Tuesday, April 10

First Time Mommy: Tips for Baby Registries

Recently, one of my good friends asked me for some tips on putting together her baby registry. I put together a list for her of the things that we use for the kiddo, what you really need and what you can skip. She told me that it was helpful for her, so I decided to post it here in case there were any other first time moms out there who were feeling overwhelmed by the whole registry process and wanted some tips from someone with real-world, 5 month old experience. I know we did.

Our first attempt at registering for baby stuff was a nightmare. Hubs and I went into the National Baby Store Chain, all hopeful, me on a pregnancy-induced hormone high armed with my Baby Bargains book (which I highly recommend) and my short list of what to look at. The lady at the registry desk was super sweet, helping us fill out the paperwork, showing us how to use the scanner gun thingie. Then she handed us a list of what they suggest we would need. It was, no lie, 6 pages long. SIX PAGES!! In size 12 type. Already trying not to freak out, we wandered over to the strollers. Twenty minutes later, after a snarky saleslady had already made me feel like the world's worst mommy-to-be while we struggled with the carseats, I had a panic attack in the middle of the Baby Bjorn mannequins. When we returned to the registry counter, the nice lady printed out our choices and remarked that it was "good start". I stared at her with barely suppressed rage while she insisted that any "successful" baby registry has at least 200+ things on it. Hubs pushed me out the door before I ended up in jail for retail-induced violence.

Don't buy into that. The list that they give you when you sign up for a registry - ignore it. The store's purpose is not to equip you with a functioning household of useful things, but to sell you as much crap as possible. Below are her questions and my suggestions, tried and tested by a real mom with a realistic and down to earth lifestyle.

(NOTE: Obviously you'll need things like a car seat, crib, stroller, etc. I didn't include these things, because your choices will be determined by your own lifestyle. These tips are meant to include the smaller, household things. Also, I have in no way been compensated by these companies or stores for endorsing their products. They're just things we use and like.)

Bedding - how many crib sheets do you need? How many waterproof mattress pads do you need?
We have 5 or so, a few in standard cotton, a few in jersey knit and a few in flannel. I have two waterproof mattress pads. I would recommend starting with this and seeing how the baby does. Chase, so far at 4.5 months hasn't had either of those problems (except for one or two really big blow outs as a newborn) so I don't really go through them all that much - usually I change them every week or so when we do his laundry.

Changing Pad - how many changing pad covers do you need?
We have 2 of the complete covers and 6 (3 sets of 2) of the smaller liners that you can throw on and take off. Again, I switch the liner whenever it gets dirty (we do a lot of tummy time on the changing pad so they get drooled all over), ever few days and change the cover about once a week or so.

Clothes - How long was Chase in newborn clothes vs. 0-3 months?

Chase was in newborn clothes (5-8lbs) for about 6 weeks - but he was on the small side for a newborn, at 6-1/2 pounds when we brought him home. He's right on target now as far as clothing sizes go - he outgrew the 0-3s right around 3 months and now he's squarely in the middle of 3-6 month stuff. I would recommend getting a few packs of long sleeve onsies, short sleeve onsies and sleepers/sleep and play things for the first few weeks. We got SO MANY baby clothes after he was born, that most of the NB and 0-3 stuff he only wore two or three times before he outgrew it. I'm sure that the same thing will happen to you, so I wouldn't worry to much about that just yet. It will depend though on how big the baby is, so I would say err on the side of "normal" and get only a few packs of NB stuff.

Breast Pumps and breastfeeding supplies?
I have a Medela Pump in Style in the backpack - it's the least expensive of the Medela double electric pumps, and only because it comes in a backpack instead of a totebag (to save yourself $50-75). I also have a manual pump which is what I use every day and what I take to work. The big pump requires an outlet, setting up, putting on the hands free gizmo and cleaning - by the time I do all that, I'm done pumping with the manual one. If you're having a large shower, I would recommend putting both on the registry, but hold off on buying the big one if it's leftover until you see how it will fit into your life style - especially if you're not going back to work until baby is 6 months or older. Also, register for the spare parts kit so that you have back up gaskets, etc.

