Monday, November 19, 2012

Crayon-approved Mommy Gear Part One

The little one is asleep and I was feeling particularly blog-ey so I decided to make a 2nd post for the evening. My girl turned 3 months old last Thursday, which means I haven't been doing this mom-thing for very long but it's been long enough to have found my favorite pieces of baby gear.  And since I was so interested in reading about the kinds of things new moms know and love while I was pregnant, I decided to put together my own top 10 11 list of "this keeps me sane" items. They may be numbered, but they are in no particular order.  I consider all of these items essential and I use them on a daily basis (save for one, but it'll be blatantly obvious which it is.)

1. Xbox 360 Kinect (with a Netflix subscription).  No. I'm not crazy. And yes...this is an essential baby item. I mean, I wouldn't tell somebody to go out and get one for this express purpose, but it comes in EXTREMELY handy and since I already own it, it's going on my list. Why? Here's why...

You are a new mom with a squirmy infant. Who needs to eat. A lot. You find yourself settling down on the couch to feed that little bundle of joy every 2 to 4 hours depending on if you're breast or bottle feeding.  You just get comfortable, baby is settling in and eating nicely, the dog has already positioned himself on any remaining lap space you have, and you know you're stuck in this spot for the next 15 to 20 minutes at least. So you go to reach for the remote control, because staring at the wall/floor/ceiling for that long, that many times a day is enough to drive you batty...and then you realize that it is clear at the other end of the room because you chucked it there 5 minutes ago to make room for you and all the baby crap you had to haul to the couch for this feeding. You have 3 choices at this point: Forget the TV entirely and resume staring at the wall/floor/ceiling, disrupt everyone and everything to get up off the couch to retrieve the remote and start the process all over again, or if you have the kinect just yell at the TV and your show magically appears making you *not* bored while you get on with the feeding. I choose option 3, thanks.  It's also nice for when baby spits milk down your arm.  While you may have wiped it up with a burp cloth it can still leave your hands sticky, so now you don't have to transfer that to the buttons. Kinect FTW.

2. Boppy Pillow. She's only 6 big deal.  YEAH RIGHT.  That kid gets heavy! And fast! The boppy gives your arms a break while you're feeding. It's also designed to help position the baby for your comfort while breastfeeding. It props the kid up so you don't have to hunch forward to get a proper latch.  You can also use it for tummy time or a little back prop for when you're taking pictures. (With supervision of course.) If you have more than one level to your home, get 2.  I have one in the living room and one in our bedroom upstairs for feeding at night.  You don't want to have to wander around and figure out where you put it.

3. A Swing or Bouncy Chair. Each has nice features to entertain your kid (which they'll either love or hate depending on the day) or to calm down a fit of infant rage, but more importantly than those is the fact that it's a place to set your kid down! Besides your arms or back getting tired and needing a break, at some point you're going to need to pee, and bringing them to the bathroom with you is pretty much impossible.  Bring on the baby chair! We have the My Little Lamb Cradle and Swing by Fischer Price, which is pretty high-end for a baby swing but it is well worth the money I spent on it.  My favorite feature is that it can swing sideways, or can be twisted to swing front to back. There are times when Avery prefers one motion to the other so it calms her down faster. We also have a couple of bouncy seats (one on each level of the house) but they are pretty standard issue, so I don't really have a preference for using one or the other.

4. A Glider. Babies like motion because it reminds them of floating around inside mom before they were born, so plopping yourself in the glider accomplishes that without you having to do laps around the house.  Rocking chairs work too, but I prefer the glider because it moves without making our hardwood floors creak (very important at bedtime) and most come with an ottoman that rocks right along with the glider. That's nice for getting comfortable for a feeding or just getting cozy to read a story.

