favorites: 6-12 months

Yes I know Gretchen is almost 16 months old but I’m finally getting around to this!  Gotta do it before I forget!  I already wrote about our favorites for birth-6 months here.

SLEEPING:

sleep sacks:  Initially we used long sleeved fleece sleepsacks from Carters, but Gretchen outgrew the length around 9 months.  At that point we switched to sleeveless sleepsacks from Halo and Aden and Anais cozy sleepsacks.  You can find the Halo sacks used at consignment sales for about $3 a piece and many are in like new condition.

sleepsack

Carters long sleeved fleece sack

sleepsack2

A&A cozy sleepsack

motorola video monitor:  we transitioned Gretchen to the crib in her room around 6 months and the video monitor has been awesome for spying on her and giving us peace of mind.  I can watch her to determine if her sounds mean she’s upset, stuck in the slats of the crib, or just playing around.

monitor

I seeeeeee youuuuuu

loveywe didn’t introduce a lovey until Gretchen was 6 months old.  She had ditched the pacifier at this point so we wanted to introduce a different comfort object.  Angel Dear loveys came highly recommended so I got a set of the pink hippos.  Later on I got another set so she has 4 and we rotate them out as they get gross (she chews on the ears).  These are small, soft, and adorable.  It stays in the crib, we don’t allow her to carry it around.  We do take it on road trips as it helps her sleep on long rides.

lovey

FEEDING:

fisher price space saver:  I didn’t want a large high chair taking up space in our dining room, so the space savers was the right choice for us.  My only real complaint about it is that the straps get really dirty and I don’t think they can be removed, at least not easily.  We’ve traveled with our space saver which is so convenient when visiting great grandparents or friends that don’t have a high chair, it will also come in handy on vacation next year!

bib

great high chair, but those Green Sprouts bibs suck, don’t buy them.

organic pouches: I never got into making my own baby food, and baby led weaning didn’t really take off with Gretchen until closer to 10 months, so we used store bought purees.  Initially Gerber until I read about the traces of lead found in their food, then we switched to organic pouches such as plum organics, happy baby, sprout, and ellas.  I shopped around for good deals. BRU and Buy Buy Baby often have sales on plumb organics where they are $1 a pouch.  You can find coupons on the brand’s FB pages and Target often puts pouches on sale so you can combine target sales/coupons with manufacturer coupons.  Also emailing the companies and requesting coupons worked out for me.  Zulily also has sales on these pouches from time to time if you watch.  Just make sure you factor in shipping to see if it’s really a good deal.  I split shipping with a local friend during one sale and now share a Zulily unlimited account with her, which greatly reduced my shipping costs!

boon screw on spoons:  We loved these things.  If you use pouches regularly pick up a couple of packs of these screw on spoons.  Walmart also sells a knock off version.  Makes feeding on the go or even at home quick and there’s so little clean up.  Before I was putting the puree in a bowl and feeding her with  a spoon.  Once I got the screw ons it meant fewer dishes 🙂

munchkin sippy cups: Gretchen was not interested in a sippy until about 10 months.  Instead of going and buying a bunch of different kinds I asked my mom friends to bring their rejected sippy cups over to playgroup so that we could try several different kinds and figure out what she liked.  It worked and we then went out and bought a bunch of the type she preferred and returned the ones she didn’t like to our friends.

sippy

omg i was so relieved when she finally started using that cup!

