Lesson 59: Things we made fun of, then couldn’t live without

Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play I knew we would be keeping J in our room for the first few months, so we purchased a pack and play, knowing we’d get plenty of use out of it while traveling, and could also use it in our bedroom for him to sleep. Bassinets are cute and all, but why in the world did I need yet another place for my baby to sleep?

So we brought J home from the hospital, where he had slept in the perfect-sized little bassinet with just the right incline, and we placed that tiny little bundle in the gigantic pack and play. It just didn’t seem nearly as cozy, and I guess he agreed. He slept fitfully for 2 nights (and I know, he was a newborn, it’s kinda to be expected–but he wasn’t just waking up every couple of hours, he never really slept peacefully at all). We were exhausted by the 3rd night and I had read some very positive reviews about the Rock ‘n Play–moms were swearing that the cozy space and incline made all the difference for their newborns. So we forked over the $60 or so (we would have paid much, much more) and took a shot. And damned if it didn’t work! J slept 5 hours straight that night–I didn’t, because I kept waking up to make sure he was breathing. But progress is progress, right?

Angelcare monitor. These were stupid because I wasn’t going to be that mom who constantly worried about her child. Plus, I’d read that they’re bad because they often give false alarms. I didn’t want to be dependent on it, and feed my fears. Being the obsessive nerd I am, I knew that the risk for SIDS greatly decreased at 4 months, so that was the magic number that would make me ready to move J to his own room. However, by the time he was 3 months old, we were ready to go ahead and evict him from our room (dude was a noisy sleeper). We moved him to his nursery and, even though it was right down the hall, it was entirely too far for me. I was used to being able to reach over and put my hand on his tummy to reassure myself that he was still breathing in the middle of the night. Turns out, I was that that mom and I worried about my baby. A lot.

So I ordered the Angelcare monitor, Bo installed it for me, and I slept peacefully that night. And as it turns out, if you read the instructions carefully, there’s a suggestion off to the side in small print to use a piece of plywood under the pad of the monitor that goes under Baby’s mattress. We did that and the only false alarms we ever had were when J got a little older and would burrow in the very corner of the crib, or the batteries were getting low (which, by the way, this only happens in the middle of the night–just like your smoke alarms).

Video monitor. I wish I would have figured out at the same time that I would love my Angelcare monitor and my video monitor, because then I could have just bought an Angelcare video monitor. But I’m a slow learner. (However, no, having a separate monitor from the Angelcare does not mean you have to carry around two monitors.)

I didn’t want to get a video monitor in the beginning because I’m a pretty obsessive person and I feared I would spend all of my time staring at the monitor. As it turned out, I’m so obsessive that I constantly wondered what every little noise was. When we started sleep training and J would suddenly get quiet, I wanted to open the door and check on him–but I knew I couldn’t because that would ruin any progress we’d made so far that night. When he coughed, was he awake or just coughing in his sleep? Had he even gone to sleep yet? I wanted to be able to lay my eyes on him without the risk of waking him up if he was asleep. Enter the video monitor. I hardly ever look at it actually, but it’s nice to be able to see him if I want.

Mommy’s Bliss Gripe WaterWe didn’t actually make fun of this product–we just didn’t know what it was. I’d read about it, but it seemed like a bunch of hoodoo to me. But J had acid reflux and I swear that stuff helped soothe him. Every single time that kid cried for “no reason,” he stopped the moment we gave him gripe water. Hell, maybe he was crying because he liked the taste of the gripe water. Whatever. I don’t care. All I know is, it works.

NoseFridaNo way in hell was I ever going to suck snot from my kid’s nose. That’s disgusting. Except, as it turns out, yes I was going to and no it wasn’t disgusting. That thing works a zillion times better than those crappy little bulbs, they’re easier to clean, and they have filters and a very long tube that prevent snot from getting in your mouth. Best of all, it helps your kid breathe–which helps your kid sleep–which makes everybody happy.

Baby food makerI was pretty certain from the beginning that I would be making J’s food myself. I didn’t see the point in buying all those over-priced little jars. They taste awful, take up too much room in the cabinets, and I could make it myself for half the price. Plus, and most importantly, I could control exactly what went in his food (and what didn’t go in his food) if I made it myself.

But do you know how many times Bo and I walked by the Beaba display at Buy Buy Baby and laughed our heads off at the absurdity? Why buy that costly little machine when you could just steam your vegetables on the stove, then use your food processor to puree it? It seemed silly to spend all that money when we already had all the supplies we needed.

