Graham-y Awards

You’ve got your Oscars, your Golden Globes, your Tonys, but the award most lauded at our humble abode is the Grammy Award.  Not to be confused with the music industry’s holy grail – no, our Grammy Awards are selected by the most discriminating of judges: Graham his very own self.  Sometimes an honorable mention comes from Andy or I, but the final call always come from the G-meister.

Over the last [not quite] 14 months, I’ve collected quite the list of award-winners.  :)

Here they are, in the order which they were received.

Best. Nightlight. Ever.

The Homedics Sound Spa Lullaby machine.  Oh, sweet deliverer of sleep, hallowed be thy name.  Graham has used this machine to its fullest capacity.  We started using it when he was a newborn, piping heartbeat sounds into the room.  Eventually, he graduated to ocean sounds.  Sometimes rain, but ocean worked the best.  Then, when he started sitting up and the mobile had to come off the crib, we used the projector function to project a rotating parade of animals/fish/stars above his bed.  The sheer beauty of this thing?  It has a 15, 30, 45 and 60 minute timer.  We still use it, but now it’s a lullaby on a 15-minute timer and done.  Very helpful for when we have friends and family over and we need some white noise to keep Graham in a peaceful slumber.

Best Ticket Out of the House


We’ve covered this. I don’t need to say much more except: zero regrets.

Best Mommy Impulse Buy

You can get these at big box baby stores nowadays, but in the days leading up to Graham’s arrival, I ended up buying, not one,but FOUR of these off the Internet because – in my infinite prenatal wisdom – I felt that not only my baby should have this, but everyone else’s should as well.  Graham loved his Wubbanub though, and this monkey helped position Graham’s bink in his mouth in a way that was much safer and gentler than, say, duct tape, and in a much more sanity-preserving way than, say, holding my finger in his mouth day and night.

Best Girl’s Toy for a Boy

Another early days purchase.  Sleep a distant memory, I blearily scoured the Internet message boards looking for something that would help this kid sleep fortheloveofgod, and I stumbled on hundreds of moms who swore by ‘The Seahorse’.  On a solid 25 minutes sleep, I started having visions that this seahorse was made of mystical powers and somehow possessed a charm that would make our house hold a little less “Night of the Living Dead” and a little more “Rip Van Winkle”.  I packed a screaming baby into the Jeep and took off for the nearest merchandise dealer.  In our case, Target.  Fisher Price seahorses come in two colors:  blue for boys and pink for girls.  Wouldn’t you know it?  All they had was pink, but – baby screams in my ears and jangled nerves in my soul, I grabbed that pink seahorse, threw it in the cart and muttered some barely-coherent sentiments about gender programming being sooo 20th century.

Graham loved this seahorse.  He would be all swaddled up in blankets, sucking on his monkey paci and gazing, lovingly into the eyes of a glowing, singing seahorse as his eyelids drooooooooooooped into a peaceful slumber. All while listening to the ocean roaring in his bedroom. He’s going to be in therapy someday, I just know this. There was very little that was natural about his sleep habits those first three months.

Best Swaddling Blankets

Expectant mommies, you will get blankets.  Oohhhhhhhhhh you will get BLANKETS.  But, if your kid requires swaddling, you’re gonna want these.  Or, I guess I should say, if your kid requires swadding past the first month, you’re going to want these.  These are the biggest, most breathable swaddling blankets ever.  Not cheap though, sadly, but – to us, at least – so worth the expense.  Now, I’m trying very hard to establish these blankies as Graham’s loveys because frankly, I’m not quite ready to pack them away yet.

Best Swaddling Blankets for Caregivers

Whether they’re babysitters, daycare providers or well-intentioned grandparents, if they haven’t had a newborn in the last three months, they’re going to struggle to get your baby wrapped up tight.  This is where the Summer Infant SwaddleMe comes in.  A great stop-gap with simple, simple instructions to calm that whackadoo Moro reflex.

Best Compromise

He wanted to be held all day.  I wanted to make a sandwich and run some laundry through.  Thanks to the Moby Wrap, we both got our way.  And I got some righteous back-muscle definition to boot!

Best Teether


Hard to remember that Sophie is a modest teether, isn’t it?  Apparently, she has all these early-childhood-development-stimulating qualities that the good people at Vulli are quick to point out.  She has a lot of other qualities that Graham would like to point out:

Sophie was, and is, our daily hero.  Graham loved her… loves her and, thus, we love her.

Best Tushie Cream

Wow.  I got one of these tubs from a mom at one of my baby showers and… wow.  I always enjoyed giggling at the ridiculous name in the diaper aisle, but this stuff is amazing. I never really realized it until I started using Balmex or Desitin.  Graham, whose diaper rashes have all been relatively minor and infrequent, on another diaper cream = rashes that won’t go away.  Graham on Boudreaux’s = faded rash after an overnight use and nonexistent rash the following day.  Magic, I tell you.

