My New Baby Must Have Products

My new baby must have products| Smithsquad.com| With a small budget, large family, and tiny home I have to be rather minamilistic with new baby supplies

With only six weeks left until my due date I am thinking a lot about making sure I have everything that baby needs. Fitting a family of 8 in a 980 sq ft house is no easy task. I have to really focus on only bringing into the house things that will truly bless us and get used on a regular basis. I don’t have a baby nursery, or even much storage space for clothes and such. I definitely don’t have room for EVERY awesome baby furniture option out there. Here are a few of my baby must have products that are worth making room for.

Muslin Swaddle Blankets

New Baby Must Have Products- Muslin Swaddle Blankets | SmithSquad.com | What things are absolutely necessary on a tight budget or in a tiny space?

My mom introduced these muslin swaddle blankets to me a few babies ago. She runs the Show Care at Tuacahn Center for the Arts and uses them all the time. They are perfect for swaddling because they are larger than most receiving blankets and thin which makes it easier to get them tight. The are super easy to layer when you need a bit of warmth and make a great light blanket when it is warm. They are also great as a breastfeeding cover or spit-up cloth.

Breastfeeding Essentials

As a stay at home mom I usually can just feed at the breast. It is nice, however, to have the ability to leave daddy or the sitter with a bottle of milk so that I can get some much-needed mommy time off. My favorite Bottles are the Breastflow bottles by “The First Years”. They mimic the way that baby gets milk from the breast so that there aren’t as many issues with nipple rejection or confusion. For the last few babies I have only had a simple Madela Harmony hand pump. It is inexpensive and works beautifully, but can be quite tiring on the hand that’s pumping. It’s great for moms who only pump a few times a week. If you are pumping daily, especially if returning to work, then a double electric is the best choice. Most insurance companies will cover a great one now days, so make sure you check with them before buying one out-of-pocket! In the past I have used the Madela Pump in Style and loved it. This time around my insurance sent me a Hygeia pump. I’ve heard great things about it, and am excited to try it out. I have also heard great things about the Spectra S2. You will also need storage bags and breast pads as a breastfeeding mom. My favorite for both is Lansinoh (bags, pads). Last, but certainly not least it is important to have at least two comfortable supporting bras. My absolute favorite brand is Bravado. Bravado bras are super comfortable and very supportive without having underwire. I love that they have a little bit of stretch to them to accommodate for changing cup sizes between full and empty breasts.

Baby Carrier

New Baby Must Have Products- Baby carrier | SmithSquad.com
This is a kangaroo carry in a woven wrap, perfect for teeny newborns.

I am a huge fan of babywearing! I detest carrying around a car seat, and find strollers that are suitable for newborns bulky and inconvenient. My three favorites for the newborn stage are stretchy wraps (Moby, Boba), woven wraps (Dolcino, Ellaroo, Didymos, Storchenweige, and more), and ring slings (Maya, Becco). You can read my full post about babywearing benefits and carriers here.

Car Seat

It kind of goes without saying that a good car seat is necessary for any baby. Even if you don’t have your own car chances are your baby will be in a friend’s car or taxi and will need a suitable seat. Me personally I prefer to get a good convertible seat and skip the baby bucket seat altogether. They can go from rear facing as low as 5 lbs in infancy to belt positioning booster for your 100 lb child, so you won’t have to buy anything other than a simple no-back booster if needed when your child is older.  It just makes more sense from a financial perspective, and as stated above I don’t take the seat out of the car, so portability isn’t a concern. Many moms prefer to get a travel system that includes a stroller, car seat base and a detachable seat. If you don’t have the same negative feelings towards strollers and carrying seats that I do it is a great option.

Clothing

New Baby Must Have Products- Clothing |SmithSquad.com| bodysuits and footed jammies are all you really need
Babies spend 90% of their time in footed jammies or bodysuits.

I am very blessed to have been gifted plenty of adorable hand-me-downs from friends and family. Really though babies don’t need much at all in the way of clothing. If you are buying your own on a budget stick to the basics. Bodysuits and footed jammies are what my babies wear 90% of the time. Unless the girls are picking the outfit, then they end up in the most frilly and sparkly outfit that can be found! How many to buy depends on how much storage space you have and how often you want to wash. Most babies go through 1-2 outfits a day thanks to diaper leaks and spit-up. If you have a major spitter though, you may need a few more.

That’s it Folks!

Seriously, that is the end of my list. Everything else is just fluff. There are tons of nice to haves and adorable things that are fun to have, but if you’re really working with a minimum budget or tiny space I think you will do just fine with only the things on this list.

Do you think I forgot anything? What are your new baby must have products?

The Most Powerful Women in the World

Strong. Powerful. Leader. Brave. Confident. Ambitious. Assertive. Knowledgeable. Persistent.

When you read these words what type of woman comes to mind? Who do you picture? What does she do? How does she live? Where does she work? What does she wear?

