Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mommy must-haves and not-worth-havings

    Before I became a mother (as in, Owen was still baking in my tummy), I was convinced there were certain things that my baby just had to have! And while some of those things have been lifesavers, others have been a complete waste of money and space. Here are some lists for all you gals with the baby bug who may or may not punch your Mommy card sometime in the near future. Or for those of you who know a pregnant woman and want to get her something that she'll really need like based on our experience. 
    Here is our list of some of our must-haves as parents. Note: This is just our opinion and every baby is different so what works for us might not work for you.

1. Skip Hop Duo diaper bag. I love the size of this diaper bag. We have the exact one pictured. The pattern is attractive and neither Tim nor I have any problem carrying it. It is pretty slim so it doesn't have that big bulky feel of some diaper bags. It is probably one of the average priced diaper bags and is better than something you might find at Walmart or Target, but not as pricey as a Petunia Picklebottom, which can cost more than $100. It has several pockets of different shapes and sizes. There are two zip pockets on the top. I use one for my wallet, cell phone, and car keys and the other for pacifiers. The two inside pockets I use for diapers and a wipes container and diaper rash cream. The two outside pockets typically hold board books and other small toys. The net side pockets holds a water bottle or baby bottle. And then there is still plenty of room on the inside for a change of baby clothes, a rolled up blanket, some snacks, and a few more toys. Oh, and nine months later, it still looks brand new and has no stains or anything.
Diaper bag perfection.

2. Prince Lionheart Bebe Pod Flex Seat. We use this on a daily basis. It is similar to the oh-so-popular Bumbo Seat, but from what I've heard, this one has more room in the leg area for chunky baby thighs and therefore lasts longer. We have used this when we feed Owen (instead of a high chair), as a play seat when I'm cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, and he can sit in it at the table with us when we eat. The newer ones, like the one pictured, have a cute toy that can fit into the grooves of the tray so the baby can play with it. And it comes with a cute fruit-themed placemat based on the color you buy. 
My mom has this one for when we visit her house. 

