Any experienced moms have advice on baby gear? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

I am expecting my first in May and have just started shopping for the baby "stuff." My dh and I plan to keep it fairly simple, but we still feel overwhelmed by all of the choices! I would like to know, what baby products did you use that you couldn't live without, and what products do you wish that you hadn't wasted your money on? Also, specifics on name brands would be appreciated, especially for carseats and breastpumps.

Thanks and happy new year!
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#2 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 02:14 PM
 
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We had a carseat by Century- I liked it, it was nothing fancy, but was stable and did it's job... I liked the Baby Bjorn, baby carrier- ds hated the sling, but liked the carrier...also I love Weleda's baby care products- especially the baby care cream and diaper cream, also I love Burts Bees Apricot Baby Oil- for massages, and after bath moisturizing, I also like Burts Bees Buttermilk Bath... other than that... I like California Baby Shampoo.
Definately stock up on some Hylands Homeopathics- Colic tablets, Teething tablets, etc. I actually bought the Hylands "Kids Kit". It has about 6 different remedies, plus a little booklet. But it doesn't have the teething or colic tabs.
I think lavender oil is always good to have around. I put it in a spray bottle w/ water and mist the bedding- for extra calming qualities. I never used a breast pump, so I'm no help there.
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#3 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 03:17 PM
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#4 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 06:03 PM
 
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As an experienced mother of four, I can confidently tell you that very little gear is necessary.
What you DON'T need: crib, play pen, pacifiers, bottles, swing, high contrast "brain building" toys, classical music for babies tapes or any of the other stuff marketed to make your baby smarter, impractical cutsey clothes, baby shoes, receiving blankets.

What you do need: car seat--just buy what's cheapest and seems to be comfortable. The bells and whistles are unnecessary. Cotton onesies and comfortable one piece clothing (with attached feet are best--then you don't lose socks) that give easy diaper access. Some sort of diaper system. I recommend cloth diapers. I've used them for all of my children. If you want to use cloth, put out the word so that you'll get them as baby shower gifts. Good quality cloth dipes are pricey. (But you save tons of $$ in the long run.) You'll need a diaper pail as well--the larger the better. Either diaper covers or plastic pants and pins. ( I like the plastic pants and pins best.) If you want disposables, stock up when you see them on sale. Also, if you decide on disposables, I would caution you against getting one of those awful "diaper genies." They claim to suppress odors, but when you empty one of them, there is an explosion of smell. Yuk!

Optional: sling. I bought one second hand but I never got the hang of using it with a newborn. I used it more when my babies could sit up and then they'd ride on my hip while in the sling.
Some sort of little infant seat. I'd always put my babies in this while I took a shower.
A backpack is handy for older babies. I had two babies in 12 months, so I'd get around with one in the backpack and one in a stroller.
A big quilt is nice to put on the floor so your baby can have time to play on a clean surface.
I hope this helps. Baby stores are full of products that claim to be vital to you or your baby's well being, but they're usually not needed.
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#5 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 06:52 PM
 
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Daylily is right, you definitely don't need as much stuff as Babies R Us would like you to think. I didn't co-sleep, so I did use a bassinet and later a crib. And I found a bouncy seat to be useful. I held my daughter a lot of the time, but when I couldn't, it was a nice comfy place she could sit and nap or watch me cook (I would put her up on the table and talk to her while doing stuff), and she also sat in it in the bathroom while I showered and sang to her to keep her happy!

I wouldn't necessarily get the cheapest carseat, although as daylily mentions, sometimes the extra cost is for unnecessary features. I would get the safest one. Check out all the safety ratings through Consumer Reports. Also, there's a good book called Baby Bargains that rates items like carseats, strollers, highchairs, etc.

You'll need some kind of baby bathtub, too. They make ones with a hammock-like contraption to hold the baby securely. They didn't have these when I had dd and I hated the way she slipped around in the tub. I wound up taking her into the big tub with
me a lot of the time.