Most Valuable Player

I think we all would’ve perished from the earth had Graham not had this beautiful activity center.  I am forever indebted to my beautiful sister-in-law Erin for thinking of this gift based on her previous childcare experience.  You’re not supposed to use this until about 4 months of age, we started Graham on it at 12 weeks, and we used it until Graham was finally flat-footed on the saucer at it’s tallest setting.  And a little beyond that.  It’s really hard to give up your child’s stationary phase.

I still remember his dramatic readings of “Farm” – this little plastic book among the rest of the toys.  Graham was surrounded by 360 degrees of multisensory objects, and – given a choice – he would’ve chosen the book as his hands-down favorite any day of the week and thrice on Tuesday.  Go figure.

Best $3 Investment

Again, a world of toys at his fingertips, and the humble stacking cups stack up.  Pardon the pun.  Graham is always amused by these.  They entertain him arguably longer than any of his other toys.  He LOVES stacking and nestling and knocking these across the room.  They’re great in the bath, in the high chair, in a box or with a fox.

And every night I have to locate all eight of these little buggers and stack them in their intended order or I CAN’T SLEEP.  It’s sick.

Best Finger Food

Graham’s one molar shy of being able to eat steak and he STILL loves Cheerios.  I’ll never forget how difficult it seemed to be for him to pinch one of these little toasted cereal pieces in his teeny little fingers.  Once in his tenuous pincer grasp, it would begin the long, treacherous journey from the tabletop to his mouth, which was opened with anticipation, his eyes, crossed, trying to watch this little ‘o’ make its way to its intended target.  Andy and I would both erupt in an exaggerated “AWWWW” when that Cheerio would drop, and Graham would have to start the process all over again.

Now he can open his little Cheerios container and eat them by the fistfuls ala Cookie Monster.  How times have changed.

Best Sleeper Shower Gift

Ladies and Gentlemen, Snack Traps.  You dump a small fistful of Cheerios or Gerber Puffs in the cup, snap on the lid (which looks rather like a garbage disposal trap) and voila!  A puzzle that gives your kid an intermittent food reward, which will keep him/her occupied for sheer minutes at a time.  I know!  What will you do with all that free time?!  A friend of mine (yes, a mother) got me two of these at my baby shower.  Genius.

And double bonus: Graham loves them!  I can stick him in the Pack n’ Play with a Snack Trap full of Cheerios, and he’s happy long enough for me to dry my hair and apply my makeup.  Or he can, piece-by-piece, empty the cup into his lap in the carseat on our way to daycare.  The birds in the parking garage at our daycare are fat and happy, I tell you.  They would support this award as well.

Best Pantry Staple

We call them “‘oli’s”  at our house.  Shelf stable.  No tomato sauce. 25 seconds in the microwave.  Graham loves them.  Hallelujah.

Best Freezer Staple

Thanks to Birds Eye’s new Steamfresh frozen vegetable line of products, Andy and I have been getting our vegetables in every day since Graham was born.  My mom found these, I believe, at the store while she was taking care of us.  That, or a friend of ours brought these veggies over with a meal during the early weeks.  Honestly?  It’s a bit hazy.  All I know is: these have been a freezer staple ever since.

However, some nights, I just need something for Graham, and I often found myself wishing aloud (or contemplating calling Birds Eye customer service to request) that they make individual serving portions of these puppies.

Wish GRANTED!  One minute on high in the microwave.  No dishes.  Fresh steamed veggies.  Pair with some oli’s and you’re a solid minute and a half from a toddler dinner when you’re desperate and haven’t been to the store in forever.

Best Retail Discovery

And finally – I don’t know where we’d be without resale shopping.  About 15% of Graham’s entire wardrobe is actually new from the store, the rest has been worn by another child.  We love this place, pictured above: Once Upon a Child.  It’s owned by the same people as Play it Again Sports.  They are VERY picky about what they accept which means I’m not picking through piles of stained clothing.  It’s the reason Graham has been spotted in sports jackets, laceless Converse, Robeez, Vans, Janie and Jack, Ralph Lauren, etc.  Not that the names are in any way important, but I DO get a high when I find a Gymboree jumper for $5 brand new with the tags on.  Just sayin’.  We’re spending less than if we’d bought his entire wardrobe at Target.  I am in heaven.

Graham loves it too, because their toy selection is awesome.  Inevitably I end up sifting through the racks while the boys find the toy section.  Too fun.

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So, that’s it for now.  If you’ve got what you think might be a contender for a Grammy Award, let us know.  I have a ready and willing little man who would love to let you know what he thinks!  :)

Packing it Away

Yesterday was a beautiful Sunday.

Andy played guitar at church, so Graham and I caught the 11:00 am service. After the sermon, while G and I were in the back so he’d be less disruptive, we had an opportunity to make our way to the front – as we felt led – and pray about this year’s upcoming stewardship campaign. While this was going on, Graham’s babysitter came over to say ‘hi’ to Graham with her mom and little sister. I handed him over to her and she asked if he could come ‘sing the last song’ with her. I said, “I think Graham would love that,” and smiling like I’d just handed her the keys to the car, she took the boy over to the youth section. (All our youth sit together in a self-proclaimed section off to one side of the sanctuary.)

