Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Making Your Baby Registry: items to consider

There are very few items that I believe truly fit into the category of "must-haves" for babies. Most of the items found in the store are really what I would classify as wants, rather than needs. If you are
trying to raise a family on a budget, I believe that it is wise to purchase items that will last a long time. These are a few of my recommendations. Remember, different people use different things for their babies and there is not one "right way" to raise a baby. These are simply my recommendations. Also, if you do your registry on amazon.com, you can add things to your registry from any website, not just amazon. Look up the "amazon add button" and make your registry in one place! We had items on our registry from several different stores! On amazon, there is an area for comments, quantities, and priorities. Also, I have included some cute photos of my daughter, just for fun.

This is a working list, so I plan to update it as I think of things. If you have other suggestions to add to the list, please leave a comment! I tried to include links to specific items.

Things to consider:
  • COLORS- Many of these items will be used by all of your children, not just the first one. If you plan to have more babies later, you might not want to buy the bright pink high chair or the neon purple stroller. That is something to think about. We chose not to find out the gender of our baby, so we ended up with a lot of green and yellow clothes, but for our big baby gear we purposely selected gender-neutral colors. Also, we stayed away from trendy color combinations that could easily go out of style soon and stuck with the classics. Again, that is your choice. For items that would be very visible in our house (like a bouncer, and a high chair), we chose to stick with more neutral colors that would blend into our d├ęcor rather than bright "baby colors".
  • RESEARCH- It is worth the time and effort to pick out the baby gear that you actually want, rather than just walking around a store adding things to a registry. I did a ton of research and there are still things I would have done differently. Read the reviews on amazon. Look up the products on their real websites. Find out where things are made and what they are made from and make informed decisions. I would rather have a few items that are really nice and really useful than a house full of gimmicky items that I might use once.
  • STORAGE - Do things fold up for storage? Is it worth getting both a bureau and a changing table or do you only really need the bureau? Think about where you plan to store baby things between use or between babies.
  • PLAN AHEAD - Think about the things your baby will need eventually. Planning for newborn gear is easy, but planning what you will want down the road is harder.
  • PRIORITIZE- It is easy to get carried away with adding toys, clothes and neat gadgets to your registry. However, when you have 300 items on your registry, your friends and family may not know what you really need and you may end up having to purchase all of your important baby gear yourself.

  1. Baby Carrier - Yes, this is the top of the list for me. I actually have three baby carriers, a snugli, Moby wrap, and Boba Carrier. Do you need three? No. I do believe that you need at least one. This is a great article that explains why baby carriers (ones that properly support the baby) are important. I suggest purchasing a carrier that will work for a long time, like the Boba, which can work for infants and toddlers. The newly updated version even works for a newborn! I haven't seen one in person, but I wish I had discovered the Baby K'tan before making my registry because it is so versatile and so easy to use, but it comes in sizes, so it won't necessarily work for everyone in your household.
  2. Car Seat(s) - We have the Chicco Keyfit 30. We also like the Keyfit 30 Magic. There is quite a price range for infant car seats. I hear that what you are really paying for is sturdiness, convenience and comfort. We have to travel long distances to get anywhere, so we opted for a nice car seat. The Keyfit
    30 is the easiest seat to use that I have seen and very supportive and comfy for the baby. The handle is very easy to move (if you are pushing both orange buttons) and the straps are easily loosened and tightened to get baby in and out of the seat with ease. However, the sun shade on it stinks. If you have more than one vehicle that you use regularly, you may want to consider adding an additional car seat base to your registry. Also, I know that some people opt for a convertible seat rather than a true infant seat, but I recommend the carrier type for young babies. In winter, the seat warm in the house, which makes transitions to the car more pleasant. For sleeping infants, bringing the entire seat to and from the car is less likely to wake them than physically moving them to and from the seat in the car. Our infant car seat works for babies up through 30lbs, but that would be ridiculous to carry around. We are going to purchase a convertible car seat for her first birthday which can be used rear-facing and forward-facing. You may want to consider adding the next car seat to your registry too. We are trying to decide between a Recaro Proride or a Britax of some kind. [UPDATE: We chose the Peg Perego convertible seat and love it!]