I completely agree about those "smarter baby" toys. What really helps a baby's brain develop is interaction with other people, especially her parents. Talking and singing to your baby is free, and infinitely more rewarding (for both of you!) than those overpriced battery powered toys that say hello in seventeen languages!

Playpens have their place, too, depending on your situation. I never used mine to contain dd for my own convenience, but when she was walking and I needed to shower, it was a safe place for her to stay for fifteen minutes with some toys. We also used it as a portable crib when traveling, although if you plan to co-sleep you don't need that. Lots of playpens have been recalled so check them out carefully. Don't assume because it's still for sale in a store that it is safe.

So, beware of all the ads for gadgets and gimmicks that are supposed to keep your baby entertained or intellectually stimulated. Get what you need to keep her safe and comfortable, and remember that the most important accessory is you!
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#6 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 07:11 PM
 
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I'm a mom of a 22 month old, and I agree with other posters, you don't need much. A sling and backpack are great (go to www.kangarookorner.com for ideas), a good carseat, easy clothes, and if you are interested, a blender for making babyfood. I also used a bouncy seat for when I showered and cooked. Singing to your baby is great, and I found it useful to buy cds of kid songs to refresh my memory and give me new songs. I can't think of anything else that was a must have for us.
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#7 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 07:16 PM
 
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You're getting lots of useful info here.

I also liked Weleda's Bath Products, especially the Calendula Baby Soap and the Diaper Rash Cream (don't know the exact name, but it has zinc oxide in it, not the daily care cream). Those hooded towels are good, I thought, especially when baby is a newborn - you can unwrap body parts as they need washing as most newborns hate being naked. A baby tub is unnecessary, but a cushion is very helpful. We got one from a catalog and we put that in the sink, and then the tub when baby was ready.

Hopefully you're planning to breastfeed, so I would specifically state that you don't need bottles, etc. (With my first, I received enough paraphenalia to completely formula feed, even though I intended to breastfeed!) Also, let people know where to shop and what to shop for, otherwise you're likely to get many mainstream gifts that you really don't need.

Things I found of very limited use:
baby bouncer
baby swing (...I used the sling, which DD preferred over these)
"exersaucer" (babies who are not AP, tho, love these things)
play pen (with first, this became a huge toy chest)
pack and play (DD always slept w/ us no matter where we were)

If you live in the city, I'm sure you have limited space, so I would let people know you only want certain items cluttering up the place! Try to use humor so as not to offend anyone.

I agree about keeping the clothes simple. It makes me cringe when I see newborns dressed like little people - they must be so uncomfortable stuffed into pants outfits w/ shoes, etc. I always dressed my newborns in what looked like pajamas (one piece footed suits) for at least the first 3-4 months. This also keeps washing simple - all baby's clothes get washed in warm with whatever detergent you want to use. Ah, that brings me to another point. I did not pay an extra $4.99 for baby's Dreft of Ivory Snow. In the beginning I bought whatever I bought for the rest of us without perfumes or dyes and that seemed to work fine.

Good luck!
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#8 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 07:37 PM
 
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Hi,

I agree with most of what has already been posted. I would like to add another vote for getting the Baby Bargains book. It really helped me alot to sort out what I really needed and how to pick stuff out. It is written by Denise and Alan Fields.

I would also skip the combo stroller infant car seat monster. I have it in my garage and hardly used the stroller, it was really big and hard to get in and out of the car. I got a Combi Stroller that has a infant car seat bar (that can switch out to a regular bar) and still use that stroller and my son is now just over 2 years old.
I got a Century Car infant car seat and it was good. I would suggest you hold the infant carseat in one hand and see how comfortable it is to hold. Our's was not easy on the wrist and I will replace for my next child. I do suggest you get the kind that has a base that stays in the car that the seat snaps into. It is great for not distrubing a sleeping baby.