There, singing the last song, I shot a couple of glances in their direction and every time I looked over, Graham was safely secure in a different girl’s arms. As I type it, I understand this sounds like risky behavior on my part, but rest assured, it’s a small family-like congregation, and Andy and I used to work with the youth. During that time, not only did we get to know those kids, they got to know us. So, needless to say, Graham had a lot of fun during church yesterday.

Sunday afternoon, Andy had opened up the house so everywhere the house smelled fresh. It was a little warm yesterday, but a nice cross breeze and added fans made it quite nice.

We took the opportunity to get into cabinets, closets and drawers to find all the baby equipment we don’t use anymore, pack it up, and stow it away in the crawlspace for the next kid. Amazing how much stuff you use for newborns, and even more amazing how fleeting a time you use it. But you know? I’d say that 80% of that stuff was pretty darn critical and I was glad to have the other 20% for the times we did use it.

For us, the bouncer fell into the critical category. That was Graham’s go-to. He really only liked the swing when the moons were aligned. The Bumbo was fine, but not when he was tired. No, for the most part, I could set Graham in the bouncer, and he’d be happy as a clam. He was a pretty simple kid too, because the vibration on the bouncer irritated him. It was hard for me to put that piece away.

We also went completely through Graham’s closet and took out all the clothes he’d outgrown. All the newborn hats and blankets went away with the newborn clothing. The swaddle blankets too. We made sure to double-check every size and make sure we were putting away like sizes together. Each size in its own box (for the most part, I think we combined 0-3 and 3-6 months clothing) and each box clearly labeled. Everything sealed and in the attic now. Crazy.

With that though, we have more space for the inevitable progression of Graham gear. No more newborn hats, but now we have shoes to deal with. No more activity centers or special chairs, but certainly those will be replaced with big plastic toys in the near future. Ready for the next step. I feel like I’m being redundant with the theme of these posts, but it’s a common topic round these parts these days. :)

BabyPhone

So, when we travel, Andy and I usually bring our baby monitor with us. Seems a little excessive, perhaps, but it gives us ultimate freedom to go out and sit on a patio, or retire to the basement for a movie, etc, after the baby’s gone down for the night.

On our trip to Illinois this past weekend, we forgot our baby monitor, much to our chagrin. We contemplated buying a cheap one at Walmart, but a “cheap” one was $30. Not worth the expense, in our collective opinion, given we could probably just get by listening for the baby.

Come Sunday night, however, we all wanted to watch a movie. In the basement. I hemmed and hawed, but decided I’d probably be able to hear Graham if he cried.

As we started to get the DVD cued up, I progressively got more nervous. So, I did what any neurotic mother with a monthly data package would do… I dug out my iPhone and hit up the App Store. You see, I’d suddenly remembered that I’d seen an app that would be perfect for this very occasion. So I typed a couple of words into the search function and, within seconds, I found what I needed.

And that, folks, is when I was formally introduced to the BabyPhone. BabyPhone is an app that, when activated, is a sound-activated baby monitor. Wondering how it works? Easy. You turn on the app, set it next to the crib, and – if the baby wakes up and starts fussing – your phone places an outbound call to the number of your choice. That, of course, means that you have to have another phone in your vicinity, but, in our case, we just had it call the house phone.

That night we were able to put my iPhone next to the crib two floors away and know that Graham would drop us a line if he woke up!

It begs the question: How did people raise babies before iPhones?

The Big (And I Mean BIG) Registry Post

I’ve had several mommas-to-be ask me various questions about our baby registry as of late. After some consideration, I decided to put it alllllll down in a post, for posterity’s sake. I’ll warn you now: this is the longest post I’ve ever written. Ever. No, seriously. The point isn’t to tell you fact, but to present what we did and, in some cases, why we made the decisions we did. I even sprinkled some heresay in the mix for good measure.

The recommendations in this post are not to be confused as hard-and-fast facts, and I’m certainly not saying that we’ve made all the right decisions either. Andy and I, like all parents, have just considered our options and made decisions that made the most sense for us and our situation. I just know that I LOVE to hear other people’s experiences when I embark into unfamiliar territory, so I’m attempting to pay it forward.

I’m also going to give gift-givers a bit of advice in each category too. Not that any of you have asked for my advice, but if you’re a little overwhelmed at the thought of giving a baby gift, maybe this will help.

So, two pieces of advice before we begin:

  1. Go buy yourself a copy of Baby Bargains. You can find it at any bookstore. I got mine at Target. I believe I’ve referenced it in previous posts, but seriously, it breaks down every piece of merchandise that a baby could ever come in contact with by manufacturer, gives very frank advice and whittles a universe of baby gear down to a recommendation or two. Priceless when you’re strangers in a strange land.
  2. Go out on the internet and get yourself a comprehensive registry checklist or two. Another one I like can be found here. There is also a good one in the back of Baby Bargains.