     
  3. Crib (Cradle, Pack 'n Play, Co-sleeper, Bassinet, or Hammock) - Unless you are planning to always have the baby in your bed, you will need someplace to lay him or her down for the night and naps. We chose a crib that can convert into a toddler bed, day bed, and double bed. We also have a cradle that was my great-great-grandmother's but it only worked until our
    daughter could roll over. A bassinet or hammock only works for a few months as well. I plan to ask for a co-sleeper of some kind when we are expecting our next baby so we can keep the baby close while I heal from childbirth. With a baby bed, you will also need a mattress, cotton fitted sheets (we like the jersey-knit kind that are made from t-shirt material) and 100% cotton blankets. I wouldn't bother registering for blankets unless you are very attached to a certain set, because that is a standard go-to for baby showers and we were blessed to be showered with them. We especially like our quilts and stretchy blankets, since the quilts provide some warm weight, and the stretchy ones are great for swaddling and comfort. We have three fitted sheets for our crib. I think we could have done fine with 2. We have a breathable bumper pad that has come in handy. I also recommend a Serendipity Mattress Cover to eliminate the threat of SIDS (refer to my post about SIDS for more info). We bought a pack 'n play and have only used it a handful of times. We use the pack 'n play as a crib when we travel. It is very heavy and takes up a lot of room in the trunk. We probably should have just picked one up at a yard sale. I am still looking for a better option. Babybjorn makes a lightweight travel crib that is close to what I want, but it costs around $250.
  4. Diaper Bag - We actually opted for a Arcteryx messenger-type bag instead of one that is sold as a diaper bag. My husband picked it out. This was my preference. We use cloth diaper and frequently leave town for the day, so we thought we would need a much larger diaper bag. Now that our baby is almost a year old, I think we could have opted for a smaller bag, like the LL Bean bag, and done just fine. It all depends on how much you want to carry with you and how prepared you want to be. Are you the parent that will bring an extra snowsuit with you, just in case, or are you the parent who would rather just carry a diaper or two and a pack of wipes? I like having some necessities in the car, but not necessarily packing a ton of stuff into a diaper bag that I carry everywhere. Again, think about what YOU want to carry. My husband vetoed most of the diaper bags I picked because they looked like diaper bags...so please consider your spouse's opinion if you want help carrying the diaper bag.
  5. Diapers - We opted for cloth diapers for our baby, which I highly recommend, especially if you are on a budget. If you are new to the cloth diapering world, I highly recommend checking out a blog by the name of "Dirty Diaper Laundry". Kim has a Diaper Finder on her site that is really helpful. She also has video reviews and written reviews. I trust her completely when it comes to diapering. We use mostly GroVia all-in-ones and BumGenius Elementals. I would recommend BumGenius 4.0s if you are totally intimidated by cloth diapers because they fit a
    wide range of babies from about 12 pounds right up through potty training and they are very easy to use. Cloth diapers are a big initial investment but will save you thousands in the long run. With cloth diapers, you will need at least two wet bags for the diaper bag, at least two pail liners for at home, a diaper pail of some kind (we use a cheap trash can), cloth-diaper-safe laundry soap, and cloth-diaper-safe rash cream. We also recommend purchasing a diaper sprayer. If you are not using cloth, you will need TONS of disposables, so you should definitely add them to the registry. Your baby will likely be in size 2 for the longest amount of time. I wouldn't ask for tons of newborn diapers because they most likely won't be used all that long before moving to size one. My baby already wore size one when she was born...at 11-months-old she is still in size 2.
  6. Breast Pump - Even if you are a stay-at-home-mom, I recommend having a breast pump anyway. You never know when you might need one. I had to go on some medication for a while that would have gone into my breast milk, and the pump came in very handy. I use my Medela Harmony daily, and I very highly recommend it. You don't need an expensive double electric pump unless you are working full time, I'd say. Check with your insurance company first and see if they will pay for a pump. Many hospitals give out manual pumps if they know you will be breastfeeding. Milk storage bags and bottles with storage caps also come in handy. We use either honeysuckle bags or Lansinoh. We use the Lansinoh Momma bottle (5 oz) and we have two of them. I am also intrigued by the Joovy Boob, but I haven't used those bottles myself. If you are using bottles, a bottle brush is necessary, and you should change them out periodically like you would a toothbrush. We use only slow-flow nipples, regardless of our daughter's age. We use a mug of hot water to warm the milk and that works fine, so I feel that a bottle-warmer is unnecessary unless you are exclusively bottle-feeding.