While we're on the topic, here's a few other things to know: you're going to need nursing bras, but don't worry about getting them until you're about 1-2 weeks postpartum, because your size will change. Your milk comes in after 2-4 days, and you go from being slightly bigger post-delivery to being Dolly Parton for a few days to being back to whatever your true nursing size will be. That's when you should buy some good nursing bras (I got mine at Destination Maternity, they'll fit you for them and are really helpful). Until then, I wore Motherhood shelf bra nursing tanks (our Babies R Us carries them, might be something worth putting on the registry) and nursing "night bras" - like a sports bra but that opens in the front. They were comfy and easy to work with while I was getting the hang of nursing. Also, a nightgown or two that opens in the front or top (Motherhood also makes a couple) is a good idea - pack them in your hospital bag so that you can be comfy and don't have to wear the icky hospital gowns.
Other things:
Lanolin, in case your nipples get sore/cracked (Medela is better than Lansinoh)
Breast milk bags (Lansinoh are the most economical and easiest to use - I freeze them flat in the freezer inside a Ziploc container to conserve space)
Nursing pads (disposable are great, tuck them in your bra/tank for the first few days/weeks in case you have some leaking - Lansinoh are the best)

Nursing pillow or Boppy?
The Boppy is great - Chase loves it for tummy time and now that he's sitting up it's good for some extra stabilization so he doesn't end up flat on his face. I don't really like it for nursing, though. I have something similar, also made by Boppy, called a comfort pillow which was AWESOME when I was pregnant and couldn't get comfortable in bed and is great for nursing because it's thicker on one side than the other. That way his head and my arm are propped up but his body isn't as high, which makes it easier for him to swallow and more comfy for both of us.

We use the regular Evenflo bottles, along with the Playtex drop innursers. Mostly it's the nipples that prevent spitting up more so than the bottles themselves, but hubs now swears by the Playtex drop ins. Kiddo doesn't really seem to mind - again, it's more about the nipple than the bottle itself. We have three or four bottles and two Playtex cases/boxes of the disposable liners and they seem to be all we need at this point.

Do you need a bottle warmer?

No. Waste of money and space. Babies will eat whatever you put in their mouths, but if you have a fussy kiddo who likes it to be warmed up, run it (especially if you're thawing out bags of frozen breast milk) under warm water for a few minutes - works exactly the same, and it's one less thing to have sitting on your counter.

Do you need a bottle sterilizer?
Nope. It's a total rip off. Baby's digestive tract is not sterile after the first time they eat, so the bottles don't need to be either. If you're super concerned, throw them in the dishwasher. However, a great thing to have is a good bottle brush, especially one with the soap in the handle.

Do you need slow, medium and fast flow nipples for the bottles?Yes. (This we didn't know and spent days trying to figure out why Chaser made such a mess with the bottles, haha.) Bob says the Playtex ones are the best. You'll need a few of each kind (one for each of the number of bottles in each speed). They are NOT marked on the actual nipples and are SUPER easy to get mixed up. And because of the silicone coating, sharpie doesn't stay on - our system is cutting a little notch in the side that fits under the cap - 1 notch for slow, two for medium, etc etc.

Again, this depends on the size of the baby. Our kiddo was in NB diapers for the first 4 or 5 weeks. I would recommend 1 case of NBs and several cases of 1s (and 2s if you have a place to store them) - you can always buy more, but you don't want to end up with only NBs if it turns out you're bringing home a 9 pound baby. We're a Pampers family at heart, but now that he's into 1s Huggies are ok and Luvs are ok. This will depend a little on the individual baby too - some brands will fit well and others will be leaky. Go with a few packs of each (packs instead of cases) so that you get a feel for what works better - you can always return unopened packs and get what works.

How many pacifiers do you need?
Depends on whether or not your kiddo likes them. Chase uses his binky when we put him to sleep (for about 5 minutes) and when he's bored. He never looks for it, but he'll chew/suck on it for a few minutes. The blue/green Avent pacifier is the standard one for newborns, and he really doesn't care for anything else (there are different shapes for different ages, etc, but since he's not too into it I don't know much about them). We have two - one for the car seat (get a clip so that you don't lose it) and one we keep in the crib. They'll also give you one at the hospital if you ask for it.

Do you use the diaper pail?
Yes. It works great for us. I know some people complain about the smell, but honestly we end up changing it every 3 days or so, so I've never really noticed a smell. Diaper Genie is great, and the refills (register for 4-5 boxes of them) are cheap and easy to change.

Baths - product recomendations?

