I have gotten a bunch of emails about baby gear that we recommend for Henry and I keep meaning to post about it. So, since Henry recently turned 6 months old, I guess now’s the time.
On a related note, I cannot believe I have a child who is half a year old. Holy. Moly.
On another related note, if you aren’t interested in this baby stuff, come back tomorrow.
Anyway, stuff. When I was pregnant, we were firmly in the anti-stuff camp. While we are certainly no minimalists, we didn’t want all the plastic junk that fills up homes when a kiddo comes along. No, siree, Bob. We were going to have a child who didn’t need all that junk.
Heeheehohoho. I can laugh about it now.
I think our perspective shifted after two nights at home with Henry. Those two nights when Ryan literally rocked Henry for 5 hours at a time. Henry would fall asleep. Ryan would tip toe to the bassinet to lay him down. And BAM. Awake and screaming.
On day three, my husband demanded that we get a swing right that very second. And that was the same swing that he told me when didn’t need when we were registering. Every single expecting couple since then has gotten the same advice from Ryan. “Get a swing.” He told me the other day that, knowing what he knows now, he would pay upwards of $1,000 for that darn swing. That swing has truly been a lifesaver for us.
While I would still prefer our house not turn into a plastic graveyard or an episode of “Hoarders – The Baby Edition,” we ended up with lots more “things” than we ever imagined. And I think we’re both okay with that. We learned quickly that while almost nothing is a necessity, some of it is pretty nice to have. And if something makes our lives easier and we can afford it (or have a gift card to buy it), it’s worth having, in our opinion.
Look. Having a baby can be kind of hard. So, if having a (fill in the baby item here) makes it easier, all the power to you.
So, with that said, here are the majority of our most-used baby items so far. It really looks like more than it is. I spent a lot of time researching those must-haves before Henry was born, so I hope this is helpful to someone who is doing that now.
What I’m not doing? Calling any of these must-haves, because seriously? You can live without a video monitor. This is going to be more information than you ever care to know, but you’re used to that at NewlyWoodwards. So here we go.
2. Baby Bjorn Babysitter – I actually picked this up used for $20 when Henry was around 6 weeks old and it’s definitely up there with the most-used items. It’s super light so I can move it around the house. He sits in while I am cooking, while I’m getting ready in the morning and while I’m cleaning. You don’t have to clip him into the seat, he just slides in the top. And he really likes it. He loved it when he was little and would fall asleep. Now, he loves bouncing it himself and playing with the toys. It also folds flat for storage and isn’t hideous. Now that we have had it for more than 4 months, I can wholeheartedly recommend it, despite the fact that it is a lot of money new ($149). But, knowing how well it works for Henry, I’d totally spend that in retrospect. (Also, mine is an old model. But they look to be the same.)
- Burp clothes – Self-explanatory, but we preferred and still prefer the Gerber birdseye prefold diapers turned wipes. Our friend Chelsea at Two Twenty One made us some with a pretty strip of flannel on them and we use the heck out of them.
- Bibs – I know you probably already have these, but I didn’t use them for weeks and I was constantly changing his clothes. Duh! I guess I just didn’t think about using them right away. Our favorites are by Tommee Tippee.
- Boppy with cover (or two) – Early on, we used the Boppy all the time for feeding and hanging out. I even had it in the hospital with us. Now that he’s bigger, he likes laying in it and it also gives him added support to sit up. I think an extra cover is also handy so you can throw it in the wash. (I recommend Minky and seller
- I love these flannel crib mats (recommended by All Things G&D). Here’s the thing. Babies will multiply your laundry by about 15. It’s not just their tiny little clothes and bibs (and there are a lot of those). Just imagine 10 of your own costume changes every single day. Yesterday morning, I was just walking out the door when Henry spit up all over my blazer. Had to change my entire outfit before I even got out the door. Maybe your baby won’t be a puke machine like mine, but the less laundry you are required to do, the better. That’s why these crib mats are handy. I got a couple as gifts and I put one in the crib at all times. Then, when something gets messy, I only have to pull out the mat and wash it. That means I don’t have to pull off the whole fitted crib sheet and wrestle with a new one. In the middle of the night. (Assuming he’s not sleeping in the swing. Big assumption.) I also like these for the playard, the floor, and pretty much everywhere else.
4. Motorola video monitor – We debated whether we needed a video monitor, but were gifted it by both our parents the day Henry was born. It’s actually really cool and gives me lots of peace of mind at night. It’s also handy to keep with us when we’re downstairs and he’s in his room. Also, I love that it tells me the temperature in his room, which happens to be colder than anywhere else in the entire house. The battery life is really good and it’s simple to set up and use. Which is good when you are setting it up on your first night home with a newborn.
- We have a Moby wrap and I used it tons in the first few months. I actually use it less now, but it was so handy at first to have Henry close to me when he didn’t want to be put down but I wanted to do something – like water my plants or sweep the floor. Or get a snack. (It was usually the snack.) We even took walks around the neighborhood in it for a long time. It is a little complicated to learn to put it on – like origami. But once you get used to it, it’s a cinch.
