(think Oprah's favorite things, but you aren't getting any)
I know I'm not an experienced mom because I've just been doing this for 5 months. However, in these 5 months we've discovered some useful things for making this transition smooth and our baby girl happy. I love to know what things, products, resources, etc other moms use and what works for them. Why reinvent the wheel? Granted, each baby is unique, but it's safe to take the advice of other parents. There were things I did a lot of research for before Charis was born, but there are things we are discovering along the way. Here are some of our favorites:
By far this was the best decision we could have made. There is so much out there and I probably put most of my pre-baby research energy into this. The few people I know who use cloth diapers were extremely helpful, as well as some great sites. The cost up front can be daunting, but the fact that we never, and i mean never, have to buy diapers for Charis is so freeing. I'm not sure how we could even afford it at this point. Seriously. We chose to use cloth diapers for multiple reasons. We use a variety of types: Prefolds w/ covers, All-in-Ones and Fitted w/ covers. Some of the brands we like are Twig & Vine (fitted), bumGenius (one size AIO), Chinese Prefolds w/ Thirsties or Bummis covers.
-Car Seat Toy
When Charis began to notice things we put a little hanging toy on her car seat. Soon enough, she began to reach out for it and play with it. Now she's putting it in her mouth and you'll find it has additional links hanging from it. The one we got is from Amazing Baby. (but I don't think the brand/kind really matters)
We got these as a gift and Charis has loved them from early on b/c we hung them by her changing table, play mat, car seat and anything else. Maybe we feel like they will help in her language development too. ha!
I'm not sure Charis needs this, but it helps us.
-Fisher Price Play Mat
This was the best 12 bucks I spent at a Consignment Sale before Charis was born. I didn't realize these things go for $70. That's insane. Charis loves the music, lights, animals, and hanging things. (she also loves the matching bouncy seat)
-Mothering & BabyCenter
These are 2 websites that I love. Mothering is also a magazine with great resources for "natural family living" for things like cloth diapering, breastfeeding and the like. BabyCenter can be overwhelming, but I enjoyed knowing what fruit/veggie Charis was in utero. And now they have fun things about development and things to do with your baby at their specific age. I steer clear of the "developmental" stuff b/c that can be dangerous. I mean--I didn't coo or talk as a baby and look at me now!!
Forgive my bluntness, but if you have kids and don't shop at secondhand stores or consignment sales, you are crazy. I, personally, have always loved thrift shops. I like to think I made it cool in jr. high. And garage sale season, oh, don't get me started. I am willing to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to scrounge around in someone else's junk. Which brings me to the genius idea of consignment sales. They happen in the spring and fall and they are spectacular. You can get amazing deals. And at the rate kids go through things, why pay full price! Before Charis was born we got most of her clothes, baby toys, play mat, bouncer, swing and so much more from sales. Since then I've gotten more clothes and toys and a backpacking child carrier. I'm already looking forward to the fall. Oh, and this spring I consigned for the first time. I made almost $25. Pretty cool.
I know that seems strange, but I really don't think I had ANY idea how often we'd go through these. Luckily, we got all of ours at consignment sales. I make sure I have them in her bag, in our living room, in my car, with her in the carseat, her room. Just about anywhere you go you'll see a burp cloth lying around. Of course, this doesn't always mean I have one when i really need it.
It's nice to know what's worked for those who've gone before me and what hasn't. I guess everything is worth a try. I'm sure in the next 5 months we'll discover new things that are a MUST for us, or things that Charis enjoys. There are things people bombard you with when you are about to have a baby, then there are things nobody tells you. For instance, we made it through Charis' first week home with her sleeping on my chest while I slept. I had never heard of that, until I told others I did it. People were coming out of the woodwork with the things they tried to soothe their baby and get some sleep. The best advice I got was from my pediatrician who told us "you are just surviving. you do what you need to do these first 6-8 weeks." Let me tell you that this was the most freeing thing for me. I was putting so much pressure on myself and that gave me permission to let go. I'm realizing that we as women need to do this for each other; let each other off the hook once in a while. Instead of compare, celebrate; instead of criticize, encourage. Maybe that's just me. Wow, I'm not sure how I ended up here. Sorry about that. I'm just learning so much about myself on this journey of motherhood.
Stay tuned for some more favorites.