I will soon add diapers to this list (since this IS a cloth diapering website), but I haven't cloth diapered a newborn yet (give me two weeks!) so I want to wait until then. This is just the general stuff…
Top 10 Recommendations
1) Video Monitor - I laughed when I first saw this, thinking it was ridiculous, but this was THE BEST investment I could make. At least for our girl, she would cry and kind of console herself, but we knew once she stood up she’d stand for hours, so it allowed us to gauge whether or not to go in. Plus it has helped me catch when my stripper baby has pulled off her diaper and started playing marbles with her twosies! (I know, ick). My biggest piece of advice is to MAKE SURE that it is a private feed video monitor. Most of the ones on the market right now have had issues where people are seeing other people’s babies! I use the Summer Infant 02640 Best View Handheld Color Video Monitor. My ONLY complaint with this is that it interferes with my WiFi in the house (making it slow or impossible to use WiFi), so you may want to see if they have come up with something better.
2) Mini Pack and Play - We had a large pack and play, but I loved having one next to the bed that made it easy for me to get in and out of. It was so handy and lightweight (although I rarely took it down). It was so much easier to bend over and pick my baby up than a pack and play or crib (even with the “bassinet” in the pack n’ play...but remember, I am short). I loved the small pockets on the side that I was able to put burp cloths, diaper (and yes, dirty ones at times), nipple shields, etc. in. It lasted until about 4 months with my girl, although I think it could have gone longer. After that, we took out the bassinet part and it made a nice little pack n’ play that she played in while I worked out. We have the Graco Travel Lite Crib - Barcelona Bluegrass.
3) Cloth Diapers - I’ll admit, when I was pregnant the thought of cloth diapers DISGUSTED me BIG time. But I soon got to a point where I was knee deep (or I should say elbow deep!) in poop and the thought of dumping poop into a toilet didn’t freak me out since my daughter was blowing OUT of her disposables and getting poo all over her clothes anyway. I also thought you had to be an origami artist in order to work cloth diapers. Turns out that they are SO modern now and look just like disposables, only a little cuter. When I switched the cloth diapers, I spent less money on diapers (it cost us roughly $60/month to use disposables so by the time baby is 2 years old we would have spent $1,400 on diapers...whereas you can get a GOOD quality , high end supply of cloth diapers for $400, PLUS they usually resell for 50% of their initial price--and many parents can cloth diaper for as low as $250!). You just dump the twosies in the toilet, rather than having them marinate in a diaperpail! I think you need five essentials to cloth diaper:
* a variety of diapers (I would be happy to help you with this. Don’t go out and buy $400 worth of one kind of diaper. Instead, buy a few diapers and see how it works). My personal favorites are Ragababes (only sold at Ragababe.com) and Softbums (I buy mine through Sewcraftybaby.com and friend them on facebook and get a discount on their discount page plus free shipping). You will find that you can get good cloth diapers that are as easy to put on as disposables. See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJrhX1hrkwA
* a wet bag or diaper pail with a liner - this is great. You just throw the diapers in here and then throw the whole bag in the wash, bag included. I recommend a Leslie’s Boutique bag, they are high quality and have a nice fleece patch inside that you can dot essential oils on to make it smell good. Hubby takes baths RIGHT NEXT to the diaper pail and doesn’t notice a stink
* diaper sprayer - you can wait until you are REALLY sure you want to cloth diaper before you get this. It attaches to the side of your toilet and allows you to spray the poopy diapers clean. I find this very easy to do. If you aren’t wanting to do this, you can get flushable liners, which look like dryer sheets, that just rest on the diaper and when the baby poops you just turn the diaper upside down over the toilet and say buh-bye to the twosies. I recommend the Bumgenius diaper sprayer.
* cloth wipes - might as well get these if you are throwing stuff in a wet bag anyway. There’s no point in having a separate trash can for disposable wipes. I like the Ragababe cloth wipes.
Whether you chose to use disposables or cloth, I HIGHLY recommend joining Swagbucks if you haven't already. Basically you earn these "bucks" just by searching the internet like you always do. Once you get enough bucks you can purchase an Amazon gift card (I get a $5 gift card once every two weeks). If you start early enough, you will have enough to get either cloth or disposable diapers for FREE. Find a friend who has an account, since for every buck you earn they earn a buck. If you don't know of someone, feel free to use mine ;)
4) A Travel System - We made the mistake of buying a carseat and then buying the stroller separately. Problem is, unless you buy the same brand, the seat won’t fit in the stroller. We did much research and tested out a lot of strollers and found that the Chicco Cortina had THE BEST wheel design. It is so good that I can run with it. If you don’t plan to use your stroller much, then go ahead with the fancy designs. But if you are out and about, you want something that maneuvers well, and this definitely does.
