Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Emerson's Newborn Must Haves

Admittedly, I spent WAY too much time researching any and all baby products when I was pregnant. I read every review, watched every YouTube demonstration video, and read every message board regarding each particular product we considered purchasing. It was excessive really.

But now I'm glad I did. Em might just be an easygoing baby with a happy temperament, but I'd like to think that maybe some of what we've done has helped her ease the transition from cozy womb to big scary world.

So here is my list of the items that, so far, we could not live without. There are alot of other things we use daily that are nice to have, but these are the essentials.


Happiest Baby on the Block DVD by Dr. Harvey Karp

First and foremost... watch this DVD before you have your baby. The accompanying book was recommended to me by my sister, who has 6 happy children, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. I won't get into the nuts and bolts of this philosophy, but basically Dr. Karp believes that the first few months of a newborn's life are like the "4th trimester" and that by mimicking the sensations the baby felt in the womb, you can calm your unhappy, crying baby and make them the... wait for it.... happiest baby on the block. I don't really know most of my neighbors, but I think Em is the happiest baby on our block (okay, so she's the only one I've seen, but still).

Anyway, the principles make total sense to me, and we've been using the techniques since day one. Again, not sure if it's just coincidence, but Emerson has been a great sleeper so far, and I feel well-rested almost every day, so something is working for us.

You don't have to buy the DVD... we just rented from the library. I'm telling you, CHECK IT OUT! You won't be sorry.

The Miracle Blanket

One of the principles in HBOTB is that since babies were so scrunched up and snuggly in the womb, when they come out they get startled by their flailing arms. So swaddling your baby is the key to calming and relaxing your baby, which encourages deep and peaceful sleep.

When we first got home from the hospital, I decided not to swaddle her at night because she was constantly moving her arms around. I thought she wouldn't like being trapped by the swaddle. Well, after 2 nights of her waking every 45 minutes, I decided to give the Miracle Blanket a try. Hallelujah! She instantly calmed down and slept a good 3 hour stretch that first night. And now, as soon as girlfriend even sees TMB, I swear her eyes start drooping. She can go from crying hysterically to happy camper in less than a minute. It is awesome!

The blanket freaked us out at first because it literally looks like a baby straight jacket; Jon thought we were torturing her. But with her arms free she'll wake herself up, and that is way more torturous for a growing newborn. We only use it at night, so that she associates TMB with nighttime sleep, but this little invention has saved our lives!

I've also started loosely swaddling her for daytime naps with the Aden & Anais blankets, because again, she seems much happier, but we save the nice snug swaddle for bedtime. I'm telling you, we couldn't live without this one!

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper
Comes in all colors, but of course we have it in pink.
If you enjoy your sleep (and who doesn't), this will be the best $40 you spend as a parent. This thing is awesome! We put baby E in this at night to sleep, and she sleeps so soundly. Because of it's design, the baby feels like they are still being held, and the slight incline makes me feel better in case she were to spit up in her sleep (which, thankfully, we don't have a very spitty baby yet.... fingers crossed!)

It's also a rocker, so if baby girl is having a hard time falling asleep after I put her down, I just rock her back and forth for a few minutes and she's out like a light. You can keep it right next to your bed for easy baby access, or carry it around the house for a portable napping station.

She loves it. I love it. You'll love it to.

White Noise Machine

Another absolute essential item, according to Dr. Karp (and now to me and Emerson). The baby hears white noise and your heartbeat constantly while they are in your belly, so when they come out, it's just too gosh darn quiet for them. If swaddling doesn't calm Em down right away, putting her down with white noise nearby certainly will. I even turn the radio to a staticky station when  she starts to fuss in the car. It's amazing how quickly she calms down when she hears it.

We have this one by The First Years, but there are tons on the market. I even have a white noise app on my phone in case she's having a hard time falling asleep.

Summer Infant BabyTouch Monitor
So nobody told me this, but newborns make ALOT of noise in their sleep. Like, alot. They grunt, cough, snort, and even cry out while they are sleeping. I read that this happens when they are transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. Either way, it was scary at first. I kept picking Emerson up at every little sound, thinking she was wet or hungry, when in reality I kept waking her up when all she was trying to do was move on to her next cycle. (I can just imagine her....Geez, MOM! Back off and let me sleep!)

Even when we determined that her sleep sounds were normal, it was still hard to sleep ourselves because every little sound she made would wake us up. One night I was hanging up laundry, so Jon put her in her nursery in the Rock and Play with the monitor on. I kept expecting her to wake up because mommy wasn't right next to her, but she slept great! And when I went in to nurse and change her, since I wasn't carrying her as far as I normally do, she was able to stay asleep and fall back to sleep much easier. So now she sleeps in her nursery and is happy as a clam.

Anyway, back to the monitor. We love this one because we have a very clear shot of the baby. You can also pan the room with the monitor (you know, in case you want to check for boogeymen) and it even has a Talk feature so the baby can hear your voice. I leave the monitor right next to the bed, and I'm able to hear her immediately when she starts crying for real. Trust me, you will very quickly learn the difference between what we call "fake outs" and the real deal. For Em, fake outs sound like apathetic noises... the real deal sounds like "HELLO!!! Get in here and feed me goshdarnit I am starving!!!!"

