Thursday, January 28, 2010

preparing for a new baby

One of my several friends who is expecting within the next five months asked me what I thought she needed. She wanted to be parsimonious, but to be prepared. I had asked a friend a similar question when I was pregnant and I really found it helpful to have a list to work from. My friend was so happy she said she was going to register directly off this list.

So in case it’s of use to someone besides her, here is my list of what is useful to get for a first child and what can be skipped:

A friend urged me to get this book. I was sceptical, but I found it at the library, and it actually does really go through what's useful and what's a waste of money. It also helps with recommending brands, so you don't have to do all the research on 50 different items.

For us, the best purchases were:
1. A good swing. The Fisher Price Papasan ROCKS! It was the only way we could get River to sleep during the day for the first 9 months or so.

2. Swaddles. We had the swaddle mes. Also a good sleep aid.

3. A few outfits that have the little hand covers so the baby doesn't scratch himself.

4. The Fisher Price Rainforest jumper. Also a lifesaver from age 4 months on.

5. I resisted the infant car seat, but then a friend lent me her Graco Snug Ride and the stroller frame. This is the ultimate in easy portability. It's lightweight, fits easily into the car and allows the baby to go from the car to the stroller to the house without waking up. After borrowing it for a few weeks, we bought it. The car seats appear for free on Freecycle frequently and can be bought cheap on Craig's List. Unless you want to do some serious running, I think this stroller is sufficient until the baby grows out of the infant seat. At that point, you might have a better idea of what the baby likes. For example, River really loved being upright and looking around. Other kids might prefer reclining and relaxing.

6. The Ergo carrier. Really good from a few months to toddlerhood.

7. Baby Bjorn bibs - these are hard to find and are so superior to anything I've seen in the stores and Baby Bjorn little potties.

8. Diapers and wipes are a good thing to register for because they will be the main expense in the first month. Pampers seems to be the best.

9. My Brest Friend pillow - more practical than the Boppys b/c you can attach it with the belt and move around while the baby is nursing. Pretty handy for doing email while breastfeeding.

10. A good supply of magazines and DVDs for late nights!

11. For travel, the Baby Bjorn travel crib is far superior to anything else out there (at least it was when I bought mine). And it's worth the cost - lightweight and truly sets up and can be taken apart in less than 2 minutes.

12. A large supply of BumGeniuses. I'm sure other brands are just as good. There are downsides to using cloth, including much more of a stank in the house. But these got us from age 3 months or so until we finished with diapers at 25 months and I think we ended up saving a lot by not buying diapers. If you do use cloth, a kitchen size covered garbage can and these liners will do the trick. It took us way too long to figure this out.

13. A baby bathtub - first a small one, than a ring that the baby can sit upright in, but can't fall into the water.

14. A couple of nursing bras

15. A good digital ear thermometer.

16. A pump and related equipment if you plan to pump. I hear the hospital has some available and perhaps it's better to try there. But I was never offered the opportunity to use them.

Mistakes were:
1. Taking a hand-me-down pump with a weak battery (I didn't realize the battery was weak until I handed it down to another friend. But that may have been once cause of my inability to get much milk pumping).

2. Buying a new co-sleeper. It was only used for a few months and we could have bought one used for a fraction of the price.

3. Things like foam for the floor and a gated playpen. Total waste.

4. Not waiting until the birth to buy a baby carrier. I think this is one of those things that it's worth buying from a store, getting fitted, and making sure it works for both mom and baby.

5. Baby Bjorn carrier. Kills the back.

6. Any type of thing we thought he might sleep in during the day. Nothing worked but the swing.

7. We didn't buy a ton of clothes or a ton of toys/books for the first months. But if we had, it would have been a waste.

8. Nursing clothes. Ugly, cheap and a button down blouse can do the same thing.

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