PLAYING:

exersaucer & jumperoo– we used these daily from about 6 months to 9-10 months.  Gretchen would get a little time in them each day while we were trying to get things done around the house.  She loved playing with the toys and bouncing like a maniac.  Just beware, we’ve had our one and only poop blowout in a cloth diaper in the jumperoo (pooperoo we called it that day).  The compression on the diaper can cause explosions.  I got my exersaucer and jumperoo at a consignment sale.  There are always tons to choose from and I was able to get both for $50 total in excellent used condition, score!  They take up space but it’s only for a short period of time.  Now they are in the basement for the next baby and I’ll resell them after that.

exersaucer

such a bald little baby!

jumperoo

jumped herself into exhaustion

b. toys parum pa pum– we started Kindermusik classes when Gretchen was about 6 months old and she LOVED it.  She loves to listen to music and bee bop around and shake the instruments.  She loves this instrument set and I like that you can store all of the instruments inside the drum.   Great for travelling since you can tuck some other toys in there for the ride too!

drum

CLOTHING:

jammies– we LOVE the Children’s Place zip up sleepers.  Everything else I care more about style than brand 🙂  But most of Gretchen’s clothes are Carters, Baby Gap, Old Navy, Circo, with a smattering of gymboree and crazy 8 (I’m picky about the cutesy stuff).  I buy about half of Gretchen’s clothes new (on sale) and the other half at consignment sales.

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OTHER STUFF:

ergo– I will admit that I never really got on the baby wearing bandwagon.  I tried a K-tan when Gretchen was little but didn’t get a good fit and she is so squirmy that it wasn’t very comfortable for either of us.  Also I get hot easily so baby wearing doesn’t really appeal to me for that reason.  We use the Ergo quite a bit though when we’re on family outings without the stroller.  Especially great for the farmers market, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, etc.  Tyler wears her in the Ergo and she loves it now.  We have the Ergo straps set to Tyler’s measurements so he can just slip it on when needed without having to adjust.

ergo

loves being worn by daddy

maxi cosi pria 70– there are SO many carseats to choose from, holy cow it is overwhelming.  I knew we wanted to keep Gretchen rear facing until at least 2 so I needed a seat that can accomodate that.  I talked to lots of friends about what they use and checked out some online forums to see what carseats people found fit well in their Mazda 5, since that’s the car the seat would be going into.  We ordered our seat from albeebaby during a sale.  I got a $50 gift card that I was able to use to buy some toys and stroller accessories I’d been wanting.  I believe I paid $250 and got the gift card on top of that.  Gretchen seems comfortable in this seat and it was not too hard to install and fits well behind our passenger seat and allows us to have enough leg room.   Especially love the cupholder!

carseat

shopping cart cover– this is something that I know a lot of moms don’t use or ridicule, but I swear by it.  Gretchen only got sick twice during her first year.  Once a cold, and once a stomach bug.  I don’t know that a cart cover gets credit for that but it may have helped.  I know stores have wipes for their carts but those are inside the store and usually we part next to the cart corral and I put her right in a cart, making it so I don’t have to carry her and my bags in and out of the store.   I like that the cover is soft and prevents pinching and you can clip toys to it.  I just keep it in the car and wash it every so often, it’s not really a hassle for me.  I ordered my cover on zulily, it is Infantino brand.

cover

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favorites: birth- 6 months

I’ve been working on this post forever but could never seem to finish it. I figure I should probably publish before she turns one!  So here we go!

These are all things we used and loved during the first 6 months (and some we’ve used beyond that)

SLEEPING:

aden and anais bamboo blankets  Great as nursing covers, a place to lay baby on the ground, and of course to use as a swaddle blanket. These are crazy soft and you can even wear them as a scarf!  The regular muslin ones are great too but the bamboo ones are amazing.

swaddleme blankets  These were great for our tiny baby.  The velcro made getting her swaddled in the middle of the night quick and easy.  She used them for several weeks since she wasn’t a hulk baby trying to bust out.  Shopping tip– these can often be found at TJ Maxx/Marshalls for cheap if you aren’t picky about colors.

miracle blankets–  Once Gretchen outgrew the swaddleme we switched to the miracle blanket, which is essentially a double swaddle.  It takes a couple of tries to figure out how to use it but then it’s easy.  It pretty much immobilizes their arms.  We retired it at around 5 1/2 months when Gretchen was figuring out how to kick out of it in her attempts to roll over.  Shopping tip– baby steals runs these for less than $20 per blanket a couple of times a year.

wubbanub pacifier– Gretchen ran hot and cold with the pacifier and ultimately gave it up around 6 months, but in the first few months she loved it.  Great for car rides, helping her fall asleep, and just settling down when she was worked up.  The wubbanub is great because the attached stuffed animal helps hold the paci in and gives baby something to hold on to.

