Allison’s Exhaustive Guide To All Things Baby

If you are not pregnant, don’t plan on becoming pregnant any time soon, or are a dude: Please disregard this post.

A friend of mine who is pregnant with her first child recently asked me for my recommendations on all things baby. And, to be honest, I’ve just been WAITING for someone to ask me about this. Having just been through the new-baby thing twice in the last two years, I have developed some pretty strong opinions on baby products. Since I have a lot of friends who have recently entered (or are about to enter) parenthood, I thought I’d write out a comprehensive list for y’all on what you REALLY need for a new baby. A little disclaimer: This list is written according to my preferences, so you may find that some of these things work well for you and others don’t. Now, like I said, I have a lot of opinions and I’m not short-winded, so bear with me. I’ve started each review with two categories:

Desirability:
Must have- This is a product you can not live without. Buy it now.
High priority- Get it if you can!
Nice to have- A good product, but not necessary for your baby’s overall health or well-being

Acquisition:
New- This is a good investment, so buy it new at the store.
Used- Find it on Craigslist or at a garage sale to save a few bucks. I also love the seasonal kids’ consignment sales (My favorites are Jack and Jill and Just Between Friends)
Borrow- Just beg, borrow, or steal from your friend/sister/neighbor/co-worker who just had a baby and is no longer using it
Repurpose- Re-use something you already own

Anything marked with a double asterisk (**) is one of my personal favorite products

Also, if it’s not on my list then I don’t feel it’s something totally necessary to have. You could go to Babies-R-Us and go bananas buying every baby product under the sun. Really, though, there are a lot of useless products out there that are just a waste of space, time, and money.

For our purposes, this “guide” is only for baby’s first year. After that, you’re on your own.
With no further ado, here are my favorite must-have baby items:

Transportation

Carseat (Must Have, New)
So, here’s the thing with carseats. You have to have a carseat or they won’t let you leave the hospital with your new baby. There are about 5,000 models to choose from and a price range of anywhere from about $50-$400. In the end, though, if you buy your car seat in the USA, they all have to pass the same safety standards and, really, they all work about the same. The main thing you want to keep in mind is the type of carseat you want (I recommend an infant seat for at least the first 9 months) and the brand (find one that works with the stroller system you decide to buy: see below).  Always buy your carseat new because you never know what could have  happened to a used carseat.  If the carseat was ever dropped or involved in a car accident, it can have hairline fractures that you can’t see but that compromise the safety of the seat.  Bottom line: Don’t spend a fortune on the car seat, just buy a new one that you like. (For the record, we have a Graco Snugride and it suits us quite well).
P.S. You can also buy additional bases for your car seat. We have a second base for Jon’s car, but I really don’t think it’s that necessary because we just don’t transport the kids in his car that often. However, if you go between vehicles often (especially if you share drop-off/ pick-up duties for child care) you’ll definitely want a second car seat base. This is something you could easily buy used or borrow rather than buying additional bases at full-retail.

Stroller (Must Have, New or Used)
Alright, I have a confession to make. I don’t have a stroller. I have 5 strollers. And I love them all. Do I NEED 5 strollers? No. But does a woman NEED more than 1 pair of shoes? You see, they all serve different purposes. I have the cheap umbrella stroller that I got for 8.99 at Target (because it fits in the tiny trunk of Jon’s car). I have a snap-and-go stroller that I can use to transport Jacob while he’s sleeping in his car seat. I had a **BoB single- jogging stroller and I loved it so much that now I have a BoB double-jogging stroller (which I have nicknamed “The Beast”. It’s massive). And I have the swiss-army-knife of all strollers, the Phil and Ted’s with Doubles kit.  Another versatile stroller that comes highly recommended to me is the Baby Jogger City Select. So, what is my recommendation? Get what you need (or, in my case, just buy them all). I jog and take the boys with me to a stroller exercise class several days a week, so the jogging stroller is essential. I have put hundreds of miles on that thing. But it’s HUGE and takes up the whole back section of my car and doesn’t fit between aisles at the store. So, I have a skinny double decker stroller for taking on trips or to the mall. And I have the wee little strollers for when I just have Jacob or when we’re going somewhere in Jon’s wee little car. The important thing is that you need a stroller that works for you and what you’ll be using it for. For the love, don’t drop $400 on a jogging stroller if you don’t plan on ever taking it jogging! Also, just about every stroller on the market today has some way you can use it with an infant car seat (which you’ll want to be able to do–nobody wants to wake a baby who just fell asleep in the car,  just to transport them to a stroller, just to have them fall asleep again in the stroller, and then have to wake them back up again to put back in the car at the end of your walk). That being said, find a stroller that works with the car seat you like…or find a car seat that works with the stroller you like 🙂

