Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby essentials

I've started a group for pregnant women in my area to meet up and chat - and one of the women in my group just sent me an email asking me for my advice on baby products. It was a pretty tactless email. There were no thank yous, or could you pleases involved. Actually I think it's worth while to quote it: "My mother in law offered to get me everything I need from NY & Vegas.  Since you have done all the research, I was wondering if you can send me a list of what you considered to be the essential for after birth & for the baby.  The only thing I got so far is the breast pumps. She have babies r us & all it's chain, pea in the pod, destination maternity & motherhood stores near here. If you know which store the product comes from that would be helpful too."

Okay, really lady? First of all, you either don't know how to write in English or are so uninterested in the impression you make on me that you don't proof-read. Second, really?? You want me to give you a list of essential baby products AND go to the trouble of figuring out which stores your MIL can find them in, in Vegas?? Are you kidding? Seriously, you must be.

Which is maybe why I haven't written her back yet. I'm not sure such an email even deserves the dignity of a "maybe it would be helpful for you to do a bit of your own research since you also don't work" response.

However, she did get me thinking about how much I DO know about baby products based on the obsessively extensive amount of research I've done on everything from swaddling blankets to baby baths. (With clearly the vast majority of it going into cloth diapers - a product which clearly would not appeal to Mrs. I-can't-spell-or-do-research-on-things-affecting-my-unborn-child.) (Me? Judging? Never...)

It will also be fun to go through this list after several months of actual product-testing and see which ones I still consider essential!

(drum roll please!)

Olivia's Essential Baby Product List

  • Swaddling blankets - the Miracle Blanket, and Aden + Anais muslim ones
  • Baby bouncer - Baby Bjorn babysitter, so cool, it folds up completely flat (I was able to put it in my suitcase) and the baby's own movements make it bounce!
  • Baby carrier - this is a three part answer: 1) Ergo Baby Carrier, can be used on the front, back and side, can be used from birth with an infant insert, can be adjusted to fit different people, is a great more traditional carrier but does not have the drawbacks of the BabyBjorn carrier (which can adversely affect baby's spinal development) 2) the Moby Wrap - basically a long piece of cloth you wrap around yourself, forming a pouch which you put baby into, baby is close to your skin and very comforted, but it's not bulky like the Ergo 3) The Peanut Shell - because it's beautiful and despite it's impracticality (since it's sized it can only be used by one person) some babies apparently like this pouch style sling the best
  • Travel crib - Baby Bjorn Travel crib, amazing! only 11 pounds (unlike the Graco pack and play which is 25!) and it's super easy to put together, just folds up, only drawback is it doesn't fit in a standard suitcase and is a bit too long for a standard carry-on but apparently airlines will let you bring it as part of your baby-paraphernalia carry-on allowance
  • Crib - obviously this depends on your living situation. If we had a real house, with a real nursery, we would have bought a nice big crib that would last for 2 years and a Moses basket on a stand or the Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper (a small crib with a drop down side that goes directly against your bed) that would go by our bed for the first three or four months. BUT we're short on space so we got the Bloom Alma mini crib, that will only last till baby boy is 1 year old, but folds up completely, is on wheels so it can be wheeled up to the side of the bed at night, and away in the morning, and means we only have to have one piece of furniture devoted to baby sleeping for at least a year. And it's super-duper beautiful and functional and I love it.
  • Baby swing - now there are lots out there, but as we were going for affordability and portability (how easily can we stash this in the closest given our flat is the size of a closet?) we choose the Fischer Price Take-Along Jungle Swing. But if space hadn't been an issue we would have gone same brand and jungle theme but the full-sized version, which swings side to side as well as back and forth. Apparently some babies only really like side-to-side. Also, apparently some babies hate all swings. So, we'll have to wait and see if baby boy approves of our choice.
  • Sophie the giraffe - uber-popular rubber squeaky teether which babies apparently adore
  • Lamaze toys - such as Olivia the Owl and Freddie the Firefly, apparently babies are faaaascinated by them (gotta admit that so am I)
  • Sleeping bags - HALO or Aden + Anais brands, it's much better for baby to be in a sleeping bag then covered with blankets. Blankets can suffocate, a sleeping bag cannot.
  • Fancy baby bath bucket - Prince Lionheart WashPod (or if you're in Europe, the Tummy Tub) - they're both basically fancy-pants buckets which, since they're for washing your precious baby in, the retailers feel justified price-gauging you for. The bucket enables you to wash your baby with your baby in the fetal position (instead of flat-on-back-and-flailing position) and is much more soothing and comforting to baby (again, anecdotally speaking).
  • Stroller - If I had money to burn, lived in an elevator building, and had spare square footage (Oh, if only) then I would have gotten the Bugaboo Bee for everyday from day one, and a Maclaren Quest or Triumph for when baby is older and we are traveling. As reality sits at the moment (no piles of hidden cash, one flight of stairs, and no room to breath) we got the Maclaren Techno XT, suitable from birth, folds like a dream with one hand (and a foot) is light, completely collapsible, very manouverable, and just lovely to behold. (We were debating on getting the City Mini, whose only appeal is that it folds with one tug of the hand - but it is ugly and takes up more space when folded and has less under-stroller basket storage.)

