Monday, March 14, 2011

Top 10, I mean 5, err 3 baby products

I see tons of lists of the top 10 baby products. Sometimes they even list the top 25 baby products. There are even longer lists of the "must have" registry items. I kept saying I'd make a list of my recommendations. I know I use my Ergo daily but what else would I put on the list?

First I thought that maybe it varied by which # child this is.  Maybe that's part of it or maybe it varies by the age span of your children? Your culture? Your parenting style? Your economic class? I really think it is all of the above.  I thought and thought and found some items that I would have liked to have with 1 and used with 6.  Some of the items maybe would have been nice to have with 1 but a necessity with 6 but I am pretty selective with my cut.

I will confess that even though I can't think of even 10 "must haves", off the top of my head, I do own a lot of "junk". I have Exersaucers (yes plural), a Jumperoo, I also have a bouncy seat, full size and travel swing, none of this counts the stuff I recently got rid of because she outgrew it.  I have a few floor gyms and mats.  We have not 1 but 2 high chairs in our kitchen. We have the obligatory crib upstairs (and a cosleeper). We have to have a carseat (or 2, 3, 4 or more). My husband doesn't even want to talk about strollers or baby carriers.

The truth is I rarely use most of those things. They are hand me downs, yard sale, Craigslist, can't pass up a good deal items and I have the space to do that. When you bring a baby home from the hospital (assuming baby wasn't born at home), I feel like there are only 3 "needed" items. Those are diapers (and even if you are doing Elimination Communication you probably still want a couple of something but that's just my opinion), clothes (which may be debatable in some climates), and breasts. The next tier is probably the, it would be helpful to have, items. These items include blankets (which may be a necessity in some climates but my assumption is you can get away with warm clothes) and a carseat (because for much of the country it would be a long walk home). Then there are the items you will actually use if you have them. That list is followed by the luxuries that may collect dust more than use.

So, if you count the above items my list is now;

1-diapers, even if I haven't cloth diapered all my kids and am not really now, my pick would still be cloth. I say cloth because it isn't as hard as people think. Being a woman I have worn items that feel like diapers but are a LOT less bulky and I can, without hesitation, say that wearing whatever it is disposables are actually made of is not comfortable. I am sure there are huge lists, message boards, communities and reviews that explain them and say what is best. I am a pretty simple person. I like a soft Chinese Unbleached Prefold Diaper with a simple cover like the
Mother-Ease Airflow. A Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners
to attach the prefold is a nice bonus.

2-clothes, if you aren't planning on more kids I am sure Walmart works just fine. Yes, Gymboree is cute but what sucks me in is cute and comfy. That means my faves are even pricier, Hanna Andersson.  Their regular items are OK. They are cute but I am not sure they are worth the extra money. Though S6 is wearing items from E14 that look new and even baby L has stuff from E14 but both have some from E14 of other brands too (mainly Lands End and Gymboree still make it that far). Hanna Andersson's swedish knits are so soft and timeless, those are worth the cost. Other organic cotton knits, like Kate Quinn Organics are also soft and would make my cut but my kids have a soft spot for Hanna Andersson playday dresses.

3-breasts, I am pretty sure this is self explanatory though not really a product. This doesn't work for everyone, people who've had surgeries or adopt may not be able to breastfeed. For the majority of people this is an option.  Best of all there is no shopping involved, no prep work and it's free.  If we want to include an "actual" product I would say a good nursing bra.  I actually like Walmart for them.  The reason for this is I can get a bra that is not an underwire but also not a sports back, yet still supports.  A lot of the other brands are either sport backs or underwire, especially in bigger sizes, and I dislike both.  Plus some of their bras have a nice thick, supportive shoulder strap.  I am sure you could get a better bra by ordering but after ordering and trying 2 recommended brands having only seen the website picture, and not liking either, I decided to just stick with these.

4-blankets, to swaddle baby, cover baby, block the sun, baby to cuddle, baby to sit on, as a nursing cover, makeshift towel, you name it. A bigger blanket is easier to swaddle with and grows with baby.  My pick? Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin Swaddle Wrap. I wish they had them when my oldest was small. My 2nd favorite would be to hand make a lightweight, large blanket like that. I bought 90" of 90" wide unbleached muslin, cut in half both ways and you have 4 blankets ready to be dyed, decorated and their edges finished. These get softer with washing but are never as light and airy as the Aden + Anais. Aden + Anais also make soft, cloudlike, multilayer ones for winter babies. A nice thick minky or fleece blanket is nice to have too. In the summer though, that thick blanket ends up only being sat on.

5- carseat, assuming you are not walking from the hospital, this becomes your 1 absolutely must have. Buy a good carseat that fits best in your car, not because it's cute. Buying one with a tall back will let baby rearface longer. Don't be in a hurry to turn them, everyone would be safer rearfacing. I actually recommend staying away from most travel systems as it really limits your choices. Instead buy a carseat that is the right size for baby, fits your car best and you will use properly. Then, if you need a stroller buy one separately that has the features you need. My carseat pick is Britax because they are easy to fit and install in the cars I use and my babies find them comfy so scream less. I was blessed with 5 car screamers and they reduced that when they went in their rearfacing Britax convertibles, out of their (other brand) infant seats.

