Sunday, March 25, 2012

A few of our favorite things...(a husband and wife perspective)

Or ALL of our favorite things...along with some of the things we could have done without and one or two things we wish we had.  Now normally when you are expecting, everyone loves to tell you about their likes in regards to products, but with the 6,748 people trying to give you advice right now, that's not helpful unless you're a millionaire.  So I'm going to begin with the part everyone seems to forget to tell you...  the stuff that just didn't work for us (favorites will be at the bottom):

Could Do Without (aka. didn't work for us or Felix):
[Disclaimer/Author Note/Whatever else you want to call it: We do not wish to offend anyone that may have purchased the items below for us, or may have purchased them for themselves.  Each item was placed on our registry by us, and therefore the responsibility of selection rests on us.  We appreciate all the help we received at the beginning of this parenting endeavor, but in an effort to save others money, space, time, and sanity; we feel that we can assist by pointing out unnecessary products and possible alternatives.]  

Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat (The "Cadillac" of Infant Seats)
We registered for this seat with all intentions of using it until Felix reached 35 pounds, so we could hold off on buying two convertible car seats.  What we didn't expect was that Felix would outgrow the seat before he reached 35 pounds.  Could we still have fit him in it for awhile longer...probably.  But having  baby with a buddah belly and wearing a winter coat did not fair well for his mood when we had to load him into the car.  We wound up purchasing two convertible seats before Felix even reached 22 pounds.  We definitely would have been perfectly happy with an infant seat with a lower weight limit (which as you can expect would be much CHEAPER).  Although, we would not recommend skipping the infant seat all together for a convertible car seat.  The ease of taking Felix in and out of cars/house/strollers without having to wake him up was invaluable (see review for Snap-N-Go below).

Britax Marathon70 Convertible Car Seat
As stated above, we wound up purchasing two convertible car seats (one for each of our cars) much sooner then expected.  When you're a new parent, you tend to gravitate toward the brand name items that you assume are better simply because of the name.  Don't get me wrong, I actually love the Britax car seat.  It has an extremely high safety rating and is very comfortable for Felix to ride in (even on a 12 hour trip to Ohio).  However, we discovered a much less expensive car seat with a similar safety rating that Felix is even more comfortable in (see rating below).

Graco Pack n' Play Portable Playard
This rating is largely due to the fact that Felix hated being laid flat on his back when he was a newborn.  If he hadn't been so particular, we likely would have used this as his bassinet for naps and such.  Unfortunately, we only used it a few times for play, when we need to keep him contained for a short time.  We have now turned it into a ball pit in order to get some use out of it.  I don't want to mislead is a great product.  But we have not traveled very much with Felix yet and when we have, it has been to Ohio where our family has an extra one for us to use.  We probably could have done with a less expensive version without the bassinet/changer portion.

Graco Contempo High Chair
We have no issues with this high chair other then its bulkiness, and the amount of space it bogart's in the kitchen.  It's not as much an issue in the house, as it is when we have to travel with it.  Lately, we've lugged this thing to his first birthday party, my mom's house and friends' houses.  Given the choice again, we would have chosen one of the space saver high chairs (see below).

Infantino Vintage Twist and Fold Activity Gym
This is a tough one.  Felix barely used this mat, but I know our nephew loved it.  One thing we loved about it was how compact it is.  However, we received a much larger play mat from a friend that Felix has gotten a lot more use out of (see below).  Plain and simple, it didn't last long and was outgrown quickly, even with a preemie.

Wish List (aka. life would have been easier with...):

Fisher Price Playtime Bouncer
This is something we assumed we wouldn't get any use out of, considering how many "chairs" a baby has (I think we counted over 10 total places the baby could sit).  By the time we realized a seat similar to this was Felix's favorite place to be at daycare, he was almost too big for it.  Hence, why we never bought one.  The reason we would have liked this particular one is for its simplicity and the fact that it folds up.  The one Felix liked at daycare had no bells and whistles to it (not even the bar with toys on it). 

Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair
See review above as to why we wish we had a space saver high chair.  The only reason we've chosen to list this one is because I'm not sure who else makes them and/or the reviews.  This one looks to have all the perks of a full size high chair (reclinable for infants, cushy, etc.).  It's not worth it for us to spend the money on a space saver now, but we are looking for a good travel booster to buy, so Felix can use the table for eating (instead of a tray) when we go to my moms/travel.

Favorites (aka. seriously consider putting this on your registry):

Graco MyRide 65 Convertible Car Seat
By comparison to the expensive Britax we purchased, this seat just out shines or matches it in every category.  It has the same safety rating.  It's more comfortable for the baby (at least for Felix).  It's easier to get them into the car, and has a better angle than the Britax.  The straps are just as frustrating as any car seat, but I don't think there is a solution to that in general.  It seems to give the baby a little more room to look around at their surroundings, which really does help with keeping them happy on car rides.  Most importantly, it's  about a 1/3 of the price of the Britax.

