Am I the only one who has panic attacks when going to Babies R Us (by the same virtue, David’s Bridal did the same thing to me. Geez Louise, that store is horrific.)? I refused to even have a baby registry there because I didn’t want to terrify my friends. Baby stuff is overwhelming. There is way too much of what you will never use, it’s all priced way too high for the lack of longevity for each product, and, quite frankly, most of it doesn’t fit in with my home décor. My baby doesn’t care about what he wears, or what his stroller looks like, so the appeal is for the parents, right? If you’re anything like me, chances are the idea of having neon cartoons and characters splashed all over your house is nauseating. Wading through the sea of scary baby stuff took me several months and several phone calls to my sisters. By request, this post will be all about crap expectant parents don’t need, or more specifically, what you will need, so you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting solo.
So, let’s start with the big stuff – cribs, changing tables, rockers, recliners, etc.
As far as a place for the new one to sleep goes, bassinets (in my opinion) are a waste of money, as are Moses baskets and co-sleepers. Some people swear by them, blah blah blah, but face it- if you’re financially conscious at all, realize that these tiny little beds will be used for a few months at most, and realistically, you’re going to have to sleep train your baby to sleep in his crib after he has outgrown the tiny baby bed you spent $150 on. So that’s two different exertions of effort to teach your baby to sleep somewhere, and you’re out lots of dough. My advice is to invest in a crib (or buy a used one and replace the mattress with a firm crib mattress) that converts into a toddler bed, and later, a twin bed. This is a big purchase, and you should make it last as long as possible.
The mom of the baby will probably want the changing table to match the crib. Craigslist is great for finding gently used tables (again, replace the changing pad, buy some washable covers, and you’re set) that will very likely match the crib. Another option is a handy dandy changing table attachment that goes on top of a dresser or bookshelf, and when the little one is out of diapers, you can sell it or take it to the local thrift store. Truth be told, Captain Laser Pants and I don’t use the washable covers because our little guy tends to explode on a regular basis, which makes for a lot of laundry. We use old towels to cover the changing table.
Gliders, rockers, recliners, rocker recliners – this is a personal preference for the mama jama. I am a big fat fan of my rocker recliner (it is dark brown leather, from Big Lots, and it is quite pretty). It is comfortable enough for me to fall asleep in, and when I no longer need to take snoozes in the nursery, it will look great in our living room with the rest of our furniture. I have heard a lot of moms tell me that they wished they had had rocker recliners in their nurseries instead of traditional gliders. I don’t think traditional gliders are all that aesthetically appealing in the first place, so something more versatile was what I wanted. If you price shop, you’ll find that gliders and rocker recliners can be the same cost. Don’t buy a rocker recliner that is from a baby boutique store- your bank account will be $400-$800 thinner because of where you bought it. Discount stores that sell new furniture will have them for much cheaper, and I promise, they do the exact same thing as the ones from the boutiques – rock and recline.
When it comes to strollers (and diaper bags, baby carriers, and pretty much everything else parents use in public) I feel like it’s only fair to take both parents into consideration for the purchase. Will mom be the primary stroller pusher? Is it more for shopping trips, trips to Disney World, or running marathons? Will dad feel silly pushing a hot pink and lime green flower pattern stroller at the park? For Team Gwinn, we both wanted a stroller that we felt comfortable pushing around in public. We are both active, and we wanted something that would stand up to trips to the dog park and runs through the neighborhood. It was financially sensible to find something we could use for pretty much every activity that would also have a long usage. My sister definitely helped with the research on our travel system – we ended up with the Baby Trend Millennium travel system. It is freakin’ awesome- most jogging strollers can’t be used until the baby is around 6 months old. The Baby Trend travel system allows you to use it immediately, so you don’t need multiple strollers. It is really lightweight (not umbrella stroller lightweight, but for a full size stroller, it’s very light), looks gender neutral, and is durable. Other stroller brands include Jeep, Britax (from what I understand this is the Rolls Royce brand of strollers, so it’s stupid expensive), Gracco (the “Honda” of strollers, price efficient with plenty of options), Chicco and Cosco. I will tell you that Baby Trend is affordable and has entire travel systems, as do the other brands, but I wouldn’t have picked the Millennium if I didn’t feel it was the best.
Diaper bags and baby carriers: if mom is the only one ever carrying these two items, then style and functionality may be the only concerns here. Diaper bags come in a crazy wide variety, from super patterned to very obviously diaper baggish, expensive to cheap, and minimalistic and not at all a diaper bag. The price range is broad, and again, since we both figured we’d have to carry it (and I’m not super girly), we went with the Diaper Dude messenger bag. It looks like a laptop bag, and it holds everything we need to take with us. Some moms like the Vera Bradley bags, Skip Hop, or JJ Cole. These brands are all relatively pricey, so if you’re looking to save, just use a big bag you like from Target with lots of pockets.
