Clara is six months old! This is prime chubby baby age–I loved this age with Luke. She’s giggling and babbling up a storm, and rolling over like a champ. I spend so much of these days savoring the roly-poly weight of her and how lucky I am to cuddle this perfect little Gerber chub that we adore so much. Even when she decides that 5 a.m. is prime time to party.
She started solids a few weeks ago–she loves avocado, hates green beans, jury’s still out on carrots, all fair positions–and, after a rocky start, is begrudgingly friends with the bottle. She hates being hot and I’m pretty sure she’s never happier than when we let her roll around the play area in just a diaper. (Luke, on the other hand, will insist on wearing long-sleeved PJs in July in east LA when it’s 100 degrees out. I don’t know.) And otherwise, she’s just the same as she has been for most of her little life: loves laughing at her brother and sitting in laps and getting kisses, and generally being the sunniest little cherub there ever was. Am I biased? Yes, absolutely.
This is a little different from the typical blog fare, but I figure that since we are now on the second go round for this parenting thing, we are total pros and in an unimpeachable place of authority to issue recommendations for baby gear. JUST KIDDING! We know nothing. But we do own baby things, and with more of our friends having babies lately, I figured it might be useful to put the ones we liked all in one place. In the off chance that you are also growing little people and looking for things to own, here are some of the things that were baby essentials for us for the first six months.
And none of this is sponsored! Just the things we liked and used with Luke and Clara.
Clara adores this bouncer. She will sit in the backyard for a good hour just kicking her chubby little legs like a little jellyfish and bouncing and bouncing and watching Luke and bouncing. Baby Bjorn calls it an “ergonomic” bouncer with “natural rocking,” and with Luke I thought that that was all a total lie because it pretty much just seemed like a soft chair that he sat in. But now that I’ve seen how much Clara can get going in it, I get it. It’s not the best priced item we’ve ever gotten, but it’s convenient, it cleans well, Clara loves it, and it’s one of those unicorn baby items that doesn’t scream “baby” or stick out in your living room. I mean, hard to ask for more.
(No one has ever told you this one before, right?) With both Luke and Clara we ended up using swaddle blankets more often than any of the swaddlers with Velcro and zips and whatnot, just because it ended up feeling easier, and also more breathable, to roll them up burrito-style. Plus you can use them for so much more–tucking into the car seat to keep them warm, tying it over the stroller hood, emergency super oversized burp cloth. The ones that worked best for us were the really generously-sized ones (around 47×47 was ideal for us) that also had a little bit of stretch to help get a good tight swaddle. I like to keep one in the car and one folded up in the bag for when you might forget one or need it unexpectedly.
Bafflingly, none of the ones we love seem to be available anymore (our lovely friend Krizia got us one by Agnes Lucille that I just think is the most beautiful thing ever, and back when Luke was born I bought ones by a brand called Tippy Toes that were nice, big, and the softest I’ve found) but these look promising.
They call this a “manual” or “silicone breast pump” but I almost think “pump” is a misnomer because it’s so much gentler and less fussy–it just creates a little suction to catch anything in the tank while you’re nursing, without you having to fiddle with all the big old noisy parts of a regular pump. I love it so much! I actually didn’t know about this with Luke but it was my very best friend in the early months with Clara. Before I bought it the most common praise I saw was that it catches leaks on the side that baby isn’t nursing, so you don’t have to use as many liners or waste as much milk, but I’ve always been a “just-enougher,” so it worked better for me to pop it on after Clara was done nursing rather than before. Most tricks to increase supply didn’t really make a huge difference for me, but this actually worked pretty well–by catching the extra that the baby doesn’t need, it “tricks” you a bit into producing a little more, and on top of that you start building a stash earlier. I had a lot more saved up than with Luke by the time I went back to work, and that’s been a major comfort as my milk has started dropping a bit in the last few weeks.
Oh, but get the one with a lid! I have knocked this over (or off me, after falling asleep… can’t think of a lid that would help that) more times than I can count, and the trauma and devastation was acute.
Tie-Bottom Sleep Gowns
Another thing that I didn’t have with Luke that I loved so so so so much with Clara. The nighttime changings are so frequent with they’re itty bitty, and you’re so sleepy, that only having to untie a big nightgown and retie it feels like the biggest luxury in the world compared to fumbling with zippers and snaps and–horror–real buttons. They are amazing. My favorites were from Kate Quinn Organics, which is a bit more reasonably priced especially with their frequent sales, but it looks like all they have right now are the open bottom ones. That said, their inventory changes a lot! (Edit: Kate Quinn’s knotted gowns are back in stock! These are the ones we have and they are just so incredibly soft and wonderful and my all-time favorite. And 50% off with SWAN50 right now!)