You mentioned you wanted to know about pumps but did not mention if you would stay at home or return to work. I stayed at home and used the Avent ISIS. It was a really nice manual pump. The Medela Pump in Style is a good one for a work out of home mom as it is a double-pump and electric.

Good luck,

Doreen
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#9 of 39 Old 12-31-2001, 09:21 PM
 
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As a mother of six I say what you need most is a month's worth of food in your freezer, a partner who is willing to take on all the day to day "stuff", a big bed (with plenty of extra sheets) to "become" a family in, and the most luxurious bath oil in the world.(for the rare times you get in the tub alone)
If you don't have a washer/dryer tell everyone who would be at your baby shower to give you that.(at least the washer part/ I love clothes hung on the line)
We set a crib up for #6, and we use it to store things in! We do use the carseat. We used the baby bjorn while she was very young. At about 5 months we switched to a sling.
She got lovely dressy outfits which she outgrew before she ever wore. Buy comfortable cotton or wool clothing that is easy on/easy off.

The best piece of advice is to take all the time and support you need to start your breast feeding relationship. Find the best support system you can and realize while some Mom's have no trouble at all it is not abnormal to have a little trouble getting started. That does not mean you can't do it.

Best wishes to you.
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#10 of 39 Old 01-01-2002, 09:42 AM
 
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Peggy is so right about having a freezer full of food. When your baby is going through a growth spurt and wants to nurse almost continuously, the last thing you'll want to do is cook dinner. If you live far from friends and family who will stock your freezer for you, I suggest that during the last month or 6 weeks of your pregnancy, you make double batches of whatever you're cooking for dinner. Do this once or twice a week and you'll have as many as 12 meals to rely on after your baby is born. Making a double batch of something is no more work than making a single batch.
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#11 of 39 Old 01-01-2002, 12:33 PM
 
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Hey paula bear, no offense taken, but my AP baby loved her exersaucer (borrowed it from a friend - they're soooo overpriced!). I just never left her in it for hours at a time and I usually played with her when she was in it. It was also a good safe place for her to play and have a snack when I was cooking in the kitchen - more fun than a high chair, safer than the floor, under my feet when I was carrying hot stuff! I don't think any baby items can be considered non-AP; rather, it's all in the way you use them!

Those who mentioned simple baby clothes are so right...I also kept dd in one piece "pajamas" for the first few months. I don't understand the point of dressing a baby in an "outfit" when you're just in the house nursing her all day long! Maybe it's a bottle-feeding thing...they seems to get out more! More mainstream moms with their four month olds in mini-bell bottom leggings and leopard print tops would look at me like I needed a baby fashion makeover, but please...how ridiculous is that. And I did find lots of adorable one piece, cotton playsuits that had pretty prints on them for those occasions when she needed to look a little more "dressed."
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#12 of 39 Old 01-01-2002, 11:37 PM
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Only have a minute, but wanted to share a few thoughts. First, I strongly recommend getting a sling, even if it means foresaking the Baby Bjorn. I had both, but chiropractors seem to agree that the Bjorn puts undue strain on a little baby's spinal cord. Also, it keeps strangers hands off baby...

We have a co-sleeper, but rarely used it. It did, however, enable me to keep the baby between me and the edge of the bed without fear he'd fall on the floor.

Lastly, read The Vital Touch (by Heller?). Great book on value of physical touch, and how Western babies are so deprived of it.

Good Luck and enjoy,
Nan
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#13 of 39 Old 01-02-2002, 01:16 AM
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Baby Bargains book is great and their website updates frequently.

I agree with most of what others have mentioned, but here are some other thoughts:

We love our swing

Avent Isis manual breast pump -- love it

Lambskin for sleeping -- can take it anywhere for instant, recognizable bed

pentatonic scale xylophone -- our DD was colicky and it saved us

a SMALL diaper bag -- we like ours from Land's End

Bravado nursing bras

Sling - New Native baby Carrier (no buckles, buttons, folds small)

Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott -- a book to read after the birth...so warm and funny and HONEST, acknowledges the joy and the struggle of your new world!
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#14 of 39 Old 01-02-2002, 02:35 AM
 
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What a wonderful time for you!