When I was about 30 weeks pregnant, I started looking up baby food recipes. I just wanted some idea of what to expect. It seemed like it might be a lot of work and I wanted to have a game plan (again, I’m a nerd you guys). That’s when I started picturing myself with a little baby on my hip and a kitchen with dirty dishes all over it. And all of a sudden, a baby food maker, a machine that could steam and puree the food all in one, didn’t seem like such a stupid idea after all.

I read some reviews on Amazon and went with the Kidsline Baby Chef Ultimate Baby Food Maker–and it worked well at first. I used it happily for about 5 months before the processor part stopped working. After that, Bo did the research and he came up with the CuisinartBaby. We bought that and I’ve used it ever since with absolutely no problems. In addition, it has a more efficient steamer than the Kidsline and it also seems to have a more powerful motor to puree. At a price of about $50 for the Kidsline and $110 for the Cuisinart, it’s no wonder that the Cuisinart is a better product. You get what you pay for, so I at least don’t feel like I was ripped off with the Kidsline. I just wish I would have made a different choice and gone with quality over price to start with.

What are your must-have baby/toddler items (particularly any you made fun of before realizing their awesomeness)?

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10 comments on “Lesson 59: Things we made fun of, then couldn’t live without

  1. My biggest “can’t live without it” is the mesh feeder. Now that he’s teething, I pop one of my homemade baby food ice cubes into it and he is happy. He hated his teething toys, and frozen washcloths, but loves this thing! It will be in my shower gift kit from now on!

  2. My baby is only a week old, but so far I am in love with the “My brest friend” breastfeeding pillow. I also love the sleepers that don’t have legs but instead just a bottom that pulls together with a drawstring.

    • I didn’t really like my boppy. Did you try both? Is this one better than the boppy?

      • Didn’t know that’s what they were called, but yes, I just looked that up and that’s the kind they had at the hospital. Not as good at all. I found it was always sliding out of position and the roundness meant the baby kept getting smothered in my cleavage. I thought it was quite awkward and stopped using it fairly quickly The brest friend clips around you so it stays in place – you can even walk around with it on. The surface is also flat except for two head supports, so the baby sits rally naturally on it. It also has cushioning in the back that provides lumbar support. (I have a bad back, so this is a big deal for me.) There’s also a pocket, which I haven’t used, but I can see coming in handy.

        • Oh that sounds really nice! I need to keep that in mind for Baby 2! I think the worst part about nursing in the beginning was that it hurt my back so much. And you’re right, the boppy always slid out of place. It was fine to prop him up on just to sit, but not at all for nursing.

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  3. We have had success with 2 great sleepers thanks in part the the Miracle blanket. Both our girls loved being swaddled. Also loved the Evenflo exersaucer as a safe place to play with our 2nd. It got her our of the line of fire of her big sister and she could chew on everything to her hearts content. It made cleaning and meal making much easier for me. Couldn’t live without either of those things for a while.

  4. Ergo baby carrier. It’s the one product I recommend to pretty much everybody. We started off with the Chicco baby carrier because it was pretty affordable ($39.99), hey, you can put the baby front facing and isn’t that more fun for the baby to be able to see where you’re going? Except that it was SO hard to get the baby into the thing. And once she was in it, it kind of bunched up under her butt in a way that seemed really uncomfortable. Then I got the Moby, which was nice especially for just around the house, but it has a VERY steep learning curve for getting it on and getting it secure, and by the time my baby was 4 or 5 months old, she was already starting to get too heavy. So, finally, I broke down and paid the extra money to get the Ergo (actually, I bought one used for $80, which seemed like a lot to pay for a used product that retails new for $115, but whatever). Oh my goodness, I wish I had bought it when she was an infant. It was such a breeze to put her in it, she loved it immediately, it became my go to fussy baby soother (I cannot tell you how many times I wound up doing squats in the living room so that she would go to sleep). I could discretely nurse her in it while walking the dog (shh, don’t tell my neighbors that’s what was going on under there). When she got a little bigger, she could ride on my back, giving her a wider view of the world. Now she’s almost two and she just last week started refusing to get into it. Considering how much use I’ve gotten out of the thing, that was by far the best $80 I’ve ever spent.

    • We actually just used our Ergo yesterday at the grocery store. He was sleepy and a little fussy, but as soon as I put him in it, he calmed right down. So even at almost 2, he’s letting me put him in it. I love that he’s 30 lbs and it’s just as comfortable now as when he was 15 lbs.

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