Tried and True: Some Essential Baby Gear

A Sudden Boom in Parenting Magazines

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[This post will change over time.  I’d like to do a lot more with it so check back in a few weeks]

last updated 1/22/12

When we got pregnant with our first baby, we took the minimalist approach.  We don’t need all that stuff that Babies R’ Us tells us we need.  The swings, the monitors, the chairs, the clothes.  We don’t need any of that.  Our parents and grandparents did without all that stuff, so can we.  So we welcomed our beautiful baby girl with no monitor, no bouncer, no changing table.  We had the essentials – bottles, some breastfeeding gear, carseat, stroller, clothes – but not much else.  We didn’t even have a crib.  And that’s exactly the way we wanted it.

Then life happened.  That beautiful baby girl hated sleep.  And hated not being held every second of the day.  It took little time to convince us that we needed “stuff”.  Not every last thing out of a Parents magazine, but anything that would get us 5 more minutes of glorious, wondrous sleep or even just enough time to run to the bathroom to pee.

That is what I offer here.  What “stuff” made our lives a little easier.  What worked for us.  It might not work for you, but, hey, that’s what advice is.  Especially here on a blog, you can take it or leave it, and our poor friends now won’t have to listen to me droning on and on about why we chose a Moby over a Snugli.  I also hope this is helpful for friends who have no idea what to buy their pregnant friends.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby – Marc Weissbluth

As I said previously, our first baby was a H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E sleeper.  I was teetering on the brink of insanity I was so sleep deprived.  This book changed our life.  It saved our marriage, it saved me, it totally changed our life.  Trust me, I went through a million sleep books.  I tried the No-Cry Sleep Solution, Kim West, Happiest Baby on the Block, and endless web forums.  This one works.  It’s hard and you really have to commit to it and stick with it.  It took us about 6 months to get O’s sleeping on track but now she sleeps 11 hours straight at night and takes a 1.5 hour nap during the day regularly.  She’s 2.

The Birth Book – Dr. Sears

I also read a lot of books on birth.  For me this was just the right mix of hippy and mainstream info that I needed to know.

The Vaccine Book – Sears

Even if you never jumped on the vaccines-could-be-bad bandwagon, this is a very informative book that really all parents should read so that they know what they’re injecting their kids with.

Hungry Monkey – Matthew Amster-Burton

So funny and a great book for dads.  It includes some recipes but I just like the story about this guy and his daughter.  It’s not sappy.  Just witty and real.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – La Leche League

If you are breastfeeding, this is a must-have reference book.  I didn’t read it cover to cover but when I have a question, it always has the answer.

Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping – James McKenna

Co-sleeping seemed so second nature to me.  Probably because my parents co-slept with me so I just assumed that everyone did it.  We didn’t even buy a crib until Olivia was about 9 months old.  After having kids though, I’ve found that this is an extremely controversial subject with people on both sides completely convinced that the other side is a group of blubbering idiots.  I don’t think co-sleeping makes you a good or a bad parent, it just worked for us.  And it makes breastfeeding soooo much easier.  Or rather you’ll (the mom) get way more sleep doing it.  So if you’re thinking of co-sleeping, please read this book.  It teaches you everything you need to know to SAFELY co-sleep.

Lauren crib – Graco

Our girls are so close in age that we actually bought two of these.  They are very sturdy and look nice.  This crib is the least expensive crib we could find that fell into both those categories.

Breathable Bumpers

I think the biggest fear every mother has is that her baby will suffocate or stop breathing.  I feel like everything you read about babies somehow mentions how they could die from suffocation.  So of course when I heard about those pillow-y bumpers being dangerous, these seemed an obvious alternative.  You really do need bumpers because newborns have this uncanny ability to never move but the second you’re not looking get a leg stuck through the crib slats.  Just buy these.  Once less scenario of how-can-my-baby-die-if-I’m-not-staring-at-them that has to run through your head.

Sleep Sheep

Seems stupid but we have used this everyday since we bought it.  We still use it.

Nosefrida

This is one of the most useful things you will ever buy.  It is completely assured that one day your baby will have such a stuffy nose that you will have to suck out their boogers.  This works way better than those bulb syringe things.  I could never get the hang of those.  Babies don’t like this, but it is very effective.  Just spray some saline drops in each nostril and suck those pesky boogers out.

