Last month I posted the first half of the baby tips that I received from various wise mamas after I sent out a call for suggestions as to what we might actually need during the first year vs. what we probably won't need/use/like. The responses were awesome and varied and I compiled them, w/ links, to share with others...Enjoy
BOOB n BOTTLE
• If you plan to breast feed La Leche League was a big help to me. There's someone in every area!
• I got one of these so I didn't have to say the word 'boppy'. Plus it’s bigger and smooshier:
• We use Born Free bottles and think they're great.
• 'My Breast Friend' was definitely not a friend, and a huge waste of $.
• Get a Boppy. But make sure it is the naked Boppy and buy a few slipcovers. Trust me on this one.
• Flat cloth diapers to use as burp cloths.
• A night bra. So much more comfortable than wearing a regular bra to bed and it will hold your breast pads in place in case the baby decides to sleep through a feeding and your body doesn't.
• I basically lived in Glamourmom nursing bra tanks for a couple years.
• Breast pads. For me, the only ones that worked were the Lansinoh.
• My Ameda Purely Yours breastpump worked great with all three kids. It was a huge relief at times. It is also less expensive than the Medela version.
• If you need a pump, I like my Pump In Style (and I got a used one from a friend that works just fine).
• I’ve heard great things about the Ameda pump. The Lansinoh double electric is the exact same pump, different name, and is sometimes available cheaper. I will say that if you have any supply issues (which I do), you'll want to start out with a hospital grade rental and then get a pump in style- they're just stronger. If you don't have any issues, the Ameda/Lansinoh should be fine, and is definitely cheaper.
• If you need milk bags, Lansinoh are the best- no leaks.
• Lansinoh ointment: start rubbing it on your nipples a couple weeks *before* the baby is born, to get them ready. And apply it every time the baby nurses in the beginning, to keep nipples from cracking.
• I found the askdrsears website a real help. The Sears family has a whole arsenal of books, but the site is really comprehensive. I’m definitely not an attachment parenting nazi and I know it doesn't work for everyone. Some people can find their tone really chastening and the advice impractical. But Evie was a tough baby and I found their council really affirming.
• The only book I would recommend buying (versus getting from your library) is Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting. In the strange ways that parenting a child can feel like parenting yourself from time to time, I found this book intensely therapeutic.
• I recommend the book Super Baby Food for when you start introducing solids.
• Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery
• Moby Wrap for under 6 months, Ergo carrier for over 6 months
• When the baby gets a little bigger, a backpack style carrier, like the Ergo is great for hiking, errands, walks, traveling -- we schlepped Bee around SE Asia in the Ergo. I can't recommend it enough.
• We went right from the Ergo carrier (which I LOVE and can't recommend enough) to the bike trailer.
• Ocean is six months, and we've never used her stroller. We wear her everywhere. I love my babyhawk (and they come in rad prints), but I’ve also heard great things about the Beco, which seems like it is easier for putting on/off while on the go.
• Evie pretty much lived in her sling for the first 6 months. Ours was a gift called the Peanut Shell.
• Peanut shell slings. Some babies like to be upright (a la moby/babyhawk) but Amelia was more of a "cradle hold" kind of kid.
• We couldn't live without our Baby Bjorn, we loved wearing Bradley. It was the most comfortable way to carry him, and kept him the most content.
• We have the Baby Bjorn and I love it. It took our son a little while to get used to it, but we used it a lot.
• I do not recommend the Baby Bjorn -- it's just not comfortable once the baby puts on a few pounds!
• There are about ten million different types of baby carriers, and everyone likes a different one. I tried and returned a couple slings before finding the one that worked for me. Whatever you choose, having some kind of easy-to-use carrier is essential. It takes the weight off your arms if you're just carrying the baby around the house or on a walk. You can use it to hold the baby while you're out to dinner (our babies were generally happier sleeping in the sling close to mom or dad than sitting in the carseat). You can use it to carry the baby around at the grocery store, instead of lugging an infant car seat around. When both of ours were little babies, we used a simple, adjustable sling made of a cotton mesh material -- very cool and breathable and a great cover-up for nursing to boot.
• Get an infant car seat hand-me-down (or craigslist) and splurge on the convertible car seat (Britax is rad).
• Britax Roundabout Convertible car seat - we skipped the cost of the infant car seat that the baby outgrows in 6 months and hurts your back along the way.
• Carseat-wise, Britax are the best. Get a new one, unless you're sure of its pedigree.
• We didn’t use the infant carseat and snap-and-go stroller. We just carried her everywhere in a sling or the babyhawk. You can put them right into a Britax from birth. If I did it over, I’d skip the infant carseat. But, many people swear by them.
• A good infant car seat that snaps in and out of the base if you plan on driving.
CHAIRS + SWINGS
• Bouncy seat. A great place for naps, or putting the baby down while you shower, or for elevated sleeping if the baby is congested. Hell, it wouldn't hurt to have a couple (we kept one inside and one on our deck).
• A bouncy chair or swing. Borrow or get used, if possible, because some babies love the bouncer, and some love the swing.
• The bouncy chair was the only place she'd sleep for several months, aside from our laps. And, it's small and lightweight, so you can carry it into the bathroom to take a shower.
• She had no interest in the big schmancy swing i got, so I’m glad I bought it (and then resold it) on craigslist.
• Bouncer: We got a cheapo one from Target. Sometimes it was the only thing that he would sit in that would allow me to take a shower (I would bring it in the bathroom with me so I could hear him and check on him).
• I would find an inexpensive swing, or borrow one, until you see if your kid likes the swing. Our son did not like it at all.
• V *lived* in this thing for the first 6 months. She loved it.