  7. Bouncer (Swing/Jumperoo/Johnny Jump Up/Pack 'n Play) - I think it is important to have
    somewhere safe to put the baby while you take a shower, shovel 2 feet of snow off the car, or just need to get away for a minute. I don't use the crib for this purpose because I want my daughter to know that  her bed is for sleep, not for playing. I suppose I could have strapped her into her car seat, but she is in it so much already that I think she needs the variety. We have a Babybjorn Babysitter Balance, which is pretty much the top of the line in terms of bouncy seats. You definitely don't have to get something fancy, but it needs to be safe for the baby and it needs to be used properly. I would non get a Bumbo and expect it to serve this function. The bumbo worked for about a month for us, and only ever with supervision. I also really like the Nuna Leaf, but it is expensive. Maybe I can invest in one for the next few babies. I like the Leaf because it has a weight limit high enough that even I can use it!
  8. High Chair - We don't have the space in our kitchen for a stand-alone high chair, so we use a Chicco 360 hook-on chair instead. There are many options out there. I would look for something that is easy to use, easy to wash (both the tray and the seat), sturdy, easy to remove the tray from, hard for a baby to crawl out of, and easy to store between babies.
  9. Stroller - Before having a baby, I thought I would always use a baby carrier and that I would only use a stroller at the airport or mall. Boy, was I wrong. A baby carrier can make things very hot in the summer. We have an umbrella stroller and a jogging stroller. The umbrella stroller is light and folds up
    small, but it works best indoors because the small wheels don't work well on uneven surfaces.
    It is perfect for keeping in the trunk of the car. Our Joovy Zoom 360 jogging stroller can handle just about anything, but it isn't as small or light as our umbrella stroller, and it would be large for pushing around the mall, for example. I highly recommend our jogging stroller. Our umbrella stroller has a great canopy and a reclining seat, but I step on the wheels constantly, which is annoying, so read reviews and see what people are saying about their strollers before you decide to add one to your registry. You also may want to consider storage space on the stroller, adjustable straps and easy recline of the seat, and sun coverage for your baby. I have written a couple of posts about strollers if you are looking for more ideas.
  10. JJ Cole Bundleme - If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, I really feel that the Bundleme is a necessity. The Bundleme can be used in a car seat or stroller to keep the baby toasty warm as you travel. The part that lines the seat has slots for straps to come through unhindered and the blanket on top zips on to eliminate drafts. We put our daughter in her seat, zip up the sides and stick a hat on her head. If it is really cold, I tuck a blanket up around her shoulders and neck until we are in the car. It is so much easier than messing with baby coats and snowsuits when we are going in the car! We still use snowsuits for playing outside. The Bundleme comes in several styles and colors and two sizes: infant and toddler. We have the original version. We use the infant size in our car seat and the toddler size in our jogging stroller (because that is what we received) which is big for our daughter at the moment, but we put her in a snowsuit too and it works fine.
  11. Baby Bathtub - Yes, you can bathe your baby in the sink, but if you are a first-time parent, a baby tub is a lot easier! There are many options available. We have the Fisher price Rainforest Bath Center which I reviewed here. We don't have a full-size bathtub, so we wanted something that would work for a long time, and our tub is AWESOME. Our daughter has just started bathing in the sink now instead of her tub, at 11-months. I am very interested in the Puj Flyte which you use in the sink, since it is so small. Looking back, we didn't use the tub all that long and it is quite large to store. Maybe I should have gone the Puj and the Prince Lionheart Foldable bathtub since they would take up less space in our tiny cabin. Baby washcloths and hooded baby towels are thinner and softer than real washcloths and towels and we used them for the first couple of months. You don't need many. Our daughter would be happy playing with a washcloth and a few cups in the tub, but there are lots of cool tub toys available. Our daughter loves her Sprig Toys boat set. Eventually I want to get her a rubber duck and some other things but she doesn't have much now. If you have a real bathtub, you may want to consider a kneeling mat for your knees and a soft cover for the faucet. You will want a place to store your tub toys where the water can drain out well. For soap, we use Dr. Bronner's Pure Casti
    le Soap.
  12. Toys and Books -  This is the fun stuff and everyone will give you a different list of things that their kids love. My husband and I decided not to purchase any toys that required batteries but we have been given a few. Our daughter has many wooden toys, puzzles, plastic toys, and teethers. She has 2 baby dolls with soft bodies. At 11-months old, she is happy as a clam sitting on the kitchen floor with a stock pot, a wooden spoon, and some cheerios. We really like the Lamaze toys since there is a lot to do with one toy, which can keep a baby occupied for quite a while in the car or at church. She like to play ball, so I recommend
    having at least one soft ball. When she can't find her ball, she will throw other toys while saying "Ball?" We like our wooden stacking toy and stacking cups.  Silicone teethers since they are safe and soft and the teethers that can go in the fridge and freezer. Our daughter happens to prefer a snowflake silicone cupcake pan to her real teethers, so feel free to think outside the box. In terms of books, we have board books, Indestructibles and regular picture books for our daughter. The board books are sturdy, but it is hard for her to turn the pages well. Also, she discovered recently that if she sucks on them long enough, she can bite off chunks of cardboard. Indestructibles are awesome because they feel more like real books but they can't be torn or wrecked and are machine-washable. They do bend and look used immediately, but it is no big deal. They have no words, and are designed to make you interact with your child about the book illustrations. There are suggestions on the back. We love ours. We also read real picture books, but she isn't allowed to play with them on her own because I want to teach her to take good care of books. I allow her to help me turn the pages, but she is always supervised. She makes short work of magazine she finds, so I know the books wouldn't last long with her toys.
