Top 5 Unnecessary Newborn Items for 0-3 Months

The Top 5 Unnecessary Newborn Items for 0-3 Months

The top 5 items we found unnecessary for a newborn were a Rock and Play, Swaddle Sacks, Scratch Mittens, a Bassinet and Newborn clothes. Before our baby arrived there were a number of items people said we had to have.  We purchased or received many of them as gifts, and later wished we had saved the space and money!  Some of them might be surprising to you!  Just because we found that our newborn didn’t benefit from these items, doesn’t mean that yours wont!  Affiliate links to some of these items are included.

The top 5 times we found unnecessary for a newborn:

Rock and Play –

This was by far the one item that almost everyone we talked to said we had to have.  They said to get the electronic one that played music and rocked itself.  I can’t count the number of people who swore by Rock and Plays.  Promised it was the magic way to get babies to sleep, guaranteed it would allow us all to get extra rest, worked magic with babies who were having trouble sleeping.

It was one of the first things I put onto our registry.  And our baby could have cared less!  He was willing to occasionally hang out in it.  Even less frequently took a short nap in it.  It served as a place to pop him quickly if we needed to run out of the room, but it didn’t soothe him, it didn’t put him to sleep, and it definitely didn’t provide any extra rest for us!  The other downside is that you can really only use it until your baby is able to turn over, so it was wasted space and money for a short few month window.

Swaddle Sacks –

Another well recommended “must have”.  I do think the convenience is key when you don’t want to have to fold and tuck blankets, but another item that our babe could have cared less about.  We purchased Swaddle Sacks in multiple sizes so that he would have them as he grew, as well as different fabrics so we would have lighter and thicker options.  The velcro got stuck to everything in the laundry, which was just an added irritant.  Not only did it not help him sleep, but he was able to very easily slip his arm out of the top.  If your baby enjoys being swaddled I can see this being a great product, but it was a fail for us!

Scratch Mittens –

This was one of the last items I went out to purchase before baby arrived.  I made sure to have a couple pair in the diaper bag ready for his homecoming.  We never even put them on him once…I learned to become confident cutting or filing his nails and never had a worry about mittens.  If your baby is a scratcher, don’t waste money on mittens, just slip a pair of socks over their hands.

A Basinet –

Truthfully were weren’t quite sure what sleep system would work best for us before bringing our baby home.  Honestly every had raved so much about the Rock and Play that I just assumed he would take most of his naps in there.  We knew that in the first few months we wanted him in our room with us, so I set up the pack and play and put a basinet inside.  I figured if he enjoyed napping in there I could just carry it up and down the stairs and just set up the basinet next to where ever I was.  Once again, he never once slept inside.  He was perfectly content in the Pack and Play and it was another waste of space and money.

Newborn Clothes –

We knew our little guy was on the bigger side, but we didn’t realize quite how big!  He ended up being 9 lbs. 6 oz and wearing 0-3 month clothing and size 1 diapers.  We barely touched all the newborn outfits we had purchased or had been gifted.  I had a personalized coming home outfit that we squeezed his chunky little thighs into, but I packed away a number of untouched clothing.  Save your $ and go with bigger sizes!

Just as another disclaimer, what works for one baby (or doesn’t work!) won’t work for everyone.  Take all of the advice you receive with a grain of salt, and if there are items you’re not sure you will get a lot of use out of, consider shopping second hand!

Top 5 Baby Must Haves for 0-3 Months

Top 5 Baby Must Haves for 0-3 Months

We found that the top 5 things a newborn needs are somewhere to sleep, something to keep them safe in the car, clothes and diapers, a feeding system and a way to keep track of everything.  I’ve worked in Early Childhood for 11 years, but that didn’t mean that I was an expert on what to expect when we finally came home with our first baby.  Half of me felt like instinct would kick in and I would know exactly what to do, and the other half of me had a bewildered sense of disbelief that they were sending us home with this itty bitty little human.

Throughout my pregnancy we received advice on what we would need from all kinds of resources.  Friends, family, co-workers, strangers…emails, websites, blogs, phone apps.  It was hard to know where to turn and what advice to take with a grain of salt.  When it was time to register for items we spent a lot of time researching brands and reading reviews.  As we did our research we found thenightlight.com to be a huge help for us.  This is not sponsored by any means, but it was a resource that did the research for us, made recommendations, collected reviews and compared prices.  If you are looking for a step up or something comparable they also make those recommendations.  Each product was clearly well researched and gave us a basis for what products should be on our radar.

Once our baby was here we learned pretty quickly that what works for one baby and family is not what will work for everyone.  Through trial and error I have established my list of what I would consider “Must Haves” and what I would consider items that are “Nice to Have”.  As well as a list of items that we found to be a waste of money and space!  This is what worked for our first few months, but is not what will work for everyone!  This post does contain affiliate links to many of our favorite products.

