Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Master List of What to Buy for Baby

Rob and I don't have any weddings to attend this year, but we have no fewer than 7 friends having babies, so it's the perfect time to share my thoughts on what is useful for the first year with bébé.

Babies come with a lot of stuff. Clothes, diapers, swaddles, oh my! Despite my best efforts, you can find baby stuff in nearly every room of our house. Walking down the aisles of Babies R Us, it can be hard to know what exactly you actually use when the time comes. And the cost for all these things can be crazy. Like 'wedding', just tack the word 'baby' onto something and the price triples. Below is a list of what we found useful when having a baby. You do not "need" everything on this list. We never had a baby registry. This is a culmination of things we borrowed from friends, were gifted, or bought for Seb and used at some point in the first year. Try to borrow as much as you can from friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, or strangers on the street. Many newborn baby items are used for 6-8 months at most.

Bassinet and stand - We were able to borrow these items, and Seb slept in the bassinet in our room until he got too big for it, which for him was at about 2 months. Otherwise, I would have used the bassinet from our stroller. Actually, I did use the stroller bassinet for many of his naps in our living room early on.
Crib - This is what our crib looks like. We also bought the toddler guard rail, but haven't switched over yet.
Mattress and mattress pad - In terms of mattresses I think the rule is the firmer, the better.
Crib sheets - 2 crib sheets is probably enough to have on hand.
Baby monitor - This is the new version of our video monitor. Ours doesn't have wifi or Internet viewing options, but I think that's probably not necessary. I do love having a video monitor though instead of one with just sound.
Swaddles - Aden + Anais muslin swaddles are the. best. swaddles. ever. S is nearly 2, and we still use these. Not for swaddling anymore, but they make great sheets on hot summer nights.
Sleepsacks - After S started busting out of his swaddles (around 3 months or so), we switched him to sleep sacks.  I liked both the Halo brand and the Wee Urban brand. As much as I love Aden + Anais swaddles, I found the zipper on their sleep sacks to be pretty crappy.
Baby blankets - You don't need to buy these. You'll be gifted more than you know what to do with. But they are useful so keep them around. 
Blackout blinds - We bought large pieces of dark fabric and hung them over the windows with binder clips, so it's not all Martha Stewart or anything, but it was cheaper than custom blackout blinds, and we won't need them forever.
Pacifier - This was our brand of pacifiers. S used them until he was about 8 months old to help him sleep.
White noise - So you can get a white noise machine, but we just used an app that we had installed on an old ipod. You can read more about the app here.
Pack and play - Here's our pack and play. S still sleeps in it when we're away (although I feel like he's getting kind of tall for it...). When he was a baby, it was just great to have another baby-safe zone set up in the house, so you don't always have to run to the crib when you want to put him down somewhere. When he past the newborn stage, I bought these balls and made a baby ball pit (which we referred to fondly as baby jail). This was very useful for confining mobile babies when I needed to do things like bring the groceries in from the car or pee. 
Pack and play sheets - Having one or two of these is great to go in your pack and play if you're using it for sleep. 

Breastfeeding or bottlefeeding
Pillow - I borrowed this one from a friend and tried it for a few days or so, but honestly, I preferred using just a regular, old pillow when breastfeeding.
Glider - We bought this one used and love it. We still use it for cuddle time before bed everyday. It came with an ottoman, but I never used it too much. 
Breast pads - My mom made me some cloth ones that I could just toss in the washing machine, but I also had a box of disposable ones that I used when I was going out and didn't want to see the outline of the breast pad through my shirt. lol
Burp cloths - My mom also made me some of these as well. You could also use just regular swaddles. 
Nursing cover - This was extremely useful when feeding away from home, or feeding when you have guests that, like it or not, aren't entirely comfortable with seeing your breasts as you nurse.
Breast pump and milk storage bags - I borrowed a Medela Swing pump from a friend, but I know that you can also rent them from pharmacies as well. And these storage bags were useful for stocking breastmilk in the freezer.
Bottle sterilizer - This was another item I was able to borrow. I'm sure my dishwasher did the same thing, but a sterilizer was much faster.
Bottles - I used the brand Born Free and had at least 4 small ones and 4 large ones. They usually come with level 1 nipples, so you'll eventually need to size up to level 2 and level 3 nipples as your baby grows. 
Bottle brush - Don't have much to say about this other than you don't really need a fancy one.
Nursing nightgown - You can find nursing pjs in many places, but I like the one I have. I still wear it because it's comfy! It looked similar to this.
Kobo/Kindle, snacks and water - essentials while nursing for hours on end.

