Can you believe our baby is six months old? And some change? I know. Me neither. I think back on everything we've been through over the past six months and it's all pretty incredible how much you can pack into that amount of time. The time that has passed feels both brief and long at the same time. For the most part, however, we're holding together pretty darn well for first time parents - if I do say so myself. So, since I'm just through the trenches and I have many, many friends who are expecting, or trying, or just welcomed another little one, I thought I'd share a recap on the past six months in the Weygandt house. A little advice, a little food for thought, a little somethin' somethin'.
So, first things first.
About that whole advice thing. People are full of it. Advice, I mean. Yes, including me. So do me a favor and hear them out, but always with a simultaneously open, yet skeptical ear. Because let me tell you, there's good advice and then there's really, really shitty advice. Either way, know this: no one - NO ONE - knows your baby as well as you. Even the best advice may not apply to your little one - or your parenting style. And that's just fine. So, seriously. Don't take crap from anyone. Even if it turns out they were right and they're singing "I told you so." F it. This is your court, your rules. Who cares if you make 'em up along the way.
Now, with that...
Months 0-3 = Things we couldn't live without:
1. Swaddling. Learn how to swaddle. Invest in a variety of swaddling blankets. Yes, it feels a bit like packing your baby as a Chipotle burrito, but they love it. And you will love it. Because they will sleep. And you will love when they sleep. If you need further convincing, read "Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp.
2. Swing. My God Thank You, Teresa, For Giving Us Your Swing. It is one of the holiest and most sacred of baby devices we use at home. At six months, Abbey doesn't use it as much as before, but it was a God Send from the minute we got it to just recently.
3. Itzbeen. Just when I think we no longer need this simple little timer, something new happens with Abbey, and holy crap, thank goodness we have it. But this little gadget was particularly helpful when we were experiencing those early round the clock feedings. Since Abbey preferred to sleep through her early feedings, and was having trouble gaining weight early on, we used the alarm feature on the Itzbeen to help us keep track of her next nursing session. It also tracks which boob you last fed from, how long they've been sleeping, when you last changed their diaper, and bonus "whatever you want" button that we use to track either medications or how long she's been crying during sleep training. It also comes with a super handy flashlight. I heart the Itzbeen.
4. Pump 'N Style. I attribute being able to stick with nursing at six months (can we just celebrate that for a moment?!) to getting on the pump from day one and sticking with it. Pretty much every single f-ing day. There I am, pumping it up. But it is probably the main reason why my milk supply was well established, and the girl scout in me loves to marvel at the stock pile of frozen milk in our freezer that helps us get through those days when I just can't keep up. Do I like pumping? Hell no! Hate it. But I'm grateful for this technological advancement.
5. Pack & Play. First, you will get a laugh out of watching your husband/partner/father-in-law try to set this gizmo up. Once it's up, though, you'll love it. We got one with a changing table attached and two levels for sleeping - one closer up (easier to grab your little one - especially if you're recovering from a C-Section). The pack 'n play, I figure, has saved me at least a bazillion trips up and down our staircase to deal with changing diapers.
6. Bassinet. Abbey slept in our room in a bassinet loaned to us by yet another wonderful friend until she was ten weeks old, at which time we moved her to her own room and crib. But the bassinet was wonderful. It was great having her so close in those early days - particularly as I recovered from surgery. And since I was nursing, it was a piece of cake to grab the baby and feed her while I snoozed on a stack of pillows. That being said, see if you can borrow one - or use a pack 'n play. Especially if you plan to move your little one out of your bedroom. Because for some reason, a bassinet is uber expensive and yet, has a short life-span.
In addition to what's above, these additions were added between months 3-6 and have been super helpful.
1. Video Baby Monitor. My goodness do I love this thing. Especially when we started sleep training. We have a two story house, and I swear now that I have experienced a video monitor, I will profess that a sound-only monitor just WILL NOT DO. Not at all. It is so nice to be able to push a button and see with my own eyes if the kid is strangling herself, or just protesting. Often, it's the latter. Thus saving a trip up the stairs. Times about 100 a day.
2. Play mat. You know, the little mats with the arch over them that you hang toys from. Love it. Keeps baby occupied. Yay. One suggestion - invest in one that evolves. That arch is going to get in the way around six months, and you'll want to ditch it as soon as baby starts sitting up to play. Also, two words: machine washable.
3. Bumbo. Love the bumbo. Great little invention. We used it in the early stages of introducing solids, too.
4. A larger vehicle. I scoffed at the idea that one day, we would be the proud owners of an SUV. Yep. Wrong. Wrongedy wrong, wrong. Our shiny new Ford Explorer is just the ticket. First, the car seat jacked up the passenger side front seat making it the most uncomfortable seat ever. Second, there was no way we could fit the two of us, the baby, her accessories and our dogs in one of our little cars. Not gonna happen. So, for a family who enjoys a road trip, a bigger vehicle is a must.
5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. Some of you have followed our adventures in sleep training. This approach isn't for everyone. But it works. Period. IT WORKS. On average, our little girl now sleeps at least ten hours a night. Now, at six months of age, she goes longer stretches a few times a week - like 11 or 12 hours. It is all because of this book. Last night I got nine hours of sleep. Just sayin'.
Honestly, that's about it. I mean, there are other products and gizmos that we have that we like, but these are probably the items we could not live without. You know, aside from the givens like a car seat and stroller. And boobs. Gotta have those. Oh! And a serious sense of humor. Because when you are running on four hours of sleep, haven't showered in two days, and have baby poo smeared on your shirt, all you can do is laugh. And trust me. It will happen.