Baby Gear: A Top 10

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Since it's been almost HALF A YEAR (#whatintheworld) since this baby of ours has walked the earth (figuratively of course), I thought I'd weigh in on the ever-fun subject of Baby Gear (further solidifying sharpstickintheeye's classification as a mommy blog. sorry).

When registering late last spring, I emailed several friends with young tots for their opinions and was gratefully armed with recommendations galore. It was very generous and welcomed, as I'm not a big reviews-reader. (Well. that's not true. I like to read 'em but I never know which reviewer to believe?). Besides the basic baby items (we have / have loved the Chicco Keyfit carseat, Bob stroller, Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seat), here are some other items we've been depending on so far during this sweet baby's life (plus some non-essential sundries we've loved, sprinkled in).

Below you will find a list of what I'd send you if you were to email me with, "What in the heck am I supposed to get for this baby? Do you really need all this crap?" 

At the very least, if you're a non-mama/mama-to-be, consider this a fountain of suggestions for baby shower gifts, should you ever need one.

1. Quick-Zip Crib Sheets plus 3 top sheets. Originally recommended by my dearest Erin in her guest post last year, and she was not lying about their awesomeness. These are my number one item recommendation! It is SO easy to change the crib sheet! More than once has Juliette spit up in her bed (she can really psych a mama out, ok?), and each & every time, I am so relieved that a clean sheet is just a few zips away.

2.  Waterproof Changing Pads, these or these. My friend Courtney told me about these and I absolutely LOVE them. I keep one on top of her changing table pad at all times. In case of accidents, this little beauty catches the mess and doesn't mess up the changing cover. Either I was formerly awful at changing diapers, or Juliette was quick on the draw (probably both of these), but some days when she was itty bitty, we'd go through these things like water. I probably have 8-10 of them and it wasn't too many.

I also keep one underneath her crib sheet so if she spits up in her bed, it doesn't get the mattress pad under the sheet wet (I know, I'm probably a genius).

3. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets. Juliette was a summer baby, so these were perfect for keeping her brand-new self wrapped up but not too hot. But even in the colder weather, we've used them a ton. They're nice and large, stretchy and soft. There are so many pretty patterns too! (If I had extra cash money to dispose of, I'd buy these or these. So pretty!) We have 8 total, and it hasn't been too many.

And as we learned from our instructional DVD (forthcoming below), Juliette loves (yes, still) being swaddled...but she could escape from one of these by itself. So this blanket makes the perfect first layer of swaddle. Which brings me to...

4. SwaddleMe Blanket. This over the Aden + Anais is almost inescapable (but I still have to wrap that little escape artist pretty tightly). I've found this one easy to maneuver and washes well. (Also I actually like the organic one better than regular. It really is softer and more stretchy.)  The fleece has been great for winter.

5. What to Expect Baby Tracker iPhone App (free!). HOW MANY TIMES I have seen this screen, I do not know. Juliette's every move was tracked within this app during the first (ahem, 4) months of her life.

I was, admittedly, [more than] a bit obsessive about it...but there was some strange sort of comfort at the beginning, when things were so crazy, in knowing that the information was being recorded somewhere. Like it counted for something. Plus, that first week or two, you actually do need to track how many wet/dirty diapers they have, how much they're eating, sleeping, etc., which side they nursed from last. After the first few weeks, I just liked being able to look back at the patterns she was developing.

6. Any type of Kimono Onesie (for the very tiny bebe). We don't have this particular one, but we did have several of them, and I'd wished we had more. I guess we were skittish new parents or something...but when she was very brand-new, Jonathan & I both were glad when we didn't have to mess with putting anything over her head.

7. Sophie le Giraffe (that's my made-up name for her...everyone knows it's la Girafe...hehe). The 50-year-old French chew toy is a definite Juliette favorite (and Mommy & Daddy favorite too, for some reason). Here she is with her love:

{if you want to do a little more reading about Sophie, here's an article I found about her sort-of recent popularity.} Yes, it seems like a bit silly of a price for a chew toy. But Jules loves her a lotlotlot. I like seeing her little face too. During maternity leave, I was watching Three Men and a Baby from 1990, and Tom Selleck definitely buys Baby Mary a Sophie from a New York street vendor...watching the movie by myself, I definitely shrieked, "Sophie!"

