Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Demystifying the Baby Registry, Newborn-3 months



I remember how overwhelmed and clueless we felt when we first began working on our baby registry. There are SO many baby items, how are you supposed to figure out which ones you need? And even if you know what items to get, how do you know which brand/model is the best? Unfortunately, I don't have the final solution. What I do have is first-hand experience with a baby and tips on items that worked (or didn't work) for us. Every child and family is different, so my list may not be perfect for you, but at least it's a starting point!

So here is the checklist from Babies R Us that I had worked off of when creating my registry:
Must Have Checklist. They also have other lists for adoptions, multiples and experienced moms here
. I will be referring to the Must Have Checklist as I make my registry checklist. I'm also splitting my checklists into "Newborn-3 months," "3 months-12 months," and "12 months +" so you're not worried about getting something asap that you won't need until the second half of your baby's first year (for example safety items - these are included in the basic registry but you won't need outlet and stove knob covers until your baby is at least crawling). Also, at the end I will include an easy-to-print full checklist.

First Time Parents' Baby Checklist - Newborn-3 months

Nursery

  • Bassinet/cradle/pack 'n play (optional) - It happened that our nursery wasn't finished being remodeled when Little C arrived so we had to have her sleep in the pack 'n play next to our bed. What started as unintentional proved to be perfect. I loved having her close by when she was a newborn and she didn't seem as tiny and lost in the pack 'n play like she would've been in the large crib. However, there's nothing wrong with starting your baby in the crib from day 1 - it's your preference!
  • Crib - I recommend the 3 in 1 convertible crib-toddler bed-full bed because, well, why not? You won't have to buy a separate bed later on and won't have a crib to sell or donate.
  • Crib mattress - what I did not know when choosing our crib mattress is that supposedly there is a difference between an infant mattress and a toddler mattress. Just be aware of this when you're searching! Sidenote - if I could go back in time, I would purchase a foam mattress just because they seem softer and cozier.
  • Dressers/chests/changing table - You don't need to go overboard (even now some of Little C's drawers are half empty), just make sure you have adequate storage space for clothes, bedding, bathing and diapering supplies plus a changing surface.
  • Glider & ottoman/rocker - in my opinion, a MUST have. I can't count the times I, my husband, my mother, my brother...have sat in that rocking chair with Little C. As for glider vs. rocker, all I can say is look at a bunch, sit in them if you can, see what feels comfiest but remember - you'll have to get out of it eventually, still holding a baby, so you want something fairly easy to get out of! Sturdy armrests are better for this than big soft pillowy ones.
  • Blackout curtains (optional) - some babies love to sleep... others not so much. Imagine trying to get one of those "not so much" babies to sleep with the bright midday sun streaming through your non-blackout curtains! 

Bedding

  • Fitted crib sheets (4) - Babies R Us recommends 2-4 sheets but there are times when your baby will spit up or overextend his/her diaper 2 days in a row and unless you want to be doing laundry everyday, I say 4 sheets is best. Again, if I could go back in time I would have made sure to get a couple fleecy sheets for a softer, cozier feel and possibly easier transition from being held to laying alone in a bed.
  • Waterproof mattress pads (2) - My husband said it was overkill because our mattress was waterproof to begin with but I felt like I'd rather overdo it than risk anything seeping into the mattress. Plus the mattress pads make the bed a little softer.
  • Swaddling blankets (4-6) - Try "Aden + Anais Swaddle Plus Wraps" or "Summer Infant SwaddleMe's." Just be aware that the SwaddleMe's do a better swaddle job but your baby will outgrow it quickly so you'll have to get multiple sizes. The wraps will last you until your baby refuses to be swaddled, but you'll have to practice your swaddling technique!
  • Blankets (4) - 2 fleece and 2 lightweight blankets should do the trick. Mostly they'll be used in the car or stroller. We did use them in the crib for a while before  Little C started rolling or moving by tucking the blanket around the bottom/sides of the bed so it wouldn't move and risk tangling or smothering her. Now that she's fully mobile we use the blankets again but she flops around so much they don't often stay on her!
  • Sleep sacks (2-4 *optional) - There is a time after your baby won't want to be swaddled anymore and they'll move too much for the blanket tucking method to work but before they're strong enough for you to not worry about them getting tangled in the blankets. For these times, sleep sacks are wonderful. They come in long sleeve or sleeve-less and are literally a sack for your baby. It keeps them bundled on colder nights. However, unless your house is really cold and you need to layer thick pj's under the sleep sack, a long sleeve onesie layered under a fleecy pajama will also do the trick.
  • Crib bedding set (1 *optional) - Here's the scoop on the bedding sets. The comforter is too large and heavy to be used before your baby is about a year old. The bumper is unnecessary when your baby is not moving. When your baby starts rolling, the bumper provides a soft barrier (and keeps limbs from getting stuck in between the rails) but it poses a smothering hazard. Later, your baby may try to climb the bumper to get out of the crib. That being said, it can be used safely and the bedding sets have adorable themes most parents can't resist!


