Posts Tagged ‘Baby Gear’
Babies grow too fast. Once again I find myself behind, playing catch up. This time it’s with toys! Despite the fact that she loves to play with the remote, and we have a up purposed keyboard for her to bang on, I didn’t realize we were ready for toys with buttons and dials until we were at the baby store last month and Nicki started playing with a piano marked for “6 months +”. Woopsie. Problem rectified!
This month it’s all about the developmental toys.
Without a doubt, one of my favorite baby gear purchases to date has to be the Fisher-Price Musical Table. Nicki was an early supported stander, but we don’t have many good surfaces for her to pull herself up on or practice standing. She really only tried only practice when holding onto us or in the bathtub, (I have no idea why she thinks the tub is a ‘good’ place to stand, but she does.) Her standing skills seemed to stagnate for two months. Enter the activity table. She loves it. She wants to stand all.the.time. After two days she started bending her knees and bopping to the music. Six days latter she was cruising from corner to corner to get to the other toys. This past week she started walking with support. In under two weeks! The change has been amazing!
The down side to the huge shift in her new found abilities, however, is this means she’s already out grown the jumperoo. I don’t regret the purchase as she did enjoy it previously and I think it was helpful in strengthening her legs. I’m just surprised it didn’t last us longer. The playmat lasted us well into 7 months!
We actually have this table and the LeapFrog Musical Table. (Dada wanted to have one upstairs, it was an amazing sale – 50% off! – and she loved, loved, loved her table.) After owning both I agree with the online comments that the Fisher Price one will probably last longer. It has more play modes, and more buttons/activities. Both are excellent purchases, and were a big hit, but I predict she’ll still be playing with the fisher price one long after loosing interest in the Leap Frog. My recommendation is to go with Fisher Price, unless there is a good sale on Leap Frog.
Next up, a baby remote! We had a play date today and Nicki’s friend had a cute cell phone rattle. She had a blast pushing the buttons. Since we’re outgrowing the rattle stage, I wanted to get something similar that lights up with music. We did get the piano too, but it only has 5 very big buttons and I really wanted something to help her finger dexterity. I don’t really like the sound effects (the piano and table have much higher sound quality). Nicki doesn’t mind. She loves that thing.
We can’t forget the fill and spill toys. Nicki loves these. We still have her Easter basket with the plastic eggs out and she loves playing with them. Her friend also has a shoe box full of all plastic container lids which she was having a grand time with. (We are totally stealing the shoe box and plastic lid idea!). We previously had the Lamaze soft sorter but I wanted even more. More textures, more objects. So we went with this bug jar. Right now she’s more into the bugs than the container, but I’m hoping that will change with time.
Last, but not least, we got a ball popper. I was hoping it would encourage her to crawl, but not so much. She does love it, and she is getting really good at throwing the balls back into it! (We removed the spinner on the tail, it didn’t work.) She has been throwing all kinds of things in it, her plastic Easter eggs, binkys, rattles, stuffed animals… Even her Taggies alphabet blanket has made an appearance in the dragon. What makes this toy a major winner in my book is how much exploring she is doing with it. Everything and anything is going into the dragon, she’s even learning to throw!
Babies change so much so quickly. Six months is a whole new ball game from 3 months with a whole new set of gear! The theme this time around: toys, toys, toys!
Nicki has (mostly) outgrown the Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym. She still enjoys kicking at the bars and bending it, but she can get the hanging toys off with ease. Her new favorite exercise toy? The Luv U Zoo Jumperoo! We got it when she was four months old, but she really got into it at five months. Now she rockets back and forth. I’m pretty sure we have a daredevil in the making.
Learning To Sit
Our house has hard wood floors. Not only are they uncomfortable to sit on, but I was worried she would hurt herself when she feel over. We needed something soft, or at least softer. Enter the Skip Hop PlaySpot Floor Mat. I kept thinking “this is way too hard, she’ll hurt herself when she falls backwards!” when I was assembling the mat. I went online and found some people had a similar complaint, while others raved about the softness. That’s when I realized there were two sides and I had it upside-down. ‘doh! (At least I wasn’t the only one?) Now that the mat is right side up it makes for a much better baby play surface. We’ve taken a tumble or two on it, and while she wasn’t happy, she wasn’t hurt.
