Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Time is moving right along…two more weeks and I will be induced and finally get to hold my baby girl. I am so excited to officially meet her since we’ve been sharing the same space for about 9 months and there’s been so many preparations made for her arrival. I am feeling a lot better now that I am closer to my due date and my sugar levels are controlled…as well as anemia. I feel more healthy overall during this pregnancy ..even though I have had a lot of stress.

It took almost a month for my landlord to fix our AC..this horrible experience has really burned me out on renting. I am now researching what our options are of obtaining an FHA loan for HUD housing. I know it will not be the dream home we always imagined for ourselves, but maybe with some elbow grease and love..we could make something decent into a home of our own…then we wouldn’t have to keep moving every year, plus renting is starting to become expensive..especially in my hometown. It’s time to think about moving further out..sadly. For example, the homes around me started out at 250,000 and now almost everyone of the homes are marketed at 400,000 and higher. I’ve seen a lot of for sale signs in people’s yards and I think they’re cashing out for something better. My mom lucked out buying her house super cheap before the economy took a crash. She got a great loan and bought a house within two week span. Now, it’s like pulling teeth just to get approved for any type of loan for cars or homes. The news keeps saying the economy is better, but I think that’s just bull. I think it’s more like a tactic to increase purchasing power amongst middle class by brainwashing them into thinking the economy is better.

Just my two cents.

Anyways..I was thinking I should really make a list of what I found useful and good products from my experience now that Jude is almost one and we are expecting a second child. Maybe it might help make up new parents’ minds about certain products or perhaps it will just serve as a good reminder of what to share with friends and family later for when they are expecting.

Bottles– We put two sets of bottles on our registry for Jude. I’m glad we did because the expensive Tommee Tippee ones were a bust and Jude would only drink out of the Avent bottles. I really liked the Avent bottles we got, especially the nautical themed design. They have the plain ones and then limited edition design ones. We got Sparrow pink Avent bottles with little birds on them. Hopefully she likes them, but if not we still have those Tommee Tippee put away since we threw out the box and gift receipt.

Lesson learned: every baby has a different preference for bottles and some will only breastfeed. Unfortunately, my supply was nonexistent so we lucked out on finding the right bottles.

Formula– My preference is organic and sensitive stomach formulas. I used free Enfamil from a lactation consultant about a week after realizing my milk was coming in. The smell of the formula is so..uh chemically [not a real word lol]. I switched to Earth’s Best. It’s a company that I was accustomed to in health food stores and I felt better knowing that Whole Foods and Earth Fare [both health food stores with stricter standards than most grocery or health food stores] carried this brand. However, I buy the huge value size through Target because it’s cheaper. It doesn’t have a weird smell,but yes it is dairy based…so you never know if your child is going to react badly to dairy, soy, or pea protein formulas. I think my son initially had undiagnosed reflux bc he made the weirdest noises in his sleep and seemed to only fall sleep in an upright position [swing, carseat, held upright on chest]. It disappeared after about 6 weeks..all of a sudden he was sleeping peacefully and we were able to move him into his crib. Nothing is more satisfying than after a long struggle trying to feed your child [lots of stress and tears] and he’s finally gaining weight, healthy, and happy. He’s super bright, hardly gets sick, easy teether, and happiest little guy ever!

Pacifiers– We bought top brands of pacifiers…only to find out that Jude preferred the free, cheap pacifier I got when i spent a bunch of money at Destination Maternity lol go figure! Even then he stopped using one sometime around 4-6 months. So, again never know what type of plastic style your baby prefers and they may not even like them. My sister was shocked since both her kids were hooked on pacifiers like crack.