Itzbeen

This was only useful for us for the first 6 weeks or so.  But during those first 6 weeks, you’re so groggy from lack of sleep that it may seem like you just changed the baby’s diaper an hour ago and it was actually 5 hours ago.  This just helps you keep track of all that.

Exersaucer

All babies love these.  All of them.  And you’ll need a place to put them while you scarf down a quick bowl of cereal so just buy it.  Trust me, those 2 minutes of not holding the baby make a big difference.

Changing Table

We did without one for about 18 months.  Then we gave in and got one.  I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity.  You can change a baby on the floor or on a bed but a changing table is mighty convenient and saves your back from bending over so much.

Aden + Anais blankets

Again, this is mostly an item to keep you from envisioning your baby suffocating because the blanket somehow covered the baby’s head.  They’re so thin, that even if they did cover the baby’s head, the baby would have no problem breathing through it.  One less thing to worry about.  They are my favorite blankets and, really, the only ones I use.

Medela Harmony Breast Pump

It’s a handheld pump.  Since I stayed home with the girls, I only pumped a bottle once in a long while and it worked fine enough.  Pumping is terrible and you’ll never grow to like it but this one was fine enough.

My Brest Friend

My first baby, along with being a horrible sleeper, was really bad at breastfeeding.  It took about 3 months to finally get the hang of it.  This pillow made all the difference.  At first I tried a Boppy which works for a lot of people.  But if you struggle with breastfeeding, you should get this pillow.  It just made my life better.  It was more comfortable and stable.  I didn’t have to worry about it sliding and messing up O’s latch which probably had taken me 5 attempts to get just right.

Lanolin

No matter how good at breastfeeding your baby is, your nipples will get sore.  Use this.  It really does make you feel better.

Washable Breast pads

Throw-away breast pads were fine in a pinch but these were way more comfortable.

Breastfeeding cover

I held out buying one for a long time because I thought a blanket could do the same thing.  Wrong.  Eventually you’re little one will start squirming and pulling, thus, inevitably, pulling a blanket down just as a stranger has stopped to comment on what cute little feet your baby has.  A breastfeeding cover just ensures that your baby can never wriggle in a way that exposes you to the world when you don’t want that.

Diaper Dekor pail

We also fought this purchase for a long time.  But eventually we got tired of walking down to the dumpster every half day.  This works really well at keeping in the smell.

Baby Bjorn bib

This is the only bib you have to buy.  Seriously.  You won’t need any other food bib whatsoever.

Video monitor with night vision

No matter how much you fight it.  At some point you’re going to have to let your kid cry in their room.  When this time comes, you will praise God for this invention.  This stops you from going into your baby’s room every 5 minutes to make sure they are still breathing or to make sure they haven’t gotten their head stuck through the crib slats.

Rocking chair

A must-have.  Start saving now; they aren’t cheap.  We bought a cheap Cracker Barrel rocking chair at first.  What a waste of money.  Just get a good quality glider.  I think I’ve spent more time in that thing over the last two years than anything else, including my bed.

Sandy’s Shoes

This is for when the baby gets older and is needing good shoes.  This is a little local store that is wonderful.  Really great customer service and you never have to worry about buying bad shoes.  All their shoes are great for kids.  They also have a great collection of toys.

Pacifier clip

Neither of our kids took to using pacifiers but these pacifier clips work great of things other than pacifiers.  Babies love to throw things on the floor so just attach their favorite stuffed animal or sippy cup of whatever with these things and you won’t have to worry about it falling on some gross restaurant floor.

Beaba food maker

Probably the funniest realization I had while preparing for baby #1 is that I could make baby food.  I thought all babies had to eat the jarred stuff because it had something special for them.  This food maker is not a necessity but if you’re planning on making your own baby food it makes it really easy and saves different pots and pans and blenders from washing.

Little Partners Learning Tower

Best. Invention. In. The. World.  When O got older we would get into so many fights because she wanted to see what I was cooking or because she wanted to see what was on the counter.  This ended all those fights.  And you don’t have to worry about them falling off a bar stool and breaking their arm (that actually happened to some friends of ours).

