I have been thinking about this post for a while and now that Owen is almost 6 months old, I’m ready to do it! I wanted to write a bit about what I’ve learned these past 6 months…I could probably write for days, but I will try to keep it somewhat short. I feel like I have learned so much and I wanted to share and maybe something I say will help someone else!
I wanted to share some of my most used and most liked baby products so far. Of course, I obsessively researched what to buy, what the best items were, read reviews, compared prices, etc. I’m nutty but I feel like I learned a ton and I really don’t feel like we bought a lot of unnecessary things or spent a lot of money on something that we shouldn’t have. We were pretty frugal with our purchases and I tried to get the items with the best reviews for the lowest prices. I looked at a lot of lists like the one I’m about to share and I thought they were really helpful as I was planning what to buy.
1. Snap and go stroller: we bought this instead of a big travel system and we love it! It was cheap and lightweight and the car seat clicks into it. It doesn’t take a ton of room and I would highly recommend this route. We ended up spending more money on a nice jogging stroller and we just bought a cheap-ish umbrella stroller for when we are out and about (which we would have bought anyway even if we got a travel system).
2. Muslin swaddle blankets: Aden + Anais and JJ Cole are the most popular and Owen loves to cuddle them all the time. They also work great to use as a nursing cover and we used them to swaddle Owen until he got too strong, then we had to get creative!
3. Swaddleme blanket: This blanket was great for swaddling when Owen got stronger. It has velcro and we also did a double swaddle with a small receiving blanket so he could almost never break free! It sounds kind of sad, but he loves it and it helps him sleep so we kept doing it! When Owen was about 3 weeks old, he seemed like he didn’t want the swaddle so we stopped for a few weeks. I started swaddling him again around 6 weeks and at first, he fussed but then calmed down after just a second and would go to sleep. I HIGHLY recommend swaddling even if your baby seems to not like it. I think most babies really like it and it will help them sleep! The only bad part about it is when you are ready to get rid of the swaddle and trying to wean him off of it! But that is another story…
4. Boppy Noggin Nest Pillow: I bought this pillow when Owen was about 6 weeks old and I noticed a pretty flat spot on the back of his head. He didn’t love to be held and babies spend a lot of time on their backs so it’s pretty common for flat spots to happen. But I freaked out and started having him sleep on this pillow and used it when he played on the floor and in his car seat. It helped a lot and his head is much rounder now (though there is still a flat spot on the back, it is much better than it was).
5. Some sort of baby wrap: My mom bought me the Solly Baby wrap, but it is basically the same as the Moby. I used this a lot in the early days when Owen wouldn’t sleep very well except on me. And I loved cuddling him and having him close. It was also nice for walks.
6. Prefold cloth diapers for burp cloths: These are awesome and do the best job absorbing spit up. They are cheap too and we have used the crap out of ours. Owen is a spit up master so we go through these pretty quickly. But they are great to have on hand. Make sure to follow the prep directions because I had to wash ours about 6 times to get them fully absorbent.
7. A cheap mattress and 2 pairs of sheets: Owen has been sleeping in his crib since he was only a few weeks old and after much research and thought, we bought a cheap mattress from Walmart. It has been great and it is very light which helps a ton when I have to lift it off the crib to change his sheets. Babies don’t need super soft mattresses and I just think it’s not necessary to spend a fortune on a mattress for a baby. Ours had good reviews and has been great so far. 2 pairs of sheets are pretty important and nice to have since I change his sheets a lot!
8. Rock and play sleeper: We bought this instead of a big bassinet and we used it all the time for about 2 to 3 months. Owen slept in it in our room and we brought it to the family room as well. He also slept in it in his room after we moved him. It was small and convenient and I really liked it. I recommend using the Boppy pillow with this because a lot of reviews said it contributed to their baby having a flat head because it’s kind of hard. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but I will use it with the pillow for my next baby.
9. Medela double electric pump and a single hand pump: If you are going to be doing any pumping, I HIGHLY recommend this pump. If I was a stay at home mom, I would probably have gotten a single electric, but if you can afford it, go with the double. It works great and with me having to pump at work one day a week (thank goodness for only one day!), it is very convenient. I also wanted to get a good freezer supply to have on hand in case I lost my milk or when we get a baby sitter for Owen. It’s pricey, but look for coupons for 20% off. I also recommend having a small hand pump as well. Mine was only about $20 but it is handy to use in the middle of the night or if we go on a date and I need to pump. It obviously takes longer to use a hand pump, but it’s small and easy to carry around.
