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I swear… I blinked and my sweet, helpless, little baby girl has become a person. A talkative, strong-willed, hysterical, ridiculously active,
maniac real life person. When we celebrated her first birthday early September, I had all of these grand blog posts planned in my head related to motherhood and babyland, but on top of having mommy brain [which is a real thing – promise], life got in the way as it usually does. I never even posted pictures from the small party we had at my inlaws in New York! Here are a few:
Janie & Jack Bikini // Birthday Crown
Before having Harley, there were so many recommendations on what we “needed,” it was overwhelming and a little confusing if I’m being honest! And after she was born, the opinions became even more forthcoming. Between my friends, my brother, parents, inlaws, and of course a little thing called the internet, everyone swore by whatever it was they felt was best. Although they were trying to be as helpful as possible, the truth is, every baby is different and sometimes you don’t know what they’re going to like and use until you/they try it. So with that being said, here is a rundown of products that I personally loved, needed, wanted, or could have lived without during the first 12 months of Harley’s life.
DIAPERS: Let’s get straight into it and talk about the most popular topic of conversation when becoming a parent. POOP. I never in my life thought it was possible to talk about it so much; to my husband, my Mom, the doctor, friends… everyone! It controls my life! Well, that and napping. Pooping and napping control my life.
Pre-baby I was all about The Honest Company diapers. They come in such cute designs and I really love that the company uses safe, non-toxic ingredients amongst all of their products. The diapers however failed to keep Harley dry at night [ever], and even during the day I found that she needed to be changed much more frequently compared to when she wore Pampers or Huggies. Harley has her father’s metabolism, so I think we set a record with the amount of diapers we go through on a daily basis. Even her teachers at pre-school joke around that they’ve never met a kid who eats and poops as much as Harley does. So to make my point, she is changed often into clean diapers due to her impressive pooping ability, but with the Honest diapers, I found that they didn’t absorb urine well, and the last thing I want is for her to sit in a wet or dirty diaper, OR to have to change her every 30 minutes. There are Huggies people and Pampers people. We’re the latter. Pampers swaddlers fit Harley the best. I find them to run more narrow than the Huggies. At night she usually wears the extra protection ones so that she can sleep twelve hours and not wake up soaking wet. I’d recommend signing up for Amazon’s Subscribe & Save! You can update the quantity, sizes, shipping date and of course cancel at any time, but it’s nice just having a huge box show up at your doorstep, plus you save a little bit of money. If only I invested in a diaper stock years ago. I’d be a very rich woman!
**Harley’s first and worst diaper rash was from Seventh Generation diapers. Of course it happened while Casey was traveling on his first overnight work trip after Harley was born. It was HORRIBLE!
DIAPER CREAM: I mostly use Earth Mama Angel Baby, but if Harley has a diaper rash, nothing gets rid of it quicker than Desitin. And when it doubt, put Aquaphor on it! We seriously use it for everything! I keep a small one in every purse.
BATH TUB: I had heard mixed reviews about the Puj Tub, but this was a definite must have for us. It’s a flexible, no-slip sink insert. We used it every day until Harley was big enough to sit up in a bath tub or large kitchen sink on her own [so over 6 months]. It fit her bathroom sink perfectly. We didn’t have to bend over awkwardly to bathe her. Harley loved it! It took awhile for her to be comfortable sitting in a tub by herself. She liked being more confined to a smaller space so from the Puj Tub, we graduated to this bath n’ bumper tub that was awesome!!! It’s a tub that you put in a regular size bath tub, that’s comfy and offers cushioned support. It really helped with the transition from the infant tub to a regular tub. The 4moms Infant Tub was something a lot of my friends recommended, but we returned it. Not because it’s not a good tub, but for whatever reason Harley screamed bloody murder every time we attempted to put her in it! Not only did Harley love the bumper tub, but it made me feel safe and secure since she couldn’t slip or drift like in a regular tub.
BREAST PUMP: Again, everyone is going to have their own opinion, but for me, the Medela Freestyle Breast Pump is the way to go and is worth the money. I tried two others – one that was gifted from Ameda and one that I got from my Insurance company. Women in the US are entitled to a breast pump from their health insurance company, but every plan offers different pumps. A few of my friends took the pump they received from their insurance and sold it on Amazon to use that money towards the pump they really wanted, while other friends were perfectly happy with their free pump. If you plan on returning to work after having your baby, definitely try to figure out where exactly you will be pumping and if you will have access to an electrical outlet because that may help determine which kind to get.
BOTTLES: We tried every bottle on the market. No exaggeration. Casey’s friend gifted us two huge bags of bottles because their son refused to drink from one, so we really tried it all. Harley would only drink from the Playtex VentAire bottles for her entire first year. I honestly don’t remember her ever having issues with gas, spit up or any other discomforts associated with bottle feeding.
