Mar 4, 2013

Baby Essentials (and NOT)

I was chatting the other day with some friends who are expecting, and we were discussing baby registry items.  It seems like everything is touted as a baby must-have- the amount of products in Buy Buy Baby or Babies R Us is simply daunting.  Registry suggestion guides are pages long (including ones that I have prepared for friends).

However, there are many products that have made my life as a mother immeasurably easier in the last thirteen months.  I went back and read my previous post on this topic, prepared to be rather red-faced at what I thought was an essential as a mother of a barely 2 month old.  I was pleasantly surprised (whew), and stand by all those suggestions.

To recap:

 (For those who have c-sections:)

1.  Belly Bandit- most importantly, kept my incision secure, but also helped my posture, and tightened my tummy.

2.  My Brest Friend- stupid name, wonderful product.  Keeps the baby off your incision while nursing.  If you have this you do not need a Boppy.  Return them all.

Newborn/Infant Essentials:

Pre-baby, it seemed like six months is an eternity.  Then it flies by, and you have all this gear cluttering up your (attic-less, in our case) house.  "Keep it simple" will be my mantra next time around.   The Baby Whisperer repeats in her books to start as you mean to go on.  The more options you have for your baby, the more options he or she will demand.   Wouldn't you? Now, when you are dealing with a baby who won't quit crying for no discernible reason, you will buy some crazy shit to try and get that baby to stop.  I took Miss Priss to a chiropractor because I read it could help with reflux in babies.  I was desperate for anything to get that sweet girl to stop crying.  I would have bought everything in Babies R Us for her to just settle down.  However, it would not have helped, and my house would look like a hoarder's idea of a third rate daycare.

Anyway, with my next baby, this is what I will keep in my house:

1. Swing- thank you Little Lamb swing for allowing me to prepare meals.  Any swing will do, but I would get one with a cord and batteries.  Ours was battery operated only, and there were definitely frantic, sweaty emergency runs for batteries.

2.  Rock and Play Sleeper- Miss Priss never slept in our room (in my household, a well-rested husband is a happy helpful husband, so she was always in her own room.  I nursed, so there was nothing Morgan could do in the middle of the night.  Plus, I was on maternity leave, and he was working.)

However, this was our go-to for reflux sleeping, since her head is elevated.  It is also ideal for travel, during those first 6 months, as it folds with one hand, and is far cozier for a wee one than a pack and play.  Oh, it is magic- when the baby become agitated the sleeper will begin to rock and soothe that child right to sleep.  I wish they made them in adult size, quite frankly.

Any sort of travel crib/rocking bassinet could take the place of the Rock and Play.  I just have used and loved it- ladies, please share any other recommendations for similar items!

3.  Zip-up PJs  These were not an item that I received at showers, but Miss Priss lived in them.  When you are changing diapers constantly, living vampire hours, and in your pajamas yourself a good portion of the day, you gotta have the footies without snaps.  Snaps are anathema to a husband learning to change diapers.  Zip those babies up!

4.   Activity Mat/Gym:  They call these things gyms, which is hilarious to me.  It's just a colorful slightly padded mat, with a bar with thing-a-ma-jigs hanging down.  My kind of gym.  Anyway, they help with tummy time, and preparing dinner time, (until your baby starts sitting up.  Then they are waaayyy too cool to go to the gym).   Some of them are really fancy (and pricey), and some are reasonable.  Get the one that you like the best- color/design wise.  You will be staring at it more than the baby.  The baby is an infant.  It will not care, I promise.

5.  Swaddle/Sleepsack- I loved the Miracle Blanket. Miss Priss possessed super human upper body strength/determination and busted out of every permutation of a swaddle I tried.  She did not bust out of it until she was 3.5 months old.  It was time to retire the swaddle at that point anyway.  I stressed about that change greatly, but tried a Halo Sleepsack.  She slept great! I was agonizing over nothing.  Once you get that baby sleeping, it is terrifying to mess up the routine.  I treasure my sleep.  I need it.

