Buying for Baby – Items and Accessories
First off, where to register?! It can be so hard to decide. What happens when only one item you really want is found at one store that has nothing else to offer you? Do you settle for a less-effective poroduct at the store that you’re going to register at? Or do you try and register at 8 different stores so you can get exactly what you want?
Well, stress no longer. Myregistry.com took care of all the debate. Go there and register. It is soooo easy and you can find all the exact items you want from the stores you want and you won’t have to register a million places or settle for the sub-par version you were really hoping for.
You can even register for items from stores that don’t have registries! It’s a fantastic website and I loved using it. (It also makes it way easy for your kind friends and family to order their presents online and not have to walk all over a store looking for the right item in the right style and color.)
Second, what to register for? Have you had a chance to walk into Target or ToysRUs and try and pick out … well anything really, for the baby? How in the world does one decide on the best item for the task at hand? I was so stuck I had no idea what to choose and I made a lot of mistakes until I found the books Baby Bargains (and later on) Toddler Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields. I haven’t been disappointed with their advice yet. What I like also about them is that they often give multiple items an “A” rating so you can really determine what your style is and how much money you want to spend and get an item that really works for you. So much better than if I just told you what worked for me.
Having said this I would highly recommend:
- BeBe Au Lait Breastfeeding Covers – Such a great invention and so perfect for keeping you from becoming withdrawn from social settings once the baby is born. In the beginning (especially when all the visitors are dropping by at random times) it can be hard to know when the baby is going to want to eat. You can try to endure her crying (but for how long?), excuse yourself and leave the room for 40-60 minutes, or take out this cover and continue on with your conversation. It also works great in restaurants, at the doctor’s office, the park, etc.
- Graco Pack-and-Play – it really comes in handy for trips and spending the day outside the home or limited apartment space. In my experience they are the easiest kind to set up and take down.
- Baby Bjorn Baby Sitter Balance Chair – lots of bouncy chairs are automatic, I love how this one cradles the baby, is very plain in style, and it allows the baby to soothe itself through his/her own movements. If you don’t get this bouncy chair get any one for sure; it’s great for those many moments when you need to set the baby down.
- Graco Infant Carseat – These have been highly rated for years. They are a “best buy” when considering price and quality. I particularly like the “Snug Ride” model – they are “compact” and lightweight (7.5 lbs) and can be used until the baby is 22 lbs. My girls have been small so I haven’t had to worry about this seat not lasting the year. But other moms who have bigger babies quickly become frustrated when at 6 months they have to buy a new carseat for their 25 lb babies.
- That’s when Graco’s “Safe Seat” model comes in handy. Although they are heavy (15.5 lbs) and somewhat bulky (I’ve had a bit of a struggle to fit the seat in my car without cramping my other children) they can carry a child up to 30 lbs (that covers 97% of babies under 1 year). For your first child it’s really a guess I suppose as to what rate your baby will grow. Whatever you decide, however, make sure to get a carseat with the ability to adjust the harness (a.k.a. seatbelt) in the front between your baby’s legs (as opposed to the models that have the harness adjusters in the back) – it makes all the difference in the world.
- Kiddopotamus Snuzzler – You’ll think that an infant carseat is really small until you get the cutie-patootie inside it and then what to do? They lean to the side and are all crouched over in a pitiful ball unless something is done. The snuzzler is perfect and so easy at holding the little babe up. We love it.
- Britax Carseats – (for when they outgrow the infant carseat) they really are the best. The Roundabout has worked just fine for our family. We have two of them.
- Svan Highchair with Infant Kit (or similar) – I love mine. Not only is it a nice looking piece of furniture (we bought ours to match the color of our kitchen table and it blends right in), it grows with your child (from highchair to toddler booster seat) and makes spending all that money worth it. It also means no storing of a big clunky highchair in the garage for the next kid. Ever since we bought ours it has been in our kitchen in one form or other. As soon as our next child is ready to eat solids we graduate the current chair holder to a regular seat and put the infant kit/highchair parts back on the toddler seat. It really works well.
- Baby Bjorn Bib – You really only need one. They are worth every penny. These bibs are not only durable you’ll never have to wait for a laundry day to clean them. Note: the knock-offs of this style are better than the cloth alternative but I’ve yet to find one as great as the Baby Bjorn.
- A good umbrella stroller – Me personally? I don’t need the top of the line with all the bells and whistles. I want something that is sturdy, durable, and can fold up nice and tight (for traveling). I’d buy the best one you could afford because most likely it will last through all the kids. I’ve heard great things about the Chicco Tuscany, Maclaren Triumph, and the Inglesina Swift.
- A loud fan – the best white noise there is, calms babies right down (and keeps them asleep by muffling any noises you make allowing you to carry on your life without tiptoeing and whispering all the time). Target and Amazon sell a line called Blizzard that we use. It’s got the best sound level around.
- Diapering Kit – Diaper bags? Never used mine. The best thing given to me by the hospital was this little fold up changing pad that had two pockets on the flip side – one for diapers and a small outfit, another for a travel pack of wipes. It can be thrown into any purse or bag (even a backpack) and it has everything I need. If your hospital doesn’t give you one or you would rather not have the Similac logo on yours, Amazon.com sells a $10 version made by Sunshine Kids called the Change ‘n Go.