When Nicki was just learning to sit independently we were also on the search for tall toys that she wouldn’t have to lean forward (and possibly fall over) to get. Two good ones were the Lamaze Multi Sensory Soft Sorter and the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack. I liked the soft sorter because it was soft, so the occasional face-plant on the toy didn’t hurt. The stacker was also good because she was able to manipulate the rings more easily than the soft sorter objects. Now she’s gotten really good at dumping the rings off the stack poll and even once put the blue ring back on (a nine month skill!).
For teething it’s a three way tie between the Manhattan Toy Winkel (which we refer to as the molecule because it looks something like the Crystalline Entity for Star Trek), Sophie and Chan Pie Gnon (which we refer to as her alien).
I love the alien because it squeaks so easily. Have it pretend to walk across the table and it’s chirping all the way. Give the body a good squeeze and it extends and bobbles its head with a loud squeal like a cartoon character. Nicki will squeak the alien by squishing it’s head when chewing its ear (antler? antenna?). It was her favorite last month, but now Sophie is giving it a run for it’s money. She’ll squeak Sophie by squeezing her neck when chewing on her ears. I have to admit, I’m kind of amazed she has the dexterity to do that. The molecule has a little rattle sound, but it’s subdued and sometimes stops which I think that frustrates her. She can get a good chomp going on the tubing that is also easy to grab and shake, which is why it’s still in our top three.
Honorable mention would also go to the Bright Starts Silly Sounds Safari Rattle. She loves it, but it is too easy to set it off. Walk near it and it sings. Sit on the other side of the couch and it sings.
If I had it to do over again…
If I could go back in time I would get a Graco Snugride instead of a Snugride 30. Nicki hasn’t outgrown the height or weight limits of the Snugride 30, but the combination of her and the seat is just a little too heavy for me to carry comfortably. I’ve been leaving the seat in the car and taking in her in and out. It would have been nicer if we could have used the bucket seat a little longer. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20 and all.
When I was pregnant with Nicki, we purchased mostly gender neutral gear for two reasons. Even though three separate ultrasounds confirmed she was a girl, there was always a chance they we were wrong. Secondly, there is a good chance that we would want additional children, and that those children would not be girls. To a lesser degree, I also didn’t like the overly pink/princess girl motifs.
Now that Nicki is here, my resolve to avoid the pink princess girlie gear is weaker. There’s now a face to a name, whereas “future kids” is still an abstract concept. I’ve also learned that babies are much less gentle on their things than you and I, and many items may not survive to become hand me downs. Nicki also looks darn cute in a splash of pink.
This month we’ll be starting rice cereal. Nicki is showing the signs of being ready. She watches us intensely when we eat. She is extremely interested in what we’re doing with our mouths, and makes a similar chewing motion. She sits well, and mouths everything she can fit into her mouth. But the biggest sign of all is it’s getting harder and harder to keep her satisfied with just breast milk alone.
I decided on Monday to go ahead and purchase a high chair, bowels and spoons. I couldn’t help myself and bought the Disney Princess Silhouette High Chair. It also didn’t hurt that most gender neutral ones had patterns that were too bold for my taste, or color combinations I didn’t care for.
Since it’s November, and Black Friday is getting earlier and earlier, Babies R’ Us was running a series of awesome deals. First, they were offering Sophie the Giraffe for $10 with a purchase of $100 or more (the high chair was $119 list – about a dollar different from Amazon.) Since Nicki is starting to teeth too, and the internet raves about Sophie, I decided to go for it. Next they were doing a 15% off baby gear for a purchase of $125 or more – $6 to go. Of course that was easy, they had a $10 Bright Starts Sensory Plush Toy. She’s been loving those sensory toys lately. So a ten dollar toy saved me close to $20, and a cheap Sophie. I am a happy discount shopper!
I’m still in love with the video baby monitor and everything else I previously raved about. Now that we’re three months old, we’re using a whole new set of gear. I thought it would be fun to share what works for us.
