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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Newborn Must Haves, According to Carys

*updated 3/23/14 with second baby taken into consideration!*

This is a ridiculous list to write, because every. single. newborn is completely different.  In fact, you should go out and do the exact opposite of what I recommend here because chances are your newborn will not agree with my newborn.  BABY FIGHT!  However, I lived for lists when I was pregnant and took the advice of pretty much all of them, which means that I almost ended up with a lot of useless baby shit.  Luckily I was all about keeping the receipts and returned things without prejudice regularly. The Target returns guy and I were total BFFs by the end of all this. So my number one piece of advice in terms of baby gear? Keep the receipts and tags and don't be afraid of returning things if you don't like them, they aren't your style, or they won't work for your family.  If you are given something that's not on your registry, try to add it and mark it as fulfilled before returning the item. It's much easier.

If you're looking for things not on this list, check out the baby gear bible: Baby Bargains. Also, Lucie's List is a great resource.

BUY USED. If I could go back and tell myself ONE thing, it would be to not buy anything new, and then after my baby shower, buy any missing items used (particularly things like play mats and bouncers and swings that have a very limited lifespan). My new modus operandi would be to buy those things used, sell them after they aren't needed anymore so you don't have to find somewhere to store them until the next kid comes, and then buy used again for the next child. I'm not joking, 1/4 to 1/2 of our garage was full of just baby gear for two years while we waited for our second daughter to be born. Since I bought most of it at full price, it'd have been a huge loss to sell it on Craigslist, so I held onto it. However, if I'd been smart and bought the gear cheaply on Craigslist, I could have sold it when done with it - probably for close to the same price at which I purchased it. And been able to park my car in the garage.

I don't talk about the obvious things that you KNOW you need: Crib (got from a friend). Rocker (got ours of Craigslist). Changing table (got a dresser off Craigslist, threw a pad on top of it).  Baby (got ours from a yard sale). Everyone knows you need those things.




  MUST HAVES

1. Newborn clothing
Aged used: 0 to 6-8 weeks. 
I knew I was going to have a big baby.  If you remember from some of my other posts, we were looking at a kid in the 95th percentile. And she was big! Nine pounds even. Everyone... EVERYONE...told me not to get too much newborn-sized clothing. And everyone...EVERYONE...gave us 0-3 or larger clothing. So we had literally two outfits in newborn. Everything else was in size 0-3 months.  I took one of each to the hospital, thinking that maybe she'd be able to wear the newborn on the day she went home and then probably never again. Nope, wrong. SO WRONG. She was swimming in the 0-3 stuff. We actually had to go out and buy newborn size sleepers for nighttime.  If you don't have any, get some. You can always leave the tags on if they end up not needed them. She is just barely starting to outgrow her newborn sizes now at one month old and about 10 pounds. 0-3? Still huge!  On the flip side, I know people who had 8 pound babies who didn't fit in NB things. But you won't know that until your kid is here. So I highly recommend investing in some NB outfits that you can take back if you don't need. You don't want to be scrambling for something to dress the kid in once they are here.

Here she is wearing a NB size sundress (it actually fit perfectly; it just looks small in this pic because it's scrunched up) and with a blue 0-3 romper next to her:


Can you imagine how big that would be on a normal size non-mutant infant??

In terms of what to get and what you'll actually use?  Since we cloth diaper and she's a summer baby, she almost exclusively wears long- and short-sleeved kimono-style t-shirts, BabyLegs leg warmers, and socks.  She's usually chillin like a villian in some variation of this outfit with lightweight blanket during the day (yes, it's 107 degrees out...literally...but thankfully we have air conditioning).


At night she wears a long sleeve sleeper under her fleece swaddling blanket with a hat (our bedroom is FREEZING).  I love the gown-style ones; they make nighttime diaper changes a cinch. The cute 3-piece outfits are adorable, for sure. But impractical. I feel obligated to put real clothes on her when we go out lest I be cited by the CPS for an unattractively put together baby, but I'd be perfectly happy having her in the easy, practical outfit above all the time. (That said, there are a couple 0-3 outfits I'm dying to see her in!)

I HIGHLY recommend not buying ahead other than NB and 0-3. You have NO idea what size they will be in during the next season. Basics that you can wear any season, like onesies? Sure, go ahead. But summer rompers or winter long sleeved, hooded sweaters? Wait on it. I can't tell you how many clothes we took back because they didn't fit in the right season. Don't try to guess. You'll be wrong. Also? Children's consignment stores. Do it. You'll get awesome clothes for not a lot of money and love yourself afterward.

KID #2 UPDATE: Same thing with a bigger baby. She still wore NB clothes at 9lbs 7oz, but outgrew them a bit more quickly.

2. Fisher Price Rock N Play Sleeper
Age used: 0 to 6 months
This is what she sleeps in next to our bed. Love the incline, love the rocking, love the small size. If it had automatic rocking, I'd make love to it. Once cleared by the doctor, of course.  I folded up a thin blanket and slipped it between the frame and the padding to give it a tiny bit more padding (not enough to make it unsafe I hope) and I also place a rolled-up washcloth under her neck to prevent her chin from slumping into her chest (this is why newborns/infants aren't supposed to sleep in car seats and why pouch slings are dangerous - the chin-to-chest position can cut off their airway).  This was a great investment and I know most people who also have it also swear by it. There's a bit of controversy around it and flat head syndrome - the newer versions are plusher, and also don't keep your kid in it 20 hours a day. She sleeps at night here but naps during the day in other places: the swing, my stomach, the couch, etc.  (There's also now a deluxe version that is a little bit cushier and vibrates (!!)).

6 Month Update: We started transitioning her to her crib around 4 months and cut back on how much we used this drastically - not for any reason other than we wanted to watch TV in our room again at night. She was also getting a bit long for it, with her feet almost coming off the edge. That said, it was one of the best newborn purchases we made and was extremely useful (and so easy to travel with!).

KID #2 UPDATE: She also sleeps in this and I still love it.

3. Summer Infant SwaddleMe
Age used: 0 to 6+ months
Yes, you too can be the proud owner of a burrito baby.  Even though I'm a ninja expert swaddler with a blanket, in the middle of the night when you're tired it's easy to not get the swaddle tight enough. Result: escaping baby and loose blankets.  Enter: the SwaddleMe. Get two so one can be clean at all times.  We used this at the beginning, then stopped when it seemed like she wanted her hands out.  After a few nights of only sleeping 1-2 hour stretches, I tried it again and instantly she was back to 3 hours at a time. Anything that gives more sleep at night is a must-have in my book.

6 Month Update: We are still swaddling. We've tried an arm out or both arms out, but she doesn't sleep as soundly. She is usually out of the swaddle by morning, but it helps her sleep. We had a cotton one for the summer and now have a fleece one for winter. I assume at some point she'll tell us to stop swaddling her. That's how it works, right?

6 Month and 1 day update: Ok, so I actually wrote the six month updates when she was five and a half months old.  And a day later, she just....stopped needing to be swaddled. It took literally a day. How did I get so lucky with this insanely easy baby??

KID #2 UPDATE: Winter baby means fleece swaddles. She also loves to be swaddled.

4. Aden & Anais Swaddle blankets
Aged used: Summer months
If you're having a summer baby, you need these.  Okay, you probably don't $45 NEED them, but they're definitely a registry item to ask for and hint heavily that you'd like more than another impractical but cute sundress and matching hat.  They are heavenly soft and the perfect weight to use in air conditioned rooms when it's hot out. The bamboo ones are softer than the cotton, but the cotton last longer, supposedly.

6 Month Update: We stopped using these once it got chillier around October. However, I think they'll still be large enough for next summer as a lightweight blanket for naps, etc.

9 Month Update: It started getting warm again and we broke these out again. Still work wonderfully for a light cover!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Great summer blankets.

KID #2 UPDATE: Winter baby, so haven't used them much yet. 

5. Snuza monitor
Aged used: 0 to 8 months
I don't want to be an alarmist or encourage paranoia, but the first few nights I didn't sleep: I watched HER sleep. To make sure she was just sleeping and not, you know, um, not. (I don't even want to type it out, knock on wood).  This monitor sounds an alarm if she stops breathing and SAVES my sanity at night. And unlike the somewhat similar in use Angel Care Monitor, this one can be used anywhere, as it clips onto their diaper.  (Note: The "Halo" version is now called the "Hero" but it's the exact same thing.)

