I Freakin' Love this Baby Stuff
Every parent has his or her own opinion about the best baby stuff. Lucky for you, you've got our opinions and those of everyone in the comments section. :)
2: Haiku Baby - I'm not a big poetry fan, but C adores this cute little book's bright illustrations. Each page includes a haiku about a different season.
3: Olivia - I LOVE Olivia, and it didn't take much convincing to get C on board too. She's a sassy gal with a big personality and her own strong opinions. A good role model for a little girl, I think.
4: Llama Llama Misses Mama - Ironically C doesn't like me to read this book to her, only Y. I love the Llama Llama books because the illustrations are adorable and they're fun to read. My personal favorite is Llama Llama Red Pajama, but C doesn't like that one (yet).
5: One Moose, Twenty Mice - We borrowed this book from C's best baby friend, and C immediately only wanted to read this and Somewhere So Sleepy (#9 below). This book is great for identifying animals and C has a great time searching for the cat on each page. It's kinda like Where's Waldo for babies.
6: Baby Einstein's First Alphabet - Our friend K gave us this book and C has loved it from day one. It's a simple book with photos of various objects and animals, and has made teaching her different words much easier.
7: Winnie-the-Pooh's Opposites - I actually have no idea why C loves this book so much. To Y and I, the drawings are kind of confusing and it's hard to tell what's happening. But she loves it! (Note: I can't find this one on Amazon to link to it - we got our copy used)
9: Somewhere So Sleepy - Another book borrowed from C's best baby friend and immediately ordered from Amazon so we could have our own copy! C calls this book "night night" and likes to flip to the end where she can pull a paper window shade up and down. This is a lift-the-flap book, which are usually a hit.
Stay tuned, more books will come later - we have quite a few favorites! And of course, I'd love to hear yours!Comment
Warning: this entry is going to be epic. As in, seriously long. My apologies if you have no use for a diaper bag.
When you first have a baby, the mountain of crap you have to take with you everywhere is IN-FREAKING-SANE. Seriously. Half the time my enormous diaper bag was overflowing, and I still didn't have everything I needed!
Now that Charlie is over a year, I don't take the diaper bag everywhere I go - I leave it in the car in case of an "emergency." In the early months, however, you will definitely need a diaper bag with you at all times. Little babies poop approximately every thirty seconds, and that poop has a tendency to get everywhere. Basically, every day is a series of emergencies. ;)
In the beginning, having a very cute diaper bag was super important to me. Later, though, utility took over, and we used the "Diaper Dude" that my parents bought for Y. For every day use with an older baby (when you don't have to carry around a change of clothes, nursing pads, etc), I think putting a smaller pocketbook sized thing in an attractive purse is a better idea.
First, let's talk about the actual bags. You can get really obsessive about bags, which is a (very) dangerous road. We have four, which I think is one too many. Trust me, this can be a bad habit.
- The first bag I got was this OiOi Messenger Bag (1). I was never totally sold on this diaper bag. I thought it was really cute pre-baby, but it felt a little flimsy.
- Then I bought this Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag (2), which I think is VERY cute, but has very small side pockets that won't fit even a thin sippy cup. One major benefit to it is that turns into a backpack, which is great for the airport.
- Eventually, we switched to Y's Diaper Dude (3). It isn't cute at all, but it has all sorts of ingenious little things, like tons of pockets for organizing and a strap that you can snap on and off (so you don't have to pull it over your head).
- I also have this diaper wallet (4) for the essentials (you could also get a diaper pod, or (if you're fancy), a Petunia Picklebottom clutch). This thing is great to carry only what you need in an absolute pinch (ie, a couple of diapers, a diaper cover (if you use gDiapers or cloth, like we do), wipes and a few baggies for dirty dipes.
For newborns and small babies
Little babies must really enjoy pooping, because they do it all the time. Usually, they like to poop out the sides of their diapers (or up the back), soiling themselves, their outfit, and whatever they were sitting on. It's pretty great. They also like to barf on everything in sight, usually soiling themselves, their outfit, and you. Thus, you need to bring a LOT of crap with you.
- First, I recommend being organized. Have a bunch of little bags (like these drawstring Tote Bags (1)), and keep like items together. I am lucky because my mom is awesomesauce and made me some.
- Burp cloths are an absolute MUST. Because I like things that people see in public to be pretty, I loved these Aden & Anais burp cloths (2) for the diaper bag. At home we used these thin birdseye diapers, but they are ugly.
