 
Something else no one told me about. Turns out, when your kid's in the back seat launching his vocal chords into next week, you're going to have the opposite reaction of any other normal human being on the planet; you're going to want to look at him. Because, as a mom, it's your job to define the line between a scream that needs your immediate attention and just an arbitrary scream about his crappy view of a headrest. We got this Fisher Price Rainforest Baby View Mirror from Target. Wow, did I really pay $40? That must've been my first week on the mom-job. No time for bargain shopping; just get me the damn mirror before I blow my mush-for-brains out. 

I know, let's add a few more descriptors into the name of this thing. Looks like a case of "too many cooks in the kitchen" at the name-this-toy brainstorm. Either that or it's an SEO project in beta (and is anyone really searching for a "projector soother"?) Anywho, the kid loves this thing. The songs lull him to sleep and the projection of the cartoony ocean scene on the ceiling has quieted even the shrillest cries. Literally quieted them on the spot. Like screaming baby --> sister grabs projector, turns off the lights and turns on the music and projects the ocean scene --> crying stops immediately as his attention is directed to the lovely ceiling seascape. Magic. In addition to the music, it also has "ocean sounds" of the sea-sloshing kind if your kid's a big fan of white noise.

6. Grass Drying Rack - "Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack"
No, okay. This isn't a must-have. You can totally use a towel or a dish mat. But it looked all disorganized on the countertop and you constantly have to switch out the towel so it doesn't get gross, and then there go the bottles rolling onto the floor again! So here. Look at this cute little plastic grass patch neatly sitting next to the sink. That's better, isn't it? This thing is spectacular because, unlike the bottle tree-like drying racks, this can hold everything! You can wedge nipples, bottles, caps, spoons, pacifiers, medicine spouts... anything in between the blades of this thing where they will be suspended neatly in place until the water drips away (away!) from your baby items. Rather than letting them sit in a pool of their own soap scum-water. Brilliant. And adorable. I bought this on Amazon after trying the whole dish mat charade.

7. Bathtub with Net Hammock Thing - The First Years Newborn-to-Toddler Tub with Sling
Well this is an unexpected adventure... Turns out giving a baby a bath is a lot like wrangling a jellyfish with a wet noodle. First I tried teetering the baby on my left arm while swiping his head with a wet rag on my right. As safe as that seemed, I followed this by an attempt to Jenga the baby into a seated position in a hand-me-down baby bath tub without a sling...  Slippery little things, aren't they...  The solution? These 3-stage bathtubs take your munchkin from wet-noodle-newbornland to seriously-please-stop-splashing-mama toddlerville. And when it comes to the juggling act of baby-bathing (without the help of another set of hands) this little hammock is a day-saver to say the least.

8. Nosefrida - The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator
Meet your new BFF, Frida. When your baby gets a stuffy nose, he's not gonna have the wherewithall to blow it into his sleeve (they save that adorable practice for kindergarten). Which means it's up to you to get the snot out. So you'll squirt some saline drops up his nose, he'll try to swat at you like a pestilent house fly, then you'll stick your sad little bulb suction up his nostril. While he screams like you're sucking his brains out through his face, you'll successfully clear out about 1/100th of the snot situation. So you'll complain of this useless ritual to your friends and they'll tell you about the Nosefrida. (Look at all the steps I'm saving you!) Seemingly the most archaeic of contraptions, it's also the most logical. At one end of the tube is you; at the other end is your baby's snot-stuffed nostril and in between is a foam filter (thankfully). Start steering clear of smoke-swamped bars now because this thing is powered by good old-fashioned wind power (yours). So you suck, and like bird poop into the wind vacuum of a 747 jet, your baby's nose begins to release the demons. Strange, but as gagworthy a practice as this is, it never really strikes you as disgusting. Rather, a challenge that you're eager to master, and nothing is quite so rewarding as helping your little You breathe easier.

9. Saline Nose Drops
While practicing the above ritual, it helps to loosen up the demons. Our doctor recommended Ayr, but I'm sure there are a variety of options.

