Monday, October 1, 2012

The Baby Crap Trap...don't say you haven't been warned...

My older sister warned me. She really, really did. But I was a first-time-mom-to-be, and although I did heed *most* of her advice, I just couldn't help myself.

Baby stuff is so frikkin' cute.

And baby stores are a MAJOR racket. But, after having gone through labor, delivery, and 2 plus years (thus far) of mommy hood, here is a short list of things I registered for that I never used, and the little things that all mommies should have on hand in those first weeks after baby comes.

Should've Skipped:
1. The complete bedding set. Over $100, it was the perfect combo of zoo animals that I wanted and sports that The Wiz required. I never used the fluffy crib bumper (if you don't know- there have been lots of studies and recommendations against using the thick crib bumper.) I bought a Breathable Crib bumper that was mesh so if Munchkin rolled up against it, he would still be able to breathe. Also, it velcroed shut, instead of having those scary looking strings to tie around the crib rails.
(Or around my baby's neck, which was my nightmare. Granted, the strings probably aren't long enough to get around baby's neck, but try to reason with a post-partum, leaky-chested new mother.) I  never used the valance- wrong size for our window. The quilt has never made it into Munchkin's bed, but I did use it as decoration in his room. Okay, it's flung over the rocking chair. That's decor, right?
INSTEAD: I should've concentrated on having several crib sheets (which I later got) and changing pad covers. Those come in a variety of colors and patterns if you're worried about decor. (Which I certainly was.)

2. The Highchair. Yes, baby will eventually need a place to eat once he gets to the solid food stage. Eventually. This could mean anywhere from 5 months to even later if you decide to stick to exclusive breast feeding for a while. If you register for this before baby comes, and someone is kind enough to buy it, most likely it will stay in its box or in a corner of your kitchen for months until baby is ready to use it. I'm a big fan of mommy consignment sales, and I found a great high chair and later a strap-to-the-table booster seat for GREAT prices. This would've left room on my registry for oh, I don't know- DIAPERS, or a great swing, etc. By the way- I say skip the high chair altogether. My strap-to-the-chair booster seat has ROCKED and we've taken it on every vacation we've taken since Munchkin has started eating solid foods.

3. The Diaper Stacker. This perfectly coordinated with my complete bedding set and looked so, so cute in the nursery. There are still newborn diapers in it from when Munchkin was born. The hard part about being a new mom, or getting ready to be a new mom, is figuring out how to organize this new life that you are about to begin. Once Munchkin arrived, I found it was easier to keep the diapers in a canvas box, on top of a bedside table. The table was within arms reach of the changing pad, as opposed to the diaper stacker which hung off the side of the dresser. Now Munchkin is a major wriggler and the changing pad is on the floor. (We're working on potty training. Tips, anyone??) The diapers are now kept in the bottom drawer of the dresser right next to the changing pad.

4. Wipes warmer.  I didn't register for one of these, mainly because of my hilarious coworker and friend telling me NOT to. She said: "Don't you dare! He needs to get used to disappointment!" She was totally kidding, and it cracked me up. One point I'd like to make is that those first weeks and months of nursing meant lots of night time feeds. It never failed that Munchkin would nurse on one side, then fall asleep. So, I'd change his diaper to wake him up enough to nurse on the other side, and the "cold" wipes would always help rouse him. Plus, really- how "cold" are the wipes you're using? Are you going to keep them in the freezer? Skip it.

5. Teethers, bath toys, infant toys. Okay, so all of this stuff is SO, SO cute. And you WILL need this stuff- eventually. But really, baby won't have teeth for several months, nor will he play with bath toys for several months. Having fun toys hanging from the car seat handle and a mobile over the changing table can be fun for baby, but it's not one of those necessities like diapers, a reliable car seat or sturdy stroller that you will use immediately and often. (As for the mobile- Munchkin was terrified of his, so keep in mind that every baby is different. I also hesitated to put anything over his crib because I just felt it was safer. Nothing can fall off the wall into crib to hurt your baby if there is nothing hanging directly over him. Just sayin'.)

6. Shopping cart cover. Again, I'm going to praise mommy consignment sales and coupons. Baby will most likely stay in his car seat, inside the grocery cart while you shop for several months. The shopping cart cover is great, but not a necessity for the first 3-5 months of life. Checking out stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall's or Ross can also be great places to find shopping cart covers at very reduced prices when you finally need one. I found mine at a local consignment sale for dirt cheap, which is a good thing because after 2 or 3 trips to the store I got tired of wrestling with it. I figured the antibacterial wipes for the grocery cart would kill any germs, and a few toys that could attach to the cart had my boy occupied.

