Monday, July 30, 2012

Comprehensive Baby Registry Guide

Hey Cuties,
As we've discussed, it's kind of fun to be an expert on something.  I spent a lot of time "laboring" over my baby registry with a lot of help from online lists, books, family, and friends.  Even still, there is a lot I know now that I wish I knew then. Recently I began collating a list for a friend who is pregnant.  So I figured I'd share for any mommas to be looking for a comprehensive guide.  I tried to capture EVERYTHING, but I really do think that every baby/experience is different.  And on that note, this guide definitely has a bit of a city skew to it.  This is what worked for us and that is all I know!

Where to Register
Both Babies 'r' Us and Bye Bye Baby have pretty much everything you could ever need (and a lot, lot more that you don't really need but might think you do) including a lot of hipster brands that you wouldn't expect (if you care for that sort of thing.)  We registered at Babies 'r' Us because they were rumored to give you a 10% completion coupon to close out your registry.  We practically had to beg for ours though and then It had to be used in store and ended up not saving us much money.  We registered online and also went to the store to look around and do research.  For any NYCers, the Babies 'r' Us in Union Square is usually empty later at night on weeknights, is open pretty late and it is surprisingly big and well stocked.  If you have to go on the weekend, I'd head out to the suburbs and be careful to go to a standalone Babies 'r' Us and not a Babies 'r' Us/Toys 'r' Us combo (just don't, trust me.)  We also registered at for the things that the stores didn't carry (a great idea but definitely challenging for the more traditional baby shower goer.)  

The Goods
This list seems totally overwhelming when you are 4 to 5 months in.  You really do need a lot of stuff.  But it really all ended up coming together.  As long as you know what you need, it is pretty easy to fill in the holes in the last month or so.

Parenting Books
These are the only ones I've really used so far:
The Happiest Baby on the Block - this book is great (confession- we actually just watched the DVD) and goes over the basics of swaddling, shushing, etc.  
What to Expect When You're Expecting - not for everyone but this book and its successor really helped me navigate the unknowns of pregnancy without freaking me out too much.
What to Expect the First Year

Baby Carrier
For city dwellers like us, a baby carrier has been a must.  And if your baby tends to run fussy, they can be pretty useful for around the house.  Slinging the old babe around the house is not all like "hands free! makes housework a breeze!" as often advertised though, just a warning.  It is more like being 9+ months pregnant and don't even think about bending over.

I really like these slings.  They come in a million cute colors and I found them easier than the carrier once I got the hang of it.  I wish I could have justified buying about 5 in all different colors, but you really just need the one.

We also have an Ergo and the jury is out for me.  Everyone seems to love this carrier, but, honestly, it took two people to get it on at first.  It is getting much better now that Charlie is bigger but it's never been a perfect fit for him.  Not sure if we just don't get it or what but if I had to do it again I'd look at more options and see which seems the most user-friendly.  It does have a little piece of cloth that comes up to cover his head which I like.  We use it to take him to and from daycare and he loves to drool all over it.

Stroller/Car Seat
I like our car seat (it's a Graco) and it came with the base for the car.  The top pops out really easily and then you can use it as a carrier and it also connects to the stroller frame to convert to a stroller.  The stroller frame we have isn't exactly city-friendly though.  
It's perfectly sufficient for the suburban baby, but it is really rickety for walking around this neighborhood, and I was paranoid about shaken baby syndrome the whole time I was on maternity leave and wishing for one of those four wheel drive type of strollers.  I saw someone in the elevator with one of those jogger bases with the same carseat we had and he said it folds up really easily, so if you live in the city that could be the way to go.  If not, the simple base will probably work just fine.

Plastic Stroller Cover
I would get a plastic rain cover for the stroller ahead of time, just in case it is raining for any of those first doctor appointments.  If you don't live in the city, it's not that big a deal, but if you do, you'll probably want to carry this around with you at all times.  We didn't have one and luckily it wasn't raining for those first few appointments, but don't think I wasn't worrying about it.

Stroller Bundle Bag
In the winter, you'll need a warm sleeping bag for the baby to use in the stroller.  Much easier than overlayering. The one we have is good but doesn't quite get all of his neck/head area.  Erik's sister has this one and really likes it.
I think this one is very cute though:

Rearview Car Mirror
This hangs on the back seat so you can see baby when you're driving (since the car seat is rear facing).  It's always comforting as a parent to be able to see your baby screaming his little head off and not be able to do anything about it.  You'll want one as big and as clear as you can find, a bit of a challenge since they are all plastic.  Ours is from Target.  I can't find the link, but dang, I just found some cool mirrors that light up and play music.  Not sure if these are a rip-off like the musical nasal aspirator we foolishly invested $20 in or not.  