10. Infant Gas Drops
Your baby will come equipped with a variety of bodily functions. It's your job to help usher them along. Do yourself a favor and minimize the screaming fit that comes along with a stubborn fart. Grab some Infant Gas Drops before you bump out that baby; you will thank me, and so will your husband (who will otherwise be flooring it to the Walgreens for these things circa 2a.m.). They don't solve all the world's baby burps, but when you're in the throes of figuring out how to comfort your kid, you'll want to give the gas dropper a chance.

11. Bottle Brush
For the love of laziness, we have a dishwasher. Surely there will be no time for handwashing. And what's the difference between this and my normal dish brush? There's gonna come a time when your dishwasher is a good day and a half away from being full and you really just need one friggin' bottle to throw some nourishment in. Surely there has to be ONE clean one SOMEwhere. Enter, bottle brush. Why not your normal dish brush? Because chances are you've plunged that thing into a crockpot full of an acid playground of chili or dragged it across a raw poultry party hosted by Sam and Ella. We just grabbed a cheap Munchkin one from Walmart, but when this one wears out I'll grab this Munchkin Bottle and Nipple Brush Combo. Mine didn't come with a nipple brush and it's tough to get those clean.
12. Play Mat - Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym
Marvelous Magical Mastery of Playmats. Those Einstein people really know what they're doing. Kid loves this thing. He's spent hours swatting these dangling sea creatures around, and an equivalent amount of time using this mat for tummy time. All the dangling sea things are attached by movable plastic links so you can move them in a variety of different positions. I've also used the links to add on other toys like his colorful plastic key set or other toys that I had dangling from his carseat handle. The ability to reposition and attach toys to loops on the mat or loops on the whale pillow is key. You won't be sorry for hovering your registry wand over this mer-mat.

13.  Diapers - Pampers Swaddlers, Size Newborn, 1 and 2
Eleventy billion diaper types are stacked to the ceiling and, if you're like me, you haven't the slightest clue of whose "super exclusive patented leak-free, dry-all-night, never-change-their-diaper-again-until-they're-graduating-from-college" design is the very best. I've tried. I've tested. I tried the organic ones because I liked the idea of them. I tried the cheap ones because I like to save money  (how bad could they be?). The organic and the cheap ones were a lot like wrapping my child in paper origami underwear. Way too rough. And then he pooped. And then they leaked. And then I never bought them again. Pampers Swaddlers come with a color strip on the outside that changes from yellow to blue when they're wet. This is great if you don't want to plunge your hand into potentially muddy territory. They're soft, comfy, have velcro-type fasteners so you can adjust and readjust, and they work great at holding in all the stuff you don't want to come out.

14. Vibrating Bouncer
There's not a lot to say here. Sometimes babies want to bounce. Sometimes they want to swing. Sometimes they want to listen to tunes while their chair gives them a vibrating massage. You, however, will just want your baby to be happy. Or neutral. Whichever comes quickest and quietest. We registered for this one: Kids II® Bright Starts™ Comfort & Harmony™ Cradling Bouncer - Biscotti Baby. It vibrates, plays music, it's cushy and the Kid loves it. And it washes up really, really well.

15.  Bottoms Up Thermometer - Vicks Baby Thermometer Rectal

So, we registered for the mega expensive ear thermometer (this one) because it seemed easy and non-invasive. But as you'll find out, it turns out baby ear canals aren't big enough for accurate readings. So your doc will tell you that you need to take a rectal temp. Oh, good thing we have a 60 dollar thermometer. Right now we're just using a regular thermometer, but that's a little scary because (gross alert) you just don't know whether it's too far in, too far out and if you're getting an accurate reading. If I could do it again, I'd definitely get this Vicks one. Seemed to be the only one with good reviews on the Babies R Us site.

To be continued... stay tuned for more additions to the list.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous blog post. Am off to read the rest. Thanks a Million for this.