Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Now That I'm an Expert - Feeding Time

Since I've taken care of one baby for approximately 53 weeks (come this Thursday) I am now (obviously) an expert on babies and childcare. And, being an expert, I now have lots of wisdom to share.

It's easy when you are hormonal and want to provide the best environment possible to get swept away in baby gear/clothes/furniture and forget the cardinal rule of buying for baby: don't buy anything at all unless you absolutely need it. You will get loads of gifts the whole year long that will fill in lots of these needs. Even if, like me, you don't have a baby shower you will still get enough baby gear to outfit at least one room in a daycare.

But I get it. You ARE hormonal and want to show your commitment to being an excellent parent with products. It truly does make you feel better and calmer so over the next couple of days I'll be sharing my favorite products out there along with some tricks of the trade I've learned from other moms and personal experience.

Trick #1:
Nothing is MUST HAVE except diapers, wipes, food, something to wear, and something to sleep on. These things look different to every parent and there are escalating levels of hell, I mean, products you can buy for every little thing. I realized early on that I had a low-threshold for baby gear takeover and purchased accordingly.

Trick #2:
Just because everyone in the world swears by something doesn't mean you or your baby will like it. Two examples from my year: Strollers and Sophie. I will talk more about this later.

Trick #3
Make it easy for yourself. If the baby never experiences a warm wipe they won't know they are missing warm wipes. If the baby has formula chilled, room temp, and very rarely warm they won't know it's supposed to be a certain way. It sounds bad but I've been grateful many times when we've had an emergency diaper change or only had chilled water to make the bottle. Lil' D is adaptable and it makes these stressful situations so much easier.

So here is the EATIN' and DRANKIN' section of my series on bringing up a baby with a minimal amount of product in this crazed baby world of ours.*

 1.  The My BrestFriend. Terrible name but nice back support. I used in tandem with a Boppy for a bit but this was better. However, since my nursing days were short (but felt like forever!) - my recommendations don't include a lot of things to help nurse. On a general note: I do not recommend the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump.

2.  Breastflow bottles. We got hooked on these because they are good bottles to use if you are nursing. And I mean hooked. I wanted Lil'D to have glass but she got so acclimated to these that she would never take another kind. So, like I said, get your baby used to lots of variations. Without these bottles in hand we were sunk with a screaming baby. Despite what many lists will tell you we survived with 6 small ones and 5 large ones for an entire year.

3. Gerber Burp Cloths. You will use a million burp clothes for many months. These are my faves because they are soft and small.

4. Boon Lawn drying rack. We had GRASS but I wish it had been bigger. Get a twig or flower or two as well. This is certainly not a necessary item, as any drying rack will do, but when you are exhausted this does cheer you up. A little.

5. Target Formula. While the world rages on about how much better breast milk is than formula, formula has really gotten short shrift in the world of reviews and product improvement. Every formula has to have the same nutrition and there are only so many ways to make that happen it seems. We decided to try out Target formula vs. Enfamil and were pleasantly surprised that Lil'D seemed to have a better time on Target brand - which can often be found for as little as $21 a tub (on sale and with Cartwheel). However, if you are a formula feeding mom I would highly recommend getting some of the Enfamil travel powders. Lifesavers.

6. Munchkin bottle washer. Toss the little brush. You will never use it.

7. Bumkins bibs. Really the only choice. Machine washable and stays (mostly) in place. The only other ones I've liked are these Belgian bibs "Santens" my mom found on the interwebs but has no idea how she ordered. One day I'll tell you about the knitting kit she accidentally ordered me from Denmark.

8. Gerber/Nuk soft bite spoons. Great for tender little gums and provides good portion control so you don't choke that baby you worked so hard to get here.

9. Beaba Babycook. O.k caveat. I've had two of these and both have had to have the heating mechanism replaced (double caveat : the first one was used). That being said, when they work they are awesome. If you have the budget I would get the gigantic one. The company is great to work with if something does break (which hopefully it won't for you).

10. Wean Green Cubes. Great for storing your homemade baby food.

11. The First Years Infant Newborn to Toddler Reclining Feeding Seat. Great for baby to sit at the table with the family (still waiting on that to be more possible). It's also portable, super easy to clean, and for smaller babies it's cushioned and prevents slipping around.

12. Ikea Antilop High Chair. Super affordable and great for easy, quick feeds. It's really a toss-up for me as to which high chair I like better. Also doubles as a baby holder for when you need to get something done.

* There are certainly ways to be more minimalist than listed here. Something to steam food and something to mash food are a cheap and easy replacement for a baby food cooker. Also: Gerber, Earth's Best, Sprout, and Plum all make great baby foods.

What you will not find on this list:

1) Bottle warmers. Unless you are a pumping, breastfeeding mom you do not need to worry about it. The baby will drink whatever comes her way.

2) Bottle sterilizers. You will most likely be crazed with cleanliness when you get home from the hospital but that will eventually fade. In the meantime, boiling water will do the trick, but you certainly don't need to do it after every feeding, especially if you wash with hot soap and water every time.

3) Specialized things that "help" the baby learn how to eat solids. They will figure it out. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out the skinny stands in any big box baby store or by the cash register.

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