With so much baby gear on the market, it’s hard to know what to register for. Should you get a Zippadee Zip or a Merlin Magic Sleepsuit? An Ergo carrier or a Lillebaby wrap? It can begin to feel like you’re speaking another language. To help with the language barrier, I created a list of recommendations that I’ve sent to some pregnant friends over the past couple of months. I think the list might be helpful for others, too, so I’m sharing it here …
Strollers: We have the Bob Revolution Flex, a jogging stroller that I absolutely love. You can buy an adapter that lets you attach your baby’s infant car seat to the stroller. So convenient. The Bob is pretty big, but we use it all the time. We have a smaller and more affordable stroller — the Summer Infant Lite — which we recently started using for walks around the block. Cheap umbrella strollers are also good to have on hand, especially when in airports.
Baby carriers: We use the Ergo 360, which is front and back facing. (With the regular Ergo, your baby can only face inward.) The Ergo can be good for traveling and for when you need to get stuff done around the house while watching your baby. I’ve always liked the idea of a carrier, but I rarely use ours, partly because it’s uncomfortable for outdoor use in the Florida heat. There are lots of baby-wearing Facebook groups where you can get recommendations about all sorts of wraps, slings, carriers, etc.
Furniture: I’d recommend buying furniture at Buy Buy Baby, if there’s one near you. You can use 20% off Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons there and save a lot on furniture. We used 20% off coupons on our crib, dresser, and glider and saved a few hundred dollars. Another tip: Pottery Barn Kids offers free interior design consultations in which a designer will come to your house and create a suggested floor plan and a wishlist of baby items. I took advantage of this service and got a lot of good ideas about how to organize and decorate Madelyn’s nursery. I didn’t use the wishlist (the items on it amounted to more than $5,000!) but I did order a rug and curtains through the consultant and got a 15% discount as a result.
Bathtubs: We have the Calming Vibrations Fisher-Price tub, which Madelyn used until she was about six months old. Now we just bathe her in a full-size tub.
Diaper bags: I use this one from Pottery Barn and love it. I keep a blanket, burp cloths, bibs, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, etc., in it and like knowing that everything is in one spot. For the first several months after Madelyn was born, I took it everywhere and wore it as a big purse. Now that Madelyn doesn’t need quite as much stuff, I use a smaller purse for day-to-day use and leave the diaper bag in my car so that I’ll have it when I need it on the go. Tip: Pack a change of clothes for both you and your baby, in case your baby’s diaper leaks while you’re holding her. It’ll happen at some point — probably multiple points.
Changing pads/tables: We bought a changing table pad that sits on top of Madelyn’s dresser, rather than buying a separate changing table. We have fleece covers for the pad and put these waterproof liners on top of the fleece.
Boppy Pillow and Boppy Lounger: For the first six months, I used the Boppy Pillow every time I nursed Madelyn. The Boppy Lounger (a bigger version of the Boppy that’s shaped a bit differently) was one of her favorite napping nooks early on. At about four months, she got big enough to kick herself off of it, so we transitioned her to a Gracco Pack ‘n Play and put the Boppy Lounger in it. The Pack ‘n Play helped Madelyn get used to sleeping in a larger space and proved helpful when transitioning her from the bassinet to the crib. (She slept in a bassinet at night until she was about four and a half months old. She now sleeps in her crib — mostly soundly, although she’s still waking up in the middle of the night to feed. We hope she’ll start sleeping through the night soon!)
Playmats: Get this playmat. It’s a little bigger than most, so your baby will be able to use it for awhile. Madelyn absolutely loved it, and it was perfect for tummy time, which we started as soon as her umbilical chord fell off.
Swaddle blankets: It was a struggle to swaddle Madelyn, who always found a way to wiggle her arms and legs out of the blanket. We tried dozens of swaddle blankets and techniques along the way and found some that worked and a lot that didn’t. We stuck with swaddling, though, because it ultimately helped her sleep more soundly. We initially used plain swaddle blankets and then transitioned to the Miracle Swaddle blanket at two months. The Miracle Blanket worked well for Madelyn, unlike these SwaddleMe Pods. At three months (the recommended time to stop swaddling babies), we transitioned Madelyn to the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit, which basically looks like a snowsuit for babies! It weighs babies’ arms and legs down so that they can’t flail their arms and wake themselves up. At five months, we transitioned her to regular footed PJs, which she’ll fortunately be in for awhile.
Clothes: I wouldn’t recommend buying or registering for clothes. You’ll get so many, especially if you’re having a girl. If you put clothes on your registry, you’ll inevitably get them and may be less likely to get the practical stuff you need. I go to consignment shops all the time to buy and trade in clothes for Madelyn. We’ve also benefited from lots of hand-me-downs. (Thank you, friends!)
Diapers: We went through a lot of different diapers before finding the ones we liked: Pampers Premium Care. They’re soft and contain a lot but can only be purchased at Wal-Mart. It’s best to register for size 1 and up. Your hospital room will likely be stocked with lots of newborn diapers, so make sure to take the remaining ones home with you when you get discharged. (We asked for extras, which they gave us.) We have a Diaper Genie and like it.
Swings: If you can, invest in a nice baby swing. We got the 4moms mamaroo swing, which we loved. It used to lull Madelyn to sleep as a newborn when nothing else would. She outgrew it at about five and a half months. It’s a bit pricey, but so worth it. Great gift idea if family and friends want to pitch in for something together.
Nursing covers: I bought a nursing scarf early on, but it didn’t give me full coverage. I ended up purchasing an En Babies cover and use it comfortably when nursing in public. I also recommend nursing bras and tanks, Bamboobies, and Medela pumps. I have the Medela Pump In Style and a smaller manual pump for when I need to pump quickly and don’t have access to an electrical outlet. As my friend pointed out after I published this post, insurance companies are required to cover the cost of a breast pump, so make sure to take advantage of this. (Here are some related tips I compiled for moms who need to pump while traveling.)
Just for fun: I’m a fan of these teething necklaces, which are designed for moms to wear and babies to chew. I also recommend Wubbanubs — pacifiers with stuffed animals attached. They give babies something to hold onto and don’t fall out of their mouths as easily as regular pacifiers. Lastly, invest in a Zany Zoo.
For more ideas, check out “Baby Bargains,” a book that has hundreds of baby product reviews. At first, it’ll feel like you need a lot of stuff for your baby. You’ll feel tempted to buy whatever you can to help your baby sleep better and feel more comfortable. As time passes, you’ll get a better sense of what you (and your baby) need, and you’ll find that you actually don’t need as much stuff as you think you do. Have fun looking, and don’t get too caught up in buying the best of everything. Of all the gifts your baby gets, the greatest by far will be you.
Do you have other recommendations? Please share them in the comments section…