It’s hard to believe that just a short 7 months ago, we were rushing to the hospital because my water broke while having lunch with my friend Jess in the office. Everything seemed to be a diaper-hued blur since then – punctuated by small segments of sleep, lots of googling, quite a few doctors, and the sweetest smiles on earth. As we’re emerging from weeks of teething (he sprouted 4 teeth at the same time – that makes a total of 8 chompers), I’m finally coherent enough to write about the things that helped us survive the last 7 months.

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Amazon

The link above leads to Amazon Smile, where you can designate your favorite 501(c)(3) charity to receive a portion of the purchase price of your Amazon purchases. It may not seem like a lot, but it adds up – and it’s a way to help! Our Amazon Prime account has been linked to the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group for years.

We’re NYC transplants to the suburbs, so it only took us 3 years and having a baby to finally get to know our neighbors. One of the things that every neighbor remarked so far has been “the UPS and Amazon delivery people sure love your house!”. We’d been an Amazon Prime household for a few years, we’d always loved the 2-day shipping (and now, many items have same day delivery – truly mind-boggling stuff). After Max was born, I would sometimes make multiple orders on the same sleepless night, depending on what kind of newborn issues we were having that day. I read the reviews obsessively and came to appreciate the “Verified Amazon Purchase” label that gave some reviews validity over the others. The Amazon Family diapers discount is also not too shabby, all diapers are 20% off for subscription orders (that you can amend and cancel at any time).

We also did a portion of our baby registry on Amazon, which initially was a mixed bag experience. We ended up with multiples of some gifts as the registry did not automatically update when some products were purchased from third party sellers. But months later, we couldn’t be happier that we registered with Amazon, because:

  • No-questions-asked return policy: I’m not sure where this is documented, as everywhere I’m looking it’s saying that the Amazon return policy for baby items is 90 days. However we were able to return many items that were taken out of the package, washed, tried on half a year after we had our baby shower (I still retained the courtesy of keeping stuff that were used for nursing, or if Max had vomited on – although I’m sure Amazon would had taken those back, too). 90 days still isn’t half bad, but the 180 days allowed us to return some out-of-season gifts that we never took out of the package that Max already outgrew.
  • Registry completion discount and the Baby Registry Welcome Box: when you use the “Jumpstart” feature in their registry, even if you don’t use any of their suggestions (you can simply mark the section as “completed”), after a certain portion of the registry has been purchased you’re eligible for an additional 10% off Registry Completion discount. You’re also eligible to receive a fun Baby Registry Welcome Box for free – something we did not know about until I landed on this FAQ link quite by accident. We didn’t get any spectacularly great items, but it was fun to get a box of mystery goodies for the baby and try out some of the brands that we’d heard about but didn’t want to shell out the cash to buy.

Amazon Prime is $99 per year annually, or $10.99 per month. Two adults with separate Amazon accounts in the same household (ahem… family) can share one Amazon Prime account, including benefits such as the free shipping, video streaming, photo storage, and more.

WaterWipes

WaterWipes

This is one of the products that we’d cast a judgmental glance at in the store before the baby arrived, and wonder why anyone in their right mind would buy that stuff – and then after the haze of exhaustion in the first weeks, wonder how we lived without it. It’s a sturdy-yet-soft baby wipe that is purely water and a very tiny percentage of grapefruit seed extract, so they’re safe to use even on baby’s face. Max used to get spit-up trapped in his neck rolls (all together now: ewww!), a quick WaterWipe-down and a dab of Burt’s Bees all-purpose ointment and he was fresh and clean. We keep a pack handy now at the dinner table as Max dives (literally) into his self-feeding adventures and these wipes clean up much more efficiently than a napkin. In the winter when we had the wipe warmer plugged in, the WaterWipes did not dry out at all, where the Pampers Sensitive felt crunchy within a day.

Admittedly, I’d also used WaterWipes to wash my face before going to bed, because there are days when I simply did not have the energy to make it to the bathroom sink.

We get our WaterWipes from Target for about $3 for a pack of 60 wipes, they are also available from Babies R Us and Amazon.