Our Top 5 Must Haves:

Somewhere to Sleep –

We had a crib set up in the nursery, but I knew that for the first few months I wanted our baby in the same room as us.  I wasn’t leaning towards co-sleeping so we had a small bassinet.  However, what ended up working the best for us was the pack ‘n’ play.  We didn’t use a fancy newborn insert or anything, just as is.

Something to keep them safe in the car –

A necessary item if you plan on traveling anywhere with your baby.  We went will well known Chicco.  We did the whole shebang and went for the full travel system.  The base was easy to install in our car, it came with a newborn insert and the carseat itself snapped easily into the stroller.  We’ve gotten plenty of use out of it, and I’ve been happy with our choice.

Clothes and Diapers –

If you have a 9+ lb. baby like me, you won’t use newborn sized diapers or clothes.  It made me sad to pack away a number of cute outfits that were never touched.  The only Newborn diapers we had came from a diaper cake at our shower, which we later ended up donating.  It’s good to have a few on hand, if you have a small baby you’ll be glad that you do.  If people are looking to buy you items, suggest bigger sizes.  Once the baby is out of newborn and infant size you’ll be glad you have a stash of bigger clothes and diapers.

We chose to go with disposable diapers, and use Amazon Subscribe and Save.  It’s nice to get the discount each month and not have to worry about running out.  Each month a delivery arrives, if we don’t need it right away we can cancel until the next month, or adjust to the next size as needed.  Otherwise it takes the guess work out and avoids late night runs to the store.

A feeding system –

Since our little guy spent two weeks in the NICU we did a combination of nursing and bottle feeding.  The hospital used Dr. Brown’s bottles, so I stuck with that for a while.  The pump I used was Medela, so I switched over to Medela bottles out of convenience.  Eventually we ended up using a combination of both, usually whatever was clean!  Not a necessity, but I found it immensely helpful to have a drying rack like the one below.  Bottle parts can get scattered, knowing that they were clean and sanitary in their own space helped.

If you’re pumping I can’t recommend a hands free pump enough.  Especially as I returned to work, knowing that I didn’t have to sit completely useless but was able to have hands free made a huge difference.  If you’re nursing I do recommend investing in a few staple pieces of clothing that are comfortable, flexible and hold up well in the wash.  Breast feeding does not come naturally, despite what some people tell you!  It’s a learned skill, for you and baby, being patient and continuing to try is the only thing that made it successful for us.

A way to keep track of everything –

Before our baby arrived a friend recommended to me the BabyConnect App.  I used it from day 1 and continue to now, 8 months later.  You can track more things than I ever imagined you would want data on.  The main things I used were meals, diapers, sleep, and pumping.  The summary will tell you where they compare to this time the day before as well as the 7 day average.  You can see in bar graph form daily totals of each type of data you are tracking.  You can add photos, milestones, weight and height, when you give medication.  Anything you can think of!

In our sleep deprived state those first few weeks it was helpful to have a system for recalling when a diaper was, when a last feed was, how long (or short!) sleep cycles were, etc.  It was overwhelming looking for an app to use, this time the advice of a friend was well received.  It was not a free app, but I don’t remember it being terribly expensive.

I’ll be back another day with some of the items that weren’t necessities, but I was glad we had on hand!

 

The Top 3 Ways I Welcome the New Year

The Top 3 Ways I Welcome the New Year

With every New Year comes a rush of energy and thought processes. Resolutions are often times geared towards health, fitness, organization, doing more, giving more, changing habits. Something about the turn over of the calendar year sparks energy around wanting to better ourselves. While I am not a big believer in setting New Years Resolutions, I do think that this is a great time to ride that energy wave and set some goals. There’s nothing like a fresh start, and the first of the year is a natural time to start new.

The top 3 ways I like to welcome the New Year are to Clean up and Downsize, Set up a Calendar, and Set Attainable Goals for January.

Clean Up and Downsize:

Once the holidays are over, my first step is to clean up. Our family celebrates Christmas, which comes with a host of decorations, wrapping supplies and inevitably new gifts scattered all around. Come New Years Day we are ready to pack everything up for next year. Putting away our wrapping supplies, taking down the decorations and removing the tree from our living room can already create a sense of relief. As much as I enjoy Christmas, having an open space back in our living room already gives me the visual sense that we magically have more room! A quick clean of the house always gives me a sense of starting fresh. Just having to vacuum up the pesky pine needles means I know have a freshly cleaned floor…bonus! There’s nothing like a clean floor, or a freshly organized kitchen that makes me want to keep it that way.

My next step is to try and downsize. With all of the new gifts coming in it’s a great time to eliminate and downsize on some of our unused items. If you have children, when you bring in new toys take a few minutes to remove toys that are no longer being played with. This is a perfect opportunity to choose toys for donations and gift to children who didn’t have such a fruitful holiday. As your children get older, encourage them to participate in this. You will be helping them develop a sense of pride and giving. Being aware of what we are blessed to have and how we can provide to those less fortunate are life lessons that will certainly stay with your children. And, it clears up some space in your house!