5. A Moby Wrap or even better a knock off one you made yourself (like I did. See why I chose this tutorial in Part Two). If you make your own definitely use the style in this tutorial that has the extra fabric panel.  These things stretch like crazy and you really do need that extra bit of structure to keep baby supported. (P.S. You can buy half the fabric and sew it end-to-end if you choose this style. I wouldn't advise it with any other DIY wrap though.) Moby wraps are things that moms either love or hate. I am in the love camp.  They take a bit of practice to figure out how to wrap them so that you have baby snug to your body.  They are also extremely long in length (they have to be in order to wrap around your body several times) so the amount of fabric can be a bit of a pain to manage, especially when you're in a parking lot and you don't want to spend 5 minutes standing outside your car juggling the ends to keep them off the ground while tying your wrap. Another downside is that they can get really hot. Body heat from you and baby tends to stay snuggled up in the wrap between you.  When I wear mine I make sure I strip to at least a T-shirt, if not my nursing tank top before wrapping it. That said, I love mine for 3 main reasons.

One, it's a personalized fit. We also have a traditional soft-structured carrier that buckles. This is the one that my husband prefers because he can get it on and off faster. But since we are 2 different sized people, every time I wear it I have to adjust and tighten down all the straps.  And after I'm through wearing it he has to loosen them all again to adjust it back to his size. Since most of the adjustments are located on the back of the carrier it's a hassle to do it by yourself, and you can't do it before you put it on or the fit would be wrong.  With the moby, since its' wrapped directly around your body each time, it's automatically adjusted to fit and I don't need anyone's help to get it on.

The second reason I love my fake-moby is that the stretch fabric is very forgiving on your back. The soft-structured carrier is designed to distribute the baby's weight in a certain way, and that creates pressure points on my shoulders and lower back. After 10 minutes of walking around I'm sore. Since you can't move the straps to a new position, you're stuck with what the manufacturer gave you.  With the moby, that weight is more evenly distributed so there's no pressure points. I can also slide the back crosses to a different spot to make it more comfortable if I need to, but this is rarely needed.

The Third reason I love my fake-moby is the way it supports the baby.  In the soft-structured carrier there is support directly behind the baby, but not so much at the sides. So while Avery isn't going to fall out of the thing, there's still a lot of room for her to flop around and you have to be careful about how you move so you don't slam her little head. In the fake-moby, if you're wearing it properly, baby is hugged right up against you so there isn't that extra space for her to flop in. She can even lean away from me if she wants and the front crosses support her neck. When she falls asleep I can pull one of the crosses over top of her head to give her even more support. The fabric keeps her secure, but has enough stretch so she doesn't feel squished. Also with the fake-moby (again, if you're wearing it correctly) the fabric spreads below baby's bottom in a way that aligns and supports the hips and thighs.  Some soft-structured carriers can do this, and others can't. It just depends on the width of the "seat" portion beneath the baby. Babies' hip joints haven't fully hardened when they're born, the socket portion is still soft cartilage, so if they aren't properly supported in a carrier it can actually cause dislocation and lead to hip dysplasia.  Even before we introduced Avery to a carrier she was being watched for issues with her hips, so this is especially important for us. (Not to worry, 2 ultrasounds later and she's been cleared as healthy.) With the fake-moby I never have to worry about if she's getting that proper support.

Okay, I have a 4th reason I love my fake-moby, but I guess it could be applied to any carrier...It frees up my hands.  She is secure enough to my body that I can bend and move and I don't have to worry about her flying out or feel the need to support her with one hand while doing a task.  Avery is very clingy and has been right from the start. She's not one to want to be away from mom for more than 5 minutes or else she'll start screaming like she's on fire. (Even if she can see me.) There is absolutely no way I'd be able to do anything except sit on the couch and shout at my kinect while holding her if it wasn't for this wrap.  ABSOLUTELY NO WAY. And you know when I mentioned it gets a little hot to wear?  That's not always a bad thing.  When Avery is really fussy I can pop her in the wrap and 9 times out of 10 that body heat creates a toasty, sleep inducing pocket.  She can be screaming her head off and then out like a light. It's a miracle really.

Items 6-10 coming in Part Two...

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