My favorite brand right now is bright starts. My aunt gave us this adorable bright starts blue elephant teether that makes a crinkly sound and Nicki loves it. We went out and bought the monkey and giraffe. (from Target for $7. Seriously Amazon? $20?!). We keep Mr. Giraffe as a car toy, and Mr. Elephant and Mr. Monkey stay home.
When Nicki was learning to hold and manipulate objects I wanted to get more toys for her to provide tactile stimulation. This set of links are a huge hit. She can easily grasp them and they have different textures. It took her a little while to figure out how to get them in her mouth, but once she fid she seemed to have a giant leap in fine motor control. Of course it could be correlation, not causation, but whatever the case, the links were the best $5 I’ve ever spent.
Another huge hit? these hanging birds. There made by Sassy and are elastic and attach to the car seat handle. Nicki grabs at the feet and can pull them closer to her. It’s great when I need to put her down somewhere for a quick errand (like making a bottle.) The birds keep her entertained and happy.
We’re also in love with the Lamaze Symphony Motion Gym. The motion is an absolute must. It keeps her entertained and focused on the moving parts. Also it’s purple and science themed. It’s perfect for a girl geek. Like the links, the gym can keep her entertained on her own for a little while.
We noticed Nicki had an easier time grabbing the tags of her plush toys then the corners of the toys themselves. I remembered seeing the Taggies ABC’s Blanket in the store for just $9. As predicted, the abundance of tags made it another toy that helped her learn to grab and hold. I love the concept of the taggies brand in general. A tag blanket would also make for a fun craft project! In fact, that’s probably what I’ll do for the next baby shower I go to.
Nicki has her first cold, so I’m sorry to say I have some experience with health related baby products like baby thermometers. Despite our health care providers insisting in our newborn class that the only accurate way to take a newborns temperature is with a rectal thermometer, they never used them themselves. At the hospital they took her temperature underarm, and at the pediatrician’s office they used a forehead thermometer. In reality when I have a fussy, sick baby trying to sleep on my shoulder, the last thing I want to do is put her down and take off her diaper to take her temperature.
The sad truth is it’s darn near impossible to get a good thermometer cheaply. We eventually settled on Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer. The previous thermometer we had needed to be placed on her forehead for five seconds to get a reading. When she moved (which was all the time), the thermometer failed to get a reading and would display an error. It would then need to be rebooted before it could take another reading. But you couldn’t reboot it once the error message was showing, you had to wait another five seconds for the screen to clear. It took several attempts to get a reading. Not cool. The Exergen thermometer is much less prone to errors. It scans quickly and you can rescan without rebooting the thermometer.
Update 4/2/13. I no longer recommend the Exergen. Nicki had her first fever but the Exergen reported a a normal body temperature twice. While it could have been user error (maybe I did not put it flush enough against her head) I would rather the thermometer give an error message than an incorrect temperature!!
We tried a number of different sleep sacks, but the BreathableBaby Wearable Blanket was the best. The Halo sleepsack has a zipper that starts at baby’s head and ends at her toes. It’s convenient for diaper changes, but a pain to get her in and out of it. The BreathableBaby has a double zipper so you can unzip her at either end.
I knew I wouldn’t get the baby gear 100% right the first try. As a first time mom, I was bound to overlook something, and each baby is unique. What works for one may not work for another. What I didn’t expect was how much my personality would change. Domingo was sure my days of price checking and discount shopping would be over once the baby came. I didn’t believe him. Yet here I am, not only paying full price for a few baby items, but expedited shipping to get it here as quickly as possible too! I even signed up for my first (paid) subscription to Amazon Prime, something I thought I would never do. Waiting to get things on sale is just not always an option anymore.
New Stuff I can’t Live Without:
My original intention was to go to the store with Nicki and try on the Moby Wrap and K’tan to see which wrap worked better for me. Then Nicki started getting colicy and I started getting desperate. I sent Domingo out to the nearest store to purchase the Moby in whatever color they had. I didn’t even want to wait the 24 hours to get it at a discount from Amazon! And you know what? Worth. Every. Penny. I can reliably get Nicki to sleep when she’s over tired by wearing her. It’s great for baby and great for mommy too.
