Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life with a Baby: Four Month Must Haves

When Piper was still pretty new, I wrote a list of my list of newborn must haves. Well, I don't know what happened, but somehow we lost our newborn, and found ourselves in possession of a squishy, squirmy, smiley, slimey BABY, so our list of go-to gadgets has changed. I'm by no means an expert, but at this point I can at least tell the difference between a Boppy, a Bumbo, and a Bjorn (a trio that proved especially tricky for Dustin to identify in the beginning) and even have some advice to share with those even newer to this gig than myself. Here, in no particular order, are some items we couldn't (or really would just rather not try to) live without:

Row 1:

1. Bumbo- We had kind of a love/hate relationship with the bumbo for a while- as in- I wanted Piper to love it. And she hated it. But slowly she started to come around, and now she full-blown tolerates it. Win! Sure, I don't love the idea of plopping your kid in any sort of containment device for extended periods of time, but let's be real- babies are loose and floppy and tippy and wobbly, and you just can't hold them all the time. Sometimes we have to make dinner, and occasionally we even want to eat that dinner, and some time in the Bumbo has made this possible. The tray is a nice add, as it helps keep a couple toys within arms reach (though we still spend half the meal retrieving them from the table and placing them back on the tray), and I imagine we'll love it even more when it comes time to actually feed Piper.
2. Tummy Time Gym- This was a hand-me-down gift from Rachel, and when a mom of three gives you something, you know it's going to be a winner. For some reason I hadn't thought about baby toys at all before Piper arrived. We got some as gifts, but I think I was in subconscious denial that I was going to need the more bulky items, and refused to register for anything large and/or primary colored if it wasn't absolutely essential. Rachel no doubt knew this was ridiculous, and my poor child would grow up without any motor skills if she didn't step in. So we became the proud owners of a music-playing, light-blinking, face-reflecting, toy-dangling type station, and Piper for one, loves it. Before she really tolerated laying on her back, she would endure it if she got to watch this toy do it's thing. She kicks her feet to the music, is enthralled with the lights, and now finally understands how to reach for the toys. The best part is you can adjust it so it lays on the floor- at the perfect angle for some tummy-time entertainment. (Unfortunately this model isn't available anymore, but I'm sure they make similar things somewhere. Unless the whole idea has proven unsafe and been discontinued. Either way, Piper still loves hers!)
3. Play mat/gym- Another gem from Rachel. I'm telling you...she saw a hole in our life, and filled it with colors...and noise! Piper won't last here forever, but she is getting better at some "solo play time" which is much appreciated when I need to find a few minutes for such luxuries as a phone call, or teeth brushing. I can't find the exact version we have, but this safari number seems pretty fun! (just try the songs out before you commit...because you will be hearing them, and humming them, in your sleep in no time.)
Row 2:
4. Timi & Leslie diaper bag- The diaper bag was a huge deal for me, as it's one of the first decisions that defines your mom style. Are you utilitarian, with a plain black messenger bag? Are you cutesy, with a printed tote? Or have you completely given up, and bought something with pooh bear on it? (Oh yes, that is real...and for some reason, a seemingly popular choice....) I am decidedly none of those things, and made it my mission early on to find a diaper bag that most resembled a regular purse as possible. I figured there would be plenty of compromises down the line in regards to kiddie junk, so I was determined to hold on to a few precious shreds of my pre-baby style. I finally found this line of bags, and fell in love. I have "dawn", and I get compliments constantly. It's durable, functional, and pretty. And the best part? People are always shocked it's actually designed to hold poop rags. Score.
5. Boppy- I am surely neither the first nor the last person to recommend a Boppy to you, but I will throw my endorsement behind it. There is a reason this is on every baby registry in america. We've been using this thing since day one (ok- day three, I really didn't think it was necessary to bring it to the hospital...though many others do!) and it made the early days of nursing sooooo much easier. Sure, you can balance your newborn on a armrest, or a pillow, or your knee, but when you're feeding them every two hours (read: allllllll the time) having something specially designed for the job is worth it. Now that Piper's older and wiser (ok, mostly just bigger, and better at breastfeeding), we don't use it much for that, but it still comes in handy when Dustin feeds her bottles. But the best feature is probably how well it functions as a "seat" to prop Piper up in. It was just the ticket while she was in that weird "I can't sit up, but if you even try to lay me down flat, so help me I will scream bloody murder" phase of life (i.e. months 1-3). We sprung for the waterproof liner, and a decorative cover, which of course ensured that she never bothered to throw up on it (unlike our unprotected couch, bed, clothes etc.)
6. SwaddleMe blanket- Piper loves a swaddle, so I love a swaddle, and for a long time, the Miracle blanket was the only option we found that worked. Plain swaddle blankets came undone, and even the ones with velcro were no match for our baby's escape tricks. But we got the SwaddleMe as a gift, so we gave it a shot. And we all fell in love once again. The velcro is super strong, so Piper stayed under wraps, and since there is so much less fabric, it's a lot faster to get on a cranky, tired baby. We still used the miracle blanket quite a bit, but now when she poops through her pj's we have a back up and can avoid a swaddle-less crisis.
7. Ergo carrier- Baby "wearing" is all the rage these days (and by "these days" I pretty much mean since the dawn of time...but modern technology certainly has expanded the options.) This is one of those baby topics where everyone has an opinion (turns out that's pretty much all baby topics) and though the choices are pretty much endless, there are a few common players in the market: Ergo, Baby Bjorn, and to a lesser degree, the Moby Wrap. I didn't mean to start such a collection, but I registered for the ergo and the moby (figuring they were pretty different, so why not have both) and ended up getting the Bjorn as a hand-me-down from Rachel. (I know! What would I have done without her? Poor Piper would be playing on the hardwood floors sad and alone.) We use them all with relative frequency, but I have to say the Ergo is my fav. It's a bit more cumbersome than the other two, and tends to make you look like you're ready to climb a mountain, rather than stroll around the block, but Piper will sit (and sleep!) in it without an issue. Plus, I've found it's by far the most comfortable when it comes to weight distribution...I can wear it for hours without feeling any strain in my back (which is definitely not the case with the other carriers). We've carried her at the zoo, a Penguins game, friends' houses, church and book club...and now that the weather is nice, we strap her in for walks almost every evening. We still use the infant insert, to give her a boost and help cushion her head, and she's perfectly content to see the world, or snuggle up for a snooze.
Row 3:
8. Ameda Purely Yours Breastpump- This is not an area in which I did a ton of research...I figured A: I need a pump. B: there are pretty much two major brands out there that seem to get the job done. and C: my friend generously offered me her practically brand new one. Decision made. (Yes- I have a used pump. I checked with my OB, and a lactation consultant and they both said it's totally fine. I replaced all the tubes and flanges etc. and haven't had even a hint of an issue. So please....don't let the crazy people on YahooAnswers freak you out about the whole thing. Actually- more specifically- don't listen to the people on YahooAnswers about anything. Ever. amiright?) I won't shout my pump-love from the rooftops, but I'm pretty sure that's not the pump's fault. It's totally adequate in every way. And I'm thankful for the lifestyle it affords us (I can work, go out for the evening, or even away for a night and still breastfeed my baby). Done deal.
9. Dr. Browns Bottles- OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH bottles. This is one of those crazy topics that before having babies you could absolutely not care less about (they're all pretty much the same right? You pour the milk in. They suck the milk out. How complicated could this be?), but once you have babies, you spend an insane amount of time and money obsessing over. Every bottle is different, every baby is different, so I can't possibly recommend something to you with any sort of guarantee that it will work. The long and short of our bottle saga (well...just the short- someday I'll bore you with the long) is that in the end, Piper learned to take a bottle, primarily because she had to. Does she show a slight preference for the Dr. Brown's? Maybe. Do they help eliminate air bubbles, gas, and fussiness? Perhaps. Would she learn to drink out of a paper origami cup if she wasn't given another option? Probably. So again- this recommendation actually morphed into more of a pep talk to any of you new or expectant moms. Don't stress about the bottle. Get a few. Keep trying. If you really want them to "get it", they will.
10. Boon bottle drying rack- It's a drying rack that looks like a modern art sculpture of grass. Sells itself. To me, anyway.
11. Nose Frida- Remember that friend that gave me her breastpump? Well, it turns out she's not only generous, she's also wise. She bought me this crazy gadget, and promised it was a must-have. Take a gander at the pic on the box...Can you figure out what it is? Yep. It's a snot sucker. That is powered by your mouth. Ummmmmmmm gross. But after trying the bulb shaped alternatives, and finding they do NOTH-ing to clear Piper's nose, we gave this a shot. And darn it, if it's not the grossest, most effective little sucker (pun intended) you can imagine. I wouldn't go so far as to say Piper likes it...but she does like breathing, so we're fans of this crazy little tool. (Please note there is a filter between your mouth and your baby, so there's no danger of actually inhaling someone else's snot. Once you're a mom that pretty much becomes a non-issue anyway-I've done grosser things at this point- but it's a nice feature nonetheless.)
So that's what keeps our house going at the moment. And again...These are just our loves. Who knows if your baby will feel the same. Actually, I can assure you they won't...but that's the beauty of these wackly little people: they're small, but opinionated. It's been fun experimenting with gear, and discovering what Piper likes. I can't wait to see what she gets into next. (Unless it's Bratz dolls. We still have a few years before I have to fight that battle, right?)

