Babies seems to 'need' a lot of stuff and it can be overwhelming to decide what is truly necessary versus a luxury. Most of our baby stuff is over four years old now, since we got a lot of it from baby showers when I was pregnant with Truman. Most of it I would choose again in a heartbeat and since it somehow remained in decent shape, it's seen three babies through their newborn days. And then for our third baby I did modernize our baby gear a bit with a few main purchases, but otherwise we've used a lot of our same baby gear from the Truman era in 2010!
I also wanted to mention a few must have items for the toddlers and bigger kids out there, since that is when your house truly becomes overrun by all things plastic/a toy tornado site. We've learned a few things along the way as Truman paved our path of train tracks and cars ;)
But first, I will link to a few of my older posts I've written about baby gear. Not sure it will all apply years later but they are kind of interesting to read.
Nursing gear (March 2010)
Baby gear: month one (April 2010)
Baby gear: year one (February 2011)-car seats, strollers, high chairs, activity gear, etc
Researching strollers (November 2009)-pretty much just rambling about the BOB we kind of always knew we wanted
Money and Babies (January 2010)-budget breakdown of what we spent while pregnant with Truman, compared to what 'Baby Bargains' said we should spend.
Now. Onto my list of all lists. The lifesavers, the items I would buy over and over again, the gear that was worth every dime. I tried to keep this list minimal but there are a lot of other good/obvious things to have for kids (a boppy pillow, pacifiers, bottles, car seats, etc)----these are just my personal heavy hitters that might not always be on the standard lists. Some seem really pricey but again, I think they are worth it and I'm really
1. The Ergo: specifically The Performance Collection style. $135
We also have a Bjorn and a Moby wrap, but the Ergo takes the cake for our favorite baby carrier. The 'performance' style is super light weight and easy to take on and off so Cecelia and Porter pretty much lived in this thing for the first few months of their lives. We never bought the newborn insert and instead I just tied the bottom off with a ribbon (see above) to make it narrow enough for their legs. Cecelia must have been about 3-4 months old when we bought it and over 12 pounds, so I figured the insert wasn't really necessary since it goes from 7-12 pounds. Truly an amazing purchase. I would frequently put Cecelia in the Ergo for EVERY outing and Truman would either be in the BOB or just walking (i.e. Target, Farmers Market, walks outside, State Fair, grocery shopping, etc). When Porter came along he also lived in it from about his second week of life on, and the big kids would be in the double BOB. I basically took the Ergo with me in the car at all times for Cecelia and also Porter because I was sure to use it with my babies that hated their car seats. And almost every evening if she got fussy, CC was in the Ergo and it helped tremendously. The only bummer is you cannot forward face the baby with an Ergo---but CC didn't mind having her head rest on my chest and didn't seem to care that she couldn't look around much. And yes, it's super comfortable. Never hurt my back once, which is something I can't say about the Bjorn and Moby. I used this very comfortably with Cecelia until she was fifteen months old.
The weight limits let you carry bigger kids on your back, too, but my kids haven't loved that option. Each big kid has been back there once and we snapped pictures both times!
Many a walk with the Ergo. And a lot of drooling over the straps. My fourteen month girl and my seven week old boy.
How I survive Target trips with three children by myself: The Ergo! (plus snacks). How did women survive mothering three little ones before baby carriers??
2. Arm's Reach Mini Co-sleeper: $180
We bought this within days of bringing Truman home from the hospital because we were crazy to think he would sleep in his crib from day one. The pack-n-play didn't work well in our bedroom, so Nate found good reviews on this co-sleeper and it's the best. We used it for at least part of the night until Truman was about 6-7 months old and again for Cecelia from day one until about the same age. Porter currently doesn't enjoy sleeping ANYWHERE but on top of me but we still have this baby set up for him in case he changes his mind. I like having my babies close to me at night especially in those early months, and this is the next best thing to sleeping with them in my own bed (which I will also do). I like the size of this co-sleeper because it's really pretty tiny and hooks right up to the bed for easy nursing access in the middle of the night. There are lots of pockets for diapers, wipes, and burp cloths and I made this our diaper changing station for the nights, too. You can also pull up the dropped side and have this set up away from a bed, more like a bassinet--I think we tried that for awhile in the duplex with Truman, placing it in the dining room for a napping area. I've propped the 'mattress' up with a pillow before, to help with baby congestion and to sleep them on an incline and I've put them inside a boppy, inside the co-sleeper, too. It's pretty versatile and has been a great purchase for us!
3. Aden and Anais classic swaddle blankets: 4 pack for $50
I didn't have these for Truman but bought a pack before CC was born, hearing they were all the rage. This was one purchase I knew I would absolutely make for Porter since I loved them so much and couldn't stand to put my little man in his big sister's pink blankets;) Especially since Cecelia and Porter were both born in the summer, these were PERFECT for swaddling them, to use as burp cloths, and just to cover them up when we were out and about. They are light weight and super soft and feel a bit like heaven. Kind of want to venture into their other products but for now the swaddle blankets are our favorites.