6 Month Update: Still using religiously. It did malfunction and start to turn itself on (or perhaps became possessed?) and the Snuza customer service was absolutely outstanding.

9 Month Update: We stopped using this around 7 months because she started flipping around in her sleep so much it would fall off and we'd get a false alarm. But it was used daily until that point. And it was such a lifesaver.

KID #2 UPDATE: Snuza is still going strong. Still love it. 

6. Diaper caddy
Age used: 0 to 3 months as a diaper caddy, longer as a repurposed toy caddy
I didn't get an actual diaper caddy for $342 from Babies R Us. Instead, I use a shower caddy from Target for $3. However, whichever direction you go, its a nighttime diaper change LIFESAVER.  Assuming baby is sleeping in your room, that is. If she's in the nursery in her crib from the start it wouldn't be needed, since you'll be in with her changing table when you feed her. However, Carys IS in our room and DOES need a diaper change with every feed, so having this on our dresser next to the bed means I don't have to get out of bed at all to change her, and I don't have to move her around as much. Which means I can get back to sleep faster! YAY SLEEP! 

6 Month Update: We stopped changing her during the night at around 3 months, or when she stopped pooping in the middle of the night. I'm not sure why - the night changes seemed to wake her more, maybe, or I figured that she'd soon (ha!) be sleeping through the night and wasn't going to wake her to change her at that point.  We now use it as a toy caddy to move toys around from room to room. When she's older, I think it would make a great art supply caddy!

9 Month Update: Still using as a toy caddy.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using for toys. 

KID #2 UPDATE: Used for a few weeks for middle of the night changes in our room. 

7. JJ Cole Changing Pod
Age used: 0 to 9+ months
...or any extra changing pad.  A crucial part of the "changing her in bed" plan.  Changing your sheets at 2am because your kid peed all over them would not be fun, I imagine.  I like this one because it's small and I can just hang it from the drawer pull of our nightstand where the diaper caddy is sitting.

6 Month Update: Though we stopped night diaper changes, this still gets used frequently.

9 Month Update: This may make me a bad mom, but I rarely use changing pads anymore.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still don't use changing pads that often, but I keep this in the car for backseat changes. 

KID #2 UPDATE: Used for nighttime changes. Kind of a slacker on using it other places. 

8. Portable night light
Age used: 0 to 9+ months
I can't find the one I have online, but it's very similar to this or this or this or this.  Also this but I can't bring myself to recommend a $60 nightlight. For nighttime nursing and diaper changes without waking anyone up (other than me) (and the baby), it's a lifesaver.  I reach over, tap it on, and Chris sleeps right through the nursing session and diaper change without even stirring (jerkface).  The dim blue color of ours isn't bright enough to make her think that it's daytime and therefore time to wake up for good, and lets her fall right back asleep.  I can see just enough to get her latched on and change her diaper.  The first few nights I slept with it on the entire time so I could look over and see her at 2am without turning on any lights - and again, it's dim enough that it allowed all three of us to sleep easily even with it on.  The fact that it's portable means that if I need a bit more light when latching her on, I can grab it and set it right next to me in the bed without having to shift positions.  Or if I need to get up for whatever reason, I can take it with me.   When she gets older, it will be great for midnight trips to go potty and she'll be able to turn it on and do it herself.

6 Month Update: Though we stopped night diaper changes, this still gets used frequently and I still believe it will be great when she's older.

9 Month Update: I use this when she wakes in the middle of the night all the time.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: She sleeps through the night now, so I rarely use it, but I anticipate that when she's a toddler/older kid she'll like it again. 

KID #2 UPDATE: Didn't use this because I used the glow from Kid 1's video monitor to do the changes. Also I'm a ninja expert by now and can do it in pitch black.

9. Sleep Sheep (or Gentle Giraffe)
Age used: 0 to 12+ months
We have the travel size version (linked above) and strapped it to the side of her Rock N Play sleeper.  There's also a full-size version of the sheep here and giraffe here. I don't know if the white noise actually helps her sleep (it seems to?), but I like to think that at the very least it helps set up a routine for her day versus night sleep.

6 Month Update: Still using every night, just strapped to the crib now.

9 Month Update: Still using!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using. Hmm. Should probably look into stopping.....haha.  She sleeps just fine without it, so there isn't really a reason to continue.

KID #2 UPDATE: Husband decided he needed a white noise machine, so we just use that one since she's in our room. But I anticipate we'll be using it once she's in her crib.

10. Fisher Price My Little Snugabunny Swing
Age used: 0 to 6-8 months
I love this swing because it can be plugged in.  It's pretty quiet, and so comfortable looking *I* want to crawl into it for a nap, but mostly the plugged in thing. No batteries! That's huge in the infant gear world. I repeat: NO BATTERIES NEEDED.  It has different speeds and sounds and other cool things that you can read about at the link, but NO BATTERIES.  I took the included birds off the mobile and replaced them with these bright, graphic stroller toys. It makes no sense to me why they don't include black and white or colorful toys for the mobile, since that's what newborns can see. I understand that the swing's color scheme is subtle and neutral, but they could have included two sets of toys - one for the child as a newborn and then the pretty birds for when they were older and their eyes actually worked.  So there you go, Fisher Price. A genius idea for free. You're welcome. Hint: Carys much prefers the front-to-back versus the side-to-side swinging. Be sure to try out both ways.

6 Month Update: Like the Rock N Play sleeper, she is outgrowing this height-wise faster than weight-wise. I stopped using it at around three or four months of age; Chris and the sitter continue to use it occasionally. However, it was worth its weight in gold during the three months that it was used regularly.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: It was packed away around 8 months. The sitter and Chris used it until then.

KID #2 UPDATE: Lifesaver. LIFESAVER. She loves it so much. 

11. Bright Starts Ingenuity Automatic Bouncer
Age used: 0 to 3-6 months, sporadically
This bouncer actually has an automatic bounce feature rather than a vibrate feature like most of the others. Of all the things on the list, this is probably the one we could live without, but when we do need it - like I put it on the shower floor when I'm taking a shower - it's a lifesaver.  It also suffers from the "form over function" problem that the swing suffers from, in that the toys on the toy bar are low contrast and pastel.  However, these aren't removable.  I hook some links to the toy bar and hang brightly colored toys from it and flip the included ones out of the way.  Brilliant idea number two ahead: Bright Starts, make one side of the damn toys black and white or primary colors so the newborns using the thing can SEE them and be somewhat engaged by it.  Maybe I have a genius child or something, but she will actually look at the toys that I hang, so it'd be nice if the ones included were useful at this stage.  Criticism aside, it's very comfy and soft. It does, however, take batteries. Boo.  But so do most pieces of infant gear that move, so perhaps it's time to invest in Duracell stock and/or rechargeable batteries.

3 Month Update: We really could probably be fine without this. That said, I know some babies love it and it's the only thing they'll sleep in, but she's pretty "eh" about it for the most part. At this age, she'd rather be in her Bumpo or just chilling in her newborn lounger.  So it was great for the first couple months, and now we rarely use it.  It's also one of those things that is very baby-specific. Maybe get it and keep the box?  Or don't get it - yay saving money! - and only pick one up if nothing else seems to work.

6 Month Update:  Eh. I still am ambivalent; however, there were a few weeks there around five months when she started to love it again - when she could reach stroller toys hanging from the bar. I used it while I was showering quite a bit.  Now she sits up by herself and will pull herself out, so it stopped being used again once she sat up alone.  I would say either this or the swing is very important, but between the two I'd pick the swing. However, the swing is expensive and takes up a LOT of room and is not portable, so if any of those things are imperative a bouncer (or travel swing) might be a better solution.

KID #2 UPDATE: Still ambivalent. Probably don't use it enough to warrant the amount of floor space it takes up, but keeping it around for that 5-6 month period where Carys used it just in case.

