Tuesday, June 9, 2009

10 Things Mama’s Gotta Have

I try to imagine what life was like for a mom 100 years ago. Honest to God, my great-grandmother must have been a saint to raise all those kids without baby swings, pack-n-plays, batteries, or premoistened butt wipes.

Fortunately we do not have to suffer like she did. Here are my top ten picks for making life with your new baby a little easier on mom (and dad!)

Infantino Peek-A-Boo Bunny Mobile

Each of my children got a mobile that matched his or her crib set. There were hanging bunnies or bugs that, when wound up, went round and round to a soothing lullaby. Nobody seemed all that interested in them. But when my little girl was doing time in the PICU, a nurse attached the Infantino Peek-A-Boo Bunny mobile to her crib and wow, she adored it. I liked it too. It plays your choice of three songs (15 minutes long), one of which is a very cute catchy tune that has baby laughter in it. It has two volume settings, a night light, and a remote. But the best part is the set of plastic bunnies with musical instruments that spin slowly around. Their ears flip over their eyes, whistles move, drums beat, faces appear and disappear. They could rename this the ”object permanence concept” mobile. 39.00 Amazon

BébéSounds Angelcare® Deluxe Movement Sensor with Sound Monitor

There is no reason to think that a baby with Down syndrome is at any higher risk for SIDS or any other sleep dangers but since we already have enough to stress about, I opted for this baby monitor. It lets you know, after 20 seconds, if your baby stops breathing. It has an amazing range of over 800 feet so I can go outside and work in my garden during nap time. I have had no interference or sound quality issues with the receivers. The only con with this monitor is that if you forget to turn it off when you take your baby out of the crib for a midnight feed, the whole house is going to know about it in 20 seconds! 103.99 Online

Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym

There are lots of nice baby gyms out there but this one is my favorite. It has lots of link points to attach toys to the mat or to hang them over and around your baby. There are several modes of lights and sound play, including a baby-activated mode which plays for about 10 seconds per toy yank. This is great for teaching cause and effect. The playmat is brightly colored, quilted, and easy to take off and wash. This gym has been the source of much entertainment for my daughter since before she could even roll over. I take it with me whenever I go to other people’s houses or anytime I take the pack-n-play, since it fits so nicely on the floor of it. 54.95 Baby Earth

Changing Table Mobile

Hmm, how do you keep your baby cheerfully distracted with her hands out of the goods during diaper changing time? Hang up a changing table mobile. I have had ours since baby number one and it has been a hit with all of them. This was the only toy that tempted my little girl to reach straight up against gravity when she still had little strength or muscle control. Ours has two bugs and a mirror toy that are attached by magnets. This allows her to pull the toys down and play with them while she gazes at herself in the mobile mirror. Unfortunately, I cannot find ours anywhere, new or used, so I have picked out what I hope is a close enough substitute, the Infantino Wall Mounted Mobile - Lion. 22.41 Amazon

Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo

This is the perfect contraption for when your baby has enough core strength to stay upright and hold her head steady without support. 10 - 15 minutes a day in this jumper is a good way to strengthen your baby’s legs and encourage the foot stepping (pre-walking) reflex. Later on when your baby has good core strength, he’ll enjoy pushing off with his feet and bouncing himself like crazy. The jumper has lights and sounds with various settings, but my daughter favors the spinner filled with beads. 89.99 babiesrus

Space Saver High Chair and Booster

Sometimes children with Down syndrome have a hard time eating and maintaining core muscle strength to hold themselves upright. The Space Saver highchair has a 5 point restraint strap to help your little one stay well-supported while she focuses on eating. It also has a three position seat recline to give your baby more or less support as needed. The tray is wide and goes on and off easily. The seat cover wipes up nicely (but does make my daughter sweaty on her back if she is in it for a while.) For a baby who wants to eat but isn’t physically ready to manage sitting up unsupported through a whole meal, this is the perfect seat. The official description says not to use it for a baby who cannot sit unsupported but I am guessing they are referring to the booster chair feature. This chair was recommended by our physical therapist and has made a huge difference for my baby at mealtime. 48.88 Walmart

