Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In the Family Way: My Favorite Birth & Baby Products

While getting ready for this baby, it occurred to me that I have developed some distinct preferences in terms of baby gear and those other items I’d consider necessary to survival in the peri-natal arena. These are items that helped me cope with the transition from pregnancy to motherhood, so I’m going to share (in no particular order). If you’re a guy or easily grossed out, you may opt out of reading this post… consider yourself warned.

Exercise Ball (aka birth ball, yoga ball, Swiss ball)

This $10-$30 piece of equipment is indispensible for relieving back pain while pregnant (I’m sitting on mine as I type this), and many natural childbirth advocates tout its abilities to induce and/or speed up labor (I’ve never used one for that though). It is also indispensible for bouncing an agitated newborn baby without having to stand up… like at 3 AM… after you’ve been up for 2 hours already. We used one with previous babies and, after our first ball became an outdoor toy and ultimately succumbed to fatal puncture wounds, we recently bought a new one.


Lansinoh Lanolin

Ahhh… the breastfeeding mother’s friend. I hated nursing my firstborn for about the first month… it hurt. It hurt a lot. Chapping, cracking, leaking, sore. You use a tiny amount of lanolin to apply to the nipples after each feeding (until you no longer need it) and it helps keep them away from moisture, and that prevents the soreness and other worse conditions. One little tube of lanolin (a waxy substance exuded by sheep to waterproof their wool) will last forever… my 2 oz tube has lasted through 3 kids and is still about 75% full. You might get a sample of this at the hospital when you deliver, and that will probably last a long time!


Nursing Pads

Not everyone will need these, but if you’re a leaker (and boy am I a leaker), you will want to have these around from Day 1. Put some in the hospital bag, trust me. If you have a powerful (and sometimes painful) letdown reflex, once your milk comes in you may find yourself inadvertently spraying milk across a room (I’m NOT kidding). It can be like trying to feed a newborn from a fire hose. To deal with the blessing of over-abundance, there are a million brands to choose from in the world of disposable pads, and some good options in terms of reusable as well. I used a combination of both. For disposable convenience, I opted (again) for Lansinoh brand… they seemed the most discrete while still very absorbent and non-leaking (some are so bulky they make lumpy circles in your bra so it looks like you’re smuggling silver dollar pancakes). Right off the bat, I used a set of what I think are called “nursing cups” (often used to treat inverted nipples), which are generally gigantic and obvious but keep you comfortable and can each hold about 2 oz of leaked milk before you need to dump them. The closet thing I can find to what I used are these plastic/silicone shells by Medela. Once breastfeeding is well established and no longer irritating, I use Lilypadz. They are silicone discs that sort of stick to you and actually prevent leaking rather than absorbing it. Very discreet, easily washable, lasts for months, worth every penny if you’re a leaker.

31S4U0mUMQL__SS500_ 4112UKqgSjL__SL500_AA300_ Triple Paste Diaper Cream

This amazing (though pricey) diaper cream was first recommended to me by my pediatrician when my little guy got a bad yeast diaper rash after a round of antibiotics. If you’ve ever heard of or seen a yeast diaper rash, you probably know it’s very painful for baby, very hard to get rid of, and downright gross. It really needs to be treated with an antifungal agent, but you also need to protect the skin from general rashes while you cure the yeast part of it. Enter Triple Paste. This cream comes in a tub instead of a tube, so application is a little bit more complicated. And it’s expensive. But, I’m telling you, it’s worth it when your poor little kid has a diaper rash (yeast or otherwise) and you want to eliminate as much suffering as possible. I buy the 16 oz tub and it lasts a long, long time.

triple paste Oxi Clean

There is nothing better for getting poop, spit up, vomit, blood, food and any other baby byproduct out of clothing. Oxi Clean is worth it’s weight in gold, make no mistake. I use it for my cloth diapers and as a general soak for soiled clothing. I put some in a shaker (like the thing that you’d see at an Italian restaurant for sprinkling hot pepper flakes), sprinkle it onto a fresh stain, then drop the whole article into a bucket of hot water to soak. Magic!


Arm’s Reach Mini Cosleeper Bassinet

I love this thing, but it might not be for everyone. I like having my newborn in my room for the first couple months, mainly so I can lie down while nursing at night. Most any bassinet will do, but the cosleeper makes it basically foolproof to get baby into and out of bed with minimal movement, and it spares some of that precious sleep time you just never have enough of as the parent of a newborn. Our master bedroom isn’t huge, and it fits very well. I was lucky enough to get mine used for less than half price, but they can be hard to find in the secondhand market (like most amazing baby products). Now, if only it would change the poopy diaper that seems to follow every night feeding…

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Other Items I Love:

  • Vibrating Baby Seat – basically a bouncy seat with a battery-operated motor to vibrate baby to sleep… fabulous!
  • White Noise Maker – we like the Cloud b Sleep Sheep, but anything will help, even a rickety old fan
  • Baby Carrier – which type you get is a totally personal decision, but you NEED at least one
  • Dura Bibs – best bib for catching BIG spills, liquid and solid; a pocket bib that is EASY to clean and sanitize!
  • Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat
  • Ultimate Crib Sheet – Makes midnight linen changes a breeze
  • Massaging Teether – Vibrates to soothe sore gums when baby bites down… I love this one

Well that was fun… and it had the unintended side-effect of making me feel much more prepared for this baby than I was feeling before. I have all this stuff around already!!!


Andrea said...

Great product choices! I would also recommend Baby OxiClean for those little ones with super sensitive skin. I found a nice big bucket of it at Target and it is fabulous!

Erin M. said...

Karen, we've never met, but I think of you often at times one wouldn't think I'd think of a stranger because you're the first person to tell me about lily pads. I'm using them for my 4th baby and loving how "discreet" they are compared to what I had been using. I'm so glad that the main thing I think about when buying my new (thrifted) clothing is now NOT will you be able to see my nursing pads. I will recommend them to friends and family for their leaking issues.

Karen said...

Awww! Glad to help! Nursing a newborn has always been a very unpleasant experience for me, and I'm happy if my learning curve can help anyone else!! My little guy is now 7 months old, and I'm still leaking. But not as much, so I'm currently alternating Lilypadz and cloth nursing pads depending on if I leave the house or not :) Cloth nursing pads = bra pancakes = not so chic.