Crib Aquarium– I wanted to start work on self soothing because it was becoming an issue where I was needed for rocking and bottle feeding just to get him to go back to sleep. We got the Baby Einstein aquarium from Target. It did help when he was able to hit the starfish button himself to put himself back to sleep. Prior to this stage, we used it more as TV time so we could go pee, do laundry, grab another bottle, etc.The remote is useless by the way. However, at almost a year the aquarium is no longer a soothing item since we had to lower the crib to the lowest setting. He literally would have to wake up, pull himself up, hit the starfish, and magically fall back asleep. Instead, it’s like his wake up toy in the morning and it entertains him as I slowly roll out of bed. I will say this- save the box! The motor is starting to get weirdly loud and many people I’ve read have returned it to the store for an exchange [without a receipt] because the company will not reimburse. So, I saved the box in case this 50 dollar toy gives out with only a year use..ahem*

Was it worth it? Yes, many times it did pay for keeping my sanity though the price is ridiculous and the inside parts are falling apart already.

Wipe warmer– I don’t regret it that much since it was cheap, but I’m not buying one for my second child…so that’s saying something. Hot wipes really are not necessary, but it was a sweet thought.

Glider– Do not waste your money on baby gliders. Go to the nearest furniture store and get yourself a nice, plush rocking recliner. They sometimes are either less expensive than the marketed nursery gliders..however, I will say the comfort and qualirt is so much higher. Don’t get scammed into thinking that everything with a baby label is better. Our lazy boy glider is one of the best investments we made for the nursery. It’s super quiet, very comfortable, and it grows with the baby…also I have slept in it. My sister got a fancy nursery glider that was super uncomfortable after hours of rocking and as her baby grew..the padding was not comfy enough to rock a baby wailing in all directions.

Swaddles– Our son loved a good tight swaddle with arms in. Our burrito wrapping skills must have been lacking because even after many attempts he was dissatisfied whenever he managed to escape his swaddle. Our favorites was the Ergo and Miracle Blanket Swaddle. The first one has velcro and great for smaller babies. The latter was a great transition to slowly wean off the swaddle. Next, came the step of sleep sacks. I read like crazy about sleep sacks and was annoyed at how many had the arms free. My son has a bad habit of waking himself up if his arms are free- either scratching his face or they have a mind of their own looking for sheets, bumpers, etc to pull. I ended up getting a Zippadee Zip sleep sack, which you may have seen on Shark Tank. I didn’t because I do not watch tv often, yet the reviews I read online were out of this world. The plus to me was that he was fully in the sleep sack and it gave a loose sense of restraint…a wearable, soothing blanket to replace the swaddle and he could still safely roll/crawl in. He still wears it and I know the sizes keep going up. I’m not sure when he’ll grow out of it, but he will only sleep soundly with it on…and sleep is a wonderful, desired asset for a parent.

Bassinet– Jude didn’t sleep well in his bassinet..and they grow out of them in three months usually…you are better off skipping this item altogether.

Playyard/Pack n’ Play– At first we used this mainly for diaper changes in the middle of the night. After our son moved to the crib it became a storage holder for miscellaneous items I liked to keep near the bed- the monitor, books, computer, glasses, phone, etc. Once we realized we we’re going on our first family vacation together at around 8 months…we realized that we needed to get comfy with the pack n’ play. By this point, Jude maxed out the weight limit and I needed to lower down the “mattress”

[I say mattress in quotations because it’s basically a piece of cardboard that they include…how does this not cause spinal issues? Ours was harder than the carpeted floor. I’m a firm believer in a firm mattress for kids, but this was just lousy quality. I read online that most people ordered a small mattress insert similar to a crib mattress and got a bunch of sheets. So, that’s what we did and he slept like a dream on it. He literally cried if I even sat him in there before.]

We practiced more getting him comfortable with being in there. I put a few of his favorite toys and began to use it as part of our routine for bath time…he plays while I run around getting everything set up [towels, washcloths, running water, set out pjs, throw in some laundry, remove worn clothes from the day, clean his room, grab the eczema cream & hair brush, etc.].