FORMULA: Even though I know hundreds of people who were formula fed and are perfectly fine and healthy, Casey and I initially struggled with the idea of giving Harley formula. While I wish I could have solely fed her breastmilk, my supply became low around 6 months and I had no choice but to supplement. We didn’t love any of our options as we always found an ingredient or two [or fifteen] that we preferred not to give Harley, but after doing tons of research and talking to her doctor and friends, Casey and I felt the most comfortable using Baby’s Only Organic DHA & ARA formula. It’s marketed as a Toddler Formula to encourage breastfeeding until age 1 [per Baby’s Only], but a lot of women don’t have that option, whether by choice or their body’s lack of natural production. Again, it’s not perfect, but what I mostly liked about Baby’s Only is it has real DHAs and fats versus synthetic. It’s also made with brown rice syrup instead of high fructose corn syrup.
For whatever reason, people like to have serious debates over formula which I am so not interested in. I think you need to do what works best for you and your baby and not care about other people’s opinions. I will say that looking back, I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself to exclusively give Harley breast milk [when I started struggling with production]. While I know human milk is far superior compared to manufactured, once I supplemented, I felt huge relief knowing that she would never go hungry if I was running late and there wasn’t enough milk for Casey or the nanny to give her. I also was able to join Casey and Harley in sleeping throughout the night rather than wake myself up one to two times to pump [which was life changing].
PACIFIERS: Harley refused a pacifier. We bought every WubbaNub that exists on the market because everyone raved how much their kids loved them. Nope, not Harley.
TEETHING TABLETS: Teething is no joke! Help your little one relieve some pain with these bad boys. Harley loves to take them from my hand and pop them in her mouth.
BODYWASH/SHAMPOO: Harley suffers from a little bit of eczema. For the most part it’s controlled, except for one stubborn spot on her arm, but when she was younger it was a lot worse. Her pediatrician recommended we bathe her in Cetaphil and it made such a huge difference! Another body wash we love is Mustela, which we use as shampoo as well.
NASAL ASPIRATOR: I feel like I’m sucking out her brains every time I use this NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator, but it really really works. Every time she gets a cold or has a runny nose I feel so terrible because she obviously can’t help herself and blow her own nose.
SWADDLE BLANKETS: Bring on the swaddles! Even if your baby doesn’t like to be swaddled, you will use these blankets for EVERYTHING! Whether it’s to cover the stroller when you’re out and about and you want your little one to take a nap, or to cover yourself when you’re nursing in public [should you prefer to be covered], or if you need to change your baby’s diaper on the floor of a dressing room [because sometimes that seemed cleaner to me than using the changing table in the public bathroom] – you will find a use for them, I promise! My favorite by far are the Aiden & Anais swaddles. The bamboo ones are amazingly soft and silky. Not ideal for swaddling, but they’re great to snuggle with!
STUFFED ANIMALS: These Jellycat animals are the absolute best! So beyond soft and cuddly!
STROLLER: Harley’s regular stroller is the UPPAbaby VISTA and we LOVE it! I have not used and tried every stroller on the market so can’t say it’s “the best one,” however, we do have several strollers and I’ve also used other people’s on certain occasions. The Vista rides so smooth and nicely and I always get complimented on it when we’re out and about. The underneath basket space is huge! Perfect to put groceries in or an oversized diaper bag. I will warn you, it’s a very big stroller, even when folded, so that may be something to take into consideration when making your decision. We attached the Mesa Infant Car Seat for the first 9 months because Harley is so small. If you’re a runner or like to go walking on hills or hiking trails, get the Bob Jogger. It’s awesome! My Mom felt some of the strollers were way too heavy and also challenging to open and close, so she swore by the Snap-N-Go Stroller. It’s a light-weight traveling system that is compatible with most infant car seats. Perfect for Grandma!
INFANT SEATS: If you have a newborn, you will want the Boppy Lounger. It’s lightweight so can easily be carried from room to room and your baby will be super comfortable. We put it on the floor, the couch, the bed. When I’d get dressed or blow dry my hair, I’d have her chill in that so she could watch me. Harley wasn’t a fan of a lot of swings, rockers and baby chairs as she much preferred being held 24/7, BUT she liked being in her Boppy!
For the holidays last year, Casey’s aunt got Harley this Sassy Sit & Play Seat that was so helpful in those early months when she wasn’t able to sit up on her own. As she became stronger, I found that the seat offered the perfect amount of support. We would use it on the floor and couch to help her sit up straight. We also used the Bumbo and Rocker seats religiously. Surprisingly, Harley was NOT a fan of the 4Moms mamaRoo! We kept it in the hopes baby #2 likes it [and not to mention it was an expensive gift]. And no, I am not pregnant!
CARRIER: I have a few, but always felt/feel most comfortable using the ErgoBaby 360. It’s also the only one Casey will use when carrying Har. It’s easy to put on and take off and I like that your baby can go in several positions. When she was really little, she always faced me, but now she faces forward so she can look outward.
