Sunday, January 29, 2012

Baby Time: The Bare Necessities

I'm two days away from my 38 week mark, and getting very excited for the coming of our son. With a full-time job, I haven't taken much time up until now to think about what we will need when our baby is born. I recognize that it's easy to go overboard with acquiring "things" when it comes to first baby , but literally all we have so far is a place for him to sleep (with me!), food for him to eat (me!), a couple of blankets and four little outfits from my mom.

So I wrote my mom and my mama sisters for advice. They all wrote back with great advice. Here is the email that ensued!

Readers, please respond with any of your own useful advice!

Meredith = black
Nonie = red
Ariel = blue
Mom = orange
Melissa = green

Hi mom and sisters, Hi, Meredith. Hi Merzi! ... Figuring out how to be orange - Its your Mom, HI. I love all the good advice I have read in red and blue. You have become so wise in a very short time, about everything. I just love my girls. Yay for babies!!!

I can't believe how close my due date is all of a sudden! I can hardly believe it myself.  I have been so busy at work I've hardly had a minute to think about it. Thankfully I got the flu yesterday afternoon thankfully and decided to stay home today, so I can get a few things organized. I've been trying to organize a list of things Cam and I need to get before the baby's arrival -- or shortly thereafter. Would you be so kind as to look it over and tell me what is missing, or what doesn't need to be there, or any brands you prefer? Or things that aren't mandatory but that you love to have on hand? I would add a baby monitor, one with as many channels (or whatever they're called) as possible in case you ever live in a more crowded area... less interference. We have a Fisher Price 5-channel, which has been great. If I think of anything else I'll let you know. Babies really don't need much. Sleep, food, love, warmth, and clean bottoms. Uh Huh. I agree with Nonie. Babies don't need nearly as much as people say they do. Keep it to a minimum, and only buy what you really like. I agree again!

We're starting with disposable diapers, but plan to shift to cloth once we're adjusted (do you ever adjust?) Yes, shortly. I'm pretty used to the boys by now.

Thanks! I love all of you, and your babies. Especially all your babies, Mom. Mom, I love your babies too. Love my Babies -- cant wait to meet little one coming up... I count all your babies as my babies :) So sweet!

  • Diapers (Right now I am planning on ordering a 160 count package from Amazon of Nature Babycare best brand. They are size ones, but that's because they use European sizing, so that is supposed to cover an 8-14 lb baby. But what if he is only 6 pounds or something? Doubtful. Or 15? :) Doubtful. One is the smallest size these come in. Should I get some 0s from an American company as well? Sure; sometimes they might just say "Newborn" on them. When I had baby Sammy, we loved Pampers Swaddlers above and beyond everything else, but they're a far cry from earth friendly I think. You might try Earth's Best. Go for chlorine free.) Sad story, Amazon Moms isn't accepting any new applicants right now. :( That is sad. They just implemented some new policies that are supposed to start Jan. 24. My bet is that they'll open it up again very soon. Did you sign their list? Buy one package of newborn. My babies didn't stay that size long enough to necessitate more than one package anyway. George was also out of newborn diapers very fast. I'd say after one week!

  • Baby wipes Chlorine-free, unscented, etc. etc. We split our wipes in half as we need them.

  • Clothes (What are the essentials?? I have some onesies from mom, and a pair of socks. :) Yeah, I need to get on this one.) I bet I could find some clothes for you in my stash. When are you going to have some family showers? Also, I've discovered you should never have to pay full price for clothes. I've found mom's club sales, consignment sales, second hand stores, craigslist, and other gems for clothes. They wear them such a short time. Can't ever have too many onesies. Again, I'm with Nonie. Never spend full price on baby clothes. I wish all of you sisters had the huge quantities of beautiful children's consignment shops like we have here, but you do have some options, kid to kid, etc. Get a bunch of those sleepers that are not too thick, but have long sleeves and footies. A newborn could basically live in those. What do you think- plan on 3 outfits in a 24 hour period when they're really new? I wouldn't bother with coats and things for a really new baby. Just have a hat and a few warm blankets, because they'll always be wrapped up. I love little nightgowns for newborns for a couple months. They're cozy, and he'll like changing time better. I love all of the above, as well. Wise women.