Enough preamble. Here goes, by category:

On-The-Go

For the gift-giver:

This is a really tough category for the parents-to-be. So, so many options out there. The decision they finally land on has come from much reading, asking around and painstaking whittling down of choices. What they finally do choose is the result of a lot of work. Stick to the registry, not all travel gear is created equal!

That said, this is all stuff that new parents need and are desperately hoping to receive. These make great group gifts.

For the parents-to-be:

  • Carseat.
    This almost requires a category all its own, but I’ll try and keep it brief. To get really educated on carseats, buy Baby Bargains. It will tell you more than you ever wanted to know. I’ll boil it down to the fact that there are two basic types of carseats out there:

    • Infant seats.
      We chose to go this route because you can snap the carseat in and out of the car without waking the baby. It’s an amazing thing to lull the baby to sleep in the car, then let them continue their nap at the restaurant, mall, grocery store, church, etc, etc, etc. Plus these seats snap straight into strollers for added convenience.
    • Convertible carseats.
      You can put teeny tiny infants in some models of these carseats, but the general consensus is: they’re better designed for older babies and toddlers. Plus, they don’t conveniently snap in and out of the car like the infant seats do. They can be quite expensive, but they are definitely inevitable someday. We didn’t add one to our registry simply because I didn’t want to do the research!
  • Stroller.
    Another thing to buy Baby Bargains for. I’m not even going to go into all the options, but I’ll offer one piece of advice for those who opted to get an infant carseat. Are you ready?

    The stroller frame.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in lieu of getting a travel system, Baby Bargains recommended that you buy the extremely lightweight, compact and maneuverable stroller frame to snap your infant carseat into and then graduate to a bigger stroller later. Genius. You can see our stroller frame and read an old post about it here. I’ll tell you: I just took Graham shopping and was totally able to wheel him between tightly packed clothing racks with the greatest of ease. I LOVE this thing.

  • Wraps, slings and backpacks.
    This is my official advice: wait until your baby gets here. Seriously, I would’ve never imagined it in a million years, but babies have preferences. And they voice their dislike in the form of shrieks and blood-curdling screams. Not to mention the uncontrollable flailing. I knew that Graham would like theMoby because of his penchant for being swaddled and constant need to be held. Other babies may be more independent and prefer to be forward facing. There are baby-carrying devices for every kind of baby, so instead of trying to guess, just wait.

Medical/Safety

For the gift-giver:

This category is a paradox. Decidedly the least sexy of all the categories – who wants to give a gift that’s going to end up a baby’s butt, after all? – but, I’ll tell you, it’s like towels on a wedding registry. All of these things are something you SO NEED for the baby and are just going to have to go out and buy once the baby comes. It could potentially be the most appreciated gift of all, even if it’s not until 2:00 am after the baby’s been screaming for 4 hours and, skimming through the baby books, you realize you should take the baby’s temperature, but crap you don’t have a baby thermometer. Oh wait, you DO have a baby thermometer. Thanks to Great Aunt Ida.

You get my point, I hope.

For the parents-to-be:

  • Grooming kit.
    Most have baby nail scissors, baby nail clippers, and a brush and comb at minimum. Most grooming kits have oh, so much more.
  • Medicine administrators.
    (i.e. baby medicine spoon, eye dropper, etc) – this usually comes in kit form also.
  • Nasal aspirator.
    Register for two, and even so, understand that whenever you need it – the closest one will ALWAYS be out of reach. I keep one on the changing table and one in the diaper bag. The hospital will send you home with one, too.
  • Rectal thermometer.
    This is one of the harshest truths I learned during the registry process: with the exception of going digital, baby thermometers have not come a long way since I was a baby. Rectal temp is still the most accurate way to detect a fever. The market is riddled with ear thermometers, but what they don’t tell you is that baby’s ear canals are entirely too small to get an accurate read off them with an over-the-counter ear thermometer. What the pediatrician’s office uses is a far more sophisticated and expensive piece of medical equipment. This is not the $40 ear thermometer at Babies R Us.
  • Child-proofing equipment.
    Andy and I left this stuff off the registry, because (a.) we have time before we’ll need it and (b.) it was way too much to think about at the time.
  • Medicines.
    A little banal, but consider putting it on your registry. It’s awfully nice to have a stocked medicine cabinet before baby comes. Even if you don’t put it on the registry, you should probably stock up on the following:

    • Infant Tylenol
    • Infant Mylicon [a.k.a. “Happy Baby Drops” as we call them in our house] These are gas drops – we use them multiple times a day, every day and Graham LOVES them.
    • Children’s saline spray/drops [for the nose]
    • Desitin, Balmex, A&D, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, etc. Don’t worry, you can never have enough. These are something you stash anywhere you change a diaper, including the diaper bag.
    • NO baby powder. This is one your mother will roll her eyes at, but the use of baby powder on babies is taboo nowadays, and it was a complete and utter surprise to me. Something about microfine particles and baby lungs. Just wanted you to be aware.
    • Cotton balls and cotton swabs. They’ve got a myriad of uses and good to have on hand.
    • Hand sanitizer in a pump. Keep it next to the diaper station. Great for when you’re in the house by yourself, diapering a screaming baby and can’t break away immediately to wash your hands. I still recommend hand-washing, of course, but Purell is a great stop-gap.