HIGH CHAIR: Believe it or not, I spent a whopping $20 on Harley’s High Chair from Ikea. It’s no frills, easy to clean and can be disassembled easily if your traveling with it. We use the Evenflo Mini-Meal 3-in-1 High Chair at my parents’ house which I also really like. It converts from a regular high chair to a small table and chair which Harley prefers because she thinks she’s such a big girl now! In my opinion, spending hundreds of dollars on a high chair is beyond unnecessary!
PACK ‘N PLAY: We have needed and used a Pack N’ Play numerous times, mostly when traveling [when we commuted via car, not plane]. Most hotels do have cribs available, but I always prefer to use our portable crib if possible. Ours is the Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard with Newborn Napper Elite. We actually used the napper and changing station a lot when Harley was first born. We took her home from the hospital two weeks before moving into a new place, so had to make do while living in a sea of boxes. It is not the easiest to set up and break down. I finally figured out how to do it on my own – 15 months later! If I had to do it all over again, I would get the 4moms Breeze Playard. So much more user friendly!
SOUND MACHINE: Harley is addicted to white noise, but she sleeps throughout the night, sooooo I’m totally okay with it! We use the ocean setting on this one.
BABY MONITOR: We were less than impressed with our Motorola Wireless Monitor, so brought it back to Buy Buy Baby. I know at least 3 people who had the same one and loved theirs, so perhaps we had a defaulted one?! It does have good reviews, so my suggestion would be to keep the box and receipt in case you have to return it. Most of my friends use and swear by the Dropcam Wi-Fi Wireless Security Camera. We have been getting by just fine without a monitor as we have always slept on the same level as Harley, just two rooms away. Believe me, when she is up and wants us, she has no problem using her vocal cords to get our attention! One of my favorite things is walking into her room in the morning to see her sitting in her crib, just chatting with her dolls. I love how independent she is!
ACTIVITY TABLE: These are great for so many reasons! Of course they’re educational and keep the kiddos entertained, but when Harley was figuring out how to stand on her own, she loved pulling herself up on her learning table for support. There are tons of inexpensive ones like this one and this one! If price isn’t an issue, or you’re looking for something with a little more bells and whistles, check out this one.
SIDE SLEEPER: Harley is a stomach sleeper [gasp!] and has been from the very beginning. She HATED lying flat on her back, but of course everything you read and hear promotes back sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome]. So, she slept on her back in this inclined Rock ‘N Play next to our bed for the first two months of her life until we started sleep training her in her crib [in her own room].
At that point, she was strong enough to turn her head from side to side and push/press herself up, so she slept on her stomach while wearing an alarm that tracked her breathing. Of course I would stay up late researching SIDS deaths followed by hours spent staring at her to make sure she was breathing just fine. I talked to other parents who were going through the same struggle as us and my Mom reminded me that I [along with my entire generation] slept on my stomach as an infant. The only reason I am sharing this information with you and leaving myself wide open for judgement and criticism is because there may be someone out there reading this who is going through the same thing. While I don’t want to encourage anyone to go against doctors and experts’ recommendation, as a Mother I think you learn rather quickly what is right for your child.
PERSONALIZED LABELS: Certainly not a necessity, but if your baby is going to Daycare or Pre-School, you will want to label all of their belongings. Name Bubbles gifted Harley their Daycare Labels Pack and they are SO cute! You can design and personalize them easily on their website. The package includes a variety of waterproof and clothing labels. I think this is such a great gift idea! My Sister-in-law is the one who actually introduced me to Name Bubbles because she uses them on my two nephews’ stuff. It’s nice having everything labeled, especially when the kids are all together! Makes things easy to know what belongs to who!
SHOES: Since Harley was a baby, I have put her in shoes whenever leaving the house. Okay, maybe not always, but the majority of the time I did. Even though she wasn’t walking around, I had heard from a lot of people that if you put shoes on babies, they will get used to them and won’t fight you on wearing them when they’re older and do need them on their feet. [Plus, they’re pretty freaking cute!] Now I’m sure that’s not true for all babies and who knows if that really is the reason Harley is so shoe obsessed. It’s probably in her DNA! Her Freshly Picked moccasins were by far the easiest to put on her. Because of the elastic, they’d stay on her feet and I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling off. No laces helped also. Because they’re leather, they do stretch and grow as the foot grows, so I honestly think that you will get a lot of wear out of them, despite the fact that babies grow so fast! Harley just grew out of her moccs that are a size 2 and in other brands she wears a 4 or 5.
Surprize by Stride Rite gave Harley the most support as a newbie walker. Now that she’s running around on the playground at pre-school, during the week she mostly wears her Nike sneakers. We still love her moccasins though and she wears them all the time!
I hope this list helps some of you! Should you have any questions about these products or anything baby related, I’m more than happy to share my opinion/experience with you!