Out of the Bubble
After eight weeks, babies are usually ready to go out and about. However, continue to avoid contact with anyone who could be contagious. Included below are helpful items that make caring for a young infant easier with "Must-have" and "Nice-to-have" sections.
2 to 3 Month Must-haves
- Sleep Sack --Although not a formal American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation, it is advised to discontinue swaddling at two months before they start to roll. This strategy helps minimize the risk of suffocation and SIDS if a baby rolls over onto the belly while swaddled. This is where a sleep sack comes in handy. Make sure the sleep sack is an appropriate thickness, and the baby is dressed to avoid overheating, which can increase the risk of SIDS. For a mid-priced sleep sack, the Baby Deedee Sleep Nest (below left) is breathable for temperature regulation. Washing while zipped and air drying extends the wear of the fabric and zipper. For top-of-the-line sleep sacks, consider the Woolino Basic Baby Sleep Sack (below center) or the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag 0-2 Years(below right).
On-the-Go with Baby in Tow
- Diaper Bag — See our Best Diaper Bag Review. You won't get far with a baby sans diaper bag. No matter how minimalist you are, there are items you'll need when you leave the house. With diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes, it is imperative to have a bag to carry it all in, even if you're only taking a quick trip. The ideal bag has lots of space, multiple compartments for organization, and an area to keep bottles fresh. Check out the Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. (Editors' Choice), the Storksak Expandable Tote (Top Pick), and the Skip Hop Mainframe Wide Open (Best Value) for bags that excel in storage, comfort, and style.
- Wet Bag — It is nice to keep a wet bag inside baby's diaper bag for cloth diapers or dirty clothes for those moments when baby leaks or has a "blow out." While the much larger Kanga Care Cloth Diaper Wet Bag is amazing for daycare or travel as it holds up to 15 cloth diapers and inserts, there will be days when you need something smaller to fit inside a diaper bag. Our favorite smaller-sized wet bags are the Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag (12.5" x 15.5") $21 and the Itzy Ritzy Travel Happens Sealed Wet Bag (11" x 14") $18.
- DRIA Nursing Cover can be worn as a poncho/shawl with a stretchy neckline so that it is easy to see baby while nursing. It also can serve as a breathable cover for the car seat or stroller. Modal is made sustainably from Beechwood pulp and fiber which is also great at resisting wrinkles and stains, so this is one piece of fabric that you will be reaching for time and again.
- Cooler — If baby needs an expressed bottle on the go, having a cooler is vital to keep it fresh until feeding time. The Ju-Ju-Be Fuel Cell Insulated Bag (below left) fits several tall baby bottles with measurements of 9"h x 7"w x 4.25"d. 3M Thinsulate keeps things cool or warm for a few hours, although a good ice pack is essential for extended outings. The best part is all Ju-Ju-Be bags are machine-washable.
- Ice Pack — With dimensions of 7"h x 5"w x .75"d, the Kids Konserve Ice Pack and Sweat-Free Cover (above center and right) is a great tool to keep drink and food cold inside the Ju-Ju-Be Fuel Cell Insulated Bag. Free of BPA, phthalates, and lead, each ice pack contains 5.3 ounces of non-toxic sodium polymer gel held inside a sweat-free cover made from recycled PET #1 plastic bottles. The cover is machine-washable with a Velcro closure.
- Tooth Tissues — It is never too early to start thinking about proper oral hygiene, and mouth care can start early with good gum care. Tooth Tissues are certified by the Natural Products Association, and are made with 100% bamboo. These wipes are textured to help remove plaque from gums and newly erupting teeth.
- Toothbrush — When a baby is a little older the Green Sprouts Silicone Toothbrush can keep baby's teeth and gums clean and healthy with silicone coated polypropylene bristles that are nitrosamine free.
- Baby Toothpaste — Spry Tooth Gel with Xylitol is a non-fluoridated infant toothpaste made with xylitol, a natural substance that can inhibit bacteria responsible for cavities and plaque formation.
7 Week to 3 Month Nice-to-haves
- Outdoor Blanket — Having a great water resistant surface to use on the ground makes spending time outside in the fresh air with your baby very easy. We recommend the Tuffo Water Resistant Outdoor Blanket
Beyond the Fourth Trimester: 3 to 6 Months
By three months, babies are smiling, beginning to coo and interact with others, and showing off their personalities. Around four months, an "awakening" of sorts occurs where sleep routines may completely change and alertness increases, often pulling away during breast or bottle feeding to see and hear surrounding action and truly needing a mellow environment for sleep. Babies go from pushing their chest up with arms during tummy time, to rolling over, to gaining adequate truncal control to master the art of sitting upright unsupported. Teething, drooling, gumming on objects and taking an interest in what others are eating usually begins as well.
