May 12, 2014

Baby Items I Could & Couldn't Live Without


There are two distinct memories I’ll never forget when we were pregnant with our first baby.  Both happened on our first trip to Buy Buy Baby to register.  The idea of baby shopping was super exciting.  The reality, however was the overwhelming number of choices and product, where the difference between styles some times were separated by minutiae.  The weighing of pros and cons was so paralyzing.  It ended with me having a meltdown, crying in front of the baby carrier wall unit.  When we went, I was lucky enough to be armed with a list of must-have baby items given to me by my two best mommy friends {and yet I still cried}.  The list was long, and my husband, whose décor preference favors minimal minimalism inquired whether we could just get away with buying 2-3 items on the list, and be done.  This question sticks in memory because 23 months in, the answer would be an emphatic, "Uh, no."  I thought I’d share my list of products that I could and could not live without during Zoe’s babyhood while living in Manhattan {read: no car, apartment living}.   

Baby Items I Couldn't Live Without

1. Bouncy: Portable all around the apartment, Zoe slept most in her bouncy during her daytime naps for the first few months.  It fit in the bathroom easily, and was a lifesaver when I had to jump in the shower.

2. Two strollers: Our 17 lb Baby Jogger City Mini stroller is great for long walks between neighborhoods or quick errands around the neighborhood.  The 10.7 lb UPPAbaby G-Lite stroller is perfect to navigate the subway system and light enough to carry up and down stairs.  It sounds indulgent owning two but in a walking city, they each become a workhorse, and deliver on specific functions.

3. Video monitor: Listening for a baby’s cry just isn’t the same as also being able to see them.  I’ve learned so much about her development just by seeing what she does on her own.  I can check on her without the risk of waking her.  I can’t count the number of times a knee cracked and she woke up crying.  Even at two years old, it’s a huge help to watch her while she’s transitioning from crib to toddler bed without me being in her room physically. It was well worth the cost.

4. Pack 'n Play: We used this everyday until she was able to climb out of it.  It was so handy when I needed to cook in the kitchen or run into the bathroom.  She also slept in it when we took overnight trips.  It overlapped with the bouncy, and was another alternative to it when I need my hands free.  The playpen kept her contained and busy with toys as she outgrew the bouncy and served well past her first year. 

5. Diaper pail: I love having a separate receptacle for dirty diapers.  It keeps the odor contained and in one place.  It’s a great organizational tool to have.  It may feel redundant to have a special diaper trash pail, and there is a maintenance cost with the disposable bags but unless you’re taking out the garbage several times a day, it’s a plus in the hygiene column.

Baby Items I Didn't Need

1. Baby changing table: Furniture is expensive, especially when it’s for a function that will last for only 2-3 years.  They’re clunky, and I wasn’t convinced of a good way to repurpose it after it was no longer needed.  Instead, we bought a changing pad and laid it on the floor, on our bed or in her crib to change diapers.  By the way, at a certain point, babies stop making it easy for you to change their diaper.  They roll, flip around, stand, run, lay on their stomachs.  A changing table would have been useless.  

2. Wipe warmer: This is a lovely luxury to have.  Who wants a cold wipe touching their sweet baby’s butt?  However, I waited this one out, and let Zoe tell me how she felt.  I watched Zoe’s reaction to the temperature of wipes out of the package, and she never cried or looked uncomfortable so I’m glad I didn’t buy one. 

3. Nursing pillow: I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to live without this one.  I discovered using my sleeping pillow worked well or even the sofa cushions in a pitch got me through just fine.

4. Swing: What you discover as a new parent is just because you buy a $50+ swing doesn't mean your baby will enjoy the soothing motion.  In general, we ended up being owners of several bulky plastic baby entertainment centers in primary colors that our baby absolutely hated.  But how do you know what she'll take to or not?  You don't, so you buy it.  And when they love it, you rejoice.  It's a roll of the dice, which is why there's such a healthy market of hand-me-downs and second-hand purchasing.

I hope this helps any new mom or dad.  If I've helped eliminate even one hour of mind-numbing product review sleuthing at midnight, I'm super happy.


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I'd add pacifier to the couldn't live without. We had to pry it out of her hands when she turned 18 months but it gave her hours of comfort.

I agree with the changing table. I had a heck of a time getting rid of it.

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