Out of the Bubble
Beyond 8 weeks, babies are generally ready to get out and about. That being said, continue to do your best to refrain from contact with anyone who may be contagious. Below are helpful items that can make day-to-day with a young infant easier, again, divided into "Must-have" and "Nice-to-have" sections.
2 to 3 Month Must-haves
- Sleep Sack --Although not a formal AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendation, it is advised to discontinue swaddling baby at 2 months before he/she begins to roll over. This strategy helps to minimize risk of suffocation and SIDS if baby should roll over from back to belly while swaddled. So, at this age, a sleep sack really comes in handy. However, make sure both the sleep sack is an appropriate weight and that baby is dressed appropriately as to avoid overheating, which also increases risk of SIDS. For a nice mid-priced sleep sack the Baby Deedee Sleep Nest $41 (below left) works well and is breathable for proper temperature regulation. However, washing the garment fully zipped up and air drying it will extend wear of both the fabric and zipper. For top of the line sleep sacks, take a look at the Woolino Basic Baby Sleep Sack $70 (below center) or the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag 0-2 Years $120 (below right).
On the Go with Baby in Tow
- Diaper Bag — See our Best Diaper Bags Shoot-out Review. You won't get very far with baby without a diaper bag. No matter how minimalist you try to be there are always going to be items you'll need on hand when you leave the house. With diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes topping the list, it is imperative that you have a great bag to carry it all in, even if you're just taking a quick trip to the store. An ideal bag has lots of space, multiple compartments for easy sorting, and an area dedicated to keeping bottles fresh. Check out the Skip Hop Chelsea (Editors' Choice), the Petunia Pickle Bottom Sashay Satchel (Top Pick), and the Skip Hop Forma (Best Value) for bags that excelled 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 are out and about with your baby and need less volume 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 time again.
- Cooler — If baby needs an expressed bottle while on the go, having a cooler is important 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 important for long outings. The best part is that like all Ju-Ju-Be bags, it is 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 and with a velcro closure.
- Tooth Tissues — It is never too early to start thinking about good oral hygiene, and proper 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 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 — A great water resistant surface to use on the ground makes spending time outside with baby in the fresh air very easy. We recommend the Tuffo Water Resistant Outdoor Blanket
Beyond the Fourth Trimester: 3 to 6 Months
By 3 months, babies really smiling, beginning to coo and interact with others, showing off their personalities. Around 4 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 used in mastering the art of sitting upright unsupported. Teething, drooling, gumming on objects and taking an interest in what others are eating, usually begins during this period as well.
This article will guide you through specific age-appropriate items for baby divided into the following themes:
At the end of the article, is also a little something for mom who even if exclusively breastfeeding, should be very aware of her increasing fertility during this time.
- Teether — There is no doubt about it, teething can be a tough time. Despite the cute drool, babies can sometimes act a little out of sorts. Having a few quality teethers on hand can pacify little one with something to gnaw on other than your sweater. Suri the Octopus and Friends and ABC Teething Letters made by Mayapple are premium silicone teething toys made of medical-grade silicone. They are non-toxic, free of heavy metals, BPA, phthalates, nitrosamines and plastics (such as PP, EVA, Vinyl or PVC). They are also top-rack dishwasher safe. Another good choice is the Lifefactory Silicone Teether.
Beloved Attachment Items
- Lovie — Once your little one chooses a lovie, forgetting it or losing it isn't a good time. With Angel Dear Blankie Pair and a Spare you get 3 identical super soft, uber-cuddly, and adorable animal-themed ones. There are oodles of options from which to choose that are sure to please your little one. Another popular item to consider is the Wubbanub Pacifier, a combination latex-free Soothie brand pacifier attached to a soft plush toy. Like Angel Dear, there are loads of options. We highly recommend purchasing several once baby becomes attached in order to rotate them through the wash and to replace periodically in the event one should go missing or simply need a refresh.
- Baby Blanket — Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket is a luxuriously soft treasure fabricated of 100% polymicrofiber with thick satin edging. Measuring 29" x 35", it is a great size for outings, particularly stroller rides in the cold. Although technically a blanket, we do not recommend using this for sleep as infants should sleep without any soft bedding.
Music, Reading, and Language
- Music — Early exposure to music, reading, and language is fantastic for building baby's neuronal connections and may very well peak interest and aptitude later in life. An amazing international early childhood program from birth to age seven is Music Together. In this program, children and their parents/caregivers participate together in a deeply-rooted rhythm and movement-based curriculum that utilizes instruments and other props such as silk scarves and parachutes to really get everybody going together 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 of books for your baby is not only fun but also important. If your baby's doctor participates in the national child literacy program called Reach Out and Read, baby will receive a developmentally appropriate book at each well-child visit for free. When they are infants, they will receive board books which are great for babies because once they develop enough fine motor coordination, they can begin to turn the pages themselves. Durable, they are prime targets for teething and lots of 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 are the following: 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, Alphabloc, Jamberry, Machines at Work, The Runaway Bunny, and The Snowy Day.
