Posts Tagged ‘Baby Gear’

My planning for Ziggy is so far as been for naught. Nearly everything on my list is no longer easily available. Most of the items have newer versions, so to buy the previous version you have to pay the rare-item premium. That sucks because I don’t like those newer versions!

The bjorn baby sitter bouncer. I really wanted the brown/beige one that would match our living room. It looks like it’s no longer a color being produced, however. At least it’s not shown on the website. They have similar ones, but are either too dark, or too light. I’ve been searching for one for months and it looks like if I really want that particular color I’ll have to spend between $50 to $100 more, or buy from a non-name company without much of an online reputation. Neither I’m particularly willing to do.

I decided to do the snugabunny bouncer second-hand from someone at work. It won’t hold her as long as babysitter balance will, but I suspect that is probably okay. Nicki was an early sitter. While Ziggy is not Nicki, (and is already proving to have a different personality), she is made from the same two sets of DNA, so I think there’s a chance she’ll also be an early sitter. I also think it’s unlikely she’ll be a super late sitter. By buying the bouncer second hand it really wasn’t that expensive, and I can always course correct if we need something capable of holding a bigger baby.

Since the bouncer is nice and round, I think I can drape blankets over it and make it a nice nest like area for newborn photos. Double win. I paid a cheap enough price for it that if all I get out of it is cute pictures, I’ll still be happy.

Motorola Spare Camera. Motorola has come out with a new line of camera baby monitors (Motorola blink1) that do not have the handheld unit. Instead they broadcast to your smart phone. Sounds like an awesome deal except the reviews are lousily. I’m used to most baby products having an average 4 star review or higher. That’s because a lot of them are rated and reviewed when mom to be gets them at her shower, rather than when the baby arrives. Usually the review goes like “This is adorable, I’m so excited to use it!” (Not really that helpful, but I do appreciate knowing when things are super soft, or not.)

The blink cameras reviewers have an average 3 star review, much lower than it’s predecessor, with reviewers citing software and connectivity issues. Our wireless is spotty, which will likely compound the issue. Additionally, since there’s no hand held unit, the camera costs a bit more. Instead of $100 for an extra camera, I’d pay $170 for a single camera that our hand held unit wouldn’t work with it. Or I could pay $340 in order to have both kid’s viewable from the same app. No thank you. I’d rather buy a new lens with that kind of money. Or a new knife set.

I actually called Motorola’s customer support. They are still making the cameras, even though they’re out of stock everywhere, and no longer show the spare camera on their website. I ordered one from amazon so that I could reserve a spot on the wait list, and am keeping an eye out elsewhere to see if I can’t snag a better deal.

It would suck not to be able to use a 20% Buy Buy Baby coupon on this one – I figured I would only be paying $80ish for this one – but I refuse, refuse to spend more than $100.

Baby Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym

This one probably makes me saddest of all. I was really getting into the ocean gym theme for Ziggy much the way I loved the space theme for Nicki. I loved the orca toy with high contrast for developing baby eyes, and the octopus with dangly legs to grab.

The Neptune Ocean Adventure gym has been replaced with the Nautical Friends Gym. The Orca is now a blue whale, complete with lower contrast, and the octopus has been replace with a little turtle. Rather than spending $40 for a new Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym I can expect to spend $80 for a used gym, or $100-250$ on a brand new one.

I’m hoping a new gym will strike my fancy after a trip to the baby store. At least if I find one in store it’s likely not to be discontinued yet.

April 17, 2014

Rethinking Baby Gear

I think I’ve talked myself out of buying a second crib.

We’re planning on moving next spring/summer. Our lease is up around the fall, just before Ziggy is due. I really don’t want to add moving stress to the mix, so we’re planning on waiting until Spring to start house hunting again.

Another move means disassembling the new crib, and I’m a bit gun shy about it. Besides, Nicki is already in a toddler bed. It wouldn’t be a big deal to switch her to another toddler bed, or maybe even a twin bed with a safety rail, and convert her bed back to a crib for Ziggy. This time I made sure to save all the parts! I do question the safety of a 3 time reassembled crib (or at least of our crib) for an active older baby, for a mostly immobile newborn I’m sure it will be fine.

