Essentials: 6-9 Months

The next post in my Essentials series is about the items we found to be essential while the twins were 6-9 months old.  A lot of the items are things on the Essentials:  3-6 Months post, but a few have been added, especially items around feeding solid food and safety.

Record Keeping
We still use the Double Time Twins book and Itzbeen timers from the birth to 3 months and 3-6 months posts.  While I think they are becoming less essential now that the girls are both very established in their routine and simultaneously becoming more flexible without disruption of overnight sleep, we still use them daily and find they are very useful for our daytime nanny or babysitter’s use.  It also helps with evaluating if our routine changes, say from two naps to one, are actually working or not.

Bottle and Solid Food Feeding
At six months old, our twins were weaned from breast milk, and we continued the organic infant formula we had used for supplementation.  Other bottle feeding items still used from the birth to 3 months and 3-6 months posts include:  good feeding bottles (we use AVENT bottles and starting at 5 months the medium flow #3 nipples), bibs (we’re in love with the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs), bottle brush, large capacity microwave sterilizer, Munchkin bottle warmers, extra-large cloth diapers for cleanup, and two feeding chairs (our Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chairs have been invaluable).  We also stared solid food right when the girls turned six months old so new essential items for the adventures in solid food feeding include:

  • Bowls – We bought the Sassy First Solid Feeding Bowl with Spoon, because of the two separated compartments and thumb hole that would allow an easy one-handed grip.  Because we are always feeding two babies, we usually choose two different baby foods to feed and split them (so each baby gets, for example, half a jar of one food and half a jar of another food), which makes the two compartments very convenient.  If we weren’t feeding two babies or two different foods per meal, I don’t think the separated compartments would necessarily be useful.
  • Spoons – We started out with the classic soft-bite spoons, which worked great at first.  However, we quickly moved to other spoons with larger scoops as they learned what spoons were for and were able to take larger bites.
  • Food – We chose to feed organic cereals, fruits, and vegetables, and while I’d like to say we made all of our own organic baby foods, the truth is that we used mostly pre-made purees in jars and pouches.  Brands we fed most often were/are Earth’s Best, Plum Organics, Ella’s Kitchen, and Happy Baby.  We’ve stayed away from jarred/pouched meats; even though they may be organic, it’s difficult to know what part of the animal the meat came from.  We did give very small pieces of chicken breast we cooked ourselves at home, and they seemed to like it!
  • Cheerios® – Plain ol’ Cheerios deserve their own bullet in this list.  Without them, one of our girls probably wouldn’t have eaten any finger foods for weeks, and my frustration tolerance for feeding her pureed food with a spoon would have been reduced to zero.  Luckily, her palate is expanding…slowly.

Continued essentials from the 3-6 months post include:  cribs, extra firm crib mattresses, tight-fitting crib sheets, baby monitor (we use the Angelcare Baby Sound Monitor), and HALO Sleep Sacks.  I can’t think of anything additional that was absolutely essential for sleeping during the 6-9 month old phase!

Awake Time / Play Time
Around six months old, they really began interacting with each other, and since then their communication and play with each other has seemingly increased exponentially.  A lot of the time they play side-by-side, though many times they actually play with each other.  We still use our family-made quilts every day to semi-protect our babies from the rental carpet (eww!) and the carpet from getting even more stained from carrot, sweet potato, etc.  I can only think of one additional item that has been absolutely essential during 6-9 months:

  • Play yard – We have the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper Original that we used as a co-sleeper when the girls were newborns, but now it exists as a play yard in our living room.  Since the twins have gained mobility, this has been essential for containing one or both whenever we need to step out of the room for a minute (you know, to use the restroom), while making/setting up one of their meals, or when putting both down for a nap/sleep by yourself (their room is upstairs from the living room so it is necessary to put one in a safe place while carrying them up the stairs individually).  The other nice thing about using the co-sleeper in the play yard configuration is that it is slightly larger than other play yards and has a higher weight limit (making it great for two babies!).

