Newborn Essentials

We hit the three month mark just a couple weeks ago and I was able to reflect on what some call the “fourth trimester" or the first twelve weeks of my baby’s life. At my baby shower back in December I was kindly gifted some amazing and beautiful items for my sweet boy, but a lot of it I simply didn’t use. I had a hard time planning my registry and there wasn’t much on it, so I left my guests on their own to come up with what to gift me. I think if I’d had a clearer idea on what I needed, I could have guided my guests a little better as to what to gift me. So hopefully I can help guide you soon to be moms and already moms out there as to what items have made having a newborn so much easier.

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haakaa

haakaa

HAAKA
This is a breast pump (-ish) made entirely of silicone that suctions to your breast and catches any let down or breast milk. I love this thing because I decided early on that I didn't want to be married to a breast pump and I am able use this at my leisure to store any breast milk that myself or my husband may want to use at a later date. It’s super easy to use and clean, it doesn’t hurt and I usually can fill the entire thing during one feeding. I haven’t used an actual breast pump at all and my son is three months old. I’ve exclusively breastfed him and used the Haakaa to create a back-stock of breast milk.

GERBER PREFOLDS
I put some super cute, printed burp cloths on my registry that I just loved. Weeks before my sweet one arrived I had them folded and stacked in an accessible place, one that I quickly stopped reaching for when I discovered that they were made more for fashion than function. Back to Amazon I went to scour the reviews of burp cloths when I came upon the Gerber Prefolds, which are actually just old school cloth diapers. I ordered a pack and haven’t looked back, in fact, I’ve ordered several more since. They are so absorbent and my son is quite a spitter (some may even view it as vomiting.) With the cute, printed burp cloths his spit up would just slide right off and down my back or my front, never to be absorbed by the burp cloth. With the Gerber prefolds, they absorb right away so spillage is more minimal. I also notice that I can use them for extended periods of time as the continue to hold and absorb. The only drawback is that if you throw them into the laundry and bury them, they can mold, but this is a natural occurrence obviously and I’ve become more mindful of that to avoid throwing any away.

Copper pearl bibs

Copper pearl bibs

BIBS
I was under the impression that bibs were something your baby needs when they start teething or when they start eating solids. I did not anticipate how much my son would spit up and needless to say bibs were not on my registry so I scrambled to purchase some after changing my son’s clothes for the umpteenth time that day. I settled on a set by Parker Baby Co. which I’ve been very pleased with. Since then I also discovered Copper Pearl and they have some of the cutest prints, especially for little girls. What I love about the types of bandana bibs that these two companies sell is that the top layer absorbs any moisture (and a lot of moisture at that,) while the bottom layer protects and keeps baby’s skin and clothes dry. This means I’m not constantly changing clothes all day and he isn’t developing any scary rash around his neck and chin.

Lou Lou & co swaddle blanket

Lou Lou & co swaddle blanket

LOU LOU & COMPANY NO SCRATCH MITTENS
I swear by these, especially in those early weeks when your baby’s fingers are so small and sweet. The last thing you want to do is to take nail clippers to them. I love that Lou Lou & Company make swaddles and outfits that match their mittens because with as many photos as you’ll be taking of your sweet one you won’t want a pair of gaudy mittens sticking out. These mittens are super stretchy and soft so your baby’s hands won’t feel confined and they won’t be hard to get on and off. They also stay on, which is an issue I had with mittens from another brand. The only time I wouldn’t recommend for your baby to wear these is during moments of breastfeeding. You’ll want as much skin on skin contact as possible with your baby during those precious moments.

LOU LOU & COMPANY SWADDLE BLANKET
As I mentioned above, Lou Lou & Company also make swaddles and let me tell you, they are the best! We are talking super stretchy, manipulative, soft fabric that makes it so easy to swaddle your baby. We were gifted a few “easy” swaddlers and I don’t know if my baby is a Houdini or if he just super strong, but he broke out of them in no time. I could see why some say their babies don’t enjoy being swaddled. I would have thought so myself if I hadn’t discovered the Lou Lou & Company swaddles. What I love even more about them is that they also serve as amazing cover ups for nursing or for newborn car seats with handles. I use them as blankets for breezy days in the stroller and because of their large size I can also just lay them flat anywhere for a quick changing or tummy time. They’re so versatile!

