Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baby products: a quick rundown of our favorites so far

With BabyBear celebrating his three-month birthday, we thought we'd compile a list of the various baby products that we've found to be most helpful to us so far. (Particularly with so many of our friends expecting little ones in the next few months!)

For starters, another experienced mommy recommended the book Baby Bargains to us as we researched and learned about all the things we'd need -- the difference between a bouncer and a swing, for instance (Jeff didn't know this), as well as which companies produced quality stuff and which didn't (think Consumer Reports). The biggest help was that the authors also try to help the reader not spend too much money, getting the best quality stuff without spending a fortune.

Those same authors (plus one) wrote another very helpful book, Baby 411, which lays out answers to basic questions on everything from delivery to eating to sleeping to illnesses, etc., in a very straightforward manner that is incredibly helpful to first-time parents. We decided to use this as our primary reference guide in order to avoid confusion or contradiction. Also, both Baby Bargains and Baby 411 have accompanying websites with updated and additional information.

They say that while pregnant and for some period after, women become forgetful, disorganized and somewhat frazzled. Especially on low sleep, trying to remember when your baby last ate or what their diaper contained is virtually impossible. That's where Bethany found the iPhone application BabyBrain to be most helpful. It lets you enter in all that sort of information and will even calculate averages for day, week and month, and tell you how long it's been since the last nursing, bottle, diaper change and sleep period. You can even e-mail a chart of the information to dad, your doctor, yourself, or anyone else. What swung me to this app over the others available on iTunes (yes, there are several) was how responsive and pleasant the program's creator was to my questions. I've never regretted the $4.99 I spent on this, and I still use it everyday, multiple times a day.

Another handy piece of baby gear that was given to me was my Boppy pillow, which makes nursing much more convenient by positioning BabyBear in just the right spot (as opposed to me trying to support him myself; the pillow does the support for you).

My best friend tipped me off to the GumDrop pacifiers; she actually gave me several at my baby shower, and I ordered even more later. They're very similar to the pacifiers used in hospitals, and are the only ones that BabyBear will take.

We struggled our first few nights at home with BabyBear, as he never wanted to sleep on his back in his crib; he insisted on being held. We realized quickly this would not work long-term, and so out of desperation as much as anything, tried a special swaddling blanket (called the Miracle Blanket) recommended by one of Jeff's friends. Though he hated (and still doesn't care for) the process of being swaddled, the outcome has been that he sleeps well at night. In fact, he started sleeping through the night at about eight weeks, and we've never looked back.

Another nifty discovery was that BabyBear loves the Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics CD series. When we're having trouble getting him to sleep or even calm down, turning on this music often does the trick. Perhaps most amazingly, it's not that bad to listen to, either; even Jeff, who very quickly gets tired of hearing the same stuff over and over again, is still okay with these CDs. (It helps that one of the tracks is a baby version of The Moldau, one of Jeff's favorite classical pieces.)

Bethany may write a separate post on these later, but we'll give them a brief mention here. After many hours of conversation with a dear friend who has used a variety of types of cloth diapers on her two children, Bethany decided to give the Bum Genius 3.0 diapers a try. Not only are they easy to use (even for Jeff), but we've only had one leak, and they wash incredibly well. (Even more surprising: after washing and drying in the sun for a few hours, all stains disappear. You won't believe it 'til you see it.) These diapers can be adjusted to fit babies from eight to 35 pounds, which hopefully means they'll be the only ones we ever need (other than occasional disposables when traveling and such).

The last piece of baby gear we'd like to highlight is Bethany's mei tai carrier. At first glance, we wondered how (or if) it worked; it's just a square piece of fabric with four long straps attached. But the beauty is in the simplicity, which allows the mei tai to work in a variety of carrying positions. These days, you won't see Bethany at the grocery store or church without it. It's been a lifesaver.

Obviously there are other things we've gotten a lot of use out of, and really nothing we've gotten has been bad or unused. (Thanks, Baby Bargains!) But these were some that we thought you might not hear about everywhere and wanted to highlight. Hope this helps!


Sarah said...

THe Miracle Blanket and Mei Tai carriers were essentials in this house for both boys too!

Jenn said...

YAY! I'm so happy you like the mei tai! :)

Hopefully B will have tons of recommendations when I eventually have kids too.