My only complaint is the Moby takes some time to get wrapped into. We’ve had a few instances were Nicole was not particularly patient with how long it was taking Mommy. The K’Tan is better in this regard (or at least so I’m told) but since it’s not a one-size-fits-all, I couldn’t send Domingo to the store to purchase one for me. I will get faster with the wrapping. Mommy promises!
Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer
If you had asked me about bottle warmers before Nicki was born, I would have said it was a big waste of money. Now I just have two words: life savor. Warming up bottles under the sink certaintly works, but when you’re waking up every two to three hours to (1) pump, (2) change baby, (3) feed baby, (4) clean pumping equipment – having one less thing to think about is invaluable. Now if only they made auto cleaning breast pumps… And auto-cleaning babies…
On a happy side note, breastfeeding is getting easier!
Less Useful than I would have Predicted:
Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Wrap
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these blankets, they’re just much less useful for us then I was hoping. It seems like I’m the only person in the universe who doesn’t love them. We were told to skip the cheap 43′ x 43′ size ones and go straight to the 47′ x 47′. But the 47′ squares were a bit too big for swaddling Nicki initially, and she stopped liking being swaddled before she reached two weeks old! I still do like these blankets as general receiving blankets. They are great for our house which tends to be on the warm side, especially in summer. I just wish I had ordered the slightly smaller (and much cheaper) ones instead. The small blankets woulds would surely last us until winter.
Just watch, my next baby will want to be swaddled until 2 years old and I’ll wish they came in 55′ square versions!
Where my Expectations were off:
Remember how I thought 18 onesies were enough so I wouldn’t have to do laundry more than once a week? Turns out babies poop a lot, and poop stains! We also can shoot through five outfits on a given day, not just two or three. We go through our wardrobe about once every 5 days (and that’s with the new onesies Grandma brought!) but we’re doing laundry daily.
Along a similar vein, 10 burp clothes is not enough. They disappear too easily. We’re now up to 20. I originally wasn’t overly found of the Gerber Trifold Diapers since they’re a bit bland and not cute. I thought about getting some cute burp clothes for when we go out. Well I’m a total convert. They work great!
In terms of diaper bags, I thought we could get by with just a generic tote bag since we had the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Pad. I still think that would have worked, had we not been introducing the bottle. I now want something with an insulated pocket to hold the bottle. I’m still not much of a bag person, and certainty not a fashionable bag person, so I went with a nice black inexpensive bag. I ordered the Graco Optimo Duffle Bag for $36 including tax and shipping. We’ll see how I like it when it arrives.
I also want to mention that having the same brand breast pump as the hospital uses went from nice to awesome when I accidently dropped breastsheild connectors on the hard tile floor and cracked it. Luckily I got one in my accessories kit from the hospital, so I didn’t have to run out to the store!
We’re still sleep deprived, but things are getting easier. We’re more in a routine now, which helps immensely. We’ve also got a little more of a handle on which baby gear works for us.
Motorola Video Baby Monitor
This thing is awesome! Domingo said if it died tomorrow it will still be worth every penny. I’m not sure I would go that far as we’ve only used it for a few days, but there’s no arguing that it’s one of our favorite, most useful pieces of baby gear so far.
I love having the ability to spy on Nicole as she’s sleeping. Nicki is not a very sound sleeper most of the time. She also likes to “talk” in her sleep. She makes this loud “harrum” as she settles back down. It’s nice to be able to see if she’s truly awake or just stirring. Without the video ability I’m sure I’d accidently wake her up by checking on her. I also love zooming in on her face. So cute.
The monitor also shows the temperature, which is handy for us. Our AC sometimes has a hard time combating the summer heat and I’m constantly worried if Nicki is too hot or too cold. I read a review online that the temperature was inaccurate, but that does not appear to be the case for us. We have another temperature gauge in the master bedroom because of the heat fluctuations, and so far the two devices haven’t differed by more than 2 degrees.
I previously thought a video monitor splurg, and that we didn’t even need an audio monitor given the size of our house. Turns out that was only mostly true. We can hear the baby pretty well without the monitor – unless the dishwasher, or laundry machine is running. Then we can’t hear her until she reaches utter meltdown decibels. With a newborn, the laundry machine is always running!