Travel
  • Infant car seat
  • Infant carrier
  • Stroller - I can't see any reason not to get the 3 in 1 travel systems. For those unfamiliar, you get a car seat base that stays in your car, a stroller and an infant carrier that clicks into the car seat base or the stroller making for very easy transitions into and out of the car/house, especially when your baby is sleeping!
  • Infant carrier (wearable) - I wish I'd gotten one sooner because it was so convenient when Little C was small and wanted to be close to us but we didn't want to carry her in our arms anymore! There are so many varieties out there. I tried the Moby wrap but couldn't seem to get it wrapped loose enough for Little C to fit comfortably but tight enough for her to feel safe and snug and so neither of us was very happy. Instead we ended up purchasing and using the Infantino Flip Carrier. I wish I could say what'll work for you, but you'll just have to test for yourself!
 Diapering
  • Contoured changing pad (1-2) - if you have 2 floors in your house you might consider making a diapering area on each floor for convenience
  • Changing pad cover (2)
  • Basket or caddy for organizing diapering supplies
  • Cloth-like paper towels (2-3 rolls) - when your baby first comes home from the hospital, it is recommended that you not use wipes for the first couple weeks/month or so because of baby's extra sensitive skin. We would get a small bowl of warm water to wet the towels before cleaning Little C. There's probably an easier way to do it and if I think of it I'll let you know!
  • Baby wipes (2 value boxes) - Less ingredients the better. Be careful of fragrances and alcohol.
  • Washcloths (6-8) - Helpful for a quick pat dry to avoid excess wetness and diaper rash.
  • Vaseline (1 each regular and travel size) - Spread on areas in closest contact with wetness to help protect skin and avoid diaper rash.
  • Diaper cream (2) - Not at all necessary for every changing! Only needs to be applied when you see a little redness/rash creeping up. Zinc oxide is the magic ingredient you're looking for, but be careful of extra ingredients like fragrances, colors or parabens. Boudreaux's Butt Paste was the best option for us even though it's a teeny bit pricier.
  • Diaper pail & bags - Honestly I think a garbage can with a lid and room for a deodorizer is all you need (if you don't mind taking the garbage out a little more often, a small lidded can will do the job too). I've smelled some ripe smells coming out of those diaper genies so, in my opinion, it's not worth the extra price.
  • Diaper bag - I recommend going to the store and actually looking at a bunch of diaper bags to see what you'd like best. It's hard to properly visualize from an internet description. You'll at least want room for changing pads, diapers, wipes, vaseline/diaper cream, spare clothes, toys and bottles.
  • Disposable diapers (2 value boxes for up to 10 lbs & 4 value boxes for 8-14 lbs)
  • *OR* Cloth diapers - I personally have not used cloth diapers but want to point out that they are a very viable option. A cloth diaper using friend of mine recommended these two sites as awesome for people wanting to find out more information about cloth diapers. I read through both and agree! The first has good information on what you need to buy to cloth diaper and the second runs through the various kinds of cloth diapers available.


