Bringing home the first baby was bliss. She napped all the time, which meant that I got to nap all the time. There was plenty of time for cooking, cleaning, and nothing felt like a power struggle… yet. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for bringing home a newborn when my first child had barely turned 2. Immediately, I felt in over my head. Both kids seemed to develop a finely-tuned skill for needing things at precisely the same moment, and I was losing my sanity QUICKLY.
As far as preparing for baby #2, I didn’t buy a whole lot of new stuff. I knew from the first baby that I hadn’t ended up using half of what people told me I would need, and I really didn’t want to shell out another small fortune for the same result. This is not really that kind of list. I’m not going to tell you that you should buy a bunch of fancy gadgets that can mix your bottles for you while you zombie through the night, or that can do all but wipe your baby’s butt for you.
I’m not going to tell you about the greatest and cutest ways you can decorate the nursery, or which swing moves in the most directions. A lot of those things are great, don’t get me wrong. But with baby #2, I didn’t need fancy. I needed functional and sanity-saving. (Some of it would have been pretty useful with baby #1 too, but you live and you learn!)
Sanity-saver 1: The
Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet.
In classic toddler form, my 2 year old decided about 5 minutes after we brought the new baby home that she was done taking naps. It wasn’t a gradual thing for her, she didn’t slowly lose interest and allow me time to come up with a plan. NOPE, she just quit. Just like that. And in even more classic toddler form, she would be wonderful and well-behaved all day (suspicious, much?) until the baby really needed his naps. Then, the floodgates of noise would unleash. Dance party? Sounds great! Stomping, screaming tantrum? Yeah, now’s a good time! The baby was constantly getting woken up, and I had tried just about everything. Coloring, puzzles, crafts, any quiet activity I could come up with. The toddler-radar was strong on this one, and I just knew that something had to give.
The Kindle was a saving grace for us. By the time I introduced this the little guy was down to one solid nap in the afternoon, and Zoe took to it like a champ. It’s a triple win in this house, honestly. The baby gets his nap undisturbed, she gets to have some quiet time without bouncing off the walls, and I get to have coffee and sit down for a while to prepare for the rest of the crazy afternoon that comes afterwards. I love that the Kindle is affordable and comes with a zero-questions-asked warranty for 2 years. It also comes with the protective case and a year of FreeTime content.
Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit
I can’t even say enough about this one, to be honest. The one game-changer that I hadn’t really thought about when Jack came along. This wasn’t going to be the “it’s okay if I am up all night because I can nap 3 times a day with the baby” experience that the first baby offered. Granted, the first few months were rough anyway because babies need to eat constantly, but once that stage passed I was ready to get this little guy on a schedule. The only problem was, he woke himself up ALL NIGHT. He would try and roll and he’d wake himself up. He’d startle himself and he’d wake up. It was endless.
He was too big and strong to stay swaddled for any length of time, and he was way too close to rolling for me to feel safe about it anyway. So, what’s a mom to do? Insert Merlin! Hellooo, sweet Merlin. It looks pretty hilarious, like a marshmallow suit, but holy shit… the reviews were right. Hubby & I got our cameras ready and popped him into this suit for the first time, and he started dozing off! Like, instantly! That was the start of some anxiously-awaited good sleep, for everybody involved. I’ve said for a while now that every time one of my friends has a baby, this is going to be my gift to them.
It’s cotton so it’s breathable, even though it looks super warm. Our little guy could comfortably wear pajamas or a shirt underneath it and never got hot, and that was during the summer. The suit muffles the startle reflex and helps baby sleep more soundly. Basically, it’s the same kind of concept as a swaddle except much longer lasting. You can keep safely using it until your baby can roll over while wearing the suit, which is usually a few months after they can roll without it.
Freemie Collection Cups For Hands-Free Pumping
I will spare you the visual on this one, because they’re not that flattering on the best-boobed of people. That being said, I was after functionality and sanity, not visual appeal. Both of my babies have been stubborn when it comes to breastfeeding. Tongue ties, shallow latches, thrush, problem after problem. I tried a lot of things but ultimately, Jack wasn’t gaining as much as he should have because he wasn’t effectively transferring milk when he nursed.
I got myself on a good pumping schedule, but consider this: I now have a 2 year old that can’t sit still, a newborn, and I have to pump every 2 hours for 20 minutes. It was easy when I could hand the kids off to Dad or Grandma, but I still ended up having to delay or miss a pumping session because I had my hands full already. The Freemies were fabulous. I was able to get them hooked up to my pump, pop them right inside my nursing bra, and my hands were free until I had to empty them.
Initially, I looked into just getting a pumping bra but I still would have had the bottles hanging off me and in the way. They’re pricey but I will say this: for any mom who has a desk job, a long commute, or ANY mom who exclusively pumps, they will change your pumping life. I would have given up pumping months before I actually did if I hadn’t invested in mine.
Last but not least, Sanity-saver 4: The
Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo
The jumperoo is the only reason I got to go pee by myself. In all seriousness though, I can tell you right now that bouncy seats don’t last and neither do swings or Bumbo seats or any of that. I know because I have a pile of “this lasted 5 minutes and now it’s taking up space” in the attic, just waiting to be donated or gifted or sold. (Who has time for all of that?) ALL of those things were on the list of things people said I just absolutely had to have. Zero jumperoos were on that list! Both of my babies used it, it’s been through a hell of a lot of jumping and abuse and still in great shape.
If I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t bother with anything else. It’s not meant to be used for longer than 15-20 minutes because any longer than that could start affecting baby’s development… but what baby does anything for longer than that, anyway? Mine were happy to be rolling around on the floor playing and never liked laying in a swing or bouncer, but they loved being upright in this thing and I equally loved having something readily available to keep them amused if I wanted to get dinner going or go to the bathroom. It’s easy to move from room-to-room too. It definitely saved my tail on more than one occasion. Most importantly, it also kept the baby out of range of his sister falling on him or stepping on him if I had to turn my back for longer than a second.
I could spend hours brainstorming here and add a lot more of the fluff as far as what baby and toddler items I love, but honestly, these are the ones that helped me survive. These are the ones I’d buy 20 out of 20 times if someone asked me what I wouldn’t want to be without. As a mom, I can’t put a price on sleep, quiet time, or having my hands free when I need them. What things helped you transition into having 2 small kids and no clones of yourself? Comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe for more tips!
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