I’m hesitant to give my two cents on baby registries because I consider my own far from successful. But, what I can offer is a logical list of what you’ll need and tips I learned from mistakes I made. Here we go:
1 & 2. The Boppy and the Bumbo: Two small essentials. The boppy is great for breast feeding and the bumbo is great for when your little one has good head control but can’t sit on their own yet. Truthfully, I used the bumbo with the tray as a high chair for a while. It’s great because it’s small and portable. I’d sit Hooper on the kitchen counter while I cleaned up. And no, I never left him unattended in it. Don’t worry. The Boppy can also be used to work on head control, as it supports a baby lying on their stomach.
3. Nursing Bra: I have two nursing bras made by Bravado that I LOVE. Want to know a secret? I still wear them. Partly because my boobs are still too big to fit into my old B cup bras and partly because they’re just so comfortable I haven’t wanted to look for another bra. I figure my breasts will be filling with milk soon enough, so rather than waste the money on a bra that will fit today but not four months from now, I stick with these.
4. Bath tub + shampoo + towel + grooming kit: The options for bathing your little one are endless. We have the Primo Euro-Bath, which is fantastic. It adjusts to fit both a newborn and a sitting aged baby perfectly and is easy to empty and clean. The only downside is that it is rather large. For a while we only had one functional bathroom and we had to stand the EuroBath up to shower and it was always in our way. If you have a separate bathroom, preferably with a tub, then simply placing the Eurobath within the tub would eliminate this problem. I also used to set the bath on the kitchen counter and do the dishes while giving Hooper a bath. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Again, you learn as you go. Shampoo is a personal choice, there’s tons of options, I like the Bert’s Bees but we tend to use a few different brands. I splurged before Hooper was born and bought this ridiculously priced bath towel made by 3Sprouts. Of all the silly things to spend money on, I think this was my biggest regret. You can dry your baby off with any old towel, save your money. The grooming kit should include a brush and nail trimmers (we used hand mittens for way too long because we were scared to cut those little nails, be brave and learn from me).
5. Baby Carrier: We used the Baby Bjorn until Hooper was old enough to separate his legs and hold his head, then we used the Ergo Baby. I like the look and the feel of the Ergo baby better, but it’s not really made, as far as I know, to accommodate the floppiness of the newborn stage. Luckily we were given the Baby Bjorn as a hand-me down, so we only bought one carrier. I would check craigslist for a used Baby Bjorn and buy a Ergo Baby. The Ergo Baby can be used all the way through toddler hood as it can be used as a back carrier as well.
6. Diaper Pail + extra bags: We initially purchased the Diaper Dekor Plus Pail, which worked great for the first year. Then it started to smell. Once Hooper was eating more solids, his shit changed and the pail no longer handled the smell so well. When I looked up other pails I read of other mom’s atesting to the same thing. Based on reviews, we changed to the Arm & Hammer Munchkin Pail. The bags are easy to change and best of all, no more stench. I recommend this one from the get go.
7. Diaper Bag: Truthfully, I rarely use our diaper bag. If we have a day planned at the beach or are going on vacation, I take it. But for day to day errands and trips I just keep wipes and an extra diaper or two in my car. I think you could get by just using a purse, especially with some of the over-sized purses out there nowadays. I have the StorkSak Olivia Diaper Bag, which I splurged on after my purse idea busted on me (I was using a cheap fabric purse). I get many compliments on it and I love it, but like I said, I don’t use it enough to justify spending that much on a diaper bag.
