Jan 23, 2015

The Bare Necessities

We live in a small, small flat. It's a one-bedroom, and we moved our bed to the living room so Eleanor could sleep without interruption (there wasn't room for both the bed and crib), and it's been an okay setup.  When we found out we were having another baby, we started to talk about looking for a two-bedroom flat.  Maybe a little further away from city center, where the rent isn't so expensive, and perhaps on a floor that doesn't require a climb of four flights of stairs. I struggle hauling up the stroller + E + groceries as it is, and the thought of doing it 9 months pregnant makes me cringe.  Our six month lease is up next month, so we've been viewing two-bedroom flats all week and are pretty much set on moving.

Even if we end up with more space, the reality is, it won't be much more space.  I try as hard as I can not to buy new stuff here in Scotland because we'll have to somehow get it home when we return to America, or sell/donate it before we leave.  When we were packing for the move here, we knew there was a possibility we could have a baby abroad.  We wondered if we should bring some of our newborn gear so we wouldn't have to buy items we already own, but ultimately didn't have the luggage space for something that was a 'maybe'.

The truth is, you don't need that much stuff for babies the first six months. Below are a few items I'd like to share that I feel are the must-haves, at least for me. Let it be known: I am only writing this post for myself. To review in a few months, during that psychotic nesting phase, when I am tempted to purchase X, Y and Z on Etsy for my newborn which will immediately be outgrown or never even used. I'm not claiming to be a baby expert, just a newly seasoned mom who's trying to determine how to save money/space/time for her second-born.

Happiest Baby on the Block:
Dr. Karp is as cheesy in this DVD it's title, but let me tell you: I have a testimony of the 5 S's, and I love my family, amen. Works every time.

SwaddleMe wrap:
I never was able to achieve a good swaddle using a blanket (Neal is a swaddling boss though, and very proud of it), so these SwaddleMe wraps were a lifesaver, and by far our most used baby item. Basically a newborn-sized straight jacket, they have velcro tabs that help you get that baby wrapped as tight as a Chipotle burrito. Newborn Eleanor was happiest when properly swaddled. That's why it's the first S of the 5 S's, duh. Our newborn SwaddleMe wraps were the two things I insisted on bringing with us 'just in case' to Scotland, and I'm so glad I did.

One day old!

White noise app:
Still on the 5 S's here. I don't have the patience or breath for long-winded "shhh"-ing, so we tried downloading a free white noise app on our phones when E was just a few days old, and she immediately stopped crying when she heard it.  Newborns get freaked out at the eerie absence of the loud, constant swishing sounds they hear in the womb for 9+ months.  That's why you hear about parents using hair dryers or vacuum cleaners to calm their fussy babes.  We used it anytime she was crying uncontrollably, especially in the car when we couldn't bounce her around, and usually the louder the better.  This was a simple, easy solution and we still use it for naps and bedtime for Eleanor. It drowns out sounds in the house and helps her stay asleep. She has this Pavlovian response to the sound of white noise and immediately starts rubbing her eyes and yawning when she hears it. We use an old, unused iPhone to download the app so we aren't occupying our own devices to play it. 

Eleanor loved, loved, loved her swing. We were very sad to say goodbye when we moved to Scotland, but she was definitely too big for it anyway.  Her swing made it possible for me to take a shower during my maternity leave, not a joke. We'll probably just find one on Gumtree (UK's version of Craigslist) here and sell it when we leave, because I insist on having one.

Eleanor never took a pacifier, but honestly we never really pressed her to do so.  Since she was nursing, we were told to wait to use a pacifier for the first few weeks to avoid nipple confusion. She never caught on how to use a pacifier, and I often envied parents who could just give their kid a binky and he'd be happy as a clam. So we think with this next baby, we'll be a little more aggressive with the pacifier.

Fels-Naptha, AKA best laundry soap on the PLANET:
I have yet to meet a white onesie that wasn't freed from the wrath of a diaper blowout after being pre-treated with the glorious Fels-Naptha.  I received this as a gift at a baby shower and it's my number two favorite baby product of all time.

Reusable bib:
When E started taking solids, we had several cloth bibs that would get so incredibly messy, tedious to clean and wash, and it was a just huge pain.  I found a Tommee Tippee plastic bib on Amazon and LOVE it. We just wipe it off after every use. There's even a pocket to catch wayward food (Eleanor often digs in there for scraps when her tray is cleared). It's so much cleaner and more convenient.

Again, will probably look for one on Gumtree. We'll have the baby in our room the first few months, but we don't co-sleep, so a bassinet it is.

A bunch of onesies and nice, cozy, feet pajamas:
We had about 15 newborn onesies and it seemed like a good amount, depending on how often you want to do laundry.  E was born in February, so our house was always a little chilly. She spent most of her first few weeks in pajamas.  Bonus if they have feet (socks don't stay on baby feet), and double bonus if they are zip-ups.  Bear suits are cozy and warm, and obviously, adorable. Our July baby may not need PJ's as thick as a bear suit, but I'll still pick up a good number feet pajamas anyway.

Stroller bundle bag:
This has been a definite necessity since living in Edinburgh...I don't think it would be if we weren't living in a city.  But as often as we are out walking in the cold, windy Scottish weather, it's nice to have this zip-up bag to keep E warm.  It's a little haphazard in this picture, but she's sporting her Veteran's Day poppy!

Baby carrier:
We want to avoid purchasing a double-stroller until we get back to the States, so I'll definitely put our Baby Bjorn to use when out and about with the babes. It's also great to wear while getting housework done as the little one stays snuggled close.

 And of course, the most essential of all: Vaccines.  I don't care if people chose to breastfeed or formula feed, work or stay at home, but I do care if they vaccinate their kids. Vaccines work.  Here are the facts: https://medium.com/the-nib/vaccines-work-here-are-the-facts-5de3d0f9ffd0

And that's really it!  Blankets and burp cloths are essential as well, and thankfully we already have tons of those in our flat. I was reading my journal from around the time when I was ten weeks pregnant with Eleanor, and I was positively panicked about getting all the baby stuff we needed in time for her arrival.  It's so nice to know that babies really just need some TLC from their parents.  A cute outfit never hurts though ;) 

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