Firstly, thank you all for being so kind and understanding about my little blogging hiatus last week. It was much-needed and super restorative and relaxing. We went to my parents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, ate a lot of yummy home-cooked food from my mama and grandmother (and of course, all the Halloween candy) and I got to meet my bestie’s most adorable new puppy, George Washington, named as such because the shelter said he had confidence issues (a.k.a., a fear of squirrels).
It was also good for my soul to get extra snuggle time in with this little one who is, quite unbelievably, SIX months old already. For Avery, six months old looks like a lot of army crawling all over the house (towards anything and everything that is not a toy, of course… we are in serious need of babyproofing ’round these parts), laughing at our funny faces and her reflection in the mirror, lots of talking — or blowing raspberries or squealing or SCREECHING, ahem — a particular affinity for crawling toward our cat Percy and grabbing his tail while squealing (he’s such a good sport about the fact that she pulls out small tufts of his fur every.single.time.) and the early stages of cuddling ← FAVORITE.
For me, having a six month old looks like more sleep (do you hear the choir of angels singing?): Avery goes down for bed around 6:45 p.m. and wakes up between 4 and 5 a.m. for a feeding, then goes right back to sleep until 7:30 or 8 a.m. so I cannot complain one iota. It also looks like a little more confidence for me in so many departments: Knowing how to listen to Avery and what her cries mean, anticipating her needs, nursing in (slightly more) public places, going to the grocery store/Target without fear that she’s going to have a conniption fit in Aisle 5 and taking in all the cuddling time I can get, because my girl is already one independent little lady. Oh, and wine. I let myself drink some wine every now and then and it is glorious.
The memories of our difficult first few months together cloud over more and more every day with each giggle, smile and reach with those chubby little arms asking for me to hold her. Watching her spunky, headstrong, hilarious and sweet personality develop is just the best. And every night as I am about to put her to bed and she’s cuddled and cozy in my arms, I fall deeper in love with her, never thinking it’s even possible to do so.
Watching my husband grow more into his role as a father is so enjoyable to observe, too. He can make Avery laugh like no one else can and sometimes she stares up at him when he’s carrying her with a face of total adoration. They’re obviously best friends already and I love it.
Of course, I’m not going to sit here and say it was all us just being awesome parents that brought us to this stage (which, by the way, is still awash with many a blowout and a frustration and a conniption fit from any one of us — so do not think we are in blissful, sprinkles-and-sunshine-la-la-land all the time). We had some help along the way, thanks to grandparents and friends and a few bits of gear and books and apps that have been lifesavers. I’m sharing the latter three with you today (sorry, I’m keeping the grandparents and friends to myself, oh so selfishly) in case you a) are preggers and need some direction on what the heck to buy/read, b) are looking to get a gift for an expecting friend/family member or c) just had a bebe and want a little advice on what works for other mamas (read: me).
NOTE: I am in no way speaking about these things as an authority. These are just the things that work(ed) for us, and I wanted to share. Alrighty then.
Baby gear: 1) Boba Wrap // 2) Fisher-Price Swing // 3) Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag // 4) Ergobaby Baby Carrier // 5) Woombie Convertible Baby Swaddler // 6) Motorola Wireless Digital Baby Monitor // 7) Zebi Baby Swaddle Blanket
1) This Boba Wrap was the greatest invention for me in the first few months of Avery’s little life. She’s outgrown the need for it now, but when she was first born up to about three to four months of age, I would put a fussy Avery in the wrap and instantly she became sweet, snuggly Avery. She’d even nap in it sometimes. Highly recommend for those first few months when you’re building up your back muscles/need give your arms a break.
2) This Fisher-Price Swing was indeed the most lifesaving of all lifesavers for us. At first, actually, Avery hated being in the thing — but after about a month, she couldn’t get enough of it. She’d nap in it, or just hang out in it for a good half-hour staring at the chirping birds spinning above her head. Again, she’s outgrown this, too, but for the few months that she got good use out of it, it was a Godsend.
3) I really love my diaper bag for multiple reasons: 1) It’s kind of cute and looks almost like a real purse (I say “almost” because, let’s be real, I don’t think you’ll ever find a diaper bag that doesn’t sorta/kinda look like a diaper bag), 2) it’s functional — there are eleventy billion pockets in it, it’s a wipeable fabric, it attaches to your stroller and we use the changing pad it comes with every day and 3) it’s pretty spacious. I’ve never had trouble fitting all of Avery’s belongings in it for a quick trip out.