Fisher Price  Cradle Swing - My Little Snug A Bunny
One word; invaluable for the first 6 months or so.  This chair saved our sanity.  Babies cry, babies don't sleep when you want them to, babies can sometimes just be inconsolable.  When feeding them doesn't work, when changing them doesn't work, when holding them doesn't work, when burping them doesn't work... 50% of the time this chair works 100% of the time. Part entertainment, part lullaby, pure baby comfort.  Get one.  You don't have to get this one, but we can vouch for this one.

Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper
Another one we found invaluable.  Felix was a preemie, and was born with respiratory issues.  Taking those conditions under consideration as well as our uncertainty of being parents for the first time, we were terrified SIDS and were looking for solutions.  That combined with the fact that Felix would not sleep flat on his back for 4 months or so, led us to this purchase.  Our nephew used it for home and travel, and we ended up following the same trend.  This was Felix's first bed and only bed for months.  It was also his bed when sick (as long as he would fit), to help drain the goop.  It folds up easy for travel, it's small enough to fit virtually anywhere you would want to put a baby to sleep, cleans easily, and is gender neutral.  Highly recommended.  Some reviews say that it promotes flat spots on the back of the head, but we were able to combat that by putting a folded blanket under the cover in back.

Boppy Pillow
Felix still loves using this, even though he has no real need for it.  This is a must for easy/more comfortable nursing.  And if you're not going to breastfeed, it can be used to cradle baby on floor while they drink a bottle and aid with tummy time.  Make sure to also purchase the protector and a couple covers, as babies do make a mess. 

Baby Trend Snap-N-Go Infant Car Seat Carrier Stroller
Amazing.  No need to wake the baby up, fight to get them out of the infant car seat, transfer them screaming into stroller, listen them wail throughout the whole store while you try to buy them diapers and wipes, try to transfer them back into the infant seat while they scream so hard they stop breathing, ride home with a migrain, decide to never leave the house again...  Nope.  Not with this thing.  Snap the sleeping baby in the infant seat out of the car, snap infant seat into this thing, shop silently and enjoy getting out of the house, snap sleeping baby and infant seat back into car, go home, rejoice, write us a thank you note and send us a bottle of wine.  Also, the basket underneath this is a really good for just about any normal outing.

Baby Jogger 2011 City Mini

We love it.  It's very light, extremely easy to maneuver, can be folded with just one hand, reclines flat and Felix loves it.  We opted not to register for the travel system (infant seat/full size stroller combo) due to the large size and weight of the full size stroller.  I knew I would never use it.  Instead, as you can see from the review above, we opted to use the Snap-N-Go with the infant seat and then purchased this stroller once Felix became curious enough to want to face forward.  My only real complaint about this stroller is the basket underneath.  Maybe I was spoiled by the huge basket in the Snap-N-Go, but I find this one extremely limited and very hard to get things in to/out of.  This seems to be a common complaint among reviewers.

I can't for the life of me remember what brand of glider we have and, since Felix is sleeping, I will not be going upstairs to check.  We use this every night when reading to Felix and putting him to bed.  There were even a few times I found myself sleeping in it with him when he was younger.  We went back and forth as to whether to buy a reclining glider.  I used to fall asleep in it every night while nursing Felix, and the only thing that would wake me up is the crick in my neck from not being reclined.  So, in short, it's probably a good thing it doesn't recline or I would have been sleeping in his room every night.  One thing I do wish it had is removable seat covers.  We are lucky in that Felix only spit up on it once or twice and not very much.  But I know that's not usually the case.  It would be nice to be able to wash the covers instead of having to take the entire cushion to the dry cleaners.  In our opinion, the only way to choose a glider is to go to the store and test out as many as you can.  It didn't matter so much for me, but with Scott's height and his broad shoulders, we had some difficulty finding one that was comfortable for him.

Fisher Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo
It took a bit longer then normal for Felix to be able to use this, due to his short legs (sorry kid...not the best trait for Mommy to pass on).  As a result, it was pretty short lived.  But, while he could use it, he absolutely loved it.  He could sit in this thing for 30 minutes, bouncing and playing with the attached toys, without getting fed up.  A great thing while prepping dinner!

Summer Infant Velboa Snuzzler
Because Felix was only 6 lbs 5 oz when he came home, he was a bit small for most of the "seats" we had for him.  Even the infant insert in the infant seat didn't seem to be all that comfortable for him.  We wound up using the Snuzzler in both the infant seat and the Rock-N-Play and it worked perfectly.  Once he got a bit bigger, the infant insert in the infant seat worked really well for him.  Be advised that many babies are not small enough at birth to use this product without it further pushing their heads forward.