- But they don’t stop there. Amazon also sells some really fancy looking ones (a little larger than mine with even more features) made by a company called Skip Hop. They call their version the Pronto! Mini Changer. There is also the Baby Bjorn Changing Case, The Signature Lilly Pad Changing Station by I’m Still Me, or Diaper and Wipes Pod made by JJ Cole. If none of these suit your fancy, I am positive there are even more versions out there – so if you’re interested keep your eyes open.
My opinion on:
- Bottles – I used them all the time with my first baby. She loved Dr. Brown’s bottles. (I’d recommend three 8 oz. bottles with a package of Level 2 and a package of Level 3 nipple size.) With my 2nd child I didn’t introduce a bottle until she was one year of age when I decided to stop breastfeeding her. Not recommended. At 3 years of age I finally had to force her to switch to a sippy cup (a difficult process). So for my 3rd and 4th children I just skipped bottles altogether.
- Baby Carriers and Slings – nice but not vital unless you do a lot of hiking or walking in areas where it is difficult to bring a stroller. Over the years my sister and I have tried the gamut of various carriers. Ninety percent of them hurt my back so I never end up using them. My husband has in the past but never enough to justify the cost. I did break down with my 4th child and bought the Ergo carrier. It boasted of taking the strain off the back and putting it on the hips and it had the ability to be a front, hip, and/or back carrier. I still rarely ever use it BUT I do think it is a step above the rest. There is a LOT less stress on my back when using it and I love the various adjustment options. If you REALLY think you’re going to need a carrier or sling this would get my highest recommendation.
- Diaper pails – for me they just didn’t work and I’ve tried a few different systems. Now I just keep a stash of plastic grocery bags and used Ziploc bags at each of my changing stations. (You’d be surprised at how many Ziplocs are reusable!). Once a bag is filled with dirty diapers I take it immediately to the garage trashcan. It seems like it would be a hassle, but breastfeed baby diapers don’t really smell that bad, allowing you to collect a few together before running them outside. And by the time your child starts eating solids and making the really smelly poops the diaper changing is less frequent so it’s still not such a big deal. I’m so used running my diapers outside now I don’t even think about it. Whereas I constantly thought about how I was going to get the stink out of the plastic Diaper Champ. But it really is up to you and your personal style. My sister-in-law LOVED the Diaper Genie and swore by it.
- Cribs –Before we get to specifics about cribs, I want to talk about why you might not need one.
Babies often feel very lost in a regular sized crib. Actually, I am the biggest advocate for co-sleeping with one’s baby. For both my husband and I our absolute, favorite part about having a newborn is having them sleep in our bed with us. I wouldn’t have thought this before I had children. But remember the difficult time I had with first and the 8-hour breastfeeding marathon? Well, my doctor suggested that maybe the baby wasn’t getting enough milk. (I know crazy and insane, not enough milk?! Eight hours isn’t enough time to drink every last drop? I think he was just covering for any potential lawsuits.) Anyway, he suggested I have a lactation consultant come out to see me.
So I did. One of the first things she said to me was, “Why on earth did you buy a crib?” And she was serious. She went on and on about how healthy co-sleeping was for the baby’s attachment to the mother, how it was natural for the baby to want to stay close at all times to it’s mother, and so on and so forth. Because of this philosophy, she taught me how to breastfeed lying down on the bed. I didn’t take her advice. But a few days later I found myself absolutely exhausted by yet another sleepless night and struggling to get the baby to sleep (this was before I had read any of recommended books about soothing and sleep patterns) and I thought to myself I have got to lay down for a moment. My baby wouldn’t allow a break if she wasn’t right next to me and since I was her human pacifier I decided to try breast-feeding her while lying down… I woke up two hours later. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t slept like that since before the baby was born and I looked over on my arm and there was my little sweet-pea curled into me, sleeping just as soundly as I was a moment before. It was heaven!
From that night on I co-slept with my babies. It’s not for everyone. But at least consider it. Since I started co-sleeping I never have the “sleepless” nights that so many moms have. On the contrary – I get some real bonding time with my baby and I don’t even have to work at it. The baby can nurse whenever she needs to. I just switch sides after a feeding. I don’t have the baby in the swaddle so she just curls her body into me. Recently, in fact, I had my hand on my baby’s stomach and she put her arm on top of it and rested her little hand on top of mine. It was one of those great mom moments!
Co-sleeping is ideal for getting the rest one needs for taking care of kids. I quit after my babies turn 5 months (because you gotta do it at some point and after 5 months babies are said to form habits) but I swear it is so much harder for me to make the switch than it is for the baby.
A common concern people have with co-sleeping is smothering the baby by rolling on or over her. This would only alarm me if you were a very, very deep sleeper and have found yourself rolling on top of your dog or husband. I am always aware of that little baby in my arms even while sleeping and I wouldn’t call myself a light sleeper. Her head is propped up on the top of my arm like a pillow and I cradle her body with the rest of it. My husband actually feels more comfortable having the baby in my arms like this because it ensures us that her nose and mouth are high in the air and that she is breathing well. There is nothing like waking up and seeing this little baby face with her eyes closed, mouth open, and breathing her little heavy breathing. I have been known to lie still for 45 minutes just to not break that moment.
