Now That I’m Done Judging, Perhaps I’ll Actually Be Helpful: New Baby Series Pt 4

Alrighty, folks! Lazy post today. (I think I’m allowed. I just had a new baby, after all.) We are finally at the last of the series (and hopefully, you haven’t been bored to tears and found some of the information useful). Here are several sites and books that I found invaluable when I first had Cookie Monster. I referred to them less and less as I had subsequent children (mostly because I stopped caring and worrying about every little thing). Although, the Ferber book has been constantly referenced in the last 3.5+ years since as soon as you get something down, your kids change. (Those bastards!)

Anyhow, thank you for being patient with this series, and rest assured, folks with no kids (and with no intention of ever having them), this is the final section!

Disclaimers: As usual, all the opinions are mine. YMMV. I used Amazon Affiliate links.

Helpful Books:

1) Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems – Richard Ferber

2) The Happiest Baby on the Block – Harvey Karp

3) The Wonder Weeks – Hetty Van de Rijt

4) NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children – Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

5) What to Expect: First Year (and Toddler Years) – Sandee Hathaway

Helpful Sites:

1) Babysteals.com – I would sign up for it now because you often see deals ahead of time (eg: Ergo for 50% off). However, very dangerous because they have a lot of cute things!

2) Albeebaby.com – great site for deals on strollers, car seats, etc.

3) craigslist.org – Sounds stupid, but I would buy a LOT of stuff used. I wish I did. Especially for toys. Always search for the RICH areas/neighborhoods. They give things away practically for free.

4) nickisdiapers.com – great for cloth diaper deals and information.

5) amazon.com – Clearly a no-brainer – but also for the amazon Mom function! Like amazon prime but FREE!

6) http://parents.berkeley.edu/ – So much helpful information. A lot is Bay Area specific, but I’m sure the parenting advice can be universal.

7) kellymom.com – Super helpful re: breastfeeding and parenting.

Ok. Now your turn. What were some helpful books and sites that got you through the first years? Let me know in the comments.

The Next Best Thing to Sleep: New Baby Series Pt 2

Of course, if you can get extra sleep with a new baby, I’m sure it’s awesome!! However, I’m more thinking along the lines of baby products. With Cookie Monster, because he was my first baby, I got a ton of brand new stuff. In retrospect, I wish I had just gotten gift cards or cash and gone straight to craigslist. When I see what people are selling their super-expensive baby items (that I, too, own) for dirt cheap, a little part of my soul dies. I just think to myself, “I could’ve put all the money I would’ve saved into a savings account for Cookie Monster’s college fund.” (Hey, with 3+ kids, I’ll need all the help I can get. But that is a different post for another day.)

Anyhow, last Monday, I posted about What You Really Need for a New Baby. This week, it’s all about what is nice but not vital.

Disclaimers: Of course, the usual YMMV et al as well as my using copious Amazon Affiliate links. Do what you see fit.

Now, without further ado, what is NICE to have:

1) Baby swing – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. You only end up using this 3-4 months (until the baby is too big/heavy for it). They are really expensive new – and only about $40-75 used on Craigslist. Just wash the washable part and you’re golden. One caveat: don’t make the mistake I did. Get a swing that can go both back and forth as well as left to right. You never know what way your kid will like. Furthermore, your kid could hate it. Another reason to borrow/buy used.

2) Exersaucer – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. And I would get Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station instead of the regular kind because then your kid can practice walking and not go anywhere! I’ve seen these at Costco for $70 and used for $30-50. I am convinced this is the reason why Cookie Monster and Gamera both started walking so early. When they no longer need the walking part of the exersaucer, you can take the seat off. My kids STILL play with the table almost every day. (Mostly drive by playing, but it’s still used.)

3) Bouncer – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. You only end up using this about 6 months because once your kid can sit up, it’s dangerous! They have all sorts, from super cheap to super tricked out. But you really don’t get your money’s worth.

4) Activity gym/playmat – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. Although, if you do buy it, you do use it more about 9 months, but YMMV.

5) Sophie – Teething giraffe. Splurge and get this! Super cute – don’t get the weird alien kind. That one looks phallic and most babies I know prefer the Sophie. Keep in mind though, that if your car or the temperature is super cold, let the thing warm up before you put it in your kid’s mouth. Otherwise, someone, say Cookie Monster, might bite off a big chunk of the ear and choke (he didn’t). Also, it can get pretty gooey on the snout and ears (with sticky stuff because I think the rubber gets a little degraded and soft and warm and attracts lint).

6) Covered Baby Food Ice cube trays – Nice to have if you’re making your own food. Yes, you can just use a regular ice tray, but then those aren’t covered. I find that squicky.

