A while ago, my sister asked me if I could give her some advice about baby gear for her shower registry. Since we don’t need many new things this time around, I hadn’t thought about baby stuff in a while. My chat with her reminded me of some of my absolute favourite baby-related items (as well as things that I definitely could have lived without.) I’m sure I’ll think of more items that I loved as I start to pull out all of our baby gear again, but here are the top items that come to mind immediately (in no particular order):
My Brest Friend: I knew I wanted to breastfeed Littleman and did everything I could to be prepared before he was born. A friend of mine gave me her nursing pillow, which I thought would suffice. Almost immediately, I knew it wouldn’t work for us. The shape and size just didn’t allow us to get into the right position. After some frantic web searching, I sent my parents out on a hunt for My Brest Friend when Littleman was about four days old. It turned out to be an excellent investment. I loved the sturdiness of it and the fact that it clipped around my waist to keep it in place. The nice, flat top kept him in the perfect position and – once we figured things out – I was able to nurse him hands-free. He was a big baby (9 lbs, 5 oz at birth) and I nursed him until he was 14 months, so we got a TON of use out of this pillow. I will definitely be using it again.
Miracle Blanket: I know that some people are pros at swaddling a newborn with a regular receiving blanket, but I’m not one of those people. And with a big, strong newborn, keeping him wrapped up nice and tight was tough. That is where the Miracle Blanket came in. It was nice and stretchy, with a pocket for his legs and a long side that wrapped around him a couple of times before getting tucked in nice and tight. I know some people prefer the kind of swaddle blankets that use Velcro, but we were quite happy with this one. By the time he was big enough to kick his way out of it, it was probably time to be done with swaddling anyway.
Sleep Sheep: We were given a Sleep Sheep sound machine as a shower gift and it ended up being something we used for a long time. In fact, we only recently stopped turning it on when Littleman goes to bed. It makes about four different sounds, although the only one we really used was the ocean waves. Since Littleman slept in our room for the first two months or so, we all got to enjoy going to sleep to the soothing sounds of the sea. Unfortunately, when we moved him to his nursery, D and I had to get used to sleeping with extreme quiet again!
Video Monitor: I wasn’t sure that we would need a video monitor, figuring that a sound one would be sufficient. But since it was an option, we figured we’d give it a try. I’m so glad we did! It definitely helped us avoid going into Littleman’s room unnecessarily. Sometimes babies make noises but it doesn’t always mean they are ready to get up. It was nice to be able to keep an eye on him that way. We ended up with the Philips Avent monitor and we really like it. The best feature (in my mind) is that the screen and audio are both only activated when there is a noise in the baby’s room. Otherwise, the screen remains dark and the unit is completely silent. It looks like it’s been updated since we first go ours so it may be even better now. We bought a different brand for the farm (based on some excellent reviews) but we’ve found that there is always some background noise/static with the new one. Also, the video screen isn’t sound-activated, so you have to reach over and manually push a button if you want to see (rather than just hear) what’s going on. I don’t love that extra step.
iPhone: OK, so I realize that the iPhone isn’t exactly considered baby gear, but it was something I couldn’t live without during my maternity leave. I actually only got it about a month before Littleman was born. I knew I would have to give my Blackberry back at work, so I needed to get myself a new cellphone. My parents ended up giving me the iPhone for Christmas that year and it was great. I used a contractions timer app during labour to keep track of what was going on. After the kiddo was born, I had an app that helped me track dirty/wet diapers, baths, sleep and breastfeeding (which was especially important because my sleep-deprived brain usually couldn’t remember which side I had last fed him from!) The iPhone also helped me stay in touch with people and keep my sanity during those long, middle of the night feeding sessions. I often sent emails, played games or read parenting blogs/websites while the rest of the world was sleeping.
I meant to only list my top five things but I keep remembering more things that I loved. I have to add one more – my stroller.
UppaBaby Vista: I was a bit stressed about buying a stroller because I wanted to make sure I got a decent one. I do a lot of walking and I wanted something that would be able to handle different types of weather and that would be easy to maneuver. While the Bugaboo seemed to be the trendy choice in our neighbourhood, a couple of people recommended the UppaBaby to me. I gave it a try and it seemed perfect for us. Turned out, I was right. The handlebar extends, which is great for tall people. The basket at the bottom huge, which is perfect for lugging home groceries or other shopping finds (it even holds a case of beer – don’t judge!) It maneuvers pretty well with one hand for those times you need to talk on the phone while pushing. It came with a bassinet that we rarely used (Littlman hated it) but we were able to purchase an attachment that allowed us to use our infant car seat with it, which was perfect for the first few months. Now that we’re expecting baby #2, I’ve purchased the platform that attaches to the stroller so Littleman can stand on it if he doesn’t feel like walking. He’s not really into being strapped into a stroller anymore, so I’m not going to bother buying the second seat, although it’s nice to know that’s an option.
Anyway, that list is in no way exhaustive but those are the things that are top of mind right now. I’ll also try to write about some of the things that weren’t terribly useful or that weren’t worth spending money on (in my opinion).