Does it seem like everyone and their sister is pregnant these days? My sister actually is pregnant:) With so many first time mommy friends out there, I thought I would do a post of my reviews on baby products. Now keep in mind, every baby is different and every baby has different needs and preferences. Let this be a guide in your decision making process as you attempt to prepare for motherhood, the best adventure ever!
Just an FYI, I am not getting any form of payment for these reviews:)
Our hands down most favorite blankets are these Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets. They are available at Babies R Us or Target and are worth every penny. We were lucky enough to get several sets as gifts. We actually have 12 total now. I leave a few at daycare and the rest stay here. These blankets are lightweight and can be used for swaddling (obviously), tummy time, nursing, covering the car seat when walking outside or in the doctor's office around sick kids, etc. We tried a sleep sack and to say Hayes hated it would be an understatement. Not every baby likes swaddling, which is why I like these blankets. They make swaddling super easy, but I use them for more than just swaddling.
We use some heavier blankets to cover Hayes at night, but that is really it. I don't think we have used a single receiving blanket since he was born.
So breastfeeding Hayes has been the most challenging thing I have ever done. It was more challenging then actually giving birth. But, we have mastered it and Hayes is still getting only breastmilk. (I pump during the day for bottles at daycare and nurse him when we are at home.) I could write an entire book on breastfeeding, but I won't. I am more than happy to answer questions though! We faced lots of challenges in the first month and overcame them all! So for moms who are breastfeeding, these are my must haves:
A nursing sleep bra! These bras are super comfortable and easy to feed baby with. It was all I wore for the first 2 months. Medela makes one, but they run pretty small. I have a Motherhood Maternity one I like also. I still wear these at night.
Nursing pads! I used Lansinoh disposable pads for the first few months and wore them often, because I was leaking often:) Now, I use washable ones and I only have to wear them at night.
Nursing tanks! I ordered a few from Gap before Hayes came, and I'm glad I had them to wear right away. This one is my favorite and it came from Gap. It is super easy to manage for feedings, no clips to mess with. It is also easy to wear out. I would throw it on with my second trimester maternity jeans, also from Gap, a sweater, and a pair of flats, and look kinda presentable....for a sleep-deprived new mommy.
Pump Pump! I have a Medela pump and I love it. It is one of the more expensive models, but I am getting my money's worth. I pump 2-3 times everyday and plan on continuing until Hayes is 1, so having a nice pump is totally worth the money for me. I have also heard good things about the Avent pump. Recommendation...get to know your pump before your milk comes in. It will make things slightly easier to manage:) Make sure you have bags or bottles for freezer storage! All Medela products come with instructions for storing, freezing, thawing, etc.
Nursing Cover! I have a few from Udder Covers, but I recently purchased a Balboa Baby cover that I really like. I also use these everyday when I pump at work. It is important to find one you feel comfortable with. The Balboa Baby cover feels like it covers me better.
Nipple Shield...awkward, I know...which is why I told men not to read:) Hayes had difficulty latching at first. We had to supplement with formula at first and his frenulum needed clipped, so nursing was really challenging for a while. One of Ryan's cousins suggested a nipple shield and it saved our lives. Medela makes one and it is available at Babies R Us and Target. I believe hospitals have them too, although a hardcore lactation consultant might not give you one. This thin piece of silicone makes latching easier for the baby. We used one for about 3 weeks and it was very easy for me to wean Hayes off of it. The shield got us through the first few weeks when he wasn't sure what he was doing...and neither was I:) Just so you know, a good latch is important! A bad latch can lead to mastitis, which is no fun, trust me.
Bottles! This is a tough one...every baby is so different. It is best to buy 1 bottle to make sure baby likes it before you invest in a collection. We started off with Avent and Hayes did not do well with those. We also tried Medela and he kept on sucking the nipples so hard they would become inverted. We now use Dr. Brown's for daycare and I am very happy with them.
We have a Chicco Cortina Travel System. I love our carseat and stroller! My only complaint is that the carseat does not have a slot for buggys (or shopping carts if you are not from LA). It sits in the buggy, I just get nervous and want to hold it the entire time we are in the store. Our set came from Babies R Us.
