baby items we couldn't do well without

Preparing for Ace's arrival, we spent a LOT of time on numerous websites reviewing checklists, reading reviews, and generally worrying that we were missing something essential. We would shoot email after email throughout the day (during lunch breaks only, of course) comparing prices, needs, and just plain aesthetics.

So here is our list of really-glad-we-got-that-cuz-WOW-would-it-have-been-hard-without-it.

#1: AngelCare Monitor
Sure, you can call us paranoid, "new parents," or over the top, but I'm telling you, we got a lot more sleep during those first 3 weeks than the average brand-new parent. It is by far the best purchase we made. It monitors movement at the breath-level, so if little Ace stops breathing, an alarm sounds. We know it works because at least once a night I forget to turn it off when reaching for the babe. Thankfully, there's a warning light and beep anticipating just that sort of thing, so I'm able to catch it before the real alarm sounds. There's also an option for sound-only, so it can work like any other monitor. We really can't say enough about this!

#2: Summer Bassinet
Now, this is really personal preference, but we've chosen to have Ace sleep in our room for the first few months. From what we researched, doing so reduces the risk of SIDS, fosters better sleep in parents and baby, and increases the mutual understanding of both toward each other. The idea is that parents can respond before the babe increases in stress and volume, and moving within the same room is a bit easier than moving from room to room. We started out with another bassinet, the Nod-A-Way by Safety 1st, which was great, but I couldn't see through the sides during the night light. We moved to a great Arms-Reach style bassinet on loan from a friend. It was great--when Ace would start to fuss I would reach over, pluck him gently from the bassinet, attend to his needs, and set him in without fuss. Then, about 10 days into our new parenthood, Hawk came home with a surprise for me: the Summer Bassinet. It's brilliant. It's a regular bassinet that sits on your own mattress. Now he sleeps next to us and nighttime is even easier. I know this isn't for everyone, but it's really made a positive difference in our lives. Because of the close yet safe proximity, I have a dang good grasp of his cues. I know the difference between hunger, gas pain, and a dirty diaper at 3:00am, and I can respond to all three without leaving my bed. I can also attend to him before he cries, which means he falls back asleep faster. Case in point: last night's 3:37am hunger stir? Never opened his eyes and was back in the bassinet, asleep, in under 30 minutes including nursing time.

#3: Britax Chaperone Car Seat
Hawk wanted black, but we got the green (yay!). I think it's more fun and easier to spot in a sea of carseats at the park. I spent a heck of a hunk of time researching the best carseat. If this isn't the best, it's certainly up there with whichever one is. Why do we love it? 1) Incredible safety record, 2) Solid construction---even feels indestructible, 3) Stupid-easy to install, especially if you purchase the base, which we did. Snaps in and out. Totally worth every penny. Only downside, which I learned from the hundreds of reviews I read and which I've found to be true: This sucker ain't light. It's on the heavier end of the spectrum but for me, that just affirms its solid construction. And my arms and back are increasing in power every day. I'm 5'0" and I haven't struggled with it yet, so I think I'll make it through the end of its use with Ace. Besides, I've noticed my muscles increase along the same plain as his weight.

#4: Medela Hands-Free Pump
It's expensive. It brings to mind a dairy farm. I'm pretty sure the pumping sound is made to sound like a cow's moo. Nonetheless, it's sheer genius. Hawk was adamant about purchasing the hands-free version, and I'm so grateful he was willing to put in the extra dough for it (though we did get it 20% off and with gift money). Going back to work, babysitting, you name it--if ever I need to be away from Ace, I need to be sure there is enough for him to eat. This pump is extremely easy to ready, easy to clean (though I confess, I hate cleaning the parts), easy to use, and easy to wear. I've already used it twice at work and dozens of times around the house. A pump like this helps keep nursing easy and enjoyable. (Note: The black strap is meant to go around your waist so that you have something stable to clip onto. A friend didn't know that, and she spent 4 months clipping to clothing which shifted, bunched, and made the experience miserable.) And it definitely ensures that you'll keep the humor alive in your marriage. Hawk loves to laugh at it and tease me. Even now I'm laughing just thinking about the moo-sound.

#5: Baby Connect iphone App
I've mentioned this before, here, but it's worth mentioning again. Great app. Tracks everything from nursing and pumping to sleep and diapers to activity and medical records. The feature I appreciate most? Graphing. I'm a visual learner (I think--at least, I'm very spatially oriented). 

Hope this helps you or a friend in some way. I know learning from others made all the difference for us!


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