If you've hung out with me for more than 5 seconds since I had Beck or, frankly, for months before I had her, you probably have some inkling of how obsessed I am with baby products. Some hugely useful, some just super cute, some cool as all get-out. I spent a ton of sleepless nights while pregnant researching all kinds of stuff, and our MO when registering was 1. get as much used stuff as we could, 2. save receipts for returns/exchanges, and 3. mid-range stuff that was really well-reviewed was our preference for new stuff.
Before we start, on registries: We registered at Target, Amazon, and BuyBuyBaby. This was for a few reasons. Target is everywhere and everyone loves it, PLUS if we got anything that we really didn't like or couldn't use we could use the return store credit for regular stuff like toilet paper, which is kind of a nice baby gift. Amazon has a great welcome-to-your-registry box that I really wanted AND a good completion discount, but we got exactly zero presents from that registry. I can use the completion discount for up to a year, though, so at any moment I could add a bunch of older-baby stuff and order it for Beck. BuyBuyBaby was a no-brainer when I found out that you can use Bed Bath & Beyond coupons there. They also have a great welcome bag (so does Target!) and the store is just SO nice. They always have tons of stock in the store and the employees generally know what they're talking about. BBB is far and away my favorite place to shop for baby stuff, and don't even get me STARTED on how much better it is than Baby's R Us BUT I think that might be a local thing, our Toys R Us and Babies R Us are in one big store and the employees are useless and it's just really awful, but that might not be the same everywhere, in fairness to the company.
I had to split this into two posts because, as I'm sure you've heard, babies use. so. much. stuff. Some of it isn't necessary, obviously, but still. Today's post is more on gear, tomorrow will be things that are in Beck's nursery with a few notes on what we did for "decorating," if you can call it that. So diapering, our glider, clothes, that'll all be tomorrow! Because I just couldn't think of any other way to organize this.
Before Beck was born, we bought a used infant carrier (Graco Snugride 35) with one car base and a stroller attachment from friends who were moving. After she was born we bought a second base for my mom's car because she watches Beck the most while I'm at work. Let me be very honest: we did NO research on infant carriers, and here's why: they outgrow them super duper fast. Beck is 3 months old and we're already planning her upgrade to a convertible car seat, the one that is rear facing until 2 and then forward-facing until her height and weight outgrow it. Infant carriers (the kind with a handle that pops in and out of the car) have a 35 pound or so weight limit, so she could use it for a really long time, but aren't quiiiite as safe as convertible car seats. So, the theory is that as soon as the baby is big enough that you don't use the carrier anymore, upgrade them to a convertible seat! Beck can't sit up yet so we do still haul her around in the car seat, but it's big, she's heavy, and we are passing down this seat set to a friend who is planning to do the short-lived thing. We have the Baby Trend stroller base for the car seat and have used it maybe 3 times? When Beck was little she didn't like just sitting in her car seat and now that she's bigger we just use her regular stroller, so if we hadn't gotten that with the actual seat I think I'd say skip it. We like having 2 car seat bases but infant seats are perfectly safe to use without the car seat base, so as long as Beck has her seat she can go in anyone's car, which is nice. I have my eye on the Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat with the 20% BuyBuyBaby coupon for our convertible seat. It's expensive, but gets pretty much perfect reviews and Beck can use it for a long time.
A quick note on car seat safety: a lot of people say never buy used car seats, and I promote the used seat when 1. I know where the seat has been, 2. It's not expired (usually 6 years, but check the box), and 3. I know we aren't going to use it for a long time, like with the infant seat. The theory here is that if a car seat has been in a wreck it might not be quite as strong, which I totally agree with, but I know the history of our infant seat so I feel comfortable using it and passing it on to a friend.
To cart Beck around, we have the City Mini by Baby Jogger stroller, and we LOVE it. It's a nice mid-price range, and folds in half with the pull of ONE handle, which is super key to me. It doesn't come with a tray or a console, but I bought both separately and enjoy using them. The stroller is light, too, and I can manage it by myself up our front stairs with no issues. Beck falls right asleep in it, and it's inspired me in the past few weeks to take lots of walks to try to walk off some baby weight. We actually didn't start using this until Beck was maybe 11 weeks old, and preferred wearing her when she was super teeny. So, maybe don't freak out over having the perfect stroller right away! Strollers do lots of different things, but we love this one for almost everything we've used it for so far.
We have THREE baby carriers, because we are the luckiest people alive. We were handed down the Baby Bjorn (old, but similar to this one) by Jay's sister, and my mom uses that one when she has Beck and loves it. We also got the Moby Wrap used from the same people we got our car seat from, and really liked that when Beck was small. I used it SO much, and I know that it can be used for bigger babies too. Our trials came with tying it, we just never quite felt like it stayed tight for long periods of time. But, I'd recommend it hands down for newborns, even though you don't use it for very long. I bought us the ErgoBaby 360 on Cyber Monday from Target (on my registry, so I got the Cyber Monday deal, registry completion coupon that you can use BEFORE the baby is born, and an extra 5% for using my Target card), and can't say enough good things about it! Because we had the Moby we didn't buy the infant insert for the Ergobaby, and Beck is big enough now to ride in it with her legs out facing us on the front. There are tons of other ways to wear bigger babies, but Jay and I both really like the wrap in general, the weather/sun hood, and the support we get on our backs. I sometimes get a teensy twinge in my shoulders if I wear her for a really long time, but it takes hours before I get tired.
Beck had her first bath at about 2 weeks postpartum, on Christmas Eve, in her 4moms baby tub, which we LOVE. It's kind of big, but has a thermometer to make sure the water isn't too hot, and drains all over so that fresh water is constantly flowing over the baby, which is super nice because I swear she pees every single time she gets in the tub. She hated her first 2 tubs and now sits super calmly while we bathe her, and it's just super cute. I think all the 4moms products look incredible, but this is sadly the only one we have. We have exactly one random baby towel and use samples of baby bath wash on her little bod, so nothing to recommend there other than USE SAMPLES AND SAVE MONEY. Baby bodies are super teeny so you may as well try a bunch of stuff and see what you like!
For feeding, we use Avent Naturals bottles because, wait for it, they came free in some of the registry welcome bags! Seriously. I registered for a few other kinds to try, but when I realized I had 2 identical bottles I decided to try those first, and she took them like a champ! I did buy new nipples; the samples come with a size 1 which is supposed to be for newborns but I found that milk was coming out way too fast for Beck, and I wanted her to have to work for it like she does when she nurses AND I didn't want her to choke. So, I bought size 0 preemie nipples and we haven't looked back! A friend who is going to use glass bottles gave us her sample too so we operate on a total of 3 bottles and it forces me to keep up with the dishes, which is fantastic, truly. I mostly wash everything in the dishwasher unless I need it RIGHT THAT INSTANT (and then I use a bottle brush). I have this boxy thing for little parts and a drying rack for the counter top. I don't like putting away little plastic bits with water droplets because I fear mold and mildew, so I was bottle/pump parts in the dishwasher and then they live on the drying rack until they're ready to be used.
For spitup rags I use regular cloth diapers and they work great. They were hand-me-downs from a friend, I have no clue what brand they are, and I'd recommend buying the cheapest package you can find and keeping one in every room of your house!
I have this Skip Hop diaper bag and love it. I think it looks super cute and is massive, we routinely fill it full of baby and grownup stuff with no issues. I registered it and then one of my bandmates sent it as a gift, then I got uncertain and promptly bought 3 more diaper bags and let them sit on my dining room table for a week, and the original bag that I'd picked still ended up being the winner. We're obsessed.
For sleeping (not included in the nursery list because homegirl still sleeps with us), Beck still sleeps every night and almost every nap in her Leachco Podster, which I got in pink from Amazon. We set that in the top of our Pack and Play, which is this Chicco one, ALSO from a friend. We have the bassinet attachment still happening (where the baby is higher up in the crib) since Beck can't roll over or sit up yet, so she's basically at the same height as me and right next to my side of the bed. The Pack and Play has a changing table setup which we've never used, so I'd probably go simpler to save money and weight (for travel purposes) if I was buying my own travel crib. We keep the changing attachment in another room so it's no problem, but it's not necessary if you have, say, any flat surface at all ever. A lot of these travel crib dealios come with a ton of gadgets and attachments, and that might be perfect for a small house, but if you end up with a changing table and a play pen and all that then you don't necessarily need the setup that does all. the. things.
Back when Beck was little (because she's clearly not anymore) and I was frantic that she'd never sleep a bunch of you recommended the Rock N Play by Fisher Price. I dutifully went out and bought it and she has never slept one wink in it, but I still have it 2 months later. WELL, she actually likes hanging out in it now! If she's awake and in a good mood she'll hang out and work on her skillz, finding her feet, hands to mouth, all that important stuff that is kind of hilarious to watch. She seems to not care about the rocking or the sounds, so if you don't want to pay extra for the one that plugs in I'd wholeheartedly support you. For my kid it seems not to matter.
For hanging out we were also given as hand-me-downs the Fisher Price Snugabunny (similar, ours is older) swing and the Baby Bjorn bouncer. The swing is really hit or miss for Beck, and it's just like the Rock N Play - she prefers to NOT be swinging! She will sit and stare up at the birds and gets kind of excited about those, but it never lasts for more than 15 minutes. For long stretches of alone time, the bouncer is Beck's seat of choice. I wanted one of these super bad but they are SO expensive, so I was thrilled to learn that Jay's cousin already had one! I really think that for the money this thing should bounce itself, but something about the gravity effect and the irregularity of the bouncing makes Beck just super happy. She adores it, and I'd buy another one if ours broke, we depend on it that much for hands-free happy baby time.
So that's it for gear! Like I said, nursery stuff will be tomorrow, and when I talk about nursing I'll talk about my pump and milk bags and how I use one of those little red coolers with a corner chewed off by the dog to transport bottles and bags of milk, so PLEASE do not expect me to tell you to buy something carefully fitted to the bottles you choose to use. I just can't do it in good conscience.
In other things we DON'T use, warmers of any kind are on top of the list. I have a wipe warmer handily under Beck's crib, and have never owned a bottle warmer. My thought is this: if she's fine without them why add something that she starts to depend on? She's fine, and enjoys milk and her ass being wiped at all different temperatures, call me cruel. We also were given a used Boppy breastfeeding pillow to try and while I liked it, I couldn't be bothered to haul it around with me so in the early days I'd use it if it was handy and if it wasn't I'd just use any old pillow. I wouldn't say it's a bad product, but definitely not a necessary one. Now I don't use anything at all to prop us up, either I try to hold Beck up and use my arm muscles or I hunch over in a C shape and just nod in solidarity with all the other moms that are a little shorter after nursing their babies. It is what it is.
That's what we love, part 1! Leave questions, comments, suggestions, I love it ALL.