My pregnant friends always ask me what I couldn’t live without. Now that the first six months are under our belt (wahoo!), I thought it would be a good time to stop and reflect on what items really made our lives easier. Every mom will have her own answers. But other than the obvious necessities (i.e., diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, a car seat, stroller and clothes), here’s a list of things I found invaluable during the first six months of motherhood.
1. Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
While pregnant, I constantly wondered: Where will we put the baby when we’re not holding him? I know it sounds silly, but it was a real concern of mine. For us, the answer was the Rock ‘n Play. C.J. practically lived in this cozy little hammock-type contraption for the first four months of his life. To this day, it’s where he takes his best and longest naps, so when I really, realllly need him to sleep for more than one hour, that’s where I plop him.
2. Gerber Prefold Birdseye Cloth Diapers
We use these as burp clothes (I’m far too lazy to use them for their intended purpose). I can’t stress it enough: You just can’t have too many of these. We have them strategically placed throughout the house, from the nursery and living room, to our nightstand and the back porch.
These just made feedings more comfortable for me and C.J. I’m still extremely reliant on it. We also use it to prop him up in sitting position.
As soon as C.J. was big enough that these didn’t completely envelope him, we started using them at night for peace of mind (versus a blanket, which could potentially come loose). Once he went all ninja and started breaking out and threatening to roll over while swaddled, we began employing the infamous Double Swaddle Method. That’s right. Double Swaddle. He slept like this until very recently (10-12 hours a night, might I add).
5. Activity Mat
Perhaps no other item brings me fonder maternity leave memories than our activity mat. We would spend hours on this every day, working on tummy time, reading books, swatting at the dangling animals (Larry the Lion, Elliot the Elephant, Marvin the Monkey, Zoey the Zebra and Wally the Whale) or just lying there staring at each other. I could never bring myself to throw this away.
I was one of those clueless, self-righteous souls who swore my kid would never use a pacifier. By week three, I was begging C.J. to take one. They’re a lifesaver on long car rides and out in public, when you don’t want to be the Mom with the Screaming Child. When he’s tired, cranky and fighting sleep, all I have to do is rock him a little and stick a paci in his mouth, and his eyes immediately start to flutter closed.
Note: He was picky with his pacifiers, so be sure to test out a few brands. When you find one he likes, buy 10 of them.
7. Bouncy Chair
Admittedly, it took me a while to warm to this particular item. I mean, how much baby gear can one family have scattered around the living room? I started using it at around two months, and to this day, it’s my babysitter when I’m getting ready for work in the mornings. It keeps him entertained for up to an hour, and it’s lightweight enough that I can park it just outside the bathroom and keep an eye on him while I shower, do my hair, makeup and get dressed.
Yes, in addition to changing pad covers. It must be a boy thing, but it seemed like for the first three to four months, every time we changed his diaper, he’d pee the second it came off. We perfected a series of Matrix-style pee-dodging moves that kept us mostly dry, however it seemed like we were stripping and washing our covers after every other diaper change. These just made life a little easier.