Bossy Okayest Baby Gear Advice, By Request

People keep asking me for baby gear advice. Not sure why… maybe my okayest attitude helps people know I would help them sort through the muck. Here’s what I have been telling those moms-to-be who have asked for my bossy opinions:

Everyone tells you how fast they grow, but it’s really hard to believe how true that is until you watch it happen. There is so much that you won’t need. For six months, he’s just a backpack. And then, he will be crawling away from you! With that said, modern life/ modern inventions do indeed make mothering much easier. This is a list of my favorite things and my super-opinionated opinions.

Please know that my first son came to us in a hurry, as we adopted him after only three days’ notice. One cool thing about that was that we were spared a lot of unncessary product comparisons and reading baby gear reviews ad nauseum. I just asked my favorite momma (my cousin’s wife) for a quick list and she didn’t waste any time. She just said which brand of bottles and which brand of this and that, and I loved it. When my twins came along, I had more time to prepare, of course, but I had no time for frivolous baby stuff. We had one mode, and it was survival mode!

My point is that you can take my opinions with a grain of salt, because they are just that: opinions based on my experiences. And my experiences haven’t been normal, because I have never had a normal one-pregnancy-equals-one-baby situation. I’ve had one pregnancy for three babies from two different moms.

Anyway, here’s my bossy advice, in no particular order:  

Feeding pillow: Must have a Boppy! It’s good for arm support for nursing and bottle feeding (or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME if you have twins). I had four when I had the twins (two on each level of the house), but you won’t need that many! I have noticed that my short friends and my extremely bosomy friends don’t need the Boppy as desperately as my tall friends and/or my petite-breasted friends. We just have a lot more area to cover between our laps and our boobs, okay?

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Carriers: I love the Moby Wrap when they are infants (although I made my own from 18 feet of t-shirt fabric); I love the Ergo when they can hold their heads up. Both carriers saved my back more than that stupid Baby Bjorn. Wear the baby in one of those for all your chores, and you will get exercise and baby will be happy. If you decide you like the Moby, practice tying it often before the baby arrives. I usually wore it all day, often without a shirt, and took the baby in and out throughout the day. (I hear there are all sorts of amazing new hybrid carriers out there now, which kind of combine Moby with Ergo… You’re on your own, because my knowledge is already outdated!)

Swing: Must have. Get one that swings side to side AND back and forth. Babies with reflux can’t go back and forth, and you won’t know if your baby is fussy/refluxy until after you buy the swing! Also look for one that plugs in. DO NOT try to save space and get a “travel size” one or folding one or anything- they only swing one direction and none of my kids liked them anyway. I seriously think having a full sized swing (or two for my twins) was what kept me out of the mental hospital. My favorite was the Ingenuity brand, but it ran on hundreds of Costco batteries. My kids all slept in swings until they were 4 months or more. No guilt. No shame!

diapers in bulk

One month’s worth.

Diapers: Whatever brand is cheapest that won’t get poop on your clothes is what you want! I have decided that people have different diaper opinions that are based on their child’s butt shape. And they don’t even seem to know that. But some kids have tall butts, wide butts, whatever. We are generic Target diapers and generic Costco wipes people. Love generic! (However, when they were newborns, we gratefully used anything and everything because people gifted us so many different brands of diapers.) (Also, I will splurge on name-brand for night diapers.) If you compare prices as strictly as I do, be sure to do it PER DIAPER and not per pack. Unit prices, people! We have the Target Red Card, for 5% off, and then I wait for the sale where they offer their bulk packs of diapers at a discount and with a refund gift card. PS, You will know they have outgrown their diaper size when you get peed on.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

Car seats: I got the cheapest and lightest. Not picky in that department! I liked the cheapest version of the Graco brand because they were light and basic. DO NOT get “convertible car seats” unless you have a giant van. I have heard that convertible car seats in the rear-facing position usually will not fit in regular cars. So buy a regular rear-facing seat, and later buy a forward-facing seat, and it will cost the same or less than a convertible seat anyway. (We seriously just have the $25 cheapos for forward-facing too.)

Our first walk

Our first walk

Stroller: I am a big fan of the cheapest and lightest strollers, called umbrella strollers. They are less than $20. However, baby can’t sit in them until he can hold his head up… So that’s where baby-wearing comes in handy. Usually, the more expensive a stroller is, the heavier it will be. I take a double or triple stroller in and out of my van everyday, so trust me when I say weight is a big deal!