Set up a Calendar:

I don’t make fancy layouts, but do enjoy using a bullet journal for my list making. Each day I use a new page with my daily to-do list, and then I keep a number of running lists. Some examples might be recipe ideas, grocery lists, on going to-do’s, etc. I try and keep my daily to-do lists realistic, and the running to-do list a list of everything I would like to complete. Being able to check things off my lists is hugely motivating for me, but seeing a list that I barely made a dent in can seriously keep me up at night. If I have completed my daily list, and end up with spare time, I just check my running to-do list and see what else I have time to accomplish. My productivity tends to sky rocket when I feel like I’m really making progress.

Our family has always struggled to sync our calendars, so this year we are going old school and giving a paper calendar in the Kitchen a try. I use my phone to organize my personal calendar and work calendar, but I’m not always able to keep up with my husbands schedule. This year we are hopeful that having something hanging in the kitchen will be the visual reminder we need. It should certainly cut down on our arguments around whether we remembered to tell each other about a schedule change! You have to find a system that works best for your family, and really work to implement it!

Set attainable goals for January:

Look at the year and set a long range goal, then break that down to small chunks. If I don’t have a long range goal, setting goals just for the month is my go to. I then take that goal and break it down even smaller so that I know it is something attainable. When I sat down to think about what I wanted to achieve in January my list was long! Some examples were:

  • Drink more water
  • Use a meal plan
  • Bring lunch to work
  • Track our spending
  • Read 1 book

That’s a lot! Then I worried that I was setting my sites too high and would be setting myself up for failure. So I took each of those goals and I broke them down into more achievable chunks.

  • Drink more water – 8 oz. in the morning, 8 oz. in the afternoon
  •  Use a meal plan – Block off time on Sundays, plan 5 meals
  •  Bring lunch to work – pack lunch in the evenings so that I’m ready to just grab it in the morning.
  • Track our Spending – enter our weekly spends each Saturday rather than at the end of the month.
  • Read 1 book – read for 20 minutes 2x a week

I’m also giving myself the flexibility to know that goals change and adjust and it’s just for one month. By February I will know how well, or not, my goals went and will have a better idea of what comes next.

How do you greet the New Year? Do you set resolutions? If so, are you able to keep them for the full year?

Cheers to a successful 2018!

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

Simply Living has been on extended hiatus once again!  Here is a wrap up of 2016!

We began 2016 embarking on a Debt Snowball as we worked to pay down our existing debt while searching for the perfect home.  Dave Ramsey provided most of our foundation.  We listed our debts from smallest to biggest and delighted in watching the snowball grow.

We had 8 steady months of paying down our debt.  We were able to eliminate 2 student loans, 2 credit cards and a car loan.  A total of $18,412!  That sure felt like an accomplishment.

As we paid down our existing debt, what we were able to afford for a house continued to grow.  In September we were excited to finally have an offer accepted, and we closed on our first home in November!  This did mean that we had to pause our debt snowball, but I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish in our short 8 months.

During 2016 my husband and I both started new jobs and we completed our first Whole30.  Two really big personal achievements!  We celebrated with a week long cruise around the Caribbean in August.

We ended 2016 in our new home surrounded by stripped wallpaper, new floors and too many paint cans to count.

This year we are extremely excited that our family will be expanding and we will be able to welcome our first child, a son!  We have numerous house projects under way, some big, some small and some very unexpected.  All significantly more expensive than we had planned.  Things are moving and life is happening quickly!

We are back to scrubbing our budget, particularly with a new house, new baby on the way, and a maternity leave around the corner, we are having to be creative in finding ways to make our finances balance.  While we might not be able to put everything into a debt snowball right now, we have learned many ways to be frugal and stretch our paychecks while preventing taking on additional debt.  I’m confident that these skills will help us through the tightest times.

Stick around to see what 2017 has in store for us!

School Lunchbox Ideas

School Lunchbox Ideas

Now that the school year is off to a start perhaps you are looking for new lunch ideas for your child.  Do you have a picky eater? Trying to branch out from sandwiches and mix up their lunch box repertoire? After working in Early Education for many years I have come up with many healthy and nut free options, since most schools are now nut free.  Here are just a few (please remember that based on the age of your child you will need to cut/slice food to appropriate size):

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Lunch Box Ideas

Main Options:

  • Grilled Cheese
  • Rice Cakes and Sun Butter
  • Deli Meat Rollup
  • Pasta (Tortellini, mac and cheese, spaghetti, etc.)
  • mini waffles or pancakes
  • muffins
  • Pita with hummus
  • Sweet and Sour Kielbasa
  • Quesadilla

Sides:

  • Yogurt
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Steamed veggies
  • Cheese Stick
  • Cottage Cheese
  • 3 bean salad
  • Tabouli
  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Avocado slices

Why not pack your own lunch at the same time!  You’ll definitely feel like you are eating healthier and saving more money than ordering lunch every day.  Leftovers from dinner the night before are also great lunch ideas!

What was in your lunch box today?

Here are some of our favorite lunch boxes – amazon links: