I know that I’ve only been a mama for about ten months, so that doesn’t really qualify me as being an expert in what is necessary for a baby. However, as I start thinking of preparing for this new little one, I’ve mentally gone over what I was glad I bought (or was given), what I wished I bought (which wasn’t really much) and what turned out to be unnecessary. I thought I’d compile it all here for anyone who cares to know…and then, if any more friends ask me what I consider essential baby stuff, I can point them to this post and the following one (Part One is about stuff for babies age 0 to 6 months, and Part Two is for ages 6 to 12 months).
As the title indicates, I’m very much a minimalist and have a rather crunchy bent. So if you’re looking for recommendations on baby swings and playmats (is that what those are called?) and other such paraphernalia, I have no experience with any of that stuff. I’m not fundamentally against any of that, it just isn’t my style.
Cloth diapers – When I was pregnant with Cedar, I spent a lot of my down time researching all the different kinds of cloth diapers…I was blown away by how many choices there are! After thinking about it a lot, and trying to find the balance between simplicity, price and ease of use, I decided to go with Snappied prefolds covered by Thirsties Duos covers. Prefolds are pretty basic as cloth diapers go and their uses outside of being diapers are endless (they make great nighttime nursing pads for the first couple weeks, or months, after your milk comes in). Though I was originally going to go with another diaper cover, I’m so glad we decided to use Duos! They are a two-sized system (meaning you only have to buy two sizes to last you from birth to toddlerhood) which makes them a lot more economical than a lot of other covers which you end up having to buy three or four sizes by the time your baby is out of diapers.
Though I’m sure there are amazing cloth diaper mamas who can pull it off, I find it rather hard to Snappi a prefold on a baby in the front seat of the car, so we use GroBaby (now GroVia) one-size shells and snap-in soakers when we’re out and about and those work great. I don’t think they’ll fit Cedar as long as the Size Two Duos will, but they work for now. We used to use FuzziBunz one-size pocket diapers for nighttime, but lately Cedar has been having issues with raw spots, so we switched our nighttime diaper to a stay-dry doubler in the prefold/Duo combination and it’s been working great!
(June 2011 note: My diapering system has changed somewhat…a more updated explanation is found here.)
Wrap carrier – If I had to choose just one baby item to have (outside of clothes and diapers), it would be a wrap baby carrier. Pretty much anything else I could make do without, but I found this indispensable with Cedar and I’m guessing it’ll be even more important with the second baby. The first few months of Cedar’s life, he hated not being held and since I couldn’t sit and hold him all day, I wore him all day. Wearing him was pretty much the only way I got anything done the first couple months of Cedar’s life. We started out with a Sleepy Wrap (now called the Boba Wrap), a stretchy wrap carrier, which worked great when he was little. However, after he was about four or five months old, he got really heavy to wear in a stretchy wrap and so big that it was hard to do much with him strapped to my front (back carries are not considered safe when done with a stretchy wrap). After a while, we bought a Wrapsody Bali Breeze Freya wrap, a gauze wrap. This worked great this past summer…it was much lighter than the Sleepy Wrap so therefore worked well with the intense heat of our central California summers, and since it was a gauze wrap and not stretchy, I could do back carries with it. The Bali Breeze is a thinner wrap and therefore can get kind of “diggy” after long periods of carrying a 20+ lb. little boy in it. As such, we recently got a Girasol Big Sur, a true woven wrap…and since it’s finally cooled down some, I’ve been able to try it a couple times and it works great! Its thickness makes it a lot more comfortable to wear for long periods of time and it’s very supportive.
Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets: I don’t know where I first heard of Aden + Anais blankets, but I’m so glad that I did! They sounded great, but I wasn’t sure if they were worth it since they’re kind of spendy for a baby blanket (at the time they were $44 for a package of four). However, I decided to make them my one baby splurge and they’ve been used every day since Cedar was born…definitely worth every penny! They’re amazing baby blankets…they’re originally intended for swaddling (and we used them for that all the time when Cedar was really little), but we use them for so much more. They’re quite large (four feet by four feet) so I love using them as nursing covers since they actually cover (and the material is very light and breathable). They’re also really absorbent so we used them to mop up spit-up all the time. And folded into fourths they make a great light blanket for when he’s napping. And now that he’s older, he loves to chew on them (especially the tags!) and doesn’t go to sleep without one. We’re definitely planning on buying a set for the new baby as Cedar is quite attached to his and with two little ones, it’ll be good to have a couple extra. I think you can order them through their web-site, but I ended up getting mine through Amazon since they were a tad bit cheaper…but looking at Amazon now, most of them are quite a bit cheaper and they have big selection of prints.
Bed-rail: After deciding that Cedar would sleep with us when he was little, I really wanted to get a bed rail. My midwife said that Cedar should sleep between Aaron and I, but I wanted to be the one that got to sleep next to Aaron and in order to have Cedar on one side and me in the middle, we needed something that would keep him on the bed. We ended up getting this bed rail…and we loved it! After looking at a bunch of other bed rails, I really liked that this one not only secured itself to the bed on the bottom of the mattress, but also on the top, so that way you don’t have to stuff towels and such in the crack between the bed rail and the mattress. And we ended up being able to take it with us when we went traveling…just take it off the bed and attach it to whatever bed you’re staying in. It’s sort of bulky to tote around, but not any more so than a playpen or something else for the baby to sleep in.
Convertible car seat: A car seat is an obvious baby thing to buy…and I’m not going to say much about ours, just that I’m so glad we got a convertible car seat. A convertible car seat is a seat that can be used from infancy until booster seat age which means that you no longer need an infant car seat carrier. We like this because 1) it’s cheaper and less stuff, and 2) both Aaron and I hate infant car seat carriers (and with a wrap, you don’t really need one!).
Backpack: One of Aaron’s mom’s sisters gave us her baby backpack (REI Piggyback) that she used with her son when he was little and we’ve found it really helpful for hiking and such, especially when it started to get warmer here…hiking on a warm day with a warm baby strapped to you in a wrap can be kind of sweltering! And Aaron is much more comfortable wearing Cedar on his back than his front since he’s used to wearing backpacks. I don’t know how much they cost, but if people want baby gift ideas, a couple different people could go in on it together.
Jogging stroller: As a babywearing mama, at first I didn’t really want to have a stroller of any kind. But then, my mother-in-law reminded me that a jogging stroller would probably come in handy as the baby got older and heavier and it got hotter here in central CA (i.e. you wouldn’t really want to strap a warm baby to you in the summer)…and she was right! Several women went it together and got us this jogging stroller and it has been great to have in several situations. As it warmed up, it was nice to put a quickly-growing-heavier Cedar in his stroller and take a walk. And also, since our “yard” right now is just an expanse of dirt and rock, being able to put him in the stroller and let him sit and watch us work in the garden was very nice. So it’s definitely not a necessity, but something that is very nice to have.
Well, that about sums it up for the stuff I think is “needed” for an infant. Like I heard someone once say, pretty much all a baby needs is summed up in MOM, and that’s so true! However, there are things that are very helpful to have around.