12. Bumbo
Age used: 3 to 6 months
Now that she's a bit older, she loves sitting in her Bumbo because she loves sitting up and looking around/watching...laying down is for BABIES, or so I imagine her saying. I know some people use it as early as eight weeks, but we waited until almost 12 weeks because I was worried about putting too much pressure on her spine before it was ready.  It's probably another "not really needed" item, because she'll be sitting up on her own in another three or so months, but its been really useful at this stage. If you're looking to save, this would be something to cut (along with the bouncer above).  Note: You DO NOT need to spend $40 on this. They are on Craigslist all the time - or ask any friend with a baby, they probably have one they'll be happy to pass onto you.  Ours was pink and I hated the color but it was also free, so I splurged on a Bumbo cover like this that I kind of love a lot. The Bumbo isn't something you need right away, since they can't use it for a few months.

6 Month Update: This was used quite a bit between 3 to 6 months.  Now that she can sit alone, it is not used. Also, her chunky thighs now get stuck in it!

KID #2 UPDATE: Just started using it with her and she also loves it.

13. Boppy Newborn Lounger
Age used: 0 to 4 months
Ok, this definitely isn't a must-have - but it's something that I use every single day.  It wasn't something I would have ever purchased, honestly. I would have thought it was superfluous and a waste of money and space. And I would have been partially wrong. You could probably use a regular Boppy to much the same effect. I happened to have this already as a photography prop, so one day I pulled it out...and it's been sitting next to me ever since. Any time she's laying down next to me, she's on this (like now, she's chilling next to me on the couch on it). I pick it up and put it on the bathroom floor when I go pee or outside the shower when I am showering. She'll nap on it, do tummy time on it, and just kick back and relax on it. It's a bit more supportive for her back and allows positioning that looks more comfortable than a regular Boppy but again, I'm pretty sure a regular Boppy could be used identically for the most part.  So not needed, but since I had it already, I love it and am including it on the list simply because I use it all the damn time.

6 Month Update: At around 4 months she was too big to use it comfortably, but it's still sitting on our couch because it's so comfy as a regular pillow! Or because I'm too lazy to find somewhere to store it. One of those things.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Long since packed away.

KID #2 UPDATE: Used it for about 2 months before she started rolling off of it but appreciated having it around.

14. Fisher Price Rainforest Activity Mat
Age used: 6 weeks to 6 months
So my kid probably IS a genius, because she'll lie on her back and stare at this thing for a good five or ten minutes and has been since week one. Which in newborn time is like five or ten hours.  It's cute, the toys are cute, and they are brightly colored, which means that she can see them. She loves the mirror (babies love faces, she's not that conceited yet.) (Well, maybe. She does listen to her dad and I tell her how cute she is all. day. long.) (Note to self: start praising her for her intellectual capabilities, like her newfound ability to suck and breathe at the same time.). This also is on Craigslist quite often so I wouldn't buy new.

6 Month Update: She still loves this, especially now that she can grab things off of it, but now that she rolls she gets "caught" up in the bars, so we rarely use it. She's just a little too long for it.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Long since packed away.

KID #2 UPDATE: CHANGES! We still have and use the play mat above and it's still great. BUT a friend gave us another mat as a hand-me-down that I thought I'd send to daycare with Kid 2 but ended up keeping at our house because she loves it so much. It's the Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano Gym pictured above.  While in use, the overall footprint of this mat is MUCH smaller than the rainforest mat, although it doesn't fold quite as small to put away (since the green plastic parts on this one are rigid).  I thought she wouldn't be as interested in the toys since there aren't as many of them, but she LOVES the mirror in the center and the toys are perfectly places so she can grab them. I also love that the bar can be put down to use for tummy time, and that the piano can be flipped to use while sitting. If I was choosing between the two mats, I'd choose this one by far.


15. Fisher Price Rainforest Jumparoo
Age used: 3 to 9 months

She was too little for it as a newborn, but at around 3 months old, the kid kicks around so much that I decided to throw her in there just to see what she thought. She has pretty good head and trunk control, but I rolled up blankets and put them around her in the seat to help, and then put a couch cushion under her feet so she could reach. And she loves it. Like loves it. Loves loves loves it.  Another Craigslist regular listing, and another thing you don't need right away since they can't use it immediately. Note: although the base folds up a bit, it's a BITCH to store. If you have a tiny studio apartment, skip this.

6 Month Update: The child loves this. It's probably one of the number one must-haves, I'd say. She loves it with every little bouncy fiber of her being! Note: one thing I didn't realize is that the balls of their feet ONLY should be touching the ground; they should not be flat-footed. I don't think that matters quite as much when you're using it early with a cushion, but once the balls of their feet can touch the ground remove the cushion.

9 Month Update: I stopped using this recently, but Chris and the sitter still use it often. It's probably going to be retired soon now that she pulls up and cruises furniture.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Packed away just after 9 months.  However, at a friend's house, I put her in one just for fun and she still enjoyed jumping in it.

KID #2 UPDATE: Kid 2 is 3 months old so I tried it out with her. She loves kicking but wasn't as into it as Kid 1 was. But she was also tired already when I tried it - I need to try it with a freshly woken and fed baby. 

16. Chicco KeyFit 30 Carseat
Age used: 0 to 9+ months, depending on your child's size
Note: Babies R Us has many more colors than Amazon.  Sign up for their mailing list and watch for 20% off coupons, which bring the price down to equal to Amazon.  We had a tough time deciding between this and the Graco SnugRide 35, but in the end I liked the colors on this one better. They are both stellar, super safe, easy to use and install though.  I installed it myself and it was a cinch. We ended up using the seatbelt in the middle seat in back rather than the LATCH system, because there was not LATCH option in the middle, which has been shown to be the safest place for the carseat to go.  The LATCH system isn't any safer than a properly installed seat using the seatbelt - it's just supposed to be easier.  It's high quality, good fabrics (not as plastic-y as some others), and hopefully will last her at least six to nine months. (Please god, please let it last six to nine months. Just get us through the winter so I don't have to deal with getting a squirming baby in and out of the car in the middle of winter!). Please don't buy a carseat off of Craigslist or used unless you personally know the person. Yes, you can check the expiration date on the seat and check for recalls, but you can't guarantee it hasn't been in a crash, and crashes can cause hairline cracks or other issues that don't seem like a big deal...until YOU get in a crash and the seat fails. Bad news. Bad, bad news. Also, check out this visual guide to car seat safety and use - we were the only people at the car seat safety check who were using it correctly, thanks to this guide.

You might want to consider a second base for your family's second car or even for the grandparents (though it's fairly easy to install with just the seatbelt).

6 Month Update: Still using comfortably at 17 pounds and 26.5 inches.  A lot of people think they're too heavy to carry at this point, but I haven't had any issues and still think it's convenient as hell.

9 Month Update: Just stopped using it! She hit 30 inches and outgrew it by length.

KID #2 UPDATE: Using for kid 2 and still love it. 

17. Carseat canopy (if warm) or Fleece cover (if cold)
Age used: 0 to 9+ months
                          
I have these ones, but there are many on the market and on Etsy (mmmmm Etsy). This one looks interesting but I haven't personally used it. The lightweight one helps keep the sun out of her eyes and off of her delicate baby skin when we're out and driving, and (bonus) helps keep grubby hands from touching her all the time when we're shopping. Because everyone loves touching an adorable newborn, and mine is particularly adorable, I think.  Note: I thought this blue/yellow/gray pattern was gender neutral but apparently it's not, since she gets called "he" all the time. Um, sorry about any gender confusion you have during puberty, kiddo!  Note two: ok, I realize the picture shows the blue as, um, BLUE, but it's really aqua blue/green in person, so it's a lot more neutral than it would appear here. I swear.  It also doesn't look quite so much like a Pac-Man game. Not that that's a bad thing.

Important note regarding the fleece cover: these are ONLY safe if you get the version that goes *over* the carseat and does not have a layer that goes between the carseat and the baby (and/or that you feed the straps through). Those are not crash tested and your warranty is voided if you are using them. They can also interfere with the way that the straps fit and work in a crash! Only get one like the one linked, that fits over the entire carseat and has nothing under the baby.