Infant Seat Cover

Babies are not as adaptable as adults to temperature change. They lose heat quickly and they overheat quickly. The infant car seat cover is great for keeping your baby bundled up from the cold yet can be opened up swiftly and easily when you are in a heated car or building. It is so much easier than wrestling with a snowsuit or multiple blankets. I prefer this model because I like to keep my baby’s face clear of fabrics and coverings but there are other options out there that close up. 29.99 babiesrus

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Processor

Sooner or later you are going to have to branch out beyond breast milk or formula. All those little jars of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd foods are going to add up, especially if you are going organic. And, after a while your baby will move beyond 2nd and 3rd stage but she might not be ready for what’s cooking for dinner in your house. Invest in a mini food processor and whip up homemade baby food with the perfect consistency to suit your baby’s development. Black bean soup, red beans and rice, white turkey chili... you name it, your baby can eat it once you’ve zipped it through the mini processor. The Cuisinart mini processor is small enough to store almost anywhere in your kitchen and it is easy to handle and clean up. 29.95 Amazon

Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Cradle Swing

I do believe I would have lost my mind sometime in the last six years if not for this swing. It swings side to side and front to back and has two recline positions. It has songs, lights, and a spinning mobile (none of which I ever use anymore.) The mobile part has plastic loops that are perfect for hanging links from and attaching all sorts of toys to entertain your baby. It takes four D batteries and they last for a good long time in it. There are some reviews that complain about the motor and our swing no longer has more than one speed but it does not matter, this swing is still the best baby apparatus ever created! The newer models (rainforest and precious planet) don’t sit the same or swing the same, or have those wonderful loops for adding links. 119.00 babiesrus


I confess... after my first child, I threw out both my Boppy and a lovely imposter pillow. I never used them for nursing and my typical baby didn’t need them for propping or playing. Then a few years later, along came my little darling who couldn’t do much of anything for quite some time. I ran out and bought a new Boppy so she could see the world (ok, the PICU) from a better view. At home she uses it for propping up on her back or front. I use it to keep her from rolling away when I want her to stay focused. I use it while she is in s supported sit to hold her toys up where she can reach them easier. It comes in handy during my physical therapy work with her as well. 25.00 for the pillow at Amazon, slipcover prices vary. 24.99 for the organic pea in the pod version.

Your Turn
Ok, bubble bath, chocolate, and ear plugs aside, what’s your “mama’s gotta have it” item? And, can anybody recommend a really good baby bathtub?

MaggieMae had a great idea... that we should all write our "Mama's Gotta Have It" posts and share them. She writes,
"and then the blogosphere will have some really useful hands-on, money-saving tips and product recommendations for all of us mothers of children with and without Down syndrome, with and without developmental delays, all with their very own flavor, talents and challenges..."

So how 'bout it? If you do it, let me know and I will link your post here.
MaggieMae: Down Syndrome Awareness -- Gotta Have Its AND How I Used Its!
Ria: Top 10 Baby Gotta-Haves
Lisa: Things Mama's Gotta Have


  1. eh hem....the kitchen sink? no? (it has a built-in shower...?)

  2. My number one - GOT TO HAVE is the television baby monitor - it has a camera and 7 inch LCD monitor. I've been able to watch Nathan since birth and that has given me tremendous peace of mind and I never ahve to climb the stairs to check on him. I like the Sids Monitor you have here too. If I have another - I may do both but will never be without the television monitor.

  3. I'd recommend both the Moby and Baby K'tan infant carriers. (They're the fabric ones without buckles or plastic rings, etc.)
    The nice thing about each of these carriers is their ability to be modified to carry even older infants/toddlers without splaying the hips apart.
    This is especially helpful for those babies who have the froggy legs and hips that need reinforcement in staying aligned and straight down.
    And I can't thank you ENOUGH for that high chair link. Our booster is NOT working out and I'm giving up on the carseat. Hopefully this is what we've been looking for!