3. Moby Wrap and Beco Baby. If you have read my blog before, you already know that I love the Moby Wrap. And when Owen was little, we also used a Snugli that we borrowed from friends. We really liked both, but if I had to make a recommendation, I wouldn't bother buying a Snugli because it only fits babies up to a certain size and Owen has now outgrown it. We now use the Beco Butterfly II to carry Owen and I really like it. Also, it has a newborn insert that came with it for free that we can use with our next baby. It carries a baby on the front or back up to 45 pounds. I would also recommend that with the baby carrier, you pick a fabric and color not based on your baby's gender, but instead based on what your husband would be comfortable wearing. Your baby girl won't care if her carrier is pink with flowers, but I can bet your husband won't really want to wear it. Also, if you plan on having multiples, you may use this for a boy and a girl and you might want it to be more gender neutral anyway. Tim really loves to put Owen on him in the carrier so definitely make sure it is something your husband can wear. Also, once the baby gets really heavy, it will probably be more comfortable for you to have your husband do it anyway. I have also heard good things about the Ergo Baby carriers from a friend, but I think you have to buy the newborn insert separately so while it is priced a bit cheaper than the Beco, once you add that on it is about the same price. 
Moby Wrap: $35. Peacefully sleeping colic-y baby: Priceless.
We have this one and it is really cute and soft!
4. Aden and Anais swaddle wraps. These are amazing. We have had two sets of them. I would recommend buying the kind from Target though because they are cheaper than at a baby boutique. I have also seen them really on sale at Baby These muslin wraps are great for swaddling because they are lightweight, soft, and really big. And Owen would always break out of those cloth swaddlers with the velcro. 
Another tool we used in the colic-y baby stage.
5. Avent bottles. These are the bottles that we have used with Owen from the beginning. Any other type of bottle that we have tried has not gone over well. 
6. Bouncer seat. This was a must-have for us from the beginning because Owen had a hard time sleeping flat in his cradle. In this though, he slept like a baby. Well, a newborn baby. Which isn't that good. But it was really great until he outgrew it. It's also a great place to strap a baby in if you need to take a shower.
A must-have! And for us, it worked better than a baby swing. 
7. Dreft stain remover. This stuff is awesome! And not just for Owen's clothes. I use it all the time on our clothes too. Especially for Owen-caused stains. 
Spit-up pureed carrots, you don't stand a chance!
8. Cloth diapers as spitup rags. These Gerber cloth diapers aren't really great if you want to use them as cloth diapers, but they are fabulous as burp cloths. The cutesy burp cloths are thinner and more expensive. Plus, you can bleach these. 
Not just for baby's bottom.
9. The book "The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet" - by Karin Knight, R.N. This has been my favorite book about making my own baby food. It has really comprehensive charts about what types of foods you can introduce to your baby each month and includes a lot of other cool tips too. It also tells you which recipes can be frozen and how long they can last in the fridge. I just love it. 
    And as a bonus, here is another must-have item regarding making your own baby food. The Beaba Multi-portion Freezer Tray. It is made by the company that makes the special baby food maker (more on that later in this post) and it can be used to freeze 2-3 oz. portions of baby food. I only have one tray and I think that is enough because they are kind-of expensive. I use it initially to freeze the puree and then I transfer them into a labeled Ziploc freezer bag. The lid does not stay on close enough to prevent air from getting in there and causing freezer burn so I wouldn't store food in it longterm. The frozen food also pops out really easily from the container.
10. BOPPY pillow. This is a must-have! I know, I know, our mothers got by just fine without them, but I really loved ours. It can be used in a lot of different ways in addition to propping a baby on it while you are feeding him. We have the exact one pictured and I really like it because it is super soft. 
Because a baby can get really heavy while you're feeding them.
11. Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat. I really love our car seat. We have the exact one pictured and have really loved it from the beginning. I remember sending Tim out to the garage when I was about 32 weeks pregnant to install the carseat thinking that I would be hearing curse words momentarily, but he came in just three or four minutes later and had it already installed. It is so easy! Even I can do it. It's especially easy if you have a car made within the past 10 years or so because they have the latch system and you just snap two buckles into the metal clip that is welded into the seat frame (in case you were wondering what the heck those things were in your car, that's what they're for!) Adjust the level of the carseat with a bright orange button and you're done!
I love the pretty gender neutral green!
    And here is a list of some of the products that we bought Owen or had on our registry that didn't turn out to be worth the money. Or products that might not be useful depending on your circumstances. 

1. Baby bath robes, towels, etc. - While all these things may be oh so cute and adorable, they are a complete waste of money. And to tell you the truth, the towels are so thin they couldn't dry a dish, much less a baby. (We had the Circo brand towels from Target). After learning that fact, we still use baby wash cloths (Carter's makes the best ones), but we always dry Owen with a regular towel. And you know what? Wrapping him up in a giant snuggly soft adult-sized towel is twice as cute as trying to wrap him in a teeny paper thin, yet colorful towel with fish on it. Also, a note on baby bath robes. Owen has worn his maybe twice. And only for photo ops. 
Cute, but worthless.
2. Cloud B Sleep Sheep. Oh so adorable, right? A magic sheep that will make a baby fall asleep instantly. Complete with the sound of a toilet flushing (gentle stream) and mating whale calls. Now, who decided that was what made a baby go to sleep? As far as I know, Owen has never seen or heard a whale before so why would that soothe him? Now, don't get me wrong, this was great for us when Owen slept in our room because we had trouble sleeping through his little newborn snorts and snores, but a cheap $10 noise machine would have done the trick just fine. 

