I cannot believe that we are headed into the last week of 2018! This year has been major…from moving and travel to a lipstick collaboration and the arrival of baby Johannah Elle, it’s certainly been 12 months that I will treasure and never forget. After taking a week+ off for Christmas and all the beauty it entails, today’s post is focused on exactly 3 things:
(1) The top 5 things I’ve learned thus far as a new mom
(2) The baby essentials we wholly recommend in the form of a nursery tour…be forewarned, this nursery is delightfully lived in rather than picturesque perfection.
(3) The end-of-the-year sales I’m shopping, with specific suggestions (this is what happens when Christmas and my birthday are less than 10 days apart).
Kindly scroll on for my new mom revelations, the baby gear we use daily and a curated shopping guide to the best sales of the season as well as the Bottom Line…
Our family Christmas picture…Johannah Elle is already 5 months old and Jethro is the most incredible big brother.
// NEW MOM MUSINGS // When it comes to raising a baby, all I know is that I know very little, but I am an earnest student and learning every day!
The lack of sleep that a new baby brings is next-level. I had a high tolerance for not sleeping before Johannah came. Being a full-time college professor and full-time beauty writer meant pulling a lot of bed at 3AM/up at 7AM days and somehow I managed to energetically maintain my responsibilities. Slumber while having a newborn is another story because consecutive hours of sleep (even just 4) are rare in the early months and even now, my husband and I take turns with 3AM feedings. There is a certain zombie-like quality that comes over one who wakes up all night for months on end…I definitely have said characteristic (as does my husband…we truly are a team) yet somehow continue to survive and get things done. It’s a miracle really! We’re working on sleep training Johannah but it’s a process that takes time…in the meanwhile, we’ll keep doing the best we can with the sleep we get.
I can do SO much with just one arm/hand. Johannah has gotten sturdy enough for me to hold her with one arm while doing things in the house with the other. From taking vitamins and making a smoothie to doing laundry and even typing a blog post (slow and steady wins the race), I marvel at (and am grateful for) how much I can accomplish with a single limb.
When something doesn’t work, keep trying things until something does. Thankfully, Johannah is an exceptionally happy baby, but even with the wealth of smiles comes tears and figuring out why she is crying and how to help her stop is a series of trial and error. I find myself running through a mental checklist…does she need to be changed? Is it time for feeding? Will a pacifier suffice? Does she just need to be held and bounced? If so, in my arms standing up or on my knees/lap? Will a swaddle calm her down? Is she too hot? Too cold? Will some music or a toy change her mood? Is this teething or gas pain? Try the pacifier again? Seriously, it’s just trying things calmly (I’m a big believer in emotional contagion…stress and anxiety is transmittable, even to a baby) until one of them works. This is a good lesson for life in general, too, no?
Accept help…being capable and allowing others to assist are not mutually exclusive. I have always done my best to be independent and self-sufficient; however, when you try to do everything yourself, you run the risk of overextending and getting mightily burned out. Even though it is a challenge for me, I am learning to take help–from my parents, my husband, a friend–when appropriate because a burned out mom (or person in general, for that matter!) is not an effective one. Just because I can do something, doesn’t always mean I should.
It’s OK to adjust your life pacing because baby comes first and grows quickly. I’ve lived by a planner for as long as I can remember. There is a profound joy in “getting things done” and I’ve sought to be as productive as possible with the tasks and responsibilities in my life. Having a baby has helped me to mellow out on the to-do lists…yes, there is still much (if not more!) to do, but I’ve had to grow more comfortable with not getting it done within the timeline I originally envisioned. Blog posts and shoots may take longer (but they’ll always be from my heart and the best of my mind) and laundry may sit on the chair beckoning to be sorted for more than a day or two, but this little baby life I’ve been vested to take care of is my top priority and I don’t want to miss moments with her, just to have the peace of mind that comes with checking things off a massive (and never-ending, I might add) list. Thank you for loyally hanging in there with me with me as my pacing continues to evolve!