- A change of clothes for baby. This means a little bag filled with a new onesie, pair of pants, socks, and a sweater (because you never know if it's gonna get stormy all of a sudden, haha). These are the sorts of things to keep in a drawstring bag.
- An extra shirt for you. One day, you'll thank me. Also, snacks for you (3). Very important.
- Whatever you need to feed the baby, whether that's nursing pads for you, or bottles and formula.
- Extra pacifiers (4) if you use them.
- Diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and a changing pad (most diaper bags come with a changing pad) Plus, you need something to put the poopy/wet diapers in. I love these biodegradable trash bags (5).
- A baby blanket. These are good for spreading on the floor at Baby & Me group, or for keeping your little muffin cold in a place with air conditioning. You can also put this over the carseat to block out light. You don't need anything fancy - these these thin blankets will do just fine (5) will do just fine. Or if you are fancy, you could bring an Aden and Anais swaddle wrap (6).
- Wet bag - this is great whether you use cloth diapers or not. When baby barfs on something, you need somewhere to put the dirty clothes. We have this one made by PlanetWise (7), which comes in a three sizes and lots of patterns.
- A couple of toys like this crinkly activity book (8) (see my other post about baby toys for this age group)
For older babies and little toddlers
As your baby gets older, you don't need to take the essentials everywhere you go (because they stop pooping on everything, all the time). We have the "emergency" diaper bag (with a bunch of diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, diaper salve, rags, etc), which we keep in the car. We rarely need everything in there, but its good to have, just in case. We have all that stuff in the Diaper Dude. We also keep some of the items below in the back of the car (in an ugly Drawstring Backpack), because we don't need them ALL the time. In the future, I'll do a post about what baby stuff we keep in what location, which will include a "what's in my diaper bag" show-and-tell. But for now...
Most of the stuff you'll be taking with you relates to food:
- Travel Packs of Disinfecting Wipes(1) are necessary for eating in restaurants or riding in shopping carts. I'm not afraid of germs, but I am TOTALLY grossed out by the crusty, slimy (seriously) highchairs at restaurants. To be honest (and this is a controversial "do you really need it?" item), I got a highchair cover (2) because I got so sick of cleaning highchairs only to be STILL grossed out. I also use the wipes on shopping carts all the time - some stores don't have antibacterial wipes by the carts.
- Along the same lines, if your kid is eating in a restaurant, they can either eat off the table, or they can eat off something like the Tiny Diner (3). This thing has pluses and minuses. It works well on certain kinds of tables, but the suction cups don't work that well on others. plus, the whole thing rolls into that catch-all thing at the bottom (which is great), but C tends to grab the catchall thing and pull the whole Tiny Diner off the table. I think the pluses outweigh the minuses, personally. I really don't like leaving a mess when we go to restaurants. It's not cool to make the server clean up after your kid, I say. Their lives are hard enough!
- Lifefactory Sippy Cup (4) (for water) - we actually keep the sippy cup attachment on the four ounce bottle, just because it's easier to carry around. We recently found just the sippy cup part (they were out of stock for awhile), so you can have extras or convert your existing bottles.
- Because we (mostly Y) are anal about keeping plastic away from C's food, we bought this stainless steel Eco Lunch Box (5). We also have stainless to-go containers (6) (in addition to a bunch of glass jars we've saved from jam, etc). We take these when we're packing a lunch.
- A lunch pail like our cute owl one from Skip*Hop (7) is a necessity. You need a cooler for all the food (plus one of those frozen thingies to keep it all cool). I also keep a bib and a napkin in the inside pocket. I like the Skip*Hop one because it comes in all different kinds of animals!
But you'll also need a few other things, like entertainment & diaper stuff:
- I suggest taking a diaper wallet or diaper pod (see top image) with you instead of a whole diaper bag. Keep the diaper bag in the car with stuff you don't need as much, and the wallet for the necessary things. The only drawback to these is that they don't fit most cloth diapers. We use compostables when we're out, so I have an extra Little gPant and about three compostable gRefills.
- Sunblock is always good. Make sure it passes the new sunblock tests, though!