A sheep that makes whale noises. Way to confuse our kids early, Cloud B.
3. Baby monitor. Now this isn't really a waste of money. They definitely come in handy once you've moved your baby into their own room. But if you, like us, live in a house small enough that you can hear your baby cry from the opposite side of house in his nursery, you don't really need a baby monitor. (Plus, when you become a mom you automatically become a super light sleeper anyway). We will save the one we have of course for future babies and future (bigger) houses, but at the moment we don't need ours. So if you are trying to save a few bucks when getting ready for baby, if your house is small or if your bedroom is close to the baby's room, don't bother investing in a baby monitor right away. 
Don't buy unless you have a BIG house!
4. Gumdrop pacifiers. These things are ridiculous. They weigh about a pound each so Owen was never able to keep it in his mouth. I'd put it in and it would just drop out. So don't buy a bunch of these thinking that they are the thing to have because you've always seen babies at the hospital with them. Our hospital actually didn't use this kind. My advice is to see what kind the hospital gives you and then go from there if your baby seems to even want to use one. We personally like the Avent brand kind. 
Cute, but heavy.
5.  Receiving blankets. They may be cute, but unless your baby weighs four pounds, there is no way you can use it to swaddle or wrap your baby in it. We used ours a few times to wrap around Owen's legs when he was in his carseat, but otherwise those flannel receiving blankets don't do much good. My advice is to have swaddling blankets (see above) and maybe one of those cute, thick, and fuzzy blankets for snuggling. 
Too small to do any good.
6. Pee-pee Teepees. If you are having a boy, these are so very cute. And tee-hee-inducing. But actually aren't really worth the effort. And unless your baby never moves, it won't stay on long enough to do any good. And at $12 a pop, I'm ashamed I ever put them on my baby registry. 
A party hat for your baby's private parts!
7. Newborn-sized clothes - We only had a couple newborn-sized clothes thankfully, but they are majorly too small. We got by just fine with size 3 months and size 0-3 months clothing. They were a little too big for newborn baby Owen, but we got a lot more mileage out of them than if we were to have bought a lot of newborn-sized clothes. So unless you have a preemie, I wouldn't bother buying a lot of newborn-sized stuff. On a side note, here is a little lesson on baby clothes sizes because they can be confusing. If a clothing item has a single size on it like 3 months or the number 3, it means it will fit the average-sized baby up until they are three months old. So don't wait until your baby is three months old to wear it because chances are he will have already outgrown it. If the garment has a range of sizes, like 3-6 months, then obviously it fits an average 3-6 month old.   
So cute...for about a week and a half.
8. Special baby food makers - I really enjoy making Owen's baby food at home and I really wanted one of these when I first started. I thought it was a necessity. But it turns out, I have everything that I need to make baby food in my kitchen already. Pots and pans, a microwave, and a blender. So unless you have $120 to burn, I wouldn't bother buying it. 
The KitchenAid mixer of baby food makers. Looks cool on the counter, but not a necessity.
     And a couple of other things that I never owned myself, but heard from friends were a waste are shopping cart covers and baby wipes warmers.
     On the other hand, there have been some baby products that I thought were pretty useless, but that have actually turned out to be great to have. 

1. A pacifier clip. Originally, I just thought this was sort-of a pointless purchase, but after picking up Owen's pacifier off of the disgusting grocery store/airport/gas station/bathroom/etc. floor, I am so grateful for it. The kid seems to immediately spit those suckers out onto the asphalt as soon as I get him out of the car seat. Also, in church nursery, it never fails that when they need it, the nursery workers cannot ever seem to find a pacifier in his diaper bag (top pouch generally has at least two, but with several pockets in his diaper bag I guess I can't blame them), so now I just clip it to him when I drop him off. 
2. Boogie Wipes. Yes, the concept seems as ridiculous as the name, but they really are great when Owen has a stuffy or runny nose. The saline helps to gently break up his dry boogers. Owen still hates to have his nose wiped, but these at least make it quicker.
3. Diaper Genie II Diaper Pail. Tim initially thought this was overkill and too expensive. But now after some of the diapers we've had to change, he's actually happy that we have it. It really keeps the smell down and if you don't twist the bag to contain each diaper separately in the plastic bag, you won't have to spend as much on refills. And it still keeps the smell in just fine. If you like, you can twist it only after really stinky diapers and not after plain No. 1 diapers. 
   So there are some of my recommendations as a mom. What are some of the baby products you couldn't live without? And what was a waste of money or space?


  1. We LOVED the Chicco car seat, Sleep Sheep and that Best Homemade cookbook (though I need to look at it more...)

    It's amazing how much stuff we buy for these babies!

  2. We loved our bebepod and we had the same bouncy seat and loved it as well. I agree with you on the sleep sheep. Waste of money. Brayden never feel asleep to that thing.