I tried to steer away from this particular subject in my blog because I don't want my blog to become just another "baby blog". But recent conversations with my non-married friends and friends with no children yet prompted me to share what I am learning as a first time mom (in the hopes that it might help them in the future). I still don't plan to turn this into a "baby blog"... I have other things to write about. American Idol Season 9 is coming this January after all ;)
As first time parents, my husband and I didn't know the first thing about buying items and equipment for our baby save for what our friends and family told us and what we read on the internet. We tried to be practical in our choices but since Andrea was born, the reality of her wants and needs keeps challenging what we consider practical. Our way is probably not the most practical way but from the perspective of 2 working parents who are trying very hard to balance family, work and personal life (with no nanny to help us still, waaaah!)... this way works.
1. The crib
Our playpen/crib has vibrate function, lights, music and nature sounds... features that I was not really looking for and didn't think we needed, but are turning out to be really helpful. I am discovering that Andrea is not one for music, it does very little for her. So we never really got to use the music feature which plays Mozart's pieces. The nature sounds however, was very useful to us. When Andrea was about 2 weeks old, I found out that Andrea likes falling asleep to the sound of running water and splashing waves. It gave me about 30 minutes extra sleep time because I didn't have to lull her to sleep (when you're sleep deprived, trust me, any extra sleep time is a blessing!). I just put her in her crib and turn the nature sounds on. The vibrate function we were able to use when she was a little older, about a month and a half until now. It can calm her and put her to sleep when she's fussy or is having difficulty sleeping.
2. The infant car seat.
In other countries, this piece of equipment is mandatory whenever baby needs to ride in a car... but in this country, not so much. Baby car seats, after all, are not cheap. Our car seat converts to a baby carrier and is part of a travel system (stroller with carrier/car seat). I never really thought we needed the car seat. Then again we never really expected that Andrea will need to travel every weekday with just her daddy and her in the car... she was supposed to have a nanny with her as well. Having a car seat proved to be a life saver for us since I can't go with them on these trips. And even when I am in the car with them, my arms doesn't have to hurt from carrying Andrea the entire trip. It's really convenient.
As an added bonus, Andrea really likes it in her car seat/carrier. When used as a carrier, the bottom is rounded so it rocks back and forth. Andrea sleeps longer whenever we let her sleep there during the day.
3. Swaddle Blanket
Swaddling - is the practice of wrapping infants snugly in blankets to limit the movement of their arms and legs. According to several baby books I've read, it makes them feel more secure.
This item saved my sanity.
We saw this at the mall when we were shopping for baby items before Andrea was born but didn't get one because it was pricey compared to receiving blankets that you can use to swaddle a baby anyway. However, as babies grow fast, Andrea can manage to break out of her swaddle when she was about 3 weeks old and would wake up often in the middle of the night when the movement of her arms and legs startle her. More sleepless nights for me. She was about a month old when we finally decided to try this and lo! Andrea was able to sleep for 4 straight hours the first time she used it which allowed me to get a decent night's sleep for the first time since she was born. As of this writing, Andrea is 10 weeks old and has better control of her arms and legs but she still likes sleeping tightly swaddled.
This is available from Kiddopotamus (and available in the infant section of some local malls). I'm not sure if other brands have this.
4. BPA-free, Colic-free bottles
We will never know the effect of using BPA-free bottles until the babies this generation reach maturity and show a decrease in the occurence of the diseases that BPA is supposed to cause. So I won't go into that discussion. It's a good option though and I chose BPA-free bottles for Andrea.
Colic-free bottles are those that are angled to make sure that the nipple is always full of milk when baby is feeding to reduce air intake. Personally, I preferred the Playtex Ventaire system. Again, they are pricier than the regular feeding bottle (good thing ours was given to us as a gift :) but I have read some great reviews about these particular bottles and now, based on personal experience, Andrea does take in less air and sometimes does not even require burping after feeding when she uses these bottles as opposed to her other bottles. Less air means less possibility of crying due to tummy ache and less stress for me :)
Bouncers are infant chairs that move or "bounce" when a baby moves or when you flip a switch. this is one piece of equipment we regret not buying sooner. We can buy it now but since Andrea is already 2 and half months old and will only be able to use it for probably 2 more months, I don't think it's worth the price anymore. If we're having another baby in the future, I will definitely get one. Again, this can soothe or entertain a fussy baby and can reduce the time you have to carry your baby (as your baby gets heavier, carrying her for long periods gets to be very very tiring).
All my suggestions are prompted by a single formula: Less crying time for Andrea = happier mommy and daddy ;) Each baby is unique and what works for us might not work for you (especially if you have plenty of help around, you may not need most of these items). Sometimes you need to get to know your baby first to figure out what the best options for you are.