Whew! We have enjoyed seven crazy months with our sweet JUP Baby and now it’s time to get back to blogging. I missed you guys and I hope you are looking forward to catching up on what’s been happening in our little household.
“The Lil,” as she is officially referred to, is now a crawling sensation. She can make it from the living room to the kitchen in under 60 seconds, and that includes the time it takes for her to check out every speck of dust and dirt along the way. She giggles at Daddy, gleefully listens to music, and spends time outside looking at the clouds and the trees. She’s a total doll. However, if I am going to be honest, my first few months with Lil were miserable. In short, she cried a lot, I cried a lot, and we all slept very little. I spent my maternity leave in the trenches. The sun finally came out around the six month mark and Mommy, Daddy, and Baby are much happier.
So, here is a short list of the items, services, and advice that helped us muddle through the trying times. I know every “mommy blogger” has a “must-have” list, as well as every baby store and nursery registry. When I was pregnant, I read a million books and consulted a million parenting websites and reviews, trying to pick out the perfect items that were going to make my Lil sleep better, be happier, and become smarter. After actually raising a baby, I came to one conclusion: every child is different and one mommy’s “absolutely have to have” item might be a total dud for your sweetie. Parenthood is all about survival and you have to keep trying new things until you find what works… and once you think you have it all figured out, your baby changes and a new issue emerges.
Every new parent wants their baby to sleep – that is an irrefutable fact of life. If you have a colicky newborn (like me), sleep becomes a distant memory pretty fast. P and I would spend hours rocking, consoling, jiggling, patting, shushing…. you name it, we tried it… only to lay Lil in her bassinet and awake to screams and cries minutes later. We found two solutions to this:
First, the DockATot, which is worth it’s weight in gold. I admit, the $175 price tag is tough to swallow, which is why I originally did not register for this product. However, it was the only way we could get Lil to stay asleep – she loved being cradled by the tube pillow. P and I would lay the DockATot between us in our king size bed and all three of us were able to finally get a good night’s rest. We used the DockATot until Lil began to roll (about three months) and it was the best investment we made. It’s portable, so your baby can nap almost anywhere. And, according to their website, you can now purchase one on a payment plan!
Second, after receiving advice from a seasoned mom at our church, we began using Velcro swaddles, like the SwaddleMe. We had given up on swaddling early on because, even in the hospital, Lil escaped from the swaddle blankets like Houdini from a set of handcuffs. We decided to recommit. Every night after her bath and bottle, we would roll Lil up like a bean burrito and P would pull the Velcro tabs tight across her little body. She would scream and squirm but eventually give in while drifting off to sleep. Couple the swaddle with the DockATot and we were guaranteed at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Some other items / ideas we like for sleep:
- White noise machines – the Dohm for the nursery (we have one for our room too) and the Hush for the car, stroller, travel, EVERYWHERE
- The Cradle Coach‘s FREE Live Q & A Wednesdays on Facebook and Instagram – P and I learned so much, just from tuning in for one hour, one time! If you have a sleep question or sleep dilemma, you can submit it via social media and a sleep coach will give you a brief suggestion / solution. It’s also comforting to know you are not alone – you can sympathize with all the other sleep-deprived parents also participating in the Q & A.
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – recommended to me by a doctor friend and I wish I had taken it seriously, sooner. Controversial because the author, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, advocates for the “Cry It Out” method, it is the only thing that worked for us after the four month sleep regression (also known as Hell). We avoided implementing it for so long, but in only two days, Lil was sleeping 11 hours straight. Parenthood = Survival
Feeding & Nutrition
Breastfeeding takes determination and patience. Determination I have, patience… well, not so much. So when we discovered Lil was born with a moderate tongue tie and a minor lip tie, I have to admit that I gave up too early. Even after the procedure to correct the tongue tie, Lil refused to nurse for any length of time. So, when Lil was three weeks old, my Medela Freestyle breast pump became my new best friend. I pumped exclusively for five months. It was tough, but totally worth it.
I can’t say the Freestyle is the best breast pump on the market but it is small and portable and I would recommend it to working moms who need something discreet to use at the office or on the road. I will say that Medela has wonderful customer service. When my pump stopped working, they sent me a new one overnight and even included extra parts (membranes, connectors, tubing), no questions asked. You can also download their app for your smart phone to track pumping and feeding sessions, your baby’s sleep, growth, and bodily functions. (Side Note: Since becoming a parent, I have talked about pee and poo more than I ever thought possible).