Important note regarding car seats and winter in general: Please, for the love of safety, do not put your baby in a bulky or fluffy snow suit or coat. The fabrics compress in a crash and leave room for the baby to fly out of the seat. One test to see if the coat is too bulky? Put the baby in the car seat while wearing it and tighten the straps appropriately. Then, without loosening the straps, take the baby out and remove the coat. Put the baby back in the seat without changing the tightness of the straps. With a fluffy snowsuit your reaction will probably be OMG THERE IS SO MUCH SLACK THAT IS SO SCARY OMG WHY DO THEY EVEN SELL THESE THINGS?  We use a one-layer fleece jacket and the above fleece carseat cover and she's perfectly warm.  If she needs to come out of her carseat and be in the cold, I bring a warm blanket, but really - when does that ever happen?  Once she's out of the infant seat it will occur more, but that's when the ingenius "backwards coat" trick comes into play - once they are strapped into the carseat, put their big heavy fluffy coat over them backwards. Brilliant!

6 Month Update: The lightweight cover was retired when it got colder, and we're using the fleecy warm one all the time! It's perfect.

9 Month Update: Infant carrier is gone, so this is gone as well.

KID #2 UPDATE: Used the fleecy one from birth since she was a winter baby. Still love it.

18. Baby Trend Snap N Go Stroller Frame
Age used: 0 to 9+ months
So glad we got this instead of the whole stroller system.  The infant bucket seat sits in the frame and straps in.  Because of that, you can only use it as long as you have an infant seat, but let's compare the Snap N Go versus the Chicco stroller that comes with the travel system:  Way cheaper.  Way lighter.  I can't find reliable dimensions, but small and compact versus huge.  Trust me. It's so much easier to use and store than the big bulky stroller from the travel system would be.  It's good quality, maneuvers well, and is perfect for an infant.  When she grows out of her infant seat, we'll get a good jogging stroller for longer outings and jogging walks and a cheapo umbrella stroller for quick trips and places like the mall.   Many people end up getting those two strollers on top of the stroller that comes with the travel system and not using the travel system stroller because it IS so big and heavy, so hopefully I'm skipping a step and saving some cash (then use that cash for a vacation to somewhere with a beach, cabana boy, and built-in nanny). (The one I have is pretty universal and works for various brands of car seats, but Graco and Chicco both make versions as well.)

6 Month Update: Still one of our favorite purchases. It is so easy to carry around, so lightweight, so high quality....I'm going to be very sad when it comes time to retire this when we retire the carseat.

9 Month Update: Infant carrier is gone, so this is gone as well.  We got the B-Agile from Britax and I love it.

KID #2 UPDATE: SO MUCH YES. After using our Britax for so long with the older kid (which I still love) I had forgotten how light and easy the stroller frame was to use. Still highly, highly recommend it. 

19. A diaper bag  you like
Age used: As long as your child is in diapers
Trust, I did not pay full price for this.  I got it on sale from one of those daily deal sites.  But I love it. It's so pretty. And bright. And cheerful. And non-diaper-bag/baby-looking.  And high quality! Buttery soft fake leather.  Or it's so soft it might be real leather from a unicorn or something.  And it's pretty.  So pretty. Pretty bird [pet pet pet pet].  I haven't really used it enough yet to critique, but did I mention how pretty it is?  The point is, you're going to be carrying a diaper bag around a lot. Have one that you like to carry and makes you happy. And sigh, I'll be totally honest and say that you don't need a pretty diaper bag. You can just get a regular functional one like the one below. If you're smart and want to save money, unlike me. Sigh.

3 Month Update: I've been using it for three months now and can't complain about a single thing. Love it!

6 Month Update: Still love!

9 Month Update: Still love!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still loving this. 

KID #2 UPDATE: After nearly 2 years of use, the yellow diaper bag I loved so much started to show its wear quite a bit (the "leather" was flaking off and cracking, etc. Understand that it was WELL used and I am VERY hard on bags (I don't take care of them at all) so this is not at all a complaint about the bag. So I looked for a new one (one that was just slightly bigger to accommodate the stuff of two kids) and ended up with the Timi and Leslie Dawn bag (pictured above). I've only had it a week or so but am in love so far. I've been using it about two months now and really love it. I do miss the bright, fun color, though!

20. A diaper bag HE likes
Age used: As long as your child is in diapers 
(Note: the bag I had recommended, the Go Gaga bag, is discontinued. SOB. I really, really, really love this bag, still. It still looks brand new after 2 years of hard use. If you can find one, GET IT.)

And yeah, okay, I love this bag too.  I technically did not need the yellow pretty bag above (did I mention how pretty it is?). This bag would have served us perfectly on its own.  It did not need backup in the slightest.  It's crazy high quality (like, the highest quality diaper bag I've ever seen), looks cool, and can easily be used after the kid is out of diapers.  My brother wants one for his discs when he plays disc golf. Or "frolf," as he calls it, which I hate because it sounds like some species out of "The Lord of the Rings."  The strap is insanely comfortable to wear.  Plus, the two side insulated bottle pockets are large enough to hold a bottle of wine. MOMMY NEEDS HER WINE.  And, importantly, it's very guy-friendly. I couldn't imagine asking my husband to carry around a girly printed bag or a bag that looks like a purse.  My only complaints would be that there should be a pocket on the flap of the messenger one (wasted space!) and there's a sort of weird divider in the inside that's kind of adjustable but kind of not.  Neither of those things are deal breakers in the slightest, though. I love this bag SO much.

6 Month Update: Still using this for longer trips or to drop off with the babysitter! Still love it!

9 Month Update: Still using!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: I keep this packed for longer trips or trips to the sitter's. I love these bags.  Sad update, though - the company went out of business. :( :( :( You can still find them a lot of places if you search "Go Gaga bags" but I'm heartbroken, because I love them and everyone who tries it goes out and buys one for themselves. 

KID #2 UPDATE: This bag has become our go-to swim class bag or "big" trip bag for all-day trips like the zoo. It's SO comfortable and still in such good shape.

20. Cloth diapers
Age used: As long as your child is in diapers

First, let me point out the obvious: HOW FRIGGIN CUTE IS THAT?

Ok. So. Blah blah blah poop in the washing machine blah blah blah. Whatever. To that I say, "How little do you know about newborns to think that poop is only going to get on the diapers? Are you going to throw away every outfit, blanket, and towel that gets poop on it? Because it will happen!"  Granted, we have had zero blowouts with cloth, but she has pooped in the bathtub on the little sling they lay in, so that went in the wash. And on a towel after the bath (and by extension me).  And on her changing pad.  Sling, towel, my pants, and changing pad: into the wash!  And no one died from poop contamination. Nor did our washer smell like poop, nor was there poop smeared all over the walls.  Cloth diapers are SO easy, especially with a newborn, since newborn poop is water soluble and doesn't need to be rinsed or dumped. The dirty diaper just goes right in the washing machine. We have a great routine down for washing so far (dreading solids, I'll be honest). I can't tell you how many times she's pooped right after I finish putting on a new diaper, and if I was throwing away money each time that happened by putting on a new diaper and I had to change her AGAIN I know I'd be feeling so wasteful.  I love not having giant piles of poopy diapers in the trash. Somehow having giant piles of poopy diapers in the wash seems so much better.  They're also cuter and don't have that horrible chemical smell. At some point I'll write about my wash routine (succinctly: quick wash on cold with no detergent, then I just run the whitest whites cycle, which is on hot and includes an extra rinse automatically) and favorite diapers, but if anyone has any questions in the meantime I'll direct you here: The Awesome Cloth Diaper Blog.

6 Month Update: Still using and still loving! I actually do not mind changing diapers in the slightest, nor do I mind diaper laundry. Which is shocking since I hate washing my and Chris's clothes. But hers? Loads* of fun! (Ha, see what I did there?)

9 Month Update: Still using and loving!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using. Still LOVING!

KID #2 UPDATE: Still using all our cloth diapers from Kid 1 and still loving it. 