8. I don't know if this really qualifies as "gear" per se, but we're crediting the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD for saving our sleeping lives. I'd read most of the book before Juliette was born, but when we (yes, both of us) FINALLY sat down to watch the DVD when she was 4.5 weeks old, something just clicked. Seeing the wacky Dr. Harvey demonstrate "the 5 S's" was a lot more effective than reading about it. Not only that, but it also afforded Jonathan some expertise and skills at a point when it seemed like this nursing mommy was baby's only soother.

Before watching the DVD, we thought Juliette didn't like to be swaddled, as she would fuss pretty good during the wrapping process. But when we really actually did it, just like Dr. Harvey told us to (after some google searches on my part such as "what if my baby is the only baby in the world who doesn't like to be swaddled"), it worked like magic. I'm not at all saying this would happen for every baby...but when we finally started swaddling Juliette, she started sleeping through the night (classified as 11 pm ish - 5-6 a.m. ish). Don't get me started on trying to break her from her swaddle habit...the jury is still out and I have no clue what we we will do. BUT, hospital stay + aftermath notwithstanding, I do have a baby who has generally slept 10-12 hours/night since she was very very young, and I'm going to go ahead and credit the swaddling (although there is probably a large amount of temperament and luck involved). Sorry if that got soapbox-y!

9.  Bright Starts Lots of Links. Luckily, everyone is smarter than me. I was a weirdo and didn't register for any toys (or any feeding apparatus beyond bottles...dummy, for sure). This didn't deter several sweet people from giving us packages of these links! We received several, and they've been wonderful!

This item is probably obvious to the wiser mamas out there...but I did not know. These are probably the first toy that Juliette could grasp and see. I was so excited when she finally started reaching for them and looking at them. Now of course, she's putting them in her mouth and pulling them apart and waving them around like a bird. They're great in the car seat, on the play mat, or when she's getting her diaper changed.

10. These bibs from Babies R Us. This is a pretty utilitarian addition to the list, but I loved these bibs especially when Jules was spanking new. They were the perfect size for a tiny baby, easy to put on, easy to wash, and there were lots of 'em. (Thanks, Meredith!)

  I hope you had some sort of hot drink and/or fruit snacks while you read that (as I did while writing). I'm glad to say there hasn't really been anything we registered for that I wish I'd chosen differently.

What would YOU add to this list? What have been your favorite few baby gear items? Or, for the non-mamas, what's your go-to shower gift that's an instant success every time (if you don't mind sharing)?


  1. Oooh I love lists like these. I devoured them when I was pregnant! My baby is 5 months old now, and I agree with so many things on this list.

    We loved Happiest Baby on the Block, too, and I was so sad that we had to deswaddle when he started trying to flip over in his crib. We made the mistake of trying to go cold turkey and that was a TERRIBLE idea for us! We had to transition one arm out, then two with just his torso swaddled, etc.

    I laughed at your 3 Men and a Baby comment because I did the EXACT same thing when I watched it during my maternity leave. I even paused the TV and snapped a pic with my phone to show my husband (for some reason he wasn't nearly as amazed at the coincidence as I was. Hmm.)

    This is starting to look like a novel rather than a comment so I will end here- thinking I need to write a list of my own though! I'll link it back when I finish!

    Congrats on Juliette, she is an absolute doll.

  2. I don't remember much from the first 6 months of Sylvie's life, but I do recall that we bought her a toy when she was about 8 months old that was totally awesome for her. It's expensive. I remember standing in front of it at Babies R Us for about 20 minutes, not sure if I wanted to spend the money (even with a coupon). I did, and I remember being so happy about the choice. It's got so many toys / features on one item, that it kept her occupied all the time for at least a year. We didn't have many toys - didn't need a ton when you have a couple good ones, I guess. We only recently put it away and she was still playing with it some. It grows with them, for sure. By the time we put it away, she was singing along to the songs and reading the alphabet off of it.

    Great purchase!

    Here's the other favorite toy she had at that age.

    A fantastic toy that got her cruising around.


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