  • Blankets (Cam's mom just sent us two of his baby blankets and his favorite teddy bears. And we have a couple other blankets on hand, thanks to mom!) I want to try to make you one. You don't really need more than one or two soft, warm blankets for cold weather, and one or two thin ones for when it gets warm. I actually have to say that the more little blankets I had the better. George spit up A LOT, and a simple burp cloth was like mockery for spit ups for us! I don't mean that to sound alarming, everything worked out just fine. I just went through a lot of blankets instead of burp clothes :)

  • Car seat (Good brand??) Our newborn carrier is Graco, like a lot of people's, but you might also consider something like Britax Roundabout, which they fit comfortably in reverse-facing, then you can flip forward when they're bigger. We have one for Daniel now that I like a lot. We have graco too, which is fine. Again, check with kid-to-kid, free cycle, DI, craigslist etc. Think of what you're going to be using it for. If you're going to carry him around in it, get an infant one. If not, consider a larger one that you can turn around next year so you don't have to buy two.

  • Baby carrier (Hoping to order a Moby wrap) Nothing I've tried beats Moby for a newborn. I don't have a moby, but I like my hotsling. I also have an organic one that's the same kind of thing. Moby looks great but kind of complicated ?? Hotslings are super fast and easy if you just need a quick fix. I also LOVED using a Moby (I borrowed a friend's for George). I've heard great things about hotslings, but haven't ever used one. My older sister just mailed me her Moby, though, and I'd just bought one :) So I'll just send you our extra. 
  • Changing table (Do you have changing tables, or just use the floor?) We didn't have one for a long time. We just made a cozy little changing area on our dresser. You can change a baby anywhere. It's nice to have a place for your changing things though. We have a changing table now since someone gave us one. A changing table is a one-function piece of furniture. We also eventually outfitted a bookshelf with a big changing pad. But it might work just as well to keep diapers, wipes, and a portable changing pad in your bedside table and change him on your bed. Oh, you might want to get some pee pee tee-pee (sorry). Some babies don't need them, but they were necessary for one of mine. We don't have a changing table. 
  • Baby tub? (Seems like I can just use our bathtub and wash him with me.) Not a necessity. With you/Cam is great, also sinks, buckets, etc. (My midwife Richelle told me the other day that she recommends not washing him at all for the first three days because the vernix acts as a really good defense against bad bacteria.) I didn't have them routinely bathe Daniel when he was born, and I'm sure I didn't give him a bath for at least a week. I thought that sounded gross, but she assured me that a couple hours after the birth it will all soak in and he'll look like he's had a bath anyway. Daniel looked like a picture. You can go look at those pictures from my birth story if you want to see for yourself. Benjamin was absolutely covered in vernix, and it went right away. Babies are clean. Don't wash them too much, and you really don't need soap for a long time. I recently got rid of our baby bath, it was clunky and my boys were too big for it after one month. Line the bath or sink with towels, or take a gentle family bath. We didn't give George a bath for his first week either. I would take care after about three days or so to wash baby's face, just with water. I didn't do this for George and he got crazy baby acne! After he had his first bath his face cleared right up! Also, Some of my most favorite times with George have been mother/baby bath time! It is just so precious to be in there with such a tiny little babe. And George LOVES the water. It was just really special time for us :)

  • Breast pump and bottles (for when I go back to work) I have a Medela, which would be very handy for a working mom. Sher highly recommended having a battery-operated pump to use (I found I didn't use my old battery-operated very much, generally plugged it in when I needed it. She also recommended pumping if you feel you have extra milk in those first six weeks and freezing for later. For the first couple months your milk still has colostrum in it, which is a super healer. If you save it, you can pull it out later for a boost for baby or to put on scrapes, burns, etc.. As far a bottles go, I would make it a priority to teach your baby how to take one as soon as you can. It will make getting out with Cameron SO much easier (on baby, you guys, and a sitter). Don't wait too long or he might not go it -- just long enough that breastfeeding is easy. He is not ever going to prefer a bottle to you. Wise words as well. And a pacifier for one year can bring him needed comfort and sucking time.I had to work at it a little, putting cool water on it and giving an encouraging but gentle hold in baby's mouth, till he realized -- "hey, this is good -- I like this".And at one year -- Take it Away! :) When I was researching, Avent had the best baby bottles. There are lots of different nipple types, so try different things. 
  • Diaper bag Nice to have. Any bag works for this, really. You might wait until you have some giftcards and then go find one you like. Or wherever. This definitely can be an overrated item. Any purse big enough to hold two diapers and a few wipes is fine for a long time. I wish I hadn't caved to pressure and bought such a large diaper bag; I almost never use it. I think Nonie's is perfect :) I just use a little shouler bag I made in college. it's small and very convenient!!

