dear deidre

Deidre, this post is for you . . . well, and for anyone else expecting a baby who is interested in my two cents. (Disclaimer: Deidre asked for my two cents. I do not give such information unless asked. If you're not Deidre and you decide to read this, it was your decision to eavesdrop. I didn't force this information upon you. =)

Back in 2009, I mentioned this book, Baby Bargains. The new edition of the book - the 9th edition - is coming out at the end of this week. As I said in my post almost two years ago, if you're expecting a baby (especially if it's your first), I highly recommend this book, echoing the recommendation I received from my friend, mother of three. I'm sure the new edition will be even better. It's so helpful for wading through the over-abundance of baby gear out there, especially things that are more expensive like carseats and cribs and strollers. I've even grabbed our copy off the shelf a couple times recently as we have been researching a car seat for the grandparent's car and double strollers.

I'll let Baby Bargains guide you as to which carseat and crib you wish to purchase, but I will share with you some of my favorite (essential, in my opinion) baby and baby-related items. (Of course, if you're curious, we chose from the books' "good, better, best" recommendations for the crib and carseats: Graco SnugRide, Sunshine Radian XTSL, Cosco Scenera (for the grandparent's).)

Miracle Blanket. A friend (hi, Bekah!) gave me the Miracle Blanket as per the strong recommendation from her friend. Bekah doesn't have kids, but she took the advice of her friend who does. I am thankful she did because I really like that blanket. (And not because of any of its claims against colic. I just like it.) Lydia wasn't a swaddle addict. (We actually quit swaddling her arms down when she was six-weeks-old because she was always searching for her fingers to suck on and getting more upset that she couldn't access them and waking up because of it. Once she had unobstructed access to her fingers, she could self-soothe and get herself back to sleep until she was actually hungry.) But the blanket kept her snuggled and warm without the worry of becoming tangled in it. Since I dressed her in gowns the first six weeks, her little legs and feet stayed (relatively) warm throughout the winter.

That's my next ticket item: baby gowns. I loved not having to deal with a whole line of snaps - like on infant sleepers - in the wee hours of the night. For the first six weeks, Lydia wore a onesie (only three snaps) under a gown and the miracle blanket for sleeping at night. When she woke up to eat, I'd unwrap her blanket and feed her on one side. Then I'd change her diaper. (Sometimes she was falling asleep between sides but would then wake up sooner between feedings. If I changed her diaper, it'd wake her up and she'd eat off the other side and sleep for longer stretches.) The gown made this simple: lift gown, unsnap onesie, change diaper, snap onesie, pull down gown. Then I'd leave her unwrapped and feed her on the other side. Then I'd wrap her up like a burrito in her Miracle Blanket and put her back to bed.

Speaking of beds, we were blessed with a plethora of options for cradles to borrow from the attics of our parents and grandparents. The first three months, Lydia slept in our room right next to the bed in a cradle. This made night feedings so easy as I could lift her from the cradle into the bed without getting up from bed. (This wasn't always good if I was really tired . . . ) A co-sleeper or pack 'n play would provide the same convenience, though you might have to get out of bed - which I often did anyway because I loved my comfy rocking chair in the nursery. Again, my friend who now has three children sang the praises of her Best Chair and its performance fabric. We got the swivel rocker. We didn't have room for an ottoman, so a stool sufficed. It's a very comfortable chair, and now that another baby is on the way, it's relocated to our room. I love how it doesn't look like it belongs in a nursery, so once the baby era of our life is over, we should be able to utilize this chair in another room of our house.

Apparently, ceiling fans help decrease the incidence of SIDS. We don't have any ceiling fans, but circulating air makes sense. A little tabletop fan doubled as an air circulator and noise machine for us. This one is my favorite because it's small enough to transport when traveling but loud enough to drown out noise.

I have no experience with formula or even bottle feeding, and fortunately for Lydia and me, our breastfeeding relationship was rather successful. A nursing cover (like the Hooter Hider) is quite handy the first few weeks when feeding sessions can take 45 minutes (or longer) and you both are figuring out exactly how to do this. As Lydia figured it out, I learned some tricks, too, and I quickly ditched the cover. Wear two shirts: a top shirt and a low cut tank top underneath. Pull down the tank top and lift up the top shirt. No exposed skin except where baby is latched on, so it can't be seen anyway. Some people love nursing tanks, but I preferred my two shirt method as the cheap nursing tanks didn't offer much (any) support and only created more fabric to mess with when worn with a nursing bra. Speaking of nursing bras, I love the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra. You (or anyone interested) can email me for the why since I am sure no one wants to read why on my blog - especially my male family members. It's completely worth the cost ($49 retail) because the cheap ones I used at first barely held up whereas the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra is still going strong.

