As a first-time parent, it is challenging to know what you will really need and what you won’t. There are so many baby products out there along with a lot of advertisements that lead you to believe that you need a lot of items to care for a baby. Here is a list of items where I had to purchase something else after my baby was born because my original purchase didn’t fit my lifestyle or my baby. I would have saved a lot of money if I had talked with an experienced mom or read a blog post like this one before my little one arrived.
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Bassinet, Co-sleeper or Crib?
There are many options when it comes to sleep. A bassinet is recommended for very little ones because they don’t like having a lot of space. I also loved the idea of a co-sleeper because I am a nursing mama and not getting out of bed for every nursing session sounded wonderful. Additionally, I wanted to have a co-sleeper because according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sharing the same room (not bed) with baby for 1 year reduces the risk of SIDS. However, based on the size of the co-sleeper, most babies will outgrow it before 6 months. I wanted to nurse till at least 1 year and had no desire to start getting up out of bed to another room during night wakings. Instead, I would just sit up and stay warm and cozy in my bed to nurse her. Once she fell asleep (without having to get out of bed), I would just place her back in her bed. If getting out of bed isn’t reason enough, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is the icing on the cake in favor of room-sharing. Lastly, we needed a crib for when we transitioned L to her own room. The result is buying three different “beds” along with a swing, which I think is a must especially if you have a colic baby.
The solution: buy a convertible crib. One where you can eventually take the front side off and change it to a toddler bed. Why? Because you can take that side off and have secured it to the side of your bed. This blog has an excellent tutorial and a one year later review. You also can use a swaddle to give a newborn that nice feeling of being in a cocoon like a bassinet.
One other “bed” I would highly recommend is a Pack n Play. It is so inexpensive compared to other options. It can not only be a travel crib and a play pen, but we also used it when L was a toddler (around 11 months). The reason was she moved so much in her sleep that hitting the wooden posts in the crib would wake her up. She also likes to jump all around in her “bed” before sleeping and the mesh sides were perfect for this.
Don’t buy a diaper bag! Why?
Diaper bags are bottomless pits where everything gets lost and it’s impossible to find anything. You also might want to take different types of bags based on where you are going (walk, dinner, beach, etc.) The solution is the Skip Hop Diaper Clutch. It keeps everything you need for a diaper change all in a handy clutch that can be thrown into any bag or in the bottom of a stroller. I didn’t have one because I didn’t know how great they were until I saw that every mom who had more than one kid had one. The other plus of a clutch instead of the diaper bag is that you can put it in a backpack, which is so much more practical when you need both arms to be free and when you need to chase multiple kids around.
Most mobiles aren’t what you need
Mobiles are awesome, which is why most baby toys and swings have one, like the Mamaroo. Ones that play music and have the figures face toward the baby are a must. I see so many cute mobiles on Etsy but the dangling items don’t face down towards baby. We also found out that having a mobile you can transfer around the house or more importantly use in the car was a life saver. L would scream and cry in the car and nothing we did made it any better until we bought the mobile. Not only did she LOVE the car, it would lull her to sleep, seriously a win-win. The one we got is bright and colorful, which babies love along with music and movement.
So much clothing in only little sizes:
If you haven’t had a baby shower yet, expect to receive a LOT of newborn and 0-3 month clothing. Most likely, you will have a lot of clothing (probably too much) in small sizes and almost nothing in bigger sizes like 3-6 month, 6-9 month and beyond. Why is this problematic? Well, L was 7 lbs and 12 oz when she was born. By two weeks she was 9 lbs and out of newborn clothing. She never wore more than half of her newborn clothing. She continued growing at a fast rate and was a very chubby baby. At 4 months, she was 20 lbs and fitting into 6-9 month clothing. My point is that not only did we have so much clothing she never wore, we had almost nothing in bigger sizes.
It would have been so nice if we had exchanged a lot of what she didn’t wear for bigger sizes. Also, unless it’s cold, you really only need onesies and sleepers. In the very hot months, L would love to just be in her diaper, so she wore even less of the clothing we bought for her.
Expensive baby shoes that don’t stay on or fit well
Shoes are expensive, and they don’t stay on baby’s feet very well. Not to mention a baby grows so fast that shoes fit for such a short amount of time. This becomes very problematic in those cold winter months. The solution: Buy one pair of Zutano Booties (18 months) and have them last you the full first year and more. These booties are best way to keep baby’s feet warm all winter. Even if they are too big, they stay on because of how they snap around the ankle. L was wearing the 18 month size from 3 months up until 1 year when she really started walking, we then got her the shoes that she could run around in. (Side note: if you are looking for cute girl sneakers, check out See Kai Run shoes).
Buy a Nursing Chair, not a Nursery Chair:
At first, we bought one of the trendy nursery chairs that you see in every baby store. The one we bought looked beautiful but once baby arrived, it was very clear that this chair was not going to work. The worst part was that chairs are expensive! The first issue was it wasn’t easy to rock in. The second was after sitting in it for a while, my back and neck killed. Lastly, L got big so fast that because the arm rests weren’t open, we both had to fit in the chair. With a lot of other style chairs, the arm rests are open and baby’s feet can hang out making it much easier for both you and baby to fit and be comfy. The best type of chair is a glider. A mom friend of mine who was done having kids gave us a Dutailier Modern Glider. While we were extremely fortunate to be bailed out of our poor purchase, buying this would be worth every cent especially if you plan on having multiple children. Another important point is that most chairs come with ottomans. Ottomans are expensive and aren’t helpful for rocking or nursing.