By the time we went on our beach trip..I’d practiced a few times with youtube to make sure I was folding/unfolding correctly the pack n’ play and now Jude was comfortable with being in there. He slept actually pretty well. It kind of sucked he was in the same room only because I take serious bathroom breaks and like to toss around in the night. He’s a light sleeper so I had to be super sneaky and risk waking him up or lay there uncomfortably until I fell back asleep. I guess I wasn’t cut out for cosleeping and good thing he didn’t like it anyways..we tried lol a lot.

So, yes definitely worth having for vacations..especially when they are able to crawl or pull up…a great way to put your baby safely somewhere while you quickly multitask like a crazy person. I’m alone 4 evenings in the week- so I do dinner, bath time, bedtime, and night cleaning all solo. We got a routine down, but it’s going to be really crazy once baby #2 is here..I know it will take time to hit my groove…moms of twins, I bow down to you.

Monitor– There’s mainly three types of monitors…you have the motion/breathing monitors for SIDS, the audio only monitors, and the visual with audio monitors. I’ve never purchased the first type of monitor. I don’t think I’d invest in the Angel brand only because I have read some complaints that if your baby is a mover..they can set off a false alarm just by sliding off the wooden board that measures breathing. I was interested in one brand called Snugza that clipped on to the diaper.

These type of monitors are pretty expensive and while they may possibly ensure less risk of SIDS…it’s hard to know how effective they can be. SIDS is still very much understood by scientists. There’s risk factors based on patterns of data like smoking, race, etc. The Back to Sleep campaign is slightly questionable..only because while SIDS dropped drastically afterwards..they later are releasing news articles that still a huge chunk of parents haven’t been following the guidelines to begin with. I kind of wonder if its more about education, fear, and awareness that has spread about SIDS …there are theories that babies prone to SIDS are sometimes neurologically miswired for that to occur. I did read about a lady whose child passed away even with great precautions [sleeping on the back, firm mattress, swaddled tightly, temperature cool, etc.] So, again it is heartbreaking to lose a child in any form…and we still do not know a definitive answer of what causes SIDS. I personally take an old fashioned approach with mainly not sleeping for months. My husband and I walk around like sick zombies until around 3 months, when a newborn is finally sleeping a better pattern and getting past the most delicate stage. I have never known sleep deprivation like this before…not even college finals could compare to the type of exhaustion endured with parenting.

The second monitor http://only is great for keeping at the grandparents’ house or taking on vacations. It’s like a great backup monitor for when you can’t drill camera holes into the walls. They can be pretty inexpensive and I’m sure you can buy some secondhand ones or get free pass downs from other people that have no need for them anymore.

The last is my favorite and my go to monitor. I love visual/audio combined monitors. I find them extremely helpful especially once the baby is officially in the crib for the night. You can hear every sound, every movement, and its highly reassuring knowing that it can be plugged in literally next to your bed.

Now, that our son is almost a year old..we turn the volume up really, really loud..put in earplugs for outdoor noises [like chirping birds, dogs, garage doors opening, landscapers] and wear sleep masks. The tiniest cry or “talking” noise and we can hear him and just him. It works great now, but I will retire my ear plugs until Sparrow is old enough for me to use them again. Newborns put me on edge..I’m scared to fall asleep unless someone is watching on shifts to let me sleep. You just never know if they will find some way to suffocate themselves or what if I am so sleep deprived that I do not wake up…ugh! I am the worrying type.

Back to my analysis of the monitor….let’s talk brands. These get very, very expensive. They get even more expensive if you want an expansive type where you can keep adding cameras per baby. There’s the clarity of the screen, the night vision, pan/zoom features, temperature sensor, lullabies, walkie talkie action for parents..etc. A lot of great features and technology exist for these type of cameras. There are many now that link to wifi and you can watch your child through your phone/computer, take videos, etc. The wifi kind doesn’t appeal to me because I’m at home- I’m not a computer that often and my iphone seems to get run down with just the little bit I use of social media, music, and surfing the web. I also worry about the security of visuals with wifi enabled monitors or possible interference with slowing down the wifi. For some people, like those at work or overseas..it can be a great way to feel connected to your child. I get that.