10. Diaper bag/backpack: We bought this bag from LL Bean and we have loved it so far. I told Dan I would get a non-girly diaper bag and he said he would carry it all around. It was a compromise but I really didn’t care to have a fancy bag and I ended up buying a cute big purse that I use sometimes so I’m glad we got this neutral bag that we can use forever instead of an expensive diaper bag that will be out of style by the time our next kid comes around. It was only $69 and I got 10% off. It is small but fits everything we need. It also has a lifetime warranty so they will replace it AT ANY TIME if something is ruined. I actually noticed an issue with the sewing coming undone (I think it was made that way as opposed to falling apart already) so I called them and they replaced it! I did have to pay shipping but still not a bad deal. We also bought this Kelty backpack and have used it several times when we have gone hiking and to Vegas. Some people feel dorky wearing a backpack, but I prefer it for convenience, and Dan will carry it so it works for us!
I want to talk about my experience breastfeeding because I have learned so much over these past 6 months and I have really loved being able to breastfeed Owen and I plan on continuing it until he is about a year old. I am certain that my preparation while I was pregnant helped me to have success breastfeeding and also helped me manage my expectations of what it would take to be successful at it. It amazes me that so many people do research when they buy a new car or vacuum, but don’t know anything about carrying, birthing and feeding a baby! It seems like the most important thing that we are going to do should be something we prepare well for. Breastfeeding was really important to me so I did my research and tried to prepare and I think it paid off.
Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means an expert, I am just sharing my experiences. Also, I realize that not everyone can or wants to breastfeed. I totally understand that and respect it. We are all moms and we all want what is best for our kids so I think we should all support each other!
My two biggest suggestions are 1: GET HELP and 2: Realize it’s going to be a commitment that takes work.
- GET HELP! I can’t say that enough. Read everything you can about breastfeeding while you’re pregnant. Know what is normal and not normal. You can never know exactly what is going to happen until you have your baby, but you can be prepared in advance so you have some sort of idea. I highly recommend utilizing La Leche League. I went to a meeting before I had Owen and it was really helpful. Take in all the information and then decide what is best for you. I was also able to call a friend who is a LLL leader and she was super helpful after I had Owen. I also had my Doula with me who helped me with the first nursing session. I felt really confused and unsure about what I was doing but it helped to have her there. Utilize lactation consultants and nurses at the hospital and ask questions about if you are doing it right, what to look for when your baby is eating, etc.
- Realize that it’s going to be a commitment that takes work. Luckily I had two best friends to fill me in on everything before Owen came, but they basically told me to expect it to be hard and hurt and I’m glad they did! I wasn’t surprised when I was feeding Owen a lot or when he would take a long time to eat, or when my nipples were sore because I knew it was coming. On that note, USE A LOT OF LANOLIN!
- Try to breastfeed in the first hour or so after birth. This is not always realistic or possible, but if you have a healthy, normal delivery and you and your baby are together, the baby will probably show signs of wanting to nurse and you should jump on it and give it a try. I believe that nursing soon after birth really helps your milk come in and helps establish breastfeeding.
- Take care of yourself and your body. Even if you are feeling good in the weeks after the baby is born, continue to rest and let your body recover. Make sure to drink tons of water and try to get a lot of calories. I was always thirsty while I was pregnant so I got in the habit of bringing a water bottle everywhere with me. I try to drink as much water as possible and I think it helps a lot with breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand. Your body changes to accommodate what the baby needs so for me, nursing often helped keep my supply regulated. I also followed Babywise (which is a big no no for a lot of LLL people, but it worked for us!), and Owen was on a fairly regular 3 hour feeding schedule. I didn’t force it, but that’s how it worked out for us. Sometimes I hear people say they “didn’t make enough milk” or something like that, and while that is totally possible and happens, I think sometimes they lose their supply because they start supplementing with formula, or not pumping if they give the baby a bottle. As soon as you start skipping feedings, your body will stop producing milk. If you establish your supply from the beginning, it is much easier than trying to get it back if you start to lose it. Any time Owen has a bottle, I make sure to pump. We also dropped his late feeding at 10pm but I still pump around that time every night just to make sure I don’t lose my milk.
- Know what is normal and what is not normal. Everything was going really well for us the first 4 weeks and then I got a plugged duct or maybe mastitis (still not sure). I knew something was wrong because it hurt SO BAD when he nursed and for an hour or two afterwards. I wanted to cry every time he ate and I knew it wasn’t normal, so I asked a friend who runs LLL meetings and she gave me some good tips. I finally went back to my midwife and she gave me some antibiotics in case it was mastitis. After a few weeks, it got better but it was rough. I can definitely see how people would stop if they were in that kind of pain for very long. But if you get help and work through it, you can continue to breastfeed without pain!
Since I have written a novel, I will finish up now! I hope some of those tips helped someone and I’m sure I will refer back to this post when I have my next child! But for us, breastfeeding has been an awesome experience and I really love it. Owen is healthy and happy and he hasn’t been sick once in his little life! He is growing and getting BIG. Just look at those amazing thighs!