Three months ago when Natalie was just a few weeks old I highlighted the products that were essential to our lives during those early weeks. Many of those products have remained essential, with a couple exceptions. The Pack N Play is now playing second fiddle to the crib, only coming out when Natalie is sleeping away from home. (A few people have asked: we went with the Sealy Soybean Foam-Core Mattress, feeling that it was an alternative to the completely organic crib mattresses that tend to be quite pricey.) We put the Soothies pacifiers away as of last week because our little lady much prefers her hand. I hope by writing this I am not jinxing it, but I am thrilled that Natalie does not seem interested in her pacifiers anymore because I was determined to stop using them by the time she turned four months (as suggested in a book I read about how to avoid forming a pacifier habit). Call it a form of baby-led weaning, but I will take it. She is still fitting into her swing, so I imagine she'll continue to use that for another couple months until she completely outgrows it. On that note....
I had heard that these swings go through batteries like it's their job, but man, I was not expecting this. The swing operates on four D batteries, so thankfully this is something we stocked up on pre-baby at Costco. Every time I change the batteries (and it's been about four times now) I sing that song "Stereo Hearts" about old-fashioned boom boxes and their mad D batteries.
Also from Costco...
We've switched from the more-expensive Tide Free and Clear to the Kirkland (aka Costco brand) Free and Clear detergent for both washing Natalie's diapers and clothes. It's super cheap at only $14.29 for 186 fl. oz. (or 1.45 gallons). Plus, with the frequent $2.75 discounts Costco offers on this product it's the cheapest detergent I've been able to find. I've always been skeptical of generic laundry detergent for inexplicable reasons, but I gave it a try after borrowing a cap full from my neighbor and I was converted. (Thanks, Mimi!)
We finally had to buy our own baby wipes in early March after our stash from the hospital and friends ran out. We bought the Huggies Natural Care baby wipes from Costco in a pack of 1,120 (yes, you read that correctly) for $24.99 at the store. At 2.2 cents per wipe it is definitely way cheaper than any deal you could find on Amazon. I anticipate this package of wipes lasting us for several more months as we have used less than one third of the package in over two months.
Cloud b Sleep Sheep
When we transitioned Natalie to her crib we started a bedtime routine (which I'll write about more in the future) since we could finally distinguish nighttime sleeping from napping. We use the Sleep Sheep Velcroed to the outside of her crib as her white noise machine. Although it comes with four sounds, we are most likely to choose the ocean waves noise. We also keep it turned on to the 46-minute setting rather than the 23-minute setting. Plus, when I sit down to feed Natalie in her nursery I turn on the sound machine, and then after I'm done feeding her while I am putting her to bed I restart it so that it will play for the full 46-minutes while she sleeps.
The only con I see to this product is that it will not play indefinitely. Last weekend we had 8 friends over for an evening of dinner and board games after Natalie fell asleep at 7 p.m. As a precautionary measure I took our iPod dock that normally stays in our bedroom and put it in Natalie's room. Rather than listening to her Sleep Sheep she listened to the soothing sounds of all of Jack Johnson's songs for however many hours they play. She stayed asleep through the noise of 10 adults being silly, and I don't know if she's just a champion sleeper or if we need to have a continuously playing white noise machine/iPod dock for her room for when we have guests.
Summer Infant SwaddleMe
The name of this product seems appropriate, given the fact that we've transitioned from the Halo Fleece Swaddle Sleep Sacks we used to use to these lighter weight swaddles now that the warm weather has arrived. We've never swaddled Natalie with her arms inside the swaddle, mostly because she was never swaddled during her week in the NICU and therefore quickly grew reliant on having access to her hands. Now that she's approaching four months old she's rolling back and forth in her sleep and using her hands to soothe herself in place of the pacifier. Still, we swaddle her with her arms out in this product because: 1) it serves as a type of blanket and 2) it stays tight around her torso to produce a swaddling effect that seems to help encourage her to fall asleep. So I'd recommend this product for its ease of use whether you choose to swaddle your baby arms in or out.