Our thinking is that we’d ditch the crib when we move, rather than reassemble it an additional time. If we move in spring/summer, Ziggy will be between 6 and 9 months old. That’s possibly crawling and standing up. With a more active Ziggy I will feel more comfortable with a new, once assembled with all it’s original hardware, crib. We’d probably get a very simple/cheap crib for the new house, since I’m not sure how much use we’ll get out of it. Who knows, Ziggy may be an early climb escape artist like big sister Nicki!

Another item I’m scratching off my list is the breast pump. It turns out my health insurance covers the cost of a breast pump (a new perk this year thanks to the health care law.) A double electric breast pumps even! It’s not the same brand as I was thinking of getting, but I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Besides, as much as I liked the old one it’s always possible this other brand will work out even better for me. It’s not like I test drove a bunch of different pumps last time…

I’m adding to my previous list two new items we didn’t get last time: a boppy and a bouncy seat.

With Nicki I was on the fence between the boppy and the breast friend pillow. There were a number of reviews that said only one of the two pillows worked for the reviewer, and I wasn’t sure which one would work for me. Time got away from me while I was debating and the next time I knew Nicki was a few months old and too big to breastfeed on a pillow. I didn’t want to purchase something I wasn’t going to fully utilize, even though the boppy kept being useful at daycare, first as a tummy time device, then for sitting support. I figure even if it doesn’t work for breastfeeding, we’ll get use out if.

Last time we didn’t use any kind of bouncy seat or swing for Nicki. She was held _a lot_. Obviously Ziggy will have to share parental attention. Having a safe place to put Ziggy down with an active toddler around is a must.

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

Our Amazon gift cards have arrived, and I’m distracting myself from my morning all-day sickness by thinking about baby gear, and bargain hunting.

I used my previous post as a starting point, and set up some price watches. Right now we’re leaning towards the Baby Einstein Neptune Ocean Adventure gym. I decided I wanted a change it up a bit with the gym theme. While I liked the water concept, and was very happy with our Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym
, the pond version just wasn’t as neat.

Of course setting up price watches didn’t take long, and I soon found myself thinking about other types of gear specifically for baby number two.

Additional Monitor

Hands down the best baby gear purchase I made was for a video baby monitor. It’s been useful at all stages, from newborn days to now in the toddler bed. We can hear Nicki just fine without any monitor – in fact, the audio has been off for over a year now! – but the ability to see what is going on is a sanity savor.

We have the Motorola MBP36 Video Baby Monitor which has an option for an additional camera.

Amazon’s lowest price for the additional camera ($79.99) does not beat Buy Buy Baby’s price with 20% off coupon ($79.20). Depending on what Amazon’s price is in November, I might be able to get a better deal with the registry completion code. The 15% completion discount would make the price tag on amazon $81.16. If the price in November is better than average, I win by waiting, otherwise I don’t. Roughly even odds, I’d say.

The other thing we’ll need is a new battery. The current re-chargeable battery doesn’t hold a charge for too long any more. Either that or a second power cord.

Second Crib

I’m kind of at a loss with this one. I like symmetry and the notion of having the same crib for each child is aesthetically pleasing to me but I’ve been really frustrated with Nicki’s crib, with the non-standard parts and all.

On the one hand I think I’m being overly critical. From what I’ve read and been told by folks at the hardware store, that’s pretty common across all furniture makers. So I’m not sure I will have a better experience with a different manufacturer. Besides, I’m partially to blame. I should have been more diligent about saving all the pieces. I just never thought I’d switch it to a toddler bed. I figured we’d get her a new toddler bed when it was time for the crib to have a new occupant.

Then again the price is up nearly 30% on the same crib! Looks like the price is all over the map! I’ll probably end up with the same selection process this time around as last time: add four acceptable cribs to the registry and see which has the best price when I receive my registry completion code.

Double Stroller

I think I’m going to pass on this one. If I was a stay at home mom, a double stroller seems like a necessity. In our current arrangement, I don’t really see myself taking the kids out on outings by myself. Two single strollers seems like a adequate solution when you have two sets of hands to push and are just out for an evening walk.

