Quick Start Guide to Having a Baby

Before your little has even baked into a tiny little berry (since it’s fruit they always compare their size to), as a first time parent you’re likely holding on to a copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” or other books. Or like me, you’re reading countless blogs, pinning things on Pinterest and just absorbing every morsel of knowledge about this foreign land called Parenthood as you possibly can.

Registries, gear and things you’ve never even heard of (the Nose Frieda Snot Sucker?!?) – your head can start to spin. 

But I’m here to break it down for you. It’s really very simple. You only need FIVE, yes five things to have a baby. 

1.) A place for them to sleep – crib or bassinet ideally. AAP safe sleep recommendations (read more about what these are and why they’re important here) are for the baby to be on their back, flat, in their own sleeping space with no loose bedding or sheets, and for them to be in room with mom for the first 6 months. For me, the easiest thing to do was just use the bassinet feature on my Graco Pack N Play and have it right next to my bed. 

2.) Car Seat – this is one of my hills to die on, car seat safety. But the basic thing you need to know is that in order to bring that baby home from the hospital you have to have a car seat to put them in. If your hospital offers a car seat class, I highly recommend you take it. I start with an infant seat and move to a convertible seat on or around 6months. It’s all preference and fit of your baby, I know many people start with just the convertible. The important thing to know is that ALL CAR SEATS sold in the US have passed the same safety test. Therefore no one seat is better than another from just a general safety aspect. I only say that so you know you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a car seat. You can, but you don’t have to. What does affect safety is being able to safely and securely install it in your vehicle (which can vary as all vehicles are different) and securing your baby in it (for example premies – not every seat will take a 4lb premie) … but more on the details of car seat safety here (and feel free to ask me, I’m not a certified car seat tech but I know people who are and I can point you in their direction).  

3.) A way to feed them – boob, bottle whatever just feed them! Boob is cheapest and “easiest” from a “I don’t have to wash bottles and prepare them and I can literally feed them anywhere” perspective, but not easiest in that it can be a challenge and doesn’t always come easy and especially the first 2-3mo can be challenging as you establish supply. If you know you want to breastfeed or at least try, I HIGHLY recommend taking a class and taking your spouse or significant other with you. I took the one at the hospital and I attribute that class and my husband attending to a lot of my breastfeeding success. I’m on #3 now so I’m happy to answer any questions about it. But I know it isn’t for everyone and doesn’t work for everyone so that’s why formula is available. Bottles – you’ll likely just have to try several to figure out which ones your baby likes. 

4.) Diapers – well, I mean, just peeing and pooping anywhere isn’t exactly socially acceptable so we need a way to contain that shit (pun intended). Most people choose disposables but you can also do cloth too (not my jam but plenty of resources out there if it’s yours). Everyone’s babies and preferences are different here so get a few different brands at least to start to try and see what works best if you’d like. We only ever did Pampers because that’s what the hospital used and they worked, so if it ain’t broke…. 

5.) Clothes – for warmth and just to not be literally in your birthday suit all the time they do need *some* clothes. Now no one can resist buying little clothes for some reason, even myself, so definitely don’t feel like you need to register for them. You’ll get way more than you need and will ever be able to use most likely so take it easy if you can, especially on the early small sizes. If your kids are anything like mine they don’t stay in those early sizes long (mine are in newborn for about a month and 3mo size for about a month). My newest baby had many outfits and pieces of clothes he never even wore because he had so many. 

That’s it! Anything else is just nice to have. And trust me some of it is very nice to have and can make life easier. But when you’re overwhelmed with so many things as a first time mom, it was hard to know what was needed and what wasn’t, and just to even know what some of these things were! 

So these are the basics. The only things you REALLY need. 

But as a baby gear lover I’d be remiss to not tell you about all the cool products out there. But baby steps. (Ha, see what I did there…) ….. I’ll save that for another post. 

The Best Family Friendly Beach Resort in Texas – Hilton Garden Inn South Padre

The best family friendly beach resort in Texas is the Hilton Garden Inn on South Padre Island. As a lover of beaches and a family of 5 now, I feel fairly qualified to bestow this designation upon the HGI on SPI. I haven’t stayed at every hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast, but if you’ve stayed at the best why do you need the rest?  

I have, however, visited all of the major Texas Gulf Coast cities and have seen what they have to offer in terms of hotels and their locations and almost all of them lack one huge family friendly beach resort requirement for me – proximity. Now you may be thinking – Galveston has hotels close to the beach and so does Corpus! Close, yes. ON the beach, very very few. 

The other thing about Corpus and Galveston – a beach is a beach if you have no beach I’ll take those over nothing but if you want the BEST sand and water – you GOTTA go further south. And you don’t get a better beach in Texas than South Padre Island in my opinion. I always say it’s the furthest south you can go and the closest you can get to a Mexican beach without actually having to go to Mexico. 

There are plenty of hotels on SPI that are on the beach. But to me, what sets HGI and its neighbor LaQuinta (where my husband I had got married and had our wedding by the way) apart is that they are ON THE BEACH. You literally walk out the back of the hotel and there you are. The hotels further south and more “in town” on the island have pretty lengthy boardwalks to get to the beach. And that makes a big difference when you have small kids and you’re schlepping lots of beach stuff for them. 

And because I can just step out the back of the Hilton Garden Inn and be on the beach in a minute, I don’t feel the need to pack like pack mule. I can pack light and if we forget something it’s a super quick trip back to the room. Also, less pressure to maximize your beach time and stay out there longer than you should. When it’s right there we go out for an hour or two then come back to the hotel and cool off, eat or nap. Or hit the pool, which brings me to my next point…. 

