Leading up to Kaylee’s birth, I did my best to anticipate the things I’d need around the house to keep her alive and entertained. I figured out the obvious things on my own – bottles, diapers, etc. – but there were a few must-haves that I didn’t know about at first. And if I had known how helpful they’d be, I’d have bought them the day I found out I was pregnant.
One: Boppy pillow
I inherited this magical pillow from my sister-in-law, who taught us its charms about a week after Kaylee was born. It saved our lives – or at least our sanity.
Fresh out of the womb, Kaylee couldn’t stand to be set down anywhere. If she wasn’t tightly swaddled, her arms and legs would shoot straight out and she’d cry like she thought she was flying apart. I wasn’t a talented baby-swaddler, so even when I did wrap her up in a blanket, she’d kick it off within a few minutes.
Until the Boppy pillow came along. Placing Kaylee in the pillow seemed to make her feel secure and cradled – and unable to kick away the blanket she was wrapped in. The pillow allowed us, finally, to set her down for a while.
Two: Bottle warmer
Rob and I tried to save a little money at first by buying a cheap bottle warmer that used hot, running water to get formula to the right temperature. We figured out our mistake the first time we used it, when Kaylee was belting out her “Feed me!!!!” cry while we struggled to find the correct water temperature – even luke warm registered as too hot – and maintain our composure at the same time. We bought a different one the next day.
Our new bottle warmer, which uses a small amount of water heated into steam, allows us to keep prepared bottles in the fridge at all times, heating them up in about three minutes when Kaylee gets hungry. No messing with mixing formula in the middle of the night, which is helpful when you’re holding a crying baby.
This is the one we bought, but I’m sure there are other good ones out there. The one down side: We now know exactly how funky our tap water is, because it leaves behind a gross brown residue in the bottom of the warmer.
Three: Infant swing
Rob’s mom bought Kaylee a swing/glider when Kaylee was two weeks old. It continues to be a wonderful fixture in our living room. It comes in most handy when Kaylee has reached her whiny, I’m-not-going-to-sleep-no-matter-what-even-though- I-can-hardly-keep-my-eyes-open stage of the day. Because no matter how hard she fights sleep, the gentle rocking of her swing can usually knock her out inside of five minutes.
Tip: Buy one that runs on batteries and plugs into the wall. That narrows your options by a lot, but at least you’ll never run out of power mid-swing.
Four: 3-in-1 travel system
We just broke down and bought one of these yesterday. It’s a car seat/carrier/stroller combo that allows you to carry the baby around in her car seat, and snap the seat into a stroller when you want to wander around Best Buy for a few minutes – or several hours, if you’re married to Rob.
I didn’t originally want a “travel system,” because I figured I could just carry the seat or put Kaylee in a smaller stroller when necessary. I also have several friends who derisively refer to these big contraptions as “SUV strollers” and complain about parents blocking store aisles with them.
But about the third time I tried to transfer a sleeping baby from a car seat into a stroller without waking her up, I realized that my friends (who don’t have children) don’t know what they’re talking about. I found myself staring with not-at-all-concealed envy at parents who were pushing their sleeping babies around the store, still snug in their car seats, while mine whined because I’d nudged her out of a nap to get her onto wheels.
But no more. As of yesterday, I can get Kaylee from the car to the video-game aisle with her dad without waking her up. And I’m more than willing to endure the sneers of the cynical to do it. They’re much easier to take than the wail of an unhappy baby.