Before I had my first baby...
Before I had my first baby, in addition to diving into a great unknown of many things, I was really perplexed by what I really needed for this new little person.
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Of course, we had no baby stuff prior to having babies. I wasn't one of those gals that collected baby items for the big day. (I didn't plan or prepare for an extravagant wedding, either.) I figured I'd cross those bridges when I got there. I had no idea where to start. But, I figured I needed it all:
Crib, crib mattress & protector, bedding, diapers, wipes, wipe warmer, Boppy pillow/slip cover/pillow cover, toys, pacifiers, bottles, bottle brush, Breast pump (both manual and auto), Rocking chair, bassinet, infant carrier and car seat, umbrella stroller, jogger, blankets, clothes, socks, shoes, hats, baby bath, wash cloths, towels, tub toys, the list grew & grewand this was just for when the baby was new! It wasn't for when they started sitting, crawling, standing, pulling up, walking and into toddlerhood
After trial and error, two babies, and returning to our minimalist ways, I've discovered exactly what is useful and has stood the test of time. I wanted a list of must-haves before I had my first baby. How was I to know what I needed for this baby? They are all so different and have different needs.
I knew I wanted to breast feed. I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. Thankfully, I was able to do both for their full-term and to their max.
So, what did I use?
Diapers, both disposable & cloth . Snag as many of the freebies Swaddlers in your hospital room when you have the baby. These really are the best for those first few days of catching that sticky tar-poo; and when the baby may be too small for cloth diapers. We still use disposables at night and keep them in the car for "just in case" situations. I was able to find some cloth diapers small enough for Baby when she was about a month old. (She was born at 7lbs 16oz.) As far as cloth diapers make it easy: Cloth diapers and pre-fold flannel or cotton inserts . I have run the gamut of testing cloth diapers. When it comes down to it, get a cover, any cover, fold a pre-fold into thirds, plop it onto the cover, snap it on the baby. Viola! Simple, easy, and cheap in the long run, especially if you plan to cloth diaper more than one baby. I've tried different types of inserts and done the stuffing, etc, it's really not necessary. What do you need? Something to keep what comes out of a little body, in a diaper and off of EVERYTHING else. The microfiber inserts didn't hold up to washings and dryings. I tried a few different laundry soaps and now make my own. None of them, not even the homemade types keep the microfibers from eventually wicking wet stuff. Not cool when it needs to catch all the wet stuff a little person can make, which is a surprising amount. I even did line-drying. Which is a laborious task when you live somewhere that the sun does not like to shine and it's winter 6+ months out of the year. I folded Buddy's a little different since his pee came out more in front (because of his boy parts), instead of underneath, like Baby girls' does. I still did a tri-fold, but folded the top down before I did, and I made sure it was pulled up to the top/front of the diaper. Baby girl's pee comes out more under her (since she is a girl). No extra padding needed in the front for her diapers.
Wipe warmer & Wipes. Some think this isn't a necessary accessory. But after zillions of diaper changes in the dark, when air hits a cold hiney, it turns into a must. We still use it for wipes for our potty-trained pre-schooler. Warm wipes catch a lot more than cold tp. Trust me. I made my own wipe solution with both babies, but after they start going less frequently, the homemade solution with wash-cloths gets stinky & can get moldy.
Jogging stroller & umbrella stroller. I used the umbrella stroller a ton in the beginning for both babes. I threw it in the car for quick trips, too. I used the jogger when they we're strong enough to take for a jog. There are tons of both umbrella and jogging strollers. I settled on the Chicco Liteway umbrella stroller. It can lay completely flat or sit up to about 90*, has a canopy with a window (so I could see them as I pushed), a cup holder (seems silly, but again, trust me), a little foot cover that could be tucked away when not in use, and an undercarriage that could also be used as a backpack. It was durable, light, and held up to my abuse. I am really hard on things, even though I do maintain them well. For the jogger , I ended up going with the BOB SUS . The SUS has a locked front wheel, which I chose because I like to do off-road running. The swivel wheel is easier to turn, and I maybe should have opted for it (especially with a double BOB), since I ended up doing more asphalt and concrete running after it was all said and done. In the end, once Baby was a year old and Buddy was 3 years, I turned in both strollers and got a stroller that can be used for walking, jogging, and as a bike trailer . It's a Via Velo and we got it for a steal at Costco. It folds down smaller and maneuvers smoother and easier than the BOB (which can really be a monstrosity). It also fits both kids (snuggly, but they aren't usually both in it at the same time anyway). It comes as a locked-wheel without a cup holder, but you can buy a swivel wheel and cup holder from their site for less than a separate bike trailer and stroller, and way less than a double BOB. The advantage of the BOB or a stroller like it, is there are two separate seats. The Via Velo is a bench seat, so they are literally right next to each other. So, if your kids don't get along well, or one is too small to hold himself up, this may not be the best choice. It has a nice cargo area in the back, that zips closed. It can be on the long side, front-to-back-wise, but my son likes to sit out front on the wheel and lean back onto the cover. This one comes with a net cover, as well as a weather shield (plastic zip-close cover over the mesh). Both of which have to be bought as extras on the BOB.