6.  Books:
Speaking of sleep, the following materials helped me sleep train my little one.

The Baby Whisperer series
12 Hours in 12 Weeks
Moms on Call (online seminar)

Miss Priss was a good sleeper.  It took discipline on both of our parts to get her there, since naps and night sleep are so inextricably linked.  Also, as Peg (mother of triplets) told me, sleep in not a continuum.  The baby will sleep through the night for weeks on end, then hit a growth spurt, or start teething, or just feel ornery for more weeks on end.  Just know that it is just a stage, and as long as you stay consistent, it too shall pass.  Another good sleep resource is the lactation consultant at your hospital or pediatrician.  Our pediatric lactation consultant is the most comforting woman on the planet. Just hearing Deb's voice on the phone calms me right down.  I have never actually met on her in person, so my image of Deb the Lactation Consultant is a beatific deity, warmly consoling me as I fret about early morning waking.

7.  Bumpo- this is a great baby "holder".  Watch your child, and don't put it on high up surfaces.  Duh. Of course, we all say "Duh", then end up putting the baby on the kitchen table in this thing (closely supervised, of course).

8.  Baby Oxiclean.  After it was given to me, I now give this at every shower.  It is an absolute necessity.  Your child will spit up, and have blowouts.  It is inevitable.  This will save those precious outfits from ruin.  I have the spray and the powder.

9.  Ultimate Crib Sheet- saves you time/effort when the above happens.

10.  Tommy Tippee bibs- soft cloth for before solids, then the plastic ones with the pocket for later.

Honestly, that's pretty much it (other than the obvious, i.e. crib, glider, carseat, stroller, diaper pail, baby carrier (like a Baby Bjorn) pack and play).  I have a jogger, and an expensive heavy stroller that worked with the carseat.  In hindsight, I would have gotten whatever cheapo light stroller that went with my carseat, because once I could use the BOB at about 5-6 months, I have rocked it out.  However, the light stroller is necessary for the mall, or other travel.

Now, if you live in an enormous house with multiple levels, ignore this advice.   If like me, you live in a normalish house, and mainly really use 1 or 2 living areas, then here's a secret that I have learned the hard way.  You don't need all the stuff.  It's a big business, and it preys on people like me who are suckers for marketing (seriously, my friends made fun of me in college about it.  It's why I majored in advertising).

Things that I had that I didn't need (in no particular order)

  • The Padalily, or its permutations- um, this is not helpful.  Please haul around 30 pounds in the crook of your arm, and see if a little cushion helps.  Clue?  It does not.
  • Wipe Warmer- yeah, your child is eventually going to feel a cold wipe.  Better to let him/her face reality from the beginning.
  • Bouncy Seat- something to trip over on our way to the swing
  • jumperoo/exersaucer/doorway jumper thing/walker- Pick one.  Take your baby to the store and play with all of them.  Try to figure out which one he/she likes best. Purchase it, take it home, realize your sweet child no longer has any affection for the massive piece of plastic residing in your living room.  Repeat, and repeat again.  Dell Harper was fickle, and I was gullible.  Just pick one of the above HUGE (besides doorway jumper) items of equipment and stick with it.
  • Those grocery store cart/high chair cover things.  Now, when Miss Priss first began sitting in a high chair at restaurants, this was very helpful, because it cushioned her when she was a little small.  She grew, and I haven't seen it since.  Trying to fit it on the buggy, while holding on to a wiggly baby, my purse, and my sanity just wasn't happening for me.  If you are a big germaphobe, I am sure this is good.  I was not, especially my the time my baby could ride in the buggy at the grocery store.
Things I didn't have and didn't need:
  • Boppy Newborn lounger- how many things do you need to hold the baby?  It will be in your lap most of the time, anyway.  The baby, not the Boppy.
  • Nap Nanny- borrowed one, Miss Priss hated, and I think they are illegal now anyway.
  • bottle warmer- I just used warm water from the sink, and conserved my precious counterspace.
  • bottle sterilizer.  The dishwasher did just fine.  See above re: counterspace.
Alright, mamas.  I'm wrapping up this longwinded post and opening to discussion.  What do you think is necessary?  What am I missing/completely off base about?  How do you keep your house from resembling a day care center (I'll tackle toys at a later date- they deserve their own post)?  How do you keep it simple?


  1. So I'm almost completely in agreement with your list, which really says something since each child / household / momma is different right?

    My son really never like the swing and would only "chill" in the bouncy chair. He'd nap in it too when he was really little.

    He also seriously liked the (second!) jumperoo we bought for about 6 weeks. No that long, but in that tiny amount of time that he liked it it was a lifesaver for me.

    And OH MY GOSH why do they even sell button / snap up pajamas? They are the worst idea. All baby jams should be zip up or magnetic. Who wants to fumble with snaps in the dark, in the middle of the night, with a tiny screaming baby?

    Thanks for your honest list. I think it will be helpful to any mommy-to-be that reads it!

  2. I agree on all accounts. 3 things that we used day 1 home from the hospital and continued to use pretty much every day until we went from swaddle to sleep sack were: Summer Infant Swaddle Me wraps (velcro baby straight jackets), Avent Soothie pacifiers and the Rock & Play Sleeper. I'm sure the Miracle Blanket swaddle is the same as the SwaddleMe. But the combo of those 3 things apparently tricked Christopher into sleeping a little those first few weeks. Then, as you said, we inevitably hit growth spurts, ear infections, etc. and all of my tricks were thrown out the window. But I think those 3 things are ESSENTIAL for the few few nights and weeks of bringing the baby home.

  3. Great list! I love your no muss, no fuss approach! I'm due with my own Miss Priss ANY DAY NOW... I've never heard of baby oxyclean, but I'm putting it on the Amazon list RIGHT NOW!

  4. Obviously YEARS away myself for this list but it's nice to see someone say, "NAH skip it"

    Also *squee* look at DH so teeny in that picture!

  5. I'd be afraid to go back and look at what I recommended early on. I felt so confident and knowledgable. FOOL. I knew nothing.

    I agree with so much of this. There's just too much crap out there for babies! The bouncy chair was a giant waste for us too and the swing was a lifesaver! I didn't use the swaddle wraps I got because I tried them on her when she was tiny and I got worried they'd creep up and cover her mouth. I now wish I'd tried them again when she was a little bigger. Tommee Tippe soft bibs were my favorite. And a wipe warmer is just silly - the ultimate in convincing parents to buy junk they don't need. Ditto for the bottle warmer and sterilizer. We still use our high chair/cart cover all the time and Blaire never warmed to the Bumbo seat, but that's about the only places we differ.

    Great idea to recap the baby gear after the first year. Great advice for new moms before they go trigger happy with the registry gun!

  6. I gotta say, I tried Moms on Call, but it did not work on Julia. I jumped right in and thought it would be a saving grace since twitter was all abuzz about it. Alas, it's not for every baby...

    We didn't do the bumbo and I would use the bouncy again. If only to hold the baby while showering in those early months. I do still use the cart cover, but mostly because I can attach toys to it to keep her occupied while I shop.

    I need to do this as well, if only to remember for me what I liked now that Julia's 17 months(!) old and there are things I was happy to see her grow out of.

  7. Your baby is simply gorgeous! My must-have is the Woombie - it's a zip-up stretchy thing that works in lieu of a swaddle blanket. My little guy sleeps in one almost every night and it's super easy to navigate even at 4 a.m. Plus it's impossible for him to Houdini his way out of it!

  8. Oh I completely agree- keep it simple until you realize what you need! So glad to hear another respectable mom doesn't use the cart cover- I never bought one mainly because I never found a pattern I liked, but I feel like a negligent mother whenever I see EVERY OTHER MOM in the store with one. The other thing I found to be a little disappointing was the MOBY wrap. I HAD to have one, but in reality it's a pain in the bum to put on when you are at your house in privacy, and it's nearly impossible when you are out in public. Plus, let's get real- we live in the South, and that thing is NOT going to fly in the summer!

  9. Very nice guide. I will do my best to follow it. My Own Erotica

  10. Hilarious!! this made me lol: They call these things gyms, which is hilarious to me. It's just a colorful slightly padded mat, with a bar with thing-a-ma-jigs hanging down. My kind of gym.

    This is in line with us, although we use the bouncer seat in the bathroom for baths (the Moms on Call way - they came last week!). Another must for us is an iPhone LOADED with Baby Einstein - girlfriend needs it during diaper changes fo sho. And a TON of burp cloths. You got it right with the zip-ups for sure - snaps are the devil... we also like those nightgowns - so easy to change diapers!


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