Sunday, September 2, 2012

If I could re-do my baby registry...

A simple search on Pinterest will show you that baby registry lists and suggestions for what to buy are a dime a dozen. As they should be! Different families find products to suit their lifestyle that might not work for others. While I was pregnant, I spent a ton of time researching all kinds of baby stuff... from strollers to bedding to teethers. And I really liked some of the stuff I got! Others, notsomuch. So this is my list of what worked with Baby #1:

  • ONE great stroller. I made the mistake of registering for a travel system. It's a nice stroller, and it was great to have the infant car seat, but it's so bulky. I never used it because it was so much easier to just wear the baby in a carrier. And Annie was able to sit in the stroller without the infant attachment at about 4 months. 4 months of use for $300+ = not worth it. I ended up using birthday money this year to buy this great jogging stroller instead and I LOVE it.
  • An infant car seat. If you were to register for a jogger instead of the system, you'd need to get this separately.
  • Car mirror. So you can see baby when you're driving. 
  • A video monitor. This one to be exact. Is $200 a lot to spend on a monitor? Heck yes. But I'd do it all over again for the peace of mind (and awesome features that come with the Smart View). Ten thousand stars for the video monitor. It's probably my favorite item.
  • An all-in-one care kit. Something that comes with a good rectal thermometer (unpleasant, yes, but most pediatricians won't take any other reading), bulb syringe, scissor-style nail clippers (a MUST for not snipping tiny fingertips!), soft hair brush, etc.
  • Basic medicines. Stock your cabinet before baby comes so you're not doing a midnight run to CVS. Infant Tylenol, Orajel, and gas drops are a good start.
  • Quality breast pump. Don't skimp here. Price really does reflect quality. I've liked my Medela Pump in Style (though, let's be honest, there's no way to be stylish when you're hooked up to a milking machine).
  • Nursing Pads. I naively thought these wouldn't be that important. 5 months later and I've probably gone back to buy them 6 or 7 more times. Don't be afraid to ask for lots.
  • Lanolin. I liked Medela more than Lansinoh.
  • Boppy nursing pillow and cover. Especially convenient when you're nursing around the clock for the first few weeks.
  • One set of bottles. Since I nursed exclusively and am home full-time, we don't often use bottles. I registered for like 3 kinds, but Annie took to the first ones I introduced, so the rest are now sitting unopened in a closet. You may need to try a couple before you find one your baby will take.
  • Baby-proofing items. We haven't needed these yet since Annie's still not mobile, but it's nice to have them already and not have to spend our own money. Think outlet covers, cabinet locks, and gates.
  • Disposable diapers. Not all diapers are created equal, so this may take trial and error. We liked Pampers Swaddlers in newborn size for the fit, but then the mesh inside started causing diaper rash. So we switched to Huggies. As she grew, we found the non-meshy Pampers to work best for our little chunky-legged cherub. Luvs weren't too bad either.
  • Wipes. MILLIONS. I like Pampers Sensitive.
  • 14 Cloth Diapers. Call us crazy, but we wen't for it. We chose BumGenius Elementals for the organic lining, snap closures, cute colors, and all-in-one sizing. So far, they have been an excellent buy. We've only had one leaking incident (which happened during a 2.5 hour nap, so it's practically expected) and they are adorable. 14 was the number we started with (I went to buy a dozen in gender-neutral colors, but Mimi insisted we needed 2 pink ones. So 14 it is.) and I haven't needed more. (More complete cloth diapering post to come in the future).
  • Wet bag. Not necessary if you're not using cloth diapers. I love our Planet Wise bag. The pattern is adorable and it does a good job of holding in the stink. (update: If you're really going to go after cloth diapering, I suggest getting two so that one is always clean while you're washing the other)
  • Triple Paste. By far the best diaper cream available. Expensive? Yes. But super effective. One jar will last forever. We've been using it for 5  12 months now and have barely scratched the surface. Worth it.
  • Changing pad and two covers. It's nice to have a spare for when one gets dirty.
  • Infant bath tub. No need for anything fancy. We were given this one as a hand-me-down and it's been great.
  • 3 bath towels. Yes, they are adorable with their little ears or ducky beaks. But you don't need a ton. Unless you're the kind of person that only uses a bath towel once. I wash them after 3-4 uses, so 3 are totally sufficient when I'm doing laundry at least once a week
  • 6 wash cloths. I think I was given at least 3 dozen of these, not kidding. They typically come in packs so it's easy to over-do it. I use 2 in each bath (one for washing, one to cover her belly and keep her warm). So 6 works with the whole "wash every 3-4 uses" routine.
  • Fragrance-free body wash and lotion. I was probably given 8 bottles of Johnson & Johnson. Sure, it's iconic and makes your baby smell like an angel, but it's not gentle enough. Our pediatrician recommended Aquaphor baby wash and Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy lotion and they did a miracle on Annie's skin. She suffered from both baby eczema and baby acne (partially hormone-related, and irritated by the fragrances in Johnson & Johnson).
