Have you ever checked out a big box store's registry 'suggested' list for new parents? It is a little overwhelming. And I'm here to tell you, most of it isn't truly necessary. All of that extra stuff just costs money and takes up space! I don't know about your house, but space is at a premium here in our little home. I'm ok with that as I'm not big on taking care of junk that goes unused. As parents, we have enough to do without clutter absorbing our time. Here is my list of must-haves in no particular order of importance:
Top 10 Baby Items Every Parent Needs
Gerber Flat Cloth Diapers
Arms Reach Co-Sleeper
***Added per Beth's suggestion- A baby carrier! ie: Moby, Maya Wrap, Ergo, Becco, etc.
***Added per Beth's suggestion- A baby carrier! ie: Moby, Maya Wrap, Ergo, Becco, etc.
1. Car Seat. This is a no-brainer. You have to have a carseat. You won't be allowed to leave the hospital without one! With my son we used a Chicco KeyFit 30 from birth until 14 months. We loved this seat! He would have outgrown it in height before weight. If not for my daughter being ready for a bigger seat and wanting to move our son into her old one, he could have used the KeyFit until approximately 16 months. Make sure to look into a local car seat check-up to see that your seat is installed properly. Even the top-rated car seat won't function to the best of it's ability if it is installed incorrectly. If you really need to stretch your dollar, consider buying a convertible seat that goes from 5lb-65lbs and skip the bucket seat. Britax and Diono Radian are my top two choices for convertibles. We've used both the Marathon and Frontier(Britax) and loved them. I may have referred to my oldest's Marathon as her LazyBoy recliner...
2. Gerber Flatfold Birdseye Cloth Diapers. 'But I don't wanna do cloth diapers, lady!' Oh no, I don't recommend them for diaper use. I recommend Gerber Flatfold Birdseye Cloth Diapers for everything else! Bibs, burp rags, nose wipes, face wipes, emergency blanket, changing pad, etc. They are some of my favorite multi-purpose cloths. You won't be impressed when initially taking them out of the package; it's after a couple washes that you'll understand. They get softer and the weave tighter with each wash, perfect for baby's delicate skin. Many of my friends will attest they are one of my favorite baby shower gifts to give! My preference is the organic option. They might cost a little more but you'll be saving a lot of money using them versus paper towels, napkins, kleenex, etc.
3. Diaper Bag. The right diaper bag can make your life so much easier. Chances are you're going to leave the house and you're going to need to take baby supplies with you! You want a bag that can fit what you need- but not so big you try to carry a bazillion things you probably won't use. Before my son's birth we bought a Fleurville Re-Run Hana bag in basic black and packed that up for the hospital baby bag. I used it for my then infant and big girl for over 2 years. That thing is a tank. With the birth of our 3rd and now 2 in cloth, we moved up to an OiOi Ikat Hobo Diaper Bag. It just had it's maiden voyage a few days ago but we're loving it so far!
4. Swaddle Blankets. Swaddling is a centuries old method of helping calm and soothe baby. In 2002, there were two studies done that indicated the benefits of swaddling to both help reduce reflex motion(that wakes them up from sleep) and aid in prolonged REM sleep(the deepest sleep necessary for healthy development). There are fancy ones out there that have velcro tabs and such but I've found Aden + Anais blankets to be the best. They use muslin, a material that allows air circulation around the baby but still keeps them warm and comfortable. The Aden + Anais blankets are more expensive than your usual receiving blankets found in stores but many caregivers swear by their superiority. And I'm sure you will agree- a good night's sleep is priceless when it comes to being a parent! I'd suggest having 3 or 4 on hand to account for baby urps and blowouts.
5. Baby Carrier. Your baby is wants to be held but you need to finish grocery shopping- what do you do? Try wearing your baby in a baby carrier! Babywearing helps promote attachment between baby and the wearer, keeps every day activities like cleaning or taking care of siblings manageable, decreases flat head syndrome and makes breastfeeding on the go a breeze. We've tried several different kinds of carriers; pouch slings, ring slings, wraps, soft carriers, mei tais, etc. The two I recommend for parents starting out are a Moby or a Maya style wrap. They tend to be the easiest and most versatile to use- they are also lighter on your bank account than some and in my experience, the most breastfeeding friendly. Check craigslist or your local attachment parenting chapter for more ideas, tips, tricks and maybe a good price on a used carrier.
