I was just saying, over the weekend, (because I am that obnoxious person who is happy to yammer on about my kid for an hour) that you spend a lot of money on baby stuff you didn’t realize you needed, after the baby comes — and you realize you lucked into buying some awesome things, as the baby gets older, but you also realize you had some misfires. Here are the things I absolutely love, and the things I don’t hate, but wish I could change a bit.
The Awesome Baby Products
1. Summer Infant SwaddleMes
I love these things. It didn’t take many broken swaddles before I was pulling them out and ditching the receiving blankets. I don’t actually know how to swaddle a baby — the nurses taught Matt but I was still loopy from surgery — so these were a godsend. If we have more babies I’m bringing one right to the hospital. We used them in the newborn size up to size large before she started rolling and we had to stop swaddling.
2. Manhattan Toys ‘Whoozit’
This was the first toy M ever interacted with — when she was still a newborn we had it velcroed to the side of her crib and she suddenly started swatting at the big red nose flap. Since then we’ve used it in her car seat, stuck it on her play gym, handed it to her in the swing, and just let her have at it on the floor. She loves it, and we haven’t even hit the stage where she understands that she can push and pull the arms out of the face. Every little shape does something — squeaks, rattles or crinkles — and there’s a big black and white bullseye on the back. Our friends’ one-year-old was over recently and had just as much fun with it, so it’ll definitely grow with her.
3. Ikea LEKA Gym
LOVE THIS THING. It’s ridiculously cheap (around $30) and aesthetically pleasing. M loved it from the beginning — she started spinning the wheels on the side early on and is still finding new ways to play with it five months later. Her one-year-old buddy used it to pull up on and push around, and had a fun time figuring out how to take the hanging bits off, so I think it’s another toy that will grow with her well. And, you can velcro or hook pretty much any toy to it, because the wooden parts come right off of the frame leaving slots behind.
4. Target Nursing Tanks
My sister bought me one Target tank and I grabbed another on clearance. I also spent a ton of money on Motherhood Maternity tanks. Guess which ones fit better? The cheapies from Target. They’re great for throwing on under a t-shirt or cardigan. If we lived near a real live Target or they had Canadian online shopping I’d probably have way more! That being said, they aren’t super supportive, and now that I know we’ll be breastfeeding a while longer, I’m likely going to invest in a Bravado bra.
5. Keekaroo Peanut Change Pad
My #1 ‘I’m so glad I spent the extra money on this’ purchase. Highly, highly recommended. This thing is twice the cost of your average change pad, but worth every penny. It’s made entirely out of foam and contains messes like you wouldn’t believe, plus cleanup is a matter of wiping it down. I’ve cleaned all manner of disgusting things off of it and it’s just as shiny and pretty as it was on Day One (although something managed to dye it a bit — I’m guessing a container of wipes). We also used it for sponge baths before M was allowed to be submerged.
There’s a SoftGear changer which is apparently quite similar but less expensive, but they don’t have it in Canada. The Boon Fresh looks pretty cool, too!
The ‘Meh’ Baby Products
1. Skip Hop Dash Diaper Bag
I read reviews on this before buying it when I was 30-something weeks pregnant, that basically said ‘it’s a decent bag but it’s kinda small, especially if you’re cloth diapering.’ And it is. It’s perfectly fine for quick trips, going to other people’s houses, and even day trips in the car, but when we headed south via airplane I ditched it in favour of a backpack. That’s not really my chief complaint, though — my main problem is that this damn bag slides down my shoulder no matter what I do. I haul the baby out of the car and there it is, flopping all over the place, refusing to stay put. In retrospect I would recommend something with a rubberized strap because this slippery fabric is the devil.
However, this bag rocks as a stroller bag. Skip Hop makes their bags with really easy to use stroller clips and it looks pretty sharp hanging on the back, plus it’s super light and doesn’t affect the balance of the stroller or get in the way. So I’m not mad that I bought it, but I may need another bag at some point, for non-stroller adventures.
2. Ikea POANG Chair
We’re using this in lieu of a glider/rocker in the nursery, and it works well enough. We can get a good rhythm going to bounce M, and it can be moved around the nursery easily if need be. But, as I told Matt, if we ever have another baby I’m getting the damn cushy glider. The arms on the POANG are low and hard and I have to fiddle with a throw pillow every night because it just isn’t a comfortable setup for nursing. Recovering from my C-section and trying to haul myself in and out of a super-low chair with super-low arms wasn’t fun, either. And we’ve had to tighten all the screws once already. For the low price, it does what it needs to do, but it’s very basic.
3. Ikea BLAMES Highchair
Again — for the price, it’s decent. I also appreciate that it isn’t made of fabric and isn’t covered in ducks or butterflies. I wish we had got the red one, in hindsight, because our living room/dining room is so bland, but whatever. My main problem is that the tray is horrendously difficult to snap off. I’ve read reviews indicating that older babies who are not using the tray are able to snap themselves out and run away, too, because it’s just a lap harness, but our friends’ one-year-old used it with the tray and was stuck in there pretty good. So — not awesome, not awful.
4. Graco SnugRide 30 Car Seat
We drive a tiny, tiny car (Ford Focus SEL hatchback) and we are not tiny people, so we had to narrow our car seat choices down to the smallest of the bunch. After a bunch of research I landed on this Graco or a Chicco KeyFit. We couldn’t find the KeyFit in person to check it out and the SnugRide was on sale so we pulled the trigger on it. It does what it needs to do but damn, it is an awkward hulking beast of a seat. We got the 30 versus the 35 and it’s still really friggin’ heavy. I would still buy it again, for the itty-bitty infant stage, especially because we had a November baby, but we’re hitting a point where it’s easier to just haul her right out of the seat and carry her rather than using the carrier seat. I suspect all infant seats are heavy and awkward, though.
The rest of her stuff I’m pretty neutral on, thus far — I don’t hate it, nor do I feel the need to gush over it. We have the cheapest Ikea crib with the most expensive mattress and it’s fine. Our Hemnes dresser is great as a change table although the buckle on the Keekaroo has scratched it up a bit. Our stroller is an Eddie Bauer TrailHiker and I like it.
For a play mat we use a folded up quilt I’ve had forever because foam mats creep Matt out. She has yet to find a toy she doesn’t like. We bought a Fisher Price whale tub and it does what it’s supposed to do. We use Aveeno and Burts Bees bath products. We used BioGaia probiotics for awhile but the dropper was annoying.
We don’t have a baby monitor. We use Pampers, not Huggies, when we use disposables, and we’re mostly happy with our AMPs and Baby Kangas and Flips for cloth. I wash her clothes in whatever free and clear detergent is on sale when I’m detergent shopping.
We use Playtex Ventaire bottles, the wide kind, with whatever nipples we have handy, and they work. Lansinoh lanolin is sticky, Medela lanolin is not, Shoosha rescue nipple cream is pretty good. I use an old hand-me-down Medela Pump In Style double electric pump and it’s holding steady. My cheap Lansinoh manual pump is also decent and they sent me a free flange so I’m happy with the brand. Pumpin’ Pals didn’t work for me. I bought a replacement pump kit on eBay and have yet to regret it.