Just don't get sucked in, you can always get something after the baby has arrived!

One thing that I found to not really need is a special baby bath tub. I really enjoyed taking a bath with my daughter. I just slightly bent my knees and sat her in my lap. I felt as if I was in better control of her wet little body.

In my eyes, must haves:

*Carseat, I have a Century, really like it. (Have it checked to make sure proper installation!)
*Sling, OTSBH
*Some sort of bouncy seat thing
*Blender, for making baby food (this can obviously wait)
*Water bottles for you!
*Answering machine, so you can indulge in your new precious gift and ignore the phone
*Journal to write down your thoughts
*blinders to any and all housework for awhile, I still haven't taken mine off. Why bother I am just gonna have another baby and have to put them back on!

Good luck and have fun! Take lots of pictures and write down everything, motherhood is the best!
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#15 of 39 Old 01-02-2002, 10:16 AM
 
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Here's my essentials.
1. the sling
2. the co-sleeper (arm's reach for us)
3. an oversized, overstuffed rocker recliner
4. some kind of a breastfeeding pillow that goes around your waist
5. car seat of course. For recalls and proper use information go to www.nhtsa.dot.gov
This is the gov't transportation website. I frequently peruse the recalls just to make sure that mine is not included. With my first, a Britax, there were actually 2 recalls that neither the manufacturer or retailer informed me of, even though I was registered with both.
The Century models have gone through a lot of recalls, which doesn't mean they are bad. Just keep track of them.

You can get all of the rest of the stuff as you go along. We used the exersaucer, bouncer, the swing, etc... at different stages, but did not need them to start. If you wait, you can test them out at a friend's house before you waste money on something your baby won't like.
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#16 of 39 Old 01-02-2002, 05:42 PM
 
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I posted earlier, but just remembered an indespensible item. It is called Tighter Tot and I believe you can find it at One Step Ahead or one of the other mail order catalogs with similar gadgedts. It is a tool to install the carseat very tightly and securely.
It used to take me 45 minutes to install my son's car seat to my satisfaction, and usually with help from another person. It takes about two minutes with the Tighter Tot, and is more secure than when when I put all the time into it (and sweat and colorful words).
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#17 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 12:03 AM
 
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Best wishes..

I agree with almost all the posts, here's a few other items we either borrowed or bought or begged for:

--I loved our moses basket, it travelled up/down the stairs and to a few states, better in the first six months than the porta-crib that never really got a lot of use

--a diaper service (I finally purchased diapers and wraps, but in the beginning this was great and cheap=$12 week!)

--as the baby gets older, a wrap that transforms any chair into a safe place to sit up (and allow you to eat)--check out the catalogues, there's a few models

--a rain shield for a McClaren stroller was a luxury, but always allowed walks on rainy and windy days (my almost 5 y.o. can still use it in a pinch!)

--check out a second hand store or kids consignment shop (that's where I brought all the frilly dresses we refused to dress our dd in, we simply lived in onesies or footed cotton pj's for the first year!

--my dd still bathes in an enamel tub from the great grandparents! when she was little a towel on the bottom provided the traction I needed. The kitchen sink always works well, too.

Good luck, beat wishes and enjoy!
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#18 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 02:53 AM
 
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Our Can't Live Without 'Em's:

1. sling (OTSBH)
2. baby backpack (easier to cook and clean in)
3. bouncy seat (for taking showers 0-6mo.)
4. exersaucer (for taking showers after 6 mo.)
5. La Leche League (this was not only helpful in bfing but where I learned how to use the sling)
6. bras that fit well (I went to a place that measures and fits women for bras, which saved my nursing relationship!)

