Having Babies: baby gear – to have or not to have…

Having Babies: Baby Gear 
What to get and what not to get… that is the question. 
Baby gear is incredibly intimidating, especially the first time around. The top things I suggest are to buy used (gently used when possible) and to say “yes” to any and all hand-me-downs. It is nearly impossible to predict what your baby will fit, like, prefer, or use. I say take it all and filter through.
That being said here are some suggestions. My “Top 20” in list form which I will explain and expand upon below.
I’ll start this off by saying, I have had two babies now and while that makes me experienced it by no means makes me an expert.
At a glance – for registry purposes:
1. Diaper Bag
** post coming about how to pack a diaper bag.**
2. Baby Carrier
3. Blankets
4. Nursing supplies – pillow, cover, bra/tank, breast pads, nipple cream
5. First Aid Kit
6. Monitor (although not used at first)
7. Stroller
8. Pack & Play (portable crib)
9. Bassinet
10. Changing pad and extra covers
11. Swing/bouncer/rocker (some place to set baby  so you can get things done)
12. Bath sponge (or tub if you prefer)
13. Car seat
14. Diapers (We used about 200 newborn diapers)

**Post coming about cloth diapers – which we switch to at around size 2.**

15. Wipes (and warmer)
16. Diaper rash cream
17. Soap/shampoo
18. Breast pump (if planning to breastfeed) with freezer bags, extra parts, and quick steam clean bags
19. Pacifiers
20. Older baby supplies like snack cups, bath toys, sippy cups, and books (great to register for these items and to keep on hand to pull out when you realize you need them, these things become important far sooner then you expect and it was so nice to have a collection of “older baby” items on hand that had been gifted to me.)
I’ll now share some tips on each item – and what I suggest. But the above list is meant to guide you when registering or to know what I think really are absolutely important. I’ll mention a few more frivolous items too. 🙂
Enjoyed these more frivolous items:
1. Itzbeen timer
2. Cute burp cloths
3. Wipe warmer
4. Car seat cover
5. High chair (we like the kind that attaches to a chair and LOVED ours that had 3 settings to go from infant to toddler).
6. Sippy cups, and snack cups
1. Baby bags are tricky. My thoughts on a baby bag with two babies under two are different then they were with one baby. I love my Petunia Picklebottom Sashay Satchel! I love that it could go over my shoulder or be used as a backpack. It has held up beautifully and is super cute. I chose the Playful Poppy pattern and am still in love with it. I found the patterns fun, feminine and yet neutral enough, and contemporary.
With a newborn I often felt like the bag was a bit small but really that early phase where you feel the need to take the world with you passes quickly. But again once I had a second baby and was packing for two I packed my satchel away. I didn’t want it to get ruined by shoving it full so once baby is a bit bigger and needs fewer things I will bring it back out. I don’t think there really is a bag that is “big enough” without getting huge so I’m learning to pair down what I take with me and for now am using a Skip Hop Dash that I really do like. Only feature I don’t like is that it is a messenger bag (not a backpack) and it often swings off of my shoulder.
This is the diaper bag I recently saw that I wish I would have tried. By Fisher Price, affordable, practical, spacious, durable, and a backpack!
Stay tuned for a blog post about packing a diaper bag – newborn necessities and packing for two.
2. Baby Carriers are tricky. I tried a lot of them. My favorite so far from the beginning to two years of age is the ergo. To use it at the early stages you do need the infant insert. I also like the Moby wrap with my little ones are very small because you can pull them very close to your body. To be honest there little a few others that I have liked! I did try the Bjorn and I was not such a fan. I tried a sling and again not such a fan. I would like to try the ring sling… The ergo can be hard to get on by yourself. Especially when baby is small. I recently saw friend with the ring sling that seemed easy to get on and off and she could just toss it  in her baby bag when she wasn’t using it. There ergo and moby are both fairly large for transporting. I just leave them in my car. 
Like I said baby carriers are tricky… You really have to try them on to see what you like.
3. Blankets are one thing I think you can’t have enough of. Often people will make them for you or give them to you at showers and for the most part I kept them all. My personal favorites are Aden and Anaïs swaddling blankets. My preference is the bamboo swaddling blankets. Lots of fun patterns and very practical. I use them as burp blankets as well as for swaddling.