Feeding got more complicated at six months when we introduced solids. For me, breastfeeding was a cinch - no measuring formula and remembering to bring anything along when leaving the house. Lydia nursed when she was hungry and stopped when she was done. My supply was never an issue, so as long as she had wet and dirty diapers, I didn't think twice about feeding. When six months came, I had to wonder about food allergies and remember to bring food along, and feeding wasn't as easy (in my opinion). From six to nine months, my Super Baby Food book helped me muddle through what to introduce when.

Plus, it gave me everything I needed to know when it came to preparing vegetables and fruits (since I made all of Lydia's baby food). The book is a little intense with some of its recommendations, but I glossed over some of the intensity and focused on the basics, which I found to be very helpful. (The website is also a great resource for preparing baby food.)

The Bumbo baby seat is also quite handy, and we even got ours as a hand-me-down. We didn't invest in a high chair as we found one in Aaron's grandparent's attic. Since it didn't have any way to secure an infant, we used the Bumbo to feed Lydia those first few weeks and months of introducing solids. Prior to that, the Bumbo allowed her to join us at the table for meals, sitting on the table watching Aaron and me eat. It also traveled well and even allowed for a wagon ride around Pop-Pop's yard.

Though I didn't purchase this bib until later, I should have: the Bumkins SuperBib is the best. It's waterproof with a pocket to collect dribbled food and can be wiped off or washed, easily drying between meals. It covers way more surface area than those wimpy drool bibs, including baby's shoulders. I only have two which is really plenty for us.

When the baby is little bitty, I love wearing my baby. I wore Lydia in a sling a lot, but as she grew, it kind of hurt my back with the weight being mostly on one shoulder. I am excited to use the Moby Wrap Solly Wrap on my next baby since it evenly distributes the weight on both shoulders (and is much lighter fabric than the Moby). Then, once the baby is even bigger, as I've already mentioned in a previous blog post, I love the ERGO. Since I've already talked about that, I won't repeat; I'll just summarize what I recommend: Solly Wrap and ERGO.

This bouncy seat is the only way I was able to get a shower those first few weeks. (I'm sure anyone who was with me during that time appreciated my showering.) Lydia also used to sit in it during meals (if she wasn't also insisting on eating at the same time I was).

Stroller. Two of my friends with multiple children warned me against those travel systems (carseat and stroller) they sell at every chain store. I am so thankful they did. I researched strollers somewhat extensively, but I also was already favorably biased toward the BOB revolution. I took me awhile to get Aaron on board, but he agrees it was a smart purchase. However, I live in the city where a stroller is my primary vehicle. I use it every day, multiple times a day. I ran with it (when I was running before being pregnant again). I grocery shop with it. I bring it to the zoo. I bring it to the mall. I walk to the library with it. I walk to the park with it. Thus, I suggest knowing what you need from your stroller. Cheaper is not always better (i.e. a $20 umbrella stroller from a chain store versus a Maclaren umbrella stroller), but the nearly $1000 Bugaboo isn't necessarily the best for you either. I found the stroller purchase to be the most stressful (it's a lot of money!), so take the time to visit a store and push the strollers you're considering. Or go to the park or mall and notice the strollers you see. Ask the mamas (or papas or nannies or whomever) pushing the stroller their two cents. I did this often when researching double strollers, and most moms even encouraged me to push their strollers around the park to feel it out. Of course, ask your friends with babies and with lifestyles similar to yours because they'll probably be the most helpful opinions.

I think baby shoes are a funny thing. Some people have shoes galore for their kids, but I didn't put Lydia in shoes until she was sitting up (besides gifted baby booties). She first owned a pair of Robeez which were fine but didn't hold up so well (and can be seen in the above bib photo). When she grew out of those, I invested in a pair of See Kai Run Smaller shoes (for 0-24 months) which have a soft suede sole but also have non-slip rubber pads. They are expensive for a baby shoe (retail $32), but Lydia only has this one pair and wears them all the time.

They have held up fabulously, and she still has plenty of room in them. Lydia's feet are not very wide, but these shoes are definitely great for wide feet. I'm not a shoe person myself, so I'd rather have one pair of high quality shoes than ten cheap pairs to match every outfit. Thus, Lydia has her See Kai Run shoes, black mary janes (which are Pediped, which I do not like as much as See Kai Run), snow boots, and Keen sandals (just like her daddy's (his aren't pink), which are hand-me-downs from the Tennessee ladies, Sydney and Grace). When she grows out of these See Kai Run Smaller shoes (intended for 0-24 months), I'll get the See Kai Run shoes (not the "Smaller" ones) which have a flexible rubber sole (intended for 6 months thru 3 years). I'd probably go ahead and get a pair now, but I think she'll be wearing her Keens most of the spring and summer anyway. So I'll wait till the fall.