7) Mother’s Milk Tea – tastes kinda bland (like chamomile) but SO HELPFUL in making milk. Whenever I stopped, my milk supply dropped.

8) Boppy or My Brest Friend – Both are good. The Boppy can be used not only for nursing though. It’s a good baby support to help the kiddo sit up before they know how. I preferred the My Brest Friend for Cookie Monster – it was firmer and easier to use at first. But I preferred the Boppy for Gamera because it was easier to get in and out of. (There is no belt buckle in the back.) If you end up getting two (one upstairs, one downstairs), I would get the second one used.

9) Aqueduck – It’s a faucet extender and everyone always wants to know where I got it. You can see my review here.

10) Swaddle-MesI totally sucked at swaddling. These were helpful so I didn’t have to figure out how to do it. However, honestly, I only ended up swaddling the babies for the first month or so. After that, I got lazy and they were just fine.

11) Food mat – Great for eating out and you don’t want your kid to eat off the table – or break plates. I’ve seen people use the kind where you tape a plastic mat onto the table, but I just find that wasteful. This one you can use again and again. Although, I must say that I used this more for Cookie Monster and didn’t bother at all with Gamera. Not sure whether it was because I had given up on eating out with two toddlers or if I just stopped caring about hygiene or other people’s plates.

Ok. That was my list of NICE to haves. What do you think? What are yours?

Yes, I Totally Am Judging You (and You): New Baby Series Pt 1

I freely confess: I totally judge what people put on their baby registries. Totally. I make snide texts to my mommy friends and we laugh and scoff and mock people who buy baby socks and items I personally find useless and stupid just to show off how brilliant I am with my “years” of collected wisdom. Of course, this is totally unfair. After all, how do you know what you will need if you’ve never needed it before? Even though I, in all my genius, went with a friend who had a kid and she did all my baby registry choosing for me (ie: she told me what I would need and what to get), I still had craptons of stuff I never used and never needed.

So, in honor of Baby3 coming in mid-August (still haven’t figured out what his alias will be, after all, it’s usually based on personality but all I know is that this kid kicks like nobody’s business), I thought I’d have a post on what new parents really need (after surviving two small children).

Disclaimer: Obviously, YMMV and this is my personal opinion. Plus, I think I used an Amazon Affiliate link or two. You’ve been duly disclaimed.

What You Need

1) Crib – preferably one that is convertible to a toddler bed as well (so you don’t have to buy one at a later time). Of course, you can just go straight to a twin bed instead. There is no real need to get one that’s super expensive. Walmart has them for $150 and are still really nice. (Although, I’m not a fan of Walmart but you get the idea.)

What I recommend you splurge on is an ORGANIC baby mattress. That will set you back a good $200+. Mattresses off-gas for their lifetime and since babies are sleeping 90% of their life for so long, I would go with the organic mattress. The beauty of this is that you can use it for multiple babies so the cost factor goes down.

2) Yoga ball – super helpful for calming a baby down and putting them to sleep. We used to have four. Now, after giving most away, we only have one. (Maybe we have another hidden somewhere in a closet.) But whatever. Very useful.

3) Onesies/Footie Sleepers – At least for the first 3 months or so – especially if your baby is a winter baby. Your life will be much easier if you just keep them in PJs. Much easier on EVERYBODY. Once they are a bit older, maybe 3-4 months and are more alert, then you will likely start changing them into more daytime and night time clothes. But otherwise, what’s the point?

4) Burp cloths – I would use very good quality cloth diapers. The cheapo thin ones won’t soak up anything at all.

5) Video Monitor – Ok ok ok, I suppose you don’t NEED it – but once you have it, you won’t want anything else. The best one (after trying several to Hapa Papa’s great annoyance due to high cost), is the Motorola MBP3. Otherwise, audio only monitors are perfectly fine and if your house is small enough, you might not need a monitor at all.

6) Diapers – for newborns and size 1s, they usually have diapers where there is a wetness indicator. GET THOSE. They are SUPER helpful. Once the umbilical cord falls off, you may want to consider cloth diapers. It sounds gross, but it is super easy, saves a LOT of money (initial outlay of about $3-400, but when you consider that our first month of Gamera, I just went with disposable diapers and I already spent over $100 in diapers, that is NOTHING). I have a whole post on cloth diapering if you are really interested in checking it out.

7) Breast pump – if you plan on breastfeeding. They are pretty expensive but can come in handy – especially if you go back to work. If you’re a SAHM, you might not need it as much, but I still pumped milk when my kids dropped a feeding and ended up donating gallons of milk. (Also, breastfeeding is so much cheaper than formula – Formula is $25+ a can. That’s at least a can a week!) Also, less stinky poop! But ultimately, your baby will be fed and healthy and fine regardless of formula or breastmilk.