Clothing

For the gift-giver:

Before Graham was born, I would have counseled, “No clothing! New parents get WAY too many clothes!” Because that’s all I ever heard. But guess what? We hardly got any clothing as gifts. We got a few adorable outfits, which we were SO grateful for, but I was heading out to the stores a week before G was born to stock up on basics.

So, gift givers, I amend my stance. Clothes are great, but keep two stipulations at top of mind:

  1. Try and steer clear of “Newborn”-sized clothing. These only fit babies up to 8 lbs, so the time that babes fit in these clothes is very limited – sometimes it’s days, sometimes a couple of weeks, and some babies never fit in them!! Plus, newborns can live in onesies and sleepers, so perhaps focus on 0-3 month sizes and over. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Pay attention to the size/season compatibility. I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing more heartbreaking than getting an adorable fleece sweater, only to realize that it’s a 3-6 month size, which would put a February baby in the June-August time frame in Texas. Heartbreaking, I tell you.

For the parents-to-be:

I personally feel like you should let your friends and family decide what outfit they want to buy and just not worry about registering for clothes altogether. But, that said, there are some necessities that we did put on our registry.

  • Onesies.
    Plain white onesies. At least 5 of these in each set of sizes (Newborn, 0-3 mos, 3-6 mos, 6-9 mos, and 9-12 mos). Personally, I love Carters. I’ve heard they’re a bit long, but for our 50th-percentile-for-height child, they’re running pretty true to size. Plus, they’re a substantial cotton, they don’t shrink and pill in the wash, and I’ve been successful at getting poop stains out of them, so… yeah, they’re my favorite. We also have some Gerber, which run RIDICULOUSLY small. So, 0-3 mos size Gerber = newborn baby, 3-6 mos size Gerber = 0-3 mos baby, and so on and so forth. Gerber also shrinks a bit more and pills in the wash. Not my favorite. (This just goes for onesies, mind you – Gerber makes some great clothing, otherwise.)
  • Socks. I actually like Gerber a lot more than Carters here. I’m sure there are other manufacturers, but these are the only two I’ve tried. Remember to register for the serial sizes (0-3 mos, 3-6 mos, etc).
  • Bibs.
    Get at least five basic smallish [drool-catcher] bibs. I personally didn’t register for the bigger [spaghetti-catcher] bibs, but it’s not a terrible idea. I had a really hard time imagining that Graham would ever be anything but a tiny baby when Andy and I registered, and our registry reflected that.
  • Hats.
    I didn’t register for them, but we went out and bought a 5-pack of stretchy cotton hats for Graham when he was a few weeks old. Gerber makes them, as I’m sure other manufacturers do also. The Gerber hats are sized ‘0-6 months’, so even if your baby was born in the middle of summer, you can still put the hat on when he/she is 6 months old in the winter. Trust me, there’s little that makes you feel more guilty than leaving the house with your baby, arriving to your destination and getting out of the car to find that it’s 40 degrees and breezy and you didn’t think to put a hat on the kid. Not to mention that every mother you pass with the stroller will give you the side-eye.
  • Pants.
    We may be foraying into the ‘outfit’ category a bit, but Andy and I had to go out to Babies R Us and buy a couple 2-packs of light cotton pants in basic colors for Graham when he was a couple of weeks old. It’s something I never considered before, but it is nice to be able to throw on a pair of pants over a basic onesie if you need to run to the grocery store or stroll the neighborhood. Instant outfit!

Bath Time

For the gift-giver:

So many cute baby bath items out there. Seriously, how is a person to resist? This is an area that parents-to-be get a lot of off-registry items. If you do decide to go off registry in this category, just keep in mind practicality. Use caution with hooded towels. While undoubtedly useful, these are a favorite gift item and are bound to be duplicated. And unfortunately, babies have no use for bath robes, period. Once the baby’s out of the bath, it’s usually a rush to the changing table to slap a diaper on. No time to stop to thread arms through a terrycloth robe!

For the parents-to-be:

  • Baby bath tub.
    Andy and I found this unbelievably helpful. Look for one with some sort of newborn insert, like a hammock. It makes those slippery little kiddos a lot easier to maneuver! We stuck to a completely basic model, and it works great.
  • Wash cloths.
    You’ll actually want some of these. Baby wash cloths are a lot thinner and easier to wash between tiny fingers and toes, not to mention all those neck folds where sour milk tends to collect. Yuck.
  • Hooded towels.
    Register for one or two, if you want, just know that you’ll probably have plenty, whether you register for them or not.

