Tuesday, August 23, 2011

getting ready for baby: gear

we're almost through with our series on "getting ready for baby." if you haven't read our last posts, you can check them out here:

this series has been lengthy but we remember what it is like to be a first time mom, walking into the enormity of "babies r us" with a registry gun and no clue what purchase. it can be overwhelming. so, here is where we continue with what we've loved. again, we're not the end all in this discussion. if you have other ideas, please let us know.

baby gear is expensive. there's just no way around it. we've tried to limit the items to things you will actually use. if you can get by without it, by all means, do so. before you invest the money into something substantial, go to the stores and try these things out. if you have a friend who has one, ask to borrow it. make sure you'll love it before you spend too much money. when you are through with you baby stages, if your gear is still in working condition, sell it on craig's list or at a consignment sale. most baby items get used for such a short time that they can easily be used by another baby. sell your items, make a little cash for yourself, and make another mom's day.

infant carrier - these things are actually amazingly important. there will be moments when your baby is upset for one reason or another and you just don't have the strength to carry him or her around the house all day. you may actually want to eat or need to fold a load of laundry. carriers are life savers. you can hold your baby close and still have two arms to get things done. these work great for grocery shopping too. every baby gets to the point where they can't stand their car seat or their strollers for another minute. don't be left with a screaming baby and no where to put him or her.

car seat - you are required by law to have one of these before your baby leaves the hospital. make sure you have one ahead of time and have it installed correctly into your car. if you have questions about installation, most fire stations and hospitals will offer some sort of class or advice as to how to install them correctly. make sure you do this well in advance of baby's arrival. sometimes babies arrive early and you don't want to have to send your significant other out shopping for one while you're in the hospital. we like the infant car seats that can be easily removed from the car. most babies like to fall asleep in the car. it is so easy to take a sleeping baby out of the car in his or her car seat. i can't tell you how many times i've done that and just put the entire car seat with the baby latched inside into the crib to finish sleeping. don't wake a sleeping baby to pull him or her out of a car seat. all you'll end up with is a tired, cranky baby. if you have two cars, buy an extra base for your car seat so you can latch the baby into either car.

Graco SnugRide 30 Infant Car Seat, Black

Graco Snugride 30/35 Infant Car Seat Base, Black

car mat seat protector - while not a necessity, these things can save your car. babies spill things. they are messy. they spit up. they spill. they generally make messes. i used to be one of those "never been a mommy" people who swore my kids weren't going to eat in the car. then i had kids and i realized there was a reason for all of those cheerios...it keeps the baby happy. sometimes, you just need ten minutes of a drive without a crying baby. if cheerios help, cheerios it is. these seat protectors will save your car in the process.

auto mirror - babies are rear facing in their car seats for the first year of their life. the only way to see them from the driver's seat is to have a little mirror facing them in the back seat. these mirrors also add entertainment for your little one as you drive. there will come a time when you'll want to know if your baby is asleep or not. these mirrors make that possible.

brica day and night musical mirror

piddle pad - funny name, great product. as said many times before, babies poop out of their diapers. all the diaper commercials in the world won't keep this from happening. washing the car seat covers is a huge pain. these little pads under your baby's tooshie will (most of the time) keep the pee/poo in one washable location. this works equally as well when your child starts potty training. there will be accidents. the piddle pad will help to save your car seat.
Kiddopotamus Deluxe PiddlePad

head support - as newborns, baby's heads are really wobbly. you will find your newborn in the oddest and most uncomfortable positions. head supports help to keep your baby's head in place while they are in a car seat or stroller. your baby will sleep better and be more comfortable for travel.

convertible car seat - as your baby grows, he or she will outgrow the infant car seat. most infant car seats are only usable until the baby is no more than 20 pounds. you'll need to purchase another car seat that will carry your baby into toddlerhood. when purchasing your next car seat, take some measurements of your car. see what will fit well. make sure you read the weight limits. you don't want to be buying a car seat every year so buy one that will last as your child grows. read the car seat laws for your state and see how long your child will need to be in a five point harness. all of these factors should be considered before purchasing your convertible car seat. spend your money wisely and do your research before shopping.