Starting solids 
A few bibs, spoons, and bowls are really all you need to get started with solids. I liked bibs with a pocket, and ones that could be easily tossed in the wash. 
Baby Bullet  - I loved my Baby Bullet! I still remember the first time I used it to make zucchini puree. I was so so so proud of myself for making homemade baby food. The Baby Bullet makes making homemade baby food really simple and provides recipes to get you started. 
Ice cube tray - Perfect for freezing all of your homemade baby food. Each cube is about an ounce of food.
Sippy cups - We use these ones, and they seem to hold up pretty well. I've had to replace them once when Seb chewed the lids until bits started falling off, but he's past that phase now.
High chair - Seb has no fewer than 4 high chairs/booster seats. We have this one at home, this one at Rob's mom's house, one like this at my parents' house, and I keep this one around in case we have guests at our house who would use it or need an easy travel high chair when visiting others.

Getting Dressed
Gentle laundry detergent - We used detergent like Ivory Snow for about a year.
Dresser and toddler-sized hangers - For clothes storage.
You'll be gifted lots of cute baby clothes (Who can resist?! They can be so adorable!) so you probably don't need to buy much. My stores of choice for clothes that hold up against many washes are Old Navy and Carter's. We've received many Joe Fresh hand-me-downs as well. (note - I find Joe Fresh sizes run small so keep that in mind). Look through what you have and check for:
Onesies - I preferred onesies to t-shirts until S was walking. Otherwise, they exposed his belly and back too much for my liking.
Sleepers - Even if you have a boy, these bundle gowns were our favourite type of sleeper for a newborn. They made middle-of-the-night diaper changes so much easier. Old Navy has them in all sorts of colours.
Teething bibs
Sunhat - one with a chin strap is great so the hat stays on!
Booties - They're a bit pricy, but I really liked the Robeez shoes for S. They were pretty easy to get on his feet and, more importantly, they stayed on. 
Swimsuit and swim diaper - We got a Kushies cloth swim diaper, and it works great. 
Baby brush - S' hair is short and straight so we don't use a baby brush often, but I imagine mamas to little girls have a different story.

Diapers - I'll save the cloth/disposable debate for another day. We used Pampers Swaddlers for awhile and now use the Kirkland brand.
Wipes - We usually use the Pampers Sensitive brand. The Costco brand is pretty inexpensive, but Rob always found they got stuck in the package more often. 
Diaper Genie - If you're going to go with disposable diapers, a diaper genie is a must. The cheapest place to buy the refills is Costco.
Diaper Bag Dispenser & Bags - These are actually wicked cheap at the dollar store and extremely useful for changing diapers on the go. I also use them when we're traveling, and I want to tie up the diaper and wipes before tossing them into a garbage can.
Diaper bag - I used this Skip Hop one for a long time and liked it a lot. It attached easily to the stroller and fit everything I needed.  After 2 years, I'm getting tired of carrying around a bag that screams, "See me?! There are diapers in here!!" so lately I've been using a tote similar to this one from Stella and Dot.
Change Pad - We just popped this onto the baby's dresser and had ourselves an instant diaper changing station. We found the bottom of our change pad to be a little slippery, so I took the slip pad we weren't using from an old fouton, put it under the change pad and, voilà, no more sliding!
Change pad covers - I'd say have a couple of these on hand. Sometimes it was nice to even have 3 on a bad diaper day!
Baskets - When S was a newborn, we had a changing station/basket on each floor of our house. His bedroom is upstairs, so this way I had a little place to change him on the main floor and in our basement instead of running upstairs all the time. Toss in some diapers, wipes, a few plastic bags, and a portable changing pad. The portable changing pads were great for travel and are sometimes required by daycares.
Diaper cream - My preferred brand was Aveeno. It seemed to clear up any diaper rash pretty quickly.
Hand sanitizer - 'cause this diaper stuff ain't pretty my friends. 