6. Floor Gym. I'm a huge fan of floor gyms and tummy time in general. We tend to avoid swings, bouncers and exersaucers as much as possible. Too much time in a swing, bouncer or exersaucer can actually delay development and create issues down the road in gait and posture. Sounds crazy? Check with your physical therapist, DO or chiropractor to get their opinion on these products. A floor gym allows baby needed tummy time to develop core and neck muscles in addition to encouraging them to explore their surroundings. Look for one with black and white in patterns on it. This will help to visually stimulate the littlest of babes- and you want to get them started early on a little tummy time! No flashy lights or songs are needed. I love the Kushies Baby Shangrila with it's reversible mat. One side is all black and white! (We just have a cheapy from Walmart but a girl can dream!)
7. Sound Machine. We have found our sound machines to be lifesavers. They seem to help our kids sleep for longer periods of time than they do without. We use a box fan sometimes but mostly use and love the Homedics SoundSpa Lullaby Sound Machine we were given by my dad and stepmom. My kids share a room so the fact that this machine also has a picture projector is great for my newly scared-of-the-dark big girl. I've even been known to nod off while sitting in the rocker with it running, too! I'm all for helping teach baby to sleep through noises- but when that isn't possible(think: house full of kids) a source of white noise is invaluable. Bonus: This is compact enough it packs up easy for travel. Unlike a box fan.
8. Aspirator/Humidifier. These two things will become your best friend when baby is stuffy or congested. The aspirator(or nose sucker) you will probably get from the hospital- they should have one in your baby's bassinet. The red/brown ones seem to be better than others! This plus a baby safe saline solution to help break up mucus(like Little Noses) is a must-have combo from newborn until they learn to blow their own noses. The humidifier is also an important tool. Humidity will help keep congestion loose and moving; it is when it backs up and gets 'stuck' that a cold can develop into something more serious. We love our frog Crane humidifier. They have tons of cute characters to choose from. You'll want to make sure to properly clean your humidifier on a daily and weekly basis so as to prevent bacteria from growing. (It's easy- check out their video on how to clean it located on the product page!)
9. Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. The Arms Reach Co-Sleeper is similar to a pack and play in looks and how they break down. It is are also similar to a bassinet as the baby is kept higher off of the floor. 'Then why not get a bassinet or packnplay, Stacy?' Because the Arms Reach is so much better! The idea of the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper is that baby is able to be kept right beside you- literally- one side of the crib folds down to match the height of your bed. This makes nighttime breastfeeding and changing so much easier. The Co-Sleeper basically allows for the benefits of co-sleeping but with the potential for more safety being that they are removed from your own bed. There are many styles to choose from. We loved the Mini in our tiny room with our son, then were given the full-size co-sleeper for our daughter. I do love that the full-size can be used much longer than the mini.
10. Board Books. It is so important to read to our children, even before they understand what we're saying. Reading aloud to our babies helps to increase the amount of vocabulary they hear, develops attention span and memory, promotes bonding and calms them. Every parent should have at least 1 board book in their diaper bag. I specify board book as they are baby and toddler friendly, standing up to much abuse and love. While Kindles are great, I still believe in reading being a tactile and more visually stimulating experience than what you can get with a Kindle. Kids love to turn pages! My 14 month old will immediately run to his bookshelf and grab a book when I'm sitting on the floor. We might not read every page, but we try and I let him direct some of the pace by turning pages. Some of our favorites are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr.; and But Not the Hippopotamus, by Sandra Boynton. You can find all of these books and more at one of my favorite online bookstores, Little One Books.
*11 Bonus: Baby Carrier. Beth(in comments) is right- this could be an entire post on it's own. But a baby carrier is another excellent product that I do hope every parent tries out. I've used pouches, ring slings, soft structure carriers and wraps with my kids. My most used so far has been my ring sling. It is really superb for a newborn and nursing anywhere you need. I just flip the tail over us and there's no need for an extra nursing cover. My husband likes a soft structure and the Moby. Ladies, there is nothing hotter than daddy carrying his baby in a wrap! There are many, many options out there and you can even make your own. Check craigslist or your local AP/Holistic groups for help. Your local cloth diaper shop may also have some available to try on or offer a class. And of course, there's always youtube!
Of course there are other incidentals you'll need like diapers(go cloth!) wipes, body products and clothing. But for the most part, kids don't need all of the stuff we're told to get. It should come as no surprise, seeing as you're on a blog titled Adventures in Green Living, that I'm going to recommend choosing organic whenever possible. It can cost more, yes. But keep in mind we don't need so much of everything. You aren't going to use 10 blankets. Or 2 dozen outfits and a dozen socks. And if you employ many green and natural options(cloth diapers, wipes, making your own baby food, breastfeeding, etc.), you'll end up saving money that will pay for the cost of the product and then some! I promise it's not hard, it's just a little different.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to email me!