Infant carrier (High Priority, New)
I have an **Ergo and I love, love, love it! I use it just about every day to hold Jacob while I’m doing some other task–chores, playing with David, going to the bathroom (did I mention that once you have a child you’ll never get to pee alone again?). The thing I like about the Ergo is that it’s comfortable to wear, it holds the baby in a healthy position (some baby carriers are actually bad for baby’s back), it is relatively easy to stuff in a bag or under a seat while traveling, it’s good quality (like I said, daily use with 2 kids and it’s still in excellent condition), it retains it’s value well (this is why I suggest buying it new: if you can find an Ergo on Craigslist, it will be selling for about the same price as a new one–so why not just get a new one and have something special!), and you can use it for a long time (David was about 16 months old before he got too big for me to carry him comfortably on my back).  There are many other options in this category. Several of my friends rave about the Beco Gemini and the Moby Wrap.  If you can, find a few different carriers to borrow from friends for a  “test drive”  before you choose one (some of the specialty baby stores also have several models you can try on in-store). Carriers all fit a bit differently and you will probably find some to be more comfortable (and, thus, more useful) than others.

Stroller and Carseat Accessories (Nice to have, new or used)
There are lots of accessories you can buy for your stroller and car seat. While none of them are totally necessary, they do make life easier. Some of my personal favorites are  a stroller cup holder, diaper bag clips (to hold the diaper bag when you run out of storage underneath the stroller), a stroller weather shield (necessary for keeping baby dry outside on 90% of our Seattle walks), a bundle me (necessary for keeping baby dry during 90% of our Seattle walks), and a carseat canopy. You can usually get a promo code for a free carseat canopy from the advertisement section in the back of Parents Magazine to use on http://www.carseatcanopy.com/ You just have to pay shipping ($8.99) making this a pretty decent deal.

Vehicle (High Priority, new or used)
We had a Jetta sedan when David was born. We outgrew it in about 2 seconds. Yes, babies are small, but they always need a whole lot of STUFF. And the dang car seats are so big you can hardly fit another full-size person in the car once they’re installed. When we started talking about having a second baby, we knew our little Jetta wasn’t going to cut it any more. We upgraded to a Honda Pilot 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Jacob and we LOOOOOOOOOOOVE it! You don’t need a huge car or an over-sized SUV with a baby, but be warned: whatever vehicle you are comfortable in now is about to become cramped and very UNcomfortable once baby joins you!


Sleeping

Crib (Must Have, new or used)
Your baby has to sleep somewhere, so you’ve got to buy a crib. Again, this is an area where you could spend a LOT of money, but it’s not necessary. The main thing to keep in mind with a crib is safety. The space between the crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8″ (about the width of a pop can) and it should not have a drop-side. If you have a chance to see the crib assembled in person, give it a good shake to see how sturdy it feels. Your newborn will sleep peacefully in a little ball wherever you place it, but soon that infant will grow to be a toddler who is standing up and shaking that crib like a caged monkey. As long as you can find a crib that meets basic safety specs, go ahead and get a used one or an inexpensive new crib (I don’t recommend borrowing a crib because it seems like everyone I know who has ever done that ended up having to give it back to the original owners for THEIR new baby before they were ready to relinquish the borrowed crib).

Portable Crib (Pac-N-Play) (High Priority, new or used)
We use our Pac-n-Play quite often. It’s where our new babies sleep next to my bed before we move them into the nursery and it’s what we use whenever we travel. I know a lot of people who use their pac-n-play as a napping space downstairs when the baby’s room is upstairs. We don’t use it every day, but it is sure handy to have one when you need it. Costco actually sells a nice basic model Pac-n-Play for about $50, which is about the same price as a clean used one sells for on Craigslist.