Used Occasionally:
1. baby bathtub (usually take a bath or shower together)
2. swing

Never Used (yet):
1. bottles (ds refused!)
2. crib
3. baby's room (after all that decorating!)
4. playpen
5. tiny bibs
6. baby shoes

Happy Shopping!
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#19 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 11:16 AM
 
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Snugglemama, you must have had a very "dry" baby, because I used those tiny bibs all the time! Once dd was about 3 months, she became a complete drool machine! If she didn't have a bib to absorb it, her clothes were constantly wet and she would develop a rash on her chest. They also came in handy for wiping her chin every five minutes or so, because she would get a rash there, too.

Some things I forgot to mention the first time...

A carseat mirror, the kind that enables you to see baby's face as you drive (don't know how people live without this - it would have made me very nervous not to be able to see her!)

A really good breastfeeding pillow - I loved the My Brest Friend (silly name I know! : ) because it strapped on really securely so it moved when I moved. I only used it for a months or so but I had a really hard time positioning my newborn without it.

A wipes warmer - babies hate cold, wet wipes on their tushies! Even if you don't use commercial wipes, you can keep some warm water in an empty wipes container to use with your cotton balls or washcloths - just change the water a few times a day or you'll grow bacteria in there.
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#20 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 12:02 PM
 
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If you have a long-waisted baby, onesies Stink! They either cut the babe in half or pop open allatime. I know lots of moms swear by them & I had lots but could not use them on ours at all!

For new babies, I like "baby gowns," basically a super-long shirt with elastic bottom - much easier access for the frequent-change age. Also watch out for newbie clothes with snaps/seams/buttons on the back - a pet peeve - the poor kid has to lie on fasteners & extra bulk!

Pajamas are less useful once they start creeping/crawling - they need their toes free.
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#21 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 12:09 PM
 
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Just a side note emmalala: I had the same problem with "onsies" with one of mine. I found "snap extenders" these worked great! This baby is not long waisted but I bought some awesome organic "onsies" and because they're more expensive I'm using the snap extenders again so I can use the shirts longer.

peggy
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#22 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for all of your awesome advice!! Do any of you have favorite websites for AP products that are hard to find in local stores?

Thanks,
Renee
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#23 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 01:07 PM
 
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www.mothersnature.com/market/
This site lists a lot of places you can by AP products on line.

peggy
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#24 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 01:28 PM
 
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What a fun thread this has been to read! I wanted to mention something that I learned regarding the carseat mirrors. I think you're talking about the kind that suction to your back window so you can see a rear facing child via by pointing your rear view mirror toward it. Did that make any sense Anyway, I had one and loved it...until I went and had our carseat professionally inspected at the fire dept. The inspector (they're all certified) told me not to use it because they are not all that adhesive and not permanently mounted. So, if you're in an accident, it's a projectile in your car. And since it's positioned to be facing your child, it's a projectile right into your child's head. Once he said that, I realized how they really aren't that secure suction-cupped to the window and immediately took mine down. I missed it sooooo much, I also loved being able to see my baby!

Just thought I'd pass this along.
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#25 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 01:42 PM
 
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That's great to know that naturalJoy! Actually, I couldn't use a suction cup one because I drive an SUV (I know, I know : ), so i used the kind that attaches to the backseat headrest with velrco. It came with a large safety pin which i assumed was to secure it so that it would not become a projectile in a crash, but I think these types have unbreakable mirrors, as opposed to the suction cup ones, although I may be wrong about that.
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#26 of 39 Old 01-03-2002, 03:11 PM
 
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I got tons of advice about what I needed and what I didn't need. What I've found is that I pretty much knew what kind of mama I wanted to be, and I just sought out things to help me achieve that (and didn't get all the extraneous crap).

Good luck!