• If you have a grandparent, uncle, benefactor, etc., wanting to buy you a big-ticket item, we love our Svan high chair. So attractive, and it grows to become a full size chair!
• I like this booster seat, because it is portable, and because it attaches to any chair you don't have to have a separate high chair
• Clothes in the newborn size, not just 0-3 months, which tends to be too big for a newborn. If I could do it again, I'd buy fewer, but higher quality (soft, organic cotton) newborn clothes, rather than a ton of cheapo stuff. Because of all the spit up, I was doing laundry daily anyway, so I didn't really need 30 onesies.
• Note that you'll want to wash spit-up clothes in COLD water -- warm/hot water sets milk/barf stains.
• Sleeper pajamas and/or a sleep sack.
• Clothing items: Our son lived in onesies and sweat pants for the first few months of his life.
• I highly recommend getting sleepers that have zippers, not snaps, as it will take a lot less time to change the baby's diaper at 2am.
• Easiest cloth dipes ever
• Cloth diapers. we use the Bum Genius one size pocket dipes. Super easy, and I was NOT planning on cloth diapering.
• We've used cloth diapers the whole time and it's easy. We also never used a diaper service ... just had a diaper pail filled with water and a natural anti-bacterial, soaked the poopers in the toilet, etc. we got all our stuff from www.babyworks.com, in Portland. They ship, but I’m sure there's a diaper shop near you too.
• Get a diaper bag that's comfy to carry. I actually recommend a backpack with good shoulder support, rather than something marketed as a diaper bag. Not as pretty, but better for schlepping around.
• Definitely buy a backpack instead of the one-shoulder diaper bags. It is unisex and is a whole lot easier to tote around.
• A few folks told me I couldn't possibly live with out a diaper bag, so I kind of ponied up on a nice one. I never used it ... always just found myself tucking diapers into a backpack or the bike trailer.
• Diaper cream that is 40% zinc oxide -- not the "creamy" stuff that is only 10% (it's not effective!).
• Bay Area diaper services: www.tinytots.com or http://www.tideedidee.net/
• The co-sleeper. Don’t bother. We ended up using ours as a place to dump the laundry. She just sleeps in our bed. We do have a crib we use for naps, but we just got it a few weeks ago, and you can get away without one for quite awhile.
• I tried a co-sleeper with Bee and didn't like it at all. It's not easy to pick up a baby while lying down, or sitting, or kneeling, in bed, which is what you have to do with the co-sleeper, unless you get out of bed (which, with the co-sleeper, involves scooting down to the bottom of the bed). Also, the co-sleeper makes making the bed hard, and when you're sleeping you may worry about your covers getting in there, and it's a pain to assemble, I could go on and on.
• As for sleeping arrangements, we found that the playpens that also have attachments to become a bassinet work great. They transform and last until the baby figures out how to escape (this was almost 2 for us) and you can bring them with you on trips.
• We loved Happiest Baby on the Block, and "SSHHHsh"-ing was very helpful in the early months to help him get to sleep.
• We bought a co-sleeper, crib, and a Pack n' Play. The Pack n' Play was useful after 6 months, but the co-sleeper got NO use, and the crib is just finally getting some use. We ended up having him in our bed until about 2 months ago, because that just felt most comfortable for us...but everyone feels differently on this, so do what works for you. :)
• Do you have a pad under your sheets and above your mattress? The kind that would absorb...say...spills or other effluvia? The big insight that I have gained after two babies is that I should have owned TWO of those, because there were several nights when the bed was stripped not once but twice (mostly barf) and boy oh boy would that have been nice...because if you get it the second time and you don't have the pad on, you are doomed
• I DID get Zach something along those lines which I am in love with...an organic wool puddle pad...ahhh. It cost an arm and a leg (like one hundred freaking dollars for a twin bed) BUT it catches the pee, is really soft for under the sheets, and has made midnight bed changes easier. I was convinced by people smarter than me that this was a good place to spend money and they were right.
• Somebody mentioned multiple bed pads for when the baby spits up in your bed in the night. OMG YES. I spent so many nights with Finney changing out the sheets and scrubbing the mattress.
• Get a snap-on top layer that goes over the crib sheet (for all the messes baby makes in bed... changing the whole crib sheet is a pain)
We are getting the City Mini
• Wait until baby is here to pick out a stroller. Then you'll have a better idea of what you want/need.
• You won't need it for a good while, but a lightweight folding stroller like the McLaren Volo is great.
• Stroller: I loved our travel system. We got the Graco Quattro Tour travel system; it has the stroller, infant carrier and the base for the car seat. I loved having the carrier and used it until he was almost 9 months old. It was so nice to be able to go somewhere and not have to wake him up if he was sleeping. We still use the stroller to this day and our son is 2 years old. We just bought the Graco Duo Glider for when baby number 2 arrives, it is compatible with the infant carrier
• These are really great for swaddling
• Swaddling with a good swaddle blanket is also very key! We had good luck with Swaddle Designs Ultimate Receiving Blanket & the Kiddopotomus Swaddlers. I highly recommend getting some practice swaddling a live baby before you deliver. It's tricky
• Oh and the SwaddleMe thingies with the velcro fasteners, so helpful! We could never recreate the secure swaddles like the folks at the hospital without the magic of velcro
THINGS RELATED TO ACTIVITY
• A play mat, like this, is SO great for when the baby starts trying to grab stuff
• Floor mat: Tummy time is a big thing for babies to start them working on their upper body strength. We bought a really cheap one and it was horrible. Look for something that has toys, mirrors, etc. so the kid has lots of things to look at.
• When the baby is a little older, older than 4 months, I would look into getting an exersaucer or jumperoo. We had the Rainforest Jumperoo and our son LOVED it!