Thursday, October 16, 2014

My 10 Baby Must Have's (and some we didn't need)

As our first year with our first baby comes to an end I've been thinking about what baby items we really loved and used during those early months and through the year. These are of course what worked for us, and every family is different! What are some of YOUR top baby items?? Let me know in the comments!

Here are our top 10 baby items:

10. Empty water bottles - If you already have a kid, you know these pieces of trash are GOLD! They are basically Henry's favorite toy. I even made a few sensory bottles with pipe cleaners and sand in them, but seriously just give your baby an empty water bottle and watch the fun happen! Who knew!?

9. MAM pacifiers - Henry had a strong need to suck from the get go, and with the go ahead form our lactation consultant we introduced pacifiers. We tried every single one, and Henry would ONLY take MAM's. I think they are super cute, and it's awesome that they are the same shape all around - doesn't matter if the baby accidentally puts it in their mouth upside down!

8. A backpack diaper bag - Any backpack would work, but we LOVE our backpack diaper bag. I need to use all the hands I can get, so with this on my back, my hands are free! We got the Eddie Bauer one which we like a lot - very durable with nice organized pockets.

7. Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets - I used these for EVERYTHING. Baby need a place to lay on the ground? Pull out a muslin blanket. Baby need swaddling? Pull out a muslin blanket. Baby just spit up everywhere? Pull out a muslin blanket. Love love love these.

6. The jungle mat - Any of the play mats are awesome! Henry loved to try and reach for the dangling toys, look at the twinkling lights, and listen to the music. This would entertain him forever!

5. Scratch-me-not sleeves - These saved our lives when Henry was going through his reactions to dairy and egg (before we pin pointed the problem). He would scratch his head and body all night long, and would rip off socks or mittens we tried putting on his hands. Seriously, if you have a child with eczema or an itching problem these are a MUST HAVE!

4. Coconut Oil - This is seriously THE BEST. Got dry skin? Chapped lips? Need a leave in conditioner? Baby scratched his face? Put coconut oil on it! Amazing. Jut google uses for coconut oil and you will be floored.

3. A bouncy seat - We used several (one in each room) and they were awesome for Henry. Even if you are a hippie dippy crunchy mama (which I sorta am) you've got to put the baby down sometimes! And this was a spot Henry could sit in for awhile and stay entertained! He loved to be in the reclined position that the seats offer so he could see everyone, and when he moved, it bounced so the movement helped soothe him.

2. Rock'n' Play sleeper - Henry slept in a rock'n'play sleeper for the first 3 months of his life. He had intense gas pains (which we now know was food allergy related) and being in a reclined position helped him feel some relief. I kept it right flush to the side of the bed. It was also nice because it's super light and portable, so I could pull it into any room I was in so he could lay down or nap next to me. This didn't work for much older than 3 months, but it was awesome!

1. A baby carrier (specifically the ergo) - My life saver. If I had to pick ONE baby item this is it. The ergo is perfect for keeping baby close while giving you free hands!! Throughout this year I have used the ergo almost every single day, especially during teething or any time Henry isn't feeling quite right and just wants to be held. He also naps in it (still!) a few times a week when I am nannying at different houses. I put him in the ergo, do what I need to with the other children and Henry falls asleep within 15 minutes. I can then just unbuckle the carrier and lay it and him down on the floor under some blankets and he naps happily right there!

And a quick list of 5 items I thought I'd need (and bought) but were a waste of space (for us)!

1. A crib - Henry literally never slept in his crib! Thank God the crib we bought turns into a toddler bed!

2. A changing table - The bed is amazing, especially when you've got a wiggle worm.

3. A diaper genie - Seriously, just use your trashcan.

4. A nursing cover - Aint nobody got time for that! (especially Henry)

5. A wipe warmer -hahahahahahah

Friday, October 3, 2014

Henry's Montessori Bedroom

As parents, we are all doing what we can. We look at our families and our children and see what works. For our family a family bed is wonderful! Except at nap time.

My 11 month old is a busy babe. He was always active in the womb and has proven to be a mover here on the other side. He is a master crawler (started at 7 months) and walker (first steps just before 10 months) Watch out world, Henry is coming for you!

