Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Mom On the Block

Dear Friend,

I can only imagine what you look like now, as your little one grows in your belly and your turn to become a first-time mother draws near.  We've been friends for so long!  From college, through singleton and during our weddings, I have loved every minute of having you in my life.

What I don't love is being so far from you, and our other friends, as we all have babies.  We are spread from coast to coast, and north to south.    

Our group has waited longer than most to start families.  Have you noticed?  For all of us, there was college.  For most, grad school.  We launched careers, started companies, found love, and took our time to enjoy our own lives before choosing motherhood.

We might've enjoyed ourselves along the way, too.  We have had our share of fun, and then some.  [If you start telling stories on me, I'll go all spider monkey on you.  Do not doubt the spider monkey.]

I find it more difficult to be separated while we are all taking our turns with pregnancy and first-time motherhood than at any other time in our long friendships.  I hate that I can't bring my friends dinner, and hold the new babies, and talk about the joys and pains and struggles of becoming mothers.  That's what sisters do. 

When you asked me about motherhood, and baby registries, and diapers, I wanted to give you (and that baby) a hug.  Since I can't do that, I'm offering this post as a way to support you.  I hope the other mothers reading this will also chime in.
So, what do you need to get started with your baby?  Oh, girl...  *sigh*  I get it.  There's soooo much stuff out there, and it's impossible to know where to start.  And ask someone with cankles, chronic heartburn, and stretch marks to narrow down choices, read product reviews, and complete a gift registry? 

It's not humane. 

I mean, you're already CREATING LIFE.  You shouldn't have to shop for crap you don't understand.

Here's the thing:  Some people buy a mountain of stuff, a bigger car, bigger house, clothes galore, a million seats and swings and hair bows and mobiles and toys.  You know what, though?  I remember my mom saying that newborns don't need much- just a clean diaper, a warm blanket, and mama.

She was right.

Babies are born needing to sleep, eat, and be cuddled.  That's about it.  Their material needs are similarly simple, so anything beyond the baby's basic needs is usually about making parents' lives easier...  And there's something to be said for that, too. 

Here's a list of Cabbage Ranch's favorite newborn basics.

  • Have your car seat installed and inspected.  This service is usually available through the fire department or a city office.  The seat must be installed correctly before you can leave the hospital, and you'll feel better knowing it's expert approved. 
  • Bottles- Even if you're nursing, you'll need a few bottles.  We didn't get fancy ones, although if your baby has trouble with gas/burping/colic, you might like the Dr. Brown's. 
  • Dr Brown's bottle nipples- get the preemie flow, because your newborn needs a slow flow to more closely mimic the breast.  Then hold the bottle upright, squeeze the tip of the nipple shut, invert the bottle and release the nipple.  This creates a vacuum and further slows the milk flow.  Those nipples and that trick made a huge difference, especially in Beep's ability to switch from bottle to breast willingly.
  • My Breast Friend nursing pillow- bad name, great product.  So much better than a Boppy!
  • Regular, BPA-free bottles (6)- we got ours for a few bucks for a pack of 3
  • Bottle brush (2)

  • Burp cloths (6)- can be cloth diapers or actual burp cloths (or even dish cloths!)
  • Fitted crib sheets (2)
  • Waterproof mattress pad or other waterproof pad (2)- This will go under fitted sheet.  Make the crib by layering a waterproof pad, then a fitted sheet, then another pad, then another fitted sheet- a mommysaver in the middle of a mess!  Just strip off the top layer and everyone can go back to sleep.
  • Crib- Do use a fixed-side crib with a firm, tightly fitted mattress.  Don't use a bumper or blanket in the crib.  It's safer for baby without them. 

  • Blankets- you'll probably get enough of these as gifts, because people seem to love giving them!  The light cotton ones from the hospital are great, too, and you can take a few home with you.  **UPDATE: When we had Beep we were told it was ok to take a couple of blankets home with us, but apparently this isn't always the case.  Plan to bring your own blanket from home, and check on hospital policy before taking anything. **
  • Bath seat- optional, but very helpful.  We borrowed one that was small and foldable, so it didn't take up much storage space.  It made baths in the kitchen sink much easier. 
  • Baby washcloths- Cabbage voted for these as a necessity!
  • Baby wash- you'll probably get a sample size from the hospital.  You'll only bathe the baby about once a week at first, so the sample size will last a few weeks.
  • Baby Tylenol- the first time you need it, you'll be so glad it's already there.
  • Thermometer- for the times you can't tell if baby's hot. ;)
  • Olive oil- great for cradle cap, and despite the name Baby Oil shouldn't be used on newborns.
BECAUSE LIFE GOES ON (and we all have stuff to do)
  • Carriers- I'm a believer in babywearing, and the right carrier makes it easy and comfortable.  We have four carriers, and have used them all.  Our favorites are the Moby Wrap (my fave) and a higher-tech one from Infantino (his).
  • Swing- Most babies LOVE their swings!  I highly recommend one, and/or a stationary seat that vibrates or bounces.  Hopefully you, like us, can borrow one from a friend.
  • Diaper bag- this can be a diaper bag, backpack, or any other bag you love.  Stock it with diapers, wipes, a burp cloth, blanket, and 1-2 changes of clothes.  Add in a couple of bottles/nipples/formula, bottled water, pacifier, hat, and baby sunblock, and you're ready to go. 
  • Monitor- nothing fancy, you just need to be able to hear when baby needs you.  We found ours secondhand. 

