The weather's been miserable these past few days... weeks? And apparently it's gonna stay this way for another two weeks. (Though as I'm publishing this post it's sure lurvely out there!) Ugh. Being trapped indoors with a toddler? Not ideal.
Whilst I've been stuck indoors it got me looking back on old photos of the Master and reminiscing over the infancy stage that I seriously struggled through. It was a combination of things that made that stage thoroughly difficult: the refusal to nurse, the silent reflux, the tough feeds, the refusal to cuddle, the refusal to sleep in the car or stroller, the screaming in the car or stroller... heck, the constant screaming whenever he was up!
Somehow, we survived it though. And since 11 months, he has been the most joyful, loving wee boy that actually smiles and giggles and runs into your arms for hugs. It's hard to believe that turbulent infancy stage actually happened. But it did. And though my overall number one tip for survival is to just remember, "this too, shall pass," (useless tip when you're in that place though, I know) there were a couple of tangible things that helped us along the way...
Infancy-Stage Survival Kit
1. Angelcare - Digital Video, Movement & Sound Monitor
Ahh yes, the Angelcare monitor. You've probably seen this on quite a few baby-shopping lists. This is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of what baby items were most useful. Having a super neurotic (but lovely) hubs, I knew that this would alleviate a lot of the stresses around the threat of SIDS. This monitor senses when the baby is breathing in the bassinet/crib and will sound an alarm if it detects that the baby has stopped breathing for more than 20 seconds. As you may know, sleep is precious during that infancy stage and we didn't want to waste any of it hovering over the Masters crib, wondering if he was breathing ok.
We still use this today as it also monitors the temperature (you can set an alarm to go off on the parent unit if it goes above/below your set optimum temperatures) and has a video so I can watch the Master like a hawk - we almost bought this sans-video model because it was slightly more affordable but I insisted the video function would come in handy seeing as I spend most of my time downstairs, the nursery's upstairs and it's a long way to go to check in on him if my spidey senses start tingling about any suspicious toddler activity. Fellow mothers know what I mean.
At night I just turn off the sound (I can hear any loud crying without the monitor - and I want to sleep through any whines or whimpers - because our bedroom is directly opposite the nursery), sometimes I turn off the video feed but I always leave the temperature and movement sensor on. I've read many reviews on this monitor and it seems it's literally been a life-saver before on a few occasions. For me, personally, it's just given our family much-needed peace of mind.
There's also singular function Angelcare monitors available (just the movement sensor, for example) or different combinations of all of the above things I mentioned, all at a range of prices - check out the Angelcare website for more details.
2. Aden+Anais Swaddles (pron. 'Ay-den and A-nay')
|The Sleep Store|
Again, you've probably seen every Tom, Dick and Harry harp on about these swaddles. All the celebrities use 'em for their celebabies and I think even the Duchess uses them for Prince George. And yes, they are that good.
I've used others and I'll tell you why these are better: easily laundered, adequate size, silky softness, ultra lightweight/breathable and adorable designs. I know some mothers use the swaddles as scarves too (just make sure you get a more grown-up design if that's what you wanna use 'em for as well).
I think I personally own about 11 of them - 3 are the bamboo kind, the rest are the ordinary kind - and in those early days we seemed to really need that many! They are multi-purpose so if you're using them as a nursing shield, burp cloth, floor blanket, stroller or carseat cover, scarf etc.etc., you'll find you'll need more than one standard pack of 4. (If you're unsure and want to test one out without splurging, some baby stores or boutique gift shops sell these individually for around $16-22 each).
The bamboo ones are too slippery for swaddling, but they're fantastic for every other use. We still use all our Aden+Anais swaddles today and I give the Master one every nap and bed time as he loves to rub these over his eyes as he's falling asleep. Even during the day if he spies one of his 11 swaddles somewhere, he'll run to it and snuggle it. He doesn't have a lovie or blankie or anything (I tried, believe me) but he does love these swaddles and that works for me - 'cause if one gets dirty, I throw it in the washing machine, give him another one and they're all the same to him!
3. Maxi-Cosi Pebble Carseat and FamilyFix Base
The hubs chose this capsule and base for its 4/5 star safety rating and ease of use - it has side-impact protection and it can be used on its own or with the FamilyFix base. Just be sure to check its compatibility with your car if you're wanting the base (if your car has isofix points then I think it's all good to go?). I'm not entirely sure of his reasoning for this one over other similar capsule+base combo's, but I trust his research and judgment! All I know is that Maxi-Cosi seem to be a very reputable and popular brand.
Personally, I found this thing a huge time-saver. Sure, the hubs had to spend a tiny bit of time initially, figuring out how to get the (RIDICULOUSLYHEAVY) base in, but once he did, it was freakin' awesomesauce. On the rare occasion that we went out, I snapped the wee man into the capsule in the warmth of our living room, carried the capsule to the car, then just clicked him in. The base lights up and chimes a happy perfect cadence to signal that everything's secure and good to go. Sure, once we got going in the car it was a screamfest cos he HATED the car, but at least I didn't have to wrestle with him in the garage or outside a friend's house or in a parking lot.