Moby

This is the first baby carrier I used.  O loved it and I carried her in it for about a week straight when we visited New York and just walked all day.  I like it in the winter.  In the summer, it’s a lot of fabric and gets really hot.

Baby Bjorn

Lina hated the Moby since day one.  We bought this second hand and Brandon loves to use it.  It’s more masculine than the Moby.  I never liked it.  It always hurt my back but probably because it is set for Brandon’s height.

Amazon Mom

We get our diapers, formula, and wipies through this.  We have saved a ton of money and we never have to deal with running out of this stuff because it just shows up on our doorstep.

Cart cover

You don’t want your kid sucking on the HEB shopping carts or the Kerbey Lane high chairs.  It just makes me feel better.

Prenatal yoga – Yoga Yoga – Alice Duffy

This is probably the best advice I could give you.  People have told me in the past that they aren’t “yoga people”.  Uh, honey, neither am I.  I’m the most awkward, clumsy person you’ll meet but this makes a big difference.  It’s not like you can run while you’re pregnant or do kickboxing or anything.  This makes all these really important birthing muscles strong.  I took prenatal yoga at Yoga Yoga starting at about 24 weeks.  I tried out a bunch of different teachers but Alice Duffy was by far my favorite.  Her classes are always packed.  I went to prenatal yoga twice a week for my first pregnancy and then 0 times a week with my second.  In labor and birth it made a big difference.  With my second baby I wasn’t as strong and I could tell while laboring my legs got a lot more tired and pushing was harder because I just wasn’t in shape the way yoga makes you in shape.  Just try it out a couple of times.  If anything, it’s just nice to stretch and move with a bunch of other pregnant women.

Diaper bags – Not these: Columbia Trekster bag, Skip Hop bag

I don’t have a good suggestion about a diaper bag.  We never found one that worked great for us.  We just eventually settled on something that works, kinda.  But we did get these two bags and they definitely didn’t work for us.  The Columbia bag was a weird shape and didn’t hold that many things as a result.  And the Skip Hop bag didn’t have zippers for all the middle pockets which means if you had the bag and and bent over to pick up your little one, stuff would fall out.  Whatever bag you buy, just make sure every compartment zips.

PLAN toys

Enviromentally sound and wonderful.  Great gift-giving presents.

Dirt Devil Gator 10.8V

I bought this thinking I could use it for the stairs.  That didn’t work, it doesn’t have enough suction for that but what I did find was that it is perfect for sucking up the piles of stuff after you sweep. We have to sweep a lot because the little one eats everything she can find on the floor.  This makes after-sweeping so easy.

Shark Steam mop

If you have hardwood floors, you’ll want to get this.  You won’t have to worry about using chemicals or cleaners to clean the floor.

Playtex Coolster Tumbler Sippy Cup

My daughter had this cup and a speech therapist that works with infants came up to us and praised us for using the perfect sippy cup.  I faked a knowing head nod and thanked God for leading me to pick the shiny purple cup over Dora.  A total accident that we bought this, but hey, if speech therapists like it, so do I.

Of course, in the end, you don’t NEED all this stuff.  People have raised kids for centuries without anything.  But it does make life a bit easier.  But don’t freak out, you won’t need all this stuff before the baby comes.  You’ll piece it together as months and years go on.  And if you register for all this stuff, you’ll probably get a lot of it at baby showers.  We got a lot of this gear as gifts.

The best thing in the end you can do for your baby is to be physically and mentally prepared for the adventure.  Good luck!

 

Comments

  1. Thank You!! There are so many baby products out there, it’s insanely overwhelming. I just added almost all of these things to my baby registry. 🙂 And we actually purchased a Lauren crib earlier this week, so glad to hear that it’s a good one.

  2. We love those Aden and Anais blankets too. They’re bigger than most baby blankets so we can swaddle him better. You’re evidently not supposed to swaddle babies anymore when they’re asleep, but no one told our baby and he won’t sleep without it.

    • Not supposed to swaddle anymore? That’s a new one for us… either Austin is “behind” the times or the AAP just decided to change it something. Crazy.

      • Our pediatrician said they should just wear a onesie and be in their bare crib — no blankets, no toys, no swaddling, no bumpers, nothing else. But he doesn’t stay asleep if we don’t swaddle him, so we use those thin little blankets.

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