(Ps. It probably goes without saying that I am in no way compensated for my opinion. Although I would very much like to be. My journalistic integrity is cheap ya'll. Call me.)


  1. I cannot wait to use my Ergo. Miss S will be the first to test drive it... but seriously you still need the insert?? man, I was hoping to be able to use it by May! drats!
    I have a used breast pump, too. LOVE IT.
    great list Courtney- love hearing about all your must haves.

    ps the Tiny Love gymini thingy is on my all time favorite baby items that you simply MUST have.. you know, for when you're not wearing your baby ;)

  2. Your list makes me want another baby.

    Mostly for the baby bottle drying rack that looks like grass.

    And for baby wearing.

    I don't miss using my secondhand Medela Pump In Style, though.

    My mother-in-law bought me a pooh bear diaper bag when I had Noah. I didn't use it. I never really figured out my diaper bag style and mostly just bought bigger purses.

    Rachel hooked a sister up! What a sweet friend! Hopefully, Piper thanks her with lots of baby hugs and kisses soon!

  3. I will take any and all offered baby hugs and kisses!!! I'm glad our stuff was able to be reused...and we will surely be passing more stuff on to you in the future! How do you feel about Nerf guns?

  4. Oh my gosh! Isn't the Nose Frida the best!!! We couldn't live without ours. Definitely something I recommend to all new moms.