  • Diaper Genie and refills- this wonderful contraption holds dirty diapers, and (more importantly) also holds the smell.  It's worth every penny.
  • Diapers- Don't sweat the cloth versus disposable thing.  Try them both, and do what works.  For cloth we love gDiapers, but some folks like traditional cloth diapers with a cover, and swear by a Snappi fastener.  For disposables: Cabbage is convinced Pampers Swaddlers are the only way to go.
  • Wipes- Huggies or Pampers naturals (or make my homemade ones!)
  • Diaper Cream- Boudreaux's Butt Paste is awesome.  Put it on thick.
  • Changing Table and Pad- this is really optional, because changing baby on a blanket on the floor works just as well.  If you do get a changing pad, make it a contoured one... or, as Cabbage calls it, a culvert.
  • Onesies- just a few, they grow out of them fast!
  • Socks- for tiny feet with poor circulation.  Plus, they're so stinkin' cute.
  • Bibs
  • Swaddler- there are several brands out there, but any sleep sack will work.  It's a safe way to add another layer of warmth, and swaddle that baby up firmly without the risk of a blanket in the crib.
  • Laundry detergent- I liked Dreft, but you can use any mild detergent, or try the recipe I use.
  • Where you live, you might think about a snowsuit.

  • Play Gym
  • Co-Sleeper, Bassinet, or Pack N Play- Most babies don't like to sleep alone, and I don't blame them.  Most adults don't, either.  Any of these choices will let the three of you share a sleeping space safely. 
  • Aftercare- the hospital will give you some freebies to take care of your body after it's been run over by the childbirth truck.  Ask them for extras before you leave the hospital!  Make sure you have pads and Tylenol at home.
  • Breast pump-  Rent the hospital one first, which is higher quality and will help you establish a good milk supply.  When I bought a pump, I got the Medela Pump In Style and it was great. 
  • Nursing cover- There are a lot of options here, but all of them will work.  No need to flash the ta-tas.
  • Accessories/extras- Some are worth their weight in gold for comfort and convenience: pump wipes, nipple shields, cooling pads, and lanolin-based nipple cream.  The hospital will give you some of these items, and the rest you should be able to purchase either at the hospital or at your grocery store.
  • Lactation consultants- These ladies saved my sanity.  Nursing can be very hard, and everyone's experience is different.  Your hospital may, like ours, have complementary consultations.  Use them!  And call me anytime... I'm a believer in nursing, and it's worth every minute of early frustration. :)
And finally... Some birth advice, as it was gifted to me, as I neared the end of my pregnancy:
1. Trust your doctors and nurses.  They are professionals and will take great care of you both.
2. Accept medical help- including an epidural, if you want it -and don't apologize.  Women may have given birth for many centuries without it, but they would have made a different choice if they could have.  We can do better now, and some of these wonderful options make birth safer for you and baby.
3. You can do this!  Your body is amazing, and so are you!  Birth will be hard, but at the end of it you will have the best thing that ever happened to you.

Love you, girl.  You're gonna be great. 

P.S. In case you need to hear it again: You're pretty awesome.  Nice job growing that baby. 

[All opinions are my own and none of these companies know who I am, much less sponsored this post.  This is Cabbage Ranch powered.]


  1. I'm far far far from babyland, but I read this post and adored every word, and every adorable baby picture! I've nannied tons of babies, and it's so so true - babies just need clean diapers and lots of love!

  2. No offense, but the blankets in the hospital are definitely not meant to be taken home. You are supposed to bring your own, so please recommend to others that they stock up on them. They are cheap and handy.
    A long time nursery nurse

  3. Ashley, I'm so glad you liked the post. I nannied a lot when I was younger, and it was a great experience!

    And Cathy, thank you so much for the information. When we had Beep we were told we could take home a couple of blankets, but you're right that it shouldn't be assumed. I'll update the post to remind people to ask first, and the best plan is to bring their own! :)

  4. Like Ashley, I'm many miles from motherhood, but most of my friends aren't. :-) This post gives great insight into what products might be most useful to my new-mommy friends. Thanks for all the details!


I love reading your comments and hearing what you think, so please chime in. Keep it civil. It's how we roll here at Cabbage Ranch.