BLANKETS AND SWADDLES:
We received a mix of blankets as baby gifts, and truth be told, we use them all. I have found myself using a range of blanket types each day: hand-knit yarn blankets, muslin blankets, fleece and minky blankets, stretchy knit blankets, the list goes on. The only blankets we don’t use very often are flannel receiving blankets. In the first weeks of Evie’s life, we folded them up and used them to make her car seat more secure, but we used the other types far more often.
When we were in the hospital, the nursery staff expertly swaddled Evangeline in her stretchy knit swaddle from Copper Pearl. She was too little to wriggle out of it at the time. Since then, we find ourselves just using zip/velcro swaddles and sleep sacks so she can’t squirm out. She LOVES her arms and hands, so we have to swaddle tight unless we’re using the arm-up Love to Dream Swaddles. We put a few different swaddle types on our registry and I’m so glad we did. Depending on her mood, Evangeline prefers one swaddle over another. I strongly recommend that you register for a few different types of swaddles/sleep sacks, as you never know what your baby will prefer. (Word to the wise: If your baby seems to “reject” a certain swaddle (or any product for that matter), try again another time! We’ve found that preferences don’t last forever.)
Stretchy knit swaddle blankets from Lou Lou and Company, Copper Pearl, and Kickee Pants. I love the soft texture of the material on these, and they can be used as nursing covers, stroller blankets, etc. For beginner swaddlers, they’re super easy to work with. I recommend at least 2 of these!
Muslin blankets from Aden and Anais. These are gold standard for swaddles. They are light enough to be breathable but also cozy enough to be warm. Like the stretchy knit swaddles, they have a million uses. The more you wash them, the softer they get. I recommend at least 3-5 of these.
Swaddle Me swaddles: These are so incredibly easy to use—they are a no-brainer. Evangeline immediately calms once she’s in the wrap with her arms to her sides. The bottom half allows for the legs to wiggle around. The only downside is the velcro can be loud if your baby startles easily. I’ve also found that the velcro can make washing a little tricky, as it gets stuck to everything. Remember to secure the tabs before throwing them in the wash. Also, we air dry these on a drying rack. I recommend at least 2 of these. We have three of them in the newborn size, as we received one as a hand-me-down. I use them most often for daytime naps and fussy nighttime sleeps.
Ollie Swaddle: The Ollie swaddle has been all the rage, designed with sensory issues in mind. The presentation of the swaddle is beyond lovely, and the material is super thick, tight and stretchy. I find this one is effective when Evangeline is very calm, as it keeps her legs straighter than the others and she likes to have the ability to kick around. We are going to rely on this swaddle heavily when we transition to the crib, as it will allow for less distracting movement (compared with the Love to Dream below). At nearly 8 weeks, Evangeline’s longest nighttime sleep stretches have been in this swaddle.
The Love to Dream swaddle is one of Evangeline’s favorites for when she wants to have her arms within reach. The position of the swaddle is arms up with a tight belly and lots of space for leg kicks. While this one is good for lounging in the Rock and Play or Boppy Lounger, sometimes it does not provide the security and distraction prevention of some of the other tighter swaddles. We typically use this one in the middle of the night when she’s sleepiest and in the midst of longest sleep stretches, versus when we’re actively trying to put her down for a nap.
Ergo Swaddler: The Ergo company was kind enough to share their swaddle with us, and we love it! I has a unique design for keeping arms secure inside the swaddle with room to move around slightly inside the swaddle. Of all the swaddles, this one provides the most leg movement space. One of my favorite parts about this swaddle is its material—it’s similar to a sweatshirt material. This one works well for Evangeline in the middle of the night as well.
Halo Sleep Sack in the Newborn Size: I had assumed that sleep sacks were better suited to older babies who had graduated from the swaddle, but the hospital nursery sent us home with a sleep sack in the newborn size. The material is thick and blanket-like, while the sack provides full use of arms and legs. Similar to the Love to Dream and the Ergo, this sleep sack works when Evie is in her sleepiest, least distracted state.
It can be really difficult to predict what items you’ll truly need and use. We have used most of what we registered for and are faring well without some of the bigger items we skipped. We did not buy a Dockatot or a Snuggle Me lounger, though friends swear by them. We also didn’t buy a large swing or Mamaroo for space considerations. Below are the miscellaneous items that we used either right away or in the early weeks.