Swaddling Blankets and Sleepers (Must have, new)
New babies need to be swaddled when they’re sleeping. In my sleep-deprived middle of the night fumblings, I could never figure out how to properly swaddle a flailing baby, so I relied on the SwaddleMe for the first few months with each boy. If you want to go for a real blanket, though, don’t buy a standard receiving blanket or swaddling blanket from the baby store–they’re never big enough or stretchy enough to work properly.  Though I don’t have one, I love the over-size muslin swaddling blankets made by Aden and Anais. After the first 3 months or so, baby doesn’t need to be swaddled, but you still shouldn’t cover your baby with a blanket (it’s a SIDs risk). We use Halo Sleep Sacks, and having about 3 per size seems to be sufficient.

Baby Monitor (High Priority, new or used)
This is yet another category where you could spend a LOT of money. You can buy fancy video monitors with iPhone apps so you can watch your baby sleeping from half-way around the world. While this sounds neat, it’s not necessary. In fact, we have a friend with one of those fancy video monitors that allows you to watch baby sleeping from half-way around the world. Our friend’s mom watches the monitor feed like it’s cable television programming. Grandma will call her in the middle of the night to inform her that her baby is awake (“Yes, Mom, I know. I’m walking up the stairs now.”). We had a very cheap monitor that we ended up hating because we were picking up signals from our neighbor’s house and could hear inside their baby’s room (which makes me think they could hear inside MY baby’s room. Creepy). We have a new monitor now that was inexpensive and works well (and, best of all, it’s a closed circuit so we’re the only ones who can hear what’s happening on the monitor!). The monitor we have now is made by ** Samsung and it’s great. In all truth, though, I only use the monitor about 20% of the time now, because I just don’t want to hear all of the little sounds Jacob is making. If he’s really crying I can hear him just fine without the monitor, so I really wouldn’t spend a lot of money here.

Feeding

Breast Pump (Must Have, new)
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby, so if you’re at all skeptical about it, just give it a try. Even though I don’t work out of the home, it’s useful to have a breast pump for those nights when baby actually sleeps through the night and you don’t want to wake him to have him empty your engorged boobs. It’s also useful if you ever want to have a date alone with your husband and baby needs to eat while you’re away. I have a simple Medela manual breast pump and it works perfectly for my usage. If you spend more time away from your baby, though (like if you work outside the home), you’ll want a nicer electric breast pump (which you can also rent from a hospital, but my understanding is that it ends up costing about the same to just buy your own). Always buy your breast pump new because there’s something about cross-contamination of breast milk that can be harmful to your baby.

Extra Bottles and/or Breast Milk Storage Bags(High priority, new)
It’s a good idea to have extra storage space for your breast milk. Breast milk can be frozen for up to 6 months and you can even make baby food with breast milk, so it’s nice to have a little supply on hand in your freezer.

High Chair (Must have, new or repurpose)
Unless you want to hold a squirmy toddler on your lap at every meal, you need to have a high chair. We just have a space-saver chair that sits on top of our dining chair at the table. It was about $30 and it’s worked fine for the last 2 years. We also have a ** portable booster seat that I got at a consignment sale for about $10.  We use it any time we eat over at a friend’s house or travel out of town. Now that Jacob is about to start eating solids, we’ll use the portable booster seat as David’s chair at our table at home and let Jacob sit in the high chair.

Nursing Pillow (Nice to have, new or used)
It’s nice to have somewhere to lay baby while you’re feeding him and I find that I’m more comfortable having the boost of a pillow. Regular pillows that you have at home work fine, but I like having a nursing pillow during feedings. Nursing pillows also make great places for baby to rest during tummy time. I had a Boppy and a Brest Friend, and I prefer the Brest Friend. It snaps on so you can move around while “wearing” it. It’s also nice and firm so baby doesn’t get lost in the pillow.

