March 19, 2008

Geared up for baby!

Well Riley turned 3 months old this past Saturday... as a friend recently said to me, it's funny how a single day can crawl, but then a month has flown by! That is SO true with a new baby! Sometimes it seems like the day is endless and evening will never come, but then I look back at the week and can't believe how fast it passed!

Since this time last year when I found out I was pregnant (Maundy Thursday on April 5th to be precise), I started noticing a trend among other friends and family members who were also pregnant. It seems that there was something in the water, because the more people I told I was pregnant, the more people I found out were pregnant themselves too! I started keeping track on a post-it note and then had to add a second post-it note... and then a third. At last count I have at least 35-40 friends 43+ friends who are/were having a baby(s) between May of 2007 and August of 2008! That's not even including three families I know who've adopted during that time frame nor all of the new friends I made during my prenatal exercise & education classes! At least Riley will have lots of friends to play with in the coming years. :-)

Apparently my expanding network of friends isn't so uncommon, at least in Wake County. According a newspaper article published last summer, Wake County has been experiencing 35 births per DAY in recent months. That's one new (very full) kindergarten class every DAY!!

So as two more of Riley's future friends (boyfriends?) were born this past week, I keep getting asked about cool products and ideas I've discovered and would recommend. I'm sure there are many more that I'm overlooking, but in honor of Riley's 13 weeks of life, here's a list of thirteen great baby resources we like, in no particular order.

1. Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper - We have the "Mini Convertible" co-sleeper and have absolutely loved it! Two fellow fathers came up to Robert in one week while we were pregnant and both told him, "You HAVE to get a co-sleeper... it will save you so much sleep when your wife wants you to bring her the baby at night!" Basically it's a "sidecar crib" for your bed, and the baby (technically) sleeps right there next to you at night and is only an "arm's reach" away. I say" technically" because everybody knows that young babies don't actually sleep at night. :-)

2. Baby Bargains book -I discovered this book early on and then my neighbor told me, "I would have given you my copy if you didn't already have it!" I call it a "must-have" when shopping and registering for baby products. I don't think there was ever a single item I wanted to know about that wasn't listed in this book... and rated for reliability, safety, price, necessity factor, etc. by the authors and other parents.

3. "My Brest Friend" (MBF) nursing pillow - Okay the marketing department for this company should be fired for the terrible name this product has. Nonetheless, it's a great product, so I still have to mention it here. You may have heard of the wildly popular "Boppy" pillows for breastfeeding. Well this is a similar product and when I first saw it, I immediately dismissed it as a Boppy-knockoff mostly because of the hokey-sounding product name. Yet a fellow Aqua Mom (see below) who delivered her baby about a month before Riley was born said that she preferred the MBF over the Boppy, so I decided to give it a try. I traded in one of the duplicate Boppy pillows I received at a baby shower for the MBF and was really impressed! Although I still like the Boppy better for some situations, the MBF pillow is really convenient in that it actually hooks around your waist and provides a better flat support for your baby to lay on. You don't have to worry about the pillow sliding away from you with each movement and can actually stand up while wearing it, provided that you hold on securely to the baby! I found it really nice to use in bed for middle-of-the-night feedings. Boppys are good for babies to use themselves though when learning to sit up and for "tummy-time" play.

4. Books, books, and more books! There are so many books I have enjoyed reading. There are even more that I probably should have read, but never got around to! Last fall, some pregnant friends and I compiled a list of books that we recommended to other moms-to-be. Here is a website listing those books. If you have a newborn, or one on the way, be sure to check out "The Happiest Baby on the Block" book and DVD. It's really cool when you try out the five S's on a screaming infant and see them calm down right before your eyes!

5. Aqua Moms - In the middle of August, I was only 5 months pregnant, but the idea of exercising to stay in shape had already worked its way out of my desires. Yet in the midst of the heat, I came across a listing for a prenatal swim class for moms-to-be and the idea immediately excited me! Mostly because I wanted to go swimming and had no access to a pool, but I also knew I was supposed to stay in shape for the baby's sake. Enter "Aqua Moms," a very fun water aerobics class taught by Marybeth Winstead of Healthy Moms of NC and you have the most fun I've ever had working out. Healthy Moms offers all kinds of fitness classes for both moms and babies, but the best part of it was all of the friends I made who were due with their babies around the same time I was. Members from my class have even formed a playgroup now... check out the photo!