Feeding 
  • Receiving blankets (8-12) - I found that those tiny burp clothes didn't cover nearly enough area to protect us from spit-ups.
  • Cloth bibs (8-12) - 3 things to keep in mind. 1-Tiny bibs with small neck holes won't be useful for long. 2-Bibs that attach at the top corner of the front are harder for babies to pull off than the ones that Velcro behind the neck. 3-Snaps are harder for babies to pull apart than Velcro (but harder to find).
  • Pacifiers (2-3, optional) - They're good to have on hand just in case (look for orthodontic brands). But one note - only use them if absolutely necessary! No need getting your baby hooked if he would have been fine without one. As my doctor said, if your baby is crying and crying and nothing soothes him but a pacifier, then use it. Otherwise leave it in the drawer.
Breastfeeding
  • Nursing pillow - The Boppy made my breastfeeding life so much easier than having to maneuver pillows here and there or hold her in my arms the whole time. There are other kinds out there, like this one which helps angle your baby to help digestion.
  • Nursing pillow covers (2)
  • Nursing bras/shirts (5-10) - More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. I preferred the Gilligan & O'Malley bras to the Medela one I purchased.
  • Lanolin/nipple butter - Everything I heard/read said if your baby latches properly, breastfeeding won't hurt. That may be true but your nipples are likely to be a little aggravated at first from all the rubbing and moisture. It only took about 2 days of applying lanolin to heal mine and they were fine from then on!
  • Nursing cover (optional) - if you plan to nurse in public. 
  • Nursing pads (disposable or washable) - I tried the washable ones but I just leaked too much for them. They didn't absorb quickly enough (even the thicker overnight ones) and I always ended up wet. But if you don't leak as much they may be perfect for you. My favorite disposable brand is actually Up & Up from Target.
Breast Pumping
  • Breast pump - There are many varieties out there ranging from hand pump to electric, single to double. What's best for you depends on how often you need to use it. Since I went back to work for a bit, the Medela Pump In Style worked best for me, allowing to pump both at the same time, saving time. Note: If you want hands free, you don't have to pay extra for a hands free pump or buy the special bra. All I did was position the breast shield and then close my nursing bra over the shield. You may need to hold them in the right place until you start pumping but then the suction will be enough to keep the shields in place.
  • Breast milk storage bottles, bags &/or trays - How many and what size bottles you'll need depend on how often you'll be pumping. When I went back to work I took 3 9oz bottles with me. For freezing/storage of pumped milk I preferred to use lidded ice cube trays so I could take out however much milk I needed. For example, if I wanted some for cereal I just took out 2-3 cubes instead of having to defrost an entire 5oz bag. Afterwards, the trays were very useful for storing purees.
Bottle-feeding
  • Bottles, 4 or 5oz (3-5 for infrequent use, 6-10 for frequent) - I wish I had an easy answer to "which bottles should I buy?" but I don't. We ended up buying 3 different bottles before Little C was born, not knowing which she'd prefer the best since we were planning on nursing and wanted to avoid that infamous nipple confusion! We actually only tried the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles and Nuk bottles. Little C preferred Tommee Tippee so we stuck with those.
  • Bottles, 8, 9 or 11oz (3-5 or 6-10)
  • Slow-flow nipples (3-5 or 6-10)
  • Medium-flow nipples (3-5 or 6-10)* - these might not even be necessary at all if you're occasionally bottle-feeding in addition to breastfeeding. 
  • Bottle brush
  • Dishwasher basket & bottle drying rack or bottle washing system
  • Bottle warmer (optional) - we didn't plan on getting one and honestly just found one in a bag of donated items from a relative. It was a lucky find though because it made heating bottles so much easier and quicker, especially for babysitters when I was at work!