Baby Bullet  (Nice to have; new, used or borrow)
I make all of my own baby food. Here’s my reasoning. It’s cheap (I can make 20 servings of rice cereal for about 50 cents), it’s really not that difficult, it’s healthy (100% fresh with no preservatives) and it exposes my baby to the exact same foods that I’m eating so he’ll start developing a taste for my wonderful cooking early on 🙂 I’m not opposed to pre-made baby food–I still use pouches and puffs from the store for snacks–but I use that stuff as a supplement to the homemade stuff. I use the Baby Bullet to puree all of my baby food, but you could really use any standard blender or a food mill just as well. If you’re not sure you want to commit to making all of your baby’s food, just try using a blender you already have and see how you like it.

Bibs and Burp Cloths (Must have, new)
While baby is still on milk, you’ll want to have some good absorbent burp cloths on hand. My babies aren’t big spitter-uppers, so we only need about 5. If your baby likes to up-chuck after every meal, though, you’ll want a supply of at least a dozen. Your burp cloths don’t have to be cute, just make sure they can soak up a lot of liquid without making a big mess. We also lay down a clean burp cloth over our changing table so when we change a blow-out diaper (which happens at least once a day in our house) it doesn’t get the whole changing pad dirty. We can just toss the dirty cloth into the laundry and lay down another clean one for the next change.
Once your baby starts eating solids, you’ll need somewhere to catch all of their messes. And if your kids are anything like mine, there are LOTS of messes (in fact, some meals I think more food ends up on the bib than in my kid’s mouth). Far and away my favorite bib is the **Bjorn soft bib.  It’s spendy for a bib (about $10 per bib) but we use them multiple times every day and they work like a trough to catch everything from chewed up chicken to spilled milk. You can also toss them in the dishwasher. They’re fantastic, and I think every baby should have at least one.

Feeding Utensils (Must have, new or used)
You’ll want about 5 of each of the following: plastic plates, plastic bowls, plastic spoons, plastic forks. You’ll also need a range of sippy cups–I find that you just have to buy a bunch of different cups and see what works for your kid at each stage of their drinking capability.  David destroys any cup that is not enirely made of hard plastic, so that’s what we have now. We also have some small plastic cups (not sippy cups) that we try to use any time we’re at home and can adequately deal with spills. It’s also handy to have a nice pair of kitchen shears. We use them to cut up all of our toddler food into small pieces. The shears make quick work of cutting everything from chicken to spaghetti noodles.

Clothing
I’ll do this section a bit differently. For each section I’ll just say how many I think you need in each size. I do laundry 4-5 times a week now (yes, it’s ridiculous) so adjust these numbers if you don’t do your laundry as often and need to have more clothing in stock. I have borrowed, bought used, or received as gifts just about every article of clothing that my children wear. While it’s fun to go shopping for baby clothes, it’s really not worth spending much money on them because they usually grow out of them within a few weeks of starting to wear them.

Jammies- 4-5 pairs per size; I like the foot-less sleep gowns for newborns (makes middle of the night diaper changes oh-so-easy) and footie jammies with a ZIPPER from 3 months on (snaps annoy me to no end).

Onesies- 10-20 per size; I usually go through 3-4 onesies per day (everything gets very dirty when you have a pooping, spitting, flailing baby). Get some that are short-sleeved and some that are long-sleeved. I usually have my babies wear them alone, but they also make great layering pieces if you have cute shrits, vests, jackets, etc. that you want your baby to wear.

Pants- 5 pairs per size. Make sure they’re comfy for baby and easy to get on and off (read: elastic waist bands). If they have animal faces on the feet or tushie, that’s also a plus.

Foot Coverings- 5-10 pairs of socks per size. Once baby starts crawling and pulling up to standing I like having Robeez leather baby booties (although, I still try to have my babies go barefoot or sock-foot as much as possible because it’s best for their foot development). Once baby starts walking, I like Stride Rite shoes (they’re made to support baby’s foot development).

Other– You’ll need some seasonal accessories: a warm hat, coat, and mittens for the winter and a sun hat for the summer. If you plan on going swimming with your baby you’ll need a swimsuit and swim diapers.

Diapering

Changing Table (Must Have, used or repurposed)
It’s handy to have somewhere to change those thousands of diapers. We got a used changing table from a friend with older children. We also put a changing pad on the top of David’s dresser to use as a second changing table.