I've already written a post about the most popular baby toys in our house. I'd also add these essentials: 
Teething rings - These teething rings were a-mazing! I really think S used them as a security object instead of a toy for the longest time. He'd play with them, sleep with them, eat with them. He went through a stage near the end of his first year where he was always holding onto one of these rings. He'd chew them like crazy, and they still look brand new a year later. I'd stick them in the freezer, and when they came out, they weren't sooooo cold that he wouldn't want to hold it. A+ baby item.
Mobile - We borrowed a mobile from a friend and it was a nice addition to the nursery. Sometimes I'd just let S watch the mobile while I sat beside him as a break, and we both were so happy.
Swing - One of my very favourite things for baby. The baby swing. There were some days that Rob would say (in a not-so-joking-voice) that if the swing ever broke, he would go out immediately and buy another one, night or day. It was that essential. Buy extra batteries and have them on hand. 
Bouncy chair - Another borrowed item that we loved. We never used the toy bar piece, but S liked the vibrations and the music from this chair. I also liked it because it was an easy item to move around the house and bring when traveling a bit to visit family and friends. 
Books - We have a small bookshelf in Seb's room, and here is a post I wrote about his favourite books as a baby.
Baby Journal - My mom gave me this baby journal, and I like it because I think it has just the right amount of information to fill in, along with places to put pictures and drawings so it's also like a little scrapbook. 
Foam mats - We have hardwood floors in our main living room, along with slate tiles by the fireplace so when S started becoming more mobile we bought these foam mats to protect his little knees.
Toy storage - This could probably be a post on its own at some point. In his room and in the living room, we have a couple of small bins. Downstairs we have this toy storage unit from Ikea.

And to keep everyone safe.... 

Baby gates - Our house is nearly 100 years old, and the staircases are very narrow. All of the standard baby gates were just an inch or so too wide. We finally found a gate that fit here. And because we have a cat, we installed these pet doors in each baby gate so the cat could still get around the house. 
Outlet covers - We have these on most of the outlets at toddler-level. Rob hates them though, so if it's a plug we use often, the cover never gets put back in. 
Cupboard locks- We have 2 of these in our house. They suck to open, but they do keep S out of the furnace room and the bathroom cupboard in the basement where he plays pretty openly. 

Baby bath - Check craigslist for this item. I was able to find one for $5, and the woman also gave me a bag full of baby clothes when I went to pick it up.
Spout cover- Once S graduated to the big bath and started slipping and sliding around in there, we picked up a spout cover for the faucet.
Toys and books - I like Boon bath toys the best. The Odd Ducks don't hold any water so no mold grows in them. We recently got the Fleet Stacking Boats, so they have been the newest addition to bathtime. We also have a few plastic bath books like this one.
Hooded towels - Pottery Barn has some pretty freaking cute hooded towels. I found S grew out of them quickly so we bought 2 of these ones from C-Red, and they have stood the test of time. You can find hooded towels anywhere, and they are a great baby item to have for bathtime.
Baby washcloths - You really can't have too many of these. Use them for anything and everything. I carried them with me everywhere and all of the time.
Baby wash and lotion - I discovered that one consequence of not registering for baby gifts is that many people will give you baby wash and baby lotion. Which is totally fine with me because it was one less thing I had to worry about running out of.
Baby toothbrush - At some point those teeth will eventually cut through, and you'll need a very tiny toothbrush for some very tiny teeth.

Stroller - On the advice of a friend we bought the Uppa Baby Vista stroller, and I'm so glad we did. It's light to carry and push, folds down flat(ish) and comes with both a bassinet and a toddler seat. The toddler seat can be moved to face outwards or inwards. It also comes with a sunshade, a rainshield, a bug net (that we've never used), and the basket under the stroller was pretty big and could fit many grocery items when running errands. If you're going to make one investment for your maternity leave, this should be it. Our cost per use of this thing is pennies. In addition to the stroller, I bought the cup holder and this door mat from Ikea. We have hardwood floors on the main floor of our house, so I keep this door mat beside our couch, and the stroller fits on it perfectly protecting the floor from dirt, snow, salt and other debris from the stroller tires.
Car seat - We used the Graco SnugRide car seat to start and used the Uppa Baby car seat adapter so I could transfer it easily to the stroller. Once he grew out of the bucket car seat, he moved up to this Britax.
Car mirror - For spying on baby when he or she is rear-facing.
Baby carriers - When S was newborn, I borrowed a Blue Celery wrap from a friend and really liked it. It felt so cozy and secure when he was tiny. Then I used a cheap front carrier which was just ok that I bought without really researching good carriers. Then my mom gifted me an Ergo, and I never looked back. It's is a really great carrier. You can wear it on your front or on your back and is super strong. It's another item you may be able to find on Craigslist. 

And stay tuned for a separate post about what to stock in Mommy's Medicine Cabinet.


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