This being our second trip to the baby rodeo hopefully means that we’re a bit wiser going in. We can cherry-pick from what worked well with Clara while trying to improve on some things that might need fine tuning. Of course every kid is different and what worked for baby #1 may not apply for #2 – so we’re just waiting for those curve balls to come flying towards us – but since you guys have been asking, here are five things we’re planning to redo (as in do again or use again) and five things that we’ll do new. And because they pair up nicely, we’ll look at ‘em side-by-side. Note: None of the links in this post are affiliate links.
AGAIN – Angel Care Monitor: This was one of 5 newborn “lifesavers” that we shared after Clara was born – just for the peace of mind that it gave us (no getting out of bed to watch the baby breathe). It’s not for everyone, but we found it really comforting, and it soothed a lot of our new-parent anxiety. It’s basically a sound monitor with a motion-sensitive pad that slides under the crib mattress to detect when baby’s breathing (and sound an alarm if it stops). We ordered an attachment (by calling Angel Care directly) with two pads to minimize false alarms once Clara got a bit wigglier (she’d roll out of the single pad’s detection area) and were really happy with it, so we’ll be reusing it while the baby boy snoozes. We’ve also gotten the free cord cover kit that fixes the recent recall issue.
NEW – Video Monitor: We never used a video monitor with Clara, but now that we’ll often be on a separate floor during nap times (along with occasionally having two kids sleeping at the same time, so an audio monitor might be confusing in that “which one is crying?” way) we decided to add a video monitor to the mix. We got the Levana Lila (bought with a trial membership to Amazon Mom) and we found an awesome spot in the nursery where it can peek out from behind the curtain, making the monitor and its cord nearly invisible in the room (there’s an outlet right beneath it that also hides behind the curtain).
AGAIN – Crib Sleeping: You already know that we’re using Clara’s crib again, but we also plan to reuse our technique to start crib sleeping from the very beginning. Our first house didn’t have much room for a bedroom bassinet and Clara’s nursery was just steps away, so she slept in her room from the moment she came home. We have a more spacious bedroom here, but baby boy will just be on the other side of the wall (about ten steps away) – and crib sleeping from the start worked so well with Clara that we’re gonna try it again. We liked that it spared us an extra transition from bassinet to crib down the road, and she was a pretty epic sleeper so we don’t want to change much up in that arena.
NEW – Sound Machine: We used a sound machine with Clara and we will most definitely use one again. But since we can’t steal Clara’s (she still wants “the ocean on” every night) we had to get something new. For her nursery, we had chosen an iPod dock with Sherry’s old iPod loaded with a CD called “Natural White Noise for Babies” on a loop (we thought the iPod would be nice so we could use it to play music down the road too). But rather than splurge on a new iPod and dock, we decided this simple $20 standalone sound machine would work well for the bun (we can always get him a music player down the line if he misses that perk).
AGAIN – Ergo Carrier: Baby-wearing was our preferred method of Clara transport in the early months. Sherry had a sling, but since Clara often took that as her cue to nurse, I mostly wore her in our Ergo Carrier. It held up great and we just recently broke it out and gave it a wash so it’s ready to go again.
NEW – Double Stroller: Clara rarely uses a stroller anymore (day-to-day she either walks or shopping carts it) so we debated whether we’d even need a double stroller at all. But we still like to take long family walks/hikes using our jogging stroller (longer than Clara can last on her own) and she also likes to hop in beside her younger cousins in their double strollers when they’re around, so we took the plunge. Well, Sherry’s mom plunged for us as a new baby gift. We jumped right to a jogging stroller (the double-version of the single InStep Safari we got when Clara was 1) instead of getting a lighter-duty model since that works well for longer hikes without smooth paths as well as long neighborhood walks. I don’t anticipate jogging with both of them often, but it’s nice to know it can do that too. And for the day-to-day stuff we’ll probably just use the Ergo with Clara walking (or in her single stroller if there’s a ton of walking to be done).
AGAIN – Cloth Diapers: The BumGenius cloth diapers that we bought for Clara have held up really well, so for now we plan to use the dozen that we have, and might add six more to our stash as we need them. Like Clara, we won’t transition to cloth until he grows into them (it took Clara a few months but then she could use the same one-size-fits-all diapers for 2+ years). Also like Clara, he won’t be exclusively cloth diapered. We found with her that mixing in the occasional disposable (mostly for extended periods away from home or overnight towards the end of her diapering time) was what worked for us, so we’re going to try that again.