Play Time

For the gift-giver:

Toys are such fun add-ins for gifts. I always appreciated them. Again we get back to – when Andy and I were registering, I never really got past the idea that this baby would someday NOT be a newborn anymore, and I’m so glad to have a stash!

For the parents-to-be:

If you read the gift-givers’ advice, you’ll know I wasn’t entirely prepared for the ‘play-time’ portion of baby gear. But I have a bit of advice for you too:

  • Bumbo chair.
    See a picture of Graham in his here. It’s a chair for a newborn that is nothing short of adorable. Or, rather, your baby is adorable in it. They can’t use it until they can hold their heads up fairly well, but from what I hear, babies LOVE to sit up and see their world in close to 360 degrees. There’s also a play tray that snaps to the Bumbo that we have too.
  • Bouncer (a.k.a. bouncy seat).
    It’s a great staple. We stuck to a fairly basic model, because – in the end – it’s just a safe place to stash your baby while you make dinner, fold laundry, take a shower, etc. It’s easy to tote around the house, so that you can get some housework done while baby’s in the same room. Get one with toys dangling on the front, you won’t be sorry.
  • Swing.
    You can basically read my last post on the subject. We love ours. I recommend getting one that will cradle a newborn fairly well. If you can, find one that has both the side-to-side and back-and-forth swinging options like Graham’s My Little Lamb swing. You never know what your little one is going to like. I also hear there are swings that use AC power instead of the typical D batteries, which is awesome, but I also hear they can be hard to find. I’m honestly not sure why more swings don’t plug into the wall, but you can always do what we do and just keep an extra stash of D batteries in the pantry.
  • Play mat.
    We didn’t register for one of these because I thought they were a waste of money, quite frankly. Don’t people just spread out blankets and give babies toys anymore? Well, I had a friend of the family give us one, and I am SO happy she did. Graham loves laying on the floor and batting at the toys dangling over his head. LOVES it. Plus, the floor is a safe place for these little guys to entertain themselves independently (as long as you’re nearby and keeping a watchful eye, of course).
  • Exersaucer.
    I didn’t have this on my registry, but my brother and sister-in-law and her family all chipped in to get Graham one of these things. Erin swears that, based on her childcare experience, she’d never go without one of them. Again, it was lack of foresight on my part that caused me to avoid it on the registry, but I’m very glad to have one once this little boy gets busier!

Sleep/Nursery

For the gift-giver:

There are a TON of things that the parents-to-be need in this category. This is another case of “If someone doesn’t get it for us, we’ll have to get it for ourselves.” These are very exciting gifts to receive, but I definitely recommend sticking to the registry!

For the parents-to-be:

  • A word about bedding sets:
    We chose to forego the traditional bedding set both because there wasn’t really one single one that hit our nursery theme home and because you don’t use everything in the bedding set. You can’t put the quilt in the crib (SIDS risk!), so you can use it as a wall hanging or drape it on the chair or something, I suppose. The crib sheets, you can register for separately (which is what we did) for about $10 per sheet. The crib skirt is the one thing we did get from a bedding set, but we just ordered it a la carte online for about $30. I’ll talk about the bumpers below. Either way, not having a traditional bedding set is a MAJOR bummer, because they are so adorable, and of course, it’s up to you as to what you want to do, but fact of the matter is: there are definitely more practical and economical ways to dress the bed.
  • A word about bumpers:
    If you read up on crib bumpers, you’ll find that they are somewhat controversial nowadays. The argument for them is that they are adorable and nothing better communicates your bedding theme than the bumper. It just sort of completes the crib set, if you know what I mean.

    The concerns, though, are many. Besides the fear that the child will accidentally scoot up and smother themselves against a padded bumper, there’s also talk that they create a SIDS risk by impeding airflow into and out of the crib. But here’s a practical bumper con: Most of them tie onto your crib slats, meaning you will have to untie each and every corner and side of the bumper to remove it so that you can change a crib sheet. If this happens in the middle of the night, you’ll pretty much want to cry, if you aren’t crying already. 😛 Most folks do bumpers until the baby comes, then the bumper comes off and goes to be stored in a closet. That said, my mom thinks this bumper controversy is a bunch of bullhockey.

    We chose to forego the bumper and just register for a breathable bumper at BRU. It’s a [decidedly less cute] netted material that serves the purpose of not letting your baby get his/her limbs tangled up in the crib slats while letting air pass through. We’ve got this breathable bumper in a closet, waiting until Graham’s a bit more active in his sleep.

