My Top Ten Favourite Baby Gear

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With six months of mommyhood under my belt, I’m obviously¬†an all knowing fountain of knowledge about everything baby related. Right?¬†The only appropriate response to that statement is laughter – and lots of it. Because I am¬†far (oh so far!!!) from being a baby expert. (What’s the opposite of expert?)¬†But while I’ve only been doing this for a few months, there are a few¬†things that this first time momma found especially useful.

Ah yes, you’ve guessed it. This is one of those mommy blog posts where a mom comments on all the things she found particularly useful but is totally based on personal preference and experience.¬†If you don’t have a baby, you probably want to run now before you read about breastfeeding pillows, nipple shields and the like. If you do have a baby, and, like me, are just trying to figure it all out – here’s my thoughts on some of the products we picked up:

1. In Hospital Preemie Clothes: Pyjamas with Snaps 

When Alistair was two and a half weeks old, we rejoiced at him being moved from his incubator into a cot. This meant that we got to dress him in all those cute little outfits we’d picked up (except at this point, even the preemie clothes dwarfed him!) The hospital provided clothing but I enjoyed being able to dress my son in things that belonged specifically to him.

My suggestion for preemie babies (or sick babies) with a prolonged hospital stay: footie pyjamas with snaps (rather than zippers.) 

The pyjamas were easier than tops and pants because you didn’t have to worry about sliding it over his head and maneuvering around his nose tube and chest monitors. Since Alistair had a foot monitor and four leads on his chest, zippers were frustrating¬†to navigate and left wires sticking out from around his neck. Snaps were simple¬†and allowed for easy access to¬†wires.

2. This apartment sized and budget friendly crib.

cribsWe live in a two bedroom apartment without a lot of extra space lying around. We were frustrated by the size of cribs – how were we going to fit TWO of these things¬†into our home? Maybe the boys could share? There were a lot of unknowns. Eventually, however, we came across these IKEA cribs. They are the perfect size for an apartment and super easy on the budget too! They’re definitely less ornate¬†than the average crib but we weren’t looking for an inheritance piece. These cribs were simple and functional, matching our personal design aesthetic and meeting our needs.

3. A Baby Bassinet

I wanted to keep Alistair sleeping beside our bed for the first few months but felt that the crib was going to take up too much space. This Summer Infant Wooden bassinet was the perfect size. For his first month home, he slept at least 18 hours a¬†day and I wanted to be able to keep an eye on him. The bassinet is lightweight with¬†wheels, which¬†allows me to roll it from the bedroom to the living room as needed. It also comes with a handy bottom tray for storage and a removable device¬†that plays several different “soothing sleep” sounds. Alistair got used to falling asleep to the white noise (womb sounds) but we avoided the rest of the overly repetitive bird and musical options.

4. “Breast Friend” Breastfeeding Pillow

breast friendEveryone (and I mean EVERYONE) I talked to, recommended getting the Breast Friend¬†breastfeeding pillow. In the hospital, we tried several different nursing pillow options – none of which seemed to provide great support for a 4 lb infant. What I particularly loved about the “Breast Friend”¬†was how firm it was. It’s also adjustable and wraps around your entire body, giving a secure fit. While not an¬†issue now that Ali’s gotten bigger, a snug fit¬†was perfect for ensuring that¬†preemie Alistair couldn’t sink down between me and the fabric.¬†The fabric is removable for an easy wash and comes in a bunch of different colour options.¬†And, despite the name, this pillow isn’t just for moms. When Ali was really tiny, Andreas found it useful for bottle feeds as well. All in all, I would say that this breastfeeding pillow is¬†definitely my first choice for preemies (and bigger babies too!)

 5. Sleeping Sacks

SleepingsackOne of the things that is drilled into your head while in the hospital, is that babies shouldn’t be sleeping with blankets: suffocation hazard. So what are you supposed to do to keep you teeny, tiny baby warm throughout the night? Sleeping sacks. (Basically¬†sleeping bags for babies.)¬†We tried a couple options but prefer the¬†adjustable swaddle¬†ones that we found at Toys R Us.

Rather than a one size fits all option, these are¬†based on weight and (bonus!!) came in preemie and newborn size as well as the usual S, M and L. Since I always have him in long sleeved pyjamas underneath, I like the fact that the sleeping sack doesn’t have sleeves (they don’t bunch up and I don’t worry about overheating.)¬†You have the option of leaving their arms free or swaddling them tight (way easier to keep swaddled than other options¬†and no worries about blankets flipping over his head as he squirms about.)

6. Mobile

Alistair absolutely LOVES his mobile and I’m so glad that we purchased one. There are many options on the market but we ended up picking out a standard, jungle themed, battery operated mobile that plays music and rotates three animals in a circle. As the mobile spins, Alistair laughs, talks, and giggles at it non-stop; in fact, I’m pretty sure that the monkey may be one of his¬†best friends at the moment. And while Ali is endlessly amused by a parade of animals dancing in circles around his head, mommy gets a few spare moments to make and scarf down a quick lunch.¬†Like most musical baby toys, the noise quickly gets repetitive but if it entertains the baby – I’m not complaining.

Tip: Check what type of batteries the mobile uses before purchasing. We wish that the mobile we purchased would have come with rechargeable batteries or a way to plug it in.

7. An Electric Breast Pump

I pumped at least 7 times a day for the first three months of Alistair’s life and so an electric pump was a must have. I chose¬†an electric, freestyle, Medela (because that’s what they use at the hospital) dual pump. This is the only pump product I’ve used and I’ve been so very thankful for how well it’s worked.

I went with the¬†“Freestyle” pump and liked that it was easy to carry with you and pump from anywhere (although, word for the wise –¬†dual pumping in a moving car can be a thoroughly frustrating experience.) The batteries are long lasting and rechargeable and the pump parts are comfortable as well as easy to disassemble and clean.

It was an expensive investment¬†but after reading reviews on cheaper models, I felt that¬†it was better¬†to¬†spend more on a good quality pump (particularly since I was using it so frequently).¬†I looked into rental options but was unsure how long I would be requiring their services and wanted a longer term solution. It’s nice to still have it on hand for times when the grandparents are babysitting (and a good investment for future little ones as well.)

Tip for NICU moms: Before you purchase your pump, find out what brand your hospital uses. During our NICU stay, the hospital¬†provided free “Snappy Cups” that they wanted expressed milk to be stored in. Make sure these storage cups are compatible with your pump for easy use.

8. Avent Baby Bottles

For the first few months of Alistair’s life, he was too weak to exclusively breastfeed and so we alternated between tube feeding, bottle feeding and breastfeeding. In the hospital, he was introduced to the one time use, “slow feed” bottles in order to avoid choking. Once we brought him home, we¬†experimented with a couple other reusable baby bottle options. Although we tried bottles that were specifically designed for breastfeeding babies, Alistair struggled with them. His sucking reflex wasn’t developed enough, even for some of the newborn bottle nipples. Alistair quickly decided that he would only drink from the Avent baby bottles. We found that for our preemie, these were our¬†best option.¬†My suggestion:¬†Just because your baby doesn’t like drinking from one bottle, doesn’t mean he won’t drink from any. Try several different options before calling it quits.

9. Nipple Shield

While in the hospital, the nurse suggested a preemie sized nipple shield in order to help Alistair get the hang of breastfeeding. It was easier for him to latch and helped him work on eating full feeds, despite not having a mature sucking reflex. While navigating the initial introduction to breastfeeding, this shield was also considerably more comfortable for both of us.

10. Play Mat

playmatAlistair was born two months early, and thus has an adjusted age that’s always nine weeks behind his actual age. One of the things that was suggested to help with his development was a play mat. This would encourage him to reach for toys, help with tummy time and develop the necessary skills.

Alistair loves¬†his mat. It came with a lot of different brightly coloured toys, including an Oball (a recommended toy to help him learn how to grasp items between his two hands). Downsides:¬†We never ended up using the¬†tummy time pillow, as it was too big and bulky and I wish that the fabric was a little easier to clean after Ali spits up on it. So what’s Ali’s favorite part of this toy? The mirror – this kid is so cute, he can’t¬†help but admire himself!

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