(1) Crib: I found our gold metal crib at Crate and Barrel (which is currently having an insane winter sale, by the way) a month before Johannah was born and purchasing it made her impending arrival feel all the more real. I liked the classic lines, subtly gilded color and ability for it to easily transition to a toddler bed over time (the rails are removable) so the decision to buy it was easy. Although Johannah doesn’t use it yet (she still sleeps in our room in a bassinet…keep reading for more details on this), it definitely is the centerpiece of her nursery, lending a warm and timeless vibe to the space.
(2) Lighting: Tonally and stylistically, this lamp effortlessly works with the crib. It illuminates a room without overpowering it and the on/off button is activated by one’s foot (super easy in the darkness of night). I love it so much, I am thinking about picking up another one for our living room!
(3) Fisher Price Auto Rock n’ Play Sleeper: When they found out that Johannah was coming, the kind team at Clé de Peau Beauté gifted me this genius apparatus, assuring me that it was a favorite for new moms. The minute I lay Johannah in it, I understood its appeal. It’s lightweight yet sturdy, portable (it folds flat), is perfect for naps and, because it rocks, its great to entertain baby while keeping her safe and comfortable in the living room. Consequently, we’ve used this every single day since receiving it.
(4) Stroller: I orginally saw the genius Doona Strolleron Instagram and instantly was intrigued by the fact that it was both a car seat and a low-profile stroller. Before having Johannah, I was resolute that whatever stroller we purchased would be on the smaller side and this innovation fit the bill. When attached to the LATCH base (it comes with one and extras can ordered…we have one in each of our cars and one in my parents’ car), it is a car seat. Once removed, pressing a lever will release the wheels to convert it to a fully-equipped stroller. It’s easy to maneuver (even with one hand) and, to date, is our best baby gear investment…and it fits newborns all the way to 35 lbs. Invaluable!
We also added the Doona Snap-on Storage bag for times when we’re out all day. The bag is compact but holds a ton…multiple bottles, outfits, blankets, toys and even my jacket/keys without adding bulk to the stroller. Highly recommended!
(5) Bassinet: When preparing for Johannah’s arrival, my mom insisted that we’d want a bassinet in addition to her crib. Not knowing anything about any of it, I took her advice and she was right, indeed. The Halo Innovations Bassinest has a sturdy (read: heavy but therefore safe) base that fits right under one’s bed so that the bassinet can hover (and swivel) bedside, making nighttime feedings etc. extremely convenient. The edge even bends down so that baby can be taken out of the bassinet with a lot of effort, allowing them to stay asleep while being moved. This particular model also has vibration, lights and soothing sounds to enhance baby’s slumber. I cannot imagine going without this and love that Johannah can sleep separately while still remaining so near.
(6) Dock-a-Tot Stage 1: This portable lounger/sleeper can be placed on a bed (especially useful during travel), couch or even the floor to keep baby safe and secure. Expensive but worth it for the first two years of life!
(7) Dresser/Changing Table: I fell in love with the timeless appeal of this white and brass dresser. The drawers are roomy and glide open and closed with ease and we added a changing table tray topper (which can be removed later on when not needed) for additional versatility. I hope to buy another one soon to round out her nursery…I feel like the style will work seamlessly for all the stages of Johannah’s childhood.
(8) Evenflo ExerSaucer 2-in-1 Activity Center and Table: This activity center is bright and lively yet totally doable for a minimalist living room. Well-constructed and full of texture and sound, Johannah can play in this for 30+ minutes and we love that she is learning along the way.
(10) Swaddling Cloths: We have well over 20 of these 100% cotton swaddles which work well to envelope the baby, help her sleep, line her bassinet, and be a light stroller blanket. The Aden + Anais brand seems to make the best as they are soft yet not slippery (which isn’t ideal for a swaddle as it won’t stay put). Give them to any new moms in your life…they will thank you.
(12) Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier: There are so many baby carriers on the market but the Ergobaby is the gold standard in our experience. With quality craftsmanship and customizable adjustments that allow both my husband and me to wear the same model with ease, this is an optimal way to carry Johannah around comfortably while simultaneously having our hands free.