  • Furniture:
    • Crib.
      Basically, we found a manufacturer that rated well in Baby Bargains, in our price range, and found a style we liked in a baby superstore. No kidding, once Andy and I narrowed it down using these three criteria, we literally had the choice between two cribs. Sounds like a negative thing, maybe, but it was a relief to not have to choose one from a hundred.
    • Dresser.
      We chose a low, wide double dresser to serve double-duty as both a dresser and a changing table. A very popular choice nowadays.
    • Glider.
      We totally sprung for an overstuffed, custom aphoulstered, recliner-glider for the nursery. We chose a fabric that we’d happily put in another room, should this chair somehow survive the baby years. Andy and I both knew that this was something we wanted to save our pennies for, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s so awesome to sleep in that recliner on a rough night and only have to walk two steps across the room to pop the pacifier back in G’s mouth. Or to pop up the footrest and doze off while he’s eating in the middle of the night. Or to just cuddle with the baby as he’s waking up first thing in the morning. Get it? I like the chair.
  • Blankets.
    It’s true what they say – you can never have too many. But it will FEEL like you have too many. Don’t worry. Once you see what the baby does to these blankets and how much laundry you have to do, you’ll feel happy to have a dresser drawer-full. Plus, there are so many different weights and purposes for blankets. Not to mention you’ll keep a couple in the diaper bag, in the car, in each room of the house.. you get my drift. There are many different kinds:

    • Receiving blankets.
      These are the thin flannel blankets that are sold in five packs. Find LARGE ones and register for them. You’ll get the smaller ones from folks because these are much easier to find in the store. Get ones that have at least one side that’s 40-inches. If you can find bigger, snag them! It’s key if you’ve got a baby who loves being swaddled, like ours does.
    • Middle-weight and heavy-weight blankets.
      If you find a couple that you like, register for them. Otherwise, they will find their way to you. No worries. Folks love giving blankets to babies. :)
    • Swaddling blankets.
      There are blankets out there that are designed specifically to swaddle your little one to keep the crazy arms at bay so that they can string some hours of sleep together. These are so trial and error, it’s ridiculous. So many folks swore by the Miracle Blanket, but Graham HATED it. I’m so glad that we got one as a hand-me-down, because our money would’ve been completely lost. What he did like was the Woombie. Again, it’s really hard to know. No recommendations here, except maybe to wait until your baby is here, to see what they like.
  • Crib sheets.
    Get two or three.
  • Waterproof mattress pads.
    Get two or three. That will allow you to layer thusly on top of the mattress: mattress pad, crib sheet, mattress pad, crib sheet. Then, when your baby wets/messes the bed in the middle of the night, you can strip off the top layer of linens and have a completely fresh/dry set underneath.
  • Sheet saver.
    This is, very simply, a piece of fabric that covers a portion of the crib sheet. Place it under the head or the tush – whichever happens to be your biggest mess-maker at night. The idea is that the sheet saver is easier to strip off the bed and launder than a crib sheet. I’d get two, because the one we have is forever wet in the washer when we want to put Graham to bed at night.
  • Baby monitor.
    Honestly? Follow Baby Bargains’ recommendation. We got a Sony BabyCall and love it. We only registered for one receiver and have never felt the need for two. Maybe it’s because having only one receiver makes it easier to know who’s responsible for getting the baby when he cries. Works for us!
  • Pack ‘N Plays (a.k.a. Play yards).
    I don’t know if this is 100% necessary, but everybody I know with a baby has one! It’s a portable crib/playpen that packs up nice and tight so you can check it as luggage on an airplane. It’s pretty integral to our household. Graham slept in it in our bedroom his first week home from the hospital. I still keep it in our master bedroom [downstairs] for naps and diaper changes during the day. Get one with a bassinet feature, otherwise you’ll pretty much wonder why you got the thing in the first place.

Diapers and Dirty Work

For the gift-giver:

I used to think diapers were such a terrible gift at a baby shower. Now I think they are one of the best. Anything in this category is uber practical and so, so appreciated. Read below if you need an education on what to buy.

For the parents-to-be:

  • Cloth diapers.
    Register for at least a dozen pre-fold cloth diapers. (Make sure they’re pre-fold, those are the ones that are thicker down the center.) Use them for burp cloths and other general biological stain blotter-uppers. You’ll go through them like hotcakes. Mark my words. They, like blankets, will soon be in every room of the house, as well as your diaper bag.
  • Diaper pail.
    We got the Diaper Genie II, per Baby Bargains. We love it. Graham’s not a smelly diaper producer yet, but there is literally zero diaper smell in his room. Make sure to register for the refills also.
  • Changing pad.
    There are curved pads that sit atop the changing table (or other surface) for the explicit purpose of changing diapers. Get one! Any one will do.
  • Changing pad covers.
    Register for two at least, especially if you have a boy. Oh, and pssst: Mind the dimensions and make sure they’ll fit the changing pad you chose.
  • Diapers.
    We use Pampers Swaddlers and are pleased. Graham’s between diaper sizes right now, so we’re dealing with more leaks than usual, but when he was a newborn? ZERO leaks. Which is pretty remarkable. Plus, he’s pretty happy in ’em. If you register, just get one pack of Newborns. And register for some Size 1’s too. Same deal as the baby clothing: you have no idea how big your baby will be, and diapers are expensive enough that you just don’t want to waste a single one.
  • Wipes.
    Pampers Sensitive are the only ones that didn’t make Graham break out in a rash, so guess what? Those are the ones we use!

