Wednesday, July 27, 2011

top baby/toddler products for the adopted child

This morning as I unzipped the crib tent to free my twenty-six month old I thought, again, how thankful I am to have the cover over the crib. This crib tent has been a great source of conversation over the years and I have heard my fair share of jokes about "locking" my little ones into the crib. But it has been a lifesaver for my sanity. And if you don't have children adopted from an orphanage setting you may not understand this, but think about it. We didn't bring home an infant when we returned from China, we brought home a walking and curious fifteen month old. A fifteen month old who had never seen stairs or a western toilet. He had never seen a stove or a bathtub. He had never seen a refrigerator. Our house, which had been reviewed for safety by both both our adoption assessor and a fireman, truly might not have been as safe for our new little one as we thought it was. And a fifteen month old can catapult himself out of a crib in no time. We didn't know our new little guy all that well yet. With a newborn, as they grow, you see their abilities begin to development and can plan for the safety features you need to install, before they are needed. We didn't initially have that luxury. I had no idea if our son could turn the knob and open the bathroom door. I didn't know if he could lift the toilet seat lid or catapult himself into the tub. I didn't know if he could reach over and turn on the hot water or open the stove. If that crib tent hadn't kept him safely inside his crib I might not have slept at all those first few months.

So as I lifted my smiling baby out of his crib this morning I was thankful, again, for the tent that kept him snug as a bug inside the crib all night. Which got me thinking about the other baby items I couldn't have lived without. Bringing home an older baby means stocking the nursery with a completely different set of baby items. Here is what I couldn't have lived without. (and am still using!)

  • crib tent. could not live without it.
  • sippy cup tether. tethers sippy cups, snack cups and toys to strollers, high chairs, car seats and grocery carts. my youngest son is very attached to a rather large stuffed cat that accompanies us most places and who seems to love to leap from the grocery cart or stroller on a pretty regular basis. the tether works as a "leash" and keeps kitty always within arms reach. i keep three of these tethers in the diaper bag at all times and we use them nearly every time we leave the house.
  • kinder kord. there is a lot of discussion out there over the use of tethers to keep a young child close. And I used to be on the side of "we don't leash our children". then I had a child with poor hearing who didn't understand danger, or the English language all that well. after trying a few varieties I finally settled on the kinder kord and I love it. with the backpack tethers my little guy kept falling over. the kinder kord simply attaches to his wrist and to mine, so he can still walk next to me and hold my hand while still being free to explore his expanding world. I could not have lived without this amazing little device, especially at amusement parks, fairs, and the zoo. and even better news is that these kords can be hooked together, so I can tether the two children together to me, if needed.
  • snack trap. all little ones like snacks and all little ones seem to spill them all over everywhere within twenty seconds of being handed said snack. Snacks are especially important to some children who spent time in an orphanage. I didn't notice this so much with my first child but my youngest son needs to know there is food available at all times. he doesn't overeat or constantly demand food but he does need to know it is always there for him. to this end he carries around his little snack trap cup pretty much everywhere he goes. and now the mess is minimized. we are no longer leaving a trail of puffs and cheerios everywhere we go!
  • individualized photo story book. anyone can put photos in a book, right? when our adopted children head off to daycare, usually just a few short months after joining their forever family, they can experience a higher level of anxiety than a child who begins daycare as an infant. I found that sending my children to their new daycare with a photo album of his family and home really helped with that anxiety. using a service such as shutterfly allowed me to write captions and narratives in the picture book, assuring me that my son's new teachers were using adoption appropriate language and saying the same phrases we were telling our sons at home. my youngest son just started daycare this week and it is very important to me that he understand that "mommy will be back at the end of the day" and that "your older brother, matthew, is just down the hall from you today".
  • toddler handle. this tricky little device has been a godsend. it easily attaches to the stroller and allows my four year old to hang on to the stroller and walk right next to me through busy parking lots. it is also great for those moments when the two year old refuses to sit in the stroller but still needs to be right next to me. having a child who doesn't know the language and doesn't understand danger can be truly terrifying and this handle really puts my mind at ease, while allowing for freedom, something every child craves.
  • cell phone skin. all babies like cell phones and all babies like to chew on everything they touch. the difference with an older baby is that while they still have the need to chew on things they are not interested in traditional baby teethers. assuring my blackberry has a soft cover allows my little guy to look at photos of himself and his brother, listen to music, or watch a video, all while keeping my phone  dry and teeth mark free!
  • hip panda baby carrier. this is my all time favorite baby/toddler accessory. I could not live without it. all adoptive parents know how important baby carriers are; wearing your baby is the single most important bonding technique. But if you are not adopting a tiny little one sometimes it is hard to find a way to wear your baby. not willing to compromise on this I spent hours searching for the perfect product and I found it in the Hip Panda. these amazing slings are soft and very comfortable to wear, with the baby sitting on your hip, which is great for an older baby/toddler. and they are made to order, fit to your exact measurements, which assures comfort for the mama as well. these carriers are for more than trekking through the mall. not only did I wear both my boys while traveling through their birth countries but I wore them both at home. I am still wearing the younger one. not only is this a great way to bond but it also allowed me to complete household chores such as laundry and cooking while caring for a child who wouldn't let me put him down. with the carrier both arms are free so it is a win win for both mommy and baby!
These are my cannot live without, all time favorite baby/toddler items for the adopted child. Not a day goes by that I don't use these amazing products!

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