4. Swaddle Me blankets by Summer: $16
Gah, baby Truman! You are killing me! We have a lot of these velcro swaddle blankets and I love them. I get bummed out when the kids get too big for them and wish they made them in toddler sizes (sort of kidding but not really). The velcro makes it really easy to strap them down tight and we have a few different weights/sizes (i.e. cotton versus fleece). They have held up really well for all three kids and each one had a hard time getting their hands free for awhile in them!
5. Baby Letto 'Nara' Glider and Ottoman: $950
This is obviously a nursery item and really pricey but we are still in love with this splurge bought for Cecelia's room. It's so incredibly comfortable with the high back and taller arm rests (for us tall parents!), it's held up really well through CONSTANT use, and I could easily sleep in it all night if only it reclined. Probably a good thing it doesn't recline to get me out of this baby and into my own bed, but we love this chair. The gliding motion is really smooth and the gliding ottoman is also a big key to the comfort. I cannot tell you how many hours I've spent nursing and rocking my babies in this glider. So happy we took the plunge and got a comfortable and 'nice' nursery chair for our second child!
6. BOB Revolution SE: $450, plus handle bar console $25, and snack tray $30
Our only stroller, and we swear by it. And yes, we kept the single even when we upgraded to a double because we still use the single BOB all of the time with one of the kids.
(with infant car seat adapter)
(without the car seat--Nate and Truman are pumped to take a picture!)
Definitely recommend the Revolution because of the ability to un-lock the wheel. Neither Nate nor I can stand to have that wheel locked----not for running or walking. It's so much easier to push and turn with the wheel unlocked, so I can't imagine liking the other version with a fixed wheel. We have the infant car seat adapter for our single BOB, the snack tray, and the handle bar console. Kind of annoying that you have to buy all of this separately but again, we really do love this stroller. I've taken it everywhere--inside the mall, Target, the zoo, etc. It's easy to fold up and it's amazing to run with one kid in here. Well, as amazing as it gets to run while pushing a large weighted object in front of you.
1. Tot Clock by Amazon: $60
We bought this clock when Truman was about 18 months old, because he was pulling his classic stunt of waking at 4:30 or 5:00 am FOR.THE.DAY.EVERYDAY. It was horrible and we could not convince him to fall back to sleep. We knew he might be a bit young for this concept of yellow meaning 'awake' and blue meaning 'sleep'. But after a few months he got it and we still swear by this clock. Over time we have gradually changed his wake up time from 5:30 (which used to be 'good'), to 6:15, and now we have it set for 7:30am on weekends or days at home. So freaking amazing that Truman will literally wake up, see that his clock is still blue, and will roll over and go back to sleep until it's yellow. Sometimes I will hear him wake up about 30 minutes before it's set to change to yellow and he will just play by himself in his bed until it changes. Like clockwork, that kid;)
We also used this for naps for a long time, to encourage a nap that is at least 2 hours (light blue for nap time, and again switches to yellow to wake). It also used to be very important for bedtime, which we still technically have set for 7pm which is laughable now. But he used to know when the clock turned blue for the night he was going to bed! There is a green light that you can use for good behavior and a red light for time out---we don't use those very much, but will use the green for 5 minutes to give T iPod time before his nap. This clock has a really creepy 'bedtime story' option and possibly some music or something that we only hear if T accidentally plays with the controls. Totally gives me a heart attack to hear some random lady reading a bedtime story upstairs, through the monitor. Luckily that does't happen often!
Anyway, if you are struggling with a kid who wakes up WAY too early, or who won't go to bed at night, or who won't nap long enough-----this has been a life saver for us. Truly. I was going to buy one for CC but now that the two kids are going to share a room soon, there really isn't a point. I don't know if she will follow the clock rules as much as her big brother, anyway, but we will see. He sure does love the thing, so we can't complain.
2. Kids Table: Tot Tutors Table and Chair set from Toys R Us $100
We bought this for Truman's second birthday and have gotten SO much use out of this table and four chairs. Whenever we have friends over, the kids can use this as their dinner table. My kids use it for breakfast and lunch at home, plus snacks. We do crafts on this table and in general, let the kiddos use it however they'd like. Cecelia also likes to push the chairs around the house, so it's a good thing we added felt pads to the chairs and table legs to protect the hardwood floors.
Considering how much we use this table, it's holding up pretty well. I have to tighten the screws every now and then (and I was the one that assembled the whole thing alone, which makes me proud!) but it's a good little table and chair set.
3. V-tech 3 in 1 Learning Zebra Scooter: $40
I wasn't going to include any 'toys' in this post, but then I saw a few pictures of this zebra on Flickr and realized that we used this ALL of the time in the driveway when the weather was nice. It goes from a push toy, to a riding toy, to a little scooter and CC couldn't get enough of it. It was actually a gift for Truman's first birthday and he liked it a lot, too, but we always kept it inside back then. It's a much better outside toy but it does talk/play music so we have to put it in the garage at night. The songs aren't horribly annoying and there are a few little toys that fit on top (a cell phone, a head lamp, and a compass) that will make the animals on safari do different things. I just really like this toy for some reason, mostly because how cute is Cecelia on the scooter?