Infant Carrier, Car Seat & Booster. Before babies, I had no idea there was a difference between the two! An infant carrier is what you take the wee one home in from the hospital. You'll use it for about the first 6 months, depending on how small your baby is, and how fast they grow. We went with the Chicco Keyfit infant carrier /car seat and ended up getting an extra base for each vehicle. The extra base runs $80, and we really only used it once, maybe twice. It was an expense I wish we wouldn't have made, but it's something you just don't know how much you'll need until you're on the other side. At about the 6 month mark for each baby, we moved to the Britax Boulevard convertible car seat. Convertible just means that it can be used facing backward and then forward when the baby reaches the two-tear mark. My son is really tall for his age (he's always been off the charts -literally- at his check-ups). He runs about 6 months to a year taller than the norm. So, once he was about 2 years old, he couldn't be crammed into the Boulevard any longer, even with it facing forward. We moved him to the Britax Frontier Booster seat. It is still a really big seat, which can be a bummer if you're anxious to get your back seat back. But I like that it still has the head rests on the side so when he falls asleep he has something to hold his head up still and he's not falling forward or to the sides. It's still a comfy ride when he's awake as well as asleep. I also like that it still has the five-point harness, compared to the lap-belt types. It holds him in when he falls asleep, and he doesn't have the strength or coordination to unbuckle this belt like he can the lap-belt types. We do have a Cosco style booster seat in my husband's car, for quick trips when he goes somewhere without me, in my car. It's easier to move since it's lighter and doesn't need to be wrangled into the car like the Britax. But I much prefer the Britax for most to all of the time car rides. I recommend also getting a seat cover for your car's seat, to go under the car seat. A kick pad for the back of the front seat is also a good investment, if you like to keep your upholstery in good condition.
Nursing Accessories. The Boppy pillow, slip cover and cover make nursing so much easier. Getting a glider WITH an ottoman are also very nice to have for nursing. Especially in the beginning, when you're getting used to feedings and patterns, you really need to get comfortable. I also picked up a wedge pillow from Babies R Us that I still use on occasion. It's good for propping up little heads when they are too small and weak to reach and stay on the boob. We've used it to prop up stuffy heads to make sleeping in bed easier, too. It's gotten surprisingly more use than I expected. I only used the Boppy for nursing for about 6 months for both babies, but, it really is a must in those first few days and weeks. We used it as a prop for tummy time, as well as a crash pad for when they we're learning to sit on their own. So, for the first year, the Boppy is pretty popular. The slip cover keeps the pillow nice and fresh and makes washings easier. Invest in a good nursing bra or two right away. My breasts we're so engorged with baby #2, that the Bravado bra from Target was well wroth the investment ($50)! It gives and takes with the flux of milk, and still provides support. Worth it. I also am a huge fan of Moving Comfort sports bras. They are great for training as well as nursing. If you can find the kind with velcro straps (like the Juno, Jubralee, and Fiona), you can undo the straps for easy nursing. Unmatched support, comfort, and user-friendly. Again, worth it, worth it, worth it! If there is only thing you invest more money in with nursing, let it be a Moving Comfort bra! I also really liked re-useable nursing pads, as opposed to throw-away types. They wash and wear well and don't move around. I picked-up whatever the organic brand Babies R Us carries. One pack of four did the job, although I did grab two just in case. I never used the second pack. I also was glad I had Medela Tender Care Lanolin on hand for sore nips. Nursing is really painful when you're getting established! And it comes in handy when nursing frequency and duration increases due to illness, teething or just plain growing pains. I'm pretty sure the hospital gave me a tube or two. So, if you can, wait, or check to see if the hospital will give you a freebie. One tube was more than enough for us. A nursing cover that stays in place and is big enough to cover a very active baby, is also a must. You may go through phases that a blanket will do the trick, but having a cover that is attached to you will go a long way. There's nothing more awkward than nursing in a very public place and losing a cover because the baby just nabs it right off and tosses it on the floor. Talk about making a scene. It's like a waving flag "look at my breast!" Some ladies are perfectly fine with nursing uncovered in public. I see the angle, but I am a very modest person. I don't even like to bare my belly in a 'kini on the beach. I'm not even one of those gals that exposes my mid-diff to sell my kettlebell products.