4) The Ergobaby baby carrier is what we use to tote Avery around now, when she isn’t in her stroller or car seat. I’ll be honest — she doesn’t love it, but that’s because of her independent personality (she actually rarely enjoys being physically attached to us when we are on the go). Otherwise, it’s very easy to use and again, oh-so-functional — there are three settings for it (front, back and hip) and, unlike the Boba wrap, it gives you some added hip support that is helpful to carry the extra weight of your little nugget.
5) If there is anything on this list you NEED to get, it’s the Woombie Convertible Baby Swaddler. Some of our friends used one for their two boys and highly recommended it, so we gave it a try. LIFE. CHANGER. We no longer had to wrestle with Avery to swaddle her, only for her to Houdini herself out of it two seconds later. Plus, she slept like a rock in it. Once she was old enough to roll over, we left her arms out through the pockets on the sides. Now she’s outgrown the need for it altogether, but for that brief time she did need it, she slept like a champ (and we did, too).
6) I know this Motorola wireless digital baby monitor is a little extreme, but it was the one thing my husband insisted on getting and I now understand why. You can tilt, turn and zoom the camera; you can talk to your baby through the monitor and even play music for him or her; it tells the temperature in the room (which is our favorite part, along with being able to actually see Avery while she sleeps) and this particular option comes with the largest screen. Highly recommend.
7) My friend Taylor (of Greens & Chocolate!) gifted me this Zebi Baby Swaddle Blanket and it is by far my favorite blanket for Avery. It’s really big, so it was best for swaddling (much as I loved the Aden & Anais blankets, they just weren’t big enough to me for secure swaddling) and now that Avery has outgrown swaddling, we use it as a playmat as well as a regular blanket for traveling. I love the thin but sturdy and soft material, and the prints are super cute, too.
Books: 1) Baby-Led Weaning // 2) On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep // 3) The Happiest Baby on the Block // 4) Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less As Your Family Grows
1) We are JUST now starting Avery on solids and, at least for now, we are going by the baby-led weaning approach our pediatrician recommended. In short, it means instead of feeding her purees, we are giving her fruits and veggies in solid form (either steamed or softened so she can bite them with her gums) so she can learn to pick up her own food and eat it at will. So while I can’t necessarily fully recommend the book quite yet, I will say the method is working well for us so far! The girl especially loves her some bananas and sweet potatoes — avocados? Not so much.
2) On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep was one of the books I read before I had Avery and at the time, it made total sense to me — put the baby on a predictable eat, wake and sleep schedule and everything will come together and he or she will sleep through the night. Now that I have a baby, I realize that this tool does not work for everyone, including me. But there are some extremely helpful tips in the book, including the importance of keeping a (somewhat) predictable schedule for the health of your baby.
3) Our neighbors recommended to us The Happiest Baby on the Block when we told them about our little fussy munchkin, and let me tell you, it was one of the best recommendations we could have received. This book teaches you all about the “fourth trimester” and how to calm your baby with swaddling, pacifiers, etc. It’s simple and effective and if you need a gift idea for a friend, buy this book and that Zebi Baby Swaddle Blanket or the Woombie and you’ll be a rock star.
4) We just started reading Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less As Your Family Grows but so far, I really like it. It gives practical, no-nonsense advice on how to balance a healthy marriage with parenthood.
I heard about the Wonder Weeks App from Audra (of The Baker Chick) — AMAZING. Oftentimes, Avery gets fussy or extra-screechy or clingy and I don’t know why — this app will tell you why. It’s so on-target with pinpointing when your baby is going through growth spurts or developmental “leaps,” so you don’t have to feel like a crazy person when you sense you’ve got a mini monster on your hands lately. Give him or her extra hugs and the storm will pass.
I also used the What To Expect and BabyCenter apps on my phone when I was pregnant to find out what stage Avery was in growth-wise (Is she a banana or a honeydew melon this week? Does she have hair and toenails yet?) and to take in some tips and advice along the way (about baby carriers, strollers, when to pack the hospital bag, etc.). I now use them to track Avery’s development on the outside, but they also offer info on how to get back into exercise post-baby, or ways to cope with taking care of a baby when you’re sick, etc. It’s almost like having a wise old grandmother on your phone to give you all the parenting advice you don’t seem to be getting anywhere else.
And if you’re still with me, bless you. If you’ve got any baby gear/books/apps you can’t live without, share with me in the comments, please and thank you. I’d love to know about them.
On that note, I’m off to play peekaboo with my little bean. A very happy Thursday to you!
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