(miracle blanket AND wubbanub in the same picture, score!)

homedics sound spa (aka baby crack machine)- go buy one, right now.  This is probably our mosted used baby item.  We are still using it at a year and will probably use it for another year or so.  White noise is key to helping baby settled down and fall asleep.   We have one that stays at daycare and one that stays in her room.  We all love the white noise.  It’s such a great sleep cue and in the early months the projector helped kind of hypnotize her to sleep.  It also sheds just enough light in the room for middle of the night diaper changes.  Shopping tip– the projector motor tends to burn out after a few months, we burned out two in the first year.   It was super easy to exchange though since we got it at Buy Buy Baby. They were able to look it up on my registry and issue me an exchange, both times.  They are the best baby store out there, hands down, love shopping there.

seen on the left, nice and small so you can cram lots of other essentials on the nightstand!

happiest baby on the block– there is a book and a dvd but we preferred the dvd since it gives you pretty much all the info you need in less than an hour.  We watched it at the hospital since we hadn’t gotten around to it before Gretchen made her early debut.  I’d seen it before but it was all new info for Tyler.  I can’t say enough good things, I really think every parent should watch it.  It teaches you concrete ways to soothe your baby, a skill every new parent needs.

rock n play sleeper– this is such a useful piece of baby gear.  A cozy place for baby to sleep on a comfortable incline, easily portable, and small so it fits well next to the bed.  We used it for about 5 months, maybe a little longer.  If baby got fussy i could reach over and bring her in bed to nurse, or rock the whole thing for a bit to calm her down.  Easy to move from room to room (like when you need a shower!) and she loved to sit in there and watch me while I folded laundry or did the dishes.   Great for traveling too, I feel like she slept better in it than she does in the pack n play but she’s too big for the RnP now.

fisher price snug a bunny swing– I think the new version is “snug a monkey”, but whatever, this swing is great no matter what animal is snuggling your baby. It plugs in, swings side to side, has different music and nature sounds, and is nice and cushy.  Gretchen liked to fall asleep in it for naps.  We also had a bouncer that she napped in and I’m glad we had that as well.  She preferred to fall asleep in the swing and wake up in-  the bouncer, weird!

FEEDING:

brest friend pillow– I think I’ve raved about this before but for breastfeeding, this pillow is SUCH an asset.  I now own two, both of which are out on loan to other new moms.  Seriously could not have breastfed for as long as I manged to without it.

boppy–  I never used this for breastfeeding but Gretchen got to the point where she didn’t want to be held while being fed her bottle, so we’d lay her in the boppy and hold the bottle for her (it’s not until just recently that she’s consistently held it herself).  We used the boppy for pretty much all feedings from about 3 months-9 months.  Boppy is also great for tummy time.  Shopping tip– there are always tons of these for about $10 or less at the fall and spring consignment sales, plus lots of covers.  You can wash the pillow and the cover, making this a great item to buy used.

also good for neglected pugs

boon lawn rack– I love boon products and this one is really function while also modern and not ugly, which is great because it has been sitting by our sink for the last year!  We are able to dry about 8-10 bottles on it at a time, plus we got the little flower inserts so we can hang smaller pieces up above, maximizing the space.

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tommee tippee bottles and formula dispensers– I think I’ve also raved about these before.  While we did use Dr. Browns bottles a bit off and on in the first couple of months when Gretchen’s suck was still pretty lazy, we primarily used the TT bottles this first year.  Great when we were breastfeeding as they are booblike in shape.  She went from breast to these bottles seamlessly starting that first week.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the formula inserts.  So great for on the go.  We use them for daycare, for outings, for trips, everything.  I always know I have the right amount of formula and water for each bottle since it’s all packaged up together.