  13. Burp Cloths- We use mostly prefolds or flat diapers, but there are many options available. Make sure that you pack some burp cloths in your hospital bag, since they didn't have anything of the sort there. If your baby spits up a lot, like mine did, you may be going through 10 or 15 cloths each day.
  14. Mirror for rear-facing car seat in car - This is a very important item, and I LOVE mine. We have the Brica Baby In-Sight mirror.
  15. Safety equipment - We chose not to "baby-proof" our entire house. We would rather train our child to follow directions and respect belongings and boundaries, but we still need a safe environment for her. We have a gate for the stairs, because she can climb up but not down. She is so fast and so tempted that a gate was just necessary. We put the gate on the second stair, so she can still practice a little, but won't fall too far. We also have two cupboards that we "child-proofed" because they hold things like bleach and laundry soap. We do have to watch her constantly, but our house is small. We have a pellet stove right in the living room without a fence around it, and we have trained her to stay away from it, telling her that it is "hot". I can explain how we did this in more detail later, if you are interested. We don't do the toilet locks or anything of that sort, but that is up to you.
  16. Health equipment - When our daughter was a baby, I found that biting her nails was easier than trying to trim them because I could feel exactly how far to trim them. Now that she is bigger, I use my own adult nail clippers to trim her nails too. I wouldn't bother buying a bulb syringe unless you are having a home birth, because the ones the hospital gives out are the BEST! When we have our next baby (Lord willing) I also want to purchase a Nose Frida because I have heard such rave reviews and I think that it would have been helpful.  We also found that a baby toothbrush is a great investment and a wonderful teether. We like the Baby Buddy. If you don't already have a thermometer, I recommend purchasing one. We have a

    cheap flexible-tip thermometer for now and it does the trick. I also purchased some liquid infant acetaminophen (dye-free) at the store and I have used it when our daughter's temp has been high enough to affect her sleep. There are different schools of thought on using fever-reducers, so we have only used it at night when the temp was high enough to keep us all up (it was 102.9).
  17. Feeding equipment - There are lots of options out there. I am rather fond of the OXO Tot products, especially the fork and spoon sets but there are cheaper options out there. We have 2
    sets of eating utensils. Eventually I would like to purchase the Oneida progress flatware set eventually. You might want a few bowls, plates, and cups. If you are concerned about using plastic, there are wooden dishes available online or squishy covers that can protect the breakable dishes you already have. Spuds makes safe plastic dishes from potatoes.  I am not a big fan of sippy cups in general, but I really like this cup when we are home. I don't put anything in it that might stain. If you are going to make and freeze your own baby food, I suggest purchasing these Tovolo perfect cube trays. I use my pop maker all the time. Right now I just make breast milk
    pops, but later I intend to make puree pops, or applesauce pops. You may also want to register for some bibs too. I prefer snaps to Velcro in terms of closure on bibs because snaps can't snag hair or sweaters. These have nice wide shoulders and a pocket on the bottom to catch spills and crumbs but I haven't used them personally. I think I would like these Tommee Tippee Explora bibs too. Of the bibs we own, we have had the best luck with the bibs I have knit in garter stitch with cotton worsted yarn.
  18. Nursing Pillow - I chose not to purchase a Boppy pillow after exploring this site but my Brest Friend wasn't quite what I was looking for either.  I wanted this organic buckwheat hull pillow, but when no one bought it for me, I couldn't afford it, so I made my own with buckwheat hulls that I ordered through the health food store. The one I made was awesome, but heavy. I think I'll make a smaller one to use with my next baby. I only used a nursing pillow for the first few months, but it really helped me because my back couldn't take the strain of holding the baby up to nurse or leaning to the side for long periods of time, especially because I had a C-section.