MAM PACIFIERS
There’s not much to say about these except that above any other pacifier we have tried, these ones work for my son. The ingredients are safe, they’re made for breastfed babies and they simply work.

Tulamama Pacifier Clip

Tulamama Pacifier Clip

TULAMAMA PACIFIER CLIP
I kept seeing these super cute and trendy pacifier clips on instagram and I was very attracted to the style of them, so when I came across the Tulamama Pacifier Clip, it caught my eye because it looked just like the ones I’d been seeing. It’s made with silicone beads that your little one can chew on when they’re teething and this thing comes in clutch when we are baby wearing because I never have to worry about losing my pacifier.

SHNUGGLE BABY BATH TUB

SHNUGGLE BABY BATH TUB

SHNUGGLE BABY BATH TUB
We were kindly gifted a fisher price tub that worked really well in the beginning days when we were just sponge bathing our little guy, but he quickly grew out of it and we noticed he stopped enjoying bath time as much, so I did some research and came upon the Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub. What is cool about this tub is that your little one can actually sit up in it against the non slip back support, so their body is submerged in the water and they don’t get cold. A hump in the bottom keeps your baby’s rear end in place as well. My son can now enjoy bath time while being supported and submerged in the water at the same time. In my opinion, this product is also safer than other tubs on the market.

BABYBJORN BOUNCER BALANCE

BABYBJORN BOUNCER BALANCE

BABYBJORN BOUNCER
I discovered the Babybjorn Bouncer when I was facing a major dilemma a few weeks after my son was born. My husband was going back to work and I was to become more independent with my baby. This included going downstairs and making myself some breakfast in the morning, taking trips by myself to the doctor’s office, and even the simple task of just taking a shower. For a while I tried to just get everything done during his naps, but I realized eventually that wasn’t realistic. Where was I supposed to put my baby when I was doing these things? I just want to run downstairs to make coffee, but I can’t do it with one hand and I don’t want to leave him upstairs by himself. This is where the bouncer steps in. Alas, I can put my baby down somewhere!

HAPPIEST BABY’S SNOO

HAPPIEST BABY’S SNOO

This super simple bouncer does exactly that - it bounces. It’s a soft and gentle bouncing that is only induced by the baby’s movements and I love that because it seems more natural and soothing to me than those battery powered or electric baby devices with sounds and flashing lights. What I also love about this bouncer is the color selection it comes in. I ordered one in a beige color and it matches my home and my aesthetic perfectly.

SNOO
Okay, this is the priciest item on this list and with good reason. Someone said if Apple made a bassinet, it would be the Snoo and I have to agree. I have a full video review on this device that you can watch here and I also wrote a whole blog post about it that you can read here, but in a nutshell I would trade every device and item on this list for just the Snoo. It is a bassinet that provides a gentle swaying motion along with white noise that responds to your baby’s cry. We have received way more sleep than I think we even deserve with a newborn because of the Snoo’s safety features as well as its ability to keep my baby asleep for lengthy periods of time. Do yourself a favor and buy the Snoo if you are expecting. You absolutely won’t regret it.



I just want to mention that no matter what items and devices you do or don’t buy for your baby, all your baby really needs is you. If you are able to afford the luxury and convenience of some of these items then that’s wonderful, but at the end of the day what your baby really needs is your tender love and care. Good luck!

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

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Cloth diapering comes off as a daunting practice to those who have never done it before. As a first time Mom, I had no idea what I was getting into when it came to all things baby, but I knew I wanted to cloth diaper no matter how much of a chore it would be. What I didn't know is that it’s not really a chore at all! Not only is it an easy task to keep up with, but it’s eco-friendly, a huge money saver, and it’s the healthiest option for my baby.

I purchased four different brands of diapers before my son arrived. Mama Koala, Nora’s Nursery, Alva Baby, and Lil Helpers. All are pocket diapers with the exception of Lil’ Helpers, which is an all in one. I followed all of the instructions on pre-washing my diapers, dried them, folded them, and put their cute little selves on display in my nursery.

There’s several types of cloth diapers on the market. My advice is to buy a few of each kind before you invest in a bunch of one specific brand or type. Personally, I love my Alva Baby’s during the day because the shells are stretchier and thinner, so they don’t appear bulky under clothes. At night time I’m partial to Lil Helpers all in one with the charcoal inserts. Those bad boys can last all night through several feedings without a leak. I have a friend who loves Nora’s Nursery, while I think the snaps on them are hard to button. And Mama Koala’s have the absolute cutest prints! My point is, every diaper is different and every baby is different, so try a few brands before you stock up entirely.