The capsule comes with a newborn insert and headrest, the entire soft cover is easily removable and machine-washable and there's a sunshade that's hidden around the top rim of the capsule. This can be used from birth up to 12 months (or 13 kg). The other awesome feature about this capsule+base combo is that you can adjust the recline of the capsule with a simple push/pull of the wide grey handle on the base - we found that the Master screamed a lot less when he was upright. This feature also allows you to have your baby rear-facing for longer as when they get taller, you just pull them up and give their feet room. Fabulous!
4. Marc by Marc Jacobs Baby Bag
The above is the exact bag I have (sold out) and I adore it. I've also received many compliments on it which surprises me because I thought maybe the pink leopard print was too 'out-there' for most (but perfect for me!). I bought this a good year before I even got pregnant - yup, you read that right - I knew I was going to be eventually and I had our big Europe trip coming up and figured this would serve as a good all-round tote as well. So this went through France and Italy with me too. It fit a tonne of non-baby things then and once the baby did arrive, it was just as handy. It's well-constructed and sturdy despite it's floppy nature. It's got two large pockets on one side, one small zippered pocket on the opposite side, and a skinny bottle-sized pocket on both 'end' bits within the bag. Then on the outside you have the two bottle-sized pockets on each end and then a large magnetised pocket on the front and back. There's ample space!
Also comes with a long adjustable and detachable shoulder strap, as well as an ultra cool matching nappy change pad (which I lost at some point last year ::athousandtinyviolins::). The inside is also the very cool black and white Marc Jacobs print that features on a lot of the lining of their products.
It's hard to be polished or glamorous when you're a mother, but I found that even if the inside of my bag was awry with nappies and wet wipes and bottles, I felt just that much more put-together when it was all neatly concealed inside my bomb-ass baby bag. And a little bit of pep goes a long way during those trying times, believe you me!
ShopBop always carries the plain black or neutral version of this bag. Every now and again a patterned version will come up (and eventually go on sale - most I've seen it go on sale for is 30% off, which is what I bought my bag for). If you're after a more structured version, they also have this, which is slightly more expensive and without the graphic print lining.
At the moment, ShopBop also have a Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Spade baby bag. If you're after a chic branded baby bag, check out that website and make use of their frequent sales!
5. Safe T Sleep Sleepwrap
This is another peace-of-mind baby item that we used on the Master since day 1 and we're still using today. This item wraps around a bassinet/cot/single bed mattress, then in the middle has a little velcro wrap that fits around the baby's tummy. This stops them from rolling over onto their tummies/faces, or getting trapped between mattress and cot bars, or wriggling and getting stuck underneath blankets. Coupling this with the Angelcare monitor ensured that when the baby was asleep, we could sleep at complete ease without any niggling back-of-the-mind sort of doubts.
We still use it today even though sometimes the wee Master undoes the velcro strap himself. Most of the time however, once I strap him in, he knows it's bed time and will wave bye-bye as I tuck him in, give him a swaddle, turn on the monitor and exit the door. I know there are a lot of people out there very ANTI! SLEEP! TOOLS!! As in, they believe in 'training' your baby to sleep on its own without the aid of a pacifier, blankie, lovie etc.etc. But in my personal opinion, sometimes you gotta make personal parenting choices; you have to do what works for you. For us, the Safe T Sleep still works; it isn't harming him, I like the routine and it's made sleeps on holidays a breeze. So I'll continue to use it until it stops working for us.
He does wriggle out every now and again and ends up at the top of the crib, but he only started doing that once he was a lot bigger, robust and more mobile, so we weren't as worried about him. During those vulnerable infancy stages though (which is what this list is about, right? Refocus, team!), no troubles whatsoever. Lots of peace of mind.
(On sale at the moment at Baby City for $89.99!)
|Peace of mind|
|Pile of cuddly, silky softness|
|Stylish bottomless mummy bag|
|More peace of mind|
And Honorary Mentions...
- Munchkin Formula Mixer - I only bought this for the single serve formula dispenser, not the mixer - if you're going out for multiple feeds then you'll want the 3-serve kind
- Munchkin Formula Dispenser - the 3-serve kind (the spout on this is better than the Avent one in my opinion). Great for night feeds also as it saves you having to concentrate on not losing count of scoops of formula whilst you're in bleary-eyed zombie-mode... "1... 2... 2... 2..."
- Mustache Pacifier - just a little novelty item for boys... good for a giggle
- DIY Bandana Bib (Tutorial) or Silly Billyz Bandana Towelling Bib - the Master never spit up but BOY did he drool. And I'm talking 4-outfit-changes-a-day kinda drool. It's much easier to change up bibs. And for the Droolmaster500 I needed something thick, absorbent and not-so bib looking since it was a pretty permanent part of his outfit
- the Dria Cover - for the breastfeeding mama's out there, here's a stylish nursing cover (that you can also use as a stroller/carseat cover). I don't think they ship to NZ but I ended up making my own for next to nothing (though I ended up not needing it). I'll post my 'tutorial' on it soon (it doesn't warrant a whole post but what the heck. Blog content.)
- Lamaze toys - in particular, we loved the Space Symphony Motion Gym, Octotunes, Octivity Time and their soft books
- Stokke Flexi Bath - our tub upstairs is too big for just one child SO to save on water and time, we got this bath and continue to use it in the floor of our shower. Pull out plug for easy water removal! (Newborn insert is sold separately)