I also love this book (as I've already mentioned on my blog in the past): Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

I do not believe we have purchased more than ten toys for Lydia (and we definitely have more than ten toys). Most all of them were gifted from friends and family. Thus, I haven't picked out many things for Lydia, but I'll give you a few of our mutual favorites. The stacking cups have been in use since Lydia could sit up. First, she picked them up and put them in her mouth. Then she knocked over towers. Then she unstacked them in order for someone else to build a tower. Then she built a tower. Then she stacked them inside themselves. Last week she realized there are animals on the bottom, so when I say, "where is the lion?" she hands me the lion cup and roars. I imagine we will move on to colors and counting, so we are not even maximizing their potential yet. Just do not bring them to the beach or a wave could take them away as was the fate of another set of stacking cups (which, fortunately, were not as cool as these ones).

These ones come from Discovery Toys, and they have been "upgraded" recently. So they're a little different (three languages on the numbers and textured edges). The ones we have came from my neighbor and are the same ones we had as kids. (I just saw them for sale on ebay - "vintage" new in the box for $29.99. =)

Books are a given, but someone also gave us a cloth book (Fuzzy Bee and Friends) which entertained Lydia whenever she was in her carseat (in the stroller or car) or anywhere else I needed her to be distracted while we were out (church, pediatrician, etc.). I think she read it during our 5K last May. It crinkles (or it did until I wasn't thinking and threw it in the dryer), and it was the only book she was allowed to eat.

A push toy was awesome for when Lydia was getting closer to walking but not comfortable and steady enough to go on her own. IKEA has one that I like (which we gave to my nephew for Christmas).

But Big Guy and Nonna gave Lydia a shopping cart at Christmas. Whatever works so long as the push toy is sturdy enough to prevent serious wipe outs (like a toy umbrella stroller).

I have also already sang praises for the Jesus Storybook Bible on my blog, so I'll spare you the repeat. Every person should have one - single or married, kids or no kids.

Slugs, Bugs, & Lullabies by Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson.

We've sung the songs on this album to Lydia since we purchased the album when she was a few months old. Now she requests them constantly (by pointing at my iphone or pointing at the ihome). She dances when it's playing in the ihome, and she gives her signature, "yay!" at the end of each song. I can listen to this entire album during car rides and not want to pull my hair out. Honestly, I am almost always singing along. It's definitely a must. Slugs, Bugs, & Lullabies.

I guess I should be nice and post a list with links here at the bottom for you, Deidre. I'm so excited for you and Gavin and your sweet baby. Please take or leave any of my two cents. It's just my opinion and experience, and, as always, what was best for me is not necessarily best for you or anyone else. So sad I am not around to watch your belly swell in person or see you in your regular routine as a mama or have our little people grow up together. Please send pictures. Love you, friend!

- - -

Solly Wrap (baby carrier)
ERGO (baby carrier)
bouncy seat
See Kai Run (shoes)


  1. We love the ikea push toy. But it isn't superb for the EARLY stages of walking. It doesn't have enough weight for him to really lean on it, and when he falls backward, he just pulls the thing on his face. But we get a lot of alternative good use out of it, and I am sure it will come in handy when all he needs is a wee bit of assistance.

  2. that IKEA push toy has a feature where you can tighten the bolts to change its resistance (i.e. more for trying to stand versus less for walking with it), but ryan told me the one screw is stripped, so it didn't work. bummer.

  3. I did not read the post :) But I love looking at how big Lydia has gotten over the last year and a little. Once I need to I will read this post..hopefully your blog will archive it for years :)

  4. I just read the post! This is amazing! I'm going to forward all this wonderful information on to my sister-in-law. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! :)

  5. deidre, since it was written to you, i'm glad you are loving it. =) nez, what?! you didn't read it? =P *sigh* (just kidding.) natalie, aaron asked why i was posting this on my blog instead of just emailing deidre. i'm glad you found it useful. now i have an answer to his question. =)

  6. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with basically everything you wrote and can confirm it since we have a 2nd baby too! Great post. Love Baby Bargains. WTG! A side note, I really really liked the "Baby Whisperer" and her methods (and extra cool, she was a nurse). Good luck Deidre (and whoever else is reading this too!)

  7. I also meant to add, I really liked the Gilligan and O'Malley Nursing Bras from Target. All of mine lasted two kids and were super comfortable and cheap too. I also recommend a sleep nursing bra too. I think I had a Medela one and another one...can't remember the brand now (helpful, right?).

  8. wow... i DO know something about babies!

    (and Lydia has gotten SO big!)

  9. I thought of something else! If you are going to be doing any significant amount of pumping, invest in a good quality double electric pump. I had a Medela Pump In Style Advance and was very happy with it. That said, there are many brands that are great, I am sure. I also discovered this after I had Ethan:
    It's a pumping bra and it changed my life! Seriously. Totally worth it :)

  10. I bought this for my son when he was 11 months old. He was already walking VERY well and he absolutely *LOVES* this toy! (I would not recommend this to a toddler just learning to walk.)

  11. I would love to recommend this very useful post to my sister in law who is 5 months pregnant! I guess she would love this post!

  12. Great article! I was wondering if your baby fought the nursing cover you used at all?

    1. yes. i stopped using it after the first few weeks. or i'd use it to get situated and latched and then uncover the baby's head at least. it's hot under there!


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