The first monitor I got was one on sale at Target by Summer Infant. I should have really read the reviews online about this brand. Mine only lasted 6 months when the visual randomly went black with a white line down the middle…something blew in the device and I was stuck with an audio monitor. This was a real pain in the butt because now I couldn’t tell if my son was just making noises in his sleep [he does that a lot] or actually awake until it led to a cry. I read that the company sometimes would send you a new one if you had a receipt or box..blah blah blah. I said screw it! I am getting a new monitor even better than this one. Later my sister informed me that she had several Summer Infant models that broke on her.

Thus, I began researching monitors and reading pages, pages, and pages of reviews from Amazon, Target, and Walmart. There were at least two brands we narrowed down that we were interested in.

Ultimately, my husband really liked the Motorola model we picked out. It’s not the latest model that has a handheld monitor the size of a baby ipad. However, we are only one month in and I am greatly impressed by the quality so far. There’s no zoom feature, but the camera can move all over the entire nursery and night vision is still great as well. There’s no bright light for the night feature- just a tiny green led light..not that it matters since we have two cute little Ikea night lights for those late night feedings/teethings/night terrors/diaper changes/etc.

I really wanted a monitor that could sense the temperature in the room. This became a great importance to me when our AC went out and we had a hard time getting our slack a$$ landlord to fix it. We installed a baby gate to keep the door open and pets out. We got a super duper fan to run in the nursery and our son mainly wore diapers indoors. Three weeks later we finally got our AC fixed and I realized how much it drove me crazy not knowing how cool or hot his room was compared to the hall thermostat. Now, I am all freaked out about the winter- what if that breaks? So, the fact that the Motorola model had a temperature sensor made me very happy and it seems pretty accurate.

Funny thing is the lullabies on the camera are horrible. I am not sure if anyone actually uses these to soothe their child, but don’t get your hopes up. In fact, one day our son was taking too long of a nap that we were worried that he would miss out on dinner, wake up cranky, and then be super difficult sleeping at bedtime..so I told my husband to put on the lullabies feature from the handheld monitor and it woke him up instantly LOL! He was probably creeped out.I mean who wouldn’t be creeped out suddenly hearing obnoxious lullaby music when you were fast asleep and having no idea where it is coming from. So, I rate that feature highly effective as an alarm for babies that oversleep. You probably will not get much use out of it.

The walkie talkie feature doesn’t have much use to us now, but possibly once were tag teaming with two babies and need someone to grab a bottle..I could see it being of use then. We’ll see..so far we played with it just once, but it hasn’t been anything of practical use.

Of course, we were looking for a model that included two cameras in the package, but many cameras can be expandable..so if you have only one child …but who knows if you want another one..go ahead and make sure its expandable. If it’s a good quality monitor hopefully it will last and you can add on a second camera for cheaper than having to buy a brand new set for both kids. Truth be told- I wish I had skipped that Target deal and invested in a good quality monitor. Sometimes you pinch pennies and it’s a win..other times you smack your head wondering why you’re so stingy and end up costing yourself more money.

Hopefully this monitor will last for a few years..we won’t be expanding beyond two, but I’ve seen most monitors expand up to 4 rooms.

Clothing-I cannot stress enough how shopping outlet malls, thrift stores, and even dollar item stores can really add cute, inexpensive clothes. It’s okay to splurge once in awhile, but honestly..it’s a bit disheartening when your child grew out of that $60 outfit in a month. The second time around we didn’t put any clothes on our registry- and you know what? we got huge amounts for our baby girl …we have lots of newborn clothes and some seasoned mothers at the shower bought 0-3 and 3 month clothes too. They too know how fast babies grow into bigger sizes. Buy lots of bibs- and keep them sorted for bibs for eating, bibs for being out and about drooling…lol it sounds funny..but I just hate when bibs get stains that are brand new. I don’t want to throw them away, but I also don’t want to tout my baby all over the place with a dirty looking bib. So we have “dress” bibs and “do whatever you want to them” bibs.