- Sign Language — Babies often learn to communicate via sign language before they have the ability to verbalize their needs and desires. Teaching baby simple hand signals for more, drink, eat, play, and hurt can help limit frustration due to communication problems and help you and baby bond as they start to grow. One great 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 made of 100% soft cotton fabric, round forms, and supportive design. The rocking develops your baby's motor skills and balance in a natural way with no batteries required. It offers an ergonomic design that has proper newborn support, and can be folded flat for storage or travel.
- Activity Mat — Tiny Love Gymini Move and Play Activity Gym sports 5 in 1 multi-positions that adjust to baby's developmental stages. 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 are a hygienic one piece design with no holes for water to get into or mold to grow. The natural rubber is sustainably produced with no PVC, BPA, phthalates or artificial colors. The packaging is made with recycled products and is 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 just for your little one. You supply all 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 is definitely a book children will treasure for a lifetime.
- Toy Bin — The 3Sprouts Storage Bin can help keep your new toy filled home somewhat organized. These soft, collapsible, cute bins come with various animal designs, hold loads of toys, and last through multiple children. While baby might not have loads of toys right now, their toy pile will begin to grow soon and you'll need somewhere to put all that stuff.
Travel with Baby
We recommend keeping a travel checklist of baby's basic essentials, so that every time baby is overnight somewhere other than home, the necessary items are easily accessible. We like to include the following among other essentials when travelling:
- Infant Car Seat
- Baby Carrier
- Diaper Cream
- Nail Clippers
- Fever Reducer — Infants' Tylenol is a nice thing to have handy both at home and while traveling for comfort care during viral infections, fever, or pain. Be sure to follow your pediatrician's recommendations on dosing.
- Travel Crib — Travel cribs can come in handy even if you don't leave town; they can fill a lot of uses such as a bedside bassinet or a safe spot to set baby out of the reach of family pets. So, while you definitely will be glad you have one should a trip arise, it probably won't be the first time you unpack the crib. In our comparative review, Best Travel Crib Review, the Editors' Choice was awarded to the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light.
- Air Travel — Until baby is 2 years, he or she can sit on your lap while in-flight. This is certainly a huge cost savings for families. However, we recommend inquiring with the airline on travel day if there is additional space on the plane that would allow you to install the infant car seat. Why? Because having baby in their infant car seat during flight is the safest option. If there is no extra space on the plane, the infant car seat can be checked in for free. Once your child is 2 years, however, you will need to purchase their own seat on the plane. You can do your best to keep them strapped into their lap belt, but this is super difficult with a squirmy toddler. So, you can either bring their car seat onboard or use an FAA-approved CARES Airplane Safety Harness instead which acts as a 4-point restraint. It is appropriate for 2 to 4 years, 22 to 44 pounds, and less than 40". Some complain that this system doesn't have a strap in between the legs, so there is a possibility that child could slip through or even present a strangulation risk, so continuous supervision is highly recommended.
Can you believe you (and dad, of course) created this smiling, sparkling wonder?! Take a moment and revel in this little miracle who not only has caused you more sleepless nights than you can count at this point but has also brought you untold joy beyond words. It is true that once you have a baby, it is like watching your heart beat outside of you. Caring for baby is a physical, mental, and emotional labor of love and pure goodness at that. The best, most difficult job in the world!
That said because all moms can acknowledge the blood, sweat, and tears that parenting requires, our goal is to strive to furnish parents with solid recommendations to make day-to-day easier on you. Needless to say, when "that time of the month" finally rolls around again, we have a few ideas that you may or may not have considered.
The Cycle of Life
Menstruation is typically delayed when breastfeeding. This timeline can vary depending upon mother's physiology and breastfeeding routine, from after 3 months to greatly increased once solids are introduced 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 health care provider about your options for birth control!
And when Aunt Flo finally decides to come back to town, for those interested, we have put together a list of some eco-conscious, healthy feminine products to consider having at the ready.
- Chlorine-Free Tampon — Natracare Organic Cotton Applicator Tampons are free of chlorine bleaching and thus harmful dioxin exposure. Natracare has been producing healthier feminine hygiene products since 1989. Their tampons are also free of pesticides, perfumes, other chemical additives, or synthetic fibers such as highly absorbent rayon that can cause unnecessary drying of the vaginal mucosa.
- Tampon Alternative — Okay, bear with us before you automatically say what? 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 period panties that are super comfortable. Thinx are a great option for those lighter days leading up to or winding down on your period as well as an adjunct to a tampon or cup so that leaks are completely masked. And, they are certainly much sexier than a traditional pad. Thinx come in Thong (light), Cheeky (medium), and Hiphugger (heavy) absorbencies that have a capacity of 1/2, 1, and 2 tampons respectively so you can tailor your purchase based upon your flow. Huge purchase bonus? For every pair of Thinx sold, 7 reusable menstrual pads will be donated to a woman in Africa helping to increase self-esteem by allowing them to participate in school and work without taking time out. What about urinary incontinence? Check out Thinx's sister company Icon!
NEXT: Baby Essentials: A Little Person Blooms (6 to 12+ months)