This post has been stewing in my mind for a few weeks, so I'm finally sitting down to write it. I thought I'd mention a few baby products that are a little out of the mainstream that I found and have loved. These are mostly things that I had to do a little research to discover, knowing that we would have specific and unique needs, both with coming to China and with living in a small apartment.
The Puj Tub: I was really excited to find this baby bathtub. It looked perfect both for small apartment living and for folding up and fitting in a suitcase. It's basically a flat piece of soft foam that snaps into a bathtub shape and fits into your bathroom sink. It has worked fantastically for Brax. He's getting close to being too big for it now--he looks a little scrunched when we put him in. But I think it will work until we get back home in a few weeks. I know we could have probably just bathed him in the sink, but that idea freaks me out a bit. The sink surface is so hard and cold! And we don't have a bathtub here in China, so it isn't an option to take him in a bath with us. When we do get back to the US, I'm hoping to transition straight so something that sits in our bathtub. I've heard it works well to get a Bumbo seat and suction it to the bathtub. We don't have much counter space in either the kitchen or the bathroom for a separate baby bathtub.
On the subject of bathtubs--anyone have any other good ideas for how to bathe the baby while traveling? We'll be flying to visit my parents and some friends in August, and I think Brax will be too big for the Puj Tub. Do I just use the sinks wherever we are? Or take baths with him? He'll be a little over 4 months old at that point.
My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow and Travel Nursing Pillow: For some reason, the Boppy has gained more popularity than this (awkwardly named but totally awesome) nursing pillow. Fortunately, I had a couple of friends who told me when I was pregnant that the My Brest Friend was far superior to the Boppy, so that's what I registered for. And then my sister-in-law was thoughtful enough to buy me the inflatable travel version, which has been a lifesaver. There's no way the non-inflatable one would have fit in our suitcases.
First of all, if you breastfeed, you spend LOTS of time doing it. If you're sitting in a weird position or straining your back, you're going to feel the effects. Or if you have to hold your baby the whole time and don't have your hands free, you're going to get very bored. It's so worth it to make breastfeeding a comfortable and enjoyable experience! Even though I do it six times a day for 20-30 minutes each time (and that's less than it was at the beginning), I still look forward to it. And I have gotten so much reading done because I can breastfeed with my hands free!
Many women seem to be happy just using pillows while nursing. I have tried this, both in the hospital and in the past few days when my inflatable pillow sprang a leak (it is now fixed with super glue--yay!). It is not comfortable for me. The baby just slides down into the crack between me and the pillows. And football hold, which is my favorite, is much harder.
Reasons why My Brest Friend is awesome:
1) It wraps around your body, giving you back support and a place to rest the baby's legs as he gets longer and you still want to do football hold. The Boppy does not wrap all the way around.
2) It has a clasp that you can tighten, so it stays close to your body and the baby doesn't slip into the crack between you and the pillow.
3) It's flat and firm on the top, which also helps keep the baby in place and not slipping off.
4) It has a little pocket that's perfect for storing nipple cream, gas drops, baby fingernail clippers, and anything else you might use frequently while feeding.
MaxiMom Baby Carrier: What is it with these companies and their awkward names? Oh well. We have loved this baby carrier. I picked it out because it seemed more versatile than other carriers out there and was a bit cheaper than the Ergo or Baby Bjorn. And it works for newborns without any special insert or anything. You can wear it on your front or back, with the baby facing in or out, or angled as a sling. You can also carry the baby laying down in it (we haven't tried this). And it works as a make-shift high chair, when we get to that point. It has good back support and has fit both me and Pete well. And it seems to be very high quality. Also, it's apparently the only carrier out there that could work for triplets (if you buy 3 baby harnesses). I'd like to see someone strong enough to carry three babies around for longer than 5 minutes!
Those are the main items. We have also loved the Summer Infant SwaddleMe swaddlers, our City Mini stroller, our Graco Travel Lite Pack n Play, and lots of other things--and some things we haven't needed that we thought we would , of course. But those are all more obvious. I will make one note about the swaddlers. I thought before we had a baby that special swaddlers were pointless--why couldn't you just use receiving blankets, or the Aden + Anais muslin swaddlers? I did register for a few of the SwaddleMes, though, and was given even more than I registered for. I'm so glad! We tried several times in the beginning to swaddle Brax in the muslin wraps, and there was no way those things were holding his arms in, no matter how tightly we wrapped! And any receiving blankets were just too hot for the summer. Maybe some babies would stay in the muslin wraps, but it's hard to imagine.
One last note--you can never have too many burp cloths. And I prefer using the thin white squares sold as cloth diapers than the fancy flannel ones.
In other news, Pete and I are going out on a hot date tonight to celebrate our fifth (!!!) anniversary. Our actual anniversary is next Friday, but our babysitting resources are limited here. The only family we felt like we knew well (they used to live near us in California and went to our church) enough to ask to babysit was only available tonight. So we'll be dropping Brax off at their place with a bottle and a Pack n Play and going out to a shwanky restaurant for dinner. Brax has been a bit off from his usual sunny self this week and having trouble going down to sleep at night, so we're crossing our fingers that he's sweet for them!
We actually spent our first anniversary in China, and now we're spending our fifth here. Pretty cool! I think we had always imagined we'd do something more grandiose for the fifth, not knowing that we would have a very young baby at this point. But we're thrilled to actually get a night out sans baby!