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What Do I need for My Newborn?
The eternal question of all new parents, which we answered with ‘pretty much nothing.’ Luckily, my mom was coming to visit and she answered that question a little differently, so we ended up with a bunch of cool baby stuff. I like to categorize baby stuff into “stuff that baby needs” and “stuff that will make you feel more like a human being.” Here are my top picks in both categories.
Stuff that Baby Needs
Stuff that baby needs is just that. Baby specific products. For survival, growth, healthy development, etc. I am not a baby expert in any way, just a first time parent who is happy to share what worked for my family with the world.
Baby Needs Diapers. We are decidedly cloth diaper-ers, for two reasons. One, is that neither of us was on board with how much waste disposable diapers created. Two, is that reusable diapers are SO MUCH CHEAPER. Something like $200 for two years vs. $2,000 for two years of disposables. We do use disposable diapers sometimes – like on travel days when we’re going to be spending long days in airports or on planes, since carrying around stinky diapers in an airport sucks. However, most of the time, we’re in love with our little cloth diaper covers and reusable inserts.
Flip Diaper Covers
When I was first researching diapers, I admit I was totally lost. I did not understand at all how this reusable diaper thing worked. Luckily, thanks to the internet, I found Flip Diaper Covers. They are like little boxer shorts that you put a clean insert into, thus turning them into a diaper. Seemingly, there are a lot of good brands out there. Reasons we like Flip:
- They’re inexpensive, at under $20 a pop
- They come in really great solid block colours
- They are easy to wash and dry quickly (you do a lot of washing with reusable diapers)
- They are ridiculously adjustable, which was great for us since we have a monster size baby
- So far, the Flip covers seem to be very resilient
- They’re really cute!
Peep Bo Cloth Diaper Inserts
We first bought Flip diaper inserts as well … both reusable and disposable. We like them, we do! However, my mom pointed out the unenviable flaw in their design. They are white. Baby poo is yellowish-green and stains everything. They do not stay white for long (unless you want to have bleach rubbing on your cute baby’s bum). Being the magic “Glamma” that she is, she found us these awesome grey ones by Peep Bo, which are super thick and have elastic sides, meaning we also experience way less leakage. The one downside? They are so absorbent, they take FOREVER to dry. Even in the dryer. At least two cycles. Or very strong, direct sunlight. Still, in the world of diapering, there could be way worse problems to have.
Seventh Generation Disposables
When we are traveling, we do use disposables. It’s good to have some on hand, because there will be times when carrying dirty used diapers around just won’t be that cool. For non-diaper-washing-lovers, I recommend Seventh Generation Disposable Diapers. They’re totally eco, safe for sensitive skin, and yes, I am with you. No one is always up for washing poo-filled diapers. Life is a balance.
My quick rant about newborn products. I think they are silly. Newborn specific products, for some reason, are more expensive than regular baby products , even though they are often exactly the same as the normal baby version. Your baby will grow soooo fast and most normal baby products are adjustable enough to fit newborns. Of course, we have a massive monster baby, so we never even got to TRY our newborn products. However, I’d say if you’re trying to save money, you’re safe just buying normal baby sized things and adjusting them to their smallest size.
Stuff that Parents Need
One of the biggest battles in new parenthood is how to be a normal human being with your new tiny dependent monkey taking up all of your life force. There are many things we did no intend on doing that we adopted into our lives to make them, well, more normal. Here’s some tips on what might help get new parents through
I actually have an entire post about how much I dislike breast feeding and love my breast pump. HOWEVER, even if you LOVE breastfeeding and want to breastfeed every hour of every day, I still very much recommend a breast pump and here’s why.
One day, you will want to do something for two hours without your baby, and you will not want to worry about whether she has milk to drink. You will need to go to a job interview or an important luncheon or a yoga class and you will not want to stress about if your baby is going to be hungry without you. Or, you might get sick, and you might not produce enough milk to satisfy your little one. On that day, you will be so happy that you had spent time breast pumping and you have a stockpile of breast milk in your freezer.
