Jul 16, 2013

New Mom Must-Haves

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newmommusthaves

Or a “For the New Mom Gift Guide”.

Or the “I’m a New Mom and Desperately Need to Treat Mah Self as to Not Feel 90 Years Old All the Time” List.

Whatever.

The point is that I’ve been thinking a lot about the little things that have made life with a new baby a little brighter, and thought maybe we could talk about those things. Because Lord knows I’d love a break from talking about how my baby never, ever wants to sleep for more than a couple hours at time. Like, EVER. So whether you are a Mom type yourself, or you are looking to get something off the beaten registry path for a friend who is about to, or in the midst of, having life ruled by a tiny high-maintenance person, consider the following:

The Miracle Blanket.* Okay, so I first heard raves about this magical blanket when my first baby was born almost five years ago (!!), but I just couldn’t get it together and pick one up. This time around, a friend working with the company sent me one to try, and man, oh man, do I ever wish I’d had it from day 1 with both babies. Swaddling is one of the key elements of getting a newborn baby to calm the heck down, go to sleep, and stay that way for as long as possible. In theory, you can use pretty much any blanket to swaddle a baby. But the hard part is dealing with a baby with oddly strong limbs and Houdini-like tendencies, which I think most babies have once they’re more than a few weeks old. Even the most expertly tucked and tautly-wrapped baby can somehow suddenly unfurl him or herself in a matter of moments, leaving the parents totally befuddled and stuck with having to reswaddle and soothe said baby back to sleep all over again. Not cool, baby! Not cool at all.

For lack of a better explanation, the Miracle Blanket is essentially like a fantastically soft straitjacket, minus any straps or other bulky closures, which is exactly what you need to keep a baby wrapped up all cozy and comfortably snug. I only wish I’d gotten my hands on one sooner–Sir Baby was almost 11 weeks by the time we started using it, and rapidly outgrew it (14 weeks is the recommended limit, but if your baby is on the smaller side and not rolling over yet, you could easily get several more weeks out of it). It didn’t magically make him sleep through the night, but the hours he did sleep were much sounder, and not fraught with him constantly trying to bust of his swaddle like a madman.

Bestowed Gift Box.* The folks at Bestowed sent me one of their amazing gift boxes in the early weeks of life with Baby #2, and I still remember the day it arrived–a perky orange package sitting on my front steps, a cheery sight to see after an exhausting night with my kid. What was inside was even better–a hand-picked selection of full-size snacky natural foods products, including a energy bar, hot cereal, chips, even sunflower seed butter cups (think Reese’s, but all-natural–yeah, those disappeared FAST). Bestowed boxes come as a subscription service, with a new box of goodies showing up at your doorstep every month.  If you’re the kind of person who likes to give food gifts (like me), I can’t think of anything more awesome to send a new mom. In fact, right this very second, you might have a new mom friend who is probably starving because she can’t even find time to pee, let alone to eat a real meal. Nourishing snacks are like gold to a woman with a new baby, especially if there’s nursing involved. TRUST ME.

Everyday Food: Great Food Fast. I received this book years ago as a gift when Little C was still Baby C, and I still cook out of it at least once a week (actually, probably more often than that, it’s just that I’ve made certain dishes so many times I’ve committed them to memory). This book is full of super fast, easy, healthy meals that don’t require a million ingredients (most involve pantry staples), and it inspires me to get into the kitchen all the time with the promise of great flavors. Most things can be easily doubled to make for easy lunches for later in the week (clutch for a new mom).

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush. I’ve told you before about how I was a makeup artist for this line in my former life. And all these years later, I still swear by this foundation stick. I rarely cover my whole face with foundation, but I do need some coverage here and there, and this stick is the kind that allows you to achieve a smooth, bright look by patting it only where you need it (it works great for covering blemishes, too). Because most of the shades are yellow-based, I find that it’s even effective for dark undereye circles from all the Mom Notsleeping, especially with Bobbi’s Pale Yellow powder tapped on top. After years of just using my fingertips to blend this product, I recently started using the foundation brush from the line with it, and it’s Oprah-level life-changing stuff. I’m obsessed. If the price on the brush is a bit shocking, know this–I have several Bobbi brushes that are more than 10 years old (!!), and still work like new. Truth.

Stickygram Gift Certificate. Do you Instagram your kids as much as I do? Then you need to check out Stickygram, and order magnets of your best artfully cropped, filtered photos and wallpaper your fridge with them. Also? There is no better gift for grandparents, just saying.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery. So full disclosure, here: THIS STUFF IS NOT CHEAP. But I am obsessed. It’s a really luxurious, gorgeous-smelling facial oil that really smooths dry, tired skin. I really do notice a difference in the softness and vibrance of my skin when I wake up in the morning after I’ve used this product, even if I’ve only gotten a few good hours of sleep. It also seems to minimize the glamorous Tired Mom Eyes thing. If you can get past the price tag, know that a bottle will last you a really long time–you only need a few drops for your entire face and neck, and can stretch it even farther by blending it with your regular moisturizer. Bonus: the lavender scent is just so lovely and relaxing after a long day.

