Useful Baby Items (0-4 months)

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General Tips

  • If you're into maximizing uses for the things in your house and minimizing the amount of specialty items that you'll have to donate after you're done using them:

    • A normal pillow case can just about fit the diaper changing mat and is a bit easier to wrestle than the smaller fitted sheets. Use rug placeholders to keep your changing mat from sliding off the changing surface.
    • Normal pillows and blankets work just as well as nursing pillows and are machine washable too. If you haven't bought one yet, save the money.
  • Have two laundry hampers; one for dirty, peed upon, and/or milk spilled clothes and the other one solely for baby poop clothes and/or sheets and pads.

  • Diaper sizes overlap in weight. When your baby approaches 9 lbs I recommend sizing up to size 1 instead of holding out in the newborn size (which last until 10 lbs). This avoids most poop blowouts. Applies for future size changes as well.

    • Having your baby experience diaper rash is the worst thing ever and you feel absolutely horrible. I recommend changing diapers for the first two months every two hours to avoid diaper rash. When they have diaper rash, change every hour.
    • XXX I will attempt to make a How to Change a Diaper video. Stay posted.
  • If you're planning to breastfeed, protect your nipples! Be resistant if the hospital tries to give you a nipple shield.nippleShield See sidenote. The hospital wants your baby to get nutrients as soon as possible, in the easiest way. You want your baby to get familiar with your boob, not a plastic piece that is easy to dislodge. Two very different outcomes and you have to choose which one is right for you and your family. Breastfeeding takes time. Use the hospital lactation consultants and rest assured that the professionals are nearby if your baby drastically loses weight. It took Theodore about two months to really learn how to breastfeed and it was painful every single time. I used nipple cream like it was going out of style.nippleCream IMPORTANT: Ask for APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) before you leave the hospital!apno Otherwise you have to make an appointment to see your doctor (who is busy) if you end up having any nipple damage (which is REALLY painful) while nursing (which happens multiple times a day). With things like that, it doesn't pay to delay and the sooner you can start treating yourself the better. Most nursing problems are caused by your baby not knowing what they're doing, but nursing your baby is usually the solution to the problem as well. Good luck. Sidenote: some women and babies need nipple shields for medical reasons or to reduce pain. Don't feel like a bad mother if you are in this category. At the end of the day, everyone wants you and your baby to be happy and healthy - whatever that looks like. | The image for APNO has a recipe for over the counter if you forget at the hospital. I found it from the Canadian government.

    • Here's a lactation consultant UN: wagonbird on Youtube who taught us good things about breast feeding and how to sleep safely with your baby. Basically watch all of her videos.
    • Watch out for your thumbs! When I'm nursing Theo, I browse or read on my phone using my thumbs. You could develop tendonitis if you aren't careful.
  • The ergonomic way to hold a car seat is to have your baby facing you in the seat. Then thread your arm through the handle on the side and cup the base of the bar with your palm. Your cupped hand and the car seat should be level with your hip.

  • Double the curtains or use blackout in the baby's room so that it's darker. Teddy, like most babies, is light sensitive.

  • Take everything from the hospital that isn't nailed down. You've already paid for it afterall. I love the soap bottle I got from them. We also took two small tubs that are great for holding the wash-by-hand items like breast pump or bottle parts. Or weighing your baby if they're very small. :)

  • The internet has a lot of great information out there but sometimes it's hard to aggregate everything and pick what you want. We use the WireCutter to do the heavy lifting for us. We chose our wedding silverware and dishes based on their articles. ;) The articles are comprehensive and well researched; from infant car seats, to high chairs, to baby hiking backpacks - relax and pick what works for you and your family.

0 month

Meals: Please feel free to come see the baby and visit the new parents! However, don't come empty-handed; bring food or diapers. But mostly food. Food is important. Things that can be popped into the oven are the best since they require no monitoring. Simply turn the oven on, put the food in, set timer, and enjoy delicious food when the timer dings.

Sleep: Swaddle sacks are basically blankets that combine in several ways depending on the brand to bundle your baby safely while they sleep. I liked swaddle sacks that didn't have velcro on them. I personally thought the velcro made them too loud and were disruptive when Theodore needed nighttime care. We did Carter's, Baby Dee Dee, and Aden & Anais. Some very kind friends and family bought us Halo sacks as well.

Bathroom: Aquaphor is the best for diaper cream.aquaphor It magically makes the place you put it poop-phobic and forms a thick barrier to guard soft skin against corrosive poop. We also used Butt Paste.boudreauxButtpaste When Theo didn't have a rash I alternated between the two brands. Theo has very sensitive skin. Thus we always use diaper cream on his bum. Which gets on your hands and can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to wash off. To save ourselves from the perils of diaper cream we use the baby bum wand.
diaperWand Piper's pediatrician stated that the butt paste would be better for her since it has zinc in it (unlike the Aquaphor). Girls are more prone to urinary tract infections and the zinc-based diaper creams will help combat those while Aquaphor won't. I usually do Butt Paste on Piper at night and Aquaphor during the day.

Play: Babies can't really enjoy them yet, but a bouncy chair is nice as a safe place to put babies when you need free hands. We inherited a monkey chair that has never had batteries in it but is very useful nonetheless.fisherpriceMonkeyrocker Ours also doesn't have the monkey mobile shown.

