Sunday, August 5, 2007

Baby Gear Guide!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Baby Gear Guide!
Current mood: calm

Kit's Big Guide to Baby Gear Through the First Year:
(Just in case you'd like some ideas on what to buy, borrow or steal)

Books I Really Used:
(for before pregnancy and afterwards)-
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler -useful information on tracking your cycles, for the purpose of getting pregnant or avoiding conception.

(for during Pregnancy)-
- The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine -a funny, enjoyable read that is loaded with good information.
- Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade B Curtis -it's fun to track the development of your baby in the womb each week as it happens.
- What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff -very useful as a reference book to look up specific questions, but boring (and unnecessary) to read cover to cover. Also, not good for the hypochondriacs!
- Yoga For Pregnancy by Sandra Jordan -good postpartum, too
- Baby Bargains by Alan & Denise Fields -excellent information on all kinds of baby gear- I used this book a ton. If my lists here are helpful to you, check out this book!

(for postpartum and the first year)-
- the reading material from the prenatal class and the hospital -clear, to the point, very helpful stuff
- The Girlfriend's Guide to the First Year by Vicki Iovine -again funny and enjoyable! Focuses on what happens to Mom postpartum- which is extremely helpful, as most books don't even mention some of this stuff.
- What to Expect The First Year by Heidi Murkoff -again, good as a reference
- Your Baby's First Year by Steven P. Shelov -this is good because it has tons of information, and most likely follows what your pediatrician would tell you. (AAP recommendations). The manual your baby didn't come with.
- Amy Spangler's Guide to Breastfeeding by Amy Spangler -This book was indispensable for me. Concise, very clear and practical breastfeeding info.
- The Complete Book of Massage by Clare Maxwell-Hudson -great for Mom, (and Dad!) and has infant massage techniques too, with good photos. It is my favorite massage book.
- Itsy Bitsy Yoga by Helen Garabedian -really cool
- Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand, Robert Rountree & Rachel Walton Positively fabulous baby and child home medical reference. Offers information on natural and traditional remedies as well as conventional modern care. Lets you decide what fits best in each situation. A must have.
- The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp -Absolutely indispensable to me in the early months with a colicky, high-maintenance baby. I hear there is a video, too.
- The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley -The best "sleep training" book I've found, should you want to try it. I feel it is a good middle ground between the "attachment parenting" technique (see Nighttime Parenting by William Sears) and "cry it out" (see On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, or the book by Ferber), both of which are also popular methods of dealing with sleep problems.
- How To Raise a Brighter Child by Joan Beck -a bit outdated, but still has great information on early learning and a bit on discipline that's good.
- The Healthy Baby Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel -I used this a lot once Simon started in on solid foods, and I like it. There are other good books out there on this subject, too- for instance I hear that Super Baby Food is good.
And an honorable mention: Mothering magazine. I love this magazine!

(for the baby)-
- Happy Baby Colors (or similar)
- Baby Faces (or similar- a real hit, from very early)
- Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (a classic)
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (also a classic)
- Touch and Feel Wild Animals (or similar)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (another classic)
- Global Babies (pretty cool)
Basically, board books with bright, simple pictures are good. Texture and interactive books (like Pat the Bunny) are great. Rhyming and repetitive books are good for language development. If you speak a foreign language, get books in that language as well as books in English.

Gear I've found useful in the first year:
(note: by the second baby, I'd fine-tuned my preferences a little. Where applicable, items marked with a * are things that were just as indispensable the second time around.)

* Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat with LATCH (I hear the Safeseat is now preferable to the Snugride)
- Snap-and-Go stroller frame (Kolcraft makes something similar)- note: I used the heck out of this with the first baby- the only reason we didn't use it the 2nd time around was because I always reached for the double stroller, or a baby carrier instead.
- Baby Bjorn front carrier, *Patapum carrier (we use the heck out of the Patapum)
* Arm's Reach Co-sleeper (GREAT!) - I have the "mini"
* Pack and Play playpen
* crib
- infant swing, and/or vibrating bouncy seat or infant seat
* Baby Trend High Chair
- sling (love mine -just be sure to get the right size!)
- jumper seat
- Silver Cross Camden stroller (best "all-around" single stroller we've found so far)
* Britax Roundabout convertible carseat with LATCH (still VERY happy with this)
* Kelty Expedition backpack child carrier (fabulous for hiking)
- Buggy Bagg shopping cart cover or similar (also good for restaurant high chairs when baby is still fairly small)
- and I would have liked to have had an "activity center" (blanket for the floor with toys suspended above)

Breastfeeding stuff I've found useful (other than yourself and your baby, which is all that's truly necessary):

- Luxe Boppy pillow (has a removable washable cover, which is handy). I hear the "Breast Friend" nursing pillow is also good. I used this all the time the first time around.
* Lansinoh lanolin cream for your nipples (I don't know if I'd have made it through those first few weeks without this!)
* rocker-glider and gliding ottoman with nursing stool (expensive, but nice if you can swing it)
- a clock or watch near where you nurse, to time feedings if you want
* snacks and lots of water for you

If you wish to pump and feed breastmilk in bottles, (which can be very handy):
- Medela Pump-in-Style electric breast pump (expensive new. check out second-hand ones on ebay- Medela says you shouldn't use a second-hand consumer breast pump, but all the nurses and lactation consultants I've talked to say that it's OK. My pump came from Goodwill. Just get new tubing and attachments).
- extra set of attachments for Medela pump (a lactation consultant at the hospital might give these to you- by the way you should ask to see a lactation consultant while you are there, even if you feel you have a handle on things)
- car adapter or battery pack for Medela pump
- a set of 4-oz bottles and nipples (you may have to try different kinds of nipples to find out what works for your baby)
- breastmilk freezer bags
- bottle brush
- drying rack for bottles, nipples and pump attachments

* some good nursing bras- check out Medela bras, and the Bravado nursing bra or YES! bra- and get a professional fitting after your milk comes in
- a cover-up for nursing in public, if you are so inclined, or some *nursing shirts- check out and
* breast pads (I prefer natural washable ones- especially wool-backed, some moms much prefer disposable)
- a good book on breastfeeding (see book list)
- a friendly lactation consultant's phone number (or the number of a trusted friend experienced with breastfeeding)
* (fabulous! So helpful)
- some ibuprofen and some patience! (It gets WAAY easier, I promise!)

Feeding items for "solids":
* lots of bibs
* lots of washcloths (just get cheapy ones from Target or similar)
* little plastic bowls (with lids is nice)
* little plastic spoons (I prefer the Take and Toss kind, which I wash and reuse)
- a mesh teether-feeder or two (like the Baby-Safe Feeder)- these are great!!
* sippy-cups (you may have to try a few to see what your baby likes. We use Nuby, Playtex and Take and Toss. We've used Avent, but they are a pain).
- a dishwasher basket for sippy-cup valves and other small items, if you are so inclined
* a baby food mill for grinding food, or a food processor or blender for pureeing food
* a steamer for fruits and veggies
- ice cube trays to freeze baby food in Tablespoon-size portions (for quick and easy meal preparation later on)
- a book with nutritional information, preparation techniques, suggested ages to introduce different foods, etc. is useful too (see book list)
* a highchair (see gear list)
- a dog to clean up after the baby, when baby starts self-feeding and throwing food around (or use a cheapo plastic shower curtain on the floor under the high chair- but there will still be a mess!)
* FOOD, of course. Your pediatrician will have recommendations. I prefer organic, when possible.
* a Snack Trap snack cup for finger foods like cheerios

Clothing items:
Now, remember that you will probably get a lot of clothes from other people- new and second-hand. When you do buy some clothes, definitely find some kid consignment shops in your area to check out. You can find new and barely-worn adorable clothes for a fraction of the price you'd pay new.
As baby gets bigger you will have a better idea of what kinds of clothes work best for you, (it's definitely an individual preference kind of thing) but here are a few items I'd recommend you buy to start out with. Beware of buying too much before the baby is born, though- keep all receipts because you could have a preemie, a small tyke or a jumbo baby- you just don't know!