21. Pacifiers
Age used: 0 to 4+ months, sporadically
So I had (have?) this theory that if you don't use just one pacifier or bottle nipple the baby won't get nipple confusion because you'll teach them right away that there are different types of nipples and that you suck on each of them differently and they'll easily be able to tell what the boob nipple is and latch well on it.  True? Giving newborns way too much credit? No idea, since we've had so many non-latch related issues with breastfeeding (from the start; pacifiers had nothing to do with it). Regardless, she does take four different types of pacifier with four very different nipples somewhat readily.  That is, she'll take it on HER terms when SHE wants.  If she doesn't want a pacifier at that point there is no way in hell you're going to get her to take it. But if she just wants to suck, she'll take it with no problem.  A lot of breastfeeding resources say no pacifier, and that the baby should get all their sucking needs on mom's breast, but since she wanted to suck 24/7 and I like my nipples attached to my body, that wouldn't work for us. Girl likes to suck, and suck hard.  (Please no dirty sex jokes about my newborn).  We have the Natursutten orthodontic nipple, Natursutten round nipple, Gumdrop, MAM, and the hospital one, which is a lot like the GumDrop but softer.  The hospital and Natursutten orthodontic are her favorites.
3 Month Update: Ignore everything I said above and just get a Wubbanub (above).  I picked on up on the advice of a friend and a) it's adorable and b) it's the first 'toy' she's actually grasped and kind of played with and c) she can put it back in her mouth on her own and d) the stuffed toy part helps it stay in place. GENIUS!  Although I take back the ignore everything, because I do think if your kid loves pacifiers there does seem to be something to the theory of using a bunch of different ones to avoid nipple confusion (at least in our experience). However, Carys just doesn't really like pacifiers and only uses one maybe once a week or so. She likes chewing on the feet of the giraffe more than anything. We still have and use the other pacifiers as well, but this is our go-to that she's most likely to accept.

6 Month Update: So a month after I recommended the Wubbanub, she decided she hates all pacifiers. I know that's a good thing when she's 3 years old and I'm not having to explain to her about the pacifier fairy that takes pacifiers from big kids and gives them to new babies, but right now when all she wants to do is suck on something for comfort and that something is my boob....I wish she took a pacifier.  She does like chewing on the rubber of any pacifier. But not sucking on it.  However, that's rare. Most kids don't reject them like that, so I stand by these recommendations!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Never again took a paci. Boo!

KID #2 UPDATE: So this kid, unlike Kid 1, is a pacifier FIEND. She loves it. And her favorite of all of them? The Wubbanub. BY FAR. 

22. A Comfortable Baby Carrier (my choice: Beco Gemini)
Age used: 0 to 24+ months
This is a time when it's super, super important to TRY BEFORE YOU BUY!!  There are rental programs online where you can select a variety of carriers (wraps, ring slings, structured, whatever) and try them out.  If you're doing it before the baby arrives, I recommend using a bag of sugar or flour to approximate the weight of a baby and walk around with it.  Yes, you'll look like a damn fool, but when you are able to get the perfect carrier for yourself you'll thank me!  I rented the Ergo Performance, the Beco Gemini, and a carrier from Olives and Applesauce from PaxBaby.com's carrier rental program. Of the three, I much preferred the Beco (though it is padded and therefore HOT in the middle of summer in Nebraska, but not a deal breaker in the slightest - I just dressed her to compensate).  But again, I highly recommend that you rent a few yourself and see which works for your body and baby.  We also have a ring sling and a wrap (ZoloWear and SleepyWrap (now called Boba Wrap), respectively) that I really like as well.  Each carrier serves a different purpose: the soft structured carrier (like Beco) is great for walks and hiking and more active outings; the ring sling is great to pop the baby in for a quick trip to the grocery store, and the wrap is great for wearing around the house. You can also nurse easily in most of them. But regardless of which route you go, a good carrier is essential for those times when the baby just wants to be held and by golly you have things you want to get done that require more than one hand!

6 Month Update: I use the Beco for walks and such all the time, and love the ring sling (on my hip now!) for trips to the store. I lent our SleepyWrap to another mama, so I am not sure how that would do at this age. But babywearing is definitely a huge win in our book.

9 Month Update: Still using (Beco mostly) and loving!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using the Beco and loving it. I also have started doing a hip carry with the ring sling for quick trips. 

KID #2 UPDATE: Still using the Beco mostly (though the Sleepy Wrap was great the first few weeks). We recently went hiking with Kid 1 and wore her for a lot of it, at 2 years old and over 30lbs, using the Beco!

23. Baby crack
Age used: Doesn't matter, it's free!







Also known as the "Wee See" collection on YouTube (collection one and two). She loves "watching" TV and I hate her "watching" TV (if the TV is on, she'll crane her neck like 360 degrees to try to catch a glimpse of it), but I don't feel guilty about this, since it's visually stimulating and plays classical music. If she's fussy and I need a few extra minutes to finish something I can play this and it will distract her long enough to let me finish.

6 Month Update: She still loves this and still loves all TV. Too much. WAY too much.  So I (and therefore her) haven't watched TV in months. Is there still an outside world????

9 Month Update: Still works to catch a few minutes of peace to go pee!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: She'll still watch this, but our new "go-to" baby distractor is YouTube videos of other babies. 

24. Productive Parenting website
Age used: It's free! Doesn't matter!
Let's face it, babies can be kind of boring. They don't really...DO much.  They're awesome to look at and you'll probably never get tired of counting their tiny toes over and over, but when it comes to entertaining them...it's easy to get stuck doing the same thing over and over. The Productive Parenting site lets you search for activities based on age (newborn to five years) and you can sign up to get an activity emailed to you daily. Some of them are no-brainers that you probably don't need prompting for (like tummy time), but most of them are great and get you out of the "watch as I shake this rattle in front of you" rut (like darken the room and move a flashlight around for them to watch).

6 Month Update: Still love this for ideas!

9 Month Update: Still using this site!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still great!


25. Sophie the Giraffe
Age used: 3 to 9+ months
She didn't get into Sophie until about three months, but once she did, it was a pure love/love relationship. Even at three months, she could easily grasp it and maneuver it into her mouth to suck and chew on.  Plus, it's adorable. On the downside, it is pricey (but you can get it from Amazon way cheaper than Babies R Us or anywhere else!).  I would definitely buy it again.

6 Month Update: Her FAVORITE toy. She loves it! Talk about it more in the "6 Month Baby Gear" post.

9 Month Update: She's mostly over Sophie.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: She's into OTHER kid's Sophies, but mostly ignores hers. 

KID #2 UPDATE: Interested when I show it to her, but can't quite grasp it yet.

26. Nosfrida
Age used: 0 to 24+ months
I put this here without comment, other than I know you're judging and thinking it's disgusting and you'd never do it and then in a moment of desperation when you can't get the gunk out of your baby's nose and she's miserable and you're miserable and the damn hospital bulb everyone told you to steal won't fit in her tiny nostril and she is acting like you're actually trying to murder her, you remember this and you order it and you now know the amazingness that is....the Nosefrida.

6 Month Update: Lifesaver.

9 Month Update: Haven't had a runny nose in a while but I'm glad to have this for when it does happen.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: We've had lots of snotty noses thanks to teething, and this is still fantastic.

KID #2 UPDATE: After sitting a while, the tube started to get mold in it. YUCK. Also probably my fault. Rather than cleaning it I just got a new one. But it's still a lifesaver. 

27. A Real Towel
Age used: 0 to 24+ months

I realize this looks like just another hooded baby towel, and okay, you're right, you caught me. However, it's a nice one. A (way too) expensive one. However, it's huge and thick. What I learned too late was that those three or four packs of baby towels? Like this one or this one? (Which I registered for and received before I knew better, boo to me!). They are cute. But they don't keep the baby warm. And once the baby weighs more than a loaf of bread, they hardly cover the baby. That generally equals a baby who starts to cry once they are out of the bathtub. If you don't want a crying baby, use a real adult towel, or splurge on something nice and thick and big like this Sprout one (which I got for 50% off on sale, yay!) (also it's really seriously cute).

6 Month Update: Still using, still super cute and warm.

9 Month Update: Still using!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using. Still love!

KID #2 UPDATE: My new favorite are from Carter's - they're even softer and bigger than the Sprout ones (though not organic). 