At five months, we made the switch to formula. Our friends recommended the website Organic Start, which imports organic, European infant and toddler formulas to the United States. Already crushed by the fact that I wasn’t breastfeeding, I was adamant about not giving Lil American formula, which is full of corn syrup and even traces of arsenic, lead, and BPA (YIKES!). We currently use the NANNYCare First Infant Milk for Lil and she loves it! It’s a U.K. product but the milk is produced by goats in New Zealand. Organic Start has speedy service, with orders usually shipping out the same day for FREE and arrival between 1 – 3 days. They did make a mistake once by sending me the wrong formula but their customer service department was quick to respond and sent the right stuff to me overnight! If you decide to go the formula route, I strongly recommend you visit their website.
More baby food ideas and advice:
- Work. Pump. Repeat. – If you plan to work and breastfeed, this book is for you. Written by a former TOMS Shoes executive who traveled the world for business with her breast pump, it offers practical advice for pumping in the workplace. The author covers everything from PWD (pumping while driving) to confronting your boss about your pumping schedule.
- Food processor – because making your own homemade baby food is as easy as steaming/roasting and pureeing. My Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor is just the right size to make small batches of puree. There are a ton of baby food cookbooks out there too. JUP Mama found most of mine at the local Goodwill!
Okay, this is the most important thing – having fun with your baby! As Lil has become more mobile, we are discovering new activities every day. I try to limit her time using battery operated toys and instead let her play with things she needs to manipulate on her own for movement and action. Right now, she likes her blocks, her percussion instrument set, and anything that rolls on the floor.
The Exersaucer has been a big hit and it’s fun to watch her interaction with it progress as she gets older. We only use it for short periods of time or when it’s necessary to keep Lil out of the way, like opening the oven or bringing in groceries from the car. The Exersaucer also makes a perfect infant “squatty potty” – all that moovin’ and groovin’ in an upright position really gets her system going!
Another recent purchase is our outdoor Step 2 swing, which we have hanging on our patio. Sometimes, at the end of the day, you simply run out of things to do and it’s nice to be able to go outside for fresh air. As Lil is currently crawling EVERYWHERE, the swing keeps her contained. She loves it, especially when you tickle her feet or sing while you’re pushing her. We can’t wait until Florida gets some “fall” weather and we can spend a lot more time on our patio.
And finally, we cannot forget our favorite portable, “do it all toy” – Freddie the Firefly! Great Auntie gave it to Lil at 3 months and we still use it today. Freddie has crunchy wings, bright colors, black and white patterns, a mirror, a squeaker, and a little teether on a string. He can clip to the bumper bar on the stroller or to the car seat handle. We take him to church, on long car rides, on walks in the stroller, to the mall, to the park… Freddie honestly stays in the diaper bag and goes everywhere with us.
Some other items that contribute to our family fun:
- UppaBaby Cruz Stroller and Mesa Car Seat – another product that saves the day, every time! The price tag may be $$$ but the stroller is easy to use, lightweight, and has a huge basket underneath. You can remove the toddler seat and secure the Mesa Car Seat into the frame in one easy “click.” My mom friends recommended it to me when I was pregnant and I am so glad I listened. We LOVE the UppaBaby as it does not disappoint.
- The Baby K’Tan – if you’re going to get a wrap-style baby carrier, I would totally recommend this. There is no wrapping, tying, or buckling, you just slip it over your head and stick your arms through the loops. I will admit, Lil did not always enjoy being in the Baby K’Tan but it was great for late afternoon naps on the go.
Phew! So that’s how we survived the newborn phase, along with lots of love and help from our family, prayers, and luck. Perhaps one of these items/tips can be useful to another expecting or new mom – and remember, you’re not alone! I spent so much of my maternity leave as a hermit, suffering by myself in a cloud of sleep deprivation and postpartum depression when what I really needed was to be with and share my experience with other moms. Even now, I often feel isolated as the only full-time working mom in my group of friends. But every day I try my best and look forward to the short amount of time I get to spend with “The Lil.”
I would love to hear from other moms – what are your must-have baby items? Do you have any stories or experiences to share?