What should we get for our first baby?
We could really use some help figuring out what stuff we need to get for our first child. Below is a list we've managed to cobble together. Does anyone have any recommendations for things we've omitted? Or is there anything we've listed that we don't need? If anyone has any recommendations about brands or products to get or avoid, that would be awesome.
cradle/bassinet; cradle bedding; crib; crib mattress; crib bedding; dresser; dresser changer top (instead of a separate changing table); diaper pail; rocker; baby monitor; infant car seat; full size stroller; bouncy chair; front baby carrier (like a baby bjorn); clothing; diaper bag; breast pump; bottles; bottle warmer; pacifiers; blankets; Boppy/breastfeeding pillow; Bath tub; floor diaper changer; high chair; bibs; play pen
Some moms really love to get a rocking glider - a comfy chair for nursing in with a foot stool that rocks in a gliding fashion. I never even tried one, but many moms have considered it a nursing essential. Me - I'd much rather invest in some nice nursing friendly tops (my favorites are on momzelle.com ) that make nursing anywhere easy to do and visually unintrusive. Other moms prefer cover-ups for nursing in public. Husband calls those baby burkhas. :)
You need to figure out what makes you happy to nurse your baby. With my first I started pumping once a day at about 3 weeks and used the electric pump quite a bit, and the manual one for travel. She took to the bottle well, and it allowed me a bit more freedom, and for dad to also join in feeding. With our second, I have been much lazier/busier. I have pumped on occasion when I've needed to have someone else watch him for a few hours, and he needs to be quite hungry to take the bottle. With both I had the luxury of not going back to work right away. I have liked the Medela pump, but I've also tried others and to me they all seem fine. I do think the two-speed setting (one for promoting let-down, the other for real sucking, mimics the way babies nurse) with adjustable force is sort of a must for comfort.
If and when you get to storing milk, do not presume milk will last for a long time even in the freezer. All women have a enzymes that break down milkfat in their milk, some have little, some a lot. If you have a lot, the flavor of the milk will spoil more quickly in storage (I found this to be about 2 days in fridge and 3 weeks in freezer) unless you scald the milk first.
Co-sleeping vs bedsharing is a little bit like disposable diapers vs cloth - both have advantages and disadvantages, and it really depends on your situation and the preferences of the parents. You'll know what feels right, just know that there are lots of ways of doing things, not just one way. We never bed-shared, for a few reasons, but many find it enjoyable.
With our first we used g-diapers (a washable cover with flushable/compostable inserts) which I liked quite well. They seem to breathe better than disposables, and are quite cute. But of course they require some upfront investment and also create laundry, and sometimes seemed to not quite contain blowouts as well as disposables, if I recall correctly. With this one, we've been lazier, and used disposables. A lot of people don't care, but we insist on non-fragrance baby products. Perfumes (to me) are in the same general class of stuff as pthalates, and act as endocrine disruptors, plus neither of us likes perfumes. Cheap diapers can have rather appalling amounts of perfume in them. We generally buy Seventh Generation, but there's the compostable one called Natural Baby or something like that, and they're also pretty good performance.
We never used baby monitors either, partly because you can hear everything in the house quite well, and partly because I liked to have the baby nap close by in the day. Some houses and families use them all the time, and use them way beyond the baby stage, until they are much bigger, because it's convenient to be able to listen in to what's really going on there, and sometimes amusing, too.
Some babies take pacifiers, others not. Some like one type of pacifier only, others are more flexible. A pacifier can be a great help Weaning off pacifiers needs to happen eventually, and is always a bit painful. But it's eaiser to wean off pacifiers than it is to wean off thumb-sucking.
Overall, my biggest piece of advice is: trust your gut, have confidence in yourself and your baby, and apply common sense. It's far too easy to get freaked out about everything and anything. Stay cool and take any recommendations with a pinch of salt, knowing they speak from their experience and situation. Yours is different. Your baby is different.
Btw, the infant car seat you'll need to be allowed to leave the hospital, so that's actually the only thing you really need before baby arrives.
The response to your question could fill volumes... There's a very useful guide that addresses many of the questions you've asked (including what you really DON't need, and also reviews on brands with suggestions of what to avoid): http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Bargains-Secrets-furniture-maternity/dp/1889392405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336540579&sr=8-1. We went through this book with our first child and thought it was handy to have around as we went shopping....
