When I was pregnant with my first baby, I researched all the latest baby gear, from cribs to strollers, car seats to sheets – you know the drill. I registered. I was showered with gifts. And I was still unprepared. Sure, I had a lot of stuff, but I didn’t know all the insider information on soothing babies and pumping at work and baby carrying. The products I didn’t know I needed, the stuff that could actually help solve the eternal baby problems of eating, comforting and sleeping.
So, without further ado, here are my tried-and-true, make-your-life-easier, make-your-baby-happier, favorite baby products.
Happiest Baby on the Block – I like to think I have great mothering instincts. I immediately start bouncing and humming whenever a baby is within 50 feet of me. So when Alex came along, I felt pretty confident. But there were still times he cried when I felt helpless. Some of my Mommy friends recommended this wonderful book by Dr. Harvey Karp. The book outlines his 5 “S” secret to soothing babies (even “colicky” ones) – swinging, shushing, swaddling, sucking, side/stomach position. He goes into great detail on where to start, how to combine these efforts and special tips and tricks to effectively calm your baby. He also wrote a book on toddlers, as well, that we found helpful.
Miracle Blanket – They don’t call it a miracle for nothing… This blanket is nothing short of miraculous! Maybe it’s because my babies were big at birth (over 8 lbs), but I had the hardest time keeping them swaddled in receiving blankets. I tried a few of the commercial swaddle blankets, but they were too loose to be effective and the sound of the velcro would wake baby up. Then I found the Miracle Blanket. (insert angels singing). Swaddling babies (tightly) can help them fall asleep easier and stay sleeping longer. They come in a number of different colors – we had two, one for home, one for daycare. Go to their web site to see a demo and learn more about why parents all over the world love this blanket.
Amber Teething Necklace – Amber, a natural resin, is considered by many to have healing properties. It is used widely in Europe to help teething babies. It’s not for biting, it is for wearing. By putting this necklace on (under the clothes), the amber is slightly warmed by the body heat and releases healing properties. At the first sign of teething (red cheeks, drooling, red gums or general fussiness) I break out the amber teething necklace. Within 2-3 minutes, I can see a dramatic difference in both drooling and fussiness! Safety info: There are many independent jewelry designers who sell these. Look for a necklace with the string double-knotted between each bead in case it breaks. Also, only use a necklace with magnetic clasp so it can pull safely away if tugged on, and always remove before putting baby to sleep.
Hylands Teething Tablets – After putting on the amber teething necklace, if my babe was still fussy or in pain from teething, I reach for the Hylands Teething Tablets. These little tablets instantly dissolve in baby’s mouth and offer quick pain relief and calming. There was rarely ever a time I needed to use anything stronger than the necklace + teething tablets + cold teething ring.
Allergy Note: these Teething Tablets have a lactose (milk) base. My first child responded really well to these, while my second refused it and was upset when I tried to give it to her. Now that I know she is allergic to milk, I understand why. (Children with allergies will typically refuse foods they are allergic to even if they are too young to realize why!)
Marpac Sound Screen White Noise Machine – Loud background noise can help babies fall asleep and stay asleep. You may have heard people recommend running a vacuum to create this noise. I’ve even heard of people burning out their vacuum motor! With our first child we used a CD of a vacuum playing and played it every night, on repeat, for the first year and a half of his life. It helped him so much that we were willing to put up with anything, even though we got really sick of it!
Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags – Forget boiling breast pump parts, pacifiers or baby bottle nipples – these bags from Medela allow you to steam clean and sterilize your items in the microwave, killing 99.9% of harmful bacteria and germs. I used these bags religiously when pumping and continue to use them today to sterilize pacifiers. You get 5 bags in one box and can use each bag 20 times (per the manufacturer… I use it more than that). You can find these at Target and Babies R Us.
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