Keeping it Clean. For bath time & first aide, we use California Baby, Burt's Bees, and Honest Company products. I found " Soap for Everyone " is best for bubble baths. I've dabbled in the cheaper stuff and it's been a waste of money, not to mention it dried out my kid's skin and gave Baby some gnarly rashes. Put your money where it matters, invest in quality cleaners and other baby-needs products. Burt'sBee diaper cream is magic. A dab on the first inkling of a tender hiney hole, and it will be cleared up by the next diaper change. Plus, it smells so good! It's very clingy. Be sure to put a diaper on right away so it stays where it's supposed to and not on chairs, carpets, clothes, etcHaving 3 or so hooded towels per kid is a good idea, too. The cheapy target brand wash clothes are all you need in the way of wash clothes. Having smaller towels and cloths is much easier than trying to use big people sized stuff. All that extra material can get things tangled up and just in the way.
Covering the Baby. Blankets in a few different weights/thicknesses, five tops, five bottoms, a pack of socks, and two pair of shoes per season, really is all you need for each kid. The seasons come and go, and kids grow really fast! Save your money and try not to go overboard on cute clothes. If you can buy outfits in sets, it also makes life so much easier. Carter's has playsets that we really dig. Baby does those a lot. Buddy can go with a few pair of pants or shorts, and coordinating tops. I make sure all the clothes are moveable and play-friendly. So, we tend not to do restrictive jeans or tight-fitting gear. I'm a form-over-fashion mom; being able to move and learn to move is more important than being cute. I try to stick with black, grey and navy blue pants and a few fun shirts for Bud. Target or Old Navy has what we need. One good winter coat (we have a Hanna Anderssen puffy coat for Buddy and a boutique coat for Baby), a hooded jacket, and a lighter jacket/windbreaker get things done for colder and wet weather. We live in Montana, and these all have been enough for us. They have a pair each of flexible soled sneaks and boots. Finding flexible soled boots is tough, and bend-y shoes as they grow gets more and more challenging. But, Nike and Puma always seem to have something, with a little digging. The first year, from 9 months to about 18 months, we did Skidders. They are sock/shoes. Basically, they are socks with a rubber sole attached to the bottom. Easy, functional, and mobile. Check. Check. And Check. We found some on Amazon and at Target. When the babies we're new, we went with long sleeves side-snap tees and leggings. It made diaper changing so much faster, especially with the more frequent changings of cloth diapers require.
Toys. You really don't need ANY toys for newborns, or really until they are about 6 or so months. Everything in your house is a toy, anyway. Pots, pans, cups, any thing that can make a loud noise or be taken apart, that's a toy to your explorer! With that.Ican honestly be a toy reviewer with all the toys we have bought and received as gifts! I LOVE Melissa and Doug, Hape, and Learning Resources toys. (We cannot have too many books in our house, either!) As Buddy's gotten older, we like Imaginext and Playmobil toys for him. No little girl should go without a Little Mommy doll , or "Amy," as she's known in our circle of friends! She's a first birthday right-of-passage gift for any girl's first big one. She needs a stroller to push Amy around in, too.Invest in a trampoline of some sort. We have a small rebounder with a bar to hold on to for downstairs, which we got for Buddy's first birthday. And we have a My1stTrampoline upstairs. (Both my babes started walking at 9 months and we're running and jumping well by 1 year.) Kids need to vent energy. This does it! There is a learning curve, of course. So be sure to be by their side as they are learning to use their bodies. We recently got the Rainy Day Indoor play kit. Baby loves to swing. LOVES. It cannot be understated! She is a girl possessed. So we have a swing, net swing and trapeze bar for the Rainy Day kit. They are all interchangeable and hang from a support bar in the hallway, or doorway. It started with an Ikea swing that we hung in the play room. So, we have the Ikea swing upstairs and the Rainy Day downstairs. She was colicky for the longest time, which reminds meit's not so much a toy, but having a baby swing was a life (and back, and sanity) saver. Buddy didn't need one. But Baby needed one, and I needed one for her! She used it from about month 2 through 4. So not long, but it was necessary. We we're able to borrow ours from a kind neighbor. You may be able to do the same and save some major moolah.