- Cribs (cont.) - If holding your baby through the night still concerns you, you might consider getting a “co-sleeper.” It is an attachment that can be place on the side of your bed allowing the baby to have his/her own space while still being able to lie close by.
- If you are still unsure about the co-sleeping, consider getting a smaller bed: a cradle, Moses basket, bassinet, or (my favorite) “Grandma” crib for the first 9 months of life. I’ve found these sleeping environments give the baby a more secure feeling than the ocean-like cribs. We use a Grandma crib for napping and the early bedtime hours (until I am ready to go to bed – then I just pull the baby in the bed with me.) Keep in mind, however, that these smaller beds only last for a relatively short while and a regular-sized crib will eventually be a necessary purchase. We use our regular size crib from ages 9 months to 2+ years.
- Rocking Chairs – I got a swivel rocking chair for the purpose of breast-feeding my babies and rocking them to sleep. I have yet to use it for that purpose but I love it nonetheless! Rocking chairs aren’t necessary (obviously) but for Nursery Rooms they are a nice addition. There are all-different kinds beyond the wooden ones – if you are interested in purchasing one, search around for a really comfortable rocker that suits you and your home style.
- Baby Bathtubs – These are great to have if you are planning on washing the baby alone. You can just wash the baby in the sink but they slip and slide and it’s hard to find an extra hand. But if your husband is keen on the idea of taking the baby in the shower with him, you will not need a baby bathtub. My husband loves it – it gives him a way to take care of the baby and I love it because it is one less thing for me to do.
- Baby Swing – Not necessary and may be just one more thing to store but it can be nice for the first 3 months for soothing the baby. For this reason you may want to see if you can borrow one. Otherwise if you do decide on the popular Graco Snugride Carseat they sell a swing frame that allows you to place the carseat directly into the frame. Boy do I wish I had that years ago! My sister-in-law just loves hers. It’s just a frame so it is much smaller than a regular swing and very easy to store.
- Exersaucers – they are big, hard to store, gaudy, and the baby outgrows it in a few months but BOY babies sure love them! It helps them to stand up and turn in all directions all by themselves. Like the baby swing – I wouldn’t purchase one but I would borrow it for the 4 to 7 month stage in a heartbeat.
- Boppy – I used the Boppy for the first two or three months with my oldest and I would say that it really did help me but after that I got the system down and never used it again. You might want to try a makeshift support device while you’re learning to breastfeed such as a pillow or small blanket before getting yet another item you’ll probably just end up giving away in the end.
- Boppy Newborn Lounger – On the other hand. The Boppy Newborn lounger is a great invention. Newborns LOVE to feel snug and secure. One of my babies slept in her carseat until she was 3 1/2 months (!!) and I had to force her to switch to her mini crib. (It took her a few days of bad sleep to adjust.) Anyway I have always dreamed that some company would invent a sleeping cushion that would cradle the baby just like a carseat and/or (even better) my arms. Well Boppy read my mind. The baby would have just loved this! (And every other newborn for that matter.) It’s not essential, but something you might want to check out.
- Bumbo Seat – when people like this they really like it. The pros: it’s an additional chair that can be used to hold the baby between 4 and 5 months. Helps the baby sit on its own. Many people use it as a first-time feeding chair (there is a tray attachment also available for purchase). The cons: I haven’t found a real need for it. It can’t be secured and the baby can wiggle out of it if he/she pushes hard enough with his/her legs. All my kids have protested the chair (except my two year olds who just seem to love it but really have no use for it other than jumping on it.)
- Activity gym – It’s taken me three kids to realize babies really don’t get bored. This is a whole new world for them and they have plenty of things that stimulate, especially in the beginning. Don’t worry about buying lots of toys or trying to constantly entertain. You think they might be bored? Just think of what it was like in your womb for nine months. Your child has plenty to do mentally and physically just by growing and observing.
- Babies don’t need a whole lot to over-stimulate them either. If you notice your child is looking away from something you are trying to show them or even looking away from your eye contact – it’s because they need a short break from the stimulation. If your baby gets the hiccups, high chances are they are over-stimulated and probably need a nap if not just a quiet moment without any stimulus.
- With that in mind any “activity gym” will be plenty to provide your baby with a ton of stimulus when he/she is ready. There are all different kinds out there. I happen to have the Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe, which is highly rated and loved by moms all over, but I’m sure there are other good ones out there. I wasn’t sure when to introduce my activity gym to my third baby (knowing that I introduced it way too early with the first two) and so with her I waited to see when she would become interested in the little bar of toys that was connected to her Baby Bjorn Baby Sitter. Once she started grabbing those (4 months) I introduced the Gymini and she really seemed to enjoy it. But really for the most part she just sits around a lot and has her tummy time and she is really quite a happy baby. Wait until they demand to be entertained (which will come sooner than you think). Take the quiet time now to focus on yourself a little more – if you don’t you’ll wish you had later on.