- I keep two toys in my purse that C never gets to play with at home (and rotate them out randomly). She is always very excited to see them. I also keep a bunch of random crap that she's fascinated by - for example, she likes twisting the top back on these Plum organics baby food pouches, so I bring an empty one. Other hits? a hair elastic, an empty Myntz tin (Y is addicted to those, so we have plenty!) and two cheapy metal bracelets (sort of like these, but mine are from H&M). I also have my iPhone, filled up with the best baby apps (<--I updated that post to include screenshots, by the way!). Peekaboo Barn always works. :-)
And thus ends another of my epic "must have" lists (this one new and improved! With pictures!). I hope you find it helpful! Anyone else have any "must have" items for the diaper bag? Or, heck, indulge me: a favorite diaper bag?Comment
I’ve now given you two lists of things I love for babies...but what about the mama? In the beginning, all sorts of strange things will happen to your body. And if you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will hurt and they will be HUGE. Also, you will feel fat. However, I’m not going to talk about what sort of postpartum pantyliners you should get. After all, that stage doesn’t last very long - and honestly I barely remember what I did during those first few weeks anyway.
So I’m going to talk more long-term about what I have found indispensible, and what I did in the beginning that I would recommend you do as well. All of these tips relate to the following philosophy: “You have to feel cute, or you’re gonna get depressed.” For real.
Here we go!
- Nursing tank tops - I resisted nursing tank tops for a few months, thinking that there’d be nothing out there supportive enough for my colossal chest. HOWEVER a woman in my mother’s group suggested the Glamour Mom full bust nursing tanks and OMG my whole life changed. I literally wear one EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They are amazing and I have one in every color. I would suggest going to a local store to be fitted, but if they don’t have a good color selection, check out Figure 8 Maternity. I ordered mine from their online store and was really impressed by their customer service and super cute packaging (packaging goes a long way, I say!).
- Buy a new pair of jeans for every size. Yes, this can be expensive, but I’m not talking about buying a new pair of Sevens for every size. Post-partum I was an 8-10 and I’ve bought at least one new pair of Gap jeans for every size I’ve been at. I now have about 6 pairs of jeans that don’t fit, but I put them in with my maternity clothes for the next time around (whenever that is, haha). I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans (I blame breastfeeding), and buying new jeans saved my self esteem. Definitely worth the money, if you ask me. If you think you're like me and won't lose all the weight until you're done breastfeeding, go ahead and buy yourself a pair of Sevens. I wish I had.
- Purge your closet and buy new things - Nothing makes a girl feel less cute than looking at a closet full of clothes that she can’t fit into, I swear. Right after I had Charlie, I expected not to fit into any of my pre-pregnancy pants...but I also could not fit into any of my shirts. And I have to say, it’s now 14 months later and I still can’t. It took me about 8 months to purge my closet, and I really, really wish I had done it earlier. I’m not saying you have to get rid of all those clothes, but for the love of god, put them somewhere you can’t see them and buy yourself something pretty.
- Babies like to pull on things. A lot. This means that your hair is in a ponytail most of the time, and you can’t wear dangly earrings or necklaces unless you want to experience intense pain. I suggest finding cute ways to put your hair back, and buying some stud earrings that you actually like. I got bangs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, though, because I discovered bangs are just as fun to pull on as full-length hair. Sad face.
- If baby can’t pull on it, make sure it’s cute. This means that you need cute accessories like belts and shoes. These will make you feel happy.
I realize that none of this stuff directly relates to babies, but you know what? Sometimes it's not all about the baby. You're important, too! Anyone got anything else they think is important to add?
Baby Connect - $4.99
Think Itzbeen, but way, way better. This app is amazing for tracking newborn stuff like poops, sleep and feedings. This was my #1 most used app for the first 4-5 months of Charlie's life, and tracking everything became an addiction. This app has an online version, too, so you can add stuff from your computer or your partner can see what's going on while at work. You can also add multiple caregivers, so if your partner or nanny has an iPhone, s/he can track everything too. Honestly, C is almost a year, and I still use it to time her naps. It's easier than using my brain! ;)
Peekaboo Barn - $.99
C is a monster on the changing table, and no amount of "contraband" (ie, giving the kid stuff they aren't supposed to have so they sit still) will make it easier for me. I LOVE Peekaboo Barn (top). C knows how to work it and laughs at it. Priceless. Note: There are other versions of this app, too. Peekaboo Wild is cool (bottom), but Peekaboo Forest sucks (at least for babies - it's boring). Peekaboo Barn is the clear winner.
WhiteNoise (by TMSoft)- $1.99
This is the best white noise app - it has 40 different sounds and they're all really well recorded so you can actually HEAR them through the iPhone speakers.