These are technically prefolds for washable diapers, but we used them as burp cloths. They’re nice and absorbent, long enough to toss over your shoulder before you pick up bubs, and thick enough that spit-up won’t soak through to your shirt. They shrank up kind of oddly in the dryer but still stayed big and soft enough for our use.
Korean Baby Washcloths
OK. So this is useless because I have searched high and low and this one mystery person on Pinterest (who feels the same way I do about these things, evidently) is all I can find. But if you happen to have a Korean friend, or a Korean MIL, or anybody just going to Korea that you know, ask them to bring back thin baby washcloths! When I was in my second trimester we went back to Hawaii to visit B2’s family and my MIL presented me with a stack of about fifty of these and I had no idea what I would do with so many. But they are so great. They’re not like little towels, but a lot gauzier and lighter than regular washcloths, so you don’t feel bad when you do inevitably go through a million. You can use them for baths, but also for wiping up spit-up, cleaning up after eating, and most crucially for Luke, as a way cheaper peepee teepee. We saved ourselves (and the wall, and the side of his crib, and a few times, his own face) from being sprayed during a diaper change so many times by throwing one on him right as we opened his diaper. Mysterious baby washcloths, please come to the US.
They are good, and we like them. No adverse skin reactions or anything. Hurray, Costco.
Not much to say about this either except that I like it! It has a little pocket for diapers, one for wipes (the box that comes with it doesn’t really snap shut, so we use a lil plastic sleeve that came with the Costco size boxes of these Huggies newborn diapers) and it both folds out to a nice size and folds up nice and flat to go in a purse or diaper bag.
We’ve had this stroller for about 2.5 years now and it’s as good as it was when we got it. It handles smoothly and steers well, it folds up easily and it’s nice and sturdy. A little story about strollers–this one isn’t the first one that we got, which was a brand that shall not be named but rhymes with Braco. While we have carseats from them that work just fine for us, the stroller was a disaster. It only collapsed if you squeezed really hard on a lever, and I don’t know if it was defective or if we just have weak tiny T-rex hands but it would not collapse for us ever. I once got into a fight with it in the middle of a Ralph’s parking lot and after a lot of cursing and sweating I thought I might have to abandon it in the grocery cart return (after maybe throwing it into the ground a few times in rage, London Calling-style).
Anyway, it eventually did collapse after some ungainly acrobatics, probably in front of bemused passers-by, I returned it, and we bought this one. The City Mini folds by just sliding your hand under a strap in the seat and lifting–that’s it!–and every time I fold it up after two years it still strikes me as magical. Like a little stroller Optimus Prime. I guess if a life-or-death fight with another stroller is what it takes to appreciate this one, I’ll take it.
You can buy attachments to slide in the Graco Click Connect carseat, snack trays, etc. It’s not the cheapest line, but it’s also way more affordable than some others–and in my opinion, worth the price jump from ones like the first one we bought. My only gripe is that, because of the way the handle of the stroller extends, the little roller board we wanted to get for Luke didn’t really work (his head ended up bumping into the handle and it was hard to balance) so we’ve so far not had them both on a stroller at the same time.
I almost forgot about this one! It was a total lifesaver for us with both Clara and Luke when they grew out of that newborn sleep-anywhere-anytime phase and started needing some encouragement to nap. Clara doesn’t sleep quite as long in this as Luke used to, but it’s been great for both of them. The only issue we’ve ever had was when something came loose inside the motor during our move earlier this year and it wouldn’t turn on, but it was fairly easy for a handyman to fix. (And yep, we had a handyman fix our baby swing. And I swear we wanted him to fix this more than anything that came up in the inspections.)
For when Luke and Clara became tiny, inexplicable Niagara Falls of drool. We have a couple of these larger Aden + Anais bibs that cover up really well for food, but these bandana-style ones are so nice because they’re less cumbersome and super soft–and also cute.
I don’t know if this was just because I bounced like a crazy person on an exercise ball in the last few weeks before Clara came and it felt familiar to her or something, but she loved being “bounced” to sleep. This saved me so much energy when she was itty bitty–it was a million times easier on my back and body to sit and bounce her than it was to walk around with Luke, which was all that he liked when he was that age. So much Game of Thrones was watched on this exercise ball.
Luke loved this Fisher-Price Jumperoo thing from day one and would hop up and down in it like a madman and Clara h-a-t-e-s it. I will never stop marveling at how different babies can be, but it is especially hysterical how chill our little girl is about almost everything but how much she absolutely detests this Jumperoo. A few days ago I tried to make her bounce her little feet and she cried so hard, it was like the worst thing that ever happened to her. Hahaha.
I think that’s it! None of this was sponsored, all just my opinions. I’ll also do a few little baby food and toddler food posts, provided you all didn’t run helter-skelter in the opposite direction from this one. Is there anything you loved for your babies at this age? Tell me (and tell me if there’s other posts you’d like to see!)
Hope you’re all having wonderful Mondays!