WZW is going to have a cousin! My brother and his wife are expecting their first child this summer, so I wrote them and another expectant friend long emails with advice on all the baby gear. It can be really overwhelming when you’re first getting started. So I thought I might as well blog about it, since some people who are expecting might find the info useful. I’m editing my emails for the info below.
First off, some general advice. We have found that Amazon is great. My husband has had a Prime membership from before, but now with WZW around, it is even more helpful to be able to order stuff and get it in a couple days without having to go to the store. Totally worth the membership price.
We did our registries with Amazon and Babies R Us. But in the long run, Babies R Us tends to be more expensive for most items, and less convenient with longer shipping times and having to pay extra for shipping. So even though we got a bunch of gift cards, we have yet to use them all. I mean I’m sure we will, but the reality is that we’ve shopped at Babies R Us much less than I anticipated before having WZW.
Also good to know is that Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond are under the same ownership, so you can potentially use those Bed Bath & Beyond coupons they send in the mail for baby stuff. We just didn’t happen to have a Buy Buy Baby store near us, but we have occasionally shopped there when we had coupons.
Only buy what you need now. You’re going to learn as you go what you need and don’t need, so it’s best not to waste money on too much stuff too early.
Ok, now on to the checklist of items. This is a helpful checklist from the Baby Bargains people:
Baby Bargains is a book that is super useful, as it rates all of the various baby items. They update the book regularly to have the most up-to-date products. The above checklist is good to use as a starting point, though by no means do I agree with everything on it. I’m going to go through the categories on the checklist in order.
Nursery category- the stuff your baby will sleep in:
I think it’s very dependent on not just the layout of your home, but also on the baby. We were lucky enough to get a crib and bassinet from someone as hand-me-downs, but WZW never wanted to sleep in the bassinet. So it has gone completely unused.
On the other hand, the Rock ‘n Play has been used all the time, because until recently it was the only thing he would sleep in. We haven’t even used the crib, because with the layout of our place, we just switched to him sleeping on the king bed. Once he starts being more mobile and the bed becomes a fall risk, we’ll probably have to switch to the crib.
We initially had the Graco Pack ‘n Play, which has the more shallow bassinet insert which I’m sure some babies sleep on, but WZW didn’t. We had a changing pad that we put in it, but it was a lot of hunching over which is not great for your back. So we ended up leaving that at my parents’ place, and got the Joovy Room Playard that has a changing table attached at a better height, as well as attached organization areas to have stuff easily accessible. So we use that as our changing table now, and never got any other changing table. Another benefit is that the changing pad is wipeable, so no need launder any covers. If you have a boy, you will need to worry more about pee spraying everywhere, at least early on. WZW doesn’t usually do that anymore.
Keep in mind that despite how they market them, these things are not mobile. The Pack ‘n Play is heavy, and would not be that easy to bring places on a whim.
Honestly, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to work until you have the baby, since each baby’s preferences will be different. But it’s helpful to have an idea of what to expect.
We never got a recliner chair, though early on I think it might have been nice. That’s because sometimes you wanna sleep while you’re still holding the baby, and our couch isn’t conducive for that. On the other hand, at least he learned to sleep at night in the Rock ‘n Play rather than only in our arms.
Depending on what you use for the baby to sleep in, you do want several extra fitted sheets. Also, for the first changing pad that had washable covers, I found that buying chux, which are disposable liners that we often use in the hospital or office, was very helpful. If the baby pees or poops on it, you can just throw it away rather than having to wash the covers every time.
Blankets and Clothes
Do not buy any to start! Maybe part of the issue is that for my work shower, they didn’t know I had a registry, so people bought whatever. We got so many blankets, we don’t know what to do with them all. And of course, people will buy you clothes, so you shouldn’t need any to start. And it’s easy enough to buy some if needed. I like Carter’s a lot. They have cute stuff that’s pretty inexpensive since they have sales often. Carter’s also has a line at Target that is similarly cute and inexpensive.
The only exception to buying blankets would be the SwaddleMe or other brand of swaddling blankets. We received a set of 3, but honestly could have used another because early on, they were in frequent use. Though he’d still break free, they were much easier to use than to try to swaddle with regular blankets. Until he got older, he would only sleep in the SwaddleMe blankets, so we didn’t need the sleep sacks till more recently.
Diaper Bag- we got the Skip Hop Duo which I like. Get a design that Dad won’t be embarrassed to carry since you’ll have one bag to share between Mom and Dad.