PLAYING:

fisher price kick n play piano– this got daily use for the first 6 months.  A great place for baby to play, do tummy time, and practice their kicking.  Once they can sit the piano can be rotated so baby can sit and play it with their hands.

black and white books/cards– we had a couple of books I picked up at a consignment sale and black and white art cards from wee gallery that she loved to stare  at when she was little.  The black and white contrast is fascinating for babies.

munchkin mozart music cube– this toy is so much fun for little babies, even before they can sit. Gretchen learned to operate it with her feet (she loved kicking).  Lights, colors, and classical music.  Not that annoying to listen to as parents, always a plus!

fuzzy bee cloth book– I got this at a consignment sale, washed it, and it was good as new.  Gretchen LOVED this.  Perfect for keeping her preoccupied at church.  Quiet toys are so nice!

CLOTHING:

cloth diapers–  full rundown of our newborn cloth diaper experience here, I will write up a long post on what we use now soon hopefully.

luluandchacha headbands– I am not a fan of baby headbands in general but love these.  They are small, cute, and snap on and off so you only need a couple of bands.  We get tons of compliments on them and lots of my friends use them now too.  Shopping tip- follow her on facebook and instagram, she often posts exclusively about her sales there.  Also if you post a pic of your baby in one of her products on her FB page, she’ll send you a coupon code for 10% off!

trumpette socks– when Gretchen first came home the only socks that fit her were some cheap socks from Walmart that shrunk in the wash.  Preemie sized socks are hard to find so we were happy to have those shrunken socks the first couple of months!  Then we switched to trumpette socks.  They are on zulily and other flash sale sites all the time. The ballet slipper style are my favorite.  They stay on so well, until you kid learns to pull them off 😉

she wore trumpettes home from the hospital, we weren’t really good at gauging size back then, lol.

baby legs these are freaking adorable and perfect when paired with a tshirt and a cloth diaper in the warmer months.  Shopping tip– there are frequent sales on the babylegs website, but I prefer to buy on ebay.  Tons of styles and super cheap.

OTHER STUFF:

city mini stroller w/carseat adapter– a great alternative to a bulky travel system.  Our carseat (graco snugride) snapped right into the infant attachment.  I used it almost daily for the first 6 months.  It folds in half with the pull of a handle and fits nicely in the back of our car.  Very small footprint so you can easily take it on trips.

baby connect app- I used this daily for most of the first year.  During the first couple of weeks it was used to track Gretchen’s diapers, weight, and of course feedings.  Eventually we just used it to track her formula intake.  This was just one of many apps I found to be a godsend.  Love my iphone so much, perfect for middle of the night feedings.

a mom’s group or two–  This is perhaps the most important thing on this list.  Having mom friends to meet up with regularly is so nice.  Babies really aren’t that entertaining, and if you are stuck at home with them 24/7 you will go bonkers and quickly.  I started going to a mom’s group when Gretchen was about 4 months old.  Mine is based out of a local natural birth center, so it’s my “crunchy mom’s group.”  Early on we just met up to get out of the house and commiserate, now we have playgroup, outings, and mom’s night out.  It’s a great way to stay connected and socialize the kiddos.  I also have an online mom’s group that is priceless.  It’s a generally non judgmental group of moms of kids of different ages, so lots of different perspectives.  Very few mommy martyrs or uber crunchies, the mom types I don’t typically want to be around.

Some of mom’s favorite things

I always found it helpful when people shared their favorite things as a new mom so I figured I would share mine!