pack-n-play - you may not think this will be necessary for you, but i know few moms who have made it through parenting without one. here's why i think they are great. for the first couple of weeks, my babies slept in the bassinet portion of one right next to my bed. this made for easy nursing getting them right back to bed. they also have changing tables attached. this is great for middle of the night poopies...and trust me, your baby will have them. you can keep the basics for diaper changing right there by the bed for the first couple of weeks and save yourself trips to the nursery in the middle of the night. as the baby grows, we used ours as a safe place for the baby to play with some of his or her toys (minus the bassinet and changing table features). after my first, i always had toddlers in the house with my infants. i never felt like i could leave all of the kids playing without worrying about the baby. i could put the baby in the pack-n-play in the same room as the other kids but he/she was safely contained away from the siblings. it at least afforded me a little bit of peace as i was taking care of four kids! as my babies have grown, we still use the pack-n-play whenever we travel. it is portable and easy to take to grandparents' homes, hotels, etc. do by extra sheets. remember, babies spit up and have poopy explosions that will manage to get completely out of their diapers/pajamas/clothes and all over what they are sleeping on. trust me...it happens. buy some extra sheets to save your pack-n-play and your sanity.
Graco Modern Pack 'N Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, Zurich

American Baby Company Organic Interlock Pack N Play Sheet

shopping cart cover - shopping carts are disgusting. i don't know what the statistics are but you all know what i'm talking about. think about all the filthy hands that have been covering those handles. shopping cart covers keep your baby's hands and mouth away from those gross handles. it's just that simple.
Infantino Cloud Cart Cover, Numbers/Blue

stroller - you will need a stroller. you just can't carry your baby everywhere. this is definitely one of those areas where personal needs and preferences comes into play. you will want to measure your trunk space to see what can easily fit. you'll want to decide if a jogging stroller is something you want to invest in or if you want something less sporty. go into the baby super stores and try out several different strollers. pretend like you're shopping for a new car. look at all the attachments and what you'll have to pay for extra attachments. check out the size and see what fits your needs. look at the prices and shop around to compare. strollers are big ticket items and there are some that are crazy expensive. do your homework so you don't spend money you'll regret...or not save up the money to buy something better and always wish you had.

jogger - if you're going to buy a jogger, chach swears by the bob strollers. i could never afford one so got a cheaper jogger and have been really happy. bobs are awesome but other joggers are great too. find the one that works best for you. if you can swing it and you know you'll be using a jogger, see if you can get by with only purchasing a jogging stroller and forego the other models. some stroller attachments are sold separately so make sure you factor in every aspect of the purchase before you make one.

bob stroller:
BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller, Black
Bob Handlebar Console for Single Strollers, Black
BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter For Single Strollers

there are some strollers that are now specifically made to just attach your infant car seat. some car seats even come with the stroller in one package. these are great for the first few months when baby is happy in an infant car seat. remember that as baby grows, the car seat will no longer work. make sure you have another stroller for that next phase.

snap and go:
Baby Trend Snap N Go-Single Stroller

if you're just looking for a simple, no fuss stroller, umbrella strollers are the way to go. they are not great for infants but they work well for older babies. the best thing about umbrella strollers is their compact size, they can fold up into small little packages that can fit easily in any car/trunk. they are also extremely convenient for travel. again, these vary tremendously by make/model/price. check out several before you make a purchase.

umbrella stroller:
Jeep Wrangler All-Weather Umbrella Stroller, Impulse

those are the basics for gear. there is so much stuff out there and you'll hear so many opinions about what you need. start with the basics. if you find you are desperate for something more, go see what you can find. better to go get something when you need it than to buy it and never use it. more than anything, don't hurt your family's finances to buy things you don't need. your baby will be happy being loved and cared for by you. no amount of gear or money spent will ever mean more than that.

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