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The first few weeks home from the hospital we were pushed into using disposables. I wasn’t happy about this, but every time I used a cloth diaper it would irritate my son’s healing belly button. With the disposables I was able to fold the front down and prevent the diaper from rubbing it. But that certainly came with a price. Several naps were interrupted with a soaked back caused by a leaky diaper and my son’s poor butt was getting raw off and on from diaper rashes. On top of the physical issues, I realized how much money I spent in those two weeks on disposable diapers - $45.00 to be exact. That money would have easily afforded 6 cloth diapers that I could reuse for years. Once his belly button healed, I happily transitioned over to the cloth diapers.

Something I was not aware of concerning baby poop was that while exclusively breast feeding, there’s no need to worry about removing the poop from the diaper before I wash it. I was worried about the amount of poop going into my washer and wondered if I’d be able to get it out of the cloth diapers. Breastfed baby poop is runny and doesn’t have a lot of solid matter to it. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be removed before washing the cloth diapers in the washing machine. But the day we introduce solids will be a game changer and when it arrives I will be ready with my handy dandy toilet sprayer. My husband installed this thing in a matter of minutes and it’s pretty amazing. Not only does it have incredible pressure, but it conveniently attaches to the side of our toilet so that I can just spray the poop into the toilet and flush it. I’d say this is a cloth diaper essential, but not a necessity until around 6 months when your baby starts eating solid food.

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I have about 24 diapers and I wash my diapers once every two days, which works for me since I am a stay at home. I go through almost all 24 diapers in those two days, so if you plan to only be able to do laundry once every 3 days, I would purchase at least 36 cloth diapers to have in your stash. I wouldn't let your diapers sit longer than three days before washing them as all sorts of fun smells and stains could start to develop. We keep a diaper pail in our nursery to store our dirty cloth diapers and once it’s full, I take the washable liner out, carry it to the laundry room and pull each diaper out of the bag individually, making sure to separate the pocket inserts from the diaper shells. I wash everything including the washable liner with warm water and an extra rinse. I was using a detergent I found on amazon, Rockin’ Green, but then I discovered the Detergent Index at Fluff Love University and switched to plain old Tide.

If your cloth diaper inserts begin to develop stains, which they definitely can, letting them sit in the sun for a few minutes takes the stains right out. It’s pretty amazing! The only condition is they must be wet in order for this to work, so when you take them out of the washer, instead of drying them, stick them outside in the hot sun and watch with amazement as the stains literally disappear.

 
 

I was sure this whole cloth diapering thing was going to be so much harder than it is, but I was completely wrong. I find it to be rewarding knowing I’m not throwing anything extra into landfills or exposing my son to cancer causing ingredients. If it’s something you’re interested in, don’t over think it - just go for it. And know that your baby’s bum is going to be much happier for it.

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Quitting My Career to Become a Stay at Home Wife

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I never thought I would say these words..

I am quitting my career and becoming a stay at home wife.

Let me start out by giving you a little background story..
I have been working since I was 15. My first job was at a thrift store, sorting through the bins of clothes and donated items, spraying them with disinfectant and managing $3.00 transactions on the oldest cash register known to mankind. Over the years I have worked at an amusement park, a fast food restaurant (If you can even call them "restaurants,") and several other food establishments waitressing and bartending. Since I was old enough, I have never ever, a single day not had a job!

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 In 2010, I fell into my career as a hair stylist. That year I was twenty one years old, 4 months pregnant and in an emotionally (and often physically) abusive relationship. Facing an unexpected pregnancy with a man I knew I could not spend my life with, I also decided bartending in a hotel bar could not be my end game. Luckily, I stumbled upon an ad for a local Paul Mitchell cosmetology school and I thought to myself "I can do that."  With zero experience or background in the beauty industry, something inside me told me to go for it anyway.
After a miscarriage, 11 months of cosmetology school, and a very scary breakup, I felt that being a hair stylist was still something I wanted to pursue. And since starting my career, it has thankfully been non stop growth.

I got my first job as a stylist, fresh out of hair school at one of the busiest and most popular salons in Hampton Roads. Four years in, I outgrew the place and decided to pack up my blow dryer and move on to a smaller, more intimate boutique salon. Two years after that, with the support of my wonderful clients and with the help of my best friend/business partner, the next most natural step was to go into business for myself.