Stroller Hooks
Great for carting around lots of STUFF in addition to your little one.  Also, another city convenience item.  We broke the plastic ones, so I'd recommend these.

Car Mat
Good to have under the car seat so you don't mess up your car cushions, especially if you have leath-uh seats like us fancy folk.

Baby Swing
I know some babies don't like swings but ours is a lifesaver. We borrowed ours from Erik's sister and it's more of a traditional swing.  While the motion is obviously the key selling point, Charlie does seem to enjoy the ominous classical music that the swing plays and he really loves the mobile that hangs over his head.  He'll stare at it mesmerized for an extended period of time until you begin to realize why the baby books recommend limiting swing time to no more than 30 minutes.

Bouncy Seat
This was really good when Charlie was really little, great for napping or bringing into the bathroom for an attempted shower.  Charlie has a few different ones.  He has one at my dad's house that has lights which he really likes. The vibration and music are key entertainers.  
Our friends have the Baby Bjorn Sling Thing which seems  to make it pretty easy for the baby to bounce himself once he's a few months in, so that is something to consider too.

Play Gym
We just got one of these but I wish we had it starting around the second month.  You'll start wanting to lay the baby on the floor so he has more freedom to move around, but since he can't really move yet he really doesnt have anything to look at without a play gym.  There are a ton of cute options but probably something that lights up and plays music is a good bet.

High Chair
We got this Stokke one that grows with your baby and I'm psyched on it, though he hasn't used it yet, so who knows if it's good.

Travel Crib
We have a Graco pack and play.  It's nice because it came with a bassinet but we also have a Joovy which I really like now that he is a bit bigger.  Lots of room to play and really easy to set up.²-Portable-Playard-Red/dp/B001I463G2

We used the one on our pack and play so we could sleep with Charlie in our room when we first came home and he was waking up all the time, but if i could do it again I'd probably buy a separate one for the first month or two to keep by our bed. Charlie seemed to sleep better in something more intimate the first few months.

Baby Monitor
We love this video baby monitor. We don't use it in the apartment but it is perfect for traveling and is really easy to set up.  Being neurotic, I really prefer to see what baby is up to.

This pillow, while popular, isn't as good for breastfeeding but we use it all the time now to prop Charlie up so he can practice sitting (and watching TV. Haha, like we would let our 6 month old watch TV.)

Swaddle Blankets (3)
Do yourself a favor and get the velcro kind for swaddling. SO MUCH EASIER and much harder to escape.  We like the summer Infant ones:
We also have these aden and anais blankets which we don't use as swaddles but love anyway.  Charlie loves to cuddle up in them and I also put over a pillow for him to lie on when I am nursing.

Undershirts (6)
It's helpful to have some non-onesie undershirts for when the baby is first born since he'll still have his umbilical attached and you have to wait for it to dry out.  We found the kind with the built-in mittens to be extra useful since Charlie loved to scratch his face.  We liked the Gerber ones:

Babies need hats whenever they go out if it isn't super warm.  We bought a lot of beanies ahead of time and Charlie actually gets a ton of use out of his baseball cap and his sun hats for the warmer months.

Booties/High Socks
Booties are a must have.  I think the kind with a draw string or a string that ties around the ankles are best.  Most of the socks we got and the booties without strings all fell off right away.

Pajamas (4)
You'll need plenty of pajamas for baby because he needs a new pair every night!  We didn't have enough newborn stuff and Charlie wasn't even close to fitting into 0-3 month when we got home so it's probably a good idea to have a few pairs of newborn size pjs and a few 0-3s at least to start.

Other Clothing
You'll definitely need a ton of onesies as well as pants and sweatshirts/hoodies to start.  Most of our clothing was gifted to us, so we didn't really buy much ourselves.  In the beginning, I appreciated simple clothing that was easy to get on and off.  Buttons and zippers in particular made me nervous around baby's sensitive skin and curious mouth.

Laundry Detergent
You are supposed to wash all your baby stuff in a baby detergent like Dreft.  While I initially scoffed at this, Charlie has super sensitive skin and I think it does make a difference.

Warm Blanket (2)
You'll need a few warm blankets.  You are not supposed to put the blanket in the crib with the baby because of SIDS risks but they are good for laying the baby on over a hardwood floor or cuddling up in when the baby is falling asleep for a nap.  We got a ton of blankets as gifts.  I would recommend at least one knit blanket for cuddling and puffier quilt for placing on the floor.

I think this really depends on your sink situation.  A lot of people seem to use this puj tub which seems like it would have been really good for when Charlie was super little.
We have a more traditional plastic tub that goes in a regular tub and it has worked just fine.

Hooded Towels (3)
You'll want at least 3 hooded towels, probably that look like little animals :)  This one is my favorite.  The other kinds we got don't wash as well.