Sing to your baby. Don't forget to join Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. They'll send a free book once a month until your child is 5 years old.

General: This is the time to REALLY focus on skin-to-skin with your baby. Close the curtains, take your shirt off, and hold your baby to your chest. Baby should only be in a diaper to maximize skin contact. Hold them like this AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. My friend gave me her Boba wrap and it is perfect for this.bobawrap Here's a video on how to use it.

1 month

Sleep: We had a portable bassinet that we carried from room to room to give Teddy a safe place to be while we worked on projects around the house.summerinfantSidebassinet We'd put it on the table at meals and it would be nice to see him. If you travel, I'd also recommend it as the movable bed for your baby to sleep in.

Play: Since babies aren't very interactive at this point in their lives, the best way to 'play' with your baby is to expose them to lots of speech patterns and differently pitched voices. It might be a struggle, but hosting dinner parties (with food that people have given you) or going to dinner at a friend's house is a good way to expose your baby to different types of sound and speech.

Sing to your baby.

General: This is STILL the time to focus on skin-to-skin with your baby. Close the curtains, take your shirt off, and hold your baby to your chest. Baby should only be in a diaper to maximize skin contact. Hold them like this AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. Use a Boba wrap if you need two hands for something.

2 months

Play: Tummy time. Theodore had a really hard time with it because he would just cry and cry. His grandparents got him this caterpillar toy that helps.caterpillar He could double his time almost right off the bat after getting that toy. Quite exciting! Bonus- he loved the crinkle paper sun long past the time when he didn't need the caterpillar to help him with tummy time.

A play gym.playgym They might not fully utilize it yet, but it's a good place for tummy time and/or quiet self play while you relax on the couch. That's right - self play. Give your baby supervised alone time every day. A good time for some personal care too if you're able.

A very interesting mobile while baby relaxs in a bouncy chair or play gym. The mobile Theo's grandparents got us was so interesting that it held his attention for up to 20 minutes!tinylovemobile Make sure the mobile has creatures that look DOWN at the baby, not that look good in pictures from an adult perspective. sigh. Marketing and Pinterest-worthy pictures get us every time. Piper didn't enjoy this as much. She would only watch for about 5-10 minutes before she was bored. *shrug.

Most babies don't like the car but this portable mobile might give them something to focus on instead of just crying.manhattantoyMobile You can change the pictures around so there's something new to look at. Very handy. Piper liked to play with the removable pieces.

Don't forget to read books and sing!

3 months

Play: I really like Teddy's owl buddy blanket.earlyearsOwl-1 He won't take pacifiers so it's nice that it has soft fabric and hard plastic bits that he can put in his mouth as he wishes. On the other hand, Piper wasn't into this at all. Instead she preferred this very dapper fox she got as a gift.dapperfox

Don't forget to read books and sing!

4 months

Meals: It's recommended for babies to eat iron-fortified rice cereals or oatmeal. That's great that they'll get iron. However, it often leads to upset tummies and painful gas as their digestive systems aren't yet equipped to break down grains. Another case of the doctor wanting you to use one method when you might want to use a different one. What is your end goal and how can you achieve it? What works for you and your family? Babies can get iron from vegetables and meat - just like parents. We already purchase, cook, and eat meat and vegetables. To me, it makes a lot of sense to feed our children what we eat ourselves. Theodore's first food that he swallowed and enjoyed was a small piece of leek that I had sauteed in butter and oil. ;) Just make sure you have a food processor or blender to break it into small pieces or puree for the little ones.

Play: We're trying to keep Theo's toys down to one chest with three larger items allowed outside of it. Friends and family can go pretty overboard in filling your house with toys for your child. Which is great - who doesn't love people who love your kids? But it's also hard to know what to keep and what to let go. In the spirit of less is more, here are toys that I think it's important to spend your own money on to get, if they aren't already on your registry. Otherwise just wait for birthdays and Christmas. ;)

  • A good toy is hard to find. Many qualities are needed for a toy to have long-lasting value. They should be eye-catching, fit the child's hands, multipurpose, and survive being washed after being spit and chewed on, etc. Hopefully this mini-list will give you a better idea of what to get the child in your life.
    • Our Exersaucer was a hand-me-down. I believe that Teddy's favorite color is purple because of this toy. Good for buildling core strength and developing the muscles in the legs used for standing. I waited to use this until Teddy was about 4 months old but friends of ours put their baby in at 3 months.
    • A teether is important too. This one can make interesting shapes, has different textures and colors, and works your baby's motor skills.
    • An Oball is great to practice gripping and learning about gravity.
    • There is a local vendor called Bugs Baby Boutique who has the cutest cloth blocks. It's made from soft materials with one crinkle side and tags attached to help the baby grasp it. BugsBB will even customize the block with fabric you choose from the website! I got it for Theodore when he was about 2 months old, but his elder cousin (about 6 months older) also loved the cube. I was pleased to see the long-term potential of it.
    • The last toy that we really enjoyed was the purple lion by Spark.Create.Imagine. It's so visually stimulating that we gave it to Theo when he was about 1 month old. I tried to find a picture of it online, but I gave up after ten minutes of slogging through images. Here's one of an elephant instead; same concept, different animal. Piper loves this as much or more than Theo did.

Don't forget to read books and sing!

I hope you feel more prepared for your future as a parent or at the very least have a better understanding of how to buy entertaining and durable toys.