(13) Mustela No-Rinse Micellar Water: This formula completely eradicated the light case of baby acne that Johannah had at 2 months of age. It cleanses and soothes without irritation and we continue to use it daily (applied on a cotton pad) to maintain her beautifully bouncy and rosy complexion.
(14) Bumbo Floor Seat (in Duck Egg): As Johannah continues to grow, her need to sit upright safely will increase. We preemptively ordered this adorable seat to help her do this securely (there’s even a seat belt)…she loves it and isn’t this particular color so fetching?
(15) Babyletto Tally Storage Bookshelf: It’s my goal to have books be major and meaningful part of Johannah’s life and so we added a bookshelf to our registry early on. This charming white wooden version has deep shelves that expertly and neatly store books and toys alike. P.S. Still working on figuring out what our favorite baby books are but all things Sophie la Girafe are adorable in the meanwhile.
(16) Water Wipes: We were given packs of these at our baby shower and have never deviated since! Not particularly exciting but extremely necessary, Water Wipes are incredibly pure (99.9% water and a touch of fruit extract…no fragrance whatsoever) and wildly effective. Easily available on Amazon, we just ordered another box of 720…truly nothing better (or cleaner) on the market.
(17)Comotomo Bottles: We experimented with a variety of bottles during the first few weeks of Johannah’s life and found the Comotomo Bottles to be the absolute best. They are flexible and easy to clean and, due to their unique silicon nipple top, simulate the sensory experience of nursing. They come in multiple sizes (we’ve recently sized up as Johannah drinks more formula than she used to, of course) and will continue to use them as long as she needs a bottle.
(18) Baby Knee-high Stocking Socks: Every time Johannah wears these socks (a good old Amazon find!), she gets compliments galore. They’re just too cute. They come in a variety of colors to brighten up an outfit and stay put above the knees for hours on end. She now has at least 12 pairs with more on the horizon!
(20) Mia’s Moccasins: Speaking of eclectic, is there anything cuter than a pair of baby moccasins? This particular version, made by Mia’s Mocs is ultra soft and flexible and comes with extra wool in the toes to make sure that a single size lasts for a phase or two of baby’s life. She’ll be ready for a new pair in spring colors soon enough!
Getting ready to walk into 2019 but taking advantage of the plethora of sales in the meanwhile.
// End of the Year Sales I’m Shopping // This is the time to get serious markdowns on clothes you can wear this minute…stretching one’s dollar has never been easier.
Nordstrom: Save up to 50% during the Half Yearly Sale…I’m loving this Vince alpaca coat in the prettiest shade of nude, Maje jeans (bought a size 38 for a looser fit) and Aquatalia Water Resistant booties. While your at it, I implore you to take a look at the brilliant Spanx Faux Leather Leggings; I’ve mentioned them countless times on the blog and, though they are not on sale, they are well worth the investment. I cannot recommend them enough for their comfort, durability and extreme slimming effect.
Bottom Line: In the almost 7 years that I have maintained Beauty Professor, this is the first non-beauty-related post I’ve ever written and I hope you enjoyed the departure from my normal content! Johannah Elle’s arrival into our lives has definitely changed our day-to-day in the most sublime way and I hope that my musings and recommendations have been helpful for you or someone you might know who is getting ready to welcome a baby into their lives.
Please let me know what may have caught your eye!
Good things ahead, including a Best of 2019 video, an on-location story, a New Year’s Eve look, some travel beauty (headed to the tropics soon!) and a host of new product procurements. Cannot wait to share!
i always enjoy reading your post. good luck with the little one, she's really cute
Loved this post Rachel! As a mum of two, I can relate to the changes babies make in our busy working lives and these tips will be very helpful to new mums.. It's the little things that make all the difference ?. Just started sale shopping with underwear and pajamas ?.. Not very exciting but much needed and a pair of boots. I also like to check out clothes for the boys. There are so many jeans and t-shirts in winter collections that can be used in early spring, and boys grow up so fast… Have a blessed new year and may 2019 be an incredible year full of new discoveries!