Diaper Bag (Must Have; new, used or repurposed)
You can get any diaper bag you want. Some features that I have found to be most useful: A top that zippers shut or velcro-closes completely, large pockets on the side (big enough to hold my water bottle), a small zippered pocket to hold your keys and cell phone, ample storage space inside the bag itself, pouches to hold diapers and wipes, backpack straps for carrying the bag. And, above all else, it needs to be durable. After all, you’re going to cart that thing around with you everywhere you go for the next 2+ years.  I also use my diaper bag as my purse anytime I have the kids with me (which is basically all the time), so I like it to have space for my wallet and other purse essentials. I had a standard diaper bag from Babies R Us with David, and it broke after about a year (all the zippers came off, it got holes in it, the fabric was fading). So, I splurged and bought a Petunia Pickle Bottom bag. It was ridiculously expensive, but it’s cute and durable and I love it. And the resale value is excellent if I ever reach the day when I have no more children in diapers. You could also just use any old bag or backpack you have lying around your house. Do what works for you!

Diapers and Wipes (Must Have, new)
Cloth or disposable, that is the question. Moms seem to get very passionate about their diapering choice. I say, if you want to use disposables, use disposables. If you want to use cloth, use cloth. Done. I can’t fathom doing one more load of laundry than I already have to do in the week so, for me, it’s disposables all the way. Whatever your choice, just make sure you always have about a week’s supply of diapers and wipes on hand. You don’t want to run out in the middle of the night and have to wake up your husband for a midnight run to the drugstore to buy more.

Diaper Pail (High Priority, new or used)
You can use a trash can for dirty diapers, but they do get rather stinky if you don’t take them out after each change. We had a Diaper Genie with David, but the refill “bags” were insanely expensive for a plastic sleeve that holds poop. Now we have a **Baby Trend Diaper Champ that uses standard trash bags instead of expensive refills. It works great for Jacob’s diapers, but David’s more rancid diapers still get stinky in it. Still, though, I can take empty the diaper pail every couple of days and it’s no big deal.

Bathing/Grooming/Health

Baby Bathtub (High Priority, used or borrow)
You can wash a baby in your kitchen sink (I’ve done it), but those little buggers get pretty slippery when you lather them up with soap. I like having a baby bathtub with an infant sling for when they’re super-tiny. As soon as the baby can sit up independently, he can sit in the regular bathtub. We also take our babies in the showers with us pretty frequently and they love splashing in the “rain”. You really don’t use a baby tub for very long, though, and they take up a lot of storage space after you’re done using them. For this reason, borrow a tub from a friend or buy one used.

Baby Shampoo (Must have, new)
Buy an all-in-ne baby shampooo (soap and shampoo) that is tear-free. Burt’s Bees and Johnson’s (the purple one) smell really nice.

Towels  (Must have, new or used)
Get 2 baby towels that are nice and soft. And a couple of wash cloths are handy, too.

Nail Clippers (Must have, new)
Newborns usually have long fingernails when they’re born. They need to be trimmed because babies always seem to be clawing at their faces, but clippers don’t work at first (the nails are too soft). I just use my teeth to chew away at the nails for the first few weeks (a bit gross, but it works well and you don’t accidentally cut your new baby, which is terrifying). Once the nails are a bit more solid, you can use small nail clippers to do the job.

Medicine (Must have, new)
It’s a good idea to have some infant Tylenol with a syringe dispenser on hand in case you ever need it. Also, if you have a baby boy that you know you’ll be circumcising, have a tube or 2 of Bacitracin on hand to help with the healing.

Thermometer (Must have, new)
Babies can’t tell you how they’re feeling, so there are times you have to analyze their vitals for clues. A rectal thermometer is the most accurate. I don’t like sticking probes up my baby’s bum, however, so I usually start with an infrared forehead thermometer. If I get questionable results off that, I’ll move on to the more-accurate rectal for the official read that I can relay to the doctor.

