Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Two Cents on Baby Gear

    I love reading lists of "Top 10 Things to Buy for Baby" or "5 Thing You Don't Really Need for Baby". I think for the most part what baby stuff you will end up needing or even using at all is highly dependent on your own preferences and your family situation. I always find it interesting to see what other people couldn't live without and which things just didn't do it for them. So for what it's worth, here are my baby gear opinions. Also, know that no matter what you decide you need, you can always borrow or buy used. Baby stuff is everywhere.
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Essentials

   These are the things I would bring if stranded on a desert island. You'll notice this is the shortest list. I am kind of minimalist sometimes, especially when it comes to Perrin stuff. Babies really don't *need* anything other than YOU, but the following items can make parenthood, especially the early days, a little bit easier.

1. Baby carrier. Do you like doing things, ever? Get one. You can nurse, hold, rock your baby while you make dinner or vacuum or build a chicken coop or do any other random tasks. Babywearing is great for fussy babies who need to be in arms and for colicy and reflux babies who are more comfortable upright. There are a thousand different kinds, so find one that works for you. Some of them can get kind of pricey, but since you will be cutting out all the unnecessary crap, you should have sufficient funds. Borrow different carriers from other mamas to find out what your style is, then try to look for a used one if you want to save some money. They are out there aplenty.
2. Pillow for nursing. Note I did not say a "nursing pillow". While there are some great pillows made specifically for nursing (i.e. Boppy and My Breastfriend), you don't have to get anything fancy. Just make sure you have a thick, firm pillow that makes you comfortable. They key to a comfortable nursing position is to bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby, which means unless you are wearing the baby or side-lying, you are going to either need a pillow or some wicked biceps.
3. Cloth diapers. I love our cloth diapers. We have saved so much money. I honestly don't even know how to use disposables. What size would I buy? How often do you change them? How many do you need? Like babywearing, there are a million different ways to cloth diaper. We kept things simple. I have 18 one size pocket diapers. The same diapers Perrin wears now and for the foreseeable future are the same ones he wore when he was a week old (we did use one pack of newborn disposables for the meconium phase). We have moved up to the larger inserts, but the diapers came with a set of large and small. The only extras I have bought were a set of large hemp inserts I use for nighttime diapers. I strip them once every six weeks and voila! Brand new.


Maybe for some folks

  These are things may not be usefully for everyone, but may be a life saver for others.

1. Baby monitor. We never had a baby monitor. Even if Perrin didn't always sleep in-arms, our house is tiny and there is no place where I could not hear him. However, if you do have a baby who sleeps alone for naps or goes to bed before you and your house is large, this might be a good idea.
2. Double electric pump. If you aren't planning on working or going to school while breastfeeding, you may not ever need to pump. Or you may find a manual pump or hand expression to be easier for you. I however LOVE my Hygeia Enjoye double electric. I have been able to donate over 3,000 ounces at this point and it has been great when I have had to leave Perrin for a few hours. That being said, if I wasn't donating I could probably have gotten by with just a manual pump.
3. Moses basket/ Bassinet. Since you will be skipping out on a crib (which we will discuss below), you may want to have a moses basket or bassinet for when the baby naps or goes to bed before you. Perrin always slept either worn or in arms, so we didn't end up using his much, but most babies will sleep by themselves at some point. When are they are too big, you can just put them to sleep in the family bed and either use a side rail, pillow wall, or pillow landing pad in case they wake up feeling adventurous. (*Note- young babies should not be in a bed with pillows or thick blankets due to the risk of suffocation.)
4. Baby bath. Once again, we never had a baby bath. For starters Perrin didn't get his first bath until he was a month old, and then usually only got one a week or so. When he did get a bath, Joey always bathed with him. It's a great way for the non-breastfeeding parent to bond with the baby and get some of that amazing skin to skin time. Once Perrin was old enough to support his head well, we would sometimes bathe him in the sink. And then once he could sit up, we would just sit him in the bottom of the shower with us. However, if you don't plan on bathing with the baby in the beginning, you will probably need some sort of baby bath. My recommendation is to once again buy one used or borrow one from a friend.


Don't bother


    These are things I really see no point in spending your money on. Save the money and put it towards a labor and post-partum doula. 

1. Bibs. Ok, I may be alone in this but I just don't see the point of bibs. We have a metric shit ton of bibs that we were given and we never ever use them. I don't understand when I was supposed to use them. We tried putting one on Perrin when we introduced solids and yeah, it kept that one part of his shirt clean but the rest of him was filthy so what difference does it make? He still got changed and bathed. I know some people use them for drooling and teething, but for whatever reason they just never were that useful for us. If you do need bibs, let me know and I will send you a bunch.
2. Crib (or nursery for that matter). Newborns should be cosleeping- that is room or bedsharing- with you. It is the safest place for them to sleep as it reduces their risk of SIDS. They need to be near their mothers because her heart rate, breathing, and sleep patterns will help their young brains regulate their own bodies. If you don't want to bed share or something precludes you from bedsharing safely, all you need to do is use a bassinet or cosleeper. Instead of buying a crib that they will grow out of, just get a twin or even double bed for them. By the time they are done cosleeping, they will do fine in a real bed. If you are worried, you can always just start with a mattress directly on the floor. One day when I get around to it we will set up Perrin's "room". I ordered him a day bed from Ikea, but I doubt he will be using it anytime soon.
3. Baby receptacles. I include in this bouncy seats, swings, Bumbos, Exersaucers, Jumperoos, walkers, and the like. Just wear your baby. He will be happier and get more developmentally important stimulation. Now, I know there are times when you need to put the baby down, but I suggest waiting it out and learning a bit more about your baby before dropping a ton of money. We found out that we needed somewhere safe to place Perrin while I showered in the mornings, so we bought a $30 bouncy seat (which I should have gotten used but didn't think about at the time). Other than that, I just wore him because that is what worked for us.
4. Infant bucket seat. Just go ahead and buy a convertible seat. Our Graco My Ride goes from 5 to 40 lbs. rear facing and up to 70 pounds forward facing. I know it can be tempting to carry baby around in the little bucket seat, but it's not great for the baby. Wear the baby and save yourself the expense of buying two separate carseats.
5. Changing table. You can change diapers on the floor, the couch, the bed, the top of a dresser, the back seat of the car, a patch of cushy grass. There is no reason to buy a changing table.
6. Baby food maker. You can even skip "baby food" altogether. Learn more about baby-led solids and just feed your baby (who is at least 6 months old) whatever you are eating. No disgusting rice cereal or jarred food. No need to buy some kind of expensive food processor or spend all that time preparing extra food.
7. Nursing cover. Ok, this one should probably go in the "Maybe for Some Folks" category, but I'm going to be selfish here. I know there are some moms who just prefer to use a nursing cover, and I know there are even some babies who get distracted a nurse better with one at certain times. But I am going to ask you, beg you, to not get a nursing cover. If some one gives you one, return it. Do it for me. Do it for people like me who had almost no exposure to breastfeeding and have no clue what they are doing and need the camaraderie and support. Do it for my child and your child so they grow up in a world where feeding your baby is so normal and commonplace that it is completely unremarkable. It's not a topic for magazine covers or talk shows. Twitter doesn't flip out every time a celebrity does "it". It's just- normal. Normalize breastfeeding, please?

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