This is the kind of post I searched for when we were preparing to have our daughter, when our research on a bunch of different areas of baby care completely overwhelmed me. I greatly appreciated the parenting blogs that told me a few items they had found helpful as parents. Here are a few of mine:
- Cloth Diapers
Holy overwhelming amounts of products, Batman! This is the item that made me want to give up on more than one occasion, and thankfully we found a couple of companies that made cloth diapering easy for all of us. There are a lot of different, wonderful companies out there, so certainly ask around and try out a few different ones (we did), but here is what worked best for us:
– For the first five months, we used Chinese pre-folds cloth diapers and Thirsties Duo-Wrap plastic covers (this is the updated system many of our parents used; if you’re in your late thirties and up, your parents will remember these).
Instead of using the old safety pin method to hold the cloth part closed, Snappis are the way to go. They can go in the dishwasher in the silverware hold, while the diapers and covers just run through the washer (covers need to be hung to dry, but they dry in a flash). If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of these, don’t be! Thanks to YouTube, you can watch a lot of helpful videos on how to tri-fold the diapers in different ways and use the Snappis; different folds work better for girls and boys, due to how they pee, but we found the angel fold the easiest for our little girl.
– After five months, we graduated to Bummis’ Tot Bots Easy Fit, an amazing and fashionable “all in one” cloth diaper.
These diapers are amazing! You can buy them in a size one, so if you want to forgo the two piece system described above, you can go ahead and get a one-piece cloth diaper from the start (since we’ll already have the size 2’s the second time around, we may just spring for these in a size 1 as well). They come in velcro and snap closures (we have a mix of both) so they are adjustable as your baby grows, plus you can use either the included cloth liner or Bumkins flushable liners for poop. The cloth liners’ contents can be tipped into the toilet and then the liners washed with the diapers and the flushable ones just go away. We started with the flushable ones but switched over to the cloth ones with no problems. And for the fashion conscious, Tot Bots are really cute; the Bummis company is based in the U.K., and they are constantly coming out with great colors and designs. They are expensive at first, but these charts can help you see how much money you can save in the long run by cloth diapering (you can price out different systems if you want to see which is the most cost effective), particularly if you are planning on using them on more than one baby.
We use two products by Planet Wise to help with transporting the diapers when messy: this diaper pail bag (we have two, so a new one can go in when the other is being washed), which makes it easy to transport everything down to the washer and dump it in, and this wet diaper bag for when we’re out or she’s at the babysitter’s. We use cloth wipes (I bought 36 of them, so we always have clean ones if we fall behind on washing) for everything but the nastiest diapers plus a wipes warmer (we live in the Midwest so a cold wipe is no fun in the winter). You can get homemade wipe solution recipes all over the place; I just fill a squeeze bottle with a squirt of Aveeno baby soap plus water, shake it, and squeeze it onto the wipes as they go into the wipes warmer. Everything – the cloth wipes, the diaper pail liner, the diapers, and her bibs – all go in the washer and dryer (on extra low) together. No fabric softener or dryer sheets, though, or the diapers will lose their absorption.
– Things to think about, though, if you are considering cloth diapering:
- You do need to change your baby’s diaper more often than if you use disposables, as the wetness isn’t wicked away from their skin. Our daughter is prone to eczema so if we aren’t changing her diaper every 1-2 hours during the day, she can get diaper rash. You can also buy doublers to put in with the diaper if your baby is a heavy wetter, which helps prevent leaks.
- We use a disposable at night, both for the aforementioned diaper rash reason and for the fact that she can wet through a cloth diaper within a few hours. They keep her dry all night and we seldom have any accidents.
- You do need to have laundry onsite or very close to your apartment or house with cloth diapering. I do a load of diapers every day to day and a half, and while it’s easy to do inhouse, it would be impossible for me to go to an outside laundry facility for this. You also need to run the diapers through a cold rinse followed by a hot heavy wash, so that’s two cycles to run down to. If you have laundry in your house or apartment, or you don’t mind the exercise, then go for it!
- We use Charlie’s Soap on our diapers and all of our laundry with their boost for hard water softening. It leaves no residue and is great for our baby’s sensitive skin.
2. Baby Monitor
We received a Motorola video baby monitor at our baby shower and it is the item I can’t live without.
The camera portion turns from side to side and swivels up and down,so you can find your baby if she’s moved since you first put her down, it has a volume control, and night vision so you can see your baby in the dark, and the monitor charges so you can take it with you throughout the house when baby is sleeping.Once our daughter started sleeping in her own room, it was wonderful to be able to check in on her without disturbing her. When she was younger and not moving around as much, we could put the monitor right in her crib and actually check on her breathing throughout the night (we were nervous first-time parents; I won’t admit how many times we checked on her breathing those first couple of weeks when she decided it was time to transition from her co-sleeper to her crib!). Now that she’s mobile and standing up, we have the monitor set on a changing table near her crib so we can check in on her periodically during naps and night sleeping. It has helped keep us from running in there at the slightest noise (babies are noisy sleepers!) and we can have fun watching her play in her crib when she first gets up.
3. Baby Carriers
As Lisa mentioned, baby carriers are really helpful and a great way to feel close to your baby while also getting something done. Our daughter likes the change of scenery in the Infantino carrier, which can be worn in a number of ways; we use it mostly as a back carrier and it is terrific.
We give her a soft toy to hold on to (I learned from one too many head injuries not to give her anything hard) and she rides around for close to an hour while we do laundry or dishes, garden, or go for a walk. It’s comfortable for us and for her, and I can put it on and take it off on my own. Our daughter now will walk over and stand against my back when I bring it out, and she sometimes requests it by coming over and patting my back.
Parents, what are the things you can’t live without?