I wanted to share a list of the top 10 tips and products that helped us make it through Lennon’s first year! I’m not paid by nor have I been asked by any of these companies to share, but I do hope that they will help lots of you survive the early years with your little ones too!
1. Drying Rack. First on our list is this drying rack by Boon. We have the Grass version, but I would highly recommend the larger Lawn version. There is NOTHING better out there for drying all the bottles and pump accessories you will be washing every day. Anything else leaves condensation in the bottles and you end up with a stinky mildew smell to them. YUCK!
2. Poop explosion tip. This tip is incredible and unfortunately discovered too late for us, but could perhaps help some of you mamas and mamas to be. Did you know why there are envelope folds on a baby’s onesie? Click here to find out!
3. Bottles. With Lennon I was exclusively breastfeeding although most of the time it was via pumping exclusively. When we were ready to transition her to formula we realized the Medela bottles wouldn’t take formula. I then discovered these Life Factory bottles which are reasonably priced compared to the Medela ones and will go through so many life stages with her! They go from bottle, to sippy cup to plain water bottle just by changing the top out! Ella loves the larger one for water in her school bag and I love that they go in the dishwasher too with no damage!
4. Nursing Pillow. At first we had a few challenges with nursing Lennon as she was so long and I’m not very large. We ended up both being really frustrated until we got our nursing pillow from Westcoast Baby. Is it expensive? Sure. Is it cheaper than formula? HECK YEAH! I LOVE this pillow and so do the new mamas who use it in the studio. It has the perfect height and “squish factor”.
5. Gates. When it’s time for baby gates, these ones from Retract-A-Gate cannot be beat! We had just moved and didn’t want to damage the posts in our new railings by drilling gates into them. Also, with two large dogs we had lost a few gates to bulldog roughhousing in the past. I opted for these and am SO in love with them. We get compliments on our baby gates…who can say that!?! I also love that you can mount them in one spot and add a second set of hooks so they can close off two different areas depending on what you want at the time. They also can be left open after the kids are in bed so unlike other gates you won’t always be fighting with them even when your kids aren’t around. These things are just AMAZING!
6. Diapers. Yes, I know many of you will brush this off and think I am crazy but I LOVE the Bum Genius cloth diapers. We used them off and on admittedly due to our move and lacking a diaper sprayer but these Bum Genius really are the BEST. When we are in it and using them consistently I really do find them easier than disposables. We never “run out”, they never seem to have those poop explosions we get with disposables and no diaper rashes! At the newborn stage, you just toss them in the washer with an extra rinse cycle and a free and clear soap, then lay on drying rack to dry. When poop is more substantial you will need the sprayer they sell to rinse before washing but the savings are ASTRONOMICAL! Check out this blog about the savings!. We saved at LEAST $1500 and that’s not accounting for the fact that in my experience, cloth diapered babies feel when they are wet better and potty train faster. Ella was 100% potty trained by 2. The average now is 3-4 so just that extra year or two saved us enormous amounts in diapers! I highly recommend getting them at New & Green Co. because you can buy bundles there like THIS one we purchased. We got 12 to start and bought another 6 pack after we knew we were committed. The other good news? We resold some we had from Ella that were an old style which required stuffing and got a really good resale value on these too! They also have a newborn size rental program if you want to use them for the newborn stage.
7. Nursing Tank Top. The Glamour Mom Tanks These tank tops were my uniform for the first several months after Lennon was born. As any seasoned or new mom knows, there is a lot of growing and shrinking going on as you settle into breastfeeding. Glamour Mom tank tops account for that and allow for discrete nursing anywhere. They are comfortable and look good when paired with a nice sweater and jeans too! I grabbed 3 to start and then added some as I settled back to my regular size after the first few months. (Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of this and it has since moved on to a friend who had a baby, but there are lots of photos on their website)
8. Child locks. We had these with Ella at our old house and are just getting ready to install them again. The Tot Lok system is the BEST! Installing them is a pain, but once they are in you will have the easiest baby lock system around. I love that there is also a switch to turn these off so once the kids are asleep I can clean my kitchen without having to wrestle each cabinet open all the time.
9. Baby Carrier. There was a lot of research done into baby wearing since I had Ella and I am so glad for it. We ended up finding Tula Baby Carriers and they are AMAZING! They hold the baby in a correct position that is safe for their hips, are made of great, sturdy material with FANTASTIC designs, and they maintain resale value for when you are finished with them! I actually have two of these (one for the home and one for the car). If she won’t nap I will often wear her on by back in this while I work around the house and she can sleep that way. When we are out I rarely even take a stroller because I like being free to use a shopping cart or use both hands just by wearing her in this.
10. Diaper Bag. This took me a LONG time. I went through several bags with Ella and a couple more with Lennon until I bit the bullet and bought one of these Petunia Picklebottom bags. This bag is everything. HAHA! They have other designs which look equally great too. I will likely use this one as a purse for day to day as well once my little one is out of diapers. I thought they were way too pricey when I had Ella but I can tell you now it would have saved me a LOT of money to just start with this instead of fight it and keep buying different bags that didn’t work.