Top Baby Gear

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day!!! I hope all the moms out there  had a wonderful day, and I hope everyone else found a way to let their moms know they care. This was my very first Mother’s Day, and my lovely husband made the whole weekend special. So in honor of new moms and moms-to-be, I thought I’d share some of my favorite baby gear.

I don’t know about you, but I was completely overwhelmed by the vast array of goodies out there. In fact, when my husband and I walked around Babies ‘R’ Us, scanning items into our baby registry, we walked out with only three items scanned. I added more items eventually, but only after researching them for safety and customer satisfaction, and even then carefully considering whether or not I thought the item was an absolute necessity.

Despite my caution, I still found myself lacking certain items that I hadn’t thought I’d need, and I found myself storing items that I’d purchased too soon and wishing I had the storage space for something more immediately useful. So I’ll start with my must-haves and end with my don’t needs:

  1. Bouncer – I’m referring to the lightweight, wire-rimmed chairs that are super mobile and so very versatile. Mine came with a removable toy bar and the chair vibrates. My son didn’t like the toys until he was four months old, so I’m glad the bar was easy to remove. He also loathes the vibration, so I keep that switched off. The bouncer is great for keeping him close to me while I do dishes, cook, go to the bathroom, etc. And now that I’m introducing him to solids, the bouncer makes feeding him super easy.
  2. Swaddlers – Your typical receiving blanket is rectangular and on the small side. It works okay for small newborns. However, if you have a baby like mine (almost nine pounds, long, and extremely wiggly), these blankets serve only one purpose: To frustrate the hell out of you. Okay, two purposes: They make excellent burp cloths. If you’re going to go the blanket route regardless, I highly recommend the receiving blankets made by Aiden & Anais that are made of muslin. They’re huge, and more importantly, they’re square. The shape is key because to properly swaddle a baby, you need to start out with a diamond-shaped blanket. A rectangular blanket cannot be made a diamond, no matter how hard you try. They’re pricey, but man are they worth it. Besides, the large size makes them useful for other things such as shielding your baby from the sun when pushing them in a stroller. But when your baby’s brand new and you’re sleep deprived and not thinking clearly, I recommend using an actual swaddler. There are several brands out there, but they are all basically designed the same. It’s a sack with arm holes, a zipper down the front, and wings that cross snugly over each other and velcro to the sack. When you have a Houdini baby like mine, swaddlers are the only thing keeping your baby’s arms from wriggling free and waking him/her up each time he/she startles. Hooray for sleep!
  3. Cheap burp cloths – You never know what traits your baby will have; mine is a puker. I go through the euphamistically named burp cloths by the dozen, per day. Don’t waste your money on pricey ones or on ones that are cute. There’s nothing cute about “spit-up.” You’ll be using these things to wipe up breastmilk/formula off your baby’s face, arms, chest, legs, clothes, bedding, floor, and at times your hair.
  4. Board Books – I started reading to my baby every night from the time he was about three months old. At first it just signaled to him that it was snuggle time, but now he’s really interested in the pictures and follows along. Some of his favorites: The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Goodnight, Moon; and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
  5. Soft, Quiet Rattles – Every baby’s different, and mine hates the sharp, loud sounds of a traditional rattle. What he prefers is the muffled rattle that comes from a squishy, fuzzy rattle. He also likes the soft clang that kind of sounds like a bell.
  6. Baby Bjorn – My aunt bought me this carrier, and I promptly exchanged it for an Ergo Baby when a friend of mine told me how much more she liked it. I hated the Ergo Baby. It was complicated and made my baby cry. The Baby Bjorn, however, is straight forward, no muss no fuss. Maybe when my son gets a little older, we can can try the Ergo once more. Until then, we’re very satisfied with the Baby Bjorn.
  7. Baby Monitor – I have the Angelcare baby monitor that has a motion sensor you put under the mattress. FREAKIN’ AWESOME! Most of the time I have the sound turned way down because I live in a small enough place that I can hear him when he wakes up. But the peace of mind that comes with knowing an alarm will sound if the monitor doesn’t detect motion is totally worth it. Also, you can set the alarm to go off if the room dips below or rises above specific temperatures. This is great for me since my son’s room is always a drastically different temperature than my bedroom.
  8. My Brest Friend – I like this feeding pad better than the Boppy because it’s firmer, providing more support, and it has a little back support for mom.
  9. Nursing Stool – A footstool that has an adjustable board to suit whichever angle you like best, this little stool is a calf muscle and back saver! Especially when you use a feeding pad, you’ll find that you’re on your toes and hunched over in order to get your baby to your breast. This alleviates all of that nonsense.

Things to Postpone Buying (or not buy at all):

The reason I say postpone is because every baby’s different; they have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. You don’t really know what’s going to be useful until they get a little older.

  1. Swing – Case in point, everyone says swings are a lifesaver for parents. Not for me. My son has always hated and apparently will always hate his swing. Either wait to buy one until after your baby is born and you’ve had a chance to put him/her into your friend’s or a store display’s, or save your receipt just in case it turns out the swing ain’t so special after all.
  2. High chair – Now that my baby is five months old, he just started eating solids. But he’s still not using his high chair. Instead, I put him in his bouncy chair. He’s only eating about a tablespoon of food at a time right now, and I’m spoon feeding him, so there’s really no reason to bust out the high chair as yet. Save your money for more immediate needs, like diapers, and purchase a high chair later on when your baby actually needs his own perch from which he can fling food to his heart’s desire.
  3. Co-Sleeper – I attached this little bed to mine and promptly forgot what it was like to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time. Baby’s are LOUD SLEEPERS. I awoke constantly because I thought my son was awake. And visions of me conveniently picking up my baby from his bassinet and feeding him in bed were also promptly quashed. I don’t know what kind of boobs you need in order to feed in the side-lying position, but I don’t have ’em. My advice, buy a bassinet, but one that’s freestanding. Despite all my worrying, I never slept better than when I put my sweet little babe into his crib–in his own room.
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