So here I am alongside my best friend, Ashley, a proud business owner of our own salon space, living what most hair stylists would call the dream, and now I'm walking away from it to become a stay at home wife.

It has taken me many sleepless nights, daydreams over cups of coffee, conversations with my husband, best friend, clients, and really anyone who will listen for me to be able to come to this decision. I started with nothing at the beginning of this, but as hard as it is to walk away from a career I worked so hard to build, I know I am making the right decision for myself, my husband, and our future children. Let me tell you why.. and maybe I can help another person on the fence about ending their career.

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  1. My Business Partner (& Best Friend) is Moving
    This is perhaps the saddest and scariest part of everything. I met Ashley at the first salon I worked at and we have been on our career journey together, side by side, ever since. We have taken the same classes, worked at the same salons and now we have our own salon space together. She however, has other plans and they are taking her down to Destin, Florida to be closer to her family. The universe somehow always has a way of aligning the stars for us, and although I am going to miss my best friend, I know that her leaving is pushing me in this direction: to close the business, to focus on my passions, and to start a family with my husband - all things that I ultimately want!

  2. I Plan to Be a Stay at Home Mom
    This is something I knew I wanted when I met my husband. My mother stayed home with my brother and I until we went to kindergarten, and I distinctly remember the times when she was not with us and I had to be watched at a babysitter's. These were some of the hardest, darkest times of my childhood. I, personally, want to be the one raising my children. Not to mention, daycare is outrageously expensive!

  3. Financial Stability
    Here's how I look at this one.. If I continue to work (despite the loss of my business partner) up until the very last day that I can possibly stand before I birth my first child, my husband and I will go from two incomes down to one in the blink of an eye while simultaneously adjusting to parenthood with a newborn at home. That sounds stressful. It makes more sense to us to adjust to a single income before we start a family. We will navigate that, work out the kinks and then we will add the cost of a child into the equation. Avoiding any issues during what is already seemingly a huge transition seems to be the best road to take for us.

  4. I'm Moonlighting
    I have a lot of hobbies I would like to develop and hopefully turn into some sort of profitable venture while I one day raise my children. Working full time, meal prepping, keeping my house clean, working out, running and folding the laundry - all on top of these hobbies often leaves me with one choice. Hobbies or rest. If I want to explore these passions of mine I choose to get zero rest and at the end of the week I feel mentally and physically drained. Taking a hiatus from or simply ending my career is giving me the opportunity to explore these other things I have passion for. If I ever plan to turn any sort of profit from them, I won't be able to do that while working a full time job as well.

  5. I Want to Be Prepared
    If we are planning to have children, I want to go into that chapter of my life with a sound body and mind. Many mothers will tell you things like "Oh, you'll never be ready enough," and "nothing can prepare you!" That may be all well and true, but that doesn't mean I should just come crashing through the doors of motherhood, comb and shears in hand trying to figure out where I'm going to find the time to do this or that. I need to get myself in order before I go into this next chapter of my life. I have the chance to do so, and I'm taking it. I know from first hand experience what it's like to be pregnant by surprise, so why not take the time to prepare myself this time around.

  6. My Dog is Fat
    This is actually not entirely true. She's at a decent weight right now, but it could be better. You see, with my husband and I working full time while keeping up with the house and everything else that comes with daily life, our precious Darla doesn't get as much exercise as she really needs. Her weight has yo-yo'd up and down over the last year or so with diet adjustments and veterinary advice, but at the end of the day she really just needs to go for at least a daily walk. Once I'm not working full time, I'll be able to properly exercise her and give her the attention she really deserves.

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I know some may guffaw when they hear what I've decided. Some may ask what I plan to do with my time, assuming I'm going to be sleeping in everyday and binging on Netflix. Some may even consider me privileged. I don't come from a world of stay at home wives and stay at home mothers. My parents struggled to pay bills those few years my mother was home with us and she went back to work as soon as I went to school. I feel extremely grateful to be on the cusp of such an opportunity. It is a reminder that I have found the best partner in my husband because he truly values not only me and my time, but also our future children and the beautiful family we hope to one day have.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts and feelings on this subject. Is anyone planning to do the same or is already living this life? Leave your struggles and triumphs below.

Photo Credit: Charlyn Daiger at CS Photography