On the other hand, a double stroller seems much more convenient than two single strollers in crowded situations. My childhood zoo did not allow strollers inside the buildings, only outside when walking around. If we ever make a trip out to disneyland, we won’t be able to take the stroller(s) in the attractions. Having one stroller seems much more convenient when you have to check it. But these places also rent double strollers for very reasonable prices. The zoo rents them for just $10 a day! Going to the zoo will give us a nice try-before-you-buy feel for the value of double strollers.

October 3, 2013

My One Baby Purchase Regret

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

Everyone’s bound to have at least one baby gear regret. Domingo and I were doing so well at first. Sure we had some products we didn’t use often (the sleep sheep and moby wrap come to mine) but we did use them a couple of times. They were useful even if briefly, and there really isn’t a cheaper comparable object that would have done well by us.

There’s one purchase I really do regret, even though we use it frequently.

The high chair.

I was so excited about it. It was pretty and pink and girlie, but not too girlie, and soft. So so soft. At first I was worried the seat cushion would be difficult to clean. They most coat the seat cushion in scotch guard because even tomato sauce came out with just a damp towel at first.

So why do I regret it? Because all the extra ‘features’ ended up being way more of a nuisance than a feature.

It started with the straps. They got grimy easily between the creases, and were difficult to clean. The straps seemed superfluous anyway. It’s not like Nicki could fall out through a foot hole, or would stand up and tilt over the side since she was barely sitting at the time. The straps were the first thing to go.

The now empty strap slots were new places to pocket grime. When we moved on to table food for evening meals, (and more and tomato sauce), the seat cushion was in a constant state of mess. It needed to be washed nightly, and the tomato sauce was getting harder and harder to get out completely, especially in the fabric edging. After a couple nights of forgetting to move the cushion from the washer to the drier (and thus Nicki had parked her bottom in the high chair sans cushion several times already) I decided to forgo the cushion during ‘saucy meals’. But after a couple days, I simply stopped putting the seat cushion back on all together.

That lead to a new problem. The seat cushion blocked food particles from the grooves of the various plastic and metal pieces that formed the seat. The high chair was fully adjustable, which meant many parts that could collect food between them. In theory an adjustable high chair is an excellent idea, but in practice we never changed any of the settings. We needed it to be table height, that’s it. I traded washing the seat cover every night, to trying to knock out dried pasta sauce in the foot panel.

This week we were shopping for new furniture and it finally dawned on me. I had effectively turned my $100 high chair into a $20 one. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who will get great use out of a high chair like this one. Evidently, we are not them.

September 28, 2013

Baby Gear to be Left Behind

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

With our pending move we have been sorting belongings into the keep, donate and discard piles. I loathe waste. I hate getting rid of something I may want to use again later. It’s part of the reason I hold on to so much clutter. Hey, sometimes it’s useful! Like the backrest pillow. I bought it for college, but never really used it. It followed me from apartment to apartment and finally our home where it came in handy for Halloween photos with our 3 month old.

We’re moving into an apartment and won’t have room for everything. While we intended to buy gear that would last for multiple kids, not everything has held up as well as we might have hopped. It will cost more to store some of these items than it will to repurchase them. So as much as I hate waste, I’m afraid it’ll a fact of life.

Here’s the gear that we were very happy with, but won’t be making the trip with us (and what we expect to repurchase for the next baby.)

Lamaze Space Symphony Gym

Nicki loved her gym, and continued to play with it beyond 7 months. It was definitely one of our best purchases. Alas, she expresses her love in the form of destruction. Since she loved her gym for so long, she got quite good at manipulating it. She loved to bend the bars over her head, and yank the off the toys. The sad little motor that sways the bars no longer has enough strength to do a full rotation.

feetgym
beatingupthegym
Beating up her beloved gym. (7 months old.)

After much debate we decided to donate the gym. The mat is still in good shape and there are plenty of gyms where the bars don’t move, so a dead motor shouldn’t be a deal breaker. We’ll likely replace this one with another Lamaze Gym.

Blooming Baby Bath

I was so excited about the blooming bath, but it didn’t fit in any of our sinks. Instead we ended up using it as a soft spot to dry her off on the blooming bath. When she was big enough to sit in the tub on her own, I would also kneel on the blooming bath to spare my knees from the hard floor. After over a year of use the seam is starting to become undone.

bloomingbath
There’s nothing cuter than wrinkly post bath baby toes. (And wow, my 14 month old still has tiny feet, that’s a recent photo!)