  19. Night light- When my daughter wakes up in the night for a feeding, I try to keep it as dark as possible to keep her from waking up completely. I nurse her in the rocking chair in the living room, and the fire in our pellet stove is enough for me to see where I am going. When we aren't using the stove, I leave the small light over the stove on. Her bedroom is close enough to the kitchen that I can see to navigate her room and tuck her in. I don't change her in the night anymore because she only pees and her diaper can handle it. When she was little, I had to change her because she was often messy in the night, and to keep from waking her up too much, I used a very dim light instead of the overhead light.
  20. Changing Station - We use the top of our daughter's bureau as a changing table. I purchased a changing pad and made 2 covers for it. I use baskets for organization and my husband built some shelves for cloth diaper storage that are within arm's reach. I considered purchasing an
    organic cotton changing pad that didn't have a waterproof cover, just to cut down on the PVC in our home, but I couldn't justify the price. I decided that since she wasn't sleeping on it and it was away from her crib, I wasn't going to worry about it. One of my dear friends doesn't use a changing table for her children at all. She has a changing basket downstairs and a changing basket upstairs, which she can grab and take anywhere, usually on the floor. She keeps her basket stocked with diapers, wipes and rash cream. I prefer taking my daughter to the changing table instead, but it is something to consider. Maybe a basket would work for you.
  21. Pacifiers- If you choose to use pacifiers, you might want to add some to your registry. We like the NUK orthostar silicone pacifiers.
  22. Swim diaper and life jacket - Instead of purchasing disposable swim diapers, I recommend purchasing a reusable swim diaper. Swim diapers are designed to keep poop out of the pool but let pee and water pass right through. I also appreciate having a life jacket that keeps the baby's face out of the water so we can go in boats as a family. Remember that having flotation foam in a bathing suit is not the same as a PFD and may not keep a baby afloat in an emergency.
  23. Clothing - Baby clothing is very expensive, especially when you consider how quickly babies grow into the next size. If you can get clothing second-hand, I recommend it. How much clothing you "need" is based on a number of things: how often your baby spits-up, how often you wash laundry, and how many diaper leaks you are dealing with. We didn't ask for much clothing on our registry, because we were given many hand-me-downs.
    • Onesies are an extra layer that keeps your baby warm. They pop over the head and snap under the crotch. We like Carters brand or Just One You, since they are softer than the Gerber ones.
    • The sleeper or the "sleep and play" is a one-piece garment. It may have snaps or a zipper. I prefer snaps because I can change the baby's diaper without making his or her chest cold and because zippers sometimes rub under the baby's chin and bulge out in ripples. A dear friend of mine prefers zippers because they are so fast and easy and she hates trying to figure out snaps in the night when the baby is crying. If you are not sure what you prefer, get some of each. For the first few months, our daughter wore these day and night. Now she just wears them at night and wears "real clothes" during the day.
    • Nightgowns are easy to use because the bottom is open for quick changes, but they can creep up into the armpits when babies are being held (especially by the inexperienced) so we used them only at night.
    • Tops and bottoms are cute, but can be a pain to use. Our daughter's head didn't fit through many shirts, so the ones that had snaps or button-closures worked the best for us. Onesie tops are an easy solution to the gap that often occurs between the shirt and the pants. We liked elastic-waist pants or pants that had crotch snaps. We would remove jeans and overalls for naps for the comfort factor.
    • Socks and booties are hit-or-miss. We found that the Faded Glory brand of socks stayed on the best. I made some booties that worked well, but the store-bought ones fell right off. For a newborn, shoes are unnecessary. We had some dressy shoes for her dedication, but other than that she didn't use shoes until she started pulling herself up, and even now she prefers soft-soled leather shoes like Robeez (which also stay on very well).
    • Outer layers could include buntings, fleece jackets, sweaters, snowsuits, winter coats etc. If you live in a cold region, make sure that you dress your baby in layers so you can control how warm or cold the baby is. Baby boots are hard to come by and hard to keep on a baby's feet, so I recommend a snowsuit that has attached booties. I have found that most winter gear for babies lacks sufficient insulation, so we can't stay out long. LL Bean does fairly well in this department, but you pay for it monetarily.
    • Hats are good to have. For winter, you will want at least one hat that covers the baby' ears. If your baby hates hats as much as mine does, you may need ties to keep it on. For summer, we have a sun hat with ties under the chin that works well. I think ours is from Target.
    • Dresses and rompers are super-cute and a good solution for summer babies when the heat is unbearable.
Again, this is a working list, but at least it might be a starting point to get you thinking. Remember that different parents and caregivers swear by different products, so ask around and see what works best for your friends and family! Please leave me a comment if there is something you feel I ought to add to this list!

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