I also think that a Velcro swaddling blanket (or 2) like this one by Summer Infant SwaddleMe is very important for the early days. Helps with reducing the risk of SIDS, and is very quick to put on in the middle of the night when you are wiped. I suggest having at least two as often times they will get dirty and you need another one handy.
4. Nursing needs can be tricky and I can only speak to breast-feeding as I did not bottlefeed. (I may ask some other moms I know to share about bottlefeeding needs.) When it comes to nursing – for me – the only things that were must haves were nursing tank tops, a good nursing bra (which I still have not found) lanolin nipple cream, and breast pads. 
I prefer reusable nursing breast pads as I found them to be much softer. I like these from Udder Covers. I was given 4 sets of 5 as a shower gift and it was an excellent gift! I also use disposable ones when I need thinner ones that will not show through my shirt. I preferred nursing tank tops because then my mid-drift and back do not show. I found that I don’t really need a nursing cover because I can just lift my shirt and pull down the top of the nursing tank top. (If you like or prefer a nursing cover I do really love my InfinityMom scarf that I use when I really must cover up.) The one thing about nursing tank tops is that they are not the most flattering so sometimes I do need a decent nursing bra. I have yet to find one I really like. I have heard of adding nursing bra clips to your favorite bra which I’m going to try very soon! 
5. Safety should always come first. And in this case I love my Safety First first aid kit as it had practical and fun things. Practical like a basic digital thermometer-you do not need any fancy forehead thermometer-and fun things like little hairbrushes. And baby sized nail clippers!
6. When it comes to monitors we have used this video monitor with great success. The only thing about it is that it decreases our wireless speed for computers. That just means that I turn it off when we are trying to use wireless. 🙂 and we just added a camera to the second child’s room when we had a second. I also used just an audio monitor, that I got secondhand during naptime’s. Our first child Cashel sleeps upstairs and so when I am downstairs with our second, Camper, I want to be able to hear him. Plus it has just been fun to hear Cashel as he talks and “reads” books to himself. Monitors you don’t really need in the first few months of life as they are sleeping in your room. But they are a great thing to register for. People often want to buy a gift in that price range and then you have it on hand as soon as you need it.
7. We have tried several different kinds of strollers. Truly I could do a whole blog post just about strollers. The one that I have found to be very important is the snap and go that fit our car seat. This allowed us to come and go very quickly, and when I have had a second baby it was very important that it be lightweight so I could still hold my first. Some people with older first children like to sit and stand version of this.
We also own a Phil and Ted sport jogger  (now called the Vibe) that lets us put the babies in it as a single and as a double. Right now I am using it as a double with the car seat in the front and Cashel in the additional seat that gets added to the back. I like this because babies do not sit side-by-side so it is easier to maneuver through doorways and inside places like the store. Us we did not have to buy an additional stroller with the birth of our second, just make sure we had the ad on seat that goes behind the main stroller. However, this is harder for my husband to push. With his long legs the second seat really inhibits his stride.
I know many people that have had great luck with side-by-side joggers that for me I really wanted to be able to have them front and back. Again one of those things that hindsight is 20-20 and you really don’t know what you like until you try or use multiple versions.
I do think an umbrella stroller is a must-have! Those can be purchased very inexpensively and are easy to tote with you. And my mother-in-law recently picked up a side-by-side double umbrella stroller that I am really excited to try! I can’t tell you, yet, how it works.
8 and 9.  We own two Pack and Play portable cribs made by Graco. One full-sized that has additions on top and is full-size. When our little ones have been small we actually keep this in our living space. We use it for a changing table, a safe place to put baby away from siblings or pets, and also a great storage place for all things newborn. We love this one because it has a changing table (We only use this while baby is very small as the weight of the heavier baby weighs it down too much.) and our’s also came with an additional insert that is called the Cuddle Cove. This functions a little bit like a swing or bouncy seat as it is removeable. We actually used the Cuddle Cove inside our bassinet this time with Camper because he likes to be warm and snuggled and it was a bit more secure for him. The other portable crib we own is also by Graco and it is a travel lite pack and play. We use that as our bassinet and then also when we travel because it is smaller.
