Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nine Baby Essentials

I don't really do product reviews on this blog, but in honor of our pregnant friends (who are probably still out shopping for baby clothes right now, having just found out the gender this afternoon!) I wanted to give a list of the baby items that we really love and would recommend to others.

1. The Soothing Center
Matt fell in love with the Graco Sweetpeace Soothing Center from the moment he saw it had an iPod dock. Yes, alongside womb sounds (what we use most often) and two musical styles, there is a setting for iPod, and you can hook up your own playlist to this Cadillac of baby swings. Rather than swinging front to back, it swings in an arc, meant to replicate the motion of a parent's body, swiveling at the hips as they rock the baby in their arms. The toys attached are simple and neutral in color, so (as some reviewers complain) it is not a swing for fun and stimulation, but that's the point--it's a soothing center, and we use it all the time when Kate is fussy or is fighting sleep at naptime. It puts her right to sleep.

2. The "iPod"
Speaking of iPods, Kate adores her Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, which we call her "iPod." Someone gave this to my mom at the "grandma shower" her friends threw for her, and now she has decided to buy one for every baby shower she ever attends in the future. Kate loves this thing. Matt's brother, Andrew, started calling it "baby crack" when he and Alexis babysat Kate one day. Literally, she can be crying hysterically, but press that big button (which plays a variety of classical pieces on rotation) and Kate will be entranced by the music and the lights that flash in rhythm with the music.

This website offers a big first-time-user discount, so you've probably seen that advertised in parenting magazines or online somewhere. (Trust me, the big discount only works the first time. Oh well.) But still, this site is the best for ordering your diapers, wipes, and other baby products. Before Kate was born, I priced diapers, wipes, baby food, etc. at Sam's, Kroger, and Target, and determined that Sam's had the best prices. is maybe one dollar more expensive than Sam's, but with free shipping on any order over $49, it is totally worth it. As a working mother, I don't have time to be running here, there, and everywhere, and love getting whatever I need delivered right to my door. They even include virtual coupons to match whatever may be going around in newspapers.

4. Pampers
And, speaking of diapers, I love Pampers. Like Jessica Turner (my favorite blogger), I am a "Pampers Snob." I am seriously shocked that other brands don't even try to imitate them. You know those fancy paper napkins, where you think "hmm, is this fabric or paper?"--Pampers are like those, whereas all other diapers feel like cardboard in comparison. We've tried others, whether received as gifts or bought in emergencies at drug stores, and they're fine, but once you go Pampers, you can't go back. And the wetness indicator line on the newborn Swaddlers?--perfect for an anosmic like me. It took a while after moving to size ones to be able to tell by sight whether she needed changing or not.

5. The jogging strollerWe don't jog. I hate to run. But, we wanted a jogging stroller because they're sporty and fun, and while that may sound silly and self-consciously trendy, I'm glad we got one. We chose the Baby Trend Expedition LX completely because it was the only jogger that works as a travel system, with the car seat that snaps into it. The car seat isn't the most user-friendly, with a buckle and handle that cause parental and grandparental angst now and again, but the stroller is awesome. It has cupholders for both parent and baby, and the turning radius is incredible. You could do wheelchair ballroom dancing with this thing--it literally spins in a circle. So even if you never jog or even ever take it out on the street, it maneuvers through the racks at Gymboree far better than a standard four-wheeled stroller. Trust me.

6. eBay

I talked about my eBay obsession here, but it really is an essential baby tool for me. Through eBay and local consignment stores and sales, I have saved untold amounts of money on Kate's clothes and other baby gear. I don't dare buy clothes for myself on there, not being able to try them on or return them, but for a baby whose sizing system is quite simple, eBay is fabulous. I get Gymboree and Baby Gap items that retail for $25-$35 for as little as $.99. If it's something I really like, I'll bid up to $12 or so. I recently got a lot (a "lot" is a group of items sold together) of five fall outfits--dresses, leggings, jumpers, tops, etc., including two pairs of shoes--which would have retailed for over $200, for $26, plus $10 shipping. Amazing deal. You couldn't even get that many items of clothing at Walmart for under $60, I'm sure. Plus, it's more fun this way!

7. BumpyName LabelsI have a thing about stickers and tags. They kind of gross me out, especially when they're half-peeling off, or wet...I'm a freak. Anyway... when I saw an ad for "BumpyName Labels," I knew that was the option for me, when it came to labeling Kate's things for day care and all. Essentially like a Livestrong bracelet, these rubber bands with your child's name imprinted on them just stretch and snap around bottles, sippycups, etc. No nasty peeling or falling off, they stay put.

8. LilyPadz
Lack of sleep, total lifestyle change, and breastfeeding troubles aside, what really drove me nuts those first few weeks postpartum was having to sleep in a bra lined with nursing pads. It just drove home the feeling of "Why bother going to bed? I'll just be up in three hours, anyway, and I can't even wear a normal nightgown." I finally started to feel human again when I discovered LilyPadz. They are silicon pads that adhere to your breasts like suction cups, preventing leakage. They are, admittedly, an expense--$20 a pair, and they last about six weeks before losing the tackiness that makes them stick. I wore my first pair all the time, and they wore out after about three weeks. After that, I just wore them at night, when I really need their benefits, and they last 6-8 weeks. Compare this to disposable nursing pads--$7-10 for 60 (a month's worth) and they are a bit pricey, but they are well worth it for feeling like myself at night!

This post was almost "Eight Baby Essentials" until I realized I needed to pump before posting this and heading to bed. Where would I be without my trusty Medela breast pump? Our unit assistant at work advised me to get a Medela when I first announced I was pregnant, and I heard the same recommendation from other sources. Some people urged me to hold off on buying a breast pump until I knew breastfeeding would work out for us, in case I didn't end up needing one. Now, as an exclusive pumper for 6 1/2 months and counting, I can't imagine life without my pump! I haven't used any other brand, so I don't know how they compare, but Medela is a great brand, and as everyone else says--if you're pumping at work or on any kind of a regular basis, get a double electric like the Pump In Style.
So, those are my recommendations. If you disagree, feel free to say so, but I hope this list is helpful for any moms-to-be out there, or any other parents of small children. What other essentials would you add?


tearzamariebaggett said...

hahahaha, i love it all. except the pumping things.... jury's still out on that.

soothing center IS happening. and so are pampers.

Kristen said...

LOVE this list. I agree with almost everything (we're a Huggies family :)) and wanted to add my new FAVORITE mommy find: the hands-free pumping bra. I put off buying it due to the cost (and frankly, because it looks so darn silly), but then found one on eBay for super cheap. BEST. INVESTMENT. EVER.

Genius. :)

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add that I find the hands-free pumpiing bra extremely useful too.

Also, I use the Avent Isis electric breast pump and love it. I have never used the Medela so I can't compare, but I really like the Avent's cushion petals.

Deanna said...

This is my first visit to your blog, but I agree on so much of your list, I had to say hello! WE have the Baby Einstein "Ipod" too, and my girls love it. They stop and stare whenever they hear it. I'm also a and Pampers addict (although we have twins, so we use Luvs during the day to cut that cost a little)!

Katie Bug said...

Our baby girls are only one week apart!
We also love the baby iPod (but I've never thought of calling it that) and Pampers. I haven't tried yet, but plan to soon.

click over here said...

Bought swing for mine in the first month.


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