Baby Wearing. I was lucky enough to inherit a Moby Wrap from my Sister-in-law, and I found a Baby Bjorn at our base thrift shop for $5. Save your money on the Bjorn. I ended up giving ours away. It isn't very well structured, so as you wear it, your back feels like it's being pulled forward and down. It's painful. I don't see why it is so popular. I used the Moby wrap like crazy with baby #1. But, I didn't already have a second baby, and he wasn't impatient to get into, either. Baby #2 was a whole new ball game. The moby wrap took too long to put on and then get her in it. By the time I was ready to put her in it, we we're both too worked up. I was a master wrapper with that thing. Especially by the time she came. I would put in on before I left the house, then when we got somewhere, I'd take the baby straight from the carseat to the wrap. (It's so long, that if you try to put it on in public, it will inevitable drag on the floor as you're getting it situated.) I don't like the idea of keeping the baby in the carseat for any longer than the car ride. Seeing a baby propped in their carseat in a shopping cart hurts my heart. Attach that baby to a mommy or daddy! It is SO much better for everyone. My kids never had meltdowns in public, and they still don't. I think wearing them really helped with their comfort of exploring on their own. By baby #2, I invested in a Lillebaby. It had the structure I needed for my bigger babies, but I could put it on super-fast, so no one got too crazy by the time it's all said and done. The lillebaby also has pockets, perfect for holding a wallet, keys, diapers and wipes. It also has a sun hood that you can pull over their faces when they fall asleep. It can be worn on the front, back, of hip. It's really quite perfect. It washes well, too. I wore both babies from birth until they we're each about a year old. They went from my belly, to my arms, to the lillebaby or Moby, to a sling, to a structured back carrier. I did everything with them attached to me. I think that's why they both walked so early and are really well balanced, over-all. I firmly believe it, in addition to nursing, are THE best things to do for vestibular development. Be careful with the sling. I didn't use it until they we're able to sit on their own, basically. It's more dangerous to put a newborn in a sling, they got chin to chest easily and can cut off their airway, leading to suffocation/death. I really liked the sling to face Baby outward, kangaroo style. I'd curl her knees up in front of her, then slide her in facing outward. It really helped with her gas, and she loved to be able to see what I was doing.
Here is what we didn't use or find useful. (Everything other than the travel system I bought and tried):
- Travel stroller/Carseat system- too bulky and heavy for me to EVEN try.
- Crib - we co-sleep. (But do get a mattress cover to keep all the wet stuff from staining where you rest your heads.)
- Bottles & pacifiers- neither baby would take a bottle even when I pumped. Same for pacifiers. We tried a few different types, they weren't into it.
- Breast Pump - I got the Medela, from ebay and just bought new tubes and anything that touched my skin or went into a bottle, at Babies R Us. HUGE savings, and I was able to resale it for as much as I bought it. It seems strange to re-use a breast pump, but hospitals rent them out over and over. Save some dough, buy used, and just buy new what is going to touch your skin. You're basically buying the actual pump, so make sure it does work well before you walk away from the sale.
- Onesies- SO cumbersome when trying to change diapers! You can move into them as they get bigger, but newborns and cloth diapers, so do not go with onesies!
- Pack n Play- I thought I'd try a couple of these with baby #2, but they really didn't work out at all. It was kind of like trying to cage a wild beast. She was having none of it. Seeing her brother out and about did not help any one, either.
A longer than expected blog, much longer than I'd hope, but it's pretty much all here. I'm sure I forgot plenty, and our lifestyle is alternative to the mainstream..But maybe this will help you think outside the box of what every consumerist is throwing your way. Comments, questions? I'd love to hear what worked for everyone else.
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Posted in Food Post Date 02/26/2017