6. gDiapers - If you had asked me a year ago about using cloth diapers, I probably would have looked at you like you're crazy. Extra laundry is not what I'm looking for as a new mother! However, a pretty cool "in between" solution is called gDiapers. They are adorably cute cloth diapers that have a snap-in liner which holds a biodegradable, flushable insert! You can either take the insert and flush it down the toilet OR compost it in your backyard OR just toss it in the trash knowing that it will break down in 50-150 days! It's a pretty cool earth-friendly, feel-good concept and I was really sold on it before Riley was born. Now that I've tried it out, I'm still liking it okay, but find it a little more difficult than the "kill the planet" method of using disposable diapers. (They take up to 500 years to break down!) I haven't mastered the art of flushing the insert while still holding Riley (it really takes two hands), so I have to find somewhere to put her down which can sometimes take a few minutes. Also, we only have two colored "shells" (the outer part), so when they are both dirty (sometimes that's after 4-5 diaper cycles, other times after just one!) then we are done using gDiapers until they get washed. So it just takes a little more practice than disposable diapers. All in all, I like the concept a lot but recommend that you have an ample supply of shells and liners on hand, and also I'm not sure I recommend gDiapers for very young newborns who have poopy diapers EVERY time. Wait a few weeks until that slows down and you'll save yourself a lot of washing! I've heard that some parents use cloth inserts instead of the flushable gDiaper inserts, but that spells even more laundry to me and we are under water restrictions here in Wake County, after all! One more cool thing about modern cloth diapers though: they have Velcro tabs! No more big diaper pins!

7. Maya Wrap - If there's one product I've gotten the most compliments on, it's been the Maya Wrap sling I sometimes use to carry Riley in. I really enjoy wearing it because it lets me carry Riley essentially "hands-free" and there are a zillion different positions she can sit in, although we've only mastered a few of them. Check out the different fabric designs at www.mayawrap.com. Thanks Stacy & Tim for letting me borrow yours!!


8. SnugGlider - I know I'm not the first parent to fall in love with baby swings, but I just want to share my appreciation anyway... swings are awesome! At least Riley thinks so! We have really lucked out with friends letting us borrow a lot of baby gear, eliminating the need to purchase some big-ticket items. Friends Andy & Megan have done no small part in outfitting us with two of their baby swings, both of which Riley just might wear out before we can give them back! She absolutely loves the Fisher-Price Rainforest Open-Top Cradle Swing and actually coos when we put her in it and pull down the mobile. But what has been an even bigger lifesaver is the Graco SnugGlider car seat swing frame. As shown in the photo, it lets you snap your SnugRide infant car seat into the frame to create an instant swing - perfect for when the baby is still asleep after getting home from a car ride! It also helped us get her to go to sleep/nap at home a lot in the first few weeks. It folds up nice and portable for taking along on a road trip which worked well for us too.

9. Apple iPhone - Okay, I know this isn't a typical "baby" product, but if you're a techie like me, you really should consider this as an "investment" into your sanity as a new mother! I was fortunate enough to win an iPhone in a drawing last April (THANK YOU CENTRICITY RECORDS!!!), and now I don't know what I would do without it!! Seriously, it has been so many different things for me in the past three months as a new mom: a late-night email reader, web browser and game device while sitting in the dark for hours each night; a digital camera for those impromptu have-to-get baby photos; a night light; a music player for white noise and lullabies (works great when placed in the infant carrier while shopping!); a place to keep track of feedings and diaper changes; a digital calendar for scheduling the next appointment at the doctor's office; a grocery list keeper; an online maps and "virtual GPS" device when I'm lost or need directions; a Facebook portal; an online shopping tool for price comparisons (saved us $18 one time when we checked Amazon.com while standing in Babies R Us!); and not to mention a cell phone!! Knowing what I know now, I'd gladly shell out $399 for one of these and call it worth it, at least for me. There's always the iPod Touch too if you don't have AT&T mobile phone service.

10. Kids' Consignment Sales - I just experienced my first two consignment sales for kids' clothing and toys last week and I'm hooked! I got some amazing deals on products I needed, not to mention a bunch of really cute clothes at a fraction of their original cost. These sales seem to be popular in the spring and fall (although there's a big one in Raleigh in July), so do a Google search and find one near you. Be sure to make out a list ahead of time of what you're looking for, and if you want to shop before the public does, find a few items of your own to sell and you'll get to shop ahead of time with the other consignors. I did this at one of the sales and it was well worth it, even though only a few of my things sold.

11. Online Resources - My husband and I really enjoyed getting the weekly Babycenter.com email updates while I was pregnant that told us how much and in what ways the baby had grown that week. Now that the baby's been born, it switched over and sends us emails about what to expect each week with the newborn. Some other great resources I've used online are the La Leche League's forums on breastfeeding, kellymom.com on breastfeeding and parenting, and womenshealth.gov which was recommended by my health insurance company (about 8 times they've told me to go there!) and covers LOTS of women's health topics.

12. PaperbackSwap.com - I discovered this website last May and absolutely adore it now! Basically it's a free membership that lets you mail books to other people in the country that want them, and then you receive books you want in the mail! All you ever pay for is postage to mail out your own books. Once you list an initial 10 books that you're willing to trade, the system will give you 2 credits to get started. Out of the 18 or so pregnancy books I have, I only paid money for 3 of them (which were all journals), because I got the rest of them free through this system! I'd go to the bookstore and pick out a book I wanted, jot down the ISBN, add it to my PBS Wish List, and then wait for the email that says it's coming! This really works well for just clearing off your bookshelves too, but if you're not into reading they've added new services recently called SwapaCD and SwapaDVD which let you transfer your credits between all 3 sites. Be sure to use my referral code (goldentwig) if you sign up for any of them and I'll earn a free credit!