If I have to nitpick, my only complaint is that the device turns off the display if not plugged in for some period of time. It does this to conserve power, and you can always turn it back on, but it would be nice if there was a way to set the display to remain on indefinitely. If I’m eating dinner at the table, I don’t want to move the power adapter, but it would be nice to see the baby during the whole meal.
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump
At the time I bought the Medela Pump in Style I was indifferent between it and the Ameda Purely Yours pump. I went with the Medela because it was the one on sale, and I’m glad I did.
Medela is also the brand our hospital uses. I had some initial issues breastfeeding Nicki right away, so I ended up using the hospital’s pump while I was admitted. The hospital pump I borrowed came with a bag of sterile accessories – accessories they wouldn’t reuse regardless of whether I used them or not. I got to take them home with me when I was discharged. Since I had a Medela at home, I now have quite a nice set of accessories! I’m sure the bottles would have also worked with the Ameda, but I’m a matchy-matchy kind of person, so it was nice to have the same brand pump as the hospital, and duplicates of a few items.
I also love Medela’s customer service. The second day Nicki was home, the spoke the tubing plugs into snapped off. It was only the third time I had used the pump! I was near tears thinking I would have to buy a brand new pump to the tune of a couple hundred dollars because it was a piece on the pump itself that had broken. (Postpartum hormones?) I knew I could probably send it somewhere to be repaired, but that could take weeks, and I had a four day old Baby who needed to be fed! Medela customer support overnighted me a new face plate for my pump. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles
Despite the difficulties, it is still my goal to breastfeed. I had purchased the Dr. Brown bottles as they are supposed to be similar to breastfeeding, and I knew Nicole would need bottles once she started day care.
Are Dr. Brown’s bottles better than other bottles? They seem to, at least for us. The lactation specialist gave us a standard bottle to try with Nicole as we work on breastfeeding. When I started using the Dr. Browns, Nicki did seem much less gasy. I still have a fear that Nicole will think the bottle is easier, and have a hard time transitioning back to the breast. So far, they don’t seem to be hurting. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
Snugabunny Rock n’ Play
I was a little worried about the height of the rock n’ play being too low, but it’s actually the perfect height. I love having Nicki close to us. I love being able to reach her without getting out of bed. I love rolling over and seeing her face. As a “co-sleeper” it’s been great. One advantage of the Rock n’ play over the Pack n’ play? Rocking a stirring baby back to sleep without getting out of bed!
That said, it’s not as portable as I anticipated. Part of the problem is I don’t have another spot to place Zippy. If I want to take her downstairs I can’t carry both her and the rocker at the same time easily. This may change once she has better head control, but the rocker will become less useful as she gets older.
A Comfortable Nursing Chair
I am so glad we went with a fully upholstered rocker/recliner rather than a glider or rocking chair. I was pretty sore after giving birth (still am actually) and having the support is great. I also spend a lot of time in it, rocking the baby to get her to go to sleep. It’s definitely worth the splurge in my book.
Okay, it’s not baby gear, but it’s made my life so much easier! I loved being ‘connected’ at the hospital, and the iphone is so useful when feeding Nicki, or pumping, or rocking. Have I mentioned I spend a lot of time in the nursing chair? I use it to snap photos (Nicki doesn’t like the sound of my DSLR shutter), to browse the internet, to look up things. In fact, the first five days we were home, I didn’t even turn on my laptop!
I did not end up purchasing the baby connect app. So far we’ve just been using pen and paper. Whatever works, right?
(Wow, I think I typed ‘Zippy’ and not ‘Nicki’ a dozen times in this post!)
We are officially in Baby Watch mode – Today I am FULL TERM! I think Zippy is excited too, because she has been active all day. I tried to get it on film, but instead got this photo of Lily.
Aww, Kitty wants to feel the baby move!
Actually, she just wants to sit on my bump and is about to climb up.