Gerber Premium Cloth Diapers
Best burp cloths ever.  Why use a rag when you can use a diaper?  These honestly absorbed everything, were easy to wash, even to bleach if necessary.  They were also super durable, and will be ready to go for any future bundles of joy. Seem to be harder to find now.  MUST BE premium!

Triple Paste Diaper Rash Ointment
Felix had a nasty rash after we brought him home from the NICU.  We tried the ointment the hospital gave us, Desitin and Desitin Maximum Strength.  Nothing worked.  Until we discovered this amazing cream.  Cleared his rash up in about a day. 

Play Links
No need to be brand specific with these.  Perfect for hanging toys from the infant seas/stroller to keep baby occupied.  Also great for hanging off stroller to hold bags, etc. for Mom and Dad.  There were many times Felix just enjoyed playing with the links themselves.

Lamaze Toys
We have multiple Lamaze toys and Felix loved them all.  From the bright colors, tissue paper limbs, mirrors and teethers, definitely a baby favorite.   If you can measure the entertainment in hours instead of minutes (like we did), you should run and not walk to buy it.

Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack
As with a couple other things, this is not necessarily brand specific.  The most important part of this is to find something that can accommodate any shape and any size.  A lot of baby products have different (weird) size/shape parts and, unless you're working with a blank slate, you will find it difficult to find a place for everything.

Phillips Avent bottles
Originally, we registered for Dr. Brown's bottles.  However, we weren't expecting to have to use bottles for a while, since I was going to try nursing.  When Felix landed in the NICU, unable to breastfeed for at least a week, we were concerned he would have trouble jumping from bottle to nipple.  The NICU nurses recommended Avent, stating that they have never seen babies have a problem switching between the two.  Based on the recommendation, we exchanged everything we had.  Felix never had a problem with nipple confusion.  It helps that the bottles are super easy to clean as compared to the Dr. Brown bottles.  As a side note, we purchased the gift set, which included a brush, formula holder and sanitizer, as well as different size bottle.  We could have done without everything but the bottles.  It would have been just as easy to boil everything, steam it in the microwave or throw it in the dishwasher.  I only sanitized things when I first bought them and threw it all in the dishwasher once I week. 

Munchkin Bottle Brush and Nipple Brush
I have tried almost every brand of bottle brush.  These were one of the cheapest options and have lasted longer then any of the other ones I've tried.  Keep in mind, you have to switch them out about once a month and throw them in the dishwasher every week or so. 

Infantino Jumbo Wheel Playspace
As stated above, we preferred this mat over the smaller one we registered for.  It's much more colorful, has the tissue paper inside to make noise, a mirror and plenty of other things to keep baby happy.  It's also huge, so it lasted until he was able to crawl away (which wasn't until about 10 months).

Bumbo Baby Sitter Seat
Again, an invaluable product, but one Felix grew out of much earlier then we expected.  His chubby little legs would get stuck.  But we did get a few months of use out of it and it was a great makeshift high chair (for when we were at someone else's house) when coupled with the tray (sold seperately).

Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump
A MUST if you plan to nurse/pump and are returning to work.  There are three different bags you can get with this (backpack and purse style).  If I had it to do over again, I might have gotten one of the other bags.

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier
Another MUST have if you're going to be pumping.  I have tried several different hands free pump bras and this is by far the best.  It is completely adjustable, provides more coverage then most, has removable straps and never lost it shape (even when I was using it 6 times a day).

Lasinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags
These made it a cinch to store frozen breast milk.  I had a bit of an oversupply and our basement freezer was used solely for this purpose.  This video shows exactly how I stored everything.

Lasinoh Brand Lanolin Topical Breast Cream
Again, invaluable if you're going to pump.  Many people use it directly on the nipple to sooth any discomfort.  I never used it for this purpose, but you do need to use it on the pump itself to create a suction. 

Lasinoh Soothies Gel Pads
These were recommended by the lactation consultants at the hospital.  I only used them for the first few weeks, but they helped immensely with the discomfort until my nipples toughened up.

Lasinoh Nursing Pads
Unlike must moms I know, I never leaked and, thus, never needed to use these...that is, until I started weaning myself form the pump.  I've been using them for the last few weeks and will continue for another week or so until I know my milk is completely gone.  They are the largest pads I've found, which is necessary with boobs of this size!