Nasal Aspirator (Must have, new)
I have a **Nose Frida (a “snot sucker”) that works amazingly well. You just put one end on the baby’s nose, and suck through a tube to dislodge all the gunk in baby’s nose. There’s a filter in the Nose Frida so nothing goes anywhere near your mouth while you’re sucking, but it does make a gross sound as you suck out the snot. When baby is sick or stuffed up, this thing is a miracle worker!

Toothbrush (Must have, new)
To be honest, I never even thought about getting a toothbrush for a baby. They don’t have any teeth. But then a friend of ours who is a dental hygenist gave us a cute little toothbrush set for David’s baby shower. Turns out, even babies without teeth need their gums “brushed”. And once those pesky little teeth start poking through baby’s gums, you’ll need to brush those every day, too. We like this set by Nuk.

Toys/Entertainment

Infant Swing (High priority, used or borrow)
Every baby has different preferences, so some may love the swing and others may hate it.David loved his infant swing and, in fact, it was the only place he would consistently sleep for the first 3 months of his life. Jacob actually got upset every time we put him in the swing. You won’t use the swing for very long and they take up a lot of space to store, so if at all possible find one to borrow (this is what we did with each of our babies). If you use a swing, find one that plugs in to a wall for power and that has different speeds you can select. I also prefer the papasan-style for baby swings.

Jumperoo/ExerSaucer (High priority, used or borrow)
I’ve never met a baby who didn’t like their jumperoo. And I’ve never met a parent who didn’t like having a place to set their baby down where they would be safe and perfectly content for hours on end. As with the swing, though, there’s a relatively short time that baby actually uses the jumper or exersaucer and they’re quite large to store. Borrow from a friend if you can. We like the **Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo–it’s good-quality, highly entertaining for baby, and folds up easily for moving or storage.

Infant Seats (Nice to have, used or borrow)
It’s nice having a place for baby to sit before he can sit, stand, or move on his own. We like having a Bumbo and an **infant bouncer (find one that’s easy to bounce with one hand or foot. If it folds flat for storage, that’s a great feature to have.).

Toys (High Priority; new, used or borrowed)
Babies will play with anything. A plastic cup with a straw can be endlessly entertaining to a 6-month old. Find some simple, durable toys for your baby that don’t make obnoxious noises (balls, shakers, soft toys that crinkle). David’s absolute favorite toy of all time is his “lovey” Mimi, a stuffed monkey made by **Jellycat. I love the Jellcat toys so much that I just bought Jacob their stuffed giraffe for Christmas.  It’s also nice to have a soft toy that attaches to baby’s car seat or stroller to keep him entertained while you’re out and about. Lamaze makes some that both David and Jacob enjoy. Really, though, everyone else will buy your baby toys so you probably don’t need to run out and buy out the toy store just yet!

Books (Must have; new, used, or borrowed)
As a former first grade teacher, I feel it’s my duty to inform you that it’s never too early to start learning or start reading! One of the single best things you can do for your child’s future success in school is to read. Read to them, read with them, read by yourself and just let them watch you making it a priority. Really, just read! Soft books and board books are good for babies because they can throw them, chew them, mash them with a hammer and they’ll survive the abuse. I also love borrowing books from the library. You can check out board books by the bag-full at your local library to keep things new and interesting for your budding reader.
Another thing I’ve bee doing lately is making my own books. There are so many places that make photo books now, and with coupons I can usually get a custom book shipped to my door for about $10. I’ve made a book with photos of David doing our daily routine called “David’s Busy Day” and another one with all of our family members and text that tells about them. For a younger baby, you could also print out photos, glue them onto paper and write one word or sentence about the photo on each page. Then take your pages to an office store like Staples or Office Max to have the pages laminated and binded in-store.

For The New Mom
Here are a few items you should have on hand for yourself before you bring home that new bundle of joy.

Food
You likely won’t be cooking for a couple of weeks, so make arrangements for meals ahead of time. Cook and freeze meals, find friends to bring you food, train your husband to cook, or set aside the phone numbers for your favorite delivery restaurants.

Maxi Pads
Get at least one large package of overnight (super-absorbent) maxi pads for your postpartum blood flow. No tampons, just the pads.

Nursing Pads
You can get reusable or disposable nursing pads to wear in your bra to avoid milk leakage. I like the Johnson’s disposable nursing pads.