Zippy’s crib also arrived today. The box looked terrible. Really terrible. It was ripped in a few places to the point where the wood was actually exposed! I had a little pregnancy induced panic. Here we are three weeks from Zippy’s due date, and I’m trying to figure whether I should just return it or suck it up and deal with the possible damage. It’s an 82 lb item, and I’m 8 months pregnant! I couldn’t even get it over the lip of the entrance way and into the house. Neither Domingo nor I even have a car big enough to fit said box to take it to the UPS store, so we would have to arrange for a pickup. Luckily, the damage ended up not being as bad as I feared – only cosmetic, and mostly confined to the back of the crib. There are a few dents and scratches, but I can live with them being out of sight. I’m sure at some point Zippy will add her own wear and tear after a few years of use anyway, anyway! Tomorrow’s task? Assembly! This weekend’s task? Buying a mattress!
The other thing that arrived today was the Snap N’ Go stroller. The box was also pretty banged up, but not nearly as bad as the crib box, and the stroller was fine. It came in just a few pieces (stroller, front wheels, back wheels, travel tray) so I was able to put it together it myself.
I love it already! The Graco SnugRide just slid on the frame like it was always meant to be. I expected the Snap N’ Go would need to be adjusted, since it’s a universal stroller fame and not all infant car seats are the same size, but I had no problems with it. It folds easily, and has a smooth ride (at least in doors.) It’ll serve us well for the rest of 2012 and into 2013 I’m sure! I still look forward to getting a city mini some day, when Zippy is bigger of course.
I should point out that some online reviews said they didn’t feel the SnugRide fit onto the Snap N’ Go very securely, and recommend Graco’s own version.
Getting the crib assembled is the last major Baby To-Do. It’s not the last thing on our list, but it’s the last thing I’m stressing about. I will feel so much more at ease with it done and ready!
While we installed a car seat a few weeks ago, it didn’t feel very secure to me. The instructions indicated some movement was normal, but didn’t say how much. I didn’t want to risk Zippy’s safety, so I set up an appointment at our local police station and have our seat and the installation inspected for safety.
I’m so happy we did it! Turns out the base was secure enough, but we didn’t have it in the foot in the right recline position, so it wasn’t as safe as it could be. The police officer showed us how to attach it to the middle seat, something which I thought we couldn’t do on our car. She explained all the ways new parents tend to use the seat incorrectly, and how we could double check that Zippy was secure. Best of all – it was free!
I had previously been told that car seat mirrors aren’t safe, that they could fly off and hurt the baby in the crash. But I have an (irrational?) fear of forgetting Zippy in the car, and really wanted something to help me remember she’s back there. I figured I’d just make sure the mirror was extra securely attached. The police officer explained the problem with the mirror is that most infant car seats (including the one we had) are designed to tilt upward to absorb the impact of a front end collision, which would mean into the mirror. Her recommendation was to go with an angled mirror and have installed to the side – not directly in front of baby.
Since I had completed our registry, we already had the Diono at home. I had purchased it in lieu of the flat mirror alternatives for aesthetic reasons, so I’m glad it was the type of mirror the officer recommended. It’s a bit stiff, but that means it will stay in position without needing to be readjusted. The downside to setting up the mirror on the neighboring seat’s head rest is that they make it difficult to sit in that seat, but you can always unbuckle it if you’re driving multiple people. The driver likely does not need to see the baby in that situation anyway.
I was also curious about window shades. Since we live in California where there is limitations on window tinting, I wasn’t sure window shades, or at least all types of window shades, would be legal. Turns out they are fine, but, the officer recommended pulling the car seat’s canopy down completely so that it is touching the foot of the base to keep baby protected from the sun. She said if we still wanted shades, she recommended window clings rather than shades with stiff poles, as they could fall off the window and smack the baby in the face. Since Zippy’s seat is now installed in the middle of the rear seat, and likely out of direct sunlight, we’ll try the canopy approach first.
(Standard Disclaimer: When it comes to safety don’t take my, or any other bloggers, word for it. If you get your installation inspected by someone – and I recommend it, especially if you can do it for free! – go with the professional’s recommendations!)
I’ve made a big point in my blog about wanting the best for our baby, but at the best price possible. While I’m sure we’ll never be “done” with baby purchases, I used our registry completion code to finish getting everything that’s a top priority.
