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Jul 1, 2015

Newborn Essentials

Before you have a baby you obsess about buying everything you could possibly need, and then after you have the baby you come to the shocking realization that half of the stuff you thought you needed is completely unnecessary or won't actually be useful until your baby is six months to a year old. So moms to be, listen up, I'm here reporting from the other side on the stuff you actually need to get through the first month of having a baby, or at least, the stuff that has been the most useful to me.

1. Large receiving blankets -  Tiny receiving blankets, what am I supposed to do with you? So far I have used you to prop the baby's head up while I am nursing and to wipe up spit up in an emergency, but not as an actual blanket because you are too small to completely cover a baby. These muslin swaddles are big, almost too big, actually. But too much is easier to deal with in this instance than too little. Plus, they make for a nice impromptu  nursing cover in the summer since they are so lightweight.

2. Rock 'n Play - We initially intended for Roscoe to sleep in the bassinet area of our Pack & Play, but we have ended up using the Rock 'n Play every night since we brought him home. It's great because it is so portable. Roscoe can sleep basically anywhere, though in reality we keep ours right next to the bed. I wish I would have bought two of them for each floor of my house.

3. Summer Infant Comfy Bath Sponge  - Baby bath tubs take up a ton of space, so I was determined to find something for bath time that would support the baby so I could wash him in the kitchen sink until he is big enough to take a bath in the tub unsupported. These sponges ended up being the perfect solution. Roscoe is propped up by the sponge, away from the water, but still submerged enough that he doesn't fuss.

4. The Happiest Baby on The Block - I'm not going to claim that I have the happiest baby, but the techniques described in this book (swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking) do work most of the time to calm Roscoe during his fussy moments. It isn't really necessary to read the entire book, you can get the gist of the techniques Karp recommends here.

5. Halo sleepsack/swaddle - I tried several other swaddlers, but this one has worked the best and kept Roscoe sleeping the longest. My sister has experienced the same thing with her baby. Buy several of these in case of accidents during the night, and be mindful of the season your baby will be born (i.e. you might not want a fleece sleepsack in the summer).

6. Kimono/side snap shirts/onesies - It's a little bit easier to get a baby in and out of these compared to your standard onesie, which you'll appreciate for those late night changes. Zippered sleepers are also great. And be sure to get them in newborn size. If you have a seven pound baby it may be a month or more before he is ready for 0-3 month size clothes, and you are going to be changing clothes quite frequently during those first few weeks.

7. Soothies/Hydragel Pads - I've taken a very informal survey of the mothers I know, and most of them suffered a few wounds as they were learning how to nurse their baby. I definitely did. These pads helped me get through those tough first days. The hydragel pads are especially nice, since they last twice as long and were a bit less sticky, making them easier to remove from your tender skin. Another great option for sore nipples is All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO), a prescription cream that reduces inflammation and fights infection. It must be specially prepared at a compounding pharmacy, so try to get it while you are still in the hospital.

8. Breast pump and a hands-free pumping bra - I ended up using a breast pump from the very beginning, even while I was still in the hospital, because I was concerned about my breast milk supply. The double breast pump is a must, so much more efficient than just pumping one breast at a time. The best part is that you should be able to get a FREE breast pump from your insurance company because of the Affordable Care Act. A pumping bra is also really handy if you plan to breastfeed for a while. They are certainly not the most glamorous garments in the world, but having your hands free for the 15 minutes you need to pump is a lifesaver, especially if you end up pumping multiple times a day.

9. Boppy Newborn Lounger - An important consideration whenever you are registering for baby stuff is where will you put your baby when you can't hold him, either because he is sleeping or because you need both hands for a second. For those situations, I recommend getting a Boppy lounger. My baby has rested happily in his for many short stretches of time when I couldn't be holding him. A large basket with a pillow in it will work also.

10. Smart phone/tablet - I don't think I've ever used my phone as much in my life as I have since I had a baby. I might as well just get a strap for it so I can carry it on my person at all times. I use it to record every time I feed the baby, as well as all of his diaper changes, in addition to using it for entertainment at all hours. I also use my tablet quite a bit, whenever I'm pumping or nursing, to read or watch Netflix. Oh yeah, you should also get Netflix or some other streaming subscription if you don't already have one.

11. Six week bran muffins - I had heard that constipation after having a baby, especially if you received an epidural, was no joke. Luckily, my mother thoughtfully whipped up a batch of these muffins for me, so it ended up not being a big issue. I recommend having two a day for the first few days after delivery, then just one a day until you feel things have returned to normal. If you are taking iron supplements that could be a while! The recipe is very adaptable; you can add any fruit or nuts that you like.

12. Side tables - I knew I would need side tables and I was correct. You will want a place to put your stuff (glass of water, breast pump, snack, tablet, etc.) while you are nursing. Have one next to any chairs you plan to use for nursing.

Just a note that since my husband has returned to work my time for blogging has become a bit scarce, so my posts may be less regular for the next few weeks and months. Please bear with me during this time of transition!

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