This article guides you through age-appropriate items divided into the following themes:
There is something for mom at the end, who even if exclusively breastfeeding, should be aware of her fertility during this time.
- Teether — There is no doubt teething can be a tough time. Despite the cute drool, babies can act out of sorts. Having a few quality teethers on hand can pacify little one with something to gnaw on. Suri the Octopus and Friends and ABC Teething Letters by Mayapple are premium medical-grade silicone teething toys. They are non-toxic, free of heavy metals, BPA, phthalates, nitrosamines, and plastics (such as PP, EVA, Vinyl or PVC), and top-rack dishwasher safe. Another good choice is the Lifefactory Silicone Teether.
Beloved Attachment Items
- Lovey — Once your little one chooses a lovey, forgetting it or losing it is bad. With Angel Dear Blankie Pair and a Spare you get three identical super soft, uber-cuddly, and adorable animal-themed toys. There are oodles of options sure to please your little one. Another item to consider is the Wubbanub Pacifier, a latex-free Soothie brand pacifier attached to a soft plush toy. Once your little one chooses a favorite lovey, we recommend purchasing several to rotate them through the wash and to replace if one should go missing or need a refresh.
- Baby Blanket — Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket is a luxuriously soft 100% poly-microfiber treasure with satin edging. Measuring 29" x 35", it is useful for outings, especially cold stroller rides. Although technically a blanket, it is not recommended for sleep as infants should not sleep with soft bedding.
Music, Reading, and Language
- Music — Early exposure to music, reading, and language is fantastic for building baby's neuronal connections and may peak interest and aptitude later in life. An international early childhood program from birth to age seven is Music Together. In this program, children and their caregivers participate in a deeply-rooted rhythm and movement-based curriculum that utilizes instruments and other props such as silk scarves and parachutes in the ultimate jam session.
- Board Book Library — Reading to baby is a treat, as well as a bonding and learning experience. Building a library is fun and important. If your baby's doctor participates in the national child literacy program, Reach Out and Read, your baby will receive a free age-appropriate book at each well-child visit. When your baby is an infant, he/she will receive board books that are great because once they develop fine motor coordination, they can bturn the pages themselves. These durable books are targets for teething and drool, so be prepared to have them gummed-up and well-loved. We could go on and on with board book recommendations, but some of our favorites include Goodnight Moon, Counting Kisses, Little Fur Family, Big Red Barn, Goodnight Gorilla, 10 Minutes Till Bedtime, Mommy's Best Kisses, Guess How Much I Love You, First 100 Words, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Dear Zoo, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bear Wants More, Jamberry, Machines at Work, The Runaway Bunny, and The Snowy Day.
- Sign Language — Babies learn to communicate via sign language before they verbalize. Teaching simple hand signals for more, drink, eat, play, and hurt can limit frustration and help you and your baby bond. An excellent all-in-one package is the Sign with Your Baby Kit which includes a How To DVD, Book, and Quick Reference Guide based upon American Sign Language.
Activity and Play
- Bouncy Seat — The BabyBjorn Bouncer Balance Soft is 100% soft cotton fabric, round forms, and supportive design. The rocking develops motor skills and balance naturally with no batteries required. It offers an ergonomic design with proper newborn support and folds flat for storage or travel.
- Activity Mat — Tiny Love Gymini Move and Play Activity Gym sports 5-in-1 positions that adjust to developmental stages. It comes with multiple toys, electronic lights and music, and an extra large mat.
- Bath Toys — Hevea Pondy Fun bathtub toys are 100% natural rubber latex. They have a hygienic, one-piece design with no holes for water to get into or mold to grow. The natural rubber is sustainable and has no PVC, BPA, phthalates or artificial colors. The packaging is recycled products and biodegradable.
- Grasping and Teething Toy — Green Sprouts Teething Keys
- Stroller Toy — Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit
- Playtime Mirror — Sassy Floor Mirror
- Personalized Book — Create-A-Book is a personalized book for your little one. You supply the personal details, and the "create a book" people do the rest. These books are affordable and include your child as a character in the story. This book is one children will treasure for a lifetime.