While none of the following toys are technically essential, play items that have been very popular with our girls during 6-9 months old include:

  • Lamaze Rainbow Stacking Rings – As with the 3-6 months post, toys that crinkle were a big hit.  This colorful set of stacking rings all crinkle and are easy for tiny hands to grasp.  One of the girls has developed quite the affinity for the red ring in particular and for a while carried it everywhere she crawled.
  • Teethers – The past three months has seen the cutting of five teeth so we’ve tried a large number of different teethers.  Favorites include the Razbaby RaZ-berry Teether, Nuby Silicone Teether with Bristles, and Munchkin Fun Ice Chewy Teether (hand).
  • Mini Orchestra – This set of 4 musical instruments is just perfect for small hands to hold, and just the smallest shake produces interesting and different sounds.  Very popular.
  • LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table – This was a hand-me-down from Molly’s sister and our first (note that I’m not saying “only” here) toy that makes electronic sounds.  Before this hand-me-down, Molly and I said we were going to avoid these types of toys at all costs…and then, in a moment of desperation, we put this on the floor and flipped the switch to “on.”  They were both instantly attracted to it like flies to a bug-zapper, and there was no stopping them.  They L-O-V-E this thing, and I have to say it works well for them to pull to standing.  But thankfully the switch also has an “off” position.  We like to call it the “over-stimulation station.”
  • Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon – This walker wagon is very stable and has also been great for them to pull to standing.  The resistance while walking and pushing it seems perfect.  The only problem with it is that it doesn’t turn very well so you kind of have to set them up to walk in a straight line, then BONK, run into something.  But the girls don’t seem to mind (yet).
  • novel items – Basically anything that they haven’t otherwise been able to play with on a regular basis.  The boogie sucker (clean, of course), wipes package (closed, of course), a diaper (unused, of course), the cap to one of their bottles, a wooden salad spoon, a metal mixing bowl…literally anything.

Over the past three months, both girls have really begun to show interest in not only listening to books, but also looking at and trying to turn the pages.  Certainly none of these books are absolutely essential, but I thought it would be nice to continue the list books (currently) most popular in our house:

  • Miss Spider’s Tea Party:  The Counting Book – This has continued to be a major attention-getter from the 3-6 months post.
  • I Love You All The Time – I really have no idea why they love this book so much.  Perhaps because the pages are very colorful and full of different items to look at? I don’t know, but it is fun to read for me, too, and it has a great message.
  • Who Said Moo? – I love reading this book to them, and as soon as I pull it out, both of them crawl right over and try to open it.  They really take notice of the difference between reading the text and making the various animal sounds.  They always look right at me with huge grins on their faces as I “moooo” or “meow” or “baaaa.”
  • Captain Calamari’s Color Adventure – Again, I’m not sure why they love this book so much, but it definitely grabs and keeps their attention.  It is also very colorful and has rhyming text.
  • My Many Colored Days – Also very colorful, this book has great rhyming text with a validating message that even though they are probably too young to understand now, it’s not too early to start.
  • Goodnight Moon – A classic.
  • Anything with touch and feel – Somehow it’s like they instinctively know what parts of the book are the textured parts, even if it isn’t totally obvious.  Their favorite “touch and feel” book right now is Pig-A-Boo.

Previously mentioned essential items for bath time from the birth to 3 months and 3-6 months posts were child-safe cotton swabs, washcloths, soap, bath thermometer, and California Baby Calendula Cream.  The only other essential discovery for 6-9 months was:

  • Bath tub seats – We got two Dream On Me Baby Bath Seats, and while we’ve had a couple of issues with these particular seats (wouldn’t stick to our textured tub and had to get a piece of plexiglass to put in the tub for them to stick to, very slippery under their butts, don’t seem to contain a baby that wiggles even the slightest, etc.), the presence of bath tub seats in general was definitely essential, mostly because we are always bathing two babies at the same time.  They are definitely not a substitute for constant supervision, but they do make bath time in a normal tub so much easier at this age.