Since the seam is busted, I’m afraid it isn’t in good enough shape for donation.

Breast Pump

We were warned in our breast feeding class that most pumps are designed to last for one baby. The motors just aren’t strong enough to last much longer. I used my pump way more often than the typical case due to our breastfeeding troubles. In fact, there was a time I was pumping eight times a day. By six months the motor was struggling. By nine months I was getting so little with my pump it hardly seemed worth it.

I plan on keeping the accessories and getting another pump for the next child. Obviously the pump cannot be donated.

Bottle Warmer

After a year of use, the bottle warmer started to look gross. The reservoir was hard to clean, and over many, many, many uses stuff just built up. I was happy enough with the bottle warmer, but it was a last minute purchase (I expected to breastfeed more and not need it as often.) Next time I will probably do a little more research before picking one. Another non-donatable item.

Snap N’ Go Stroller

The Snap N’ Go lasted up right up until our Christmas vacation (5 and a half months). The morning of our trip out the handle release got stuck, and we couldn’t fold the stroller without a great deal of force to go through security. We managed to force it to open and close during our trip, but that was the end of it’s useful life. Conveniently, that was also around the time we switched over from an infant bucket seat to a convertible seat.

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

Books


Okay, it’s not technically “gear”, but man have we been enjoying our books lately. My favorites are the Llama Llama series. Domingo and I discovered them when hunting for discounted books after Easter. We saw Llama Llama Mad at Mama on the shelf and just cracked up at poor little llama’s facial expression on the cover. Even though it wasn’t on sale I picked it up and started thumbing through it. Domingo kept trying to talk to me and I kept shushing him. I wanted to know how it ended! That night I bought Llama Llama Red Pajama, Llama Llama Misses Mama, Llama Llama Time to Share and, of course, Mad at Mama. I adore them. I could read them all day any day, they are so much fun.

We also purchased Llama Llama Holiday Drama and Llama Llama Home with Mama. The rhythm doesn’t flow as smoothly, and the ending to “Home With Mama” feels a little cobbled together. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, I absolutely do, but I don’t like them as much as the first four.

Nicki’s favorite book is Chu’s Day. She cracks up and the sound of the sneezing, so it’s not a good bed time book. It’s a very short book, so we generally read it several times in a row.

Toys

There’s been a cognitive explosion as of late. Nicki loves her knob puzzles, can assemble mega bloks creations, and cuddles her stuffed animals. For her birthday, my sister got her Jumbles. They’re an awesome building toy, different from anything else I’ve ever seen. The box says for “six months and up”. That seems young to me (although they also make for a good teethers) even at twelve months she seems a little on the young side.

We splurged with the activity tables three months ago. I justified the splurge thinking that she would use them for a while, long after she was standing and walking. I wasn’t sure the same would be true of a walking toy, so when Amazon had a 50% of sale on select Fisher Price toys, I jumped on the basic activity walker. When the walker first arrived I tried to get her to stand with it. No dice. She wanted to play with the knobs. The second time I put her next to the walker she tried to pull herself up on it, on the reverse side even, and it immediately began rolling. She had to run to keep from falling. She went about two feet before colliding with the desk, somehow managing to stay upright, and had a huge “DID YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID?!” grin from ear to ear. From then on she was a little speed daemon. Within days she had new found confidence in walking and surprisingly we’ve had just a few spills. She can now pull herself up on it without it moving, run, walk, stop and change directions.

Organization

We purchased this storage organizer and two fabric drawers. In the dark brown drawer we put the toys she had clearly outgrown, and in the light tan one we put the toys she wasn’t as interested in. It’s not that novel an organization scheme (or technically baby gear), but it makes the list because of how Nicki interacts with it. Daycare encourages the kids to put the toys away, and she’s taking the lesson home. She’s constantly taking toys out and putting them back. She had her secret binky stash in one of the drawers. As I type this the knob puzzle pieces are all in the top shelf.

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

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 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!

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

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!

Activity 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!).

Teething

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.

November 15, 2012

A Seat At the Table

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

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!

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

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.

Toys!

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.

Health care

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!!

Sleeping

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.

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