On the go
Ergo Baby Carrier
I am so glad we registered for this product. I've been using it most notably when taking Natalie for a walk to the grocery store. It is so easy to use, though at first I was afraid I would not be able to put her in it by myself. After wearing it one time I learned how to put it on with one hand, which seems to be a required parenting skill. I love having Natalie close to me, and she seems to like it too as it almost always puts her to sleep. A sleeping baby on an errand run is definitely desirable. I was using the Ergo with the Ergo Heart2Heart Infant Insert on loan from my friend Dawn, but now that Natalie is bigger and stronger (and incredibly long, FYI) she has officially outgrown it. Getting this product on loan was great because, true to form, Natalie only used it a few months. (Thanks for sharing, Dawn!)
Green Sprouts bibs
We registered for this pack of 10 bibs, and during Natalie's first two months we never used them and I thought, "Well, maybe that was a waste." Fear not, drool entered our lives in full effect just about the time Natalie turned two months old, and I've been putting these colorful bibs on her nearly every day. Some days she's more drooly than others, but it is definitely nice having these on hand these days.
Here's a category I did not include in the newborn product post because, frankly, there was so little time Natalie was actually awake back then that I worried we'd never use all the toys we received as gifts. Fear not, new parent, the time will come when you'll be looking for ways to keep your 2-3 month old baby entertained. Here are our favorite distractions.
Lamaze Symphony Motion Gym
This product wins the award for most-often-used baby product of the last couple of months. We fell in love with this gym over the summer when visiting our friends Dawn and Jon in Argentina and watching their adorable daughter stare in wonder at this masterpiece of baby entertainment. It has a monkey in a spacesuit! It plays non-annoying music! It MOVES! That last part really sealed the deal. When a couple of my mom friends were over at our house with their babies and they realized this thing moves they were impressed, as was I.
For the first couple months I kept thinking, "OK, I guess our baby is just going to always stare at this thing and never use it as a 'gym.'" Well, right around the time she turned three months old she started getting active, grabbing at all the objects with her hands, putting her feet in the air and capturing toys with her toes, even bracing herself with the toys to start practicing rolling back and forth. This is possibly the single best baby product we own, but here's one con: to replace the batteries you must break out a screwdriver, and while I realize it's safety feature, it took me a week to change the 3 AA batteries.
Bright Starts Start Your Senses Sensory Giraffe
Here's a perfectly designed toy for your 2-3 month old. My girlfriends from wine club attached this to the group gift they gave me at my baby shower, and I'm so glad they did because we take it everywhere. It's great because with high-contrasting colors and lots of hanging items to grab it's a wonderful stroller and infant gym toy. (Fun fact: Many people mistakenly believe that babies can only see in black and white, but the truth is that while they can see color they are naturally attracted to high-contrasting colors, such as white against black. This is also why newborns might look like they're looking past you when in fact they're fascinated by the outlines of your face where the contrast is greatest.)
Eric Carle Developmental Elephant
This toy is quite similar to the Sensory Giraffe above, except this one adds a greater variety of textures that help a baby explore.
Sassy Letter Links
OK, some person years ago said, "Let's take plastic rings and market them as a baby toy," and you know what, that person knew what was up. Keeping with the concept of simple toys being the best, these rings in the shapes of letters are a hit. Grab them. Put them in your mouth. Hours of fun. I wish I was joking. I also like the fact that the company that makes these is called Sassy.
Favorite board books:
Right now Natalie is perking up when I read anything that rhymes or has simple images of people or animals in bold colors. Although we've already read each of her dozens of books many times, the two that capture her attention the most are...
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
This is a favorite of mine from kindergarten, so I was happy to find it at a used book sale at our local library. Apparently it's about to be re-released in board book format again, at least according to Amazon.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury
Someone from my English department at work included this padded board book in Natalie's basket of books, and I'm so glad we got it because I don't know if I would have picked it out on my own.
Not an MVP, but nice to have: The Bumbo
This last item is definitely not essential, but I was happy to receive it as a hand-me-down from my friend Jean and I am sure I'll be loaning it out to friends in the future. The Bumbo seat is helping Natalie learn to sit up, and it is one baby holder that keeps her off her back (unlike the swing, the bouncer seat, the car seat). Although I would not recommend going out and buying one of these because they really are non-essential (and I imagine you can probably borrow one/find one on Craigslist), it has led to some cute photo ops. For your viewing pleasure...
What did you find most helpful during these early months?