13. "Hooter Hider" - I know not everybody can or chooses to breastfeed, but in case you do, it's good to have resources! My mother-in-law asked me a few months ago if I had ever heard of a "Hooter Hider" to which I replied no. Later, while looking on Amazon for something else, I came across the Hooter Hider's line of products, which are nursing shawls. Honestly though, it ranks right up there with the "My Brest Friend" on product names that make you laugh when you say them! I recently purchased one (although I chose a different brand) and it has opened up a world of places where I can feed her now... on an airplane, in the airport terminal, sitting in a room full of people... and most are none the wiser for what I'm doing!

Okay, whew! If you're read this far, then congrats! While not exhaustive at all, hopefully my list was helpful if you're shopping or registering for a new little one in your life. For those of you "veteran moms and dads" out there (even at only 3 months like me!), what are your favorite products / books so far that you want to tell others about? Leave a comment below and tell us!

7 comments:

Stacy Lutz said...

Holly,

I'm glad that you are liking the Maya Wrap.

I'll throw in some other recommendations for lesser known products that I LOVE.

1. A carseat roller. Great for air travel & taking your convertible carseat:
http://www.gogobabyz.com/products/gogo_kids.html

2. Bumpy Name Labels. For labelling bottles and cups. Pretty much indestructible.
http://www.inchbug.com/bumpyname-orbit-labels-custom-bumpyname-orbit-labels.html

3. Preschoolians shoes. These are pricey, but they have held up really well and they have styles that function as both casual/dressy. Isaac has worn one pair exclusively for 4 months.
http://preschoolians.com/

4. Websites:
babycheapskate.blogspot.com
www.parenthacks.com
www.wholesomebabyfood.com
www.wholesometoddlerfood.com

Holly said...

I just found out yesterday two more people I know are/were pregnant (one just delivered on Monday!)

Holly said...

and another...

Lauren said...

Lansinoh diaper rash ointment. One of the twins had terrible rashes (to go with her food allergies!) that wasn't resolved by Desitin or Balmex. Lansinoh will send a free sample pack of their products (nursing pads, milk storage bags, ointment and lanolin) if you call 1-800-292-4794. Ointment is 6.99 at Target and drugstore.com.

candis said...

(note - is there a way to edit without deleting? I forgot a few things the first time...)

What a great idea for a blog! Thanks for inviting me to share. I agree with many of your picks and learned some new ones too.

We could not have done without our Graco Pack N Play with bassinet and changing table. Especially since we are building a new house and staying in a tiny apartment for a few months until it is ready. The PNP is comfortable and convenient.

I also love my Columbia backpack diaper bag. It is neutral navy - daddy friendly - and has compartments for everything. It came with a changing pad in a special pocket - very handy!

I have lived in the nursing tank from Target! I have it in black, white, and gray. Especially here in Boone, it has been great to be able to nurse without exposing my bare belly to the cold air. I checked out several other nursing tanks, but found good reviews on this one for less than half the price of others.

My BabyTrend jogger/stroller is wonderful! It worked with the infant car seat for the first 6 months, and now is a great stand alone stroller. It's more compact than a typical jogger, easy to fold, and turns on a dime! And, it is Appalachian black & gold!!

This is not exclusively for moms - but I don't know what I would have done without my Reliv nutrition shakes. Three a day got me through the first couple of months without feeling drained (literally & figuratively!) and exhausted.

Last, but not least, mommy networking is my new favorite pasttime! Whether it be the "Babes in Arms" support group sponsored by the regional healthcare center, or the "Mommy & Me" fitness class, or Musikgarten - I have loved getting to know other new and not-so-new moms. I have also loved getting involved on highcountrymommies.com which is a member of themommiesnetwork.org. Check it out to find a community near you!

Karen & Evan Parrish said...

Techie Moms Unite!

My husband got me the coolest gift for Christmas this year, which he gave me early because our son arrived two and a half weeks early. It's the best baby knick knack I have.

It's called an itzbeen (you can find them at http://www.itzbeen.com) and it lets you track diaper changes, feedings, naps and one other thing, so you know when you did what! It's hard to describe so you can understand, but you should definitely check it out.

It's especially cool when you have to go to work and someone is taking care of your baby to know when they were last changed, fed or slept! I absolutely LOVE it, and would recommend it to any busy mom (or dad) who has a hard time even remembering what day it is, let alone when the last diaper change was.

Thanks for putting this list together. It's awesome to hear what other mom's are using!

Karen

Shannon said...

The Co-Sleeper is definitely a must! I also LOVE the Exersaucer. Of course Atticus isn't old enough to use it yet but it was a life saver with my other two. It is portable so I would bring it into the bathroom during my shower time. Another cool "toy" is the bath seat for the big bathtub when they are able to sit reasonably well. I don't remember a brand name.

Join PaperbackSwap to trade your books for titles like these! http://goldentwig.paperbackswap.com