Something like this perhaps?

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.27.11 PM

Let me tell you a little bit about the woman I see.

The woman I see is completely exhausted with dark circles under her eyes, but they are eyes full of hope, peace, and purpose. She is tired, sweaty, and her hair is rather disheveled. She didn’t have time to do her make-up this morning and her socks don’t even match. She’s probably in bed, though she way be walking or swaying to manage the pain she is feeling. Every few minutes she has to close her eyes and breathe deep, sometimes crying out in fear, pain, or frustration. She may be tempted with thoughts of quitting, turning back, regret. Despite this she moves forward with determination.

I see a woman in labor. I see the most powerful woman in the world. I see a mother.

You see I believe that often the most important work we can ever do as woman is within the walls of our own home. I believe there is nobility in motherhood, and it is never more apparent than in those few hours when a woman works so hard to bring a precious spirit into this mortal life.

Motherhood is an eternal partnership with God. For nine beautiful months a woman is able to be a full partner with God in the work of creation. She is creating life. It is only through her intense sacrifice that a new child is able to take its first breath. It is through her pain and hard work that a new story is begun. In that moment she is able to taste just a small sliver of what Christ has given us, new life, as she provides a waiting spirit with a new life of its own.

Birth Photography Atlanta|Winder|Georgia
Baby #7 only a few minutes old, hadn’t even cut the cord yet.

I can not witness a birth without tears. In those few precious moments the boundary between our world and God’s is so thin. I can feel the presence of angels bearing up that woman and applauding her for the work she is doing. It is truly the work of salvation. It is a beautiful moment. It is life. It is hope. It is the promise of new beginnings. Nothing can compare with that moment when as a mother you first look into the eyes of that child that you gave birth to. From my first to my 7th the emotions only deepened and grew.

The miracle is every bit as beautiful if you journey starts or ends with adoption or infertility. The sacrifice is every bit as real. The desire and the love do not diminish. Every woman is a mother, whether she has given birth or not, if it is the role that she desires for herself.

Life is a miracle and it happened, dear mothers, because we were willing to make the sacrifice. It is the most noble work in the world. You are strong, powerful, brave, confident, persistent, and absolutely amazing!

Babywearing- My Mommy Sanity Saver!

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I literally would not be able to survive as a mom of seven kids without babywearing. I have been wearing my babies ever since #2 was born and I wish I had discovered it with #1. I have tried so many different types of carriers and love them all. Each one is best for different situations, so here’s a little rundown of why I love babywearing and what slings I use, when. (pardon all the selfies, I never realized that I don’t have many pics of me using carriers taken by others!)

Benefits of Babywearing

I absolutely love babywearing for so many reasons. There are numerous studies that show the benefits (for both mom and baby) of keeping your baby close throughout the day. These benefits include less crying, smarter babies, calmer more confident mommies, and hands free functioning. Babywearing means I don’t have to tote around a baby car seat if I want to have the option to not carry my child in my arms. It means I can go pee when I’m out and about with my baby on my own. It means I can eat my lunch while baby is eating theirs. It means I can go for a walk over rough terrain without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy stroller. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that babywearing is AMAZING!!

Babywearing Safety

The topic of safety could be a whole post in and of itself, but just remember the acronym TICKS and you should be ok.

babywearing safety|homeschool|unschooling

Ring Sling

A ring sling is my #1 go to carrier. A ring sling is a strip of fabric ~25-30 inches wide with two rings sewn onto one end. You wrap the fabric around your body like a Miss America sash and feed it through the rings. I love ring slings because they fold up small to fit in the diaper bag, are quick to get on and off, and can be used from newborn through toddlerhood. The main downside to a ring sling is that all the weight is on one shoulder. This isn’t such a problem with a newborn, but as your baby gets heavier it can start to hurt after a while. I usually use the ring sling for quick trips when we are out and about, and don’t use it much at all in the house.

Good ring sling brands include Maya Wrap and Sakura Bloom. Ring slings are also pretty easy to make, but insure that you use tested ring slings, not craft rings, and that you sew with high quality thread that won’t break. Gutermann thread is one of the most recommended threads for baby carriers.

Stretchy Wrap

babywearing|moby|stretchy wrap|unschooling
Stretchy wrap in the hospital at less than 24 hours old.

Stretchy wraps are one of the best options for newborns. A stretchy wrap is a long piece of cotton stretch material that you tie around the body. Stretchy wraps are pre-tied on mom and baby can be popped in and out. Stretchy wraps are NOT safe for back carries. The advantages of the stretchy wrap are that the weight is evenly spread over both shoulders, waist and back, and that since it is prettied it’s super simple to get baby in and out. The biggest downside is that they can get too warm for both mom and baby in hot weather.

Good stretchy wrap brands include Boba and Moby. Stretchy wraps are also very simple to make yourself. Find some thick stretchy cotton, make sure it is cotton so it is breathable, and make sure it is a little heavier weight than your average $5 T-shirt.  Buy 5-7 yards depending on your size, cut in half lengthwise, and you’re done! No sewing needed because this type of fabric won’t fray.