Baby Shampoo
We use Aveeno shampoo and body wash combined.

Wash Cloths
You'll need baby wash cloths to wash baby, cover baby's private parts and for messier spit ups.  I like the really thin kind.  We got a ton of these as gifts.

Burp Cloths (10)
You'll need a million of these but you'll get a lot as gifts.  We have about 6 different kinds and I honestly don't love any of them, but I would recommend something with a bit of texture as the smoother ones aren't as absorbent.

Bibs (8)
Another item people love to gift.  Charlie makes a slobbery mess when he drinks from his bottle, so he has to wear a bib already.  Hates it.

Pacifiers (5)
If you are breastfeeding your are supposed to wait to introduce to avoid nipple confusion.  We ended up giving Charlie one around the three week mark.

Nursery Furniture
We spent a ton, TON, of time debating this. Oh, to get those hours back.  But I'm really happy with what we chose.  We got most of our furniture from Pottery Barn Kids.

Dresser/Changing Table
We ultimately settled on a dresser/changing table combo and so far it is working out great.  You can take the changing station off when you don't need it anymore,

We got this one from Pottery Barn and I really like it.

We got an organic one which has worked out fine.  The most important thing is for the mattress to be firm.

We looked at some really expensive ones but ultimately settled on this one from Babies r Us. I really got a lot of use out of it in the beginning and I'm glad we got the ottoman too. How cute is this nursery (even though you're not allowed to put anything in the crib because of SIDS concerns.)

You will definitely need this.  We probably do at least 5 loads of baby wash a week and we still fill up our hamper at an alarming speed.  We actually use a big wicker basket which doesn't have a top.  Has been very handy for tossing pee (or worse) stained clothing in with one hand holding baby onto the changing table.

Black Out Curtains  

Crib Sheets (3)

Mattress Pad

Waterproof Pad (2)
We got some of these to go under the crib sheets so that if there are any accidents you don't have to change the mattress pad every time.  Alternatively you could just get two mattress pads.

Changing Pad
I believe we had to order this separately for on top of the dresser.

Changing Pad Covers (2)

Diaper Bags
We have three, ha.  I love this one. It isn't really a diaper bag but it is a great size and is really comfortable.
Timi Leslie also makes some cute fancier diaper bags (they aren't all cute but you can find some good ones.)

Portable Changing Mat

Disposable Diaper Mats

We ended up getting a mobile for Charlie that lights up and plays music.  It's pretty cool.  It doesn't necessarily help him fall asleep but he is mesmerized by it.

Baby Books
You'll want diversity here as baby books aren't exactly the most entertaining read for adults.

Noise Macine
White noise is good for helping baby's calm down (supposedly.) We have this little travel giraffe and we also got a humidifier for Charlie's room that makes a creepy heartbeat noise.

Pampers Swaddlers are our favorites.  Babies move through the sizes pretty quickly so better to start with one big box of each size and take it from there.

These are the kind we like.

Diaper Rash Cream

Nail Clippers
Get one that comes with a file. Clipping baby nails is hard.

Nasal Aspirator
A standard bulb syringe works okay.  Don't fall for any fancy electric ones - they don't work.  But…when Charlie was sick I heard from multiple people including the doctor to suck the snot out of his nose with my mouth.  Gross but apparently effective. Or you could just get this aspirator which accomplishes the same thing and is awesome.

Saline Drops
Good for stuffy noses.

Rectal Thermometer
Definitely have this on hand right away, just in case.

Baby Tylenol
Another item to have on hand right away, just in case. The first time you need it, you will not want to be scrambling around trying to buy some.

Good for lots of things including diaper rash.

Alcohol Wipes
Have these on hand to clean off thermometers, etc.

Dirty Diaper Bags
We have diaper genie but we don't use it.  We just put the dirty diapers in those little yellow plastic bags and hang on his door and bring out every time we leave.  Hmm, that might be kind of gross and oversharing.

Antibacterial Hand Gel
You'll want these all over the apartment for yourself and visitors.

Blanket Toys
I thought these were so dumb but Charlie LOVES them.

Bottles / Bottle Brush
We love the Tommee Tippee ones.  They are slow flow which is important in the beginning, especially if you are breastfeeding.

Bottle Drying Rack
The mister picked out ours from Boon and it is so cute.  It has two little flowers that we hang our pacifiers from.

Frozen Food
This may sound weird and random but both our parents ended up giving us frozen food for Christmas and it rocked!  We got a selection of food from Omaha Steaks and Kansas City Steaks and it was so nice having that stuff the first few months, and the food is really, really good.  And every time we heated up one of those delicious steaks, we felt so loved! (Note: the apple tartlets from Omaha Steaks are TO.DIE.FOR.)