Spectra Breast Pump
If you’re going to get a breast pump, get a good one. It will save you a lot of time, and in a new parents life free time is worth more than gold. There are basically two amazing brands of breast pumps, and Spectra is the one I use. I love it. The Spectra I have is dual action so you can pump both breasts at one: HUGE timesaver. It is also very high quality in terms of its suction, so your milk will express faster. Timesaver times two. Although it is not as beautifully compact as my travel-sized-self would like, we ended up choosing the Spectra over all others for one reason: there is no complicated cleaning ritual. Soap, hot water, and maybe some Q-tips to clean out the little corners. Simple.
How long is breast milk good for?
This interlude is because I found it difficult to figure out this information. Again, I am NOT a registered lactation consultant, but most of my guidelines come from La Leche League. Breast milk is good for 6 months frozen; 24 hours in the fridge as soon as you remove it from the freezer; and 3-4 days if you just refrigerated it and never froze it. As a rule, we keep breast milk that is not being cooled in some way for 4-6 hours, as long as its not too hot out. Just smell it. if it smells funny in any way, chuck it.
One of the most difficult things about being a new parent is that you lose rights to your own life. For breastfeeding moms, this goes tenfold. I really wanted to breastfeed, and even if I had loved it (which I didn’t), I still wouldn’t have been able to follow through on it. I am apparently really, really bad at not sleeping. It contributed heavily to my post partum depression.
If you’re like me, you might want to sleep through a night. Your breast pump will come in again. Once your baby is old enough for bottle feeding (your call here, experts disagree but we started at 3 weeks old), consider expressing milk and alternate night feeding with your partner. One sleeps, one stays up, and then switch. I still wake up once or twice during the night to pump fresh milk, but its WAY better than being up every hour or two, ever night, forever.
Unless you have a separate bedroom for baby, you might want Silicone earplugs. If your baby is like ours, he might make all kinds of noises in his sleep! These things can keep a new parent up, because you are constantly worried about your baby’s wellbeing. However, its not worth waking up every five minutes because baby is having a funny dream. Get some earplugs. Not the foam kind – those create ear ache. The wax ones fall apart in your ear and get get stuck in your ear canal (happened to me – no fun.) The silicone ones both block out noise and don’t fall apart.
Getting back to being a human means leaving the house, and leaving the house means somehow carrying baby. For many reasons, I prefer baby carrying. I like getting the workout and having Noa close. Strollers dictate where you can and can’t go, and since where we live most of the time doesn’t even have paved roads, that can be really restrictive. Also, strollers are bulky, which is not ideal for minimalist travelers. So we opted for baby carrying. The baby carrier of choice?
The Boba Air Baby Carrier
When my mom sent us heaps of links of baby carriers, we felt overwhelmed. At closer examination, however, we realized that the choice was obvious, for three reasons.
One: The Boba Air is fashionable for both men and women. This carrier comes in calm, neutral tones. While I preferred the grey one, DG liked the black. He will wear black. He will not wear weird multicolored animal patterns. This means, he will wear the baby carrier. Which means he will carry the baby. Win. It also is thin, not bulky. Most people think this is a flaw, because they think it will be less comfortable. It is plenty comfortable, and to boot, it is not crazy sweaty hot. Double Win.
Two: This carrier is tiny. It folds into a tiny fanny pack sized bag. It weighs less than a kilo. This means we can take it EVERYWHERE. I always have this baby in my bag, and when packing, it takes up almost no luggage space. For the traveling family, you could not get any better.
Three: The Boba Air, when we bought it, was $50-100 cheaper than any other baby carrier on the market. I’ve just looked at amazon, and it’s back up to about $100, so I guess we got some kind of deal, but we bought this baby for $45. Now that is what I call a baby carrying win.
Alright, that’s a start. There is more coming in part II.