The car seats, stroller, and diaper bag mentioned in the birth to 3 months and 3-6 months posts have still been majorly essential.  Also:

  • Some kind of baby carrier – We have all kinds of baby-carrying options – some purchased, some hand-me-downs, some borrowed – and because the girls often no longer want to be stuck in their car seats during an entire outing, running errands with them both by yourself requires some kind of baby-carrying device.  I personally like the BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Active and The Peanut Shell Classic Sling, depending on which baby I will be carrying (the lighter one in the former and the slightly tubbier one in the latter).  The other child is put in the shopping cart.  As for shopping cart covers, we have a basic hand-me-down one that isn’t nearly as padded and full-coverage than most of those for sale these days, and it works fine.  In the absence of this hand-me-down one, I’d like to think I would skip buying one and think of them sitting in the shopping cart as an opportunity to build immunity.  But, knowing us, we’d end up with one of the more bulky, deluxe types anyway so we’re thankful for our basic one.

This is a new category for the Essentials series.  We thought we had done a pretty good job baby proofing…until they became mobile.  Because the girls went from sitting to crawling to standing during the 6-9 months period, we quickly had to truly baby proof their living and play area.  Safety items we found essential for our living room were:

  • Drawer latches – We went with the Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System because we thought it would completely prevent the dresser drawers from opening at all, thereby reducing any chances for pinched finger – not true!  These do not prevent that potential; the drawer still opens a very small amount before the latch engages.  Disappointing, but we’ve still been very happy with their performance and use.
  • Stair/Doorway gates – Due to the arrangement in our house, we needed a gate that could be used on banisters in a stairway as well as one doorway gate.  We ended up with the Summer Infant Stylish & Secure Deluxe Top of Stairs Gate with Dual Banister Kit for the stairs, and we already had the KidCo Pressure Mounted Auto Close Gateway that we previously used while house-training our dog yeas ago.  The stairway gate works well enough and is screw-mounted so it is also sturdy enough to withstand them shaking and banging it, but if we didn’t need one that would work with banisters, I’m not sure we would have ended up with this particular gate.  The doorway gate is pressure-mounted, and while it seems study enough, I don’t trust it as much as the screw-mounted types; again, if we hadn’t already had it, I probably would have liked something screw-mounted and easier to open with one hand for routine use through the doorway.
  • Hearth gate – We have a fireplace in their main living/play area so we needed a gate to go around the hearth area.  We got the KidCo Hearth Gate, and this is my favorite gate of the three types we have.  It aesthetically pleasing, screw-mounted so feels very secure, and the walk-through panel (while not routinely used because it just goes to the fireplace) is smooth and easy to use one-handed.
  • Power strip covers – We have a couple different types, some hand-me-downs and some purchased.  They’re all very similar in function.

Other Essentials
The dog tag silencer from the 3-6 months post is, and probably will continue to be from here on out, an absolute essential. I can’t think of any additional items for the 6-9 months old period!

As before in the 3-6 months post, the following items were extremely useful, but not necessarily essential, so I wouldn’t spend time or money worrying about not having them.  But they did make life so much easier!

  • Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs – As mentioned in the 3-6 months post
  • Waterproof pads – As mentioned in the 3-6 months post
  • Jumperoo – As mentioned in the 3-6 months post, our Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo was used mostly in the 5-7 month old range.  Even at 9 months old, it is still a great temporary baby-holding device if you need to set up lunch or something, though they mostly like to use it to pull to standing with now.
  • Video baby monitor – We have the WiFi Baby 3G, and it has been very useful to see them in their cribs in the nursery, especially with the night-vision feature and ability to view the monitor through a smartphone.  One of the girls often makes noise in the middle of a nap, and with the video monitor we can see if she is standing (probably ready to get up), or if she is actually still lying down (will likely keep sleeping)…or how her verbalizing is affecting the other baby!  This item is certainly a luxury; we are thankful we are fortunate enough to have it, because it really has been one of the most useful products.
  • Air purifier – An air purifier in their room acts to both clean the air and create white noise, which has been important over the past few months as they have become much more aware of and interested in what is going on around them…especially outside of their room during naps.

Is there anything else you found absolutely essential for your 6-9 month old?  Add to this list by commenting!

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