Most worth-it splurge: That “Jumperoo” thing is a great splurge even though they only use it for a couple months. Totally not necessary, but I promise you will be able to make dinner if you have that thing.

Seats: My first kid sat in the “Bumbo” for months. I thought it was the greatest invention ever made. My second kid was too fat to fit in it, and my third kid was too wild to sit in it. He was flipping it over. So, if someone gives it to you, great, but save your money in case your kid is a bolt of lightening or super fat. (Again, a whole new generation of seat thingies has been born in the two years since I used baby gear, so I’m outdated already.)

First Aid Must-Haves:
1) forehead thermometer – You can even swipe it on their head while they sleep.
2) Infant Tylenol (generic is always fine) – you will use this A LOT.
3) Children’s Benadryl – Benadryl says it’s for ages six and up, but if your baby has an allergic reaction to something, the doc will tell you the infant dose. We have had to do that. No house should be without emergency Benadryl!
4) anti-gas medicine (simethicone) for infants

High Chair/ Booster Seat: Your kid won’t need a high chair until he can sit up. If you are feeding him baby food in a reclining seat, he is too young to be eating. Therefore, avoid fancy high chairs. My best tip is to avoid any padding or cushion on a high chair. Totally unnecessary, and you will be washing it every single day. Ridiculous. I have been through about three high chairs with padding, so trust me! When I switched to the $20 Ikea cheapo one, I was so.very.happy. You will want something that you can hose off outside if necessary. (Seriously, I have actually done that.) When the twins got older, we switched to the Ikea “Junior Chair”, which is simply a regular chair with taller legs. At $40, it costs the same as some booster seats, but there are no crevices to clean!

Clothing: People will give you all sorts of adorable things, and you will be grateful for every single thing, but take a tip from a twin mom: you will want as many jammies that ZIP as possible! For newborns, those sack nightgowns are great too. You will be so deliriously tired that you will not be able to maneuver snaps and buttons in the middle of the night. You really won’t. Unless your kid is some sort of freak who sleeps six hours a night from birth and you’re super well-rested. Anyway, zippered one-piece footed jammies, and elastic-bottomed nightgowns were my best friends. (Twin moms who are trying to nurse two babies sometimes have to lift/heave a newborn one-handed, and then all the snaps pop open. Zippers, people! Zippers!)

Swaddlers: I am a biiiiig fan of swaddling. All three of my kids were swaddled for every nap and every nighttime for at least a couple of months. One of mine wanted to be swaddled until he was six months old (but I had to leave his legs out when he was bigger so as not to injure his growing body!). Another of mine didn’t need as much swaddling because he was so relaxed already. Their personalities determined how long they needed it! They sleep longer and feel so secure. In the old days, when babies slept on their tummies, they didn’t need swaddling. Now that babies sleep on their backs, their arms flail and wake them up. Swaddle them tightly and they will feel like they are in the womb. Great for reflux too. My favorite was the Halo SleepSack, which is a cotton or fleece swaddler with Velcro. The Miracle Blanket was also pretty amazing.

Reclining Chair: Make sure you have a chair in your house that you can sleep in. Seriously. For my first child, I picked out a cute glider rocking chair situation. It didn’t recline. Guess what? He was super sickly and never slept – and had to sleep upright because of severe reflux. That meant that *I* slept upright in that dang glider for a few months. In retrospect, I now know I should have just begged/borrowed/stealed to get myself a dang recliner. I was too sleep-deprived to know what to do. When I was pregnant with my twins, I found two cheap recliners and made sure I could sleep in them. It turns out, *I* was the one with the reflux and had to sleep upright in those chairs during my twin pregnancy… and my twins turned out to be good sleepers who were satisfied with the swings and cribs and bassinets and whatnot. Oh, irony.

Diaper Bag: NO. Just no. If you have a baby on your hip, why do you want a big bumpy diaper bag bouncing around on your hip too? Most of them are even heavy when they’re empty. It’s ridiculous. I went through about 14 diaper bags, much to the dismay of my husband every time he opens the guest room closet and they all fall out. Trust me: just get a big backpack. Then you have free arms and nothing on your hip except your baby. And if you have twins, you don’t have a choice. Two babies on two hips means a backpack is a must. Plus, once they are a bit bigger, you’re just going to keep all your supplies in your car anyway.

