Are you pregnant and trying to decide what baby products to buy? Or what baby gear to register for? With the plethora of baby “stuff” in stores these days, it can be overwhelming to determine what you need and what you can live without. We don’t all have unlimited space in our houses or unlimited budgets; it would be nice to get the things that will make our lives as new parents easier – and forget the rest!
And yes, I realize that all a new baby really needs is something to eat, something to wear, some sort of diaper, a roof over her head, and lots of love. But I know there are other things that you will want to get and with the abundance of “stuff” available, it’s pretty overwhelming to sort through it all.
When I was pregnant I asked all my friends and family with kids (which was all our friends and family) for their opinions on baby gear. I also asked other mommies online. I asked anyone who would listen to me! I read books about baby gear. I wanted to be smart about this. I’ve compiled a list of what I found out; that is, recommended baby products and products you can live without.
Of course this is all subjective; what might be a ‘must have’ by one person could be a ‘live without’ by another. I formed these lists based on the most common answers I got; along with a bit of my own opinion! I understand that what works for your family might be completely different. So with that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I recommend:
WHAT TO GET
Dresser as a Changing Table
Many people, myself included, like to have a dedicated spot to change diapers. My husband and I wanted to be more practical about it so we purchased a dresser for our child; we found one that he could use until he leaves the house. Right now it’s used as a changing table; we place a changing pad on one end of it and diapering supplies on the other end. When he is no longer wearing diapers, it will become his dresser for clothes as he grows.
If you ever want to take a shower, or just need to put the baby somewhere for a few minutes, these little seats work so well. Babies can bounce, play with toys, or snooze. I brought ours into the bathroom and that’s where I put my son while I showered; we could see each other and all was well. There are many on the market, ranging from simple to fancy. I think a simple one would do just fine; at least get one that has a cover that is easy to take off and wash.
If you’re going to breastfeed (and I sincerely hope you are) you will need good nursing bras; ones without underwire and that fit you well. If you go to Motherhood Maternity, they can help you find the correct size. Don’t forget about sleep bras; they are important too! The girls need support at night; especially in the early months! And when you find a nursing bra you like, buy several. Although I didn’t see this organic cotton nursing bra until recently, it sure looks great to me!
Ultimate Crib Sheet
It’s a fact, babies have accidents in the middle of the night. And I can tell you that it’s not much fun to change sheets in the middle of the night. But once I found the ultimate crib sheet, that part of my life was easier! This sheet fastens on top of your crib sheet and there’s no need to remove the bumpers. It is waterproof so it protects your mattress as well. If baby has an accident, just take this sheet off and you have the regular sheet below it.
Baby Monitor with Dual Receiver
It really is nice to have two receivers for the baby monitor. We keep one in our bedroom and one around the house. The one we got has a clip so you can clip it to your waist and walk around with it. It lasts many hours before needing recharging. The lights on it are nice, too, if we want to turn the volume down. We got this one from Fisher-Price and have been happy with it.
We received this Fisher-Price rainforest waterfall crib soother as a gift and it’s been one of our favorite things. When our son was a tiny baby, we just turned on the background sounds, which were forest noises. As he got older, we changed settings for different music and motions. He loved it! He would watch it and it helped him go to sleep on his own. And when he wakes up in the middle of the night, I hear him turn this on and it soothes him back to sleep. We are fans!
Many of my friends have said the same thing about crib soothers; here are a few other crib soothers I found on Amazon.com.
Medela Breast Pump
If you are going to breastfeed, even if you are staying at home, chances are you will need to pump at some point. (Mama’s gotta have a night out sometimes, right?!) Many friends have told me to skip a manual pump or a cheaper brand – and get a Medela! I took my friends’ advice; I have the Medela Pump in Style breast pump and have been very happy with it.
When your baby is tiny and still in an infant car seat, I highly recommend getting a stroller frame instead of a big stroller. You can use one of those down the road if you like, but when everything was new to me I loved the ease of using this lightweight frame. The infant car seat snaps into this frame and it has lots of storage below. You will want to be sure your infant car seat fits with this frame; there are several stroller frames on the market.
Another great option for keeping your hands free with a little one is to wear them in a sling. There are many wonderful slings on the market and babywearing is a growing trend. Here are some of my favorites:
- I have the Moby Wrap and love it! I didn’t get it until my son was four months old and I wish I had it sooner. The baby stays so snug and close to you in this wrap; your hands are free to do what you need to do. I used this wrap to help him fall asleep. Once I was wearing him I would sing and pat his bottom. Once he fell asleep, I would unwrap it and transfer him to his crib. Magic! It also makes a great baby shower gift.
- Another popular option is the Hotsling. There are several ways to wear this sling as your baby grows. It’s great for out in public; easy in and easy out! Plus there are many great colors and designs; it’s a new fashion accessory!
- Many of my friends had the Maya Wrap. This sling is easy to use, comes in many colors, and is great for nursing. Many slings are great for nursing.