Brest Friend Pillow

I started using this in the hospital to get Gretchen in the right position and to support my back.  I used it pretty consistently for the first 6 weeks, until she had enough head control that I could try other BFing positions that I found more comfortable.  I really found the Boppy useless for BFing, as the top is rounded and it was impossible to keep her in one place.  I do use the Boppy daily for other things like tummy time and bottle feeding, but as a BFing pillow it was not helpful.  Brest Friend pillow all the way, despite the stupid name.

Swaddle Me blankets

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Summer Infant Pink SM® 2PK Sweet Trees  - M

I bought this 2 pack at Target during one of my (many) post-partum Target shopping sprees.   We used these ALL the time.  Still would be using them now if we could.  My major complaint is sizing.  There is S/M and then it jumps to L, which is HUGE.  I wish they had a separate medium size between S and L.  These worked perfectly for the first 8 weeks though, love the ease of the velcro, especially at 3 am!  We’ve now moved on to the Miracle Blanket and the Woombie, but I don’t love them as much as the Swaddlemes.  At 12 weeks, Gretchen still loves her swaddle, not sure when we’ll wean her off of it, maybe once she starts rolling?

Lulu & Cha Cha headbands (purchased at Made on Mass in Lawrence, KS)

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My collection of these keeps growing and growing and growing.  Turns out I am picky about what kind of headbands/hairbows my kid wears, and this kind is my favorite.  I love that the flowers snap on, so you can mix and match the flowers and the headbands depending on the outfit.  They are handmade and come in so many styles and colors.  I could probably do an entire blog post featuring pics of her in different ones 🙂  I have pink, white, purple, teal, brown, grey, yellow, and red flowers.  So pretty much something to match anything 🙂  My friend Emily gave these to my friend Ashley at her baby shower last year

Baby Connect app for iphone

There are lots of baby tracking apps out there and I didn’t research them much.  I really like this one.  At first I was tracking doctor’s appts, weight checks, nursing (how long on right and left), bottles, pumping, wet and dirty diapers.  Now I just track how many oz of formula she is eating a day.  You can also track sleep patterns or baby’s mood (wtf??)  but I never got into that.  Pretty much if she’s not eating, she’s sleeping, with a short window of play time in between, don’t need an app to tell me that 🙂  This app was $5 but worth the price in my opinion.

Camelback water bottle

CamelBak BPA Free eddy Water Bottle - .75L Charcoal

Between my two hospital stays I came home with 3 of the huge insulated hospital cups, which are great, but they aren’t great for on the go since they are SO huge.  I got this water bottle at Target and take it everywhere.  Fits in my car cup holder, stroller cup holder, and I keep it on my nightstand for middle of the night thirst.  Nursing and hauling a baby and all her stuff all over town make you thirsty, so I try to always have this handy.

online shopping: specificially Amazon Prime, Diapers.com, Drugstore.com, and Soap.com (going through ebates.com of course for the extra cash back!)

No idea how I would have gotten through the first month without online shopping!  While a quick (think less than 20 minutes) trip to Target or the grocery store were possible, a longer trip or frequent trips were not when I was on such a tight feeding/pumping schedule.  I used my Amazon Prime membership to order all kinds of things: diapers, mother’s milk supplements, a scale (which we easily returned when we discovered it wasn’t precise enough for our tiny baby and her tiny feedings), a toaster, lint rollers, and a hand pump.

I also started price comparing amazon with diapers.com and drugstore.com and often amazon is not the better deal.  Going through ebates you can get big rewards on diapers and drugstore.com (rarely amazon), plus they run sales, first time customer promotions, and you earn credit on their sites for buying products that you can use towards your next purchase.  I even got a wag.com coupon for $10 off when I ordered from one site, which then allowed me to buy pug food at a steal since they carried Canidae and had free shipping.  I love having things shipped to my house and avoiding errands!   Chubbs does not enjoy this though as he hates the post man, UPS/Fedex man.  He knows the sound of their trucks and starts barking before they even appear, and he gets pissed if they ring the doorbell.  Thus is the life of a guard pug.