Health & Safety- aside from the thermometer and baby monitor, we haven’t gotten anything. Those are things you can get later when needed. I asked around when I was putting together our registry, and it sounded like a humidifier is probably unnecessary. We haven’t needed one thus far. We just recently got the baby monitor, so the verdict is still out on how much we like the brand that we got.
The pumping stuff I blogged about previously:
For the bottles, don’t get too many to start, since some babies won’t take certain brands. We got the Philips Avent glass bottles because we didn’t wanna worry about the BPA and all that stuff. WZW was never picky, though. He took the first bottle offered to him.
The first aid stuff you probably already have or have easy enough access to, so no hurry to buy that all now. Only thing to get is a rectal thermometer- the forehead swiping ones are fine for a quick check, but if you really wanna know if your baby is sick, you need the rectal.
On the Go- these are some of the big ticket items.
Stroller- my husband spent a ton of time looking into this. I think he made a spreadsheet based on the Baby Bargains reviews, and also watched various review videos online. Part of it is deciding your budget, since some get really pricey. We ended up going with the Baby Jogger City Mini because amongst the ones we were interested in, it was the lightest. When it comes down to it, weight and ease of use, as well as how compact it folds for your trunk, are going to be key factors. If at all possible, go to a baby store when you can try it out and make sure you find it easy to use, is a good height, etc.
Car Seat- we got the Chicco KeyFit 30. My husband said he went with that one because it was the one that got good reviews and also fit in both of our cars. It is key to make sure it fits into your cars. And honestly, if you have a small car, it may be problematic for a car seat and baby stuff. I realized while recently having to install the car seat base in the nanny’s car that the KeyFit 30 is super easy to install. It’s a known statistic that a high percentage of people install car seats incorrectly, so this is a huge plus.
Car Seat Cover- we really like the Brica cover we got, because it’s mesh and see-through so random ladies in public can see baby but not touch. And you can keep an eye on the little one.
Infant Carrier- someone got us an Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 carrier, which has been very useful. We have yet to use it backpack-style, though. The 4-in-1 is really a marketing ploy. It’s more like 3-in-1. My friend also gave me her Boba wrap carrier that she didn’t need anymore, which is more useful for smaller babies. The Boba wrap is cozier for baby, but less supportive. Great for around the house and I used it a lot earlier on. But you can do things around the house more easily with one of the other infant carriers. Our Infantino carrier is also used a lot when taking him out, because it’s easier to put on in public than the Boba wrap.
Diapers- we didn’t look that seriously into cloth diapers. We are hippie about a lot of things, but not that hippie. Plus we’d read that when it comes down to it, with the resources it takes to wash cloth diapers and such, there is debate about whether they are more eco-friendly than traditional diapers. After trying different brands, we’ve ended up with the standard Pampers Swaddlers. Huggies were ok as well. They both have the indicator stripe, which is nice to know when the diaper is wet. Some of the more “green” brands are more expensive, and for us given how many he goes through it wasn’t worth it. And the Honest Company diapers didn’t have the indicator stripe. We currently buy them on Diapers.com, but we might try Amazon Moms.
Wipes- like diapers, you’re gonna go through a ton. The Kirkland ones from Costco weren’t that great, so lately we’ve gotten the Huggies wipes at Costco and the Pampers Sensitive wipes, which are both fine.
Diaper pail- we got the Ubbi diaper pail at the recommendation of a friend who liked it because it’s metal and doesn’t retain odors like the plastic ones. Plus unlike many pails for which you have to buy the specific bags, you can use your own garbage bags with it.
Bathtub- we have the 4Moms bathtub which tells you the temperature. It’s useful, but honestly I don’t think it would be that hard to tell if the water is too hot for the baby. I think the Puj brand was also highly rated, but since we haven’t used it, I can’t compare. I can see that one potentially being easier for the really little babies, since at first it was harder to bathe WZW in the 4Moms one. But now he fits into it fine.
Towels and washcloths- you’ll need a few towels at least, depending on how often you plan to bathe and do laundry. We go through a lot of washcloths and bibs. Right now while he’s not eating yet, the cloth bibs are nice for all the drool and spit up. A lot of people recommended the Aden + Anais brand, and we’ve been happy with their bibs and washcloths, which have cute designs. The Burt’s Bees Baby plain white washcloths are useful and the material is nice and soft- softer than the textured Aden + Anais ones.
Swing- someone told me the babies only use this briefly, so not usually worth buying. We got one from someone, but didn’t end up using it. This is also baby-dependent.
