Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Stuff" that makes my life easier

So I thought it was about time for a "fun" post. I've said it since the day Luke came home from the hospital that the second child comes along to undo anything you ever thought you knew about being a parent. Not being a first time mom this time around I was sure I knew it all. Been there, done that, and got the sticker. Haha! Luke humbled me extremely quickly. From his first day home we quickly realized that no two kids are alike (duh)! Claire was an excellent sleeper from about 2 weeks on and I assumed I must be the sleep master (not really, but I was confident I would have 2 good sleepers). Luke, not so much. In fact I was up with him almost hourly last night. By 4:00 a.m. he thought it was time to rise, shine, and party. Thankfully when he is up he isn't fussing. He usually smiles and giggles at me. I know the sleep "experts" say not to respond back to them and ignore their cute little faces, but come on! Who can do that? Certainly not me. I catch myself grinning back, telling myself I'm compromising because I'm at least not talking to him.

The other day I was looking around at all the baby "stuff" that has invaded nearly every room of our house. I then came to the realization that 75% of the stuff laying around was brand new! So much for reusing and saving money on the 2nd kid. Then I realized this little boy is so different from his sister that we didn't waste money re buying stuff we had almost had to in order to put him down for more than 2 minutes. Me being the thrifty shopper I am did get most of the stuff on Craigslist or clearance. Here are a few things we haven't been able to live without.

1.  Rock N Play

Claire slept in the pack n play in our room the first 3 months. She had reflux like Luke and slept on a wedge (I know they are considered a no no) to keep her at a slight incline. For Luke about a week before my due date I set the pack n play up in our room just like I had with Claire. It was obvious after the first few nights home that Luke was having no such thing of the pack n play or the wedge. He just couldn't get comfortable. I either ended up holding him to sleep or putting him in is bouncer. I always heard great things about the Fisher Price Rock N Play when Claire was born, but didn't figure it was anything we needed. After all we had a crib, pack n play, bouncer, and swing. Why did we need another "baby holding" item. Well, as any sleep deprived mom knows they will try just about anything to get a few extra minutes of sleep. This was the one thing I did actually pay full price for. Although I did have a gift card and did buy the base model. First night in the Rock N Play and I got a 4 hour stretch out of him! Holy crap the hype was true! This thing is a miracle product! Luke slept in the Rock N Play until he was 3 months old and had his reflux 75% under control. In hindsight I probably would have left him in it a little longer had I known how hard the crib transition was going to be, but I was tired of tripping over all the baby stuff out in his room.

2. Woombie

Swaddling was a lifesaver for us with Claire. She slept so peacefully swaddled. I even joked I would send her off the college swaddled it took me so long to wean her from it. So naturally when I got pregnant with Luke I bought a few "boy" patterned velcro swaddlers that keeps their arms pinned to their side. Luke wasn't as in love with it as Claire was. After attempting a few nights of not swaddling him it was clear his startle reflex was too strong not to be constrained somehow. I discovered when I would swaddle him with a blanket he would move his little fists over his chest and rest them there. That was his comfortable spot. Problem with the blanket was he could easily bust out of it and I really sucked at blanket swaddling. One day on the deal site "Mamabargains" I saw the Woombie. I had seen them before but there was no way I was paying $30 for a stinkin swaddle thingy. Mamabargains had them 50% off so I ordered one. I not so patiently waited for it to arrive and when it finally did I couldn't wait to try it out. First night in the Woombie and in the Rock N Play I got a 6 hour stretch of sleep out of him! Cue angels singing! I really really liked the Woombie. It was super easy to get on him it just zips up and he could still move his arms some. Hence why it is called the Woombie, it is supposed to mimic the constraints of the womb, but still allow for some arm movement.

3.  Car Seat

Again I assumed like Claire that Luke would love the car seat. Claire could be fussing and the second the car started moving she would quickly relax and go to sleep. I wasn't very fond of the infant bucket car seat I had with Claire and since I just knew Luke would love the car seat too I ordered one I really liked. I planned on keeping Luke in the bucket for convienence purposes with 2 kids for most of not all of his first year. After all I did buy a new one and he would be the only child using it so dang it I was going to get my money out of it. It become apparent to us after a few weeks that Luke loathed the car seat. It screamed the second he got in it to the second he got out of it. He could be content as could be and withing 30 seconds of being in the car seat the screaming started. After talking to his GI doctor he said the infant  car seats aggravate their reflux terribly. He advised to leave him out of the car seat as much as possible. In other words carrying him around in it for convience was out. I already pretty much wore him everywhere I went anyway so I started researching convertible car seats for reflux babies. I initially planned on buying another Britax Marathon like the one Claire has. I like the car seat and was familiar with it's features, however I tried him in Claire's seat and he was still too short for it. After doing some research I found the angle of the Diono Radian was best suited for reflux babies plus it's safety ratings were outstanding.  I was willing to do ANYTHING to lesson the screaming in the car. Car trips were absolutely miserable and I'm a girl who like to get out and about. Since we eventually were going to have to buy a convertible when he outgrew the infant seat I thought we would give a new seat a try. I cannot even begin to describe the immediate difference in the new seat. I'm not saying he still doesn't fuss, but he no longer screams in pain. He will usually sit happily with his paci or watch himself in the mirror. He only fusses if he is tired, hungry, or just wants snuggles.

4. Moby Wrap and Baby Bjorn

I had and used both of these products with Claire. I liked them with her, but I absolutely cannot live without them with Luke. Especially now since we use the convertible car seat 100% of the time and he cannot sit up yet to ride in a shopping cart. I keep the Baby Bjorn in the car and use it for shopping trips. Its compact and easy to get on and fairly comfortable. I really like the Moby Wrap as well although it does take some practice to learn the different holds. I've really only used 2 different holds, but as he gets bigger I will have to practice and learn others. The Moby is much more comfy and easier on my back than the Baby Bjorn, but I really only use it at home, on walks (little man hates the stroller too, well pretty much hates not being held, oops) or if I'm going to be wearing him for an extended period of time. The Moby is basically an extremely long piece of fabric. Too cumbersome to wrap on me in parking lots. It drags the ground trying to get it on and that kind of grosses me out in public. The only time I use it in public is if I'm going to be wearing him for over an hour like at the zoo. People say to wrap it on you before you leave the house and just drive with it on, however my favorite hold right now is the Hug Hold and that is the one hold you actually wrap around the baby as you wrap on yourself so you can't put it on before you leave.

5. Play Mat-Fisher Price Kick N Play Piano

Claire had a play mat that she loved. She would play for 30 minutes at a time and free me up to get some housework done. I kept it and planned to use it for Luke. Well Luke's reflux made him hate being laid flat so he was not a fan of the play mat. After we got his reflux under control I tried to play mat again. I could get 5-10 minutes out of him, but nothing substantial. The boy loves to kick. Bath time and diaper changes are his time to kick his little heart out. I had heard about the Fisher Price Kick and Play piano and people saying how much their little ones loved it. I thought Luke would like it since part of the fun was kicking the piano and getting rewarded with music, but  there was no way I was going to spend another $50 on a play mat. On a whim I checked out craigslist to see if by any chance someone was selling one and they were not too far away. That same day someone listed a barely used one for $25 and they lived only a few miles away. We met and I went home to try it out. Little man loves and I mean LOVES  this thing. I get 30-45 minutes out of him every morning on it and again in the afternoon.

6. Video Monitor

With Claire I splurged and bought a video monitor. I quickly fell in love with it. I will admit it spoiled me and got so used to having one that I knew with Luke I had to have one too. I thought the model I had would accommodate 2 cameras. It would, however you had to manually switch between the 2 cameras. It would not simultaneously monitor 2 rooms at the same time. I did some research and found the newest model allowed for multiple room monitoring at the same time. Bummer was it was $200 plus another $90 for the second camera. Eric quickly crushed my dream and told me there was no way we were paying that much and we would just either buy a basic monitor or Claire would be unmonitored. So I started researching surveillance cameras. After some research I found with many IP cameras there are also iPhone apps that allow you to monitor from. Score! I could ditch the cumbersome baby monitor and monitor the kids from my phone that I always have with me. One less thing to charge! After some more research I found the Foscam cameras to be on sale for $65 each. For less than $150 I could monitor both kids rooms and the selling point for Eric was even after the kids no longer need to be monitored we could set up the cameras elsewhere in the house and monitor the house when we are away. I also researched apps to determine which one worked as the best baby monitor. I ended up purchasing the more expensive one for $11.99 that is actually purely for baby monitors. It is called Baby Monitor HD for anyone interested. The cameras were super easy to set up, they run off our wireless internet. A plus of the app is both cameras can run at the same time and the sound will actually still run in the background even when I close out of the app or when I put my phone to sleep. Only downfall of running the monitors off my phone is it does drain the battery and I end up charging my phone midday. I can also view the cameras on my laptop, but I rarely do that. A two year old and a laptop don't usually mix. You can also set the cameras up to view from any computer or phone so Eric could even see that kids sleeping at work, but so far I'm not smart enough to figure that feature out. It requires some setup on our router and I just haven't had the time to get that set up.

7. I can't believe I almost forgot maybe the most important thing. My nursing cover! I use it all the time! With Claire I always went behind closed doors to nurse, but with 2 kids I can't sneak off to a quiet place. Plus I refuse to miss out on what's going on around me just to feed my baby. I quickly learned with Claire not all covers are made equal. A bigger one is a necessity especially as they get older and more restless when covered. I found a Balboa Baby cover on sale at Marshall's for like half the price elsewhere and I love it. It is big, has a storage pocket, adjusts around the neck and they come in pretty colors!

These are my 6 must have things. Again every baby is different, but I did want to share what works for us right now. I know I always enjoy hearing from "real life" people about what does or does not work for them.

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