Baby Sling. I love love love my baby sling from Balboa Baby. I feel like Hayes is so safe and secure in it. I didn't start using one with Hayes until he was about 3 months old. I tried out my SIL's first and decided I had to have one. I actually found mine for $20 at TJMaxx! They are also available online. Check out Balboa Baby for details.
Nap Nanny. We ordered this because Hayes had pretty bad reflux until he was almost 3 months old and couldn't sleep laying flat. I like that this has a cover that can be removed and washed. It is nice to sit him in while I am eating or getting dressed. However, the Lamb Seat mentioned below works for that too. You are not supposed to use a Nap Nanny in a Pack N Play or crib. Babies can flop the top half of their bodies over the edge and potentially get stuck if the Nap Nanny is up against something. This still happens even if they are strapped in. I woke up multiple times during the night to find Hayes hanging over the edge of his. I always kept it on the floor next to our bed. If you know someone who has one, see if you can try it out before you buy your own. I like it, but I don't think we got our money's worth. They run around $120 and we got ours from Babies R Us.
Infant Seat. Seats like this are fantastic! Hayes slept in this lamb seat until he was about 3 months old. When he was 2 months old, we put the lamb seat in his crib. We never had to worry about him dangling over the edge with this one. We used it for sleeping and hanging out. We also took it with us for Hayes to sleep in when we went to visit family. And FYI, the cover is washable! We got this one from Babies R Us.
Diaper Genie. I have heard mixed reviews on these, but we love ours!
Pack N Play. We got this model because we thought we would use it as a bassinet when Hayes was first born. Due to reflux, it did not get used that way. Maybe our next baby will be able to sleep in it though. I do love it now. We have taken the top tray out and it is great to put Hayes in while I am cooking or getting ready. I know we will use it more when he becomes more mobile. Again...Babies R Us.
Bibs and Burpies. You can't have enough of these. Want some fun ones? I happen to have made most of Hayes's burpies and bibs...and I would be happy to make some for you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post to place your order.
Paci Strap. We waited way too long to get one of these. I don't know why. Every time Hayes spit his paci out, which was often, it would hit the floor. These will save so many trips to the sink. Or moments in public where your only paci hits the ground and your child is screaming. These are at Babies R Us and Target.
Bumbo Chair. We love our Bumbo! Right now, Hayes just plays in his. I know my sister-in-law also uses hers for some of Landen's feedings when they are away from home.
We are a Pampers family. Maybe it's something about little boys, maybe it's my little boy, but no other diaper cut it when he was a newborn. He peed out of every single Huggies he wore...which made for lots of laundry. Now that he is in size 1 diapers, Huggies snugglers aren't so bad. We still prefer Pampers though!
We didn't have a ton of clothes when Hayes was first born since we didn't know his gender. We had lots of these shirts though and it was pretty much all he wore. These were nice because we felt like we were going to break him and these shirts don't have to be pulled over the head. Zip up sleepers are also wonderful! I thought Hayes would be in 0-3 month clothes right away, especially since he was almost 9 lbs at birth. He actually stayed in newborn clothes until he was 5 weeks old. You never know how fast or slow your baby will grow!
Maternity clothes for before and after baby
I ordered my maternity jeans from Gap and loved them. I had to order mine in Long and not many places had that option. For my first two trimesters, I wore their "no-panel" pants. These are stretchy in the front and have an elastic band in the back for your expanding body. They were sooo comfortable. They were also perfect for right after Hayes was born. For my third trimester, I ordered a pair of their full panel jeans for a more comfortable option.
Holy Yoga Pants! I lived in yoga pants during my pregnancy. I usually wear scrubs to work, but at a certain point my pants were uncomfortable. So I wore yoga pants to work. And to the store. And to the doctor. And to see friends. I especially loved having these after Hayes was born. They were so comfortable and held in my after baby tummy really well. I wore regular yoga pants from JCPenney.
I also lived in these stretchy maternity tanks made by Be Maternity at Target. They were great for wearing under tops to avoid people seeing the bottom of my belly. I actually still wear these tanks everyday. I really don't like many nursing tops, so I wear a regular shirt with one of these underneath. When it is time to pump or feed, I pull my top shirt up and the tank down. I have a Bella Band, but I didn't use it much. It never stayed in place on me. These tanks were long enough that I could pull them down over any pants I didn't want to button.
Images from Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, Balboa Baby, Gap, and Be Maternity