Gap 1969 Legging Jeans. Okay, so, jeggings, basically. I know, right? Something I swore I’d never, EVER wear. Then! I was suddenly in desperate need of “interim pants” (read: something smaller than maternity pants, but roomier than my pre-pregnancy bottoms). I tried these on and am now telling the whole internet that I bought jeggings. Such is life. In truth, these are more jeans than leggings, but they do have a super slim fit. You’d think that with a post-baby body the last thing you’d want is tight pants, but these are GOOD tight pants–super stretchy but still a nice weight denim, with a much higher rise than most skinny jeans (key for um, reigning everything in). Plus, when your body has been through the ringer with pregnancy and is trying to figure its shape the heck out, one of the most flattering outfits is going to be skinny pants with a more forgiving top to camoflauge the iffy parts. And you want those skinny pants to look good and fit well, but not cost too much in case your size keeps shifting. These are my dream jeans for the interim, and beyond.

Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer. Questionable, cutesy name aside, this sports bra is everything, ladies. It’s not the cheapest, but when it comes to corralling the goods, I find that you get what you pay for. And when the goods are working overtime (in a biological sense, people, get your minds out of the gutter!), a lady needs all the support she can get. Now that I’m back on my fitness game, I’m trying to get in a couple of runs and at least one spin session per week, and the higher impact exercising definitely requires more support. Until I caved and shelled out the bucks for this gem of a sports bra, I was literally a hot mess under my workout t-shirts–double sports bras, and maybe even a tank with a built-in bra (even though we all know that if you’re bigger than a AA, those built-in “bras” are a total LIE). I was so tired of feeling like I was suiting up for war with a virtual museum of pulleys and levers when getting dressed to workout. Not cute, very suffocating.

On a whim, I tried on the Ta Ta Tamer and definitely felt tamed–with a single garment, no less! It comes in bra sizes and is adjustable around the band and at the straps, so you get a much more custom fit than with your standard S, M, L-sized sports bras. It even has thin little pads that slip inside, which I’m sure are for added oomph, but if you’re a nursing mom, you know that an extra liner in a bra serves it own absorbent purpose. So I texted my BFF, who worked at Lululemon for years, if the Ta Ta Tamer was worth it. And she said, and I quote, “Oh GURL. It’s the best. It’s the only type of sports bra I’ve worn for years.”. Done and done. I love it.

KNILA Spin Class App. Speaking of fitness-y things, I’ve got to give a shout out to this really simple (free!) app I installed on my phone that allows me to do my own spin class, without the hassle of actually having to get to a class on time. When you have a baby that you’re (desperately ) trying to get on nap schedule and your sanity depends on those naps happening, it makes it super difficult to be anywhere at a specific time, let alone a fitness class. Add to that having to find childcare to attend said class (my gym has babysitting, but the spots for babies are very limited and fill up even faster during class times), and it’s pretty much never going to happen.

But I love spinning. There’s something about it that just works for my body type and my headspace, and it’s a great exercise for post-baby bodies–high intensity without a lot of impact, and you go at your own pace. I lamented the fact that there was no way to make any of the classes offered at my gym, unless the stars aligned just so. But! My gym is the kind that allows members to use the spin bikes when there’s not a class in session. So one day I got a brainstorm–if there were so many fitness apps out there, there had to be one for spin, right? And this one fits the bill. It isn’t fancy, and you have to pick your own music as you go along, but it’s free. straightforward, customizable, and absolutely gets the job done. I am so pumped.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my latest obsessions, I’d love to hear a few of yours–either your personal Mom Must-Haves, or your go-to gifts for maternal friends. Do tell!!

*Starred items were sent to me by good folks at these companies; I was not compensated in any other way to write about these products, or required to write about them after receiving them. All opinions are my own. 

9 Comments

  • LOVE this list. I too am obsessed with the Miracle Blanket. It worked so many miracles for us in fact that I didn’t wean Hugo off of it until Easter of this year. He was born last June. Yes, you do the math, I’m too embarrassed to put it in writing. Also, thanks for the foundation brush tip! If I don’t put stuff on my under-eye circles these days, people literally do a double take, I look so tired.

    • Now I have to tweet at you and find out how you stretched the life of the Miracle Blanket. We miss it so.

  • Yes on any kind of Swaddling Blanket! I can’t remember what brand mine was but I didn’t get one until my last baby (#4!!!) and it was a life saver with him!!

    The only thing not on your list that is a “new mom must have” is…ahem at the risk of being too personal…Astroglide. I’ll just leave it there, m’kay? :)

    • Whoa, Gina’s goin’ blue and keeping it real, y’all!!

  • Wish I’d known about some of these items earlier! I had the swaddling blankets from Summer Infant. We were good at swaddling but my now 13 month old son was long and this brand comes in multiple sizes. I will have to check out the foundation and oil. I still look tired!

  • Great list!

  • very good list and very well described. You gave me some great ideas. I will check them out!

  • Thanks for sharing this list! I’m only 1 week in to this whole mom thing but anything to make living with this tiny person easier warrants mt attention right now.

  • I just had my sixth baby, and I totally agree with you about the Midnight Recovery Oil. I bought it when I was pregnant because the girl at the store told me it would make me look like I got a full night’s sleep … no matter what! Sold!

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