Henry is 6 months and a couple days old. J to the K- he’s 6.5 months now, but I started writing this post weeks ago and then always got too distracted to get back to it. He is basically an adult these days. I mean, did you see him sitting up and gazing at the Christmas tree in mature posture and adoration???
Baby stuff is funny. So much of it is completely ridiculous and unnecessary, and other things are ABSOLUTELY VITAL for all of 2 weeks and then promptly discarded. They change so fast, and the things that occupy or aid them change quickly too. We have been lucky in that lots of our temporary baby stuff was loaned or handed down and thus we could invest our money in items with a longer active life. I firmly believe that attaching yourself to other people with kids slightly older than yours is the best way to raise children, and the only way to do it without spending a bazillion dollars. I also love that many of our items cycle in and out of our house, cutting down on clutter.Here are the things that really helped us through the past months, at least since I wrote this post.
Bjorn Bouncer. You need a place to stick your kid, especially if your baby HATES tummy time like Henry did. We tried out the Bjorn bouncer at a friend’s house and he loved it so much that we were able to eat dinner without holding him… and I promptly came home and ordered one. It meets all my requirements for baby gear: not hideous, folds small, and makes my life easier. I joked that we didn’t even need a babysitter once we had Chair because he was so content to be set in it. I would drag it from room to room and he would happily bounce while I did whatever needed doing. And then one day, at about 5.5 months, he was just over it, more interested in sitting up on his own or being in his high chair or Bumbo seat. But for the 3 months we used it, it brought unparalleled freedom to our lives, and is now folded flat and tucked away to be loaned out to friends until we need it again.
Baby monitor. I thought we could get away without one since we live in a tiny home, but I quickly realized that it isn’t so that you can hear the baby, but so you can see them. If you are doing any sort of sleep training- you need a monitor. We just got the cheapest one with a screen and decent reviews, no bells and whistles. It allowed me to know that he is crying because he just doesn’t want to sleep, not because he has managed to strangle himself. It lets me watch him to see if he is just fussing and working his way to being calm and back to sleep, or if I should go in and pick him up to soothe or nurse. It stopped me from neurotically interrupting his sleep to “just check on him.”
Sleep Sacks. At 4 months, I kept finding Henry trying to roll into the side of his Rock n’ Play, so we did an abrupt switch to the crib and we ditched the swaddle, a move which prompted him to reject the paci on his own. We used a Zippadee-Zip for about two weeks to transition, but I kept finding him chewing on the ends and realized he wanted to be a thumb sucker. I snagged one of these at Target and they are THE BEST. Cozy, easy to get on, and let him suck his thumb. Also cheaper than the fancy sleep sacks, and superior in my humble opinion, as those fleece sleeves keep him warm.
Rocking chair. As I mentioned in the newborn essentials, it is vital. Even though we put Henry down awake, the chair is the perfect spot for nursing and cuddles.
Sound machine. Another thing that we have used long-term and it is absolutely essential and carted eveywhere. We live on a busy intersection, in a small apartment, with neighbors upstairs and downstairs. Creating a quiet environment is impossible, but thanks to this machine, Henry sleeps through pretty much anything and everything, including vacuuming outside his door, loud movies or company in the living room, and sirens blazing down the street outside his window.
Toys. I insisted that my kid wouldn’t need those “ugly” plastic toys that light up and play obnoxious music… but the reason those are so ubiquitous are because babies LOVE them. Luckily, I can promise you that someone in your life is looking to give you a bag of random toys. A friend gave us a bag of cast-offs from her kid and Henry loves exploring it to find new things. His favorite is this, but he also loves just chewing on whatever object is close at hand.
Toy bar. One of the only toys I did buy was this toy bar. We use it in lieu of one of those activity mats because it is smaller, looks nicer in the middle of our floor, and can be dragged over his chair. Henry LOVES it. My grandma passed on a sheepskin mat, and Henry loves lying (and now sitting) on it and playing with the toy bar.
Diaper Bag. I never got one, opting instead to use an old Longchamp bag that my SIL was passing on, and I love it. It is way lighter and roomier than most diaper bags and I use pouches to easily hold anything I need. It wipes clean and doesn’t scream “BABY ON BOARD!”
Carriers. BABY WEARING FTW. Just as there is someone in your life just dying to give you toys, there are probably people who really want to pass off their baby carrying devices to you, usually because they/their kid didn’t like a certain type, but also because some of them are used for very small windows of time. When Henry was tiny, I used the Moby or K’Tan wrap every. single. day. Now, I use the Bjorn carrier every single day as it is hands down the easiest and fastest to get on. I also have a ring sling for when he just needs to be carted around the house. I have the oft-praised Ergo, but Henry still isn’t crazy about it and to be honest, it is really obnoxious to get on and oft.
Lovey. Someone gave us these and I didn’t think anything of them, but I randomly handed one to Henry when he was going down for a nap one day and it almost instantly helped his naps. He likes to rub it against his cheek to sooth back to sleep if he wakes early. And yes, I did hold it over my face to see if I could breathe through it, and yes, I can.
Clothes. All those cute outfits with stiff fabrics and tiny buttons? NOT HAPPENING. Henry wears onesies, comfy leggings, and pajamas almost exclusively. My absolute favorite pjs (long! soft after washing! have somehow fit for 4 months!) are these, but they are gone from everywhere in every size and pattern. He wears bear suits over them to go outside, partially because they are adorable, but also because it means not having to locate hat, socks, and shoes. Just zip and go! Henry doesn’t have tons of clothes, nor does he need tons, so long as I keep that washer running every other day. I am picky about clothes. I want them to be soft, practical, washable, and useable for future babies, so lots of his stuff falls in the gender neutral category. I also really hate the words plastered on most boy stuff, as many are just unattractive, but some are proclaiming things that I don’t want my boy to grow up associating with. When they start making attractive onesies that say things like “Future respecter of women and defender of the downtrodden,” maybe I will be interested. But for now, I’ll pass on the shirts that proudly declare my baby to be a “Ladies Man” or “Player.” My favorite baby boy clothes are usually from H&M, Old Navy, and Target, which means I am not original enough at all do bestow upon you a blog post detailing Henry’s impeccable fashion. Basic is as basic does over here.
Feeding stuff. When we started food, I grabbed these spoons of Amazon because they were cheap, machine washable, and Prime. Y’all, Henry LOVES THEM. Like, will happily play for 20 minutes post eating if he can have his spoon. Someone gave us these measuring bowls for a wedding gift, and I love feeding Henry from them because it lets me know how much he has eaten, and they don’t break if they get dropped… which they often do. We also grabbed the cheapest bottle warmer possible to make life easier when we give him bottles.
Eternal burp cloths and bibs. Henry is a spitter and I plow through these at an alarming rate. And between eating and drooling, we go through many bibs each day too in a (desperate? futile?) attempt to spare his clothes.
Resources. I have really appreciated being part of several online mom communities, in addition to the friends I have who let me text them weird questions at all hours of the day and night. I have especially benefited from a Facebook group about baby sleep that has been SO helpful in dealing with sleep issues as they pop up. At one point, we developed a great schedule that one day just stopped working. After a couple days of terrible naps and sleep, I asked the ladies in the group for advice. They offered some schedule tweaks that solved our problems within a day. It takes a village, and I’m not above finding them wherever I can.
If you have a baby, you are most likely reading this and thinking that some of my essentials are useless, and that I left really important things off, which is the reason why the baby industry is impossibly vast, reflecting the myriad of different babies and families. But these are the things that made our lives easier. What about yours?