* side-snap Tshirts (for before the cord falls off, and because you'll worry less if you don't have to pull a shirt over that very wobbly little head)
* lots of cotton onesies (Tshirts that snap under the crotch), short and long sleeved, depending on the time of year
* little footed outfits (called "sleepers" I think- great in jersey, terrycloth, velour- anything soft and comfortable) with snaps in the crotch and legs
* little socks that stay on- my absolute favorites are by Trumpette
* a few little hats (the hospital will provide a good one to start)
* some little mitts
- if you like them, some nightgowns with elastic or drawstring bottoms. I didn't use them much after the first 2 weeks, because it's hard to put the baby in a carseat, carrier or swing when they have a gown on. But some mommies swear by them because they do make infant diaper changes very easy.
You will also want some cute outfits to show the little darling off in, but as I mentioned earlier you will probably receive these as gifts. My favorites were some of the footed sleepers, a little pair of overalls, and a little pair of Old Navy jeans to wear with onesies. (Incidentally the sale rack at Old Navy always has really cute stuff for cheap. You may want to check sales at the Gap, Babies R Us, Gymboree and the Children's Place too, amongst other possibilities).
Later, some soft-soled shoes to protect baby's feet as he or she starts walking outdoors. I LOVE Robeez. (Found at Nordstrom, Stride Rite and

Baby Care:
(*all this stuff was just as necessary the second time around)

- tiny nail clippers
- bulb syringe (the squeezy-thing for sucking out spit-up and later, snot)
- some baby wash/shampoo (I liked Aveeno)
- a small bath sponge and/or washcloths
- little hooded bath towels
- an infant bathtub, if you don't have a good sink to bathe the baby in (laundry sinks are GREAT). Mine is a hand-me-down plastic tub which is OK. There are also inflatable bath tubs, bath "hammocks" and the Eurotub, which is big but has great reviews.
- rubbing alcohol and Q-tips for the umbilical cord, if recommended
- diaper rash cream (Experiment to find what works for you- I have tried tons of different kinds, and the best for us is Triple Paste. You have to request it at the pharmacy counter, but it is not prescription. Burt's Bees, Boudreaux's Butt Paste and Aquaphor also work well for us).
- vaseline (all sorts of uses)
- digital thermometer
- baby lotion (and/or Burt's Bees baby massage oil)
- diapers (cloth or disposable- I use cloth, and it's GREAT!)
- diaper wipes (cloth or disposable- cloth wipes are recommended, at least for infants. They are gentler on baby's skin. They work better, too!) Good sources for cloth wipes are:, and (or make your own!)
- Hyland's homeopathic tablets- definitely for teething, and I also found the colic tabs to be very helpful. (better than Mylicon drops, in my opinion).
- infant tylenol drops (just in case- very good to have on hand)
- also useful: Orajel, saline nose drops, Baby Vicks Vapo-Rub, Bach's Rescue Remedy (for you) and Neosporin
- a cool mist humidifier or a vaporizer is very handy
- later, a tiny toothbrush, a "gum massager" (fits on your finger) or just a washcloth and safe-to-swallow tooth gel (start using this every day as soon as a tooth appears) Start good habits (yours and theirs!) early.
- baby sunscreen for later (after 6 months)
- A pediatrician you love, with a 24-hr number to call with health questions. I interviewed lots of pediatricians to find one I was really comfortable with, who shared my philosophy on baby and child medical care.