8. Car Seat + Extra Base: We had one car seat given to us as a hand-me-down and bought another one used on craiglist. I think the recommendation is to replace a car seat every 5 years, but both of the ones we have are in excellent condition and happen to be less than 5 years old. We have the Graco Snugride solely because it’s what was compatible with our Bugaboo stroller. What do I mean by compatible, you ask? See, I would have asked the same thing the first time around. Again, you learn as you go. The Bugaboo stroller comes with a standard frame and has an attachment that works with the Graco Snugride so you can simply snap the car seat into the frame. We used this method exclusively until about six months or so when Hooper weighted too much to be lugging that thing in and out of the car. It worked out well, because at six months he was able to sit up in the stroller anyway. Whether you go with the Bugaboo or another stroller, a “snap-and-go” is definitely handy. It’s no fun to wake a sleeping newborn in their comfy car seat to transfer them to a stroller. Much easier to take the car seat out and snap it into the stroller. Oh yes, get an extra care seat base for ease of sharing between two cars. Tons of people sell used extra bases on craiglist for cheap.
9. Monitor: If you have a small house, screw the monitor. A mother is like a hawk when it comes to her baby crying. We have a small house and Hooper’s room is right next to ours, however, Willy insists on sleeping with a white noise maker which makes it hard to hear anything else. We currently have the Sony Baby Call Monitor, which is one of the best priced monitors around. Originally we bought the Angelcare monitor , but after a few months it started to develop this terrible ticking noise. It was right around the time Hooper was sleeping a solid 4-5 hours straight, so to be awoken instead by a ticking monitor was the absolute worst. If they had a monitor destruction yard, I would have taken it there. This monitor deserved the very worst of fates. I’ve had no issues with the Sony Baby Call and, like I said, it’s one of the cheapest out there.
10. Breast Pump: If you are a working mama like myself, you will enter the unfortunate world of pumping. People can say whatever they want and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but sitting with a machine attached to my tits in a tiny closet sized room with a billion work stresses around me was not fun. I dread the thought of not only returning to work and leaving two babies now, but also having to pump all over again. I’m sure I’ll have many posts on the subject to come, but I’ll limit this post to what I suggest and why. I have the Medla Pump In Style. I was told by my midwife, who is also an excellent lactation specialist to get a double electric pump. They are faster and more efficient. Sometimes I would use the Medela Symphony because it was available when I’d pump on the labor and delivery unit, though I must say I would express just as much milk with the Pump In Style. The only thing I liked better about the Symphony is that it was quieter. The Symphony, by the way, is so pricey it’s only available, as far as I know, to rent. In any case, any double electric pump is going to cost you some bucks. If you are unsure if you will be a working pumping mama, then just wait. You can always get it later. You may try breastfeeding and find that, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work for you. It’d be a shame to waste a few hundred bucks on something you didn’t end up needing. But, if you’re like me, and completely dedicated to solely breastfeeding, get the pump beforehand. One last thing you’ll have to leave the house to hunt for.
11. Food processor: This is only necessary if you plan on making your own baby food. We bought the Beaba Babycook. It’s very simple to use and there are only three parts to clean. It’s not the cheapest thing, but it’s something I continue to use til this day and something I will be using once again when the second baby arrives. There’s tons of recipes online, though for the most part experimenting with fruit and veggie purees isn’t rocket science. And there’s nothing like knowing exactly what your baby’s eating. I just don’t trust carrots that can sit on a shelf for years on end.
12. High Chair: Just like everything else, there are a billion to chose from. We opted for the cheapo wooden high chair you’d find in a restaurant and I love it. It sits nicely at the table, drawing no attention to itself like some other big clunky chairs. You can read my earlier post here, where I give my two cents on high chairs.
13. Bottles & Nipples: I remember when I went back to work and it was time for Hooper to learn to take breast milk from the bottle, which is a separate story in itself. My dad went to the local Babies R’ Us and was taken back by the ENTIRE wall of bottles and nipples to chose from. Back in the day, he said, you bought whatever bottle they sold. Today, there a plethora of options with several parts and nipples that come in different levels based on speed of flow which is based on age. Not as easy as you’d think, right? You learn as you go as a new mom. But my advice is this: buy/register for a couple different bottles and a couple different nipples. When you experiment with those, you can buy more of what you like most or what works the best.