In the baby carrier category, I feel like versatility and functionality trump appearance. One of my girlfriends loves her Moby wrap. She also has a baby girl, is significantly more fashionable than I am, and I don’t think her husband would ever use it. I tried the Munchkin bean sling, and my little guy didn’t sit well in it at all. Our Baby Bjorn is used all the time (read- I wear it every day and am using it currently to write this out!), Captain Laser Pants can use it without losing much masculinity, and it is super durable. Baby Bjorns, when worn properly, encourage good posture. They also grow with the baby that sits in it, come in a wide range of colors, and are priced reasonably compared to other carriers with similar structure. It also reminds me of baby Bjork, and every time I wear it, I happily have a Bjork song in my head.
Anything feeding related with depend largely upon the baby and his preferences. My little guy doesn’t seem to care about the vessel, as long as he’s being fed. I will say that the Medela breast milk bottles are great for storage, but not great for bottle feeding. The flow is too fast for newborns and the nipple top isn’t entirely durable. My pick for bottles has been Avent. The lactation consultants I saw recommended Avent or Born Free, but Born Free bottles are redonk expensive (like $18 for 2 bottles). Cheaper bottles can have the nipple sucked off all together, resulting in precious milk (or scotch, whatever you feed your baby) spills. To avoid milk or scotch spills, look for bottles that have sturdy, slow flow nipples. I’ve also read that the brown rubber will hold a “flavor” after a few uses, and the clear rubber doesn’t. That grossed me out, so we went with all clear. Pacifiers (if you choose to use them) fit into this category too. Orthodontic pacifiers aren’t really supposed to be used until your little poo pants is over 3 months old, so stick to the Phillips Soothies the hospital will give you. And buy more. The Wubbanub has the Soothie pacifier with a toy attachment, and the weight of the toy keeps the pacifier in the baby’s mouth (so he’s not screaming every time it falls out or he spits it out). This will also help the little one’s grasping technique as he reaches for his toy/ pacifier and is rewarded.Plus, it’s really cute to see a penguin attached to your kid’s face.
Breast pumps, if you choose to use them, are spendy (and totally worth it), so research them for your own needs carefully. I have two- the Medela Swing single electric pump and the Medela Pump In Style Advanced double pump. Captain Laser Pants did a lot more research on this than I did, and the Medela brand is the clear winner among moms. The second choice was the Avent double electric pump. I fully endorse the double electric- it makes pumping significantly faster. When I was using my single electric primarily, it would take almost an hour each time I pumped. The single is great for trips, on the go, and to carry in the diaper bag for emergency situations. Don’t get a hand pump unless you want the world’s strongest hands and you have eighteen spare hours a day. Do your research for your own needs, but moms are busy, so invest in a double pump.
The Boppy pillow versus the My Brest Friend – they serve two different purposes. The Boppy pillow is rounded and soft, which can assist in your baby rolling to the floor while nursing, or fall asleep. It also doesn’t connect around the mommy, so it is hard to keep in place. The upside of the Boppy is that it’s great for tummy time, helping prop up the baby while he’s learning to sit up alone, and it’s nice to put the baby on the couch with it. The My Brest Friend pillow (the name is horrible, I know) is specifically for nursing. It is firm, flat, and attaches around the mom- it’s not soft enough to encourage the baby to fall asleep mid-meal, he won’t roll off to the floor, and the attachment belt makes nursing so much easier for moms when they don’t have to worry about the pillow sliding around. It is the most recommended by lactation consultants, and since I have both, I feel comfortable recommending it for nursing as well.
In my opinion, there is only one baby bath tub to buy- the puj bathtub. It is SO much more practical than any other baby bath tub you will ever see. It is a soft foam, so your baby is cradled against something that isn’t hard plastic, it unfolds to hang flat, and it is honestly just the best baby bath tub you can possibly buy. I won’t even mention anything else here.
Diapers are another baby-led purchase. If your baby has thin legs and a normal to thin torso, Pampers are the way to go. The leg openings are smaller, which leads to less risk of projectile poo/ pee, which leads to less laundry. If you have a chubby baby, go with Huggies. The leg openings are more generous and won’t leave diaper marks all over your happy little baby. If you choose to buy off brand diapers, buy a small pack first to make sure your kid sits in them well. The Pampers Sensitive diapers work well for our little guy, since he has sensitive skin. We use Pampers Sensitive Skin wipes, too, or the Target brand of the same, since it’s a way cheaper box with more wipes. Huggies wipes are paper based, so they tear when you go to yank them out of the wipe warmer at 4 AM (if you have a boy, you need a wipe warmer). Pampers and the Target brand, Up and Up, are both cotton based, so no tearing.
There is a lot of crap out there you don’t need for your kid, and most of it is overpriced, silly looking and has no real purpose. Think back to what our parents did to raise us- they had way fewer options for baby gear, and most of us are fully functioning adults. Heck, half of us weren’t even in car seats until the 80’s. I know this is a very basic list of opinionated reviews. If you want to know about something else, comment and ask away! If I don’t know anything about it, I’ll either research it for you or lie a lot to sound smart.