Thursday, May 15, 2014

10 Favorite Baby Gear Recommendations - Especially for Living Small and On a Budget

This is a list of my favorite baby gear, now that we've been through it two times. It's especially geared to people living small, on a budget, and on the go. Also, I buy nearly everything from craigslist or places like Once Upon a Child.

1. Vibrating Bouncers (bed for the early months!)
We have had one of these for each baby. In the first months, both of our kids were soothed to sleep and kept asleep a lot better when the vibration was on. Because of that and because they are so portable and small, our babies primarily slept in these right next to my side of the bed for the first few months. I could feed them and then lay them down easily without getting out of bed. Perfect for the exhausted early weeks! I always wanted to try the Fisher Price Rock n Play, but never got the chance.

2. Sling
There are a couple of months at the beginning when baby is too little for just about any carrier (didn't like the Ergo infant insert). I was rescued by a sling, where I could put baby in and out quickly and take it on and off quickly (the Moby is WAY too complicated, IMHO). I had one I found at Once Upon a Child, but I really envied mommas with a ring sling.

3. Baby Carrier
Babies sometimes just want to be held. That either means you get nothing done and die of frustration, or you use a baby carrier. For me, with both babies, that has been the Baby Bjorn. Someone gave me a used one with my first baby, and despite trying other options I keep coming back to the Bjorn. Why? First, because it fastens in the front, so I can (with a little skill) put it on with just one hand. Secondly, because the baby can be front facing. Both of my kiddos wanted to look around and fussed when I put them in facing me. The Bjorn was perfect. I will use an Ergo in Indonesia now that Elly is 6 months and we need to take her on a motorcycle, but the Bjorn is all I've used up until now.

4. Miracle Blanket
I swear by swaddling. Both of my babies calmed down and slept longer when swaddled. As the weeks passed, they learned that being swaddled and given a paci meant sleep time. I love the Miracle Blanket. It wraps and stays well without anything velcro, and the babies look like little burritos. (Note - Elly is in a Boppy in the photo, but really that was an item we barely ever used)

5. Medela Pump and Bottles
I ended up having to pump with both kids, first time around because I went back to work and second time because my daughter had a cleft palate. The Medela Pump in Style Advanced is top of the line, and I've gotten my money's worth out of it. I was given a bunch of used Dr. Brown's bottles but I didn't like them because of all the extra pieces. I've also tried a few other kinds, but I ended up getting full Medela bottle systems because then it integrates well with the pump. The only other brand I wanted to try was Tommy Tippee, but having to pour from pumping bottles to baby's bottles is just one extra step and extra dishes to do. Also recommended: hands free pumping bra and Target's Up and Up milk storage bags (much stronger than medela or lansinoh brand bags).

6. Play Mat
I didn't think a play mat would be important, but it is. Although there are only a couple of months where you child plays with it, it's a crucial developmental stage where they are learning to reach, use hand eye coordination to grab things, and can only really do so with things directly overhead. Sometimes you can sit and play with them, but a play mat allows for a lot more free play time.

7. Johnny Jumper
I don't see these around a lot anymore, but we got just as much mileage out of our old hand me down Johnny Jumper as we did out of the play mat. Once kids can sit they want to move but can't really yet. The jumper lets them develop leg strength, be a little independent, look around, and be totally adorably excited. So fun. Before you get one, make sure you have a door frame you can put it on. We had one apartment without frames around the openings between rooms, so there was nothing for the jumper to hold on to.

8. Bumbo
We have an old one without the tray or strap, so it's probably not safe, but it's safe enough for me! This is great as they learn to sit up because it provides so much support around them. Again - allows you to get some things done without holding the kiddo (am I sensing a theme here?). I set up my daughter in the kitchen and then make dinner. As long as she can see me and isn't too tired, she's generally okay to sit for a while.

9. Stroller
For a stroller, definitely start with a snap-n-go and a car seat that pulls out and snaps into the snap-n-go. This allows you to have a sleeping kiddo stay asleep as you transfer them in and out of the car, to church, the store, wherever. It's also light-weight and easy to open and fold up. It fits into any car.

Eventually you want a real stroller. Well, we couldn't ever afford the nice ones I wanted to try (Bob), but got a lot of mileage out of a very very old and ugly jogging stroller that we used for family walks in the country. Before living in the country, a jogging stroller would have been useless. Other than that, we just used a cheap umbrella stroller until it died, and that was just fine. Small and portable is what you want most places anyways! Now that we have two kids, we are loving the Baby Trend Sit N. Stand. It's the lightest and easiest stroller for two that we've found.

10. Bed
Like I said, our kiddos start off in a bouncer. Because of our small space, we have never had a bed. First we used a Pack N Play, one with a changer on it too. That was really nice for our mobile lifestyle, because Judah was used to it being his bed, and didn't have trouble falling asleep in it when we traveled. With Elly we used a Contours Bassinet. 

I found it on craigslist and have loved it, it's even fairly cheap new. It is a moses basket that can be carried from room to room, and it sets inside a standing bassinet that is super cute. Below are storage baskets, on the side is a diaper stacker, and stashed underneath is a changer that you pull out and set on top of it all. We have used all aspects of it and it fits perfectly in the corner of our very small space. 

2 comments:

Josh and Anna said...

Great post! Thanks much for sharing. This comes at a perfect time for us. (And I still think Elly might be the cutest baby girl I have EVER seen.)

click to read said...

I find swing more comfortable than the cradle. Put them in swing for a while and in seconds they will be taking nap.