THE POOL. One of the other main reasons that this place is THE BEST beach resort for families in Texas. HUGE pool. Kiddie pool with waterfall. Two hot tubs. Plenty of shaded seating. Food and bar service. What more could you want? 

Speaking of food, another perk of this hotel for me is the onsite restaurant. It’s not the best place on the island to eat by any means but it’s pretty good and they always have specials so if you’ve had a long day at the pool and beach and you just don’t feel like driving anywhere – you don’t have to! 

Lastly the rooms – almost all of the rooms here are great. However my personal recommendation is to get a junior pool view suite on the 1st floor. You’ll have the patio that is right there at the pool and pool level so it’s easy to toss your stuff back and forth from the pool via your patio versus having the carry it around. Or if you need to split up and send one parent back to the room and one stays at the pool – super easy to check in. The room itself being a suite has a living-ish area with a pullout sofa, desk, and mini-fridge/microwave area and then there’s the bedroom area with 2 queens or 1 king. 1 TV in each space. These rooms are so roomy even for my decent sized family. I always select or at least try to upgrade to one. 

You’d think with as much positive things as I have to say about this hotel that I work for them or I’m even being paid by them. NOPE! I just love it THAT much. The service and staff have all been great as well too by the way. And they have other on site amenities – Starbucks, game room, meeting rooms, etc. 

Seriously if you haven’t been here you need to check it out. My husband gets annoyed at how much I want to go here (haha) but it’s just so perfect to me in terms of family needs on a beach vacation that it’s so hard for me to go anywhere else. I encourage you to try it and if you do – let me know what you think! 

Happy travels! 

What I learned about what I did and didn’t need as a new mom with a baby

As I was getting ready to become a first time mom, I scoured blogs, sites and books for a comprehensive list of what I would need as a new mom to a baby. I read lots of opinions as to what was useful and useless in terms of baby products. I found Lucie’s List  to be one of the most helpful. However I found opinions and recommendations elsewhere were a little off for what I ended up needing/using, so for what it’s worth here is my list of what I found useful and not, and even a few things I’d stumbled upon that I didn’t find in other lists.

Wipes Warmer: read many places that this would be useless, however my new little man was NOT a fan of cold wipes on his warm little bum so my husband was out getting one the day after he came home

Changing Table: also read many places that this would be useless, however after a couple months of our backs aching by bending over to beds and the ottoman to change him, we got the changing table

Bottle Warmer: also read this is useless by many sources, but when you’ve got a crying baby, waiting for a bottle to warm up just by placing it in warm water is not nearly fast enough, bottle warmer all the way

Receiving blankets: I have about 10 that were never used. What the hell are these for?!? Too small for swaddling and kinda warm. I don’t get it. Never used them and I’d never recommend someone get them. Muslim swaddle blankets are where it’s at.

Sleepsacks: I used the swaddleme’s and halo swaddle sacks until my son could roll over. After that I stopped using anything like that cuz if his legs are trapped in a sack, how does he move around? My son is super mobile when he sleeps that sack would’ve just pissed him off and woke him up. They’re all going back or getting sold.

Shoes: glad I didn’t buy but one or two pair and the rest were handed down because I ended up with 6-7 pair than he never wore because by the time he was going to stand and start walking, they were all way too small. He’s 9 months now and just standing and getting close to walking and he wears like a size 4-5 shoe.

Pants: this is kind of a local thing but I live in South Texas. Winter is like December thru February here. My son was born in December. Any pants bigger than 6 months did not ever get worn. Huge waste. He barely wore shorts, onesies mostly.

Jackets and sweaters: mostly when he was smaller, because even though it was colder when he was born, you normally cover them up with blankets. And because their body temp doesn’t regulate well that young a jacket or sweater is much harder to take off or put on than just putting a blanket on them.

Milk Bibs: by Tommee Tippee, have a little roll that goes up under the neck that catches the milk dribbles when they’re nursing/taking bottle. I originally bought 2, and ended up with about 8. Found them hugely useful.

Nursing Tanks: maybe I missed it somewhere til a good friend of mine pointed it out, but these are horribly convenient to sleep in when you’re nursing. No extra bra needed and ease of use for middle of the night feedings.

Zip up pajamas: I don’t believe the importance and convenience of these was stressed near enough. At 2am and 4am if you’re changing diapers on a wiggly baby snaps are a bitch. Save yourself the headache and only get zip up jams for anything 3 months plus.

Tommee Tippee Breast Pump Adapters: take your standard breast pump and be able to pump right into the Tommee Tippee bottles. Saves a lot of transferring if you’re a working pumping breast feeding mom like me. Ain’t nobody got time for all that transferring around!

Bottle Medicine Dispenser: those syringes suck at dispensing medicine in their little mouths. This works so much better.

Hopefully this can be of help to someone! I figure the more opinions and information you can get the better, at least that was my approach and I wish I would’ve seen some of this when I was researching!

Am I Doing It Right?

As I go throughout my days with my son, I always stop and wonder “am I doing it right?” I feel like I should be teaching him more, challenging him more but I don’t know how. I know we should be reading to him, but he sits still for about 1.2 seconds.

So what do I do? He’s only 9 months old there’s only so much he can do. I feel bad because he does end up watching some tv, some Disney programs, but not as a substitute for interaction with us but more to keep him occupied so we can go to the bathroom, etc because it will hold his attention.

But then I tell myself as long as we are spending time with him, that’s what’s important. And not that I’m working too much or cleaning the house like crazy because when you look back those aren’t the things you’ll remember, you’ll remember the times you spent together.

So I guess I’m doing fine, it’s just hard on me because when I look at this face I will always feel like there’s more I could do for him …