It’s been a while since I blogged, having a baby and working full time definitely takes all of my time! The saying “having a baby changes your life” is completely true, but I’m not going to write about the life-changing experience part. Instead I’m going to highlight practical things I share when talking to friends who are about to become parents or just became parents.
First 3 months
As described on the DVD/Book “The Happiest baby on the block”, the baby’s first 3 months were more like their 4th trimester. They don’t fit inside you anymore so they have to come out. But they’re still not ready to fully interact with the world. Their brains are not fully developed and they need more stimulation like they had while in the belly.
During the first 3 months, our baby was pretty much sleeping, nursing and pooping. So, I focused on making her environment similar to the one she had when in my belly. The best tips came from the DVD I mentioned above:
Shushing sound: You know how people say there should be silence so babies sleep? The reality is bit different. When babies are in the womb, they hear loud rumbling noises all the time from the blood whooshing through the placental arteries. It’s louder than a vacuum cleaner. The shushing sound is close to what they hear inside, so if your little one starts crying, try shushing her/him really close to the ear and you’ll see how it soothes her/him. This is probably the best tip we ever had. We still use this to make our daughter fall back asleep even though she’s way past 3 months now.
Hair dryer: If shushing doesn’t work, turn on a hair dryer. I promise your newborn baby will stop crying. We had one right next to our changing table and every time she cried, we turned it on and worked like a charm.
Swaddling: I had no idea what this whole swaddling business was all about. But it turned out to be pretty useful. Babies are tight inside your belly and swaddling makes them feel snug, similar to the womb. Our baby slept on the rocker for the first couple of months so instead of swaddling her properly, we made sure the blankets we used were tight around her.
Other useful things are:
I didn’t think I needed one because I wasn’t thinking of nursing outside my own home. But if you want to have some freedom and go out to places, you definitely want to have a nursing cover. I like this one because it has an open neckline that holds the cover away from you and the baby so you can easily see from the top.
I didn’t use a sterilizer that often while breastfeeding but it was very handy to sterilize breast pump parts and breastmilk storage bottles. Once I stopped breastfeeding, we use the sterilizer approximately 5 times a day for her bottles. We love the microwavable one. Super easy to use and you can easily “hide” it in the microwave if you don’t have space for it.
They are amazing for travelling. All you need is a microwave and you’re good to go!
My sister recommended using Dreft which we use until today. It’s mild and perfect for baby clothes.
3 - 6 months:
Once we moved her out of the Firsherprice rocker (she slept in it for the first 3 months!) to the crib, I was afraid she would wake up because she wasn’t snug anymore. We tried the Halo sleeping sacks to swaddle her and it worked out great! It was easy to swaddle her and she slept “like a baby”
Once she was able to rollover, we switched to a sleepsack without the arms part (regular one). She still uses one now because she moves a lot at night, a blanket would not work at all. This way we’re sure she’s warm throughout the night.
We didn’t get her any toys before she was born. I guess we were so focused on getting the apartment ready and have all the basics that we forgot about toys. But thanks to our friends and family, we got a great variety of very useful and super cute toys. Thanks to them, we were in pretty good shape for her first few months. Here are a few we had no idea about or didn’t think we really needed which turned out to be her favorites:
It’s a simple ball with holes, but has kept her entertained since she was a couple of months old until now. I totally recommend getting one.
We started using the one my cousin gave us as a gift when she was about 2 months old. It was great seeing her stare at the colorful animals hanging above her and slowly trying to grab them. When she grew up a bit more, she was able to play and kick with the piano attached at the bottom. It was great for her to learn how to grab things, look at herself in the little mirror and learn how to kick and make sounds.
Mobile for her crib
Imagine if you’re lying all day long, wouldn’t it be great to have something cool to stare at? I handmade a felt animal mobile which became one of her favorite things. I was so happy she paid attention to it and enjoyed looking at the little animals I made for her. I’m not suggesting you make one, you can buy anyone you like. Your baby will love looking at it when it moves and plays music.
Soft toys with different textures and sounds
You’ve probably heard about this one already. Babies are attracted to different textures (who isn’t?!) so get a couple of toys with different textures and sounds. We got the Skiphop owl as a present and she still plays with it 10 months later!
Having a light travel crib was super important because we have taken our daughter on many trips these past few months. The baby bjorn travel crib is awesome. It’s light, easy to set up and folds into a compact square the size of a carry on bag.
We’ve used this bin for blankets and sleeping sacks first and now it’s become a toys bin. You can use it however you want, I just thought I’d share with everyone because they’re super cute.
Before she had her own room, we were using this as her toys bag so we could carry it easily from room to room. Once we moved to a bigger place, this became her caddie for diapers, diaper cream, etc. it’s super cute and practical.
If you live in a city with cold weather, having a good winter baby bag for the stroller is a must. We have a Uppababy Vista stroller and got the JJ Cole Collections bundleme bags, they fit most stroller brands and are cozy and soft.
This is such a clever product. They’re attached to the stroller handle so it’s easy to slip your hands in and out of them. I normally never use gloves because of the inconvenience of having to take them off when you need to touch your baby or answer the phone. But these gloves are awesome, my husband loves them too!
