Letters to My Kids, Parenting

Stuff that works

In my six months of mothering, these are the items and the systems that work for me. It’s so hard (read “impossible”) to know what you actually need for your baby when you’re a new parent. There’s so many products; it’s overwhelming. This post is my effort to help whittle down that list.

My favorite things

Baby K’tan is a wonderful soft sided baby carrier which has all the benefits of a “wrap” style (like the boba or Moby) without the steep learning curve of learning to wrap. It’s super portable and super fast and easy to use. Kirsten and I both love it. She’s taken many, many many  naps in it. She’s been to almost every worship practice in it (since she was 5 days old). She likes to go shopping in it and to work in it. She plays video games with Daddy in it. These are sized – small, medium, large, etc – so Kevin has a medium and I have a small. They are easily washable.

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Sleepsuits (0-9 months) are our favorite for a cozy bedtime. She’s worn one just like this one from Carter’s since she was a few weeks old and she’s still wearing it at 6 months. It’s easy and warm and soft. We also like the sleeper gowns that have an elastic opening at the bottom. This made multiple middle-of-the-night diaper changes in those early weeks super easy. And they’re adorable.

Burp rags – finding the right burp clothes is super important, especially if you have a baby who spits up like it’s her full-time job. The old fashioned tri fold diapers or green sprout muslin absorb and absorb well. Other clothes are cute, but not as absorbent and practical.

Socks – We adore these “Noodle Brand” Mary Janes that Kirsten wears almost every day. They’re long enough that they don’t ever fall off and they’re just plain adorable.

Bumbo – This little seat is genius. Kirsten sat it for the first time when she was just about 6 weeks old. She was still months away from sitting independently, but this seat does a great job of supporting an unstable infant and gives them an opportunity to learn head support. We sit it on the counter while we’re cooking dinner and she gets to watch and participate in the family process. Ours has a detachable food tray which is great for keeping her pacifier or toys from falling. It’s super easy clean up – no nooks or crannies. And it’s a perfect booster seat as kids get older.

Swaddle Blankets (muslin) – These have so many wonderful uses. They are a lightweight, soft cotton fabric in a large 40×40 inch square. We used them constantly the first two months to tightly swaddle our little girl when she was fussy or needing a nap or basically all of the time. Nowadays, they’re useful to block the sun on stroller rides or lay on the ground in the church to play. Kirsten likes to use them to snuggle with at naptime and covers her face with them to sleep. Aden + Anais sells a four pack for around $35. Four to eight of these blankets would be sufficient.

Baby Bath Towels  – We received multiple lightweight hooded towels which were great for the first couple months of her tininess. But I’m super thankful for the few people who created homemade hooded towels for our girl – out of a full-sized adult towel and some sort of attached washcloth as a hood. What I’m saying is, the bigger the better. I think the hood will be nice once she’s a toddler and walking around after her bath, but for now, a large towel is my preference for her bathtime.

Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – This bed option is wonderful. The Rock ‘n Play is lightweight and easy to transport and inexpensive. It’s what Kirsten slept in at my bedside for her first 2 months. It’s been back and forth to the church for naps and in hotels for overnights. Between this and a pack ‘n play, you’re pretty set.

Swing – This is the exact swing we received from our registry. I researched swings for hours one day, trying to figure out what was important and what wasn’t and what a good price was. This was literally the first thing Kirsten napped in when she came home from the hospital. Most days for the first 5 months she spent at least one nap in her swing. I love that this has a wall adaptor and doesn’t need batteries. I like the way the seat is more bed-like and reclined and cradling, rather than upright. I love how it swings left to right or front to back. Kirsten loves the music and the nature sounds and the way the lights bounce off the soft draping.


Cloth diaper system

I have 18 diapers (Bum Genius Freetime All in One Diapers) and it seems like the perfect amount. I do a load of diaper laundry about every day-and-a-half. I use cloth wipes as well. Thanks to the brilliance of a friend, this is so easy: use dampened baby washcloths as your wipes. She recommended a diaper warmer just so you can store the washcloths and keep them wet (and warm is a bonus).

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We use a Diaper Sprayer attached to the toilet and then store the soiled diapers and cloth wipes in a large Planet Wise bag (which then gets washed with each load). I use homemade laundry detergent and do a cycle of cold then a shortened cycle on hot, then hang to dry on a drying rack.

[homemade detergent = 1 bar ivory soap, grated + 1 cup borax + 1 cup washing soda. I normally make up a giant batch with an entire box of borax and washing soda and seven bars of soap. 2 Tbsp per load.]

The Diaper Dekor is a fantastic diaper pail for disposables (which we use very rarely) or just as a trash can. It does have special bags (one long tube that you cut to size each time) but I think the cool thing is it can be used with regular trash bags and as a “regular” garbage can when you’re done with diapers. I don’t know how the smell is contained if you use regular bags, but it works wonderful. I haven’t changed it in a month and I don’t smell a thing. It can be used for cloth diapers too, but we opted for the Planet Wise Bags.


Breastfeeding System

I have had countless conversations with women who have or are breastfeeding and every one of us has a unique story with specific problems and frustrations and different favorite solutions. These are what work for me. I was blessed with an overwhelmingly strong supply of milk from the get-go. I have a freezer full of pumped milk simply because I struggled with painful engorgement until about 4-1/2 months in and I had a forceful let down that would choke my little one if I didn’t relieve some of the pressure first.
Nursing bras – A couple weeks before my due date I went to Motherhood Maternity/Destination Maternity and got sized for nursing bras. Prior to pregnancy I was a 34B and I was sized for a 38C. I believe I was mis-sized and should have gotten a 38B. I purchased two soft sided bras (that were sized as “large” – wish I had gotten the “medium”) and two more shaped bras, with no underwire, but a bit of a side wire. I liked them at first, but honestly it’s so much easier to wear a sports bra or a non-underwire bra and just lift it up to nurse. It’s simpler because I don’t have to put my hand down my shirt to re-snap it. I was a tangled mess when I was trying to be discreet. I also fought plugged ducts in my armpits and the side wires did not help the problem.
So my recommendation is to go get a regular soft-sided bra in your new size. (I got two for $18 at TJ Maxx). Using Lanisoh disposable breast pads are super simple with this system because they stay in place as you lift and then replace your bra. (They have two sticky spots which work better than Medela one’s with just one sticky spot).
The first month or so I used washable breast pads exclusively. I really liked them because I had so much leakage. I went through at least 5 or 6 sets a day, constantly washing them in the sink and hanging them to dry (hoping they’d dry fast enough.) I love using washable products, but they don’t absorb as much as the disposables. I would constantly wake up during the night with my bra and everything soaked through. Bottom line: I liked having both options of breast pads.
If you have painful engorgement, I highly recommend splurging on the Lanisoh Breast Therapy. I could talk a long time about the pain I had early on, plugged ducts, cracked nipples, etc. Use them from day one for relief.

I would love to talk with you more about any products you have questions on or need some suggestions. The market changes quickly, but this is a good starting point.

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