Talking Carl - $.99
This features a weird red square-shaped man who repeats everything you say in a funny voice. The best part of it, though, is that he moves and does different things if you touch him. And because most of baby's touches are accidental, it's good to have something that reacts in interesting ways without a lot of effort.
BabyPiano - (free or paid version)
There are a lot of apps called "baby piano." This is the one with the cat on the icon. I like this app because the piano keys are brightly colored, and there are a couple of different settings.
Baby Rattle - (free or paid version)
This is good for the same reason as Talking Carl (accidental touches) - basically, it's a bunch of weird things floating around, and if you touch anywhere on the screen, something else pops up and makes a noise, then starts floating around too.
Dr. Seuss' ABCs - $3.99 (note: there used to be a free version, but not anymore)
This is an e-book that can be set on "auto-play," "read it to me," or "read it myself." Auto-play is the best option for babies, because they might not know how to swipe to turn the page yet.
BubblePopper - (free or paid)
Popping bubble wrap is fun for everyone, but especially babies. The paid version of this app is better, because Charlie kept touching the ad at the bottom on the free version. Also, try searching for "bubble wrap" so you get the right one.
And here's a screen shot, so you can see the icon for each one (note: I have Peekaboo Wild on there, but I don't recommend that one. It's boring, at least for a kid C's age).
That's all I've got! Anyone else got something I need to download right this second?Comment
You can add this stuff to your registry too (we added some of it; other stuff we discovered later), but you won’t use it until your baby is a little bit older.
Toys - Early Months
At some point around the third month, your baby will stop finding the ceiling fan super fascinating and will start to notice other things. That’s when they’ll actually start to play with toys! These are our favorites:
- Activity Mat - this is one of the first toys we introduced. She liked staring at the different hanging things, and eventually grabbed for them to make the music play. It soon became the place she felt most comfortable experimenting - when she learned to roll over (both directions) she tried it here. I'm kind of amazed that she loved this until we didn't bring it out anymore.
- Sophie the Giraffe - yes, I know everyone recommends her and she’s super expensive for a toy. But Charlie loves her. She squeaks and is a fun rubbery texture, perfect for chewing on. She loves it so much that we have 2.
- Baby Paper - this was given to us by my cousin Ruth. It’s the most simple thing in the world, but it’s LOUD and Chuck LOVES it (see above). I don’t know where she found it (probably a local store) - this was the only online retailer where I could find it.
- HABA Happy Quartette blocks - we just bought these, and Charlie LOVES them. The different textures and sounds are really cool. I also love that they're simple.
- Bright Starts Rattle - Good for getting the attention of a smaller baby, and easy for them to hold onto when they are starting to grasp things. Charlie now tries to shove the entire thing in her mouth.
- Angel Dear Monkey Rattle - this thing is wet 24/7: shake, stare, stick in mouth, repeat.
- Bright Starts Lion - For some reason, they don't have this on Amazon and I can't find the lion, only the dog. My friend Kathy gave this to Chuck and it's a #1 favorite!
- Winkel Toy - my mom bought this before Charlie was born, and it’s become one of her favorite toys! It kind of bounces, and those tubes are the perfect size for a baby mouth.
- Stacking cups - I know they look simple, but Charlie LOVES these. They may be her favorite toy. I couldn't bring myself to take them from her when we decided to start eliminating plastic.
- Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes - Before I had Charlie, I swore I wouldn’t have anything in my house that made loud noises with flashy lights (that stuff makes me crazy), but my friend Krista gave Charlie this, and we both love it. Hey, I can admit when I’m wrong! She flips around like crazy on the changing table, and this is the only thing that will keep her on her back long enough for me to get her dressed.
- Car Seat bar - you don’t have to get this one, but an activity bar in the car seat saved our freakin’ sanity. Yes, it has a light and music. Yes, that’s necessary.
- Bright Starts crinkle book - I don’t know what it is about this thing, but Charlie seems to be fascinated by this book and could play with it for hours. This is a set of three.
- Skip Hop Bath Birds - Charlie loves these for bathtime, and they're fun for washing her hair. My only complaint is that she sometimes tries to poke her own eyes out with the beaks, so you have to keep your eye on what she's doing with it.
- Wooden Toys - we are trying to limit the amount of plastic Charlie shoves in her mouth, so we bought a bunch of random wooden toys, which she likes (but none of them are specific favorites enough to list above).