What We Have
1. The teething toys we bought look identical to these, but they’re the bright starts brand. Our requirement for water/gel filled teethes is they need to be freezer safe. I don’t want to have to remember which ones can freeze when I’m sleep deprived and dealing with a cranky baby! I don’t believe the ones I linked to are freezer safe.
2. We purchased the blue & white hair brush and nail clippers in store, not the orange and white that I linked to.
3. We purchased two baby gates in white, not black.
We were also very fortunate to get baby blankets, board books and a nursing cover from friends and family. Thank you again for your generosity!
What We Still Need Or Are Still Considering
Three Wheeled Stroller – Like I said, we’re probably going to wait until the 2013 models come out to look for a deal on the 2012 models. We won’t need it until then anyway. I’ve been watching the sale fliers that come my way, if I see a good deal I may get one early.
Car Seat for Domingo’s Car – We’re going to get this for Domingo’s car once my maternity leave ends. We won’t need it until then. Our plan is to get a convertible car seat, rather than a second infant base. At the end of my maternity leave, we’ll have some experience with the infant seat to know whether that’s a good idea or not.
Mattress & Crib Sheets – I’ve been holding off on these until the crib is assembled, so I can be sure I’m getting the right size. I also want to feel the mattress firmness in person. The AAP suggests a firm mattress, and some mattresses that are labeled as “firm” don’t feel very firm to me. I’m also very picky about textures in sheets. I have a coupon for 20% off Babies R Us and it looks like I can apply it to mattresses, so there’s no harm in waiting.
Baby Bath Tub – Since I’m still undecided about this one, we’re passing in favor of sponge baths for now. I really like the folding, space saver tubs, but they’re a little steep for me price wise.
An infant carrier – I’m leaning towards a Moby Wrap, but the criticism of them is they can be warm. We’re heading into one of the warmest summers on record for our area (California) and expecting a June/July baby.
As you can see, we didn’t get a ton of baby gear. We decided if there was any question about whether we would use something, we would hold off on purchasing it. I’d rather get nicer things that we know we need, then baby gear that sits in a box for a year before being donated! Some items may seem like a really good idea, but be impractical in practice. (I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that some popular baby gear wouldn’t be practical for us given where we live and our current life style here and here.)
I’m pretty happy with what we got, and the prices we paid. I was able to find many sales for between 20-30% off, and I did score few things for over 40% off! Those big sales added up, which was great because some items are very hard to find on sale! Overall, I saved over 19%!
Sure, I could have done better. There were a couple of times I’d purchase something at the lowest price I’ve ever seen it, only to see it dip slightly lower a few months later. I estimated I overspent by about $50. But it would have required premonition to spend perfectly. And we are working against a clock. I didn’t want to hold off on a great deal on the possibility there’d be an awesome deal that never comes and find myself needing to paying retail.
The big question now, though, is did we get the right gear? Only time will tell.
Best advice I have:
* Start as early as possible. Our first purchase was on black Friday. (Well, actually we did buy a few onesies as soon as we found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t help myself!) Starting early meant we could spread out our purchases and wait for good deals, like on the breast pump. Some stores have annual or semi annual sales on certain categories of products. Babies R’ Us had a two day sale on activity gyms at one point, and I snagged the Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym for only $44 + $6 for shipping! (I could have saved myself that shipping charge if I was willing to drive 2 hours round trip to the nearest store that had the gyms in stock, but even I’m not that crazy.) If you give yourself enough time and can wait, you can snag a great deal. In fact, our average savings on items that retail for over $100? 21%!
* Once you know what you want, keep track of prices so you know when a deal is actually a deal. I got the skip hop pronto changing pad from Amazon Warehouse for $17.66. It was technically marked as opened box/damaged box, but still had the tags attached. A month later I noticed Amazon Warehouse selling another used one for $22.32, a 26% increase! And it’s not like it could have been in better condition.
* Shop around. I found the best prices for items under $10 was usually Target. Even Target’s regular price typically beat everyone else’s price with a registry completion discount. Amazon had really good every day prices on big ticket items, but you can usually beat them with a 20% off coupon at Buy Buy Baby. (Of course, you only get so many Buy Buy Baby coupons in a year!)