Let's pause and talk about strollers and car seats. Please don't buy a car seat second hand, if you can avoid it. Take some non-necessities off your registry and hope that a nice aunt or your mama helps you out if the car seat price is steep for you. Buying a car seat second hand (unless you are buying it or borrowing it from a family member you completely trust) can be very dangerous. Sometimes there is no way to tell if a car seat has been in a car accident and/or has internal damage. Also, car seats expire after a few years, so if you unknowingly buy a second hand seat that is out of date, it may not be as safe as you'd like. Think of how much use you'll get out of a brand new car seat-every time you get in the car, y'all!-and reconsider the second hand car seat.

As for strollers, I've come to terms with the fact that there is no such thing as one perfect stroller. We started out with a snap n' go stroller frame (pretty inexpensive) that our infant car seat just snapped into. We used this for MONTHS- it was so much easier, lighter and less expensive than a large, bulky travel system. There is nothing wrong with the travel system, it just wasn't for me. By the time Munchkin was more mobile/sitting up and we were ready for a new stroller, I'd had time to really research and think about what worked best for us. I ended up investing in a City Mini, which does have its cons (small storage basket underneath, no attached cup holder..) but it has been great for us.

Okay, so here are some of the little things that you will find you need in the first few weeks/months baby is home. Not all of these are things that should go on the registry, but are things you can pick up at the drug store or Target before baby comes. I nursed Munchkin and am planning on nursing Baby Girl, so for the sake of disclosure- I know nothing about formula fed babies, their needs or the needs of a mama who is using formula. Sorry- several things on this list are for nursing mamas.

1. Lanolin cream. Lots of it. Slather that stuff on your "girls" as much as possible. Keep a tube in any room in which you might nurse, at the grandparents' house, in your diaper bag, etc. It'll help relieve some of the pain (yes, there will be pain, even if baby has a perfect latch from the beginning. The girls will get used to it and the pain will go away, I promise.) Lansinoh HPA Lanolin cream doesn't need to be wiped off before feeding baby, which just saves time and worry.

2. Boo-boo (or in this case, Boobie) Buddy ice packs- or any other circular shaped/sized ice packs that will fit into your nursing bra/shirt in between feedings. Buy several pair so that you always have a few cold.  Repeat after me: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That's how it'll feel to put those puppies on your puppies, if you know what I mean.

3. Nursing tanks/shirts. Bring a few with you to the hospital to make life easier. Live in them the first week/year (your choice) of baby's life. You won't regret it.

4. Nursing pads. These are what you put inside your nursing bra in between nursing sessions and booby ice sessions, or when you venture out in public. There are two main types: disposable and washable. Some mamas find the disposable type to irritate their lady bits and thus preferred the washable. I didn't have that problem, thankfully, because it meant less laundry for me to worry about. But, use whichever is most comfortable for you. The nursing pad is essential in preventing your milk  from leaking (WHEN it leaks, because it will. Trust me.) through your bra to your shirt.

5. A Boppy or other nursing pillow. Crucial.  You think 7 lbs., 8 oz. doesn't sound that heavy? Wait till it's 3 am and you're struggling to stay awake and keep baby propped correctly so he latches right. I have experience with the Boppy and a pillow called My Brest Friend, and my preference is My Brest Friend simply because of its firmness. The Boppy was too lumpy to get Munchkin lined up correctly, but I have tons of friends who swear by the Boppy. The downside to the My Brest Friend is that it is MUCH more difficult to get the cover off for laundering, in cases of major baby spit up or blow outs.

6. Alcohol swabs. I used these to clean Munchkin's belly button/umbilical cord area when I changed his diaper, until the cord stump thingy (that's the medical term) finally fell off. Do not, I repeat DO NOT use this to clean your son's circumcision area. Just sayin'.

7. Diapers and wipes. Duh.

8. Undies.  Go to Target and buy a package of 6- 8 pairs of loose fitting, maybe even an extra size larger cotton panties. Label them "Post-Partum Undies" or something so that you remember to use them in those days after baby comes when you turn into a human Mount Vesuvius. We're talking..."lochia" here, girls. If you don't know what it is- you'll have to google it. I refuse to describe it here. Basically, *down there* will be a hot mess for a while (even if you're curious, no looking, mmkay? You'll go blind.) and having undies that you feel free to throw away if they get stained is important. Also, having a little bit larger size will leave room for those packs of ice that should go *down there* to help ease swelling and pain.

9. Maxi pads. And I do mean Maxi. Super Absorbency. Just do it. Post partum bleeding is Mother Nature's way of saying, "Hellluuuurrrrr! Remember me????"

10. Colace or other stool softener. Start taking it ASAP after baby is born. That first ahem, "movement" can be painful. (Keep in mind I'm not a doctor, so check with yours before you start taking any medication.)

I'm sure I left some things off my list. What about you other mamas? Comment and let me know which items you wish you hadn't registered for, or items that were life savers in those first weeks and months after baby was born. I hope some new mom-to-be out there found this helpful!!

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