- Toy Bin — The 3Sprouts Storage Bin can keep your new toy-filled home somewhat organized. These soft, collapsible, cute bins come in various animal designs, hold loads of toys, and last for years. While baby doesn't have loads of toys right now, their pile will grow, and you'll need somewhere to put everything.
Travel with Baby
We recommend keeping a travel checklist of baby's essentials so the necessary items are easily accessible. We include the following among other essentials when traveling:
- Infant Car Seat
- Baby Carrier
- Diaper Cream
- Nail Clippers
- Fever Reducer — Infants' Tylenol Liquid is handy at home and on travel for the care of viral infections, fever, or pain. Follow your pediatrician's recommendations for dosing.
- Travel Crib — Travel cribs can come in handy even if you don't leave town; they can fill a lot of uses like a bedside bassinet or a safe spot to set baby out away from family pets. So, while you will be glad you have one for travel, it probably won't be the first time you unpack it. We chose the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light for the Editors' Choice award in the Best Travel Crib Review.
- Air Travel — Until your baby is two years, he or she can sit on your lap while in-flight. This possibility is a cost saver for families, but we recommend inquiring on travel day if there is a seat on the plane that where you can install an infant car seat. Why? Because using an infant car seat during flight is the safest option. If there is no space on the plane, the infant car seat can be checked for free. Once your child is two years, you will need to purchase a seat on the plane. You can try to keep them strapped in with a lap belt, but this is difficult with a squirmy toddler. So, you can bring their car seat or use an FAA-approved CARES Airplane Safety Harness that acts as a 4-point restraint. It is appropriate for 2 to 4 years, 22 to 44 lbs, and less than 40". Some complain that it doesn't have a strap between the legs, so children could slip through or it presents a strangulation risk, so continuous supervision is recommended.
Can you believe you (and dad, of course) created this smiling, sparkling wonder?! Take a moment and revel in this little miracle who has caused more sleepless nights than you can count and has brought you untold joy beyond words. Once you have a baby, it is like watching your heart beat outside of you. Caring for a baby is a physical, mental, and emotional labor of love and pure goodness. The best, most difficult job in the world!
That said, because moms can acknowledge the blood, sweat, and tears that parenting requires, our goal is to furnish recommendations to make day-to-day life easier. Needless to say, when "that time of the month" finally rolls around, we have a few ideas that you may want to consider.
The Cycle of Life
Menstruation is typically put on hold when breastfeeding. This timeline can vary depending on the mother's physiology and breastfeeding routine from about three months to up to a year or more postpartum. While Aunt Flo's return can vary significantly from woman to woman, breastfeeding should not be considered a fool-proof method of birth control. Many a mother has been duped by that one. So, be smart and be prepared; at your postpartum visit, make sure to talk with your healthcare provider about your birth control options! Failure to do so could lead to some unexpected back to back baby blessings.When Aunt Flo finally decides to come to town, we've put together a list of some eco-conscious and healthy feminine products to have at the ready.
- Chlorine-Free Tampon — Natracare Organic Cotton Applicator Tampons are free of chlorine and harmful dioxin exposure. Natracare has produced healthier feminine hygiene products since 1989. Their tampons are free of pesticides, perfumes, other chemical additives, and synthetic fibers that can cause unnecessary drying of the vaginal mucosa.
- Tampon Alternative — Okay, before you automatically say what the what? read on. The Diva Cup Model 2, Lunette, and Lena Menstrual Cup are reusable silicone cups that collect menstrual flow without needing to dispose of waste. They are easy to clean, easy to use, and potentially better for your body.
- Reusable Menstrual Pads —
- Period Underwear — While not a "must-have," the newest thing in periods is moisture-wicking, anti-microbial, absorbent, and leak-proof panties that are super comfortable. Thinx is great for those lighter days leading up to or winding down on your period, as well as an adjunct to a tampon or cup to capture leaks. They are certainly sexier than a traditional pad. Thinx comes in Thong (light), Cheeky (medium), and Hiphugger (heavy) absorbencies that have a capacity of 1/2, 1, and two tampons respectively. Huge purchase bonus? For every pair of Thinx sold, the company donates seven reusable menstrual pads to a woman in Africa to help increase self-esteem so they can participate in school and work without taking breaks. What about urinary incontinence? Check out Thinx's sister company Icon!
NEXT: Baby Essentials: A Little Person Blooms (6 to 12+ months)