People make it sound so easy.  “Oh, it must be nice to be able to work from home, so that you can take care of your baby!”  I mean, it is, and even I thought it would be easy before I actually had to do it.  But as it turns out, babies need a lot of attention.  Duh.  Gigantic understatement. 😛

You know what’s saved my life on numerous occasions?

Ack, I just realized in this picture it’s on the precipice of the futon.  It’s not usually that precarious, I swear!
Among other things, this Fisher Price rocker. (They’re not even paying me for this, either!  Although that is an Amazon affiliate link, for full disclosure.) Stephen pretty much lived in this for a while…he would only ever sleep in this, and couldn’t stand sleeping in the Pack and Play we had for him (he didn’t like lying flat, because he had reflux, and the rocking chair elevated him a bit).  Then I would just move the rocker into the studio for the day, park it next to my computer, and let him nap in there in between feedings and playtime.
What other baby gear do you need as a work-at-home mom?  Well, let me tell you:

Tired Mom Selfie!  I have tons of those. 😛
This, right here.  The ErgoBaby carrier has been a great thing to have too…I haven’t tried any other types of carriers or methods of babywearing, but this one works for me.  It took some getting used to, and I still find it hard to do anything that involves a lot of bending down with it on (laundry, loading dishwasher, etc.) but it gives me two-handed computer time!  
And I can also carry the baby in it while I’m using this handy thing…
Product photos from Amazon
Seriously.  At one point, I said to my husband, “you know, I don’t remember when the last time was that I made dinner NOT from the crock pot, do you?”  It’s really hard to cook anything labor-intensive with a baby.  And by labor-intensive, I mean that even these no-bake bars were kinda difficult to achieve (but I did achieve them, and they were delicious!).  But this makes things so easy!  If nothing else, I can throw in some chicken, a bottle of buffalo sauce, and then shred that and put it on buns with ranch, lettuce, and tomatoes, and you have buffalo chicken sandwiches.  Or put in some chicken and salsa, and bam, burrito filling.  Or take that same chicken and salsa, add some broth, canned beans, canned corn, and you have tortilla soup, just crumble some corn chips on top.  Simple.
I’ve also started making freezer-to-crock-pot meals, mostly from this post and some of her other ones like it.  Lifesaving.  The week before Stephen came home from the NICU, I made half a dozen meals, and those lasted us a couple months (well, freezer meals alternated with pizza or pre-made things from the grocery store like rotisserie chickens and bagged salads).  

Apparently babies like to look at high-contrast pictures with simple shapes at first.  So all that watercolory pastel nursery art (which I am guilty of making, too!) is not actually their preference of things to look at.  He seems to like this mobile with black and white pictures, though, and he can occupy himself with it for quite a while…and we have this “car seat gallery” of black and white cards too, and that’s just fun.

Stephen has two play mats, this one given by his aunt and another that was a hand-me-down from my husband’s coworker.  They’re awesome.  It’s fun to watch him go from just staring at the hanging-down toys, to reaching for them, and then kicking them.  His other play mat has inch measurements on it too, which is really cool, because you can see easily how “tall” he’s getting! (and his dad is 6’4″, I’m 5’7″…he’s gonna be tall.)

Sadly, Stephen has had just about every gastrointestinal ailment known to babykind.  I’m not sure if gripe water actually works, but it seems to, or at least it makes me feel better to be able to give it to him.  We had to take out the big guns and get a prescription medication for his reflux, though, but we still use this.  I just get the store brand at the grocery store, it’s less than half the price and it works just as well.

Before having a baby, I had thought burp cloths seemed silly.  Boy, was I wrong.  You really can never have too many. 
We have different colors of these pacifiers all over our house.  Seriously, everywhere.  These work better than other brands, for some reason.

I’ve admired Orla Kiely for a while now, and when I saw that she had a line of diaper bags at Target, I couldn’t resist this one.  I felt like I needed to get a fairly neutral-looking diaper bag, at least on the outside, for my husband’s sake. 😛 I wasn’t going to get one of those cutesy Vera Bradley-esque patterned ones, and chevrons are out of the question.  But this one has a cute green lining, which I like, and yet it still doesn’t embarrass my husband.  It’s a good compromise. 😉  

Forget about the Diaper Genie, man…that thing kinda creeps me out, anyway.  At the moment we’re just using a regular trash can with a lid, and if there’s a diaper that, er, is not very fresh-smelling…I just put them in one of these diaper bags.  It’s like the poop bags you bring to the dog park for your dogs!  Except for diapers!  I also do this whenever I need to change diapers in public so they don’t stink up the public bathroom trash. (Stephen, aren’t you so glad I’m posting this on the internet?  Ha ha…)
And on that note…
I’ve always liked the Mrs. Meyer’s products scents.  The lavender candle is an especially good nursery scent, I think, because it smells soothing, and these candles REALLY block out smells, in a way that not all candles do.  And when you’re working at home, you really want your environment to smell nice, since it’s the only place you go.  So thank you, Mrs. Meyer, whoever you are!

Now, on the other hand, here’s stuff that I had wanted/bought prior to baby-having that hasn’t worked or I haven’t needed:

  • the special anti-colic Dr. Brown’s bottles.  I don’t know why, but Stephen was just not able to eat out of these.  And there were too many darn little parts.
  • all the breastfeeding accouterments I got (pump; nursing bras; the bra maxi pad things to, y’know, prevent leakage; nipple creams; etc).  Well okay, they worked, but I ended up not needing them since I couldn’t breastfeed.  That really is a whole other post for a whole other time, since I have a lot of thoughts on this subject…well, at least I got some new, well-fitting bras out of the deal!
  • not one but TWO giant bottles of hand sanitizer.  Since they were so stringent about germs in the NICU (and for good reason!), I had thought I would be the hand sanitizer nazi when we got him home too.  That lasted about three days.
  • the eco-friendly Seventh Generation diapers.  I got some of these, but they smell weird (before being used, even!), and it’s turned out to be way more economical to just get the Costco store brand.  Wipes: ditto.
  • any sort of fancy soy or anti-colic formula.  Costco brand once again, baby!  Costs half as much, and apparently tastes just as good, I wouldn’t know.
  • bibs…maybe just because he isn’t on solid foods yet, but I haven’t needed ’em yet.
  • a fancy baby-food-making blender.  Again, he’s not on solids yet, but I have resisted the urge to go get a Nutribullet solely for baby food purposes. 

You know, to stay on the ostensible topic of this blog, I should do these lists for art supplies…god knows I’ve bought some useless (or absurdly single-purpose) art gadgets in my time, and also some really cool useful ones that I ended up using over and over again.  That’s a whooooole ‘nother post, though.