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Ikea PYTTELILLA Wearable Blanket

Max had a love/hate relationship with being swaddled. He slept well swaddled, but hated the act of being swaddled. At around 4 months, when we transitioned him to his crib (and when he Hulked out of his swaddles), it was also the depth of winter – so we put him in the thick, fluffy and cozy PYTTELILLA sleep sack that we picked up at Ikea for $18. It gives him that secure, snuggled up feeling without being in a swaddle – and gave us a few nights of sleep in between bouts of teething. Ikea offers a whole line of sleep sacks in various sizes and fabrics, we picked up a thinner one for the warmer months, too.

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Medela Swing Single Breast Pump

Friend and fellow mama Julie recommended this breast pump to me before I went back to work. It’s a little single pump that has a very powerful motor, similar to that of the hospital grade Medela Symphony pump. It’s super portable, plugs in using an A/C adapter, or takes four AA batteries. I have used the provided lanyard to wear the pump around my neck as I stood in a clothing store’s dressing room since there was no-where to set the pump down. In addition to the fact that it draws out more milk (for me anyway) than my insurance-provided Medela Pump In Style, I find it to be faster and more efficient to use than a double pump. Since breastfeeding equipment and supplies are now tax-deductible, even if you already have a pump from your insurance, it may be worthwhile to get a Swing so you can stash it in your purse while you’re out and about.

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Lansinoh Momma Bottles

In an attempt at giving me a panic attack a few weeks before my maternity leave ended, Max decided that he hated bottles. I had visions of him coming with me to work, or his dad coming up with some very creative ways to feed him. After refusing to drink from 5 different bottles (we stopped short of the $28 Mimijumi bottle), our exclusively breastfed baby took to the Lansinoh Momma right away. He even held on to it with his own little hands while giving me the side-eye like “what are you staring at?”. These are simple, no-frills bottles that are easy to clean, and are some of the most affordable ones on the market. If you don’t like the way they look, the nipples also fit the Philips Avent Classic bottle (but not Avent Natural).

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MyBaby SoundSpa Portable by Homedics

It was a harrowing few weeks to get Max out of his swaddle (he busted out of the tightest ones), into his own crib (he outgrew the Rock n Play Sleeper), and getting him to fall asleep on his own (he no longer wanted to be nursed or rocked to sleep). Since he never took pacifiers, we had to find other ways to calm him down. In the very early days, the hair dryer worked wonders to stop him from crying – so we know that he responds well to white noise. Now we just turn the SoundSpa on the “ocean waves” setting on a very low volume, and he knows that it’s bedtime or naptime, and dozes off within a few minutes. If he’s cranky or overtired and refuses to sleep, we just turn the machine a little louder and it works most of the time to calm him down. The sound machine either plugs in to the wall or takes four AA batteries, so you can take it with you. We have one at home, and another at grandma’s house for naps.

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Local mom/parent groups on Facebook

While doing our registry, I realized that 1) baby items are expensive, and that 2) most of them can only be used for a few months. In an effort to save some money, I joined a local swap and garage sale group on Facebook that consists of a few thousand moms/families that live in the nearby towns. From there I was able to pick up some essentials from moms who live just a few minutes away, that their babies outgrew or simply didn’t like – for example, a very gently used Fisher Price Snugabunny Swing for $35 (retails $150). I only bought items that we’re able to wash/clean/sterilize before using, and I loved that the items are all assembled. Since all deals are done in-person and in cash, I have yet encountered anyone dishonest – even when I’m the one doing the selling. The group has been fantastic in clearing out our garage/basement for items that we no longer need. There are people who sell large/very expensive items like playground swing-sets for a few dollars, simply asking for someone to come by to dismantle and take it off their property.

Yes – we live in a good neighborhood where most people are honest, and people in the group feel safe in sharing their addresses with strangers to do doorstep pick-up’s. It’s like putting your address out there to advertise for a garage sale. Since both parties involved in the transaction are sharing their information via Facebook, there is a clear record of the interaction that took place. As with anything in life, use your own discretion and trust your instincts. I have met many wonderful people since joining the group and even made a few new friends in the area.

Now that it’s warmer out, I joined a few networking-based groups for local moms and dads. I know that you city-based mom and dads are already savvy with play groups, I’m looking forward to getting Max to a few here in the ‘burbs!

What helped you and your baby through the newborn months? Add in the comments!