10. In our nursery we just use a low dresser with the changing pad on top of it. This is my preference. Multiple changing pad covers are very important as are the little changing pads you can just toss on them. There are lots of accidents and messes and these will save you laundry or from laying baby on a cold changing pad with no cover. That is speaking from experience! 
In Cashel’s room we have a more traditional changing table which works alright, my only reservation is that there is no place right by the changing pad to keep diapers, creams, wipes etc. the top is only as big as a changing pad. We use a windowsill that is directly behind our changing station so it does work for us. You do end up needing bins or baskets underneath it as it is open. This makes you keep it more organized or clean because it is visible…  A dresser hides  a lot more.
11. Swings, bouncers, and automobiles…? I put all of these larger items in one category as they really are specific to individual children. Cashel loved the swings and we used a bouncer upstairs for when I did things like shower or put laundry away. Camper however does not like the swing or the bouncy chair and is using a rocker. I believe he prefers the rocker because it’s more upright and can see.  This is one of those categories that I said yes to all kinds of hand-me-downs. This way I had a variety to choose from. If you don’t have that luxury I would ask friends to borrow their’s before or after the birth of your baby. This is almost preferable as then you do not have to store them.
12. I do think some kind of aid for the bathtub is important. Using a baby tub can work for you, but in our case they were just too big for our space. I was not able to pass up a swing or bouncer to save space but I could pass up on a plastic baby tub. I LOVE my bath sponge that I could use in my sink (on the occasion that it was empty) or most frequently just in my bathtub. You just fill the tub (or sink) to just past the top of the sponge and it provides a warm, safe, and comfortable for baby to bathe. Not to mention this is a much more affordable option at only $6.99!
13. A car seat is a must have – I mean they won’t let your baby go home without one. One that is properly installed. This one is totally up to parental discretion and I won’t even pretend to tell you which one to pick. I will say I love our Graco Snugride 35 and have used it for both boys. I will also tell you a few things I wish I had known or thought of ahead.
  • Most carseats expire after 5 years.
  • Graco and Chico have the most available adapters in joggers.
  • You can buy bases separately.
  • When putting them in you can use the “LATCH system” which are the black anchors you can find in your seat cracks – of newer vehicles only (both our vans don’t have these), or you can use a seatbelt.
  • When not using a base or in a car without the LATCH system you want to pull the seatbelt out until it locks in place.
  • At some point it’s easier and better for your back to take the baby out of the bucket seat. 😉 Other times it’s a lot easier to be able to keep them strapped in.
  • When putting it in the grocery cart most can lock on the handle bar in the front seat (which blocks my view) 😉 or can sit perpendicular on the edge of the main part of the cart so you don’t fill up the whole cart. 
     
    ***I wanted to add this tip from a reader (Thanks Sara!). With some a manufacturer’s warranties clipping your car seat onto the grocery cart might possibly void the warranty!***
14. Diapers are a MUST HAVE and I suggest doing a diaper raffle at your shower or registering for them for sure. We register for and asked for newborn size (we used about 200 before needing the next size up) and size one. I love Pampers Swaddlers or use generic overnight diapers as my boys are heavy wetters and naturally sleep on their stomachs (which can cause leaking). By then we move to cloth diapers. I will write a post about that soon but I will say that the best thing to do is build up a stash of cloth over time and try different diapers as they will fit all babies differently. My favorite diapers are made by Baby Wizard. We also like Bum Genius 4.0 and own a few Sun Baby diapers (that are less expensive) and we use less frequently. They are all pocket style diapers that you stuff with liners – my favorites are the charcoal bamboo 5-layers as they are super absorbent. I prefer snap closures (and don’t really like hip snaps) and my husband prefers Velcro so we have a collection of both so we can both use what we like. The nice thing about pocket diapers is that they go on a lot like disposable so they are user friendly.
15. Diaper wipes are also a necessity, and I for the most part get what is on sale. I like buying at Costco so I don’t have to go as often and don’t run out as frequently. Some babies have a sensitivity to wipes – mine haven’t so I’m lucky that way. Some diapers come in smaller individually wrapped packages and some in large Ziploc bags that you put into dispensers. I do a combination of both. I like the large quantities for home and the individually wrapped ones for on the go so I try to rotate the types I buy so I have some of each on hand. You can also pick up the small diaper bag sized holders inexpensively and I keep a couple already stocked on hand to grab on my way out the door when I know I’m out or running low in my baby bag.