This monitor is a little pricey, but for our peace of mind it was definitely well worth it. You can also buy an additional camera for another room, so some day when Em has a sibling, we can watch them both at the same time.

Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse

Okay, so this isn't a must have for sleep per se, but it definitely helps our nighttime routine. This adorable little thing plays about 10 minutes of classical music and has a nice soft glow. I use it when changing her diaper at night. It's enough light so that I can see what I'm doing, but not so much that it wakes her up completely. Plus, the soothing music keeps her calm and happy. And at 3am, I will do anything for a happy baby.


I am someone who was anti-pacifier. I've heard it gives them an overbite, they become dependent on it, bla bla bla.

But when your sweet little baby is fed, changed, warm enough, and still fussing, as a parent you will do whatever you need to do to make them happy. And since pacifier use is linked to a decreased risk of SIDS, I feel okay about it.

Em wouldn't take a normal pacifier at first, so we figured we couldn't use them. But then we tried the Wubbanub. Oh Em Gee, girlfriend LOVES this thing. With the cute little toy attached it makes it harder for her to spit it out (and trust me when they spit it out before they're ready, the sadness that ensues is not one you want to experience). Plus, she loves looking at the little toy.

Is $10 alot to spend on a pacifier? Yes. But we have two of them. And I will probably get another one. Again, it's a small price to pay for a happy little girl!

Boppy Newborn Lounger

Emerson doesn't get put down much while awake (it's hard being so loved by your parents, friends and family isn't it?) But if I do need a minute, she loves laying on this pillow. It's so soft, and she can look around at the world without being completely flat on her back (which she HATES and I have nightmares thinking about transitioning her to her crib, but that's another story for another day).

Anyway, I love this thing. I wish they made an adult-sized one.

Pampers Swaddlers
The best diapers on the market, in my humble opinion a whole 4 weeks into mommyhood. There's a yellow line that turns blue when the baby is wet, so there's no wasting diapers. And so far, no leaks!! They're slightly pricier, so if you're expecting I'd recommend buying one case a week, that way you're not buying them all at once. Because trust me, they go through A TON. I had no idea.


Just like with her name, I have developed very specific criteria on what type of clothing is best for my newborn:

Zip-Up vs. Button: Why are any baby pajamas made with buttons?? In the middle of the night, the last thing your newborn wants is for you to fumble with all those teeny tiny buttons. The zip-up onesies are awesome, and make the 3am diaper changes must faster.

Newborn size vs. 0-3 month.  Everyone told me "Don't even bother buying newborn-sized clothing, they grow out of it so quickly!" So at firs we didn't have anything size NB. But luckily, we received quite a few NB sized items at our baby showers, and Jon went out and bought her some precious onesies one day when Carter's was having a huge sale. Thank goodness! Em was SWIMMING in the 0-3 stuff when she was born (as well as the size 1 diapers, since everyone told us not even to bother with NB sized ones). Even now at 4 weeks, the 0-3 stuff is still huge on her. She's got really long legs, so her NB stuff, after several washes, is getting snug, but unfortunately there's no in between. So this week she either looks like a stuffed sausage or a baby who is wearing her big sister's clothing.

Carter's vs. Gerber. Hands-down, Carter's wins. The Gerber onesies we have feel, as Jon so affectionately put it, like cardboard, and I agree. I'm sure she doesn't care, but I just don't want to put my sweet baby with her soft skin in pajamas that feel stiff. Carter's clothing, on the other hand, feels so soft, and the NB sized ones we have all have the mitten cuffs on them (VERY crucial because, due to the flailing arms, babies can scratch and gauge their faces without mittens).

PHEW! Are you exhausted reading this?? I'm exhausted after writing it. I hope this helps someone, because instead of napping or showering while Emerson napped this morning, I wrote out the longest blog post in the history of this blog. It's all about priorities.


  1. pretty sure you just made my wife's day! we're definitely going to get a lot of benefit from this post!! thanks!!!

  2. Dave, I'm so glad! I knew my OCD baby stuff research would be beneficial ;-)

  3. so good to know! I'm definitely taking notes! :)

  4. Audra, this is hilarious, because I also did ridiculous amounts of research and have every single thing on your list. Except we just used a white noise website on our laptop or ipad and put that near the baby. But literally every other thing, even down to the Aden & Anais blankets and that silly seahorse. BTW that happiest baby on the block book saved my life during Oren's colic days.

  5. Hahaha, nice to know I'm not the only one who did an obscene amount of research. Gotta be prepared! Jon was super colicky as a baby (according to his mom) so I was super paranoid about it. HBOTB is a miracle!

  6. That is so funny, my one year old had almost the exact same "requirements" as Emerson. Our lists are almost identical if you look at my Baby Talk tab:o) I'll tell you what, though, I am terrified to take away the pacifier now. I probably could have taken it away when she was younger, but she is more dependent on it now than ever! That's my only warning. I read reviews of EVERYTHING I buy the kid, so I appreciate an obscene amount of research!! Fun post to read, thanks!