Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Life With a New Baby: Mama Must-Haves

In honor of Parker's 1st birthday, I decided to list my top "Mama Must-Haves" for survival as a new mom. It seems like it was just yesterday that we brought Parker home.  What a crazy, wonderful year it has been!

My 9 Mama Must- Haves

9. Pack-n-play with changing table

Parker used to sleep during his diaper changes....sigh.
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I would highly recommend this, especially if you have a two story house. I wasn't allowed to go up and down steps for two weeks after having Parker, so this saved me from having to climb to the second story every 30 minutes or less. Ours had a handy little side basket where I could store all the diapers, wipes, and creams for easy access. You will also love the pack-n-play for traveling. We kept ours in our car for a while, so that we could let Parker nap in it while visiting family at their houses. I suggest buying the little sheets that fit the pack-n-play.  They were really inexpensive, and they will protect it from getting dirty, as well as being soft and comfy for your babe.

8. K-tan wrap

I miss those snuggles!
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My friend Hilary recommended this fabric wrap, and it was a lifesaver. When Parker would get fussy, I would wrap him up in it and wear him around the house. He would go to sleep pretty much instantly. I have even been known to prop myself up on a pillow on the coach and get some relaxation in while he slept. My favorite thing about the K-tan, as opposed to other wraps, was that it was two pieces. One piece is shaped like a loop, and the other is a long "tie" piece. It was pretty simple to put on by myself, which was essential. YouTube has some great instructional videos that show you how to use the K-tan in several different ways.

7. Rock N' Play

Paisley keeping watch over her new brother.
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The Rock 'N Play is like a cozy little bassinet on a slight angle. Ours could vibrate, and you could also rock it by hand.  The new ones rock themselves!  It was tall enough that it was the perfect height to reach out and rock easily from a bed or couch.  We let Parker sleep in it at night, even though technically it isn't supposed to be used for nighttime sleeping.  Whether you are rule breaker like us or not;) you will still love the Rock N' Play.

6.4moms mamaRoo Swing

My little bunny, enjoying his swing!
Popping the balls out of the mobile became his favorite pastime.

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We originally bought a different kind of swing, but it took up a LOT of space and sounded like a helicopter was taking off when we turned it on.  We brought it back to the store when Parker was one week old and screaming his tiny little head off.  In our frazzled state, the toy-store employee had pity on us and sold us a mamaRoo for a good deal.  Ya'll.  This swing is so amazing.  It is designed to imitate the movements that moms naturally do to soothe their babies.  It barely takes up any room, and it has great white-noise sounds.  It is also compatible with your iPhone/iPad/music device, so you can play songs or lullabies through it.  We did purchase the newborn insert, which helps the baby feel snug inside the swing. We only needed it for a couple weeks, but I it was worth it for Parker to feel secure and comfortable.

5. Summer Infant Swaddle-me Wraps

Summer Infant SwaddleMe 3pk Chevron & Stars (SM) - Summer Infant  - Babies"R"Us
I didn't have a pic of Parker in his swaddle, but this image is from the link below and can be found at Toys R Us.

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These velcro wraps are straight up MIRACLE WORKERS!  Parker was a spunky little thing, and he broke out of every swaddle we put him in.  The wrap helped him feel like he was in the womb, and kept him from waking up due to his startle reflex.  I also didn't have to worry that he would break out of his blanket and smother himself during the night (my constant new-mom source of panic!). There are several different kinds of these wraps out there- all with different price points.  Whichever one you choose, I suggest that you buy several (we had 3 of each size), because they will get dirty fast, and you won't want to be without them!

4. Video monitor

Being able to see Parker on the monitor eased my worries.

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At first I wasn't sure if I wanted a video monitor, but I am SO glad that we ended up splurging on one.  I can't tell you how many times Parker has made loud noises or acted like he was waking up, when he wasn't.  Having a video monitor that you can glance at to make sure your babe is okay saves time and energy- not to mention the fact that if I didn't have a video monitor, I would have burst in Parker's room and woken him up unnecessarily on several occasions.  Whoops! Also, our version of the Motorola monitor does not have the temperature and time on the display screen and I wish it did. You live and you learn!

3. Sound machine

HoMedics® SoundSpa™ Lullaby Sound Machine
Picture from Bed Bath and Beyond

Ours is the HoMedics Sound Machine.

White Noise!  A mama's favorite trick!  A very smart person once told me that not only will your baby be comforted by a sound machine, but it will also help drown out the tiny sounds that your baby will make during the night that will have you waking up 5 million times to check on them, when they are actually sleeping soundly.  So true. So worth it. You won't regret it.  Parker still uses his a year later! 

2. A Devotional for Moms

Image found at Amazon.com
Image found at Amazon.com

Two that I loved are Well Done Good and Faithful Mommy: Finding Fulfillment as a Mom-on-the-Go by Megan Breedlove and The Confident Mom: Guiding Your Family with God's Strength and Wisdom by Joyce Meyer

Okay, now I know you are thinking, "You're crazy, Taylor! I'll never have time to read a devotional in those first couple of months with a newborn!" but believe me- this was my saving grace. There were many times when I felt like I was failing at motherhood. I wanted to cry, laugh, run away, never leave my baby's side, kill my husband, and fall in love with him all over again (those hormones!).  Even if you only have time to read one paragraph a day, it will help ground you and remind you of the One who will never leave your side, who has entrusted you with this beautiful new blessing of motherhood. Plus, you need to take a few seconds to regroup, Mama, so let Daddy hold the baby and go relax for a minute or two.

1. YOUR Mama (aka a rock solid support system)

Me and my mom!
Parker's Nina feeding him at a rest stop on the way to the beach.
Billy and I had the HILARIOUS idea that we didn't need anyone to help us the first week that we brought Parker home. We were all, "We can handle it- we want to spend time together as a family of three!" Then, the babe was born. Who knew that two people was about 10 people too short when taking care of a newborn? Needless to say, there is a reason why they say that it takes a village!  My mom pretty much stayed with us 24/7 that first week, and most of the next week too.  My mother-in-law came over several times a week to hold Parker so I could nap, and our wonderful friends from our church provided us with meals every other day for a month!  I was constantly texting two of my close friends (both have babies slightly older than Parker) and asking them for advice on everything from breastfeeding to getting the baby to sleep through the night.  The bottom line is, try to have a good support system set up before the baby comes.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Babies are wonderful, but they need constant care.  If you are lucky enough to have people who want to help- let them!

One last little thing- if you can, make sure you know how everything works BEFORE the baby comes.  Put the swing together, open and close the pac-n-play a few times, and know how to clean and use your breastpump if breastfeeding.  Once that baby comes- ain't NOBODY got time for that!

Those of you who have been through it already, what were your must-haves for surviving those first months with a newborn?  What advice do you have for new moms?

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