The whole fam went to a double baby shower last weekend for two friends of mine from grad school who are pregnant and due within a few days of each other. Yippee!! It's baby #2 for one, but the firstborn for the other. She and I started talking about the ever-present baby 'stuff,' and while I like to tell people that all you really need are diapers and a place for the kid to sleep (empty drawer, people?), I'm just as guilty of over-acquiring stuff as anyone. And baby stuff was no exception.
My first tack was to try and give her all of the baby stuff Lion no longer needs. Swing, bumbo seat, play mat, pack 'n play, etc. I see this as tempting fate about whether we'll have another baby. (Me want, hubbie no, plus no money means Hubbie wins. For now.)
The way my life seems to work, the moment I get rid of all the baby stuff, I'll accidentally get pregnant and have to buy it all again.
But they have a small apartment and really do need to triage their acquisitions, so it did get me thinking about what we actually valued most across two kids. Here's my list.
1. A downstairs changing table. I had two c-sections, so minimizing trips upstairs was key. We used a pack 'n play, which was a little too low and hurt my back bending over for diaper changes. So no specific product recommendation here. We didn't use it for much else, frankly, except occasionally to protect the brand-new Lion from Monkey. They were both able to make clear their displeasure at being caged from a very early age. Prodigies, I know.
2. I called it the "mini mattress," but it's really the "Close and Secure Sleeper," by the First Years. I think it's intended to protect the baby when you have them in bed with you. Note - it would not have protected anyone from the way my husband sleeps. Would have taken a tank.
But I had read that babies will feel more secure and sleep better if you can mimic the closeness of the womb. And the kids looked so little in the vastness of the crib. So we used this to make their worlds seem a little smaller. It was also a convenient way to elevate their heads slightly - since both of mine had reflux (Lion still does). It was also great to travel with, since it was easy to recreate a familiar environment for them in a new place.
3. A play mat. I didn't think this was a big deal, so when I realized I had loaned Monkey's to a friend, I didn't bother getting it back for Lion. But I was wrong. It was huge to be able to lay him down somewhere with a degree of stimulation. It also helped with the physical therapy we had to do for his torticollis by making his tummy time more palatable. As long as there is some basic sound stimuli on the mat (something that crinkles or squeaks) for when they move, it helps them make the connection that their attempts at movement have outcomes. The arches with things dangling overhead are important once they get to reaching and grabbing, which was also really helpful with the torticollis.
4. Crib. Duh. Both kids got to use the same Stanley Young America crib. Went with white for gender neutrality, and it has a fixed rail. I wanted a drop side then (I'm only 5'2"), but all of the reviews of drop-side manufacturers were pretty poor. Four years later, drop-side cribs are all but extinct after several recalls, so I'm really glad we ended up this way. And I really didn't have that hard a time picking them up, even from the lowest position. Ours is a convertible crib, so when Monkey started climbing out of it we just took the front off and TA-DA! Toddler bed.
OK, my husband would be angry with my "just took the front off" bit. It took quite a bit of doing, not to mention required finding and buying a modified front with a partial rail. They made it impossible to convert the crib without spending an extra $250, and we were pissed. If you're trying to price compare cribs, be sure to ask and factor that in.
5. Bibs. Vinyl ones (so you can just rinse them clean) that secure with snaps (b/c my kids like to take them off). Lots and lots of them.
6. Diapers. Another Duh. We're Pampers Swaddlers/Cruisers fans, but I have several friends who love Huggies. Some just seem to better fit certain kids, and fit is what determines the likelihood of leaks. Do not do not do not get the ones with Dry Max, though, as whatever crap is in the absorbent section has given babies rashes, not to mention the occasional chemical burn.
7. The next set doesn't really merit long description, so it's more of a list of things to have around. Wipes (we like Pampers sensitive), diaper cream (we use good old-fashioned Desitin, but I know some people mind the smell. It just says 'baby' to me!), orajel swabs (the teething will start sooner than you think), and some sort of anti-fungal cream. Lotrimin or the drug store generic; whatever. The bumpy red diaper rashes are yeast, and they need the anti-fungal cream instead of desitin. A little neosporin never hurt, either.
8. Stroller/carseat. Stroller research is the very bane of my existence. I found the online discussion boards by the Baby Bargains authors to be incredibly helpful for toddler strollers and their various permutations, but for infants it's obvious to me. You get the Graco carseat, because it's consistently the highest ranked for safety. Then you get the stroller frame/base/basket that connects to it, because it's only $60 or so and the ability to move a sleeping child between the car an the stroller is priceless. I still mourn having to move Lion into a convertible car seat, because it lost me this ability.
I'm not going to make it to ten. Don't get talked into the rest. In particular, don't buy a swing/bouncy seat until your child has been in one and you know they like it. They're expensive, and neither of my kids was ever willing to stay in one for more than 30 seconds. Monkey screamed every time we came near it, from a very tender age. Like I said earlier, they're prodigies.