5) Large receiving blankets - OK this drives me CRAZY. The receiving blankets that are sold mostly in stores are WAY to small. You can barely tuck them under in a swaddle. I recommend either making your own or the best brand I have found are the Target Dwell Studio Receiving Blankets.
6.) Sleepsacks/swaddling blankets - I guess every doctor has a different take on this, but our doctor said NO blankets for the baby because of SIDS risk. We found that when small, swaddling blankets are GREAT (I have no particular brand preference here). They have velcro that basically makes it so much easier to swaddle the baby. The sleepsacks are great when the baby is older. We like the Halo sleepsacks. The nice thing is you don’t have to worry about a baby kicking blankets off in the middle of the night! The sleepsacks are good for 6 months and up. For under that age, swaddling blankets work SO well.
7.) Boppy Pillow - Great for breastfeeding, great to put baby in, and, most importantly, GREAT to prop baby up for pictures!
8.) Portable Changing Pad - I just think it is a waste to buy a changing table. It’s an extra piece of furniture and I found most of my diaper changes occurred on the couch, bed, floor, etc. I liked the Summer Infant Contour Changing Pad
9.) Breast SHELLS - Oh I wish I had known about these on day 3. I was in so much pain and couldn’t feed my baby. These finally saved me. I needed something to keep the girls from rubbing on fabric. You only use these the first few weeks, but they were WELL WORTH the purchase. I like the Medela Breast Shells.
10.) Portable High Chair - I can’t stress enough how much we love this. It is great to take to relatives, it is great as a timeout chair, and it is great when the high chair is dirty ;) I also liked to put daughter in this as I was cleaning different rooms. AWESOME. You could also use a Bumbo baby seat, which I love, but it only lasts so long. Whatever chair you get, make sure there is a divider for the legs so baby doesn’t slouch down in the chair.
If you plan on purchasing any of these products through amazon, would you mind using my affiliate link? I have honestly found that Amazon is the cheapest place to get things, just sign up for Amazon Mom to get free shipping (contact me if you need help on how to do this). I also use my swagbucks to buy Amazon gift cards. I earn swagbucks just by searching the internet like I always do, and every other week I earn a $5 Amazon gift card. Not too shabby!
What didn't work
I don’t mean to offend here. These products might work for some, they just did not work for us.
1) A diaper bag that has a changing pad built into it. Most of the time, they aren’t long enough for a baby so they are just a pain. Make sure the changing pad is removable
2) Dr. Brown’s bottles - hard to clean and there are so many other breastfeeding-friendly bottles out there (we liked Avent)
3). Slings - TEST TEST TEST TEST. If you can’t find a good one in a store, then use PaxBaby where you can try out different ones. Make sure it isn’t a forward facing one, as that hurts babies’ development (too much pressure on baby’s hips). I spent OVER $200 in slings alone just to find the right match. We like the Cybex for Daddy and the BabyHawk Oh Snap and Baby K’tan (best used from 0-9 months) for Mama.
4) Jumperoo- I love the jumperoos, but MAKE SURE you get one that fits through a doorframe. Ours was great, but we couldn’t move it through rooms because we would have to take it apart!
5). Bouncer - maybe people have great experiences with these, but I can’t tell you how many toes my husband and I have stubbed on these! I’d rather stick with a Boppy Pillow or Swing to put baby in.
6) Baby towels - I just don’t get it. You want the baby to be warm...and yet you make a baby towel paper thin? That’s how they come nowadays and I just don’t get it. And that cute little hoodie part, well I know my babies’ giant head NEVER fit in it. The best bet is to make your own towels with regular bath towels. There are plenty of patterns online.
Tips for the hospital
* If they give you a pitcher for your water, KEEP IT. It is great for pouring water over babies’ head, heating up milk, watering plants, etc. I know our hospital has a policy where they have to throw away everything that they give you, so you might as well take this.
* Have the lactation consultant’s number on hand - at my hospital the nurse has to recommend you to a consultant. My nurse was silly and kept removing me from the list. So I wish I had the consultant on speed dial since I had a lot of problems.
* REST. I can’t stress this enough. You are going to LOVE watching relatives and friends dote on your baby while you are in the hospital, but this is the best time for you to get some shuteye before you are home and on your own. Of course it is great to have them there for a little while, but it is perfectly OK to tell them you need to get some rest (and if you don’t think they will listen, maybe your nurse could help!)
* If you get an epidural, DO NOT let them take out the catheter until you can walk to the bathroom yourself. Just trust me on that one...
* If you are pretty sure you are wanting an epidural, tell them well in advance so they can have it at the ready. It took over an hour to get mine in. EEK.
* Bring those heating pad patches (thermacare?) to the hospital and put on lower abdomen. My midwife recommended this. That was the worst part of my post labor pain and it happened right at the end of breastfeeding. Make sure you let your doctor/nurse/midwife know you are doing this!
Anyone else have any tips???