  4. I'm off to get that mobile - great post - thanks!

  5. I have to agree that the rainforest floor gym is a must have. It keeps Joey busy for hours. He starts kicking his little feet the second that music comes on and has done so ever since he was four weeks old! A must have that is not on your list that I could not live without is the battery operated nasal aspirator by Graco that I bought on Amazon. It works so much better than the bulbs and Joey tolerates it so much better. It even plays music to distract him!

  6. Cori,
    My husband tells me that I let out an audible "ooooo" sound when I read about the battery-operated booger-snoofer (that's what we call it in our house.) I think I have to go buy one since none of my kids will blow their noses to this day!

  7. this for new babies AND older babies:


    and a BECO baby carrier for older babies (6 months and up):


    and a REALLY awesome diaper bag- It's good to splurge on these. I would know after buying eleven cheap-o bags!


  8. Updating to say we got the Space Saver High Chair today and it is fantastic. The reclining option is great and the five point harness lets her focus on her oral activities instead of sitting up or balancing. Love it.

  9. thumbs up review. I need to invest in a changer mobile. mar is constantly flipping around.

    The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Tub - Pink (I used this from birth to 8 mo.)

    Now, I'm actually using a plain old swimming inner tube so she can float around in the water and sit up.

    Those tub seats are a complete waste unless your child can sit up unsupported. Marissa kept sliding down or conking her head on the arm rests.

  10. Great Post. For me, a lot was ad-libbing, concocting and/or adapting. I used a rolled blanket under their arms to prop on their bellies and 2 boppies on top of eachother so they could sit without slumping... my guys were big (nearly 5 lbs born 8 weeks premature). I sure do wish I'd had a video monitor when they were babies but my Lights and Sounds baby monitor that I used for my oldest is still doing double time in their bedroom every day and works wonders. There's something to be said for a monitor working for more than 7 years despite being tossed about our lives and house. See, as I type I'm thinking you should invite us all to write our own "Gotta Have" blogs and link to yours. That's what I'm off to do now... b/c my comment is getting way too long and I have so much more to add... but that might be just long-winded me!

  11. I loved reading your post. I recently started a blog that I believe you are following. It is titled Ellie's Gift. I would love to get the story of you and your cute baby. Please email me at megardoodle@yahoo.com if you are interested. Also if you know of anyone who would like to share their story I would love it. Please pass it on.

  12. Great post! And as you and MaggieMae suggested, I wrote my own top 10. I'd like to link to your post though but I don't know how. I did mention your blog in my post.

  13. Mine are just small gotta have it items but Boppy makes a changing pad cover that comes with a liner making those accidents a little easier to clean up. We also have saved many sheet changes with the sheet savers. They attach to the crib although I think they are supposed to go down on the crib to protect from leaky diapers but I love them to switch out will all the drooling and spit up that happens way too much at our house.

  14. Organic products are essentially earth-friendly, sustainable and natural, not only in its entity but in production mode. Which makes safer and healthier.

  15. Here's a link to the "Gotta Have" post on Bridget's Light:


  16. When your little ones can finally hold themselves up to ride in the shopping cart (trust me, it does happen eventually), a shopping cart cover is a must!! I still use ours, and my daugther is 3 1/2. I love not being totally grossed out by shopping carts!! I've seen them in Toys-R-Us and Baby Depot (Burlington Coat Factory).

  17. gotta say, for us, the Space Saver high chair has been less of a success... though we're still using it, with some padding modification. Even at the fully upright position, Archer's not well supported and doesn't sit up straight -- it allows him to lean back too far. Based on info from our Speech Therapist, we put some foam padding behind him to help him sit up straight but since it's now padded, the tray refuses to lock on very well.

    It was also recommended by an OT we saw that we should maybe look for a high chair with foot supports, as when the feet touch something and have some "push" on them, then the whole body feels supported, allowing the kiddo to simply focus on eating/oral stuff and/or finger stuff with the tray. Whereas with the space saver, the legs just kind of hang out over the edge.

    Just a contrary two cents, though this is a fantastic list!


Please share your experience and opinions, or ask a question. I won't even mind if you correct me on something.

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