Toys - Later Months
C still plays with most of the toys above, with the exception of the activity mat (when she started pulling up on things, it got kind of dangerous). We've purchased most everything below from Craigslist. Every baby is different, and some of them love the exersaucer while others prefer the jumperoo (or, if they're like C, they hate both). We didn't want to waste money on something she didn't like. This way, we buy something and sell it when she hates it or outgrows it - usually we can sell it for the same price! Gotta love that.
- Jumperoo - I am still sad that Charlie didn't like this, because my friend K's daughter LOVED it. Charlie's main interest is exploring, though, so it's no wonder that she didn't want to be confined. I'm not going to lie, I was slightly relieved to let our friend H borrow it - one less huge plastic apparatus.
- Activity Table - This was a recommendation from our friend Kathy, and OMG Charlie loves it SO MUCH.
- Zany Zoo - If you hate plastic crap as much as I do, you'll love this. It's not chic per say (haha), but it isn't as much of an eye sore as either of the items above!
- Bucket - One of Charlie's favorite activities is taking things out of containers. She likes emptying her bookshelf and dirty laundry. I bought her this bucket to put her toys in because it's rigid enough for her to use it to steady herself.
- Push Toy - Charlie still hasn't mastered this, but I am expecting she'll take off any day. My friend Sarah gave us this, and her daughter loved it! I can't find the one we have, but this is the same concept.
- Teething is no freakin' joke. If you don't want to be heading to the all-night pharmacy like I did, get a supply of baby tylenol, baby ibuprofen and various homeopathic stuff just in case (not the teething tablets - those have been recalled. Also, sadly, orajel isn't safe either). These teething rings are great too - we throw them in the fridge (we used to throw them in the freezer. Then I learned they can damage the gums. Oops! She liked them. :-/ ). We also have an amber teething necklace, but I'm not sure I believe it works.
- I added this to the last registry, but the Baby Comfy Nose snot sucker is worth repeating. I know it sounds gross to suck the snot out of your kid's nose with your mouth, but there will come a day when you won't think twice about it. And if you need this thing at 3am, you're welcome. ;)
- Breathable crib bumper - It’s ugly, yes, but when your baby outgrows the bassinet and moves into the crib, you can’t have a regular (read = cute) bumper, because they’re a suffocation hazard. If you don’t have a bumper, you’ve got baby limbs getting stuck 10x a day and the possibility of a hurt appendage. To be honest, it makes more sense to get one of these from the get-go. Just forget about the cute one. I know, you're obsessed with it (I was too), but you'll probably find it's a waste of your hard-earned dough.
- Sleep sacks - if you swaddle your baby, they will eventually outgrow the swaddle, and you'll have to figure out a way to keep your kiddo warm. Blankets are a no-no because of SIDS, so you'll want a "wearable" blanket - AKA a sleep sack. These Aden & Anais 4-layer sleep sacks are amazing. They are made from four layers of cotton & allow baby to regulate his/her own temperature. We just bought a couple of the single layer sacks for the summertime.
- Extra waterproof mattress pad (plus towels) - I know this sounds weird, but I tell you, we used this every day until Charlie started crawling. Babies love to be naked, and they also love to pee. We laid a mattress pad on the floor, covered it with a towel, and let Chuck roll around. If she peed, it got on the towel and not the floor (you need the towel because the pee beads up on the mattress pad). We invested in a California King size once she became more mobile. Now she crawls off it, but it was great, it really was.
- These Zutano booties are fantabulous. We got ours on diapers.com on sale, but now they're gone (sad face). I want a pair in every color. Little feet get easily cold outside, and socks just aren't enough. These are fleece, and they don't fall off.
- Baby Legs (or Target brand leg warmers). Charlie is a little devil on the changing table, and there have been times where I've had such a hard time getting pants on her that I've just left the house without any. Baby legs keep her legs warm and protect her little knees from rug burns while she's crawling. The only drawback is that they're kind of expensive. We have some from Target, too. They're not as good quality-wise AT ALL, but they're like, $3. You can't really beat $3. Tip: Become a "fan" of Baby Legs on Facebook - they have TONS of discounts on their website, and you can get them for a lot less. Also check out retailmenot.com before you buy anything.
- Big kid car seat - I recommend registering for this, because you will definitely need it. C doesn't need this yet, but this is the one we're getting - it's top rated from Consumer Reports and half the price of the Britax Boulevard that everyone loves (thanks Sarah!)
And that's all I've got! Anyone have anything else to add (note: I'm going to do a separate post on baby proofing)?Comment
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