Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What does a baby actually need?

A few weeks ago in preparation for creating the ULTIMATE baby registry, I solicited feedback from my girlfriends who are moms. I got some great responses and have finally found the time to compile it. In conjunction with the advice, I cross-referenced with the highly recommended book, Baby Bargains. Reading this consumer reports-like, detailed reference combined with the advice of girlfriends, I felt fairly confident about what we needed without even having stepped into a store. Thanks ladies!

Feedback from Anne of Ohio; Karen, Shelly, Tracy of the Seattle Metro area; Jenny of Arlington; Amy of Vancouver; Sue of Portland; Heather of Wenatchee

Words of wisdom:
“Everything is subjective to your baby’s personality. You will find that this list varies. I'd love to see what you get back.” (Jenny)

“My first piece of advice is to borrow, borrow, borrow!!!! I think you will find that everyone has different opinions of what is 'necessary'.” (Shelly)

“You can't imagine how much you will love the noisiest, messiest, most demanding person you've ever met. But they are very sturdy. And, when you feel overwhelmed and are trying to figure things out--so are they. Plus, it goes by so very, very fast.”    (Amy)

“For me I found a lot more things became 'essential' after my second one was born. With just one, convenience is the main concern.” (Amy)

Responses that had a majority of consensus:

1. Besides a crib and a car seat, what are the top products & gear you can't/couldn't live without?
  • Onesies 
  • Bouncer/Swing/Pack’n Play/Exersaucer—basically a place to put baby where they can be safe while mom can have 15 minutes to get some stuff done.
  • Cloth diapers for burp cloths (lots of them)
  • Baby carrier—Baby Bjorn & Ergo Carrier were both suggested.  Important qualities: 
a. the baby doesn’t immediately outgrow it
b. doesn’t smash your boobs 
c. something daddy will wear
d. doesn’t strain your back
  • Diaper Bag—one with backpack straps and something daddy is willing to carry and won’t be embarrassed. (Heck, something I’m willing to carry and won’t be embarrassed.)
  • Stroller—feedback is mixed on which kind is best. Clearly depends on the intended usage. 
  • Breast Pump—Some insurance companies will pick up a large % of the cost on these. Definitely worth checking into. (Top rated brands: Ameda & Medela.)
  • Swaddling accessories, whether it be just a blanket or a specialized unit. Most everyone mentioned this in some form. 
  • Baby Ear Thermometer
  • Outlet covers
2. What things did you realize you needed once the baby(s) arrived that weren't obvious?
  • Soothies: gel packs you put in the fridge/freezer that give relief after breast feeding
  • Nursing Pads: for leakage
3. What things can we live without/should avoid buying because they are a waste of money?
  • The one thing pretty much everyone loved to hate: the wipe warmer
  • Free standing High chair—instead get one that just straps to a regular chair

Responses from Individuals

1. Top products & gear you can't/couldn't live without
  • Pacifiers
  • Diaper Cream
  • Flannel Crib Sheets
  • Cotton Lap Pads
  • Book: Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child
  • Book or DVD: Happiest Baby on the Block
  • Dimmer light switch in parents’ and baby's room.
  • CD player in baby's room
  • Rocking chair or rocker glider chair 
  • Nursing pillow like a Boppy
  • Bathtub Foam Pad
  • Sleeping Gowns
  • Lansinoh Lanolin - Nursing Cream
  • Comfortable Nursing Bra that can be worn at night
  • Shopping Cart/Restaurant HighChair Cover

2. Products you can live without
  • Pacifiers
  • Bottles that have many parts and are hard to clean
  • Diaper Genie—just use the garbage can because these reek
  • Silly little outfits that are a pain to put on, esp. things that need ironing
  • Bottle warmer. 
  • Special baby bath tub (a sink works just fine)
  • Plastic Bathtub Seat
  • Mobile

So while there is some agreement in the lists above, it's clear to me that every baby reacts differently to certain products and every family has different priorities & values when it comes to baby gear.  The baby industry is not a multi-billion dollar market for nothing. But as first time parents-to-be, it's really overwhelming and we had to start somewhere so I am thankful for how candid and specific some of these moms got in their responses to me.  

I ended up creating not 2, not 3, not 4 but 5 store registries to encapsulate all of the specific items we finally chose. It’s not that the volume of items is all that large but to find some of the BPA free or organic items or specific brands, it took going through Babies R Us, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond (yes, they have baby stuff!), Amazon and a place in Portland called Ecobaby to get it all.  With a wedding registry, it's just about stuff you want in your house and things that will make 2 adults happy.  When it's a baby registry, there's all this pressure to get things that are safe, useful, well-rated and appropriate.  And then of course you don't have to get it all new--but watch for recalls and there are some things you just should not get second hand.  (Sigh)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

“For me I found a lot more things became 'essential' after my second one was born. With just one, convenience is the main concern.” (Amy)

This is very true, and very well said. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but she's 100% correct. Great advice Amy.