I consider myself an “average Jane” mom – working full-time outside the home trying to balance laundry, cooking, shopping, and pet care-taking, with the help of my husband who also works outside the home. We are thrilled to have our wonderful son and want to do whatever we can to make him comfortable and happy, while at the same time making our lives a little easier.
When we were expecting our baby, we didn’t set foot in a baby mega-store until absolutely necessary, which happened to be when my son was 9 months old. Even then, we stuck to one corner of the store. The potential to be overwhelmed was just too great. We decided our parenting style would be “middle-of- the road,” which immediately took the pressure off of having the baby on a strict schedule. When he acted hungry, we fed him. When he was sleepy, we laid him down. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many different opinions you’ll hear about schedules and routines. Our baby seemed to find his own routine this way.
We tried different baby products until we found the right ones. There are differences in baby formula, breast pumps, diapers, nipples, bottles, bottle brushes, etc. For the first few months of my son’s life, he was a guinea pig for numerous items. After several trips to the store and some experimentation, here are the items we found most helpful and hopefully you will too:
- Nuby brand nipples. If only we had found these in the beginning. They don’t leak when shaken or turned upside down. Best of all, you don’t need a bottle cap.
- Nuk pacifiers. They are uniquely shaped and apparently are the most comfortable. I’ve since heard several mothers sing the praises of Nuk. Clear silicon types seems to last longer and are more durable.
- Electric bottle warmer. Silly me, I thought these were superfluous. After several nights of what seemed like endless bottle warming in the sink, I had to have one. Hint: Make up two or three bottles at a time and warm as needed.
- Cloth diapers. My son was especially good at spitting up, so we strategically placed cloth diapers on every arm of every chair and sofa in the house. We were ready for his projectile spit up at any time.
- Baby sleepers that zip. Why are these so hard to find? If you do find one, buy it in bulk. Trying to match up those little snaps after a diaper change at 3 a.m. when you’re bleary-eyed and fuzzy-minded can result in some serious wardrobe malfunctions.
- A&D Ointment or Boudreaux’s Butt Paste for diaper rash. Both work great. I like the latter just because of the name.
- Borax powder. There’s nothing better for soaking formula and food stains out of baby (or mom and dad’s) clothes before washing.
- All Brand’s Free and Clear detergent is fine for baby and parents’ clothes. Brands that are specific for baby work just fine, but are more expensive.
- Antibacterial wipes. These are not the diaper wipes. You will need the antibacterial kind for wiping down toys and stuffed animals. Keep some handy too for when your child decides to help change his own diaper.
- Baby Einstein videos. If you need 30 minutes or more to take a shower, cook dinner, or to have some peace and quiet, pop in one of these educational videos. My son is mesmerized by them. This is something else I wish I had bought earlier.
- Stuffed toys that sing or talk. My favorites are the Prayer Friends from Bright Inspirations.
- Bibs. You can’t have too many bibs!
- Dishwasher basket: For washing bottle nipples, necks and caps. There are different versions of these, and I like the one with the holes on top of the basket to hold the bottle nipples. I still rinse the bottles and nipples out with water after taking them out of the dishwasher.
Karie McLevain-Wells, M.D., of Children’s Clinic East in Hermitage and Mount Juliet, TN, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as a board certified pediatrician. She adds her advice as a doctor and a mom. “New moms shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, even if the questions seem silly. There are no silly questions.” She recommends the series of books in infant and child care endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child.
Some of the most stressful times with our son are when he is sick. Of course he can’t tell us what’s wrong and his agonizing cries are heart-wrenching.
“It’s necessary to call the doctor if you’re feeling uneasy about your child’s well-being. If your child has a rectal temperature greater than 101.5, is not having wet diapers, refuses multiple feedings, has yellow or green emesis – blood in the stool, or is severely irritable despite being fed, warm and having a clean diaper, then a call is absolutely warranted,” McLevain-Wells says.
What should a well-stocked medicine cabinet have for a baby? A medicine cabinet should have just a few items:
- Acetaminophen infant drops, though not to be used in the first six months without consulting the child’s doctor
- Digital thermometer for taking baby’s temperature rectally, as this is the most accurate method
- Saline nose drops and a bulb syringe for clearing congested little noses
- Phone numbers for Baby’s doctor as well as for the Poison Control Center
Lastly, the most controversial piece of advice I received was about whether or not you can spoil a baby by holding him too much. Some veteran parents say it is not possible to spoil a baby, while others say it would practically ruin your life if you hold a baby too much. You will not be able to get anything done, they say. Well, all I can say is that in our son’s first week at home, he would not sleep very well in his crib.
We wrapped him up like a burrito and did all the things we were supposed to do. Nothing worked. So we held him, and he loved it. Honestly, we loved it too. Did we spoil him? Only time will tell, but he is a very happy and friendly baby who loves everyone he meets. My advice is to do what feels natural to you and your child as they are each very unique beings.
Our son is not quite a year old now. Each day we relish that we’re blessed with having him in our lives. At his monthly birthday milestones, we rejoice that our child is alive, well and happy, and so are we. We can sit back, relax (while he is watching a Baby Einstein video) and be proud that we survived these challenging times of brand new parenthood.
Stephanie Ferrell is a freelance writer and mom.