6 months +
6 months was a big milestone for our daughter. Once she was able to sit up by herself things started to change really fast. She then transitioned to being on all fours and started crawling… Being on the move is whole different story! She was more active and wanted to explore everything around her so we had to rethink how to create an environment where she can freely explore things without getting injured.
When our baby started to crawl a bit, she really didn’t move throughout the whole apartment. She stayed within one area where she was trying to be on all fours and discover what she could do. There was a lot of drooling happening everywhere as well. We looked for something soft and easy to clean, but also fun to look at (again, think about being on all fours for a long time, wouldn’t you want to see something fun?). We found a cool mat from Skiphop. They make fun and cool looking stuff for kids!
Once they start eating real food, you’ll need to buy a whole new set of things. I really wanted to make homemade food for our baby so my suggestions are based with that goal in mind.
We got the Stokke Tripp Trapp because it’s a beautiful piece of furniture and it grows with your baby. It goes from a baby eating chair to to a full size chair. It’s a great investment because we’ll use it until she’s a big girl.
A friend of mine refers to this appliance as the “robot” because it’s so easy to use that it pretty much feels like you have a little robot in your kitchen. It steam cooks, blends and reheats all-in-one, in 15 minutes or less. Super easy to use, perfect for cooking vegetables and blending them when they first start eating. I would normally cook some veggies, puree some fruit, put them in small containers and save them in the fridge for the next few days.
These are great containers to store baby food as well as for taking out. Skiphop makes this cool kit of 14 containers that can be snapped together. If you want to take them with you, just put them in the insulated cooler bag that comes with the kit and the freezer pack to keep things cool.
It can get messy when your baby starts eating. We found these fun animal shaped silicone bibs for her. They’re great because any spills go directly into the pocket and it’s really easy to clean.
Our dear friend Karen gave us this well designed, good looking baby spoons. They're not only cool looking, they're just well thought out. The size is perfect for when babies start to eat, and it just works well.
To-go dispenser (for cereal, finger food, formula)
I remember seeing my older cousins use this container when I was a kid and always thought they were genius. And they are! You put the correct amount of baby formula you’ll need in each container, stack them and you’re ready to go. One of the lids is shaped as a bottle top so it’s easy to pour the powder into the bottle. I also use some of the containers for finger food like cereal, etc.
Our little one discovered the straw and loved it right way. But man, trying to find a baby cup with a straw was not an easy task. Most of them come with some sort of strange method to suck, like needing to bite and suck at the same time in order for it to work. I tried several ones and again, found the perfect one at Skiphop. Simple, straightforward (like any regular cup with a straw) with the ability to close it so it doesn’t leak. They also have cute designs to pick from.
It’s hard to have homemade food when travelling so we researched a few baby food brands to see which one was “less bad”. A friend recommended Beechnut to my husband while we were travelling, we bought it and our daughter loved it (I tried it too and it is pretty good). They have simple combinations and more creative ones, all very tasty!
Yes yes, you’ve heard about the famous Sophie teething toy. And I have to agree, it’s great for teething. I guess it’s great because the toy has many different parts (legs, ears, head, body) to chew on so your baby will be entertained for a good chunk of time.
When we first started showing books to our daughter, the best books were the ones that had one big image she could focus on at a time. The other type she really liked were the ones with baby pictures! She really liked seeing other babies (even the ones on the diaper bags!)
Global Babies This book is one of her favorites, seeing babies from around the world
Think touch learn A beautiful set of board books designed by Xavier Deneux to teach kids about colors, opposites, shapes and numbers.
A friend of ours gave us our first set as a present. These PJs are super easy to put on (1 zipper only) and fit our daughter perfectly. The fabric is nice and soft and the designs are pretty fun. After trying other brands, what I really like about these is the fact that the zipper goes all the way from top to bottom in one go, rather than having to close buttons all the way. It was fine to do this when she was younger and didn’t move much, but once she started rolling over and moving, the zipper is a winner.
We got this inflatable tub as a gift from my husband’s friend when Mila was born. We didn’t use until after she was able to sit up. We tried it for the first time when she was about 6 months when all of a sudden bathing became her favorite activity of the day. It’s also super practical when traveling, we took it with us for a couple of trips and made her feel more like “home” when using it. She is almost a year old now and we still bath her in it. It’s getting a bit tight but I like it because it’s cushiony at the bottom, much better than bathing her directly in the regular bathtub.
We thought we wouldn’t buy 2 strollers. That’s crazy, how many strollers do we really need?
Once our baby was too big for her infant car seat, travelling with the Uppababy vista was not as convenient as we thought. It’s a sturdy stroller but the seat cannot be folded, therefore you can’t leave it at the gate when flying.
A friend recommended this new stroller called “Mountain buggy Nano”, it’s lightweight and it folds up to the size of a carry-on bag. Yes! imagine that? We are able to travel and take it with us all the way inside the plane, fold it and store it in the overhead compartment. You can’t beat that.
Besides how compact it is, it’s also comfy (it reclines so your baby can sleep well), it’s easy to control with one hand; and drives smoothly because the wheels are made of rubber.
It's so fun to witness how a new little person discovers the world. I hope these tips help you and your little one enjoy every milestone during their first year...Enjoy every bit of it!