Nipple Cream
For the first couple of weeks you’re breastfeeding. I like Lansinoh Lanolin.

Comfort Items for Late Night Feedings
You’ll be spending about 8-12 hours a day breastfeeding during the first couple of weeks, so it’s nice to have some comfort items ready for all of those feedings. Make sure you always have a full water bottle handy (nursing makes you THIRSTY!). My favorite is the **Camelbak water bottle with bite valve–it’s easy to use one-handed and never spills. I have one of those bad boys planted in every room of my house so my water is never out of reach!
I also like having an iPod or my iPhone handy during feedings so I can read, respond to e-mails, watch a movie, browse the internet, etc.

Nursing Wear
Find what’s comfortable for you. I actually don’t like nursing bras, so I always just wear a normal bra that I can pull down easily or a nursing tank. I like the nursing tanks best because they cover my mid-section when I lift up my shirt to nurse. Also have some nice, comfy shirts that are easy to either lift up or pull down for access to the milk-makers. And, even though it’s not technically nursing wear, make sure you have some nice comfy pants. When you come home from the hospital you still have a belly the same size as your 6-months-pregnant self. So invest in some elastic waistbands for yourself, and maybe a pair or 2 of jeans that are a couple sizes bigger than you wore pre-pregnancy (because you’ll be SICK of your maternity clothes by the time you have the baby, but you won’t fit into your pre-baby clothes. For awhile. Maybe a very long while. It’s sad, but true. Call it your miracle belly if it makes you feel better!)

Things To Do With Your New Baby
Here are a few activities that I enjoyed doing with my baby during the first year. It’s good for baby to get out there and socialize. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s good for YOU to get out there and connect with other moms! It’s so reassuring to have other people who are in the same boat as you who you can share this journey of new-motherhood with!

Play Groups
Look for formal or informal play groups that meet in your community. This could just be you and some of your friends who get together each week for a walk with your babies (this is what I do!) or you can search for a group on http://www.meetup.com that meets in your neighborhood.

**Story Time
I took David to story time at our local library every week from the time he was 3 months old until Jacob was born. It’s a great free program that involves reading, singing and playing. Just about every library I’ve ever seen has some sort of baby or toddler story time program. I loved going each week for fun and making new friends. They also have story time at most book stores, they just aren’t as elaborate (however, I do enjoy the story time at University Bookstore because they give out free Top Pot donuts to the little guys).

**Stroller Strides
This is a new one for me. Stroller Strides is a fitness class for moms that you bring your baby to in his stroller. It’s really a great workout and they make the whole class fun for the babies. It’s very social and the other moms are friendly and health-focused. There are hundreds of Stroller Stride classes that meet all over the country every day of the week. Stroller Strides requires a membership and monthly dues, but I think health and sanity are worth spending a bit of money on!

Parks and Rec Classes
The Parks and Rec department in your city will offer a number of classes geared toward babies and toddlers. These classes may include music, dance, art, and even foreign languages. I’ve never actually done one of these classes, but they always look like so much fun in the brochures!

Swimming Lessons
We took David to his first swimming lessons when he was 6 months old. He loved splashing around in the water and we loved that our baby was getting exposed to water in a positive way so he’ll (hopefully) be comfortable being around water and swimming alone in water when he’s old enough. We did our swimming lessons at the YMCA and they were very reasonably priced.

Alright, folks, I think that’s it. Overwhelmed yet? In the end, a baby really doesn’t need that much. Get the basics, don’t stress about it, and know that grandma and grandpa will always fill in the gaps 🙂 Of course, the most important thing you can give your baby is your love–and that doesn’t cost a penny or require a minute of your time to research.

I’d love to hear what your favorite products and activities are. Feel free to leave a comment if you have something to add to this list!

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One thought on “Allison’s Exhaustive Guide To All Things Baby

  1. debi says:

    Allison, have you ever thought of writing a book? Your wit and sense of humor in these posts had me laughing and remembering the old days. Long endless conversations with Jon–just wait until David starts in with the “whys”!!! Endless–but seriously, for your someday list, you should consider sharing your experience and wisdom. I love the way you write!!

    Like

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