14. Changing Pad: You can change your baby anywhere. If you want to have a designated “changing table”, that’s obviously available. But you certainly don’t need it. We opted for the changing tray, which fits perfectly across our crib and therefore takes up very little space. We keep the wipes and a few diapers on there. We have the rest of the diapers in a drawer within arms reach. You can also place this changing tray on top of a dresser you already have or were planning on using and viola, it’s magically a changing table. If you opt for an actual changing table, I read this great article on re-purposing them when your done.
15. Crib + Sheet + Mattress: Not much to say about these items. I imagine even if you decide to co-sleep you’ll want a crib for naps or the post co-sleep era. What I can say is that the crib I fell in love with was rather expensive. I managed to find one on craigslist for less than half price from a family that opted to co-sleep and never ended up using the crib. It was a score. Walmart has tons of affordable cribs and a wide variety in terms of style. We currently have two crib sheets we rotate between. My mom made one and the other is a very plain and simple store bought sheet. Making a crib sheet is fairly simple. If you desire to go this route you have more options as you can find any fabric or twin sheet and convert it into a lovely handmade sheet. Whatever you decide, you don’t really need more than two. And a mattress, that’s rather essential.
16. Stroller: I loved the idea of having a vintage pram. I had visions of myself strolling with my newborn baby in parks you’d only find in the middle of Paris. My dream died with the more research I did. I called one store to see if I could look at a pram they sold and the woman pretty much detoured me over the phone, explaining they’re really only practical for those who live in a big city and take an elevator up to their loft. And she’s right. For one, prams are monstrously large. With that large size comes weight. They’re not really made to be shuffled in and out of a mini van. And the wheels do not provide for optimal steering. To turn a corner requires some degree of lifting because either the front or the back wheels don’t rotate, I forget. Then I fell in love with the bugaboo. I can’t tell you how many times Willy and I have turned to one another and declared, “I love this stroller”. Just the other day I took Hooper with me to the doctor and thought about if I had bought that pram as I navigated my way through the heavy door and hallway and into the tiny bathroom to pee in the cup. The bugaboo rides like a dream. Last time we were at the flea market, some strange man even commented, “Looks like he’s riding in the Cadillac of strollers”. Yes, a man took note. And it is the Cadillac of strollers. It turns beautifully, it breaks down easily, it’s stylish, the seat is adjustable, I could go on and on. The only thing the bugaboo has against it is the price, which granted is a major factor. So, once again, we turned to craigslist. We bought ours used for a couple hundred and eventually bit the bullet and bought a new seat and hood, which were a little faded. I think it’s one of the best purchases we made. And all the parts are sold individually so replacing or upgrading any part is not an issue.
Things you can wait on: Swings, Bouncers, Bassinets… Forget em’. Again, this is just my opinion. We bought a playpen and have used it once. I can’t imagine most babies would be cool with the confinements of a play pen. Hooper hated it. I wrote it off as a total waste of money until we used it as a portable crib in Big Bear. Then it had a purpose. For that reason alone, I leave it in his closet. Otherwise I would have listed it on Craigslist a long time ago. I think it’s easy to go overboard with the swings and bouncers. Tons of people are looking to get rid of this stuff anyway. If you don’t get something as a hand-me-down, check your local thrift shop give it a good cleaning and voila, money saved. You’ll use these things for such a small period in time it’s not worth buying brand new, in my opinion. And bassinets, sure they’re beautiful, but I never found a use for one. Just seems like one more thing cluttering a house.
General Tips: Use logic. It’s like going through a wedding magazine only to get to the end and have a new list of a thousand things you didn’t know you needed prior to opening the magazine. Same same but different. Register for what you want and need. What you don’t get, look for used on craigslist or thrift stores. Still need some items? Check out Diapers.com. Seriously, best site ever. Load up your cart, I believe first time customers still get 20% off. They deliver right to your door within two days. We still get all of our diapers and other random needs from this site and I can’t say enough good things about them. Returns are also super easy.
And if anyone else has any other suggestions please leave them in the comment section for other readers to see!
My list and tips for baby numero dos soon to follow…