Shampoo/Body Wash– I’m really picky about ingredients and I don’t believe the marketing on the front of a bottle. Even the organic, natural labeled washes or ones that have names that create images/ideas of that kind of product…nope, turn it around and read every ingredient and that’s all I need to know. I like Alaffia -you can buy that at Whole Foods or Earth Fare. I like Shea Naturals from Target. I am not impressed with Burts Bees ..oh, and tear free is a marketing gimmick from Johnson & Johnson. I look for ingredients I can read easily and less is more. I hate products that contain alcohol..that’s just ridiculous.

Diaper cream– I love Badger Diaper cream. It has a high amount of zinc oxide which is what heals the skin, but it’s the other ingredients that get the thumbs up…or more like the lack of other ingredients. Literally, the product contains oil emulsifiers..there’s no alcohol or junk. It’s very thick and creamy so a bottle will last forever! The first bottle lasted almost 6 months. We go through more now since our son is eating a lot of solids= more poo lol. Still, I am impressed by this product and will not be switching if I can help it. I was in a bind one day and needed to purchase some because I left it at home…I have to say a second best would be the Honest company at Target. It’s less thick and more watery…it’s not bad considering the ingredients. A second best..not my first choice..but these two are far superior to Desitin and Burts Bees diaper cream. Do not let anyone talk you into buying Desitin. My niece struggled with diaper rash consistently and I think it’s because Desitin has a lot of other ingredients that are drying and cause further irritation- it works against their active ingredient of zinc oxide. Switching our son’s diapers had little effect on irritations..he has had few diaper rashes and when I slathered the Badger cream on- BAM! Gone like tomorrow….

Diapers– Not going to lie I am picky about disposable diapers. cheers to the folks who wash and reuse ecofriendly diapers- we didn’t go that route for many reasons..so I am going to only focus on disposable diapers. The Up and Up brand from Target is pretty glorious for price, absorption, and has no fragrance. Recently, we’ve been on the broke side so we will switch occasionally to Luvs when we are at Walmart. Luvs are great for absorption ..they got silly monkey cartoons on them..my only complaint is that they have that obnoxious fragrance. I like fragrance free wipes too..however, again sometimes the wallet is hurting and you buy a huge ole box of nasty powdery fragrance wipes. I wish to say that we went all natural on the wipes- but this is just too expensive for us. However, a note for people who have kids with eczema..if you use the cheap wipes don’t get them near any other part of the skin..I’ve noticed a correlation with eczema breakouts if I use a wipe to clean my son’s hands or face quickly. So, we just use plain water and paper towels.

Eczema- I did not believe it initially, but it is true- the more baths the better it controls and almost eliminates the problem. The minute I incorporated bath time every single day with a follow up of Aveeno cream all over- there has been almost zero breakouts. I use bath time as a great time to do skin checks for heat rash, bites, allergies, etc. If I see a rough/scaly red patch starting to emerge in the crease of an ankle, back of the knee, or underarms I use a prescription from the pediatrician. Seriously, the baths followed up with lotion made a huge difference as well as light cotton outfits. His skin did not like coconut oil or almond oil. Eucerin for babies was okay, yet I saw the most improvement with the Aveeno baby line. I tried Aveeno last because I hate their adult version facial care. I tried that on my face and got the worst zits ever. Oddly, my skin loves coconut oil- so I wash my face with coconut oil every night and then clean my pores with an alcohol free witch hazel cotton ball-with a few added drops of tea tree and lavender. ..then I spray a toner by Alaffia that’s mainly coconut water with neem oil.

Okay, I am exhausted. I must continue this list sometime else. I don’t know if anyone will actually read this and find it useful…but I do love looking back at my experiences and seeing what I feel I’ve learned as a parent.