Yesterday Henry turned one month old, so basically we are old pros at the parenting thing.
Pretty much we still have no clue what we are doing, resulting in the tried and true method of “this worked once so maybe try it again?” that has lead to the ridiculous amount of parenting books and methods that exist. Yes, everything has worked for someone at some time, and no, that doesn’t mean you should base a highly specific philosophy about something that worked in one Hail Mary moment. But I digress! A couple months ago, I asked you fine people for advice on what to put on our registry, and you all sent me so many good suggestions. I went through them all and made myself a giant spreadsheet with the common denominators. Many of the things we got we still haven’t used yet, as the newborn phase is its own special beast.
I wanted to share a list of the things that have proven so helpful to us in this first month. They are not, of course, “essential” as the title says, as few things in life truly are. One of the moms at our church told me that all you really need for a baby is a place for them to sleep and a way to transport them, and then anything else you “need” can be found in the baby aisle at the grocery store. She’s right. But these are the things that have been making our newborn days just a tad easier.
Swaddles. I have heard that there are babies who don’t like being swaddled, and while Henry protests as we are swaddling, the actual state of being swaddled has a voodoo like power over him. We love these Velcro swaddles and these great swaddle blankets, which we also use for a million other baby purposes. (And I just saw this, which I am super into, as I am already sad that we have to lose the swaddle when Henry can roll over.)
Wubbanub. I was very holier-than-thou when my mom suggested we give a pacifier during the first couple days. No, I insisted, it will ruin his breastfeeding ability, blah blah blah. But when I informed the pediatrician at his one week checkup that I had fed him almost 20 times the day before, she just gaped at me and asked why I hadn’t just given him a pacifier. Thus begin Henry’s love affair with his wubbanub, which has comforted him in many an important moment. I am fully aware that someone is ripping me off by overcharging for a pacifier that just has a sub-par stuffed animal attached to it, but I do not care.
Quiche. Yes, Henry isn’t eating quiche. But a couple people brought us quiche in those early weeks and it was a lifesaver. When you have all of 2 minutes to make breakfast and then eat it one-handed while a baby screams and you just desperately need to stave off those hunger pains with something substantial- quiche to the rescue.
Rock-n-play. A lot of people recommended the Rock-n-play and someone passed on their old one to us. We have used that in lieu of a bassinet and it fits nicely beside our bed for Henry to sleep. Yes, I know that it is a “sleep prop” and that we might have a difficult transition to the crib later… but I also know that it has facilitated surprisingly good nighttime sleep in our newborn, so I am giving it all the heart eye emojis. Plus, I loved what this website had to say about using swings to help teach babies to sleep.
Gerber onesies. We birthed a long and skinny baby who quickly couldn’t get his lengthy torso in newborn clothes, but is swimming in all 0-3 month options. The generic Gerber onesies are pretty much the only thing that fits, and thus- he wears them allllll the time. I just tell him that it is a classic look that never goes out of style.
Nursing pillow. I, like everyone, registered for a Boppy, thinking I would use it to nurse, and almost instantly finding that it worked terribly for that, though it does serve other purposes. Meanwhile, a friend passed on this pillow, and I dutifully carry it around the house with Henry. It actually supports a baby while nursing to give your back a break, but also supports him when I want to read books and rock, or even sit at my desk and work, while he lies across my lap atop the pillow. (He is actually doing that as I type this.)
Changing station. A lot of people said not to get a changing table, and that they just change diapers wherever. Please tell me how your children are so neat in their bodily excretions. I can’t imagine not having a defined and contained location for both mess and supplies. We just assembled one atop an Ikea dresser that houses all his stuff, but it is vital to me feeling organized and keeping the house relatively clean.
Rocking chair. My mom insisted that we needed one, and she was so right. I spend lots of hours nursing, singing, rocking, and staring all googly eyed at our boy.
Stroller. Henry loves napping in his stroller in the 100% humidity, because DC in the summer is basically like my womb. It was our big baby splurge, but we have spent hours each day pushing him around the city in our stroller. He sleeps, I feel like a human out in society, everybody wins.
Add to this the nine million diapers and burp cloths that we cycle through, as well as the friends and family who have stepped up to help at every turn, and you have what’s getting us through the days.