28. Sassy Look Photo Book
Age used: 0 to 12+ months.
This fun little book is super soft and easy to turn the pages, and she loves chewing on all parts of it. The colors are vivid as well as black and white, so she finds it fascinating, even as a newborn. You can also use it as a photo album for when they are a bit bigger.

6 month update: She kind of lost interested in favor of "real" books. 

9 month update: Put pictures of our family in it and she LOVES it. She carries it around everywhere!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still one of her favorite books!

KID #2 UPDATE: Took the family pics out and she loves looking at the black and white pictures.

29. Baby-safe Sunblock
Age used : 0 to 12+ months

SunSCREEN is not safe for your baby, as it uses chemical blockers that they should be exposed to for the first six months to year of their life. SunBLOCK, however, is safe from birth and uses ingredients in the mixture that physically blocks the sun.  Confusingly, many sunscreens are labeled sunblocks and vice versa. We've been using Blue Lizard (hint: apparently the "sensitive" and "baby" versions are the same but the sensitive is cheaper) and I really like it. Another brand I've heard great things about is Badger Baby sunscreen - another technical sunBLOCK that is safe from the time they are born! I don't think Blue Lizard smells bad or is too greasy, and it covers really well. If you're interested, here's a great discussion on the difference between sunscreen and sunblock and recommendations for babies.

AND IF YOU'RE NURSING, ADD...

Eventually I will do a "nursing" version of this list, but for now, here are the basics.

1. A good pump (and a manual pump or knowledge of manual expression)
Age used: 0 to 12+ months.
I'm using the Medela Pump In Style Advance, on loan from a friend. I know technically you're not supposed to share pumps, but I've known her for years and if she has ebola, she keeps it well hidden. I boiled all the parts and got new parts as well, so I'm confident in using it.  It's a lifesaver for providing milk to babysitters, making your husband do nighttime feeds, and just when your boobs need a goddamn break every once in a while (most people recommend waiting until after 2 to 4 weeks to introduce a bottle).   It is a pain to cart around for just a couple hours, especially if you aren't sure there will be a plug available, so I also have a manual pump that I toss in the diaper bag just in case.  I have the Avent brand manual one, but I'll be honest: I don't love it. I'd probably try something else next time.

6 Month Update: I did have to rent a hospital-grade pump for a few weeks during the Great Supply Tank Thanks to Mastitis Fest 2011, but once everything was back on track this was perfect again. I use it at least twice a week when I'm at work.

9 Month Update: Still using twice a week at least.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still pumping!

KID #2 UPDATE: Thanks to Obamacare, I got a new pump, but stuck with the Medela PISA. Still love it.


2. Boppy or My Breast Friend
Age used: 0 to 6 months 
I have a Boppy, but from everything I've heard and read the My Breast Friend might be the better option for positioning while breastfeeding, but I have hte Boppy, so that's what I'm most familiar with.  We took the Boppy to the hospital at the advice of the person who gave us the Boppy, and I'm so glad we did. Even Chris loves using it to hold her. I will say it's not 100% completely necessary, but it's one of those "very nice to have" things. Maybe don't buy it if things are tight, but ask for it at your baby shower.

6 Month Update: We stopped using it as a nursing pillow as she outgrew it by length, but continued to use it as a pillow to prop her up a bit and more recently around her hips while sitting as a little extra support. Now that she sits well on her own we don't need it as much, though.

9 Month Update: Boppy is long packed away.

KID #2 UPDATE: Used the Boppy quite a bit the first couple months.

3. La Leche League or lactation consultant number on speed dial
Age used: Length of nursing relationship.
Breastfeeding is not going well for us. I can't imagine horribly it'd be going if I didn't have the support of these women and professionals.

6 Month Update: It got much better around the 10-12 week mark and we're still going strong.

9 Month Update: Still nursing! Haven't had to call for help but it's good to know they are there if I need them.


4. Some type of bottle (We mostly used BreastflowDr. Brown'sPlaytex Ventair)
Age used: 0 to 9+ months. 
I liked having a bunch of different bottles that I alternated between because of my pacifier theory above.  This may or may not work for you - some babies are VERY particular about what they will accept.  This is also why I don't recommend buying a thousand of any one type of bottle - if your kid doesn't take that bottle, you're stuck with a thousand worthless bottles. Get one each of a handful of brands and see what your kid likes before committing. The Breastflow bottle is supposed to be best for mimicking the way the baby eats at the breast, but it was a slightly fast flow for her as a one- and two-month-old (she'd choke when drinking, even with the slow flow nipple).  Because of this, I picked up the Dr. Brown's bottles as well, because they have preemie flow nipples that seem to be a better speed (read: she's not choking every other swallow).  We switch back and forth but at as a newborn, she prefers the Dr. Brown's with the preemie nipples.  It's also great for minimizing gas and air bubbles.  It is a lot of parts, but since we don't use bottles that often, it doesn't bother me. If I was washing 5 or 6 bottles a day, I might look for one with less pieces.

3 Month Update: I ended up getting some Dr. Brown's wide-mouth bottles so she'd have to open her lips more like she does when breastfeeding - the regular Dr. Brown's are really tiny nipples and I was worried it might be affecting her latch - BUT they don't make a preemie nipple for the wide-mouth bottles, so I'm glad I had the standard ones as well for when she was smaller.  I also got a Tommee Tippee bottle that I like decently, and a Playtex Ventair and a Playtext Premium Drop-In. So far there's not a bottle I don't like in terms for form/function - just that we needed the preemie nipples from Dr. Brown's (the only preemies we could find) when she was a small baby. The Breastflow are also a great speed for her now. I like the drop-ins well enough, but they're kind of a pain. I did melt the Playtex Premiums a bit when I was trying to sterilize them - whoops (don't boil them!). I also tried both silicone and latex nipples but she didn't seem to have a preference. Someone told me the latex ones are softer and more skin-like so they are better for breast-fed babies, but I don't know if that's necessarily true. 

6 Month Update: We use the wide-mouth Playtex Ventairs and Dr. Brown's almost exclusively for no other reason than that's just what we happen to grab most often. 

9 Month Update: Still using the Playtex and Dr. Brown's. I still have her on stage 1 nipples so she has to work for the milk and doesn't start to prefer them over the boob. She's also started to drink from a sippy cup by now.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: We stopped bottles around 10 months and transitioned to sippy cups. 

KID #2 UPDATE: We've used the Playtext, Dr. Brown's, and Breastflow with good success. 

5. Bed rest pillow
Age used: 0 to 12+ months. 



I keep this on the floor next to the bed. When she wakes up, I grab it, throw it behind me, and presto chango I have support to sit up and nurse without having to rearrange every pillow on the bed!  Seriously, night nursing has become so much easier thanks to this.  Now if only I can master nursing while lying down....

6 Month Update: Since she now sleeps in her crib, I feed her in the rocking chair in her room if she wakes up at night. But I still like this for early morning cuddles!

9 Month Update: Still in our room, being used for reading, etc.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using - not for breastfeeding but for night reading!

KID #2 UPDATE: Still love using this. 

6. Breastfeeding supply caddy
Age used: 0 to 3 months. 
Yes, the second caddy of the list.  You'll quickly learn that taking care of a newborn is all about easy convenience and that you may not think getting up to grab your nipple cream off the bedroom dresser is a big deal, but it is.  Oh, it is.  Have a basket where you keep all your breastfeeding supplies - pump parts, storage bags or bottles, hands-free pumping bra, nipple cream, breast pads....anything you need to nurse or pump.  First, you won't lose anything (unless you're me and can lose the TV remote when you JUST changed the channel and haven't moved position WTF?), and second, when you go from the bedroom to the living room to the bedroom (or wherever your preferred nursing/pumping areas are) you just grab the whole thing and nothing is forgotten.  As always: the name of the game is EASY.

6 Month Update: I don't use this anymore, really, because we no longer need the nipple cream or breast pads or breastshields - but it was so useful when I was using those things.

KID #2 UPDATE: Didn't need quite so much "stuff" with the second kid, since nursing was so much easier, but still nice to have in one place.

