Thursday, March 14, 2013

Baby Registry Essentials: Gear

MONTHS ago, before I realized I was pregnant with #2, I must have had baby on the brain and started a little series of baby registry posts (here and here). So now that my due date is only weeks away and I'm taking inventory of what we will need in the coming months, I thought I'd continue that series with a post about some of my favorite baby gear!

(from middle clockwise)

Essential #1: BOB Revolution Stroller

If you're only going to buy one stroller, this is the one! I can't tell you how great this thing is. It's so easy to push and maneuver, I get annoyed pushing any other stroller. It's great for jogging too. It's been with us through at least one 5K...and on many, many walks and outings. This past weekend we went to the zoo and basically used it just to haul our stuff's perfect for pushing through crowds since it turns on a dime. It is spendy. It's one of those purchases you will agonize over. But it is so worth every penny. Wait until it goes on sale at REI (which happens once or twice a year at least - that will be the best price you can buy it for unless you luck out on Craigslist or have a very generous gift giver).

Essential #2: Car Seat(s)

After TONS of research (when you're a first time parent, researching what baby gear to buy can be excruciating), we decided on the Chicco Keyfit 30. Best infant car seat hands down. Again, it's spendy, but if you are going to splurge on only one baby item, it should be the car seat. Safety first. My awesome and generous co-workers bought this off our registry. Always register for big ticket items, people often like to pool their money for shower gifts. Bless their hearts.

If you only want to buy one car seat, get the Diono Radian. It is awesome. It is streamlined and goes from backward-facing, to forward-facing, to a booster and accommodates 5 to 120 lbs! Great investment. I still prefer an infant seat for the beginning (I like to be able to carry a sleeping baby out of the car without any interruption), but if you want to keep things simple with just one car seat, this is the one. It will be the only car seat you ever need.

Essential #3: Basic Bouncer

This simple, basic bouncer saved our lives. Evening fussiness (Little J was a VERY fussy baby at the beginning) or a place for him to be while I was in the shower or making meals, this little thing had us covered. We loaned it to a friend recently and it will be seeing our #2 in a few weeks. $30 for three babies is a pretty good investment.

Essential #4: Baby Carrier

I always wanted to be the hip mom with her sweet little baby snuggled close in a Moby wrap. Thankfully we just borrowed one, though, because Little J HATED it. So sad. (Maybe we'll try again with baby #2??) But thank goodness for the Ergo. If you're just going to buy one carrier, this is the one to buy. Super sturdy, comfortable, and can be used from 7 to 45 lbs. I carried Little J around in this at Disneyland, the farmer's market, while I was cleaning the was great to always have in the car so that I didn't have to haul a stroller around. Awesome invention.

For infants, I prefer the Baby Bjorn. Little J especially enjoyed facing outward once his neck was strong enough (which is one thing you can't do in an Ergo). The problem with this carrier is that it can only be used up to 25 lbs which is a relatively short time frame. If you can borrow one, or plan to buy one and loan it out later (or use it for multiple children), that would make it worth it.

UPDATE! A friend just told me about the Beco Gemini, which essentially combines the best features of both the Ergo (versatile and longer usage period) and the Bjorn (perfect for infants and outward-facing capable) all in one. If I didn't already own these two, I would definitely go for the Beco. Thanks for the tip Jen :)

Not essential, but really nice to have:
  • Bassinet/Co Sleeper - I'm still on the fence with this one. It was super helpful while we used it, but we didn't use it a long time. I have friends who are newer moms who swear by the Rock N' Play Sleeper, so we might give that a shot this time around. (Obviously if you choose to co-sleep, you can definitely keep this one off your list).
  • JJ Cole Bundle Me - LOVE this thing! So handy. If you live someplace colder (or wet), this is the perfect compliment to any car seat or stroller. A stranger actually introduced me to these when I was checking out her stroller when I was pregnant. She said it was her favorite baby item. It's now one of my favorites too.
  • Play mat - Definitely not "essential" but fun for baby nonetheless. A good ol' blanket/quilt will do for tummy time, but a mat/gym like this is fun when little ones start needing some extra stimulation.
  • Basic Pack N' Play - I thought I didn't want/need a pack-n-play. I was wrong. Great for travel, great for when your little one becomes mobile and you don't feel like taking him with you to the bathroom or when you need to run upstairs to switch the laundry real quick. Something you can do without, but very convenient if you have the space. Some of these come very pimped out with a price tag to match...I found that a very basic version was all we needed (for $50 or less).
Gear you can do without:
  • Baby swing - I think babies either like bouncers or swings. Little J liked his bouncer and hated the swing...borrow these if you can to decide for yourself.
  • Bumbo - Some people think these are the greatest things our experience, it was helpful for taking photos when Little J wasn't sitting up on his own yet, that was it. Thankfully we just borrowed one. If you're set on one, I suggest borrowing as well.
  • Exersaucer/Jumper - If you have a smallish home, these things just take up SO much room! They can't be used for a long period of time (unless you have one that converts to a play table) and they're expensive. Again, I suggest borrowing one if you can't live without it.
Registering for the first time can be such a daunting task so I hope these suggestions help (and don't forget my nursery and nursing registry suggestions as well). I think my best advice to keep things simple and from getting too crazy expensive is to borrow, borrow, borrow what you can and to invest your money in things that will get A LOT of use like your car seat, stroller, and baby carrier. Wow, this is really taking me back in time...can't believe we'll be back here again so soon. Happy registering to you and congratulations, it's an adventure!

PS - This is blog is not just about parenting / babies...but it's a topic that's near and dear to my heart so I like to write about it from time to time :)

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