6-ring sling, this is where we start past the "needs" and onto what I would love to have for baby. Some people prefer wraps but I am a ring sling person at heart. You can get all the help you'll ever need and way more at My personal fave would be She makes ring slings very affordable in her basic line. Of course she also makes gorgeous silk ones for that special occasion. If you can sew, she even has instructions to make your own.

7-buckle carrier, another carrier? Isn't a ring sling enough? Once baby is older they are heavier so I want their weight on 2 shoulders.  I also feel way more secure using a buckle carrier in a back carry.  Why not just start with a buckle carrier? It is so much easier to nurse in a ring sling and since newborns can eat as much as every hour or more, I need that ease. Some people still prefer the wrap, others a tie on carrier like a Mei Tai. I am an Ergo Baby Carrier  girl myself.

8-My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow, this is so much better than the Boppy. The Boppy is nice to use like a pillow. Even my older kids will lounge with a Boppy. A Boppy makes a great prop or lounge for baby on the floor too. The Brestfriend is the way to go for nursing support. It is a lot stiffer so supports better. It is also thicker so holds baby up higher, this makes it easier to get baby in a good position. Lastly, it is supportive enough to lay baby on so you can use one of your hands to latch baby on with. Not breastfeeding? This is still a nice support for bottlefeeding (though not as needed) as well as for siblings holding new babies, it helps keep baby supported. We forget how tiny and floppy newborns really are, they need a lot of support.

9-Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder , I had to think about what else was really a lifesaver because we could have done without a swing, Exersaucer, bouncer, Bumbo, etc. Then the teething baby next to me reminded me of what's important. Once baby can hold onto things they will be chewing, gnawing, and teething. To avoid baby living on Tylenol you have to find an alternative. A baby starting out on teething, who isn't eating food yet, can chew on frozen breastmilk in a safety feeder. No breast pump (since it's not on my list) and you don't like hand expression? Try an ice cube instead (we like crushed ice because it's more moldable). With an older baby they can chew on cold (or even frozen) foods. We also use it so baby can have what we're eating for dinner without pureeing or choking.  Toss some fresh peas, beans, etc in there from the dinner table.  This can even be tossed in the diaper bag to make eating out with baby easy.

10-Summer Infant Mother's Touch Deluxe Baby Bather , this works for sponge baths, in the sink, or in the big tub with your older kids.  I debated including this since you can hold baby in the sink or even take a bath with baby.  Since babies are slippery when wet I decided this really was something that should make the cut.  It folds better than any tub, it dries fast, and it supports so much better than a tub.  I like baby to actually be able to be wet in the bath so they stay warm.  A lot of the slings for the baby tubs don't really submerge the baby much.  With a reclined and more inclined setting I could always use this up until baby could sit up in the tub.

So there it is, the top 10 baby items. Some great items that didn't make the cut for various reasons I think we should give runner up spots to.  First the Bugaboo Bee Plus Stroller, don't pass out when you see the price.  I actually don't have the Bee Plus, I have the one they made before it, so just the regular Bee, but they don't make that anymore.  It did not make the cut because I don't think a stroller is a must with a baby.  If you think it is this is absolutely the one to get, reversible seat, all kinds of accessories available.  I do think a stroller is a must when you have a baby and a toddler though.  Being able to wear the baby while holding my frappucino in one hand and pushing the Bee with the other, even with a toddler pushing 30 lbs in it and her pushing 40 lb brother riding on the board attached to it, is priceless. 

Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether is the best teether I have ever owned, my kids LOVE her and her new french mushroom friends.  Since the safety feeder was slightly more versatile I gave the teething spot to it, but Sophie can also be safely and neatly used when out and about. 

If you cannot swaddle well, like me, The Woombie Original Swaddle Blanket is a must.  It did not make the cut because the Aden + Anais are more versatile and once you get a bigger blanket swaddling is easier.  I still used the Woombie though because it was faster and more secure, plus it had some stretch so baby could still move comfortably.  I used other swaddlers for previous babies and they do work well to swaddle.  I hate the sound of velcro (especially when baby is asleep and you have to change a diaper) and others don't offer that movement that the Woombie does, while still keeping them secure, for that reason my choice is the Woombie. 

Yep, I double and triple checked the list.  There really isn't hooded towels on the list, a regular towel is better because it's bigger.  There really isn't a crib on the list, not a necessity (and heck with all the recalls who even wants one).  No swing, no exersaucer, no bouncer, no high chair, no shoes, just the "top 10" and those don't make my "top 10".  I have a few more carriers I would put on the list but it would just kept getting longer so I think I will have to make that post separately, another day.

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