Skip Hop Activity Mat We initially used this the mat part of this activity system for early tummy time as early as the day we came home from the hospital. When Evangeline grew to be more interactive around 4-5 weeks, we added the “jungle gym” additions. Now, at 7 weeks, we use this mat every day to give Evangeline time to kick her legs and gaze at the various rattle attachments. We still use the mat for tummy time. We love the little pillow that she can rest on while she kicks around.
Boppy Lounger We purchased the Boppy Lounger in lieu of the more expensive sensory loungers. This one was $30 and was such a great investment. We only let her nap in it while being monitored, as it is not technically intended for sleeping. Now that she’s getting older, it’s a great option for her to comfortably rest in while I fold laundry or do dishes, always within close distance for monitoring. This will be something I will buy for all baby gifts from now on because it’s so practical.
Ergo 360 Omni Carrier and LilleBaby Carrier We are absolutely in love with our carriers. From the very beginning, Evangeline has taken some of her best naps in her carriers; they have allowed me to get walks and errands done on days when she would rather be held than nap on her own. They are an instant calmer for her. We are blessed to have two—the Lille baby, which we registered for, and the Ergo, which was gifted to us. Both are wonderful and we use both consistently. It is helpful to have two of this type of carrier—one that can be sized for my husband to wear and one for me to wear. That’s the only thing that can be tricky in the moment of getting the baby in the carrier—tightening straps and adjusting is not my favorite thing when there’s a crying baby involved! We get plenty of use out of both.
Solly Baby Wrap and Ergo Aura Wrap Similarly, we have two wraps—one that was loaned to us by my sister and one that was gifted to us by Ergo Baby. The function of the wraps is exactly the same; the wrapping process is identical. It took a little bit of practice to get the hang of putting the wrap on. After watching several You Tube videos that didn’t help, I ended up watching this tutorial and it finally clicked. There are a few differences that lead me to favor the Ergo just slightly. One is that the material is quite a bit thicker, and two, there is a patterned side and a blank side to the fabric, which is helpful when criss-crossing the straps around the back. If I had to choose one, I would buy the Ergo Aura Wrap, though the Solly is very light and cool; if you live in a very, very hot climate, it may be right for you.
Rock N Play Evangeline loves the Rock N Play and this is one of the places where she sleeps on her back, in a sleep sack or swaddle with no blankets. We really couldn’t have survived these early months without it, and it’s really a must for any new parent in my opinion.
Bassinet This is another place where Evangeline sleeps on a flat surface. We are learning to love the completely flat surface and created a gentle incline wedge by folding a muslin blanket under the thin mattress. This bassinet is affordable and just the right size for by the bed. It is the perfect place to transition to the crib.
Bouncer Seat Evangeline started sitting in her bouncer seat at about 4 weeks, when she had a little more head control. Now, at 7 weeks, she seems to enjoy it more and notice the toys. On days when I’m solo parenting, this is a great option for docking in the kitchen (for dishes) and bathroom (for showers), where she can be safely strapped in and relatively entertained. This seat was a really good value, is light, and doesn’t take up much space. Recommend!
Sound machines We really have become connoisseurs of white noise in the Bray household. :) White noise is extremely important for baby sleep, and we tend to have layers of white noise happening during most sleep sessions. We have the Marpac Dohm going all night for general white noise, and then we use the hourlong setting on the White Noise App for naps or a boost of extra sound while she’s drifting to sleep—most often on an iPad on airplane mode. We plan to buy the Marpac Hush soon for a portable option. You get the picture—lots of white noise. ;) We started using white noise right when we got home from the hospital, as it provides babies with a womblike comfort.
A note about pacifiers: We didn’t start using a pacifier until 3 weeks at the recommendation of our Lactation Consultant, and even now, we could probably go without it. We do use it more in the evenings and as part of our bedtime routine. We love the Wubbanub because it stays put! Evangeline also likes Soothies, but rejected a few other types of pacis. If you use a stand-alone pacifier, I recommend a clip of some sort, as we end up dropping them everywhere and find them all around the house in weird places. :)