7. Nursing camis/tanks
Age used: Length of nursing relationship.
You'll need nursing bras too, but next time I would buy almost all nursing camis and tanks and very few actual nursing bras. Worn under regular shirts, the nursing camis offer full stomach/back coverage (not to mention extra smoothing action, which is awesome for that post-birth jiggle belly).  And also, you know how when you're 9 months pregnant you get insanely hot sometimes? Or maybe you were lucky and you don't know. Or maybe you're a dude who is reading this blog for some bizarre fetish reason and you can imagine (and like to do so while wearing a latex diaper), but you don't know because you don't have a uterus.  But that same hot flash happens when you're nursing (and maybe it's just a post-baby thing that formula-feeding moms get too?).  Camis and tanks are great because you can just whip off your shirt and still be presentable. Presentable-ish.  As presentable as you can be with breastmilk spots and lanolin stains and baby spit up all over your cloths. Oh, for night? The tanks work then too, but I really love the v-neck wrap styles where you can just pull over the cup. Does that even make sense? These:


They are so much easier than trying to fumble with those freaking clips. OH THOSE CLIPS. One-handed my ass (ok, some of them really are, but some of them are a pain in the butt.)

Note: If you're getting nursing bras/camis, look for ones where the strap is attached to the front of the bra somehow. I don't know how to explain this well, but if you unhook the bra cup and the strap isn't attached to anything, it will fall down your back sometimes and it's a pain to try to fish it back up. Some (maybe most) have an under layer that will keep the strap in place. This is pretty much impossible to explain in writing. Just read my mind and know what I mean, please?

6 Month Update: I need more.

9 Month Update: Still using.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still using! Although now I usually just pop the boob out the top and don't bother unclasping it.

KID #2 UPDATE: Still like these - particularly the tanks - so my stomach is covered while nursing. 

ON THE FENCE

These are things that have not yet been used and are, in fact, still in their original box while their fate is decided.  Several of them turned out be very useful closer to the six month stage, so they are things you can delay purchasing until then.

1. Twilight Turtle
I've heard amazing things about this and think it will be wonderful for when she's older.  I also am tempted to set it up in our room so we can sleep under the stars and learn constellations.  I could be an astronomer!  And if I attach vague meanings to what I see, an astrologist as well!  Dual bonus!

6 Month Update: Still in the box.

9 Month Update: Unpacked, still not using, though when I turn it on she does like to stick her hands over the lights.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still not using. She shows an interest in it, but it doesn't do anything for her at night. Maybe when she's older?

KID #2 UPDATE: She's still in our room so we haven't used it with her, but at around 2 years old, Kid 1 discovered the turtle and started using it. 

2. Kiddy Stroller
We did not pay even close to full price for this stroller. We got it on Woot.com. (Please tell me you know Woot?!) She's still too little for it, but just looking at it I think it's going to be a good buy. It's not as high quality as, say, the City Jogger, which is another stroller I was looking at.  But I anticipate liking it.

6 Month Update: Love it! Talk about it in the "6 Month Baby Gear" post.

9 Month Update: Huge change!! Sold and switched to Britax B-Agile. There's a lot I really loved about it and I lot that I actually miss that the Britax doesn't have (baby sits higher! can face forward or back! everything is adjustable!) but it was heavy to lug around and the B-Agile is one-handed to open and close.  If I didn't need something that was a bit easier to use, I'd still be using it - it was a GREAT stroller.

3. Graco Blossom High Chair
Again, we haven't used this. In fact, it's still in the box and I haven't even looked at it. But I love the fact that it can be used in so many ways, and even for two kids at once. Since we're planning on having the second in about a year (or at least trying for the second in a year) it will come in handy. Regardless, I kind of wish we hadn't bought one so early because the box is just taking up room. They'll still have high chairs in six months when she's ready for one; we didn't need it now.

6 Month Update: Love it! Talk about it in the "6 Month Baby Gear" post.

9 Month Update: Still love!

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still loooooving.

KID #2 UPDATE: Started sitting her in it at around 3 months so she could sit with the family, so this time I was glad to have it on hand the early months. Kid 2 has been using the booster seat portion for about a year.

4. Soothe N Glow Seahorse
Another "must have" on every list. Too little to care now!

6 Month Update: We still don't really use it, but it's still very cute.  I would purchase this over something like the Rainforest soother (in the "returned" section") any day.

9 Month Update: Still don't really use it. Still cute.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: She never got into the Seahorse. Sad! I packed it away and will try to bring it out again sometime, but at this point we could have easily done without. She isn't really into any loveys.

KID #2 UPDATE: Haven't used it for Kid 2 yet, but Kid 1 discovered it around 2 years of age and started sleeping with it.

7. Graco Pack and Play
Nothing wrong with the quality of this. We just haven't used it yet. I was planning on using it in our room for her to sleep in, but we got the Rock N Play Sleeper instead.  Then I put it in the family room for when we were down there, but...we're never down there.  If we had another room of the house that we were in often - especially if it was on a different floor like our family room is - it'd come in handy for naps and diaper changes.  If you have that situation, I'd definitely recommend it.  However, we're always on the main floor and I have easy access to diapers and wipes and her swing and bouncer and Rock N Play so we just haven't needed it.  This might be a good "wait and see" item.

6 Month Update: We lent it to a relative who needed a crib. So it never got used by us. However, I still think it'd be great if you had two levels or spaces that the baby might sleep in, or if you travel a lot and the baby has outgrown the Rock N Play Sleeper.

9 Month Update: Still with relative.

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Still with relative, but I need to get it back because there have been several times we've been on overnights to places and it would have been EXTREMELY helpful to have.

KID #2 UPDATE: Never got the first one back from the relative, but around a year of age I broke down and got one from Craigslist for Kid 1 to use because there were so many times we were traveling and needed one for her to sleep in. At around 2 years of age, she was too long for it, so I replaced it with a little travel cot. Kid 2 hasn't used the pack and play yet but it's just a matter of time.


RETURNED

1. JuJu Be Hip Bag
This is the one thing I bought that I was actually disappointed in. (Yes, at one point I had three diaper bags. WHAT?)  The quality was so much lower than the other two bags I had, and the changing pad was essentially just a piece of unpadded plastic. I couldn't imagine using it on any hard surface.  It looks like a great gender-neutral, dad-friendly bag, and I was initially happy with it....but once the other bags arrived and I looked at some of the other options (even the Skip Hop bags at Target) I realized how flimsy and inferior it was.  A lot of people swear by the JuJu Be bags, but I'll never buy another one.

2. Rainforest Soother
We didn't try this until she was five or six months old, but immediately it was apparent it needed to go back. It is SO BRIGHT.  She loved watching it and loved the sounds - but it definitely did not soothe her. She'd cry when it turned off. She eventually learned to turn it on herself by kicking it (probably accidentally), but if she ever flailed around in her sleep and turned it on, the extremely bright light would wake her up. Returned!

9 month update: It has such good reviews, I feel like I'm missing something with it - but we have not missed having this at all, so we're totally fine without it. I think she'd like watching it while awake, but it did nothing in terms of soothing or helping her sleep. 


3. Almost every toy that requires batteries.
Okay, I realize that multiple things I listed do actually take batteries, but I'm talking toys here, not baby gear.  I am trying hard to keep those types of toys out of the house, but I know in the long run it will be a futile effort. As a friend told me, the first year people buy cute clothes and books to impress the mom...and starting with the one year birthday people buy loud flashy toys to impress the kid.  But until then, hopefully she can survive without Baby's First Singing and Talking Laptop. 

(Almost) 12 Month Update: Ok, we have a few (sigh) toys with batteries. A phone, some keys, and a play house, and a few other things. But I still try to keep it as battery-free as possible, and I still think that when they are 0-6 months you can easily get by without them.

4. Clothes that weren't my style or that were the wrong season.
Let's face it...the poor kid has me for a mother. Which sadly means I gave her a fucked-up name that she'll forever be pronouncing and spelling for people (but seriously, she's growing up in world where people take the perfectly good name Aidan and spell it Aiydenn, so...at least hers is a real name. Spelled right).  And it also means that until she can dress herself, I get to dress her. Which means no sparkly pink t-shirts proclaiming that she's a spoiled brat or that she's the boss or even that she's a pretty princess.  A good chunk of her clothes are clothes I would wear, and that means they skew more gender neutral and classic. She has beautiful dresses, trust me.  And I can't wait to put her in them.  But they are more A and less B.  There's nothing wrong with B...it's just not my style.  And also she'll probably grow up to be a stripper. But mostly nothing wrong with it. If you want to raise a stripper. (KIDDING, please don't hate me if you love that style.)