- The Ergo is what I mostly use now. It seems to support Henry better and is also easier to get on and off. I actually tend to use it more than the stroller for shopping and excursions (like evening walks, the zoo or the pumpkin patch). Henry really loves to look around when he’s in it and it’s much more supportive on my back for my little tub baby.
- Early on, we used the Summer Infant SwaddleMe every night and loved them because you could get them really, really tight. Which we found was imperative to keep our little squirmer from breaking loose. We used them through the large size and then switched to the Halo Sleep Sack when Henry didn’t want to be swaddled anymore.
- We also have several aiden and anais muslin blankets which we used for pretty much everything. Emily at Imperfect recommended them and then got me hooked by sending me one as a generous gift. They are really big and super lightweight and great for lighter swaddling, covering baby in the carseat or protecting him from the sun, laying on the ground, etc. In general, I use baby blankets more than I ever expected to. I love the aden and anais brand, but I am glad we got a bunch of receiving blankets in general. I use them all the time.
- Black and white books – Black and white books were the first things Henry actually focused on within a few short weeks. And he still loves them the most at 6 months. We have a load of books but I loved having books that he actually cared about when he was a wee one. We have four of the Look! Look! Books by Peter Linenthal and the Sassy Look Photo Book (all the pages have black and white patterns on it). Anyhoo, I would just recommend getting a few black and white books for the early days. If you are anything like us, you’ll want to “play” with that sweet baby for the few moments he’s awake, so this is something that could actually get attention.
- I totally didn’t want tons of the little clip-on toys, but I’ll admit that I like them now. It’s so darn neat to see him interacting with them, even if he’s just studying them. I especially like the Lamaze brand – they are quality, have lots of various parts to play with and seem like something he’ll enjoy for a while. (We have Mortimer the Moose, pictured above, and a few others.)
- Sophie the giraffe teether is like baby crack. I don’t get it. This teether is kind of expensive. Ask for it for a gift because it’s one of Henry’s favorite things. And almost every other baby I’ve met. Don’t fight it. (And keep it somewhere out of the reach of dogs, because it’s also pug crack, apparently.)
- The Manhattan Toy Winkel was an early favorite. It’s easy for young babies to grab (and put in their mouth). Henry still loves it today.
- This teething ring is another winner. Like the winkel, babies can grab it early. And it’s such a popular choice that it’s clipped to his carseat at all times.
9. Clothes – I hesitate to even mention clothes, because of course you’ll have plenty of clothes. But, we really stick to the basics around here. We love zip-up sleepers for nighttime, onesies and sweats during the day. We have some baby jeans and collared shirts and Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls and such for a little fun (and for those weekly photos) – many of these outfits were found at the thrift store.
But, the short and long-sleeve onesies and sweats are the best. (I’m really smitten with the baby clothes from American Apparel. Especially the California pants and Helvetica onesie. Good quality, good prices and made in the U.S.A.) Also, find socks that stay on your child’s foot. The Johnny’s from Trumpette work really well for Henry. And they are stinkin’ adorable and we get tons of compliments on them everywhere we go.
10. Getting around
- We have the Baby Jogger City Mini stroller. I agonized over this purchase, read tons of reviews and ended up choosing this. I like it a lot, it’s light, simple to fold up and neutral-looking. I can easily get it in and out of my car with one hand. It also has an adapter to hook up with Henry’s car seat, which is handy. All in all, I’m pleased with it. The only thing I don’t love is the under-seat storage. It’s difficult to fit much in there, even a purse or diaper bag. And I don’t like that all the accessories are separate purchases. I bought the car seat adapter and the console for drinks. The truth is, we use the stroller, but not nearly as much as I expected. I usually use the Ergo above or put Henry’s car seat in a shopping cart when we go to the store. But, when we do use it, the City Mini does its job well. And this could change as he grows.
- We also have a Graco infant car seat, similar to the one pictured. A coworker had this car seat and offered it to us after only using it a year. Many people tell you not to get a used seat, but it was in perfect condition and seemed wasteful to buy new when I knew it hadn’t been in an accident. It’s worked well for us and I’m glad we didn’t spend money on something we’d have to upgrade in a year (to a convertible car seat). We have an extra base for Ryan’s car, too.
A few other notes:
- I ought to mention that we used the heck out of our playard. I didn’t picture it here, because I did a whole post about the 4moms Breeze here. I was super blessed to be given this one, and we were also gifted another Pack ‘n Play. But the Breeze wins this one hands down, and it’s still in our living room. It makes a handy place to change diapers, nap and play. Highly recommended.
- For diapers, we had originally planned to go cloth. But when we tried them, Henry leaked every single time we used them and I hated the additional laundry with a firey passion. I knew that going back to work and doing a load of diapers that took forever to dry every night would send me into a tailspin. Plus, our daycare provider had concerns about using cloth. So, we made the decision to send them back. (Holla at Cotton Babies for a month trial period.) We’ve been using Target brand diapers ever since and spending very little dinero on them (less than $20/month). And they work really well for their intended purpose, so it’s a win-win-win. I can thank my buddy Emily at Imperfect for pointing me in the direction of Target-brand diaper. Nothing against cloth, I still think they are an awesome choice. Just not for us right now.