8) Pack n play – I would use this instead of a bassinet the first few months. It’s cheaper and more portable and useful in the future. Don’t buy the expensive kind. Get the cheapest one (usually around $60). We initially bought three because I thought I would need one at my office and my mom’s house. They were barely used and cost us at least $150 each because we bought the fancy kind. We ended up giving one to my brother, and the fancy one does have a cover that came in handy, but ultimately, the cheapo one we used more. Also, Costco sells pack n plays for cheap.

9) Car Seat – Most likely, you will start off with an infant car seat and base. Any company will do (We used Graco).

Your baby will be in that for at least the first 6 months. After they get too big, you will want to switch to a regular car seat (which is safer). Infant car seats are super handy – especially if you get a travel system (which is a stroller that goes with the infant car seat). You just pick up the car seat, put it on the stroller and go. Just beware that travel system strollers are REALLY HEAVY. They are cheaper than the super nice strollers, but their resale value is lower. So you’ll likely pay $150-200 for the stroller, and then re-sell it for $40.

In retrospect, I would’ve gotten as light weight an infant car seat as possible. I think the lightest weight ones are Maxi Cosi brands. The Gracos and Chiccos clock in at about 25lbs. Add on a 15lb baby and that’s 40lbs you’re carrying on one arm. Not fun.

When the baby is bigger, switch to a convertible car seat. You want to have as high as possible weight limit for rear-facing (they now recommend up to 2 years rear facing). Cookie Monster was rear-facing until he got close to the 40lb weight limit (and not because he hit the height limit). This is because it is much safer to have them rear-facing in case of an accident. Although Cookie Monster’s legs were bent and perhaps he could’ve broken his legs in an accident, I would rather have broken legs than a broken neck! When they get too big for rear-facing, then it “converts” to forward-facing.

These suckers are EXPENSIVE. Wait until they go on sale (either at Amazon or albeebaby.com). I would NOT buy used because you never know if they’ve been in an accident. Once they’re in an accident, the integrity of the car seat is no longer there so don’t risk it.

Also, it is tempting to put the car seat on your Baby Registry. RESIST THE URGE. Mostly because it will be almost a year before you will likely use it and then, you have burned a year and now, you are one year closer to the expiration date. Yes, car seats expire. It really pisses me off. Let’s not get me started on that bullshit. But what can you do? Are your really going to risk your kid not being “safe” in a car seat just because you’re a cheap ass?

10) Strollers – you can go the expensive route or the cheaper route. If you go the cheaper route, just buy the stroller that goes with the infant car seat. Those are usually hefty (25lbs) but have great built in options like cup holders, great baskets, one button close, etc. They’re great but heavy.

If you have two or more kids, then I would fork over the cash for a SUPER nice one. The one we have now is the Baby Jogger City Mini Double Stroller. It can be extremely expensive so I would recommend buying on a great sale, used, or opt for an older version. Obviously, you don’t need that now, but it is 25lbs and awesome.

You can get the single version, too. These are $250 new, but they have great resale value on craigslist. You can probably re-sell the single stroller around $150. (Or you could buy it used.) If you’re not the jogging type, you don’t need to splurge for the joggers.

Another popular kind is the Phil and Ted. Also great re-sell value. Plus, when you have a second kid, you can just buy a kit to add on vs. buy a totally different stroller. But for two kids, the bottom kid gets kinda cramped.

The best site I’ve found for buying strollers, car seats, etc is: albeebaby.com. Sign up for their mailing list and you will get their sales. However, if the sale prices are comparable to amazon, I just go with amazon for the 2 day shipping. The more expensive strollers, you have to buy their accessories (eg: cup holders, bars, car seat holders). But I would dare say it’s worth it on the second kid. Plus, you don’t have to buy their brand of holders.

11) Ergo Baby carrier – Super helpful!! You will need the infant insert for when the baby can’t put their legs around your torso yet. I would also get the teething pads so they end up chewing something soft vs the harder canvas. I would buy used, perhaps. The main cons are that the carrier tends to run warm/hot, and the baby only faces you.

A lot of people use the Baby Bjorn – but that is bad for your back (everyone I know who uses it, their back hurts), and bad for the baby’s spine. But, it is nice because the baby can look out.

Now, again, these are what I think are necessary for a baby (and by necessary, I suppose I more mean supremely useful to have). I guess one doesn’t really need a crib – just a drawer or a laundry basket to put the baby in Benjamin Button style. But you get the idea.

Next week, I’ll post about What is Nice to Have for a Baby and the week after, I’ll post what I think is a total waste of money.

What do the more experienced parents think? Agree? Disagree? Did I forget something that you think is amazing? Tell me in the comments.