What tactics weren’t as useful for getting great deals:
* The google alerts seemed like such a good idea, but they never triggered. It may be my fault. Maybe I didn’t include the right words to trigger on. Still, I was disappointed.
* I didn’t end up doing as much second hand shopping as I initially expected. Even the onesies (which half came from the clearance rack!) ended up all being brand new. I think I prefer outlet/clearance shopping to consignment/second hand, anyway. I did shop the Amazon Warehouse, since they had a great return policy, but I didn’t buy much from them. Their items were so gently used that most of their prices are typically only discounted 10-15%, but they occasional have some really great deals. Be sure to check the item condition before making a purchase!
* Don’t wait too long on items that are trending. Once something becomes popular, expect the price to go up and stay up. There were a couple toys I was considering, like the Ocean Wonders Soothe or Sophie the Giraffe, but the price kept creeping up. Once I know I missed a good deal, I get frustrated and no longer want to purchase the product. I plan to keep my price watch active, in case the price dips again. There’s always this year’s Black Friday!
* Registration completion discounts kindda suck. Not only was the discount low in comparison (only 10% compared to those 20-30% deals), but if you return anything you lose the entire discount! Actually, this isn’t uncommon with this type of coupon that applies to your entire cart, but it’s still annoying. You need to be absolutely sure you are only purchasing what you want. This means if you’re ordering crib sheets you need to be sure they will fit your mattress, and if you’re ordering a mattress you need to be sure it will fit your crib. I still love lists, and the registry was worth it to keep me organized! In the future, though, I won’t rely on the completion discount as much.
When we were sorting through the office to make it a comfortable sleep spot for my parents, I couldn’t get over how much stuff we had and didn’t use. Given how hard it is for me to part with things that in working order (hey, I paid good money for that doodad, maybe I’ll use it some day!) I am determine to not stock up on things we’ll rarely, if ever, use. As we continue to gear up for baby, and the day of our registry completion code nears, I’ve run across a few more popular baby gear items that I think we’ll pass on. At least initially.
Baby Care Timers – I’m thinking specifically about the little electronic devices that keep track of how long it’s been since the last feeding/changing/nap. They typically run around $25, but you can get them for as low as $17 if you shop around. They aren’t really necessary (a pen and paper will do) but they can make life easier, especially when you’re sleep deprived. Still, Domingo and I are leaning towards using a mobile app instead. At one of our baby classes the instructor said she really liked Baby Connect App for it’s ease of use. It’s cross platform, so I should be able to use my iPhone and Domingo can use his droid and we can both update information on the same baby. The cost of two Baby Connect apps for two different phones? $10. We’re also likely to have our mobile phones with us at all times, and I could see my absent minded self forgetting the baby care timer at home. It’s also one less item to lose!
Baby Detergent – Okay, this is technically not “gear”, but it is something many new parents consider purchasing. Domingo and I discussed it, but after reading that most detergents are fine for baby (and confirming it at our pregnancy/newborn care classes), it seems a bit excessive. Domingo and I already use the perfume and dye free detergents anyway, which is what our doctor recommends switching to if our baby has sensitive skin.
Swings/Bouncers – I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone back and forth on these. At first I thought I would get a swing and skip the bouncer. Then I thought I would get both. Now I’m thinking of just getting a bouncer. The big question in my mind is ‘do they provide something extra that baby will want?’ Yes, there’s a motorized component to the swing which gives mama a break. And there’s toys to distract and entertain baby. But I keep coming back to the fact that neither my sister nor I liked the swing. (We didn’t take pacifiers either, my weirdness clearly started in infantdome.) Unlike a pacifier, though, swings are awfully expensive waste if the baby doesn’t take to them. So I pretty much change my mind every couple of days. Given the indecisiveness I think I will hold off on purchases for now. The daycare Zippy will go to has swings, so I can find out from them whether she likes it.
By the way, when undecided about a baby item I general ponder two points:
* What else I could buy for the same money. Sure that diaper wipe warmer is only $20, but for that same $20 I could also get 2 Dr. Suess books. Which would I rather have for baby?
* Is there something I can use instead and would I miss it. Wipes can easily be warmed by holding them in your hand for a few seconds, so I probably wouldn’t miss the wipe warmer.