I hope that helps.

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I have received no compensation for any of these recommendations (although that would have been kinda great). These items were really what I use for my own kids. This is not “a crummy commercial”!

All My Friends Are Writing Post-Apocalyptic Books!

Two of my friends have just released good novels! Even though these two friends don’t know each other, they both wrote post-apocalyptic fiction. All the cool kids are doing it.

By some miracle, this here lifelong book nerd and overworked momma of “triplets” managed to read both of my friends’ books – and they were excellent! Phew. (If they had sucked, I would have quietly avoided my friends and not written this blog post, obviously.)

Who wants to check out some new authors?

outage voyage CrumbleBook3D_200

Ellisa Barr, a dear friend from church (we Mormons make great “preppers”), has written two young adult books in a series. Not gonna lie: I cried at the end of each – because I was mad that they were over.

The first book in the series is “Outage (Powerless Nation) (Volume 1)”. The dust jacket says: “When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa’s farm in rural Washington, she thinks life is over. She may be right. A high-tech Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack destroys the country’s power and communication grids, and sends the U.S. hurtling back to the Dark Ages. Can Dee learn to survive without the basics: electricity, clean water… even her cell phone? Written for all fans who love apocalypse stories, Outage is a Young Adult survival novel that mixes useful prepping tips with an action-packed story.”

The second book in the series is considered “a companion novel” to the first. It is called “Voyage (Powerless Nation) (Volume 2)”. It’s just as good as the first. I’m just going to say that both books now have my heart forever.

On a personal note, Ellisa is the kind of friend who doesn’t say, “Let me know if I can do anything” when you have a new baby. She’s the type of friend who comes to your house with a swaddler when you have a sickly newborn who doesn’t sleep. She didn’t just say, “You should swaddle him.” She didn’t just name the brand of swaddler she liked best. She brought the swaddler to my house, showed me how to wrap him so little arms couldn’t break free, and made me practice in front of her. Then she told me to keep the swaddler. From then on, I swaddled that sickly baby for every single nap and every single bedtime for six months. She is the reason I got my first couple hours of sleep as a new mom. Now, don’t you want to read the book of a person like that?!

Devon Porter, a friend from high school, has written about his own personal passion: the end of the (modern) world. He wrote “After the Crumble”, which is most definitely labeled regular adult, not young adult. (Just warning you that the post-apocalyptic future looks a little more brutal than the young adult novels can say…)  The back of the book sums it up: “Our future has crumbled. In the late 2020s, the grid finally flickered out for the last time, succumbing to attacks from a newly formed Resistance, fuel scarcity, and general entropy. It is now the year 2037 and many have died, with the few that managed to escape death solely concerned with their daily survival. Gavin Collier is one of those lucky few, but survival alone isn’t enough for him anymore.”

This book is a beautiful and fast-paced story. My favorite review of “After the Crumble” expresses it best: “It’s refreshing to read a novel that finds in the collapse of modern life an opportunity for the resurrection of the best parts of us.” Plus, this book made me think about a few angles of my personal prepping that could use work.

Just FYI, the first time I met Devon was in Latin class for juvenile delinquents older boys. Devon went to the same tiny private school where I met Mr. Okayest (and also several of my best good friends featured throughout this blog). The private school pushed a classical education, so students began studying Latin at a young age. Since I entered the school in eighth grade, I was not in Latin 3 or 4 or 200 with my peers. Instead, 13-year-old skinny me was learning “veni vidi vici” with five senior men. Let’s just say they made me like Latin forever.

Now Devon raises pigs and blueberries and is definitely not a juvenile delinquent, although I’m pretty sure he is still older than me.

You can find Ellisa’s website at ellisabarr.com

You can find Devon’s website at afterthecrumble.com

(Ellisa and Devon, I’m so proud of you guys! You have inspired me!)

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jack5.500x8.500.inddNeed more books? It turns out one of my long-lost but recently found cousins, Michelle D. Argyle, is also a published author! While she hasn’t written any post-apocalyptic fiction (yet?), she has written some great books. (She’s a little more experienced than my  ^ newbie friends, ha!) I’d like to give her a shout-out here as well. Her most recent novel is “If I Forget You”. You can see her other work at michelledargyle.com. Enjoy!