Instead invest your money in a Medela Nursing Stool. It puts your legs up just a little so that it is easier to hold baby while nursing. It is probably my favorite breastfeeding product ever. The boppy pillow has nothing on this stool. If you plan on nursing, you will spend A LOT of time in a chair or on the couch. Even if you don’t nurse, you will spend a significant amount of time in this chair so it needs to be a good one.
If we could do it over, we would have done a different stroller/car seat strategy:
As new parents, we wanted to be prepared and bought what was recommended to us which was a car seat/stroller duo. Now, the one we purchased was great. It was easy and durable but it didn’t fit our child or our lifestyle. What do I mean by this? Well for starters, the car seat should have lasted up about a year, however we had not only a very big (height) baby but also a very chubby baby, always in the 99th percentile. She outgrew this car seat by 4 months. Literally there was no more strap to go around her belly. Additionally, while the feature of having a car seat pop into a stroller is nice, it didn’t help me much because I still needed a cart when grocery shopping. I couldn’t push both a cart and a stroller. Using a carrier worked much better. We also do not live in a city, so we don’t walk on sidewalks much. We mainly hike, so again using a carrier is preferable to a stroller. Our little one also did not like strollers and very much preferred being worn on mom, which I think is true for a decent number of babies. By the time she was ready to use the stroller part, she preferred this wagon we got her. She will sit and ride in that wagon for days! Knowing now my child’s personality and what type of gear matches best with our lifestyle, I would have instead gotten a 4-in-1 car seat, which we ended up purchasing when L was 4 months and a carrier, see next section.
What to consider when choosing a carrier:
Most babies love to be worn on mom. Why? Because you are the only home they know. There are immense benefits to wearing baby. You help regulate their breathing and temperature. If they are close to you, you can catch rooting (looking to nurse) right away, which is crucial because if you miss early hunger cues they become super hungry and upset. Buying a carrier is a big purchase so you want it to last through toddlerhood and be worn comfortably in any season.
To pick a carrier, I would consider three things. Make sure the carrier has an infant insert or can be used on a newborn because this is when you will use it the most. The next thing I would consider is the season your baby is born in and/or the climate you live in. I absolutely love the Boba Wrap but L was born in July and I could not wear this outside. I would be sweating in minutes. Inside, I would wear it and rock her literally under the AC unit. The last thing I would consider is the direction baby faces with respect to hip dysplasia. Facing baby away from you is not ideal. You can’t see their face so first you don’t know if they can breathe. Second, there is very little neck support and virtually no hip support. Hip support is critical at this age as the hip joint is developing. A carrier with no hip support could result in hip dysplasia. Finally, turning baby away from you means baby won’t feel as safe as when they can look at your face or place their head on your chest and hear your heartbeat and breathing.
What is my favorite carrier? The Ergo Carrier. We were able to use this carrier up and through toddlerhood. It is great because it is light and breathable, which makes it great for summer. Additionally, it is very adjustable so both my husband, who is 6’1”, and I could wear it. You can purchase an infant insert, so you can use it from day one. The seat part goes all the way to baby’s knees keeping the hips in a good position and doesn’t cause any strain, which prevents serious medical issues later in life.
A baby monitor that doesn’t suck:
Initially, before baby was born, we thought it would be a great idea to have a camera that connected to our iPhone so we could always check on baby and not have to carry a separate monitor around. Well, we quickly learned that we wanted the camera to have its own monitor because you had to either a) leave the app open on your phone making your phone unusable or b) have the app closed and essentially not have the monitor on. This particular one we bought also broke after 2 months. We then spent a long time researching monitors and decided to go with the Infant Optics Camera and monitor (Alli adds: I have the same one!) It is well priced and has lasted. We absolutely love it and we know quite a few parents who have also purchased the exact same one after making the same mistake we did.
Preparing can be hard
Hopefully by sharing some of what I have learned along the way, you will have less regrets when building a registry. Especially since your registry is the first step in building a gorgeous and functional nursery.
Having a baby is expensive and there is so much to do and prepare before their arrival!
Stress less and have more confidence by utilizing our free course, Bump Smart. You will receive free weekly emails on how to prepare tailored to your specific due date.
You got this Mama, bump smart not hard!
What do you think?
I hope by sharing what I have learned about items that weren’t worth the money I will save you from also having to repurchase items. Remember to always consider your lifestyle and remember that you won’t know how fast your baby will grow so try to leave tags on clothing and keep receipts. Now that you know exactly what your little one will need, go create a baby registry if you haven’t done so already.
If there are items you have bought that weren’t helpful and you regret, or items that were a must-have for baby, I would love to know so please share in the comments below.
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Dr. Trina Fitzpatrick is a wife, mom, blogger, and a breastfeeding advocate. She is the co-author of the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook. She attributes her success at breastfeeding her own children into toddlerhood with working with lactation consultants in the hospital in the early stages and on a weekly basis afterwards. By writing at MomSmartNotHard, she educates mamas-to-be on all things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Read more about Trina.