You'll need a few hooded towels (I usually use a regular towel with a hooded towel underneath, and some wash clothes (I usually wet one in the warm water and throw it over his nether-regions and belly so he doesn't get cold and I don't get peed on). Hubs found these adorable little bath mitts that Chase loves to play with while we wash him. A bath thermometer is a waste of money - if the water's too hot for you, it's too hot for him. You should get a cover for the spigot. We also use Johnson and Johnson baby wash - register for a few bottles of it, along with the Johnson and Johnson lotion.

Is a wipe warmer a waste of money?
No, especially if someone gives you one. However, it's definitely something you can live without, if you're crowded for space or outlets. Register for it, but don't buy it. Also register for a bunch of the inserts that go in the bottom (we have a Lionheart one). PS: if you do get one, the Target brand Up&Up wipes work the best in it. Plus they’re super cheap.

Any specific recommendations on toiletries?
We use Johnson & Johnson baby wash and lotion. Really, we haven’t needed anything else. Some Desitin in case of diaper rash, and some vasoline if you have a boy and you get him circumsized, but that’s about it. A comb and a soft brush (especially useful for cradle cap so that you don’t pick out his hair like I did and give him a bald spot) and some emory boards for their nails.

Pack & play recommendations?
We have the Graco one – it folds up SUPER fast and easy. Honestly, they’re all pretty much the same, so you want one that you can fold up easily. I love the Graco’s because it all fits together, and it comes with the infant seat part. I also have one I bought almost new at a yard sale (it’s a Kolcraft I think) to take and leave down the shore. There are sheets for these, too, make sure that you get a couple of these, because the “mattress” part is not very soft, so we have the quilted sheets for it. Ours played music and vibrated but Chase didn’t seem to care so we never really used that feature.

Mat for tummy time - reccomendations? This is the mat we use forplaytime/tummy time; Chase LOVES the sun in the middle that plays music – it might be his favorite toy ever, and he’ll lay under there and play with the toys for a while (it’s great when you need to get stuff done, haha). Baby will probably like whatever you get them, so get one that you can stand listening to the music/sounds for hours on end. The one we have is great because you can hang different toys on the flaps with some hooks, and I’m constantly changes what’s hanging there to keep him entertained.

Other things we use:

Moby Wrap - this is genius. Super comfy for both of you, and easy to wash. It's essentially a long piece of fabric, and since you wrap it around you, without buckles or rings, it's adjustable for any size wearer - mom or dad or babysitter or whoever.

Receiving blankets – get the bigger Carter’s ones – rectangular – because they’re great for tummy time, as nursing covers when you’re feeding him out somewhere, or as light blankets to through over the carseat/stroller.

Car seat cover - we have this one – it was great in the winter, easy to put on and take off and washable.

Car mirrors - this one plays music, he loves to see himself in it and you can see him in your rearview mirror while the car seat is turned around.

A Bumbo, with a tray really helps with sitting up. I put Chase in his all the time, he hung out on the deck in it yesterday while I washed the patio furniture. Loves it.

Baby Bullet - I haven’t used this yet since he doesn’t eat solid food right now, but I plan on it, both as a way to save money on baby food, regulate what it is he’s getting and to force us to eat healthier at the same time, haha. Plus it’s adorable.

Baby Einstein and Bright Starts toys are awesome, they’re some of his favorites.

Our Fisher Price Bouncey seat is awesome. He loves it; we put it on the kitchen table before he was big enough for a high chair and I sometimes put it in the bathroom while I’m showering or getting ready.

Also, we have the Graco stroller frame that only holds the car seat. I usually take the frame along in my car because it’s super light and easy to fold up, and the Graco one we have for walks around the neighborhood and when he gets bigger.

Baby sized clothes hangers for all the tiny clothes, along with those spacer things that separate clothes based on size (don’t have any but think they’re a great idea), along with a couple bottles of Dreft detergent.

Shopping cart cover - Again, I haven’t used this yet because he’s too little, but I think it’s BRILLIANT – and you can use it for high chairs when you’re out to eat.

I have a zippered mesh laundry bag that I put his socks in so that they don't get lost in the washer/dryer.

Chase uses this little guy to fall asleep. Not saying it will work for everyone, but it puts him to sleep at night and we turn it on if he wakes up in the middle of the night.

Good luck!!
Fellow mommies - what else do you think we should put on this list?  What can you not live without?


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