I guess I was too busy reading about birth and the first few weeks to bother doing too much research on baby gear. I read some stuff here and there, but mostly I was on retailer’s websites. From our experience thus far, here are my thoughts on baby gear we have used.
One of the biggest wastes of money so far has been the crib and changing table combination along with the mattress and sheets (the bumper was handed down). We waited until about a month before the due date to purchase this as neither of us really wanted to shop for it especially since I was leaning so strongly for having LB sleep in our bed. While I do like the changing table, LB wiggles and twists so much that I think we’re going to have to start changing on her on the floor. We did purchase the convertible option so hopefully we’ll get some good use out of it as a bed.
The convertible car seat we purchased failed the hospital’s test as it was too large. Somehow it was rated for a five pound baby, but LB was about 8.5 lbs and over twenty inches tall when it was deemed too large for her. Seven months in, we are still using the free baby bucket that a friend generously gave us. Both car seats are too large to fit in the middle of our car without forcing my tall husband to sit way too close to the wheel, which explains why so many families drive massive vehicles.
We avoided a baby tub, opting for the sink until LB was too big and could push against the side (when she was about two months old). My cousin allowed us to borrow his bathtub. We removed the spa piece immediately as we weren’t going to purchase batteries for it, and it has allowed her to use the bathtub longer. We are now using the tub without the sling/seat as she can sit up without assistance, and it will extend her use of the tub as well as keep our water consumption in check without sacrificing her splashing opportunities. While the sling/seat helped hold her while we bathed her, it is difficult to keep clean.
Some of the most indispensable baby gear has been our wraps, but this is also something I regret not reading about more thoroughly before purchasing. I registered and received a Sleepy Wrap, and I purchased a second one in black, which I call my dressy wrap (I wore it to my brother’s wedding). The great thing about this wrap is that it is soft and comfortable for both adult and baby, plus the give can help reposition the baby if when it is time to nurse if you’ve put baby too high on your body. It does require some knowledge and practice to use; I read and reread the instructions and watched videos on youtube and practiced and practiced at home. My biggest regret is not knowing that it isn’t safe to wear your baby on your back with a stretchy wrap as it is too easy for your baby to lean out. By the time LB could support her head and safely be worn on my back, I was ready to move her there since the front carries give one the same body shape as a late pregnancy.
By the time I discovered that my two wraps weren’t going to work for back carries, we weren’t really that willing to spend another $50-$130 on a woven wrap, but babywearing is an invaluable tool for calming a fussy baby while still being able to cook dinner. I found this tutorial, and I sunk about $20 into some cheap muslin (not organic like my Sleepy Wrap) which is enough fabric for two wide wraps (the tutorial makes three narrower wraps). Then I watched and re-watched some more videos and practiced and practiced for the back carry, hip sling, and hip carry. The sling carry is fast and can be tied without the baby which makes it good for runs to the store, but I don’t feel that is very secure for long walks and lots of moving around; I also like to have a longer tail to wrap around my body to meet the shorter tail under the baby’s bum. While I feel the back carry is the most secure, I prefer to use the hip carry when we go for a walk as the jacket I wore over my pregnant belly will cover both of us up, and I can make adjustments to her hat if she’s on my hip.
We received a handed down structured carrier that does front and back holds, but the few times that I used it around the house to get used to it I ended up with a sore back as I couldn’t seem to adjust the carrier high enough to hold LB’s weight on my upper and middle back rather than my low back. My husband is saving it for our first festival as a family in the spring.
Two items that we never would have purchased due to their cost and short life are the vibrating chair and a free standing jumper. LB has enjoyed the use of both, although once she could sit up the vibrating chair had to be moved into the attic for storage. The jumper is still in use for those times when wrapping her up isn’t a good option, but again if it hadn’t come to us for free we wouldn’t have it.
We may have used the pack and play that was handed down to us more if it hadn’t been for the bouncy chair and the jumper, but it is both too large and too small. It is too large to leave set up, and I find it difficult to set up and take down quickly. On the otherhand, it also seems too small for her to play in for much time to be worth the hassle and floor space.
For clothes, we’ve mostly used onesies and sleep and plays rather than bother with too many dresses and outfits. While the dresses and pants are super cute, the cost just doesn’t work for us given their lifespan. Even though LB is in her clothes less than three months, many of the outfits have not worn well between tears and pilling. We’ve been given and have purchased lots of Carters, Gerber, Just One You, and Babies R Us brand clothing, and none of them have worn well beyond a couple of times. Aside from the wear issues, the sizing is another problem. We have had more than a few Carter sleep and plays labeled the same size but with a rather different fit.