16. Diaper rash cream is a very personal choice. And again may not be able to totally be picked out before knowing your baby. I have found I prefer Desitin (when in disposable) and use a large tub of coconut oil when in cloth. For diaper rash creams it’s the zinc oxide (the whiter it is the higher the concentrate usually) that really kicks a rash in it’s proverbial tail. But it’s also the stuff that will cause your cloth diapers to repel instead of absorb. I suggest having a couple of kinds on hand to try and see what works best for your baby. I also liked having a couple of smaller tubes for diaper bags and various changing spots in the house and then a large tub of it at the main changing location.
17. Shampoo/baby wash lasts us a long time. We really do very little bathing that first month (the only part of a baby that is getting really dirty is their hiny and it’s constantly getting cleaned 😉 so we don’t worry about a bath too much. Plus the natural oils a baby’s skin produces helps with them not getting dried out. We use the basic Johnson & Johnson body wash for hair and body. I originally started with Aveeno and do appreciate the more natural products but in a budget conscious family I did some research and found the Johnson & Johnson product that seemed the most friendly for skin and the healthiest choice. The yellow bottle of head to toe wash is what we use. For lotion I do use an Aveeno product since we use it so rarely that I can afford to buy a nicer one less frequently.
18. If you are planning to breast feed a breast pump is a need. It’s the item that provides you your freedom. Whether that be for an occasional date, girls night out or if you want to steal away for a night or two. For me there is no other pump to get then a double, electric Medela pump. Not only is it easy to use, effective, but they also last a long time and hospitals often provide basic supplies (and help) using that particular brand. You can get the Medela Pump In Style bag at local retail shops. BIG TIP though is that many insurance companies are now covering them. And it is very easy to get one. For me I just had my obstetrician’s office fax in a prescription form to an approved dealer (I called ahead to find one – Pumping Essentials – and asked for the specific requirements needed to be on the prescription form). I chose to use an online company that had it shipped (free of charge) to my house within three days. I LOVE the backpack one as it is super easy to carry around and I can see myself using the backpack on it’s own too. They even included a hands-free pumping bra – all free of charge to me! Call your insurance company right away.
19. Pacifiers – I certainly do not wait the specified four weeks before giving my children a pacifier. With Cashel we waited a week (then the doctor asked me for it at his circumcision appointment and I was so glad I had one on hand). With Camper we brought one – and used it – at the hospital. Again so many to pick from and it’s impossible to know which your child might prefer. For use we have used the Avent Freeflow pacifiers at the beginning. I feel like they most reassemble a nipple and then for Cashel we made the switch to the NUK orthodontic pacifier because they had fun patterns (for me) and were less expensive. Plus he seemed to like them. Hoping Camper will make the switch too, however he has been more particular so we shall see.
20. Big kid fun stuff. I love our Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair. It is great because it just attaches to one of our dining chairs, has three settings to go from infant to toddler, and is not large. I love that the cover is easily removed for washing and there are some fun patterns out there. For our second high chair we purchased this Fisher Price Deluxe Booster which is fantastic for our bigger boy as a booster or with the tray. I also love our munchkin snack cups and our Playtex sippy cups. We used this First Sipster spill proof cups with handles first, and at home we love these Take & Toss cups. And on the go in the diaper bag the Insulated Spill Proof cup. Overall with cups I think it’s important to use a variety of ones with straws and cups without; cups they have to tip and cups they have to suck on. We also love Lamaze toys like Freddie the Firefly and found those to be the first toys we would use. I also love Mortimer the Moose and Sir Prance A Lot. Vulli’s Sophie the giraffe is also a fun toy to have around for teething and grasping purposes. And a great thing to have for tummy time is a mirror. I have seen people just use a long dressing mirror set on its side or you can purchase a kid friendly one like this one made by Lamaze. A baby play mat for 3-4 month age babies is also a great “bigger baby” item to register for or a jumperoo (like this Luv U Zoo Jumperoo by Fisher Price that my boys LOVE) or Baby Einstein exersaucer.
Just one more reminder as I close this incredible lengthy post! Big items are great to borrow, share, and lend. Most baby gear is created with cleaning in mind and can be taken apart for storage or cleaning. And honestly as my boys grow I am learning and trying to remember that LESS is MORE!
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