NEW – Honest Diapers: We’re gonna give Honest Co. diapers a try this time before the bun fits into our one-size-fits-all cloth ones, instead of sticking to Seventh Generation ones like we did with Clara. We’ve heard lots of good things about them from a few friends and I’m liking the idea of signing up for a bundle that arrives without having to think about it (we’ll take all the help we can get in those bleary newborn days). Plus, I can’t deny that the designs on Honest diapers are pretty sweet (dude, they have bikes).
AGAIN – Car Seat: Baby Barnacle will also be using Clara’s infant car seat, since Clara’s Chicco KeyFit 30 is in great shape, still meets all current safety standards, hasn’t been dropped or in an accident (you definitely want to replace a used seat that has), is a neutral gray & green color scheme, and shouldn’t expire until the bun outgrows it (it’s good for 6 years from the manufacture date). Is it wrong that I’m kinda looking forward to the days of snap-and-go seat again?
NEW – Car: He won’t be riding in a hand-me-down car though. Yup, we got a new ride. It hit us that our family of five would have a hard time taking road trips in our Nissan Altima (and I very intentionally include Burger in that number, because his crate takes up a whole seat – let alone all the pack & play/baby gear we’ll be toting along). So we traded it in for a 2014 Toyota Highlander because, after some research and test driving, it felt like the best mix of family hauling & DIY hauling for us (it has a collapsible third row). It was a bit of a splurge for us, but having saved by only buying used vehicles before (we drove our first Nissan past 170,000 miles and our second one over 100,000) it still fit into our budget and got us some features that we lacked before: back-up camera, Bluetooth, and (Sherry’s favorite) heated seats. Plus, Clara’s digging the little book caddy I rigged up for her.
I’m sure every family has different scenarios and needs, so I’d be interested to hear what you guys reused or redid vs. what you changed or upgraded when baby #2 came along. Did anyone else feel a huge relief in that their “to do/buy” list was a lot shorter with their second child? It’s nice to have a lot of the basics covered already.
Psst – For more baby/kid related posts, there’s newborn paraphernalia we liked, keeping baby stuff simple, cloth diapering, battling kid clutter, saving money on baby stuff, baby led weaning, 14 months of breastfeeding, being a stay at home dad, baby toiletries, and kid clothes.
A few years ago I chronicled how my not-nearly-a-seamstress buns were
compelled possessed to make a quilt for the bean.
And here I am a few years later (after a tornado of thread and a surprisingly successful sewing machine date) with another homemade quilt – this time for our baby boy on the way.
I don’t think I would have been so into making him a quilt if Clara hadn’t grown so attached to hers. She not only has slept with it pretty much every night since I finished it…
… but she brings it in the car for road trips, and even drags it downstairs to to the sofa for lazy Saturday snuggling.
The sweetest thing about it is that John has told her a few times that mommy sewed it just for her, so every once in a while when she hugs me or kisses me goodnight she leans in and whispers “thank you for my beautiful quilt.” Yup, just typing that made me tear up. She’s the best.
So I wanted to make something for my little man to hopefully love just as much, but I thought it might be fun to try a different method this time. I hedged for a while, not really sure where to begin, and then I saw this awesome hand-stitched quilt and knew it was just the inspiration I was looking for (it’s by Citta Design, but sadly no longer for sale).
I love how charming that sweetly imperfect hand-done stitching is. Each line is irregular enough to clearly not be machine-made, and it feels so full of love thanks to those slightly varied dashes. So I decided to give it a try…
Here’s a list of my materials:
- one square yard of white diamond-quilt fabric from JoAnn (the kind with a quilted cotton front and back with some thin batting sandwiched in the middle), which came to $4 after using a 40% off coupon that I googled for on my phone
- 17 little packs of embroidery floss in a variety of colors from Michaels – like chartreuse, kelly green, pale green, teal, navy, and lime (I actually bought 5 of each of those colors for a total of 30 packs, but ended up returning 13 of them, so at 27 cents each, the 17 that I used rang in at $4.59)
- a leftover pack of embroidery needles, which just look like giant sewing needles and can be threaded with embroidery floss instead of string (they were originally 99 cents at JoAnn when I bought them for a book project a few years back)
- my sewing machine (I already had Oh Brother all loaded up with white thread)
All told, I spent under $10 to make this quilt (and about ten million love-filled man-hours spaced across a weeks’ worth of evenings, but we’ll get to that in a second). While I was pre-washing my quilt fabric (I thought it was best to let it shrink up before I embroidered it), my first step was just to decide what type of stitched pattern I liked best. I debated everything from evenly spaced lines like the ones in the inspiration image to some sort of diagonal or crosshatched design, but in the end, the idea of some simple stripes in varying tones of blue and green won out.