   A: Yes                                                         B: Please god no


And we probably won't have much use for sundresses in size 6-9 months, since it will be the middle of a frigid winter here.  Conversely, we don't have use for a snowsuit in size 3 months. 

So for all those clothes, they either got returned or given away.  There's no reason to keep them unless someone made them or they have been passed down through five generations.  Instead get something practical, like more kimono-style tee shirts.

5/6.  Bottle Warmer and Wipe Warmer 
Someone told me to take these back, and THANK GOD. As they said, if your baby gets used to always having perfectly warmed bottles and a perfectly warm wipe, what are you going to do when those aren't options?  Carys taking room temperature wipes (well, since we cloth diaper, wipe spray) and bottles that are even a bit cool (we take the cold edge off but don't try to get them warm) was a godsend.

6 Month Update: Have never missed either of these things, even in the dead of winter.

9 Month Update: Still not missing. 

7. Duplicates
This is obvious, but some people keep them around "just in case."  Don't. Unless it's a lovie (blanket or stuffed animal) that you think the kid is going to latch onto and never let go, you don't need more than one bouncer or more than one diaper bag play mat.  The more stuff that comes into the house, the messier it will be.  We got 8 million blankets. We kept the hand-knit ones, a few lightweight ones, a few midweight ones, and a few heavier ones and returned the others.  We got six almost identical large stroller toys.  She has about 100 stuffed animals. We took any back anything that we could (unless it was exceptionally cute).

I realize this may sound ruthless, but seriously: CLUTTER.  Baby does not need 100 stuffed animals. They will literally band together and take over the entire house at night when they come to life (other people believe that, right?).  We couldn't even store all the blankets, there were so many.  Her toy basket is overflowing and she can't even hold her head up yet.  Whenever I took something back, I made it a point to get something else for her because otherwise I felt guilty, but it could have been something as simple as a board book, and the rest I spent on ice cream.  If there is anything you're not sure about, keep it in the box and keep the receipts in case you decide you don't need it.  Or, be super crazy ruthless like me and just take it back.  If I decide later she does need the talking giraffe that teaches your baby Chinese, I can always go back and get it.  I even took back a bunch of stuff I registered for in the first place. When registering you go kind of crazy and everything looks like something you need. Then when you actually receive them, you wonder why the hell you asked for it.  Or you take time to do research and realize that you don't really need a bottle warmer, especially one that gets terrible reviews.  If that happens to you, take it back!

Man, I know that makes me sound ungrateful and cold-hearted, but you will get so. much. stuff. that you don't need and if you aren't ruthless with your keep/go away decisions, you'll end up with a house full of baby stuff that is never used and that you'll be desperately trying to sell at your Aunt Judy's annual garage sale and/or possibly on an episode of "Hoarders" in a few years.

Note: I linked to the new version of all of these things, but watch Craigslist for used options.  I got several of the things on the list that way for way cheaper than new.  Off the top of my head, I know I've seen the Rock N Play, tons of Pack N Plays, swings, bouncers, play mats, etc. listed all the time.


OTHER STUFF

1. Bath tub
We have the Fisher Price Rainforest tub. It's fine. It's cute. As far as I can see, they're all pretty much the same.  The sling insert was great for when she was a newborn. She outgrew it pretty quickly, and then there was an awkward period between the sling being too little and her not being quite big enough to sit in the tub herself. We got a cheapo foam baby bath insert to use in the Rainforest Tub until she got a big bitter that worked well.

(Almost) 12 Month Update:  At almost a year old, she still takes her baths in the baby tub - it's just faster and uses less water than filling up the whole tub. She's certainly old enough to take a bath like that, but we're both content with the baby tub still.   

KID #2 UPDATE: I got the Angelcare Bath Support (pictured above) for Kid 2, because she was going to be taking baths with her big sister from the start.  I really like it - I fill the tub up (more than recommended for use with the bath support, but I am RIGHT there at all times) and she lays in this while her sister bathes. It makes bathtime really easy. I also think that if I had to give Kid 2 a bath on her own and wanted to save water/time by not filling up the sink all the way, it would fit in our single-basin kitchen sink. The footprint is fairly large so I'm not sure it would fit in a double basin sink or bathroom sink. If I didn't have Kid 1 to bathe, I'm sure I just would have used the rainforest tub again and been fine with it. 


13 comments:

  1. Love this list! :) I totally agree with a lot of the "must-haves" - we were expecting a big baby, too, and I figured no newborn clothes would come close to fitting Elle. I was wrong, wrong, wrong, even though she was born weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces. I can tell you that at 1 year old (?!) my daughter loves the sea horse (it's seriously magical), loved the rainforest jumperoo (although it takes up a lot of floor space) and goes through spurts of love fests with Sophie the Giraffe. The turtle has proven great to distract her during diaper changes, and sometimes will stop a particularly fussy time when she's tired but won't sleep. I heart cloth diapers as well, and I hate all of the batteries but have accepted it by using rechargeable ones whenever I can. The clutter hasn't gotten better, despite our attempts to minimize the stuffed animals and cutesy, identical stroller toys such ... sigh. I'm alllllll about Craigslist and consignment stores - and consignment stores are a great place to try and dump some of the duplicates/unneeded items that you can't take back to the store. Again, so glad you put together this list - from my experience, I think it's incredibly helpful and thorough.

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  2. And sorry that was like the longest comment in Blogger history :)

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  3. Oh, you reminded me of a couple things I should do/buy! And I had no idea there was such a thing as the Snuza monitor. I want to go buy one now. I am an Angelcare user and I would seriously die of stress without it, but the Snuza would work in all of the alternative places she sleeps, like the rock n play (yeah, it's awesome), and the pack n play (WTF is up with all the 'n' use in baby items?).

    I am pretty sure that carseat cover is neutral, but I don't know either. My he got called a she plenty as a newborn.

    Also, if you have any more kids, BFing will be easier with them! I had all of the difficulties in the book with Finley (oversupply, overactive letdown, trouble latching, trouble sucking, trouble everything), but baby K has breastfed like a pro from the first latch just minutes after birth. Having been through the tough times (6 months before he was BFing well enough to get a full meal), I can commiserate and I hope you guys are doing well. Glad you're seeing an IBCLC!

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  4. Also, Carys is SUPER cute.

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  5. I have so much of the same attitude towards baby related clutter, not keeping duplicates, and throughout this whole post I was nodding yes at just about everything. I agree esp with the baby clothes, and the Please God No category...funny! Now...I will be in trouble 'cause I don't have any newborn size clothes, only 0-3. I am also counting on a big baby... oops!

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  6. PS. In need to get Sophie the Giraffe for myself to chew on, she looks adorable. I got Chan from the Chan Pie Gnon collection, they are awesome for chewing as well.

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  7. So excited this is up! I checked earlier this week and was bummed that you'd not had time yet because I really need this and didn't wantt o have to bug you again. hahahaha Woot. Score. Can't wait to try these all and kick you for the things that were a waste for us. ;) xoxoxoxo

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  8. Immediately after reading this, I sent my husband out to get a noise machine. We have been having trouble with day/night mix up (our daughter is 17 days old) and last night she slept wonderfully with the noise machine and swaddling with arms in. I had always swaddled her arms out because she seemed to prefer it but thanks to your post, I got plenty of sleep - finally! Carys is adorable btw! Love the little legwarmers.

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  9. Yay! The dress made the post. That def made me smile. :o)

    Carys is really such a beautiful baby!

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  10. This is so helpful... I definitely updated my registry while having your blog up.

    Carys is seriously one of the cutest babies I've ever seen! Such a beauty!

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  11. Carys is SOOOO CUTE!!! Wow! Very cute and fun post. As a 2nd time momma, I agree with a lot of your recommendations. I've also been blown away with how different my kids' likes and dislikes have been! There are things I use the heck out of this time that I didn't the first time and vice versa. Thanks again for the great post. I really enjoyed it :)

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