  • A breast pump - manual if you will only use it occasionally, electric if you plan on using it daily
  • Bottles - there are so many different kinds out there and each mom swears by a different brand, Dr. Browns and Born Free are probably the two most popular. I have yet to buy these, but do plan on getting a few of each
  • Level 1, slow flow nipples - apparently baby can develop a flow preference for a bottle over your breast, so using Level 1 or premmie nipples when you do give him a bottle will help prevent that from happening
  • Plain cotton prefold cloth diapers - for use as burp rags, general baby mess clean-up do-all
  • Layette - aka baby clothes, onesies, sleepers, cotton hats, bibs, fleece snowsuits for winter, socks
  • Scratch mitts - little thumb-less mittens so baby doesn't scratch himself!
  • Lanolin cream - for sore, dry, cracked nipples, and for prepping nipples in the months before you give birth (not supposed to be ordinary moisturizer on those puppies!)
  • Breast pads - disposable or washable, for leaky breasts (all breasts leak... apparently!) 
  • Changing pad and 2 covers - yes you want at least two, if you have to ask why then you should go give yourself some experience and babysit for a day, preferably for an 18-month old with tendencies to eat entire apples in a sitting (don't ask)
  • Crib sheets - must be tight fitting! also DON'T BUY CRIB BUMPERS! They increase the probability of SIDS, block air-flow to baby and are completely unnecessary flippery
  • Baby snot sucker - we were given the Frida, but apparently your mouth works just as well. (Gross, right? Well this is coming from DH's male co-workers!! Apparently, it's just really, really hard to get baby's teeeeeny tiiiny nostrils unclogged!)
  • Thermometer for baby's bath - maybe not essential? Just for paranoid new-moms like me who want their porridge just right?
  • Specially made thermometer for baby's butt - uhh yah, apparently the most accurate place to take baby's temperature is up their rear! But buy a special made-for-babies one so you don't accidentally rupture their rectum (ouch, cringe, eek!)
  • Rattles, baby books, and other mind-enriching toys - just wanted to end with you having a picture of a cute little baby boy rattling a rattle, or being read to, or watching his reflection in a mirror :) Aww, can't wait, really can't wait.

Woah there. I've written an essay. Already. AND I'm pretty sure I'm leaving something super important out. Will have to update later. Given my pregnancy brain (seriously there is such a thing - more on that later too) I most likely have forgotten a very important product. But I think I'm baby-product-ed-out right now. And sick of using the word "apparently." Actually don't want to see that word ever again. Can't wait till baby boy is out and I can give advice based on actual, active, direct experience!

And just in case you were wondering....

No, I'm not sending this list to her. Unless she brings me cookies. Then I might reconsider.

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