I just started from the left side of the quilt and hand stitched four different lines of embroidery floss – each one in a different color.
I made sure not to double up my thread (I kept it single like the inspiration quilt, which meant threading the needle like this with a little excess, but not looping it all the way down and knotting it like I do when I sew a button with regular thread).
After completing my first “stripe” (which was comprised of four different stitched lines that went from top to bottom) I used the diamonds on the quilted fabric to roughly space the next stripe about two diamonds away. That way I could keep the spacing somewhat even, although I did some of the stripes 4-stitched-lines wide and some of them 3-wide, just for variety. I really do love how the inspiration quilt is unmistakably done by hand – and it doesn’t hurt that I couldn’t make something look perfectly spaced if I tried.
The diamonds in the embroidery fabric also helped me keep my lines somewhat straight from top to bottom. For example, if I started one hand-stitched line at the peak of a diamond, as I stitched from the bottom of my fabric to the top, I made sure to connect each diamond peak as I went. This kept me from veering off too far to the right or left.
Now let’s talk about the time factor. You know I like to keep it real with you guys, and I’d never say “fast and easy” if something takes forever. Well, the good news is that this quilt is mad cute. The bad news is that it takes forever. I don’t know if I’m slow or just easily distracted by Housewives drama (I did it every night across about a week while sitting on the sofa watching TV), but my average was about 3-4 stripes (made up of either three or four colors) a night, which took about 2 hours.
So all told, this 16-stripe one-yard quilt (well technically there are 57 stripes, but they’re spaced to look like 16 thicker ones) took me around 11 hours in total (including one more hour spent hemming the outside seams with a sewing machine, which actually wasn’t too bad).
Even though it took a while, it wasn’t one of those torturous projects that makes you want to poke your own eyeballs out (that’s painting blue trim or peeling wallpaper, FYI). It’s more like one of those relaxing repetitive motions you can do at night from the sofa, where your butt might be parked anyway. But instead of taking quizzes on Buzzfeed or scrolling around on Instagram, you get to be stitching something while snuggled under a blanket with your chihuahua and feeling pretty dang quaint about it.
As for how I knotted each stripe, I just tied off the top of each one with the thread still on the needle on the top edge of the back of the quilt. And then on the bottom edge I cut the embroidery floss off with about 7″ to spare so I could slip my needle back onto that end and knot it there as well. That left me with a seam full of knots like this along each edge (top and bottom) on the backside of the quilt.
Once I got about a third of the way done with my stripes (working from left to right), I started on the right side and worked from right to left to get about a third of the way done with that side. Then I bounced back and forth doing every other stripe on each side, as I got closer and closer to the middle of the quilt, which allowed me to space everything so it was somewhat symmetrical. It probably would have been just as easy to work from left to right and use that two-diamond spacing, but I might have had to trim off a few inches of the quilt at the end if everything didn’t line up perfectly, and I liked the idea of a square quilt.
Allow me to share this creepy low-lit iPhone pic to demonstrate how I sort of worked in towards the middle.
To hem the edges I broke out the ol’ sewing machine and said a few prayers to the sewing machine gods. I’m paraphrasing, but they were something like “please let me make it through this attempt without throwing this thing out the window or revealing my evil sailor-mouthed alter ego to my sweet husband in the next room.” Then I just folded each edge over in the back, took three deep cleansing breaths, and stitched them in that folded position.
This hid the knots on the top and bottom but there was still not a finished edge along the back hem, so I folded each of them over again and did one more stitch-session with each side for a nice finished look from the back and front. This is the front:
And here’s what it looks like from the back:
Lo and behold, I only broke two needles (that’s not a joke, I really managed to break two needles) but I think it came out really sweet.
Can’t wait to meet this little bun and wrap him up with all sorts of love and quilt-y snuggles.
Right now it’s just chilling in the nursery, waiting for the big arrival.
Is anyone else sewing anything for their kiddos? Friends or relatives? Four-legged babies? Have you ever tried hand-stitching or embroidery? It’s oddly restful. Sort of like hand hypnosis.