Other Important and Just Useful Stuff:
(* just about all this stuff was just as great the second time around)
- lots of laundry baskets (for laundry, toys, blankets, whatever- even works as a moses basket when baby is really tiny!)
- Diaper Champ diaper pail (uses garbage bags or liners, so no special refills to buy!)
- lots of flannel receiving blankets
- a fleece receiving blanket or two
- crib bedding- fitted sheets and a mattress pad are all that's really necessary, but I love my crib bumper and skirt. No need for a quilt, except maybe for playing on the floor or to hang on the wall
- a sheepskin, if you are so inclined (My second baby has one, and it's awesome!)
- an unbreakable crib mirror
- a CD player and some music
[I love the Kenny Loggins CD "All The Pretty Ponies", Enya CDs are lovely, my Simon loves Nicollette Larson's "Sleep Baby Sleep", we also use Norah Jones, Bach, Beethoven, a great CD called "Celtic Odyssey", and Simon and Garfunkel. We also listen to public radio, but use anything you and baby like! (a friend of mine swears by the Beatles' "Revolver")]
- a crib mobile, and an interesting mobile for over the changing table
- speaking of changing table, I recommend getting a dresser for the nursery and putting a padded vinyl pad on top, instead of buying a separate changing table. Just make sure it will be a comfortable height. Why spend money on a changing table?
- a stuffed animal or other "lovey" (don't worry too much about buying toys- you will probably get them whether you want them or not!)
- more cloth diapers for burp cloths etc
- a pacifier, if you are so inclined, and a "mam" clip to keep it handy (you may have to try several kinds of pacifier to find what your baby likes. Once you find it, buy a bunch!)
- a nightlight
- a baby monitor- even if you don't need it for around the house, it allows you to take a shower while baby is napping, without worry
- a rearview mirror for in the car, so you can see baby in the rear-facing car seat while you are driving
- vinyl static-cling see-through car window stickers to keep the sun out of baby's eyes if necessary (the suction-cup kind are a hazard in a crash)
- a good diaper bag- it can be an actual diaper bag or a backpack, or whatever works- I prefer one with lots of pockets and a strap that STAYS on your shoulder
- a portable changing pad (will probably come with the diaper bag)
- a soft bristled baby hairbrush. This is handy for it's intended use, but also it is a fascinating object for babies.
- you may want to use Dreft detergent for the baby clothes at first. Another good laundry detergent is Charlie's Soap- I use this on cloth diapers. It's all natural and biodegradable, though a few babies are sensitive to it so watch out for that. And don't use fabric softener on baby stuff!
- interlocking plastic links to attach toys to the crib, high chair, stroller, wherever
- honorable mention for HABA wooden teethers and rattles- love these!
- a baby memory book and/or photo album, if you are so inclined- I love "Baby Time- A Fast, Fun Keepsake Album", because it is easier to keep up with.
- a good camera. If you are a picture-taker, consider a digital one- you will save money on film and developing, and it makes it easy to share pictures with friends and family (assuming you have a computer!)
- baby gates, electric outlet covers, cabinet locks, etc. When babyproofing the house, I found it good to crawl around to see what looks enticing and what is in reach. Once you baby-proof, invite a friend with a curious toddler over to visit. Follow the toddler around, and you will quickly discover what you missed!
- some friends with babies. If you don't have some already, make some! It's super helpful to compare notes, gripe with, swap moral support and spend time with others who are in the same boat as you. You'll need adult conversation with people who won't mind your baby obsession. (And yes, you will be obsessed!)
- other help: nearby relatives, a doula, babysitters, a housecleaner- any and all help that you can afford (and tolerate!) is good. You NEED some help- so go ahead and ask! (This is an example of "do as I say, not as I do"- we all need the help, but some of us need to work on asking for it!) Gift certificates for doulas or housecleaners make great baby shower gifts! (tell Grandma)
- as baby gets older, you may want to look into fun classes to do together: infant swim classes for instance, and "mommy and me" classes of all kinds- movement, play, music. . . check a local YMCA or Gymboree center, "The Little Gym", and local parks and recreation classes for options.

- for cloth diaper users, I have tons of suggestions and recommendations. I could probably talk your ear off. Suffice it to say, they have come a LOOONG way from the days of pins and rubber pants!

Some final notes:
Remember, this doesn't have to cost the moon! Hand-me-downs and gifts are great, the library is wonderful, and when it's time to buy always check thrift stores, consignment stores, craigslist and ebay! You'd be amazed what you can find. Finally, sales racks and outlet stores are good places to find deals, especially on clothing. Good luck, and enjoy!

No comments: