Having a second baby is a completely different thing than having your first. Even though Luke is my fourth child, I really only consider it my second time of going through the "babyhood" of the first year since the triplets were all my guinea pigs together. I tried out all types of things on them ... bottle holders, swaddle blankets, all types of shoes and clothes, etc. I tried any book or commercial's suggestion of anything guaranteed to make life better with your infant. With Luke, I have found that all my experimenting was, at least, not in vain. When he made his debut a short 9 months ago, I knew I was ready. So many people want to know what baby things are and are not "must haves", so here is my list of the essentials for the first year.
#1 Swaddles and Sleep Sacks
Let me be clear that not just any swaddle blanket will do. I have tried them all. When the triplets came home from the hospital, my husband and I were pros at swaddling with just a receiving blanket. This worked well until they became a bit bigger and could break out of the blanket in no time. We tried many different store-bought versions of swaddle blankets too, but the little Houdinis were able to get out of those in about 3.7 seconds as well. We were pretty desperate because we still felt that the kiddos needed the swaddle (plus, it meant they slept for longer stretches since it helped with the moro reflex that young babies have that tends to wake them up). I remember hearing my husband cry out in sheer joy one night soon after when he was on the internet and discovered this ... The Miracle Blanket.
This handy dandy blanket literally gave us hours of uninterrupted sleep. Plus, it kept those wiggly little buggers nice and snug and it was literally impossible for them to break out of it. Other swaddles may promise you things like this, but none of them come close to the Miracle Blanket. It was well worth the investment.
After transitioning out of the swaddle blankets, we went straight into sleep sacks (and before you ask, no, this is not my baby).
These were recommended to us by a friend and are great. The are wearable zip up blankets. Since you can't put blankets in a crib with a baby due to SIDS risks, these are a great option. They stay on the baby once he/she is rolling around and the baby stays all toasty and warm. The come in fleece and cotton. We only had to use the cotton ones with the triplets since we lived in a warm climate, but Luke has been using the fleece ones now that we have moved into colder weather territory.
#2 One-piece Outfits
There are so many clothes options floating around out there for babies. Onesies, overalls, gowns, you name it, they have it. And let's face it, they are all just so darn cute that you want to buy them all. I found that little girls are way easier to figure out than little boys. Dresses work perfectly because they are super cute and make diaper changing a snap. For boys, I have found that the best thing is to stick with one-piece outfits.
Especially once baby starts really moving around, the one-piece outfits are the way to go. Personally, I feel like I dressed Sam in "big boy" outfits too early. I mean, he has the rest of his life to wear polo shirts and jeans. So I am going to get away with letting Luke wear the adorably cute one-piece jon jons and one-pieces for as long as I can. I am determined to extend his baby-ness for as long as I can!
#3 Baby Leg Warmers
I did not use these with the triplets and I really wish I had. They are called baby leg warmers and they are for babies who have reached the crawling stage (again, not my baby).
A baby learning to crawl in the winter has a hard time doing it in pants. Pants are hard to crawl in and Luke often gets his feet stuck in the cuffs as he is trying to get around. The leg warmers are awesome because they prevent your baby from ripping up his/her knees when crawling around the house (especially if you have wood or tile floors like us). They keep Luke's legs warm and make changing his diaper so easy. He gets to move around as fast as he wants and I get to spend less time at the smelly changing table. It's a win-win situation for the both of us.
#4 Robeez Shoes
Keeping with the apparel theme, this is something I definitely learned from experimenting with the triplets. If you need shoes, Robeez shoes are the only way to go with an infant.
The triplets taught me that shoes for infants are ridiculous. Whoever got together and decided that we should all outfit our non-walking babies with shoes is crazy. Plus, their feet grow so dang fast that you buy a new size every month! I think they are just counting on the cuteness factor again because who can resist the cute little Nikes, right? Anyway, DO NOT put shoes on your baby in the summer, it's pointless. The only time I would put shoes on a baby at all is if it is cold outside or once they have started pulling up and cruising. And if you have to put shoes on them, go with the Robeez. These are slightly expensive, but they are literally the only pair of shoes Luke owns. I just bought a pair that pretty much go with all his clothes and he is set. They have soft soles and protect his feet now that he is standing. The best part is that these are literally impossible for him to get off. Luke can kick off socks with ease, but not these shoes. I just ordered him a new pair in the next size up and I guarantee we will wear those into the ground as well.
That's a pretty lengthy post so far, so I think I'll take a break. I'll be back tomorrow with the second half of my "must-have" list for babies. If anyone out there has any more ideas for me to add to the list, let me know!