Another general comment -- there were so many things that my sons didn't like, and you don't know until they're here! One of my sons loved his Sleepy Wrap, the other hated it. Both loved the swing. One liked the bouncer, the other didn't. Even with bottles, many of my friends tried many different bottle and nipple shapes before they figured out which ones their kids liked the best. It's a shame to spend all this money on things your kids may or may not like -- not to mention all the space this stuff all takes up. So you may not want to get everything now - and if possible, borrow or buy used just in case they don't like it. (Borrowing is nice -- then you can give it back when you're done!!!!! ; )
- changing tables: mirrors are a good toy all by themselves. I don't mind changing on the floor or a bed (esp to save space and money), you do need some stuff reliably near by and my husband always wants things (that is, babies) high to save his back.
- co-sleeper: We used an arm's reach co-sleeper for both kids, though our second spent more and more time in our bed (we felt safer and safer about it). The co-sleeper later became a guest bed for visiting babies - it essentially becomes a pack n play.
- nursing: If breastfeeding is hard - as it was for me - mybreastfriend is a lifesaver. Helps reduce positioning variables. - diaper pails: We've never had a good diaper pail solution. We used a small regular trash with our first and emptied frequently, we used a diaper genie with our second. Husband liked the latter, I couldn't stand emptying it. I liked the former, he couldn't stand emptying it. (We've gone through many cat litter box solutions too. Diaper pail issues may say more about us than about diaper pails.)
- diapers: we used FuzziBunz, at home. I like them, thought they were cute. Wouldn't do it if we didn't have a good washing machine and I couldn't be bothered too often to carry home dirty diapers when out and about, so used disposables then.
- glider: We have a glider because we thought it essential pre-baby (got a Dutalier one cheap on craigslist), but our first preferred to be bounced up and down on an exercise ball. Then the glider just became a chair to sit on when in baby's room. I'd rate the comfy chair functionality (especially nice is a way to lie your head back if it happens to be the middle of the night or feel like it) as essential, the gliding not so much.
- crying baby: The only baby care literature I'd really recommend is the "Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD (the DVD not the book - had both, only the DVD was useful). It's one hour long and makes you feel comfortable soothing a crying baby. For me, that was priceless.
- swaddling blanket: One thing HBotB suggests for soothing a baby is a good, big stretchy (waffle weave) swaddling blanket. These are different from "receiving blankets" which are generally not stretchy, and not big enough. Or, if you want to spend a bit more money and make it brain-dead simple, a "Miracle Blanket". For our first, it was an essential, our second hardly used swaddling blankets.
- Join roonga.com and invite your friends and family! This is a friend's home grown site for requesting and sharing stuff.
Agreed with the general principle another mentioned of trusting yourself above any authoritative advice. In just a week or two, you'll know your baby best. The baby will keep changing and tripping you up, but you'll still know him best, and paying attention will generally reveal the answer (or at least the next thing to try). Everything else is just ideas.
So excited for you!
One present I got from a friend for the first baby that was very cool was a box full of pharmacy items you might want for baby. These are not big baby gear items so they are often overlooked but things that are nice to have on-hand should you need it and can't easily run to the store:
- easy to use thermometer (like a forehead scanner) where to me easy means fast reading and I don't have to stick anything into anyone's rectum
- fever reducer (dye-free Tylenol or Advil) which you wouldn't use before talking to a nurse first but if it's 2am, it's nice to already have
- vaseline, very good general purpose skin moisterizer and protector. with our first, the nurse who sent us home recommended using it to prevent diaper rashes. So it was applied for every diaper change the first few weeks which incidentally made cleaning poopy diapers much easier.
- diaper rash cream
- rubbing alcohol wipes for the belly button
- soft washcloths for the sponge baths in the beginning
- don't know what season you're due but in late winter/early spring in Pittsburgh (first baby) and middle of winter in Seattle (second baby) we needed a space heater in the bathroom and a humidifier in the bedroom
- a selection of pacifiers
- cotton swaddling blankets
I read all the answers so far, and I think the main thing is that babies are different. I have 2 who were very different infants (and continue to be very different). So whatever you can borrow to try out before you have to commit is a definite plus. Things that might be easy to borrow to try before buying would be baby carriers, bouncers, and swings.