  • 2 crib sheets. Again, nice to have a clean one when the other is soiled. I was told to get more, and I did, but I've never needed more than two. I registered for a whole bedding set, but no longer use the bumpers now that Annie's rolling all over in her sleep (it's questionable whether they're safe anyway). So the only perk of the set was a crib skirt. Which will be useless once I lower the mattress later anyway. Next time, I'll just stick with sheets.
  • Mattress pad
  • Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets. One package is totally sufficient. They are lightweight and stretchy and wonderful. Even if your baby doesn't like to be swaddled, they're great for keeping warm in the car seat or spread out on the floor for tummy time. Also, I'm using this as an opportunity to say that typical receiving blankets are pretty much useless. Not exaggerating, I was given probably 40 blankets. But they're too small to use to swaddle, and can't do anything the Aden + Anais blankets do. Save the drawer space. Stick with one set of blankets.
  • Velcro Swaddlers. The SwaddleMe honestly saved my sanity. Annie hated being swaddled at first, but I persisted per pediatricians advice and after a few nights, we had a sleeping baby! 2 in each size should be plenty.
  • Burp cloths. At least a dozen. Unlike blankets, you really can't have too many of these. We usually have at least 3 in use at one time between the nursery, living room, and diaper bag. And they get pretty sour-smelling quickly. My absolute favorite is the Aden + Anais burpy bib because the muslin fabric is super absorbent. This kind from Gerber are also really great. Terrycloth ones tend not to work as well.
  • Bibs. I haven't found the magic number here as we've just started solids. Seems to me like 7 would be a good number if you're doing laundry fairly regularly. It's nice to have a variety of cloth and wipeable.
  • Pack 'n Play (with 2 sheets). Seriously, this thing has been crucial. We got one with the bassinet level, attachable changing station, and newborn napper. We didn't use the changing station or napper much, but the option to raise the mattress in the bassinet is great. If you have this and have space in your bedroom, there's no need for a bassinet or Moses basket for the first few months.
  • Play mat. We got this one and Annie loves it. And we appreciate that the jungle sounds are not annoying to listen to.
  • Sophie the Giraffe teether. Sure, it squeaks like a dog toy, but it's easy for baby to hold and has lots of different surfaces to soothe those sore gums.
  • Diaper bag. Be willing to splurge on this. It will be one of your most frequently used baby items and you'll appreciate carrying something you actually like. I chose the Skip Hop Studio bag in black. It's got plenty of storage space, lots of pockets, and doesn't scream "I'm a diaper bag!!"
  • Portable changing mat. Your diaper bag may come with a simple one, but you can get some great ones with a wipe case included. I use mine alllll the time.
  • Baby carrier(s). We liked the Baby Bjorn for when Annie was smaller, but as she's grown, this has hurt my back a lot more. We have the Ergo as well, which does a good job of spreading the weight out on your hips, but I don't like that it doesn't have an outward facing option, and the shoulder straps are kind of broad. I would get into a store and try these on for yourself before choosing one.
  • A good rocker and ottoman. My Shermag Glider has clocked a lot of hours in the last 5 months. Definitely worth the money, and we were fortunate that some generous family members gifted us the set.
  • A small booster seat. There's really no need for a giant high chair to take over your dining room. This one works well, is easy to clean, and can be used at home or when traveling.
  • A few outfits you really love. No need to go crazy here, because people are going to buy you 1,000 outfits. Resist the urge to remove the tags and stock the dresser until baby comes. Chances are you'll have many to return or exchange for different sizes.

There are also a handful of items we got that didn't work out so well for us. Some readers will completely disagree with me because their babies loved them. And that's fine :) But if I could do it all again, here's what I'd skip:

  • The Bumbo Seat. Not only was it recently recalled due to falling hazards, but Annie really didn't like sitting in it. (update: there is now a strap in the Bumbo so it's safe again... but still doesn't change the fact that Annie was never into it.)
  • A swing. This is totally subjective based on your baby. Ours happened to not be a swing fan. We registered for a small travel swing since they're cheaper and take up less floor space, so overall it wasn't a big waste. I'd recommend borrowing one from a friend to see if your baby likes it before spending the money.
  • Pacifiers. I tried probably 6 different kinds, all to no avail. Again, this is totally subjective, but they turned out to be a waste for our family.
  • The travel system. I mentioned this in the beginning. Next time, just go for the jogger with an infant seat attachment.

PHEW! I think I've covered it all. Again, I know this list may not be perfect for every family, so don't be afraid to ditch my advice and try something new. Also, it should probably be mentioned that the items I've suggested were done completely of my own accord and with no compensation or recognition from their manufacturers. I hope someone out there finds it helpful.

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