Bouncer- This isn’t something you’ll need right away, but just this week, we got a Jumperoo. When WZW first tried it, he was squealing with delight- I’ve never seen him so excited. Despite his glee, we returned the original one because it was so huge and got the SpaceSaver Jumperoo.
Play Mat- whether you get a mat or use a blanket, so long as you have a surface for the baby to do tummy time, it’s all good. Someone did get us a Fisher Price activity gym, which especially now that he’s getting older, he really likes. This is another option for tummy time and definitely useful to have.
I have to say, between the Rock ‘n Play, Jumperoo, and activity gym- Fisher Price knows what they’re doing because WZW has loved all of those items.
Books- you’ll get these as gifts, so not necessary to buy any to start. Of course, we bought some that had sentimental value to us that we grew up reading. And for Mom & Dad, if it fits your sense of humor, Go the F**k to Sleep is hilarious.
Toys- I’ll also add this as another category not to buy since people will buy you them. Also, we are minimalists when it comes to toys. We prefer WZW to appreciate the few toys that he has, and learn to be creative with what he has. Plus, at this age he’s more interested in a glass of water than a toy.
Thinking Ahead- like I mentioned earlier, I’d wait to buy these items unless you have people who are itching to get you big-ticket items on your registry.
Some things I didn’t see on the list:
Pacifiers- some babies don’t take them, but for us they have been essential. A lot of people seem to like the Soothies brand, but WZW didn’t really like them. He likes the MAM brand, so we’ve stuck to those.
Nail trimmer- I don’t know how people cut their babies’ nails the regular way. Seems too scary for me. We got the ZoLi which is a nail file. It runs on just one AA battery, so you have to change it somewhat frequently and also have to change the nail file pads a lot, but way easier to use than the traditional way. But if the nails are already kinda long, it’s slow to trim them all the way down. So I guess it would be better if you do regular maintenance. I just tried using a regular disposable nail file and it’s kinda similar in terms of ease of use and how well it works to get the nails shorter.
Mitts- Which brings me to these. I feel like I’m always playing catch-up- I trim his nails when they are getting long, but it takes a while to file them down, so I never end up getting them super short. So he can still scratch himself. Mitts are useful for preventing this. Someone got us the Goumimitts (and booties) which are great, but other simpler designs with just elastic are fine. We have definitely needed multiple pairs of mitts since he’s always putting his hands in his mouth, so they get wet and need to be changed at least daily.
Baby sunglasses- WZW definitely gets a lot of attention when he is wearing his Babiators. Besides the attention my husband loves getting thanks to our little guy, we do like to protect his eyes from the sun.
Portable changing pad- For a long time before we had WZW, my husband’s go-to baby gift was the Skip Hop Pronto. We ourselves have found it useful to have in our diaper bag to help change him on-the-go.
Nursing cover- I got two as gifts. One is the traditional kind which has a loop that goes over your head and is otherwise a loose cloth. The other can be used as an infinity scarf, since it’s basically a large loop of cloth that goes over one shoulder and over baby. WZW doesn’t like either, but the first is a little easier to handle since you have a little more room to work with. If you have a less fussy breastfeeder, then the latter would be fine.
Breastfeeding pillow- I got the My Brest Friend which I’ve really liked. When I went to the lactation consultants’ office, they had one as well. Definitely get at least one extra cover. I got the regular cover, since some people wrote in their reviews that the deluxe one had velcro which was scratchy for baby. I’ve heard some people like the Boppy as well, but I’ve never used one.
OxiClean- my med school roommate recommended this. I think she meant the regular detergent stuff, but we ended up getting the gel stick. You use the stick to pretreat the dirty clothes, and it works great for getting out the greenish poop, which is typical of breastfed babies and would otherwise easily stain light clothes.
Skin care- I wanted to use all the natural stuff, but WZW ended up having rough, dry areas on his skin as well as rashes. At first, we tried the Honest Company products, 100% Pure baby lotion, and coconut oil, but he still kept having skin issues. Our dermatologist friend recommended CeraVe cream or Cetaphil cream but I was disturbed to find that they contained parabens. We ended up finding the Cetaphil Eczema Calming moisturizer which doesn’t have parabens. Since we started using that, his skin has looked much smoother.
Phew! That’s a lot of baby stuff. This is just my experience in less than 6 months of motherhood, so I’m sure there are other items people have found to work for their baby. I figured it could be helpful for those who are expecting, to save a little time and not have to do as much research. Lucky for my brother, his timing means that they can borrow some of our stuff.