Bassinet/co-sleeper is great for the first 3-6 months because you can stick it next to your bed. By the way, our friends have the same brand stroller as we, Uppababy Vista, and the pram cot (a flat bed thing) can double as a bassinet if you get the frame for that. Not a bad solution at all!
Crib will be a nice transition for everyone after the co-sleeper solution is outgrown. Please know that at this time adjustable-sided or drop-side cribs (that have one side that you can set on a higher or lower level, nice back saver) have been made illegal. We still have one. If you get a second hand one, you can always retrofit is with a small L-bracket to not accidentally adjust.
Crib mattresses come in all flavors of crazy, from the very cheap to the organic exclusive. We chose to get an organic mattress with a waterproof polypropylene surface (avoid PVC because the organic volatile compounds released by it, i.e. smell, aren't good for babies, much like phtalates and bisphenol). That said, we have to this day never had a leak in the crib that would have made me go "phew, glad it's waterproof". You can also get crib cover pads that are waterproof, which makes a lot of sense.
The need for a dresser vs just a drawer or two baskets depends on how much handmedowns you have accumulated at time of birth and soon after. It's convenient to have one set place where you can change the diaper, but it really doesn't matter whether it's a changing table, on top of the dresser, on the bed or on a bathroom counter (like we had). What you want to make sure is that you have diapers and wipes handy. You only need a diaper pail if you don't want to put your diapers in regular trash and take them out quickly, but instead collect them in one separate can. With our second, we just put his diapers in the trash and they never start smelling. It's hard to get a diaper pail that doesn't start to stink eventually.
A rocker is amazing - we have had a maclaren model with both kids and find it super nice. Again, just about for the first 6 months, no more, but you need receptacles for kids!
Regarding baby carrier solutions, you would do best to wait till you have the baby and then try out as many options as you can before committing. This is because some kids like some better than others, as do parents, and it's hard to tell before you have both decision makers at the table. I love the moby wrap despite its challenges (putting it on is a bit of a trick) because it's so very comfy for me and baby. There are some classes here by the more organic/natural oriented places where you can pay a small fee and try a zillion million different ones.
May 11, 2012
my top choice: the book "Baby Bargains." Get the current edition. It's like Consumer Reports for parents -- what gear to get and which models and which brands.
If you have the time (ha!), check out the baby section on your local craigslist -- it can be good for a lot of the bigger-ticket items, like strollers.
No, the kiddos don't need toys at first -- just staring at the overhead light is a trip enough. But they will like them within a couple of months. Easiest baby distracter device (also cheapest) is one of those baby mats with soft crossbars hanging over the baby's head -- they come with dangly thingies that will entertain your swatting baby for hours.
A battery-powered swing can be useful for certain babies, although it costs a lot and takes up a lot of space, and you don't use it very long.
As for baby carriers, we used a Moby and a Bjorn for the earlier months, and then switched to an Ergo for the later months (it's easier on your lower back once the kiddos get bigger than 15 pounds or so).
We bought a dresser with a mirror, and used that as her changing table. That way it's a nice piece of furniture you can keep using after the kids are out of diapers. We are currently using a Cooshee Changer for the diaper operation, because those soft diaper pads with the cloth covers most folks usually get only last a year or so before falling apart. (Plus, the Cooshee thing is easier to keep clean.)
We are skipping the entire bassinet/cradle/cosleeper thing with our second -- it's so much easier just to have her sleep in the bed with us. When she's big enough, she'll go directly into the crib.
We use a Diaper Genie for disposable diapers -- it does actually keep the stink in and not all over your room.
The embarrassingly named My Brest Friend is the best nursing pillow, but the Boppy is a great baby prop-up device.
I think playpens are a thing of the 1950s past; what most folks use now are pack'n'plays. If you get one of those, they usually come with all kinds of gadgets -- a bassinet, a changing surface, etc. We know folks who have simply bought a pack'n'play and used that for everything until the kid needed a full-size crib.
We had a hand-me-down, drop-side crib that we still use; haven't had any problems with it coming apart or anything. We bought a waterproof crib-mattress cover, but it was a pain to put on and take off, so we never used it.
You won't need food (i.e., waterproof) bibs for at least six months, but drool (i.e., absorbent cloth) bibs can be nice to have on hand.
Have fun freaking out about baby gear!
May 11, 2012