Soft Structured Carrier (SSC)

babywearing|ergo|baby carrier|unschooling
Wearing an Ergo on my back while 8 months pregnant.

These are the carriers that most people think of when they think of wearing their baby. These carriers are basically a rectangle of fabric with waist and shoulder buckles and straps. It is recommended that you look for a carrier with a wide seat that is a better position for baby’s spine. Many carriers (such and Baby Bjorn) have narrow seats called “crotch danglers”. These are not only bad for baby’s spine and less comfortable for them, but they are usually less comfortable for the parents too, due to the way the shoulder straps meet in the upper back. SSC’s are great when you are great for longer wearing periods and most can be worn on front or back. They can be used for older toddlers as well as newborns. They can be a little difficult to get adjusted comfortably at first, but once you have your straps in place you won’t have to change them other than a little loosening as baby gets bigger.

There are several different brands of SSC’s. The most common in store brand is the Ergo, which I have owned and loved. Other options include Tula, Boba, and Beco. These carriers are much more complicated to sew yourself, but it can be done if you are adept with a machine.

Mei Tai

(sorry no pictures, I’ll work on getting one!)

A Mei Tai carrier is a rectangle of fabric with ties at the waist and shoulders. Rather than being buckled they are tied around the body giving them maximum adjustability. Em Tais can also be worn on the front or the back. I have owned a few different ones, but have never been comfortable wearing one on my back due to my narrow shoulders. There are also half buckle Mei Tai’s, which have a buckle on the waist strap, and wrap strap Mei Tai’s, which have wide fabric wraps vs narrow ones.

Babyhawk, Infantino, and Didymos are all great Mei Tai makers. A Mei Tai is pretty easy to make, but you have to use the right materials. Inexpensive materials could lead to carrier failure and an injured baby. This is the tutorial I used when I made a Mei Tai many moons ago. There are also work from home mom’s and other companies that will do a wrap conversion for you. Just make sure you research them and read reviews to ensure you are getting a quality product.

Woven Wraps

babywearing|kangaroo carry|woven baby carrier
This is a kangaroo carry, perfect for teeny newborns.

Last, but certainly not least, is the woven wrap. Woven are the most versatile of the baby carriers. They are long strips of sturdy woven fabric that you can tie in many different ways depending on what you need. Woven wraps can be used to carry two babies at a time if you have twins or even just a toddler and an infant. Longer wraps have more tying options, but also can be a bit complicated and get hot. Shorter wraps will give you less options, but be quicker to wrap and cooler to wear. Most woven wrap lovers have a stash of several different lengths and fabrics for different occasions. Woven wraps can get pricey, but once you get past the learning curve it will be well worth the cost!

Some great brands for woven wraps are Didymos, Ellaroo, and Dolcino. Wrapsody makes a lighter weight wrap that is excellent for those in warmer climates. There are tons of other well-loved brands out there, just do a little google searching.

Babywearing Groups

The best way to decide what kind of carrier will work for you is to find a local babywearing group. Search on Facebook or the Babywearing International website to see if there are any groups around you. At group meetings there will be experienced wearers there to show you their different carriers. Also most groups have a lending library for paying members so that you can borrow a carrier to try before you commit to buying.

What is your favorite carrier type and brand?

 

Olivia- Documentary Newborn Photography

When I first started newborn photography I built up a stash of baskets, buckets, blankets, headbands, and many other props. I have a few photographers whose work I absolutely LOVE and I was determined to emulate. I found, however, that each session left me feeling completely drained both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t understand what the problem was. I love babies, and I love photography, so why didn’t I love photographing babies?

I then watched a class on Creative Live titled “Family Photography: Modern Storytelling“. In this class Kristin Bethman taught about using photojournalism to document real family life instead of doing the traditional posed portraits. Suddenly it clicked; I wasn’t enjoying my job because the props, blankets and excessive planning for the perfect lighting in the perfect scene just wasn’t me. I crave authentic intimate relationships. I am impulsive, not a planner. I love simplicity. I decided to get rid of all the props and only offer lifestyle/documentary sessions.

I have done my first few sessions in this style and it has been AMAZING!! A few weeks ago I photographed Olivia. Little Olivia was the perfect model and her family was incredible. Her father just glowed with pride and you could tell they were already the best of friends. Even though I didn’t know Olivia’s mother before photographing them I could see how motherhood had changed her. She was just in awe of this little creature who had been created inside her body. I left their home feeling renewed and invigorated by the time I spent with them. This is where I belong.

I would love to capture these special moments for your family as well. I want to help you celebrate the love and the adventures that happen in your every day moments. Life is messy. Walls are colored on, food is spilled, tears are shed, and it is beautiful. Please email me at emily@emilyjphoto.com to schedule your session.