We were dead set on using only Pampers diapers when Felix was born.  We began with Pampers Swaddlers and/or Swaddler Sensitives.  After a month or so, we started using the Baby Dry's at night so Felix would sleep longer between changes.  Now we use Cruisers during the day and Huggies Overnights at night.  We did not use the Pampers overnights due to several reviewers stating that their children got chemical burns when the Pampers overnights would split open at night, exposing the beads inside.  We have since decided it's time to find a cheaper alternative.  At nearly $45-50/box for the Pampers, there has to be a comparable option!  We have heard incredible things about Luvs from numerous sources.  However, Luvs just increased the price of their diapers.  Still cheaper then Pampers, but not as big a savings as it should be.  We are about to try Kirkland (Costco) brand, as it would save us nearly $20 a case.

Huggies Natural Care Wipes
As with the Pampers, I was dead set on these wipes.  And I still stand by them.  They are much thicker then the Pampers brand wipes and seemed to cause the least amount of irritation.  However, we have recently switched to the Kirkland (Costco) brand wipes, which are comparable and less expense. 

Diaper Genie
Have to be honest...we hated this thing in the beginning.  Since Felix was exclusively breastfed, his poop didn't smell....AT ALL.  But, because he was breastfed, he was pooping nearly 8-10 times a day.  Not to mention all the times we changed his diaper when we didn't need to, just because we didn't know any better.  As a result, the diaper genie had to be emptied every day or two.  HOWEVER, once Felix started eating solid food, the diaper genie was a necessity to keep the stink in!  If we had to do it again, we would probably try and get the one that automatically pushes the diaper down for you...there's nothing more disgusting then pushing a nasty diaper down into the diaper genie with your bare hand!

Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Bath Tub
We have gone back and forth as to whether we should have gotten one of those new fold up tubs that fit in the bathroom sink.  And neither of us feels strongly as to whether ours is the best tub.  I think just about any tub will do, but it does make life easier to have one.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

11 months

My baby turned 11 months (a couple weeks ago).  I can't believe we'll be having his first birthday party in 2 weeks!  Where did the last year go?!? 

It's safe to say that Felix is no longer interested in taking his monthly photos:

"I will eat your face!"

"I said enough with the photos!"

"Did you really just pants me?!?"

"I'm so embarrassed!"

We will have a new height and weight at our next doctor's appointment in a couple weeks, but it is obvious he is still plagued with my short legs and long torso.

  • Has a total of 4 teeth (2 top and 2 bottom), with at least 2-3 more coming in.
  • Eats finger foods at all three meals (i.e., cheerios, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, avocado, chicken, pasta, rice, small cheese doodle size baby puffs, yogurt bites, banana, grapes, blueberries, pancakes, scrambled eggs, etc.).  Still gets his baby food to make sure he gets enough fruits, veggies, proteins, but eats a lot of finger foods along with it.
  • Loves his yogurt.  I have been trying to introduce cottage cheese as an alternative to yogurt as well, but he's not taking to it as well as the yogurt (who can blame him).
  • Looks like he may be exclusively on sippy cups during the day.
  • Stands up on everything and walks from one thing to another while holding on.
  • Stands up, sits down and squats down with ease.
  • Walks while assisted (holding hands, using a toy with wheels, or just pushing something around)
  • Immediately gravitates towards everything we don't want him to get into.  We finally got a decorative cover for the fireplace, which helps.
  • Hates the final diaper change of the day.
  • Finally christened.
  • Hates when daddy touches mommy.  Will begin screaming the second daddy touches mommy and doesn't stop until he walks away.
  • Has formed his own jibberish language and talks incessantly (LOVE it!)
  • Loves to turn the pages of his books as we read to him and loves story time before bed.
  • Learned how to high five this week.
  • Waves bye (when he wants to).
  • Crawls very quickly.
  • Knows what a doorknob is and tries to reach it, but can't.
  • Throws/rolls balls and other toys back and forth (i.e., plays catch).
  • Loves bathtime and has started crawling around the tub during his baths.  Occasionally falls in face first and gets super shocked for a moment.  Loves to take his bath toys and throw them outside the bath to mommy.
  • Loves to eat bananas right out of the peel (takes bites entirely too big for him).
  • We finally retired the jumper a couple weeks ago.  Now that he can move around on his own, he wasn't nearly as interested in it and it freed up a lot of space in the living room.
  • LOVES music.  If he is ever crying on the car ride to or home from daycare, all I have to do is sing ABCs and Mary Had a Little Lamb on repeat (mostly because it's the only ones I can remember off hand).
  • Has two big boy car seats now (infant carrier has been retired).
  • Loves riding in his smart trike when we go out.  Giggle constantly while riding in it, but screams bloody murder if you ever stop.  Usually ends up with mommy running laps around stores while daddy shops.
  • Loves anything that is an adult toy.  His favorite toys right now are an empty M&M container and the empty tin heart from Valentine's Day.
  • Still loves trucks and anything with wheels...such a boy!