  • Burp cloths I'm sure I have extras of these too. Someone gave me a couple very cute ones (brand: aden & anais). Any absorbent cloth would work. Lots of people just use those prefold cloth diapers.

  • We already have a nursing cover (*thanks Nonie* welcome) and an Arm's Reach co-sleeper, which we've adjusted to be right at my sleeping level by the bed Sounds great. I look forward to hearing how you like it. And we have coconut oil. Good. Use it on everything.  :)

Other questions:
  • How often can I expect him to need a diaper change the first little while? When he needs one. Keep in mind that he'll always go after he eats. Unfortunately, with disposables, you can wait a little longer since the disposables pull the wet away from the bottom. I hate being asked how many wet diapers he has in a day. It's impossible to say. By the way, I am a BIG fan of not changing diapers at night right from the start. Get a great diaper salve (I'll make you one), smear it on before bed, and don't change until morning. Then he won't get used to it and everyone will get a little more sleep. uh Huh - So wise. I didn't discover that trick until #2, and we've loved it. This is a tough question. Less often with disposables.
  • How often do you think he'll be needing to feed at the 3-4 week mark, when I go back to work? Depends on him. Sammy was every 3 hours. Daniel was every 2. George has been a two hour eater! And during growth spurts, sometimes a little more. If you have times where your boy just seems hungry ALL the time, don't be alarmed, it's a growth spurt. Babies are amazing, and will let you know what they need. I really only have to be away from him for 2 hours every morning, because someone will just be watching him on campus while I teach, and the rest of the time he'll be in my office with me or we'll be home. Perfect. You should be fine.
  • Any specific things you have avoided eating while nursing? I don't think so. Some say spicy foods. Or chocolate (because of the caffeine I surmise). Nothing seemed like a big deal to me. The more variety you eat, the more variety he'll eat, I've read. If you have a really gassy baby, I've heard you should give up broccoli and other gassy food. But I never had to change my diet. I hadn't completely cut all processed sugar out of my diet at the time George was born (Joe's breakfast cereal was a weakness for me fora while!) I have to say that is the only thing that I found that made George's spitting up problem worse. I could always tell if I'd eaten something with hidden sugar in it, at a restaurant or other, because the next day George would spit up at every meal. Other than completely cutting refined sugars, I never changed my diet, and George has done well.
  • Will he like me? :) Boys LOVE their mamas. I would worry more about making sure he gets plenty of bonding time with Cameron. When Abraham was born, I was amazed at how familiar he was. I looked at him, and it startled me how much I knew him. You are about to become reacquainted with one of your best friends. I'm so excited for you. Agreed!! George loves his mama! It is one of the best things in the world to experience! I have to say though, Joe is one of George's favorite people too :) It is just priceless to me to see how much he loves his dadd-o (that's what George calls him :) This is so true. I learned things from Richard's deep brown eyed gaze in his first 3 hours of life that I have relied upon ever since. It was the same with each of you and your beautiful blues. And then, Thomas taught me again. There is nothing like a newborn child to bring you familiar comfort and wisdom. Beautiful and wise words!


  1. This is such an exciting moment in time. Congratulations! I am certain you will be a fabulous mother. All of this is such great advice--so many people tell you all the things you HAVE to get, and a lot of it is completely unnecessary. I thought I'd make one more suggestion for a possible carrier. We received an ERGO baby carrier from my parents as a present and it is my favorite. You can use it in several different positions: front, back and side carry. I use it hiking, around home, at the grocery store, everywhere. It's machine washable, very durable and in my opinion very well thought out. My sister has loved her Moby wrap and I wished I'd had it for the newborn stage myself.
    Yeah for babies!

  2. While I am a HUGE fan of buying and using second hand, I would strongly caution against doing so with a car seat. If you buy a car seat second hand you will never truly know if it has been structurally compromised. Since a car seat should NEVER be used after an accident, even a minor one, I would not trust using one I was not 100% sure of the history of its prior use.

  3. I have used an ERGO carrier and really enjoyed it. I found a good deal on a BOBA which is almost the same as the ERGO. These carriers are wonderful for when your babe gets older!

  4. Meredith, we are delighted that your little boy will be here soon! I will put in a plug for a changing table. If you can get one, I think it can save your backs and help avoid spills in more troublesome spots. Having a sculpted cushion helps a little one to stay still a moment or two longer while you snap all those snaps. It provides good storage, and really can be used for years in a growing family ;).