This post was written by Erin Palinski-Wade
I can’t believe my little guy is turning 6 months old next week. Time definitely flies, but I feel like with baby #2, time is moving even faster. One of the best things about being a second-time mom is that I actually feel like I know what I am doing this time (well sort of anyway). And I think the main reason for that is I know from experience what essentials I need to have on hand to make the day (and long nights) go as smoothly as possible.
After my first baby was born, I had so much stuff, but half of it I didn’t really need or know how to use and I was just left feeling completely overwhelmed. Of course we also had just moved into our home 3 weeks before he was born, so that compounded the issue! This time around I was more confident in what I needed and what products were more of a novelty that I could skip. Since I know all too well how the lack of sleep and lack of time after having a new baby impacts the ability to make rational decisions, I decided to compile a list of my top must-have items for all the new moms and new moms to be out there.
Willow Breast Pump
Breastfeeding? The Willow Breast Pump is a must have! Ok, so to be fair, the Willow Breast Pump comes out this spring and I haven’t been able to try it yet (although I am on the waiting list to be notified when I can by this amazing machine). But, if you have ever used a breast pump, you will understand why this invention is a miracle find for any new mom. I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed my first son until he was 15 months old. With baby number 2, he has been exclusively breastfed as well up until this point. So that means with both boys, I have had A LOT of time to pump when I am away at work or traveling for a work event.
Pumping at work is annoying enough, as you have to build your workday schedule around your pump schedule, but traveling while pumping sans baby is a whole other story. Trying to orchestrate pumping while driving (hands-free of course), in the back of an Uber, or in the airport bathroom after carting your pump and supplies through the TSA security line is not exactly fun. The biggest issue for me at least is finding a space to discretely pump. Pump on the plane? Sure it’s an option if you don’t mind flashing the random stranger sitting next to you. Pump in a public bathroom stall? Sure, I mean it’s cleaner than a porta party. Even if you can pump discretely with a cover, the noise of the pump gives you away. I’m pretty sure my last Uber driver was ready to call the “See Something Say Something” hotline as I was juggling all of my tubes and cords trying to set my pump up.
So the Willow pump doesn’t just allow you to pump hands-free while you wear it, but it is also so discrete you can wear it under your clothes! You can actually walk while pumping!! And it’s supposed to be so quite no one even knows your using it. If that doesn’t sound like a modern day mommy miracle, I don’t know what does. So put this one on your radar to grab as soon as they are available because I know the amount of hours you will save in pump hassles will by fair balance out the cost of this pump.
As a dietitian, of course I am a breastfeeding advocate. However, I also recognize that not every mom or babies can breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Trust me, having two babies with tongue and lip ties, I get that breastfeeding can be hell on Earth at times and it’s not always going to work out. No mom should feel guilty if the breastfeeding journey isn’t for her or her baby. A fed baby is most important. If you choose to give your baby formula either as a supplement to breast milk or to exclusively formula feed your baby, choosing a brand that mimics breast milk as much as possible is key. And that can be hard to find – until now.
I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Happy Family CEO Shazi Visram. Not only is she an incredible business woman and an amazing mom of 2, but she is also very knowledgeable about nutrition and the needs of both mom and baby. Just recently Happy Family brands launched the release of their own baby formula line Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula This formula is one of the only formulas I have ever seen that includes everything from organic ingredients, to prebiotics, to choline, DHA, vitamin D, and iron to closely mimic breast milk. This formula is now available nationwide and is the one I keep on hand as a supplemental formula for my baby.
If you get a chance, I also highly recommend looking at the new Happy Mama product line they now offer as well. In addition to foods and bars that help to support healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding, their breastfeeding support probiotic supplement is key for me. As someone who has suffered with multiple bouts of mastitis with each baby, I discovered that research indicates a certain strain of probiotic, Lactobaccillus salivarius, may prevent mastitis. After much research, the only place I found I could purchase this particular strain (without it being included as a blend with other strains of probiotics) was in the Happy Mama Breastfeeding Support probiotic supplement. So you better believe I have stocked up and recommend it to all the breastfeeding mothers I know!
If I ever lost my baby carrier, I honestly don’t know what I would do. This is probably the best invention ever created for moms, especially moms of two or more. Being able to wear my baby while I chase my 3 year old around allows me so much more flexibility than if my hands we occupied holding him. As an added bonus, he just loves to be worn and it instantly calms him, so it’s a win-win for us both.
I tried out many baby carriers (and I highly recommend you try a few out as well to see what fits your body and baby the best) and this brand is by far my favorite. The multiple positions allow for wearing the baby from the first week of life all the way up to toddlerhood. It’s lightweight, so I don’t find myself or my baby getting too hot and sweaty, and can be washed easily (which is great since Jimmy constantly tries to eat the straps). Whether you want to wear your baby so you can workout together, have your hands free to go grocery shopping, or just don’t feel like struggling with a stroller, a high quality baby carrier is a must have!
Velcro Swaddle Blankets
If you know how to swaddle your baby without Velcro, you deserve a metal. Seriously! There are many things in life I find challenging, but I think trying to swaddle is on par with me trying to figure out how to do my own taxes. No matter how many times I try, I end up failing and needing professional help. Swaddling is the bane of my existence. When I finally think I have succeeded, my little Houdini baby wiggles himself right back out of it (or if he doesn’t, I spend the whole night away staring at his monitor afraid he will unswaddle himself and get the blanket stuck over his head).
As much as I want to just say the hell with it, swaddling is so key in those first few months, at least for my babies, to soothe them while they sleep and prevent them from waking themselves up with their startle reflex. So that’s why when I discovered swaddles that stay closed thanks to the miracle of Velcro, I bought as many as I could. These are a lifesaver. I can swaddle in seconds and the baby stays swaddled all night. I can also sleep now without panicking that my crappy swaddling attempt is going to unravel in the middle of the night and trap my baby. You can pick these up at pretty much any baby store or online on Amazon, but in my opinion, these are an essential (unless you are that freak 1% that can swaddle perfectly –in which case I applaud you!)
What are your top new mom must have essentials?