If You Are Breastfeeding

You know my thoughts on breastfeeding (and if not, you can read them here.) It is a very personal decision.  But I will say this. If you are going to do it, best to arm yourself well in advance.  The more prepared you can be, the better.

My Brest Friend Pillow
This is the best pillow for the first couple of months. It was recommended by my lactation consultant as it aligns much better to your body than the Boppy, and I did find it to be a big improvement.  Don't let the drink holder scare you.

Alternate Cover

Breast Pump
We needed this pretty quickly into the process and if you are pumping at work you need one of the expensive ones.  Everyone either gets the Medela or Ameda advanced double pumps.  Definitely something you'll want to try to use a coupon for, as they are quite pricey.  I have this one and it is working well so far, although I definitely had to get some backup parts due to wear and tear.

Milk Storage Bags

Pump Wipes

Lasinoh Nipple Cream
Get some just in case but, be warned, it doesn't work that well.  Nothing worked for me but waiting it out and blasting the heat. :(

Breast Pads

Nursing Shirts/Bra
Definitely good to have a few on hand at first, but they aren't that amazing.  I did live in these tanks from Target the first few weeks though.

And, that's it!  Scary but fun as are all things parenthood. 


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Around Here

Hi Cuties,
Sorry it's been so quiet around here lately.  Not sure why, just busy I guess.  Can you believe I didn't take any pictures this weekend?  We had a lovely time out on Long Island.  Charlie's cousin, Nate, had his fourth birthday party with a pirate theme! So fun and Charlie wore the cutest pirate outfit I got him from Old Navy.  Pictures? Why bother, right? :(
Hmm, what else?  We officially made it through Charlie's two week day care closure.  Special thanks to Erik's sister for finishing up strong those last two days.  Nate and Christine got here pretty late on Wednesday and I got home rather late on Thursday, so I don't think I was fully exposed to the chaos of handling two little kids at once, but I have to admit that from my perspective it was so nice to come home to a full house! Charlie is back at daycare tomorrow and he is a completely different baby than he was two weeks ago.  
One week to go until our vacation and Charlie's first plane ride!  Commence preparations...
Am trying to think of weekly goals but they are all feeling absurd and unrealistic so I'm just gonna wing it this week and not overthink things.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

My friend Kirstin's brother just had a baby girl and I couldn't resist picking up these sandal socks.
Baby girl stuff is so cute!

Charlie and I took a two hour nap yesterday afternoon.

Matt was determined to help Charlie take his first steps.

Hi Cuties,
We had such a nice weekend this weekend.  The three of us went out to Long Island to visit friends.  We stayed with our friends Karen and Matt and our friends Kirstin and Nelson were also visiting all the way from Eugene, Oregon.  We all used to live in NYC together but now we hardly get to see them so it was so nice to spend some quality time together.  Karen and Matt live in the sweetest house in St. James - it is big and airy and is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with friends.  Saturday we barbecued and hung around the house and today we spent the day outside at one of the wineries on Long Island.  It was such a nice day - great baby weather, completely different than last weekend.  Charlie was pretty well behaved, with the exception of sleeping behavior which was eh, not so good (he woke up at 4:30 today.)  This week is week two of Charlie's daycare closure.  I am on Charlie duty through Wednesday and am really hoping that things don't get too crazy at work while I am gone.  Thursday and Friday Erik's sister is coming to help out.  Should be another interesting week!  

Weekend High Points:
1.  Seeing old friends, but of course.  I just can't believe how quickly the weekend went by.
2.  Great weather - it felt amazing to be outside today without worrying that our little babe was getting heat stroke.
3.  Girl time.  Last night the girls and I spent some time catching up and it has been way too long.  The boys crashed a bachelor party at a local bar to give us some time on our own.
4.  Seeing Charlie interact with my friends was so sweet.  They are all so good with him and he was loving the attention.  It is crazy how different things are from a year ago.
5.  Bachelorette season finale, what what?  I'm not sure what the high point of the next two hours is going to be but I'm sure there will be one.  I'll let you know tomorrow.

Weekly Goals:
1.  Confidence.  The last week this little work life balance scenario I've got going on was feeling a little strained.  I'd like to take some of the pressure that I am putting on myself off myself this week and just be confident in my decisions and really just tackle each challenge as it comes, with no second guessing.
2.  On that note, I just want to roll with it this week. I think I need to take a step back and remember that I am stress free now.  Because maybe I am actually kind of backsliding into not being stress free again.
3.  Okay, here's a big one. No spending money.  We really need to save money.  Like really.  So I'm just going to commit to this week.  Just going to commit to being mindful about money this week with no extra expenses (ie no nail polish, no American Apparel binges, no online shopping).