Nursing/Feeding

For the gift-giver:

Another place where you’ll want to stick to the registry. Extra special rockstar bonus points if you buy breastfeeding paraphernalia from the registry. It skeeves out 99% of the population.

For the parents-to-be:

Nursing moms: give yourself a break. It takes a while to wrap your brain around breastfeeding, and you’ll probably need to do some research before you even consider putting anything on the registry to help with the whole nursing thing. I chose to buy most of the stuff myself, with a couple of exceptions, namely the pump which I wanted to get the registry completion discount on.

  • Bottles.
    If you’re breastfeeding, you won’t need a ton. We got two of each kind in the 4-oz size and decided to let the little dude choose which he liked. We stuck to Avent and Dr. Browns brands, just because I had personal experience with both, they each have a pressure-equalizing design, and they come highly recommended by moms.
  • Nipples.
    Guess what? There are different flow rates! I know! Bottles seem so unassuming and then, bam, you walk into a baby store and are inundated with choices. I’ll make it simple. You start with the lowest number and work your way up as the baby gets older. Breastfed babies need the lowest number you can find. Dr. Brown’s goes all the way down to a Preemie flow, so start with that if you’re nursing.
  • Pacifiers.
    We started Graham on Soothies, because my nephew Gabriel used them and liked them. We have since let him try Avent pacifiers and he likes those too. Guess this kid isn’t picky. That said, we’ve made due with two pacifiers floating around the house. Three if you count the Wubbanub. That number seems to be working just fine.
  • Nursing pillows.
    There are two contenders:

    • The Boppy.
      This works for non-nursing moms too! They’re great support for bottle feeding, good for tummy time, and basically are great baby propper-uppers. Having an extra cover is a great idea.
    • The Brest Friend.
      My favorite nursing pillow – by far – as long as you can get over the ridiculous name. And no, I didn’t spell it wrong.

So, that’s it. That’s all I can think of. Mommas, chime in in the comments and let us know what you think!

The Woombie

I’m astounded that I have not yet reached my husband’s tolerance threshold for the “but I had to have it, honey” purchases I’ve made for the baby in the last six weeks. Okay, fine, it started before Graham got here too, but it’s definitely picked up as my patience and desperation have completely run out and spiked through the roof, respectively.

One was the Moby Wrap, which we thoroughly discussed earlier.

Now I have a new love-of-the-week. Folks, meet “The Woombie.”

Graham looooves to be swaddled. In fact, I attribute the swaddling for the 5-6 hour stretch of sleep he has at night. The one preference he seems to have regarding our swaddling method is that his hands need to be swaddled near his face. Don’t ask why. Maybe that’s how he was positioned in utero. Regardless, this is his one requirement.

To swaddle, Andy and I found that we need to use two flannel receiving blankets. One to swaddle him, the other to hold the swaddle together if he’s restless. If we don’t use the second blanket, the first falls apart within minutes. No good.

The ‘two flannel blankets’ thing has had me a little concerned as we begin to enter the warm season in Texas. All fine and well in February, but it’s bound to get a little warm eventually, no? Plus, all the parenting magazines and websites are quick to warn about the horrors of SIDS and how overheating (via two well-intentioned flannel blankets, no doubt) is a SIDS risk factor. Oh what is a hysterically paranoid mother to do?

Well… heh heh. The baby industry has been swift to offer many-an-option. There are plenty of blankets on the market these days designed to swaddle your baby and make swaddling easier while they’re at it. A popular one is called the Miracle Blanket. A woman at work gave us her Miracle Blanket to use for Graham. He HATED it. With a capital “H”. The reason? The Miracle Blanket pins the baby’s arms down by their sides. So, my boy – wrapped tightly in said Miracle Blanket – was spending his naptime/evening hours trying to free his arms instead of, you know, sleeping.

Then I found the Woombie, which touts that it is most like the womb. Why? Well, simple. It’s a snugly-fitting sack, made of lightweight cotton Lycra (so very like Mother Nature, not, but keep reading) that keeps the arms in check (to ward off that nasty startle reflex newborns have) by keeping them against the infant’s body while still allowing them a slight range of motion. What does this mean for Graham? He can shift his arms around in this little sack, but they’re still snugly pinned to his body. Genius!

Second genius: the Woombie allows him to kick his legs to his heart’s content. So now Graham can either tuck them up underneath him like a frog, or streeeeetch them out if he’s trying to move around a pesky gas bubble. Love it.

We tried it out this afternoon. After a few minutes of a “what the hell, Mom” look on his face, Graham fell sound asleep on my lap. And he transitioned without breaking stride to his Pack N Play to finish out his nap. Success!

So, we’re fans of the Woombie at our house. Mark this one as a definite “Like.”