This was making unsupervised sleep times (naps) a challenge! Henry has always been a light sleeper and wakes often, and now that he is mobile he will INSTANTLY shoot up and crawl or walk - and fast! I use to just cuddle him to sleep for naps in our bed and then put up a barrier of blankets and pillows around him in case he rolled. But but I was increasingly worried that he might fall off the bed. Even though we have a video monitor, I would run into the room as soon as he woke up. We needed a new strategy.

I sought some opinions from other parents and evaluated our priorities (moving our mattress to the floor is non negotiable for my husband who has back pain, and this kid would scale any railings we could put up)....and I was getting discouraged until I heard about an option for a Montessori style bed and bedroom.

What is a Montessori Style Bedroom

You may have heard of the Montessori education philosophy and schools of the same name. Although primarily an education model, these principles can be taken into the home as well. A Montessori model of education sees the child as a unique individual who is intelligent, curious and competent - teaching the child how to be independent, self-sufficient and allowing them to work in a meaningful way. 

A Montessori style bedroom would follow that same philosophy. The bed room is styled in a way that is child safe, child sized, and child-centric. Everything the child would need is at their level, including the art hung on the walls. 

Some things commonly found in a Montessori room include:

- A bed on the floor for easy and safe access in and out of the bed
- Mirror for child to see themselves
- Decorations and art hung at child's level
- Toys and books at child's level in neat and organized places

Why This Style is Perfect For Our Baby

We needed a bed that was low to ground, that Henry could get in and out of on his own. Henry is also a very sensitive sleeper. If we try to lay him down in a crib after getting him to sleep, the motion will wake him up and then it's over. Once he's up he's done sleeping. With the Montessori style bed, we can cuddle him to sleep laying right next to him, and just scoot away when he falls asleep! (Note that there is a pillow on his bed in the pictures below - that is for us while we cuddle him and when he is asleep we move it away for a safer sleeping environment)

The Montessori style set up for the rest of the room is wonderful for my active and very independent boy. He knows just where all his toys and books are and can get them all by himself.

Our Set Up

Henry moves quite a bit in his sleep, so we decided to use a full sized futon mattress on the floor (as opposed to just the crib mattress), and put large foam puzzle pieces around the perimeter as an extra precaution since we have hardwood floors. Since Henry was about 7 months old I have taught him to turn around and go feet first when going off of a "high" place, so he has absolutely no trouble getting in and out of this bed. We are working on not walking and running while on the bed, but he's stubborn!

 After seeing so many pictures of Montessori rooms including a mirror by the bed - and after snagging this one for free from a neighbor who was moving - we decided to give it a try! Henry loves it!

We also set up a quite reading area with comfy pillows and a rug that our dear friend Katie made for Henry when he was born. We decided to leave our rocker in the room so Wes has a place to sit and read with him too. Next to the rocker is a smaller bookshelf at his level with three baskets. One basket has soft stuffed animals and "loves", another has a few toys he enjoys, and the last has a few board books. They are at his level and all the things have a proper place.

We also have a larger bookcase to prop the monitor on top of. Henry likes to pull wires so we needed a safe place for it to be! The top shelf has hats and socks and bibs, the middle shelf holds the rest of his books, and the last houses a few more toys.

We decorated the room with a set of woodland creature drawings I made for Henry in the quiet area, a banner with his name on it above the bed that was made for him at my baby shower, a Van Gogh print, and a few things to remind him of California :)


How It's Working For Us and Where We Go From Here

This room is AWESOME. Henry loves to play in his room and has taken all his naps in the bed beautifully. And I don't run as soon as he wakes anymore because I know he is safe and happy! We started with only napping in his bedroom, and now we have decided at bedtime to start him out in his room, and bring him into the family bed when he wakes up in the middle of the night where he spends the rest of the night with us. All of us still really enjoy the family bed at this point! We will slowly decrease the time in the family bed when we feel that he is ready. We've been doing this routine for naps and at night for a couple of months now and it's working perfectly for us! Henry has also gained so much confidence at bed time - several times this week rolling away from us and falling asleep on his own. I am so happy to see this style of bedroom be so positive for Henry and his particular needs surrounding sleep :)