one month of parenthood: the survival guide

I spent a lot of time researching and comparing baby products while I was pregnant to make sure we had every little thing we thought we needed before Graham’s arrival. While we made some very good choices, there were also some items that we either overlooked or just had no idea how great they would end up being. For us, these are some of the items that have made the first month of parenthood a bit easier on us.

1. Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets
We use these to swaddle Graham every single day and night — they’re a nice weight so we don’t worry about him getting overheated as we’re still dealing with mild fall temperatures, and they’re super soft. When we take him out and about in his car seat or stroller, we always drape one of these blankets over him to keep him snug and warm. We have five of these which seems to be a good number, since two or three are inevitably always in the wash after a spit-up or unfortunate poop incident!

2. Arm & Hammer diaper pail
This thing is amazing. Once we put a dirty diaper in the pail, it’s never to be smelled again. And that’s a good thing because I have a feeling that these diapers will only get smellier and smellier as time goes on…

3. Lansinoh Lanolin
A must-have if you’re breastfeeding. It’s pretty much a non-stop job so you need a little relief once in a while!

4. Pack ‘n Play with Newborn Napper Station
Our home is two floors (bedrooms and bathroom upstairs) so we keep this in our dining room to use as a downstairs changing station during the day. It has saved us many annoying trips up and down the stairs, and there is a little side pocket that holds diapers, wipes, and burp cloths so we’re not always running up to the nursery to grab what we need. We haven’t had a need for the newborn napper yet (see #9 below), but this Pack n Play will surely see lots more action as a portable crib when we go to visit Nick’s parents and take overnight trips to my family’s shore house next summer.

5. Soft Gear My Deluxe Changing Mat
I was originally planning to get one of the elusive BabySmart Cooshee-Changers, but they were completely sold out when we were registering/preparing for baby so we had to find something else. This SoftGear version is a great substitute, and about half the price of the Cooshee-Changer. I like being able to just wipe it down when it gets dirty, without needing a separate cover. It is a little small so I’m not sure it will last Graham into toddler-hood, but for now, it’s an awesome addition.

6. Soothie Pacifier
We don’t use a pacifier often, but when desperate times call for desperate measures, these are the only pacifiers that Graham will take. They’re the same ones that were used at the hospital and sometimes they’re all that will do the trick when he’s not a happy camper.

7. Baby Connect app
Nick and I both have this app on our iPhones so we can keep track of every feeding, diaper change, pumping session, etc. We got it a few days in when we kept losing track of the paper chart the hospital gave us to fill in, because let’s face it, our phones are always within arm’s reach. It syncs for multiple users so whoever changes him can log it on their own phone, and there are charts and graphs to get at-a-glance views of diapers and feedings over the course of a week. Particularly in the first few weeks when we needed to be diligent about tracking wet diapers to make sure Graham was hydrated enough, this app was invaluable. Best $4.99 we’ve ever spent.

8. Household Essentials Hanging Cotton Canvas Laundry Hamper Bag
There are some really cute hampers out there for baby’s rooms, but some of them look like they’d be a pain to actually get the clothes out and transported to the laundry. We bought one of these to hang on the closet door in the nursery, and I liked it so much that I just bought a second one that now hangs in our dining room, on the door to the basement where the washer & dryer are (since we do a lot of changing on the first floor during the day). They’re super simple to just drag down the basement when it’s laundry time, and they hardly take up any space.

9. Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
We have two of these handed down from our niece, Ginger. We keep one next to our bed and it’s where Graham currently sleeps every night, as we haven’t yet transitioned him to his crib. We keep the other downstairs in our living room, so if he conks out during the day while we’re hanging out, I can put him in here to nap while I get some other things done around the house. It’s an awesome little item that collapses if we need to take it with us somewhere, and it’s a great, inexpensive alternative to a bassinet.

10. Pampers Swaddlers
These came as the most highly recommended disposable diapers, and so far, no complaints. Our little peanut is still in the newborn size; he goes through roughly 10 to 12 diapers a day! Oy.

11. Gerber Birdseye Prefold Cloth Diapers
We have a ton of these that we use as burp cloths; they are heavy duty and we pretty much keep a few in each room at all times (because you never know when you’ll need one). If you buy these, don’t be fooled by how rough they are in the package. Once you wash them, they become super soft!

12. Gerber Newborn Long-Sleeve Onesies
Graham is still a petite little guy, and these were literally the only onesies that fit him in the first few weeks. Every baby clothing brand is a little different (Carter’s newborn onesies are quite a bit longer, and some newborn clothes are downright giant compared to the size of our actual newborn!), so he lived in these at first. Now that he’s a whole month old (teehee), he is growing and more of his clothes fit, but we’ll definitely always have a few of these in each size for everyday wear.

13. The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD
Nick is the master of the Five S’s, and when Graham is fed and just generally being cranky and tired, these methods totally work to get our little fella to sleep.

14. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
Perhaps the worst name ever for a product (aside from the pun, couldn’t they have just spelled “breast” properly?), but it turns out that this is a great nursing pillow. I actually refused to buy one at first based solely on the dumb name, but after using the Boppy for a week and getting frustrated that it would always slide away from me while Graham was lying on it, thus making nursing quite difficult, I broke down and bought it. The clip prevents it from moving and I can also sit it up a little higher on my torso so I’m not as likely to slouch while nursing. Now if only they could do something about that name…

15. helping hands (not pictured)
Accept help when people offer it! Over the last four weeks we haven’t had to think very much about what to eat for dinner, because generous friends and family members have brought meals over. My mom took our laundry home a few times and cleaned and folded everything at her house so it was clean and ready to put away when she returned it. Nick’s parents have taken a few day-trips to visit and have watched Graham while I have showered or napped, and helped with dishes and grocery shoppimg. It is amazing to have some help, especially in the first few weeks when everything is so overwhelming, so if it’s offered, take it!

If you’ve been there or you’re there now, what items helped you survive? What new things do you think we will need as Graham continues to grow and change?

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  1. Great post, Brooke! I’m sure I’ll refer back to it over the next 4 weeks as we prepare for baby! :)

  2. What a cool app, one I will want to use when we decide to multiply again! And we used those cloth diapers too (I used the non-folded) and they come in handy for dusting the house after G gets older!

  3. Love our Aden & Anais blankets too. We use them for everything- including as a cover-up for pumping in the car! I agree with so many of these. I think the main thing you left off is wine.

  4. My daughter is 2.5 months old, and something we’ve just started to need is sleep sacks and some sort of night time sound machine. We have the Aden and Anais blankets too, and loved them, but she is now into rolling on her side, and then she unswaddles herself and it ends up over her head and I freak out. So, now we’re in sleep sacks and I had to run out and get some. Also, she used to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere, no problem, but now she likes to be in her crib and she seemed to need some sort of sound and light to calm her down. We have Twinkle Twinkle Little Violet and it works great! She looks toward her now when we lay her down, and waits for the sounds and the glowing moon.

    Definitely wine too. Becca’s right.

  5. @Becca – believe it or not I haven’t had any wine yet since he was born! I must change that soon ;)
    @Stacey – we have some sleep sacks but we haven’t used them yet! I foresee needing those soon as he has started to Houdini himself out of his swaddles. We also have a sound machine that we already had at our last (noisy) apartment, which is great.
    @Natalie – thanks for spreading it around! :)

  6. I don’t have kids, but I nannied twins… this look familiar :)

    Your baby boy is precious. My husband’s name is Grahm. Good choice!

  7. A womb-sound machine is wonderful for helping little ones sleep for slightly longer periods at night. Also, if you boil the diapers in a big pot for about 20 minutes before their first wash they become even softer! Hand mittens help keep newborns from scratching their faces.

  8. We have almost all of these items for our newborn as well! Such great products. I am totally with you on the name of the breastfeeding pillow, but the My Brest Friend really is amazing. We have two of them – one upstairs and one downstairs. I would also add Swaddle Me Blankets to this list. Oh and the Nosefrida Snotsucker! As disgusting as the prospect of (hygenically) sucking the snot out of your baby’s nose sounds, it helps our little one to breathe easily when she’s stuffed up.

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  10. @Jill, I am aware of the lawsuit but to be honest, it’s really the company covering themselves against people who don’t care for the item properly in the first place. When a baby spits up on or drools heavily on the Rock N Play, if it’s not washed, mold will certainly grow under the cover. As it would with any item that can trap moisture. However, the cover was simple to remove and we washed it several times, as recommended, and never had a single issue with mold.

    I never heard of the skull development issues but in Googling it after receiving your comment and reading some of the reviews, it looks to me like the items that caused an issue were not made properly, OR it was an issue that could have also occurred even if the child slept in a crib. A lot of babies get flat spots and some require helmets based on the “back to sleep” requirements. Some babies naturally prefer their head one direction over the other and thus a flat spot forms. This is a really common problem since the AAP changed the recommendation to put babies to sleep on their bellies, which led to many instances of SIDS back in the day. I am certainly not an expert, but I am also not convinced that these issues wouldn’t have occurred had the baby slept another way.

    In terms of the article you referenced, I agree with many of the commenters there that the RNP is ideal for babies with reflux, it helps babies to sleep when lying flat is otherwise a non-stop cry-fest, and I’m not convinced that this one doctor is the end all, be all of knowledge on this item. As with anything in parenting, there will ALWAYS be someone telling you what to do or not to do, even if you think it’s 100% safe. If you try to take every recommendation, opinion, and freak accident into consideration, you will drive yourself crazy. You have to make the decisions that you feel best about, and you have to go with your gut. For us, the Rock N Play created no issues, helped our son to sleep, and he was always right next to us when he slept in it so we felt very confident in our choice to use it.

    Having a baby is always terrifying, and frightening things like SIDS are unfortunately always a scary possibility even when you provide the safest setting possible. We all do the best we can and use the items that make our children comfortable and able to rest well under our supervision :) Again, I am not an expert and these items were just my recommendations based on what worked for us and the many other moms I know!

  11. Hey, how old is the baby now, would you revisit and maybe make a update to the stuff you continue to use and/or the stuff you bought that are useful as the baby grows up. I’m hoping that most things last into the first year of the baby’s life. I’m Due in June and am. Prepping my shopping lists now.

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