Bathing & Infant Care
  • Baby bath tub - For at least the first month doctors recommend just giving babies sponge baths. But afterward, a baby bath tub makes bath time so much more convenient! Once your baby can sit you can put them in the sink, a dish tub, laundry basket in the bathtub...almost anywhere. But the baby bath tub provides the support they need before they can sit on their own.
  • Hooded towels (3-6) - Tip: Keep an extra towel nearby during bath time. The first several baths Little C never failed to pee as soon as I took her out of the tub and laid her on the towel!
  • Washcloths (6-8)
  • Baby wash (1) - My policy is the fewer ingredients, the better! Try and avoid fragrances and dyes which may aggravate baby skin. Also, good to note is "natural" is not always better as they contain more plant products which can also disagree with baby skin.
  • Lotion (1) - I didn't write baby lotion for a reason. To be good for baby it doesn't have to be labelled. Again, look for the fewest ingredients and I've learned that if your baby is prone to dry skin or eczema, products called creams or ointments are best because of their lower water content (although they will leave your hands and baby a little greasy for a bit!).
  • Grooming kit (brush, comb, nail clippers...) - You can find various kits like this one from Safety 1st which contain everything you'd need (and more).
  • Thermometer - Thermometers often come in grooming kits but if you prefer a special kind, purchase it separately.
  • Humidifier
  • Air purifier (optional)
  • Laundry detergent - We received Dreft at our baby shower and so that is what we've been using to wash Little C's clothing and anything she'd be in frequent direct contact with (mainly my shirts!). However, it is unnecessary! It's the dyes and fragrances in most detergents that you want to avoid and so any "free" detergent should be fine. Using one detergent for all your laundry also simplifies life :-)
Clothing
  • Long/short-sleeve onesies & Footed pajamas (3 & 6 month size) - these two items are easily what your baby will be living in for at least the first 3 months of his/her life. You'll soon find anything else is just too much hassle! It's hard to say how many of each you'll need because depending on the time of year your baby is born, you may need more cool weather clothes or more warm weather (babies do NOT need to be bundled all the time, when you're hot they're probably hot!). I don't recommend getting much (if any) newborn size clothing before your baby comes along. Mine only fit into them for about a week or two! If you have a very small baby, you can grab some smaller clothes afterwards.
  • *If you can find pajamas, sweaters, long sleeve tees, etc...with hand covering sleeves, get them! So much more convenient than mittens.
  • Sleep gowns (optional) - they are easy to take on and off but on Little C they always rode up and then pulled her diaper down when I tried to fix it!
  • Socks (6-8 pairs) - If the weather is really warm or
  •  if you love the footed pajamas, you won't need as many.
  • Caps (2-4) - Everyone seems to say you need to keep baby's head warm but I'm not sure the real reason behind it. All I know is that Little C was very adept at squirming to get that hat off from the very beginning.
  • Mittens (2-4) - Those little nails are good scratchers and silly-looking as they may be, baby mittens do a good job of helping keep baby scratch-free! Tucking long sleeves under or over the mittens can help them stay on better. Also, some mittens have softer elastic and others dig into baby's wrists - watch out for this!


Playtime
  • Infant swing – Only thing to mention about the swing is to look for swings that have a shallower seat; ours curved high on the sides which cuddled Little C nicely when she was small but once she started growing, her shoulders became squished.
  • Bouncer – Consider a swing/bouncer in one for less clutter.
  • Play yard (aka pack n’ play) – They vary from plain and simple to play yard plus bassinet plus changing table plus live in nanny…ok, that last part may not be true but you get my drift. Get whatever you think will make your life the easiest!
  • Play yard sheets (2-3, optional) – Instead of buying extra sheets, we simply tucked a light blanket around the play yard mattress and never really had a problem with it shifting while she slept.
  • Play mat/baby gym – Great for some play time when your infant is in the “can’t really move” stage. Some provide specific toys to touch during tummy time, others just have toys hanging from arches above their heads and some have everything! Little C loved exercising her legs by kicking the toys over and over!
  • Mobile – Little C loved watching the mobile go around (in hindsight I probably should have used it more often to help her fall asleep on her own!) but I did discover one frustrating fact: the mobiles that go with the nursery themes tend to be ones you have to crank which in itself is fine. However, the one we had would play for no more than THREE minutes! At which time I had to run back over, disrupt the calm and crank it again for 3 more minutes. We ended up getting the Baby Einstein battery/remote operated mobile – much happier!
  • Infant toys (rattles, teethers) – simple, bold colored toys (especially black and white) and toys that make sounds (not recorded sounds - rattles, crinkly toys) are the best for this age.
  • Small stuffed animals, blankie
  • Cloth & board books (many!) – Anything to read to your baby! Before she started rolling and sitting up, I used to read Little C a book every time we changed her diaper (giving her tushie some extra air dry time!). The less cluttered the pictures are the better, besides that you can even add in simple fairy tales or early reader books to mix it up. Here are some of our favorites.
  • Music (nursery rhymes/children’s songs, lullabies/soothing sounds) – Or simply sing nursery rhymes, fingerplays or your own made up songs! Babies love music AND the sound of your voice!

Safety
  • Monitor - it doesn't have to be super-expensive or complicated! We wanted to see her so we got a simple video monitor. Get what you need to feel at ease!
  • First aid kit - you should already have one in your house for you! This is what the Red Cross recommends for a home first aid kit. You should also have a small one in the car for trips.

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