Kristine
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#27 of 39 Old 01-04-2002, 03:36 AM
 
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I loved the infant gowns. I didnt use the onsies until ds was about a month old and his umbilical stump fell off. I used cotton clothes that were like sweat material. I always dressed him the way I would dress if I was lounging around the house and wanted to be comfortable. I really like fleece outfits for winter. In the summer it gets very hot in kansas and he wore diapers and cotton shorts and thats it.
I bathed him in a giant bowl with a towel in the bottom until he was about 3 months and then we switched to the sink. I found a sink mat in the dish department of walmart that is a squishy foam material and has six little suction cups on the bottom. Ds still uses it at 2years. He is almost too big for the sink now though. I still use a bath hat. Its like a sponge sun visor, it keeps water from running into baby's eyes and very inexpensive.
I used the swing when he slept during the day and I wanted to take a shower. If the oppertunity to shower during one of his naps diddnt arise... I waited until dh could hold him. I didnt work for the first year so I didnt use the breast pump much but I do have a gerber electric pump and I was able to get about 4 ounces after ds ate from one side but I made enough milk for 4 kids!!! I had a sling but never got the hang of it. I bought a jogging stroller and used that like crazy. We would take walks to the library (about a mile and a half away) 3 or 4 times a week and it is so much smoother than a stroller with the hard little wheels. The jogger has big rubber tires that absorb a lot of the shock.
Ds loves his outside swing. We have it hanging from a giant walnut tree in the back yard and we spend a lot of time swinging in the sping and summer.
I did buy a boppy nursing pillow for this baby. My arms got tired holding my first ds while nursing and I had a c-section so having him lay on my incision was painful at first. I am planning a natural birth this time so I wont have to worry about the incision but I want to relax fully while nursing instead of getting tired.
I found that less is best. The less stuff I have to look at cluttered around the house is best especially if it never got used!
good luck
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#28 of 39 Old 01-05-2002, 02:14 AM
 
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essentials/favorites:

*car seat that has the longest measurement between back of seat and buckle, which should be soft and flexible; belt covers or something for baby to lean head on when s/he goes to sleep

*several warm, soft receiving blankets (I bought a few nice cotton ones, made a few from polar fleece, which you don't have to hem)

*comfortable diaper covers, I like polar babies a lot: http://www.diapercovers.com/cgi-bin/diaper/diapercovers I also like their fleece liners, though they aren't essential

*bibs, hats, booties! drool and drafty house make these necessary

*union suits (pants are binding, shirts ride up, onesies are worthless); these are my favorites in the whole world, the legs don't ride up, and the fabric is nice and stretchy: http://instylekids.com/babownlonuni.html

*thermometer -- I just got a digital one from One Step Ahead that only takes a few seconds, really nice

*diaper rash cream: my favorite is Country Comfort, it works wonderfully, no zinc oxide (but be forewarned, it smells a little odd): http://www.weebees.com/web_page/country_comfort.html

*sling -- neither the OTSBH or maya wrap worked for me, finally I just took a square piece of stretchy cloth, wrapped it around me and tied a knot with opposing corners -- it works pretty well
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#29 of 39 Old 01-05-2002, 04:16 PM
 
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What about a rocking chair? Necessary or extraneous? We're thinknig of getting a 2nd one for downstairs....
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#30 of 39 Old 01-05-2002, 04:39 PM
 
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I have a glider that my parents bought that I wouldn't have wanted to be w/out. I loved rocking and nursing, rocking and nursing. I kept it in the family room, central to the house, but would have loved to have had another in the nursery.

Mine wasn't tall enough in the back for me to rest my head and didn't have padded armrests. These are things that I would definitely get if I had it to do over. Sam bumped his head so many times on those hard armrests and I wanted to cry when it happened. Next baby, I'll make something that'll cover them.

If I were to buy a 2nd rocker, I'd get a nicely padded rocking recliner. My parents have one and I loved feeding Sam in it while visiting. Sometimes, we'd both just doze off in it. Next baby, I think I'll get one for downstairs!

As you can tell, I like to spend lots of time just rocking and nursing, rocking and nursing. Whenever I get pg again, I'll have a toddler running around, so I probably won't have so much luxury time...
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