Another popular item is an exersaucer. Once the baby is old enough to use these, they are another great option if you need to free up your hands for a few minutes. There are many toys for the baby’s entertainment and they rock a bit if baby pushes with his feet.
We really liked this infant tub, and we liked having a tub in general. This one had a sling for the early days, a recline position, and a sit up position. When he was about eight or nine months old, we moved this tub into another tub for baths before graduating to just a regular tub. It served us well over the months and I recommend it.
I almost didn’t add this one to the list; mainly because I didn’t use one and was fine. But I know MANY friends who used one and loved it, and since I am all for anything that helps a mom with breastfeeding, I decided to add it. I would recommend the My Brest Friend nursing pillow, since it’s flat and easier to use (I’ve heard). But many people like the popular Boppy. (Did you see that they now have an organic cotton slipcover for the Boppy? Awesome! If you saw my previous post on organic cotton, then you know how great this is!)
Note: I did have a My Brest Friend pillow and used it for a day, but then I got breastfeeding help from a lactation consultant and was able to nurse successfully without needing the pillow at all (20.5 months and counting)!
WHAT TO FORGET
This item was one that was almost unanimous. It dries out the wipes and let’s face it, it’s another gadget to have cluttering up your house. If you are concerned about the temperature of the wipes, hold them in your hands for a few seconds to warm them up before wiping the baby.
Big High Chair
I give you permission to skip buying a big high chair. You may think you need one, but there is another option. The big high chairs take up room in your kitchen and are hard to clean, especially if the padded seat is made of cloth. What we did, and so did several of my friends, was to use a booster seat strapped to a chair at your table. The booster seat is adjustable in height and the tray is adjustable too. Also, the tray is small enough to wash in the sink. Once we introduced solids to our son (at eight months) this is where he sat – and he’s still there today!
Expensive Diaper Pail System
Forget the Diaper Genie pails and the like. The pails themselves are expensive but don’t forget about refills; those will add up! And I personally think they are a bit complicated to use. We have this simple diaper pail and it’s been great. We use grocery sacks in ours since we have many of those and they are free. You can put an air freshener in it if you like. Or better yet, put some baking soda or essential oils in it for the odor. Be sure to change it often; at least once a day. (You can see our diaper pail in the picture of the changing table above; it’s on the left of the table.)
Everyone thinks they need a crib mobile to complete their nursery, but trust me; you don’t. They kind of get in the way and are hard to store. If you want something in the crib for baby’s entertainment, get a crib soother (like I mentioned earlier).
Unless you have lots of money to burn, you really don’t need an expensive crib. If you like the cribs with storage underneath, there are many other ways to incorporate storage into your nursery. Perhaps some storage baskets underneath the crib would work well. You might also want to skip the crib that doubles as a toddler bed. Yes, it might be convenient but for many people who have more kids, you will need it as a crib again before you could use it as a toddler bed.
There are several recommendations I have for baby clothes, especially in small sizes (0-3 and 3-6 months):
- Don’t buy too many clothes in sizes 0-3 and 3-6 months. We didn’t have to buy any in this size as we received many for gifts. This is a time of rapid growth for your baby and they may grow out of the clothes faster than they can wear them out.
- Skip the infant jeans or jean overalls. They may be cute, but they are not comfy.
- Forget the baby shoes. Socks are just fine for this age.
- You don’t need many dress-up outfits in this size range. Let’s face it, babies just want to be comfortable; and chances are they aren’t going to many fancy places.
- Skip the baby bath robes. A nice towel is sufficient. And at this age, we pretty much want to dry them off as fast as we can and get them dressed and warm again. I don’t know how much they want to lounge around in a robe!
Fancy Infant Bedding
I know how tempting it is to see all the pretty infant bedding sets for sale; you want a beautiful room for your beautiful baby! But the truth is that babies don’t really care if they have a complete nursery set from the most expensive store. Babies will poop and spit up and vomit all over it no matter what it cost or where it’s from. You can still have a nice nursery with a simple crib sheet, breathable bumper, and nicely painted walls, with maybe a few pictures.
Speaking of bedding, books recommend getting eight crib sheets. You don’t need that many; two or three is plenty. Especially if you have them in rotation with the ultimate crib sheet, like I mentioned earlier.
I don’t have much to say here except that these are not necessary. We got by just fine without them.
Special Laundry Detergent
You don’t have to buy that special laundry detergent for baby’s clothes. We already used a laundry detergent that is non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, and free of dyes. There are several kinds of similar laundry detergents on the market; you can find one you like and use it on the whole family’s laundry.
Disposable Changing Pad Covers
Let’s help out the environment and try to buy less disposable things when we can. I just put this portable changing pad on top of a changing table when I need to.
We had the swing that was low to the ground, and although that seems to be the way to go (versus a large one), we just didn’t use it. We had plenty of other ways to entertain our son. I know many people love the swing, but I would say that you can forget this piece of equipment.
I hope this list has given you some information you can use. Feel free to use it as a guide for what to register for. Or a guide for what to buy a friend.
Wendy – Parenting Tips 365