It was also the first push toy she used to learn to walk. Obviously a keeper. I backed over one of the other push toys with my car once, and am happy it wasn't this one.
MANAGING MULTIPLE CHILDREN:
1. Double BOB: the Revolution SE Dualie $660, plus snack tray $50, plus console for handlebars $30
(another version of a two year old plus baby)
Love our double BOB as much or more than the single. Yes, its huge and heavy when lifting it up into my trunk, but all double strollers are beasts. We still run with this stroller pretty often and it does push easily---again, because of the unlocked wheel (key!). It's expensive, but again---all double strollers seem to be pricey. It's a lot of stroller when you think about it.
We like the side by side style but I can see how a tandem would be nice, too. This one may be wide but the kids like sitting next to each other, and it does fit through doorways at the zoo (but not Starbucks, unfortunately).
Maybe it's just because we loved our single BOB, so we knew we'd just get the double someday---but we are big fans.
2. All Terrain Cargo Wagon by Radio Flyer: $150
A third birthday gift for Truman, and an awesome one at that. Love the big wheels, it turns really well, the sides can be removed for easy in/out with little kids that want to do it all by themselves. I can fit this in the back of my trunk with a little elbow grease so it's our favorite device for the zoo or other outdoor places like that. It seems to have pretty good shocks and is a smooth ride for the kiddos.
We can fit three kids in here someday, obviously, since our cooler of booze fit nicely one summer.
Upgrades for Porter, our third baby: (so modern, so fancy, he's so lucky!)
1. Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair $280
Guess who found this Boon highchair on Craigslist? For a whopping $65? Yep! Porter is going to be eating in style. I lusted after this baby when Cecelia first started to eat solids. I talked myself out of it because of the price but I should have taken the plunge with baby 2 so that we could have gotten lots of use out of it! Just so clean looking, and easy to wipe down, and not a monstrosity. I do like to use a high chair in general, instead of just moving right to a booster, because it's nice to have them up high and easily portable from kitchen to dining room to family room. I put CC in her highchair to snack while I'd make dinner a LOT back in the day, and we'd pull her highchair into the family room to eat breakfast with Truman in the mornings, too. A booster, or even the bumbo seat wouldn't be quite as convenient for us and also not possible with our dog roaming the house, preying on all people food within reach.
I'll let you know how great this chair is once Porter is eating solids.
2. 4Moms MamaRoo: $249.99 plus the Newborn Insert: $29.99
I just so happened to email 4Moms before I took the plunge and bought one of these beauts from Craigslist, and well...the blog finally paid off! Best gift(s) ever! The MamaRoo has seriously been a lifesaver for us with Porter. It was literally the only place he would sleep until he was four weeks old, and even after that we use it all of the time. But those first four weeks we literally carried the MamaRoo up to our room every night and back down stairs every morning because we used it so often. And it's really not too heavy even when lugging it around our house! Not only does it look really modern and cool, but it has five different motions, five different nature sound options, AND you can plug in any mp3 player to use your favorite baby soothing tunes through the speakers. Currently we have an iPod plugged in that blasts my new favorite white noise soundtrack called 'Baby Got Colic'. This should be another category of 'must have' items for us because it's the only white noise that soothes Porter. But I digress...
The MamaRoo seat reclines back for a newborn and as Porter grows we can tilt it so he is more upright. The reversible newborn insert is also a must for little bitty babies, to keep them from sliding all over the place. I really love this swing and am so thankful we were gifted one!
3. 4Moms Breeze Playard: $299.99
This is like a super modern, easy-to-use 'pack-n-play'. It's claim to fame is that it's incredibly simple to set up and take down unlike traditional PNPs and I agree---it really is easy! Right now we are using this as Porter's diaper changing station on the main level and it's been awesome to have in our sunroom.
4. 4Moms Infant Tub: $49.99
We always just used the standard inexpensive blue plastic tub for Truman and Cecelia, but when 4Moms gave me this I was super excited! It fits right inside the kitchen sink, has a digital thermometer to help gauge water temps, and allows clean water to flow in while the dirty stuff flows out. Super fancy and Porter loves it!
(My model didn't want to get undressed for these pictures)
5. Foscam video cameras: $65 each, with iPhone app $6
This is the app--I get a lot of questions about this one and these cameras in general.
Mounted in Porter's room. Big brother is watching, buddy!
To end this post, I will share Nate's thoughts on the matter. I asked him 'what would you say is the most important kids gear we have right now?